#MicroblogMondays: musings between boxes

  • Today we unpacked a set of binders bought years ago, to finally file away various papers before putting them into moving boxes. Talk about procrastination.
  • I worry that my poor baby will feel neglected, given how many other things her parents have to do, there’s not all that much playing going on. Realistically, this means she occupies herself on the floor for 5-20min, the complains about being bored or hungry or a wet diaper or having thrown the current favorite toy out of reach. So we come pick her up / change her / find a new toy or just hold her for a while, until she’s ready to play by herself again for a bit. And we do long nursing-cuddle-sessions. So rationally, I suppose it could be worse, but still, I feel bad about it.
  • For a break from all the packing, we’ll take a trip to island-that-will-soon-be-on-the-other-end-of-the-world. Any suggestions for floatation devices for small babies? Of course she won’t be in the water without one of us immediately with her, but I’d still feel better if something helped her stay afloat.

More MicroblogMondays

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Infant in lap, embryos as carry-on

The last few weeks have been really busy, with interviews and job offers and big decisions to make. In the end we decided to go “back” to Europe. The “back” is in quotes as we haven’t actually lived in this country before, yet nevertheless some cultural aspects are probably going to be quite familiar. Plus distances to see our families will be much smaller – they’re all thrilled!
Besides trying to organize an international move and learn a new language, we also need to figure out what do with our frozen embryos. A and C and SB’s potential siblings. My understanding is that New Country’s public health system covers fertility treatments, so it most likely is cheaper (though not necessarily cheap) to send them there than to pay flights and transfer fees here. But – how do I find a good clinic from miles away? Will they accept them even though I’m not a patient yet? Our yearly storage fee here is coming up, so if possible it’d be nice to send them off before that comes up, but of course it’s more important that they will be properly received… if you happen to have any insights on the topic of international embryo shipping, I’d love to hear them.
Given my to-do list, blogging may be sparse – or soar as a means of procrastination. Either way I’m reading along and sending good thoughts when necessary.

6 months, and almost 10 weeks

This is the most compact description of where I am. Yesterday was the half-year anniversary of the birth and death of A & C, and tomorrow I will be 10 weeks pregnant with Strawberry Baby.

Going through all the documents for taxes was painful. I have everything from last year in one big pile (not recommended), and re-encountering the hospital and cremation documents I shed more tears than I have in a while.

And then I had a difficult conversation with my boss, about how much I am getting done lately and how that isn’t exactly enough. She was trying to acknowledge that the last months have been really hard on us, but still. And I think she probably has a point, but still. It has barely been half a year. And half a year is extremely short to “recover” from such a loss, and at the same time extremely long when you miss your babies every single day. It reminded me of how hard it had been to go back to work, how that was so completely the opposite experience of what I thought going back to work after having a baby would be like. Half of my colleagues never even acknowledged that anything had happened at all, and once they find out I’m pregnant again they’ll probably think everything is fine now. The conversation also brought back more basic considerations, although not necessarily of the sort I’d want to discuss with someone who is childfree by choice. I had always thought that, if I ever had to decide between my career and my family, I would pick my family. And then, when we were finally on the way to building said family, due to some cruel twist we lost our daughters. I felt like the choice was taken away from me, at least temporarily. I don’t want any other choices taken. Plus, more simply: only very few experiments can reach a magnitude that does not pale against “my babies died”. Everything else just seems so much less important, still, at least on bad days. I’m not sure that is ever going to change. (Of course bringing food on the table and getting rent paid still are kind of important.)

Yet, given all that happened last year, we feel so blessed to be where we are. 9w6d, or maybe 10w1d, depending on who’s measurements you take, pregnant with our little Strawberry. Everyone keeps commenting how perfect everything looks. The nurse who did our “graduation” ultrasound at the RE was very gentle after I told her of the spotting I’d had, and the fact that my cervix felt sore for a week (!) afterwards. In part because of my already-sensitive cervix, and in part because my insurance thinks that 3 suppositories per day are too much to cover, we decided to keep me on IM progesterone until 12 weeks (usually my clinic switches to suppositories for the last 3-4 weeks).

Less than a week after that, I saw my MFM/OB. He’s a very sweet guy and was so happy to see me pregnant again, it was really touching. The nurses first needed to “close” my previous pregnancy in the computer system, which I thought was odd – the clinic and the hospital where I delivered are affiliated with the same university, you’d think they could communicate that bit. Both nurses also vaguely remembered me but couldn’t quite place me. When I explained that I’d had a stillbirth last year, the first, younger nurse just said “so that’s what it was”. The second, older nurse still seemed a bit confused, but looking through my records she saw that I’d had twins and remembered, and came over to give me a hug. It confirms my experience that more experienced practitioners have found ways to deal with such terrible situations – perhaps, sadly, because they’ve seen it often enough, and thought about what to say.

All the exams and scans went well, the MFM pointed out the spine and arms and legs and other body parts I could not exactly recognize, but was glad to hear were developing as they should. Pictures in the usual location. Now they will start requesting 17-hydroxyprogesterone shots for me, which have been shown to reduce the chances of pPROM and cervical shortening in at-risk patients, and start transvaginal cervical length measurements at 14 weeks. But before that, we have the NT scan. Doing yoga on the artificial grass gym rooftop today, I encountered a ladybug. It reminded me that there had been one of his distant cousins crawling over me on the way to the NT scan with A & C, only to reappear in my hair after the scan. I’ll take it as a good sign.

breaking the silence – part 3

Earlier this year, I got an advertisement that I thought was hilarious, in a nerd humor kind of way, and forwarded it to a friend I went to university with. His girlfriend had sent me some text messages after A & C died, so I knew they were thinking of us and trying to stay in touch. His reply included that he just found out he’d be in my city next week, and if there was a chance to meet up for breakfast on Thursday? There was. He wrote back:

Great! Looking forward to seeing you!

Such a common expression, and yet it meant so much to me. Because I’ve noticed that many people are apprehensive of meeting me, meeting us, now. We went to our favorite but rather famous coffee shop – the rule is, whoever arrives first gets in line, and then you still have a while to chat until you actually get to the counter. First we chatted about “normal” stuff – travel, work, etc. But once we sat down with our breakfast and coffee*, he asked how we were doing. If I wanted to talk about that. So I told him about going back to work, where 50% of my colleagues have never so much as said a word about our loss, the family visit for Christmas with its good and difficult sides, and the upcoming FET and our hopes and fears around that. He acknowledged that healing will take a long time, and wished us luck for the FET. And then we went back to talking about other things.


* in case you’re wondering, I had decaf – I’m not sure this actually makes a difference, but I will do the few things I have control over

breaking the silence – part 1

“I wanted to talk to you”, he said, “about your miscarriages”. I thought that this was actually called stillbirth but didn’t say anything. I was amazed this conversation was happening, months after our loss.
“It’s difficult to talk about this as a man… “ he said, and again I didn’t interrupt but tried to give him an encouraging look while thinking that it’s difficult to talk about this for just about anyone. He proceeded to share that they had had seven miscarriages, in different stages of pregnancy. I knew they have two living children, but seven losses sounds awful. The hidden pain you don’t see in a big, strong man that has drawings from his kid pinned to his office walls. “Of course it would have been more helpful to tell you this earlier, when you lost your babies, but then I got sick.” Then someone knocked on the door and he had to leave for another meeting. I got up and said “Thank you”, in a way that wouldn’t be out of place in a professional interaction, but tried to put my heartfelt appreciation for sharing his losses, for letting me know he had an idea of how we felt, and that he and his wife thought much about us, into those two words.

firsts

  • I didn’t realize it until talking to my family about our plans for when the babies are here, but I’m in the first generation to not stay home until the kids are, like, in middle school (which is quite common where I’m from, in fact the entire tax system is built around a family of one parent earning significantly more than the other). I think they’re all horrified that I won’t/can’t stay home for more than a few months (am still in the process of trying to figure out the details). This probably warrants one or more dedicated posts, but honestly I find it hard enough to juggle the “how much time off can I afford” question after trying so hard to get pregnant that making me feel like a bad mother before the babies are even here doesn’t help.
  • I must officially look pregnant by now. Which is funny because I thought I wasn’t changing – although the main criterion, “my pants don’t fit”, probably isn’t that useful of an indicator any more. At the airport I was kindly asked to go through the business class check and the family security lane, but I though they were just being nice. But when one of the stewards asked when the baby is due, well, there was no mistaking it. He couldn’t believe that there are “two babies in this tiny belly” – it certainly doesn’t feel tiny, though it’s more “wide” than “protruding”, if that makes sense. I’m 17 weeks now, and read somewhere that the uterus size for twin pregnancies is as that of singleton pregnancies 6-8 weeks further along, which would be 23-25 weeks. Probably clearly pregnant-looking. Must upload new pictures soon.
  • As I said, I didn’t think I changed. Well, I gained 6 pounds in 2 weeks. Which certainly is fine for a twin pregnancy, and probably for anyone on a visit home with lots of good food ;) but still surprising given that I thought everything was the same.
  • I bought two tiny toys for the babies. I wasn’t exactly looking for something, but MIL dragged me into stores to “see what kind of things I liked” (which is a nice thought, though it’d be even nicer if she had also asked whether I was ready for this) and there were these tiny toys I really liked. After checking with H, who can be very picky with just about anything, I went back and bought them. I hesitated for a bit – what if, God forbid, something were to go wrong? But even then, these are our babies. The toys now sit on my nightstand (which really is a chair) and make me smile every time.
  • I need to pee all the time. Wasn’t that supposed to be a first- and third-trimester thing?
  • The “first” I’m still waiting for is movement, or maybe rather movement I can clearly recognize as such. I sometimes feel bubbling in unexpected places, but have no idea if this is a kick or just gas – and as just about anything is in unexpected places now, it’s hard to tell. Most of these bubbles are rather lateral though, while I thought I’d feel the babies more in the center… ?

12 weeks

This sounds like a milestone. Depending on which source you ask, I’m at the end of the first or the beginning of the second trimester. My body hasn’t registered any major threshold – I’m still queasy in the mornings and get tired rather early, but as neither of those are real problems, I’m not going to complain.

We haven’t seen the babies in two weeks, so I’m just hoping they’re still hanging in there. The spotting has been absent for at least a week, which is great. The Bump is growing slowly (I’m down to one pair of pants I can wear without a bellyband now), and my boobs are a bit bigger, too. NT scan next week.

I ordered my first piece of maternity clothing – not so much as to celebrate the milestone but because I saw it and fell in love. Now hoping that it’ll actually fit, because they were out of my size according to the charts and it’s end of season… (Actually, if you look back it’s not the first, but that one is huge.)

We’ve been telling people one by one so far, but not made any big announcements. It’s actually been really nice. I’m not a fan of being in the center of attention anyway, even less so for something this precious, this fragile. Other than those that already knew we haven’t mentioned the IVF bit – to my surprise nobody has ever asked whether twins run in our family… It’s not that I don’t want to share this, it just didn’t come up / didn’t feel necessary to tell. Much of this sharing has been at work, so these aren’t all people I’m very close to. My boss (in a two-academic-careers-no-kids couple) took it quite well – she knew we had been struggling for a while and was really happy for us, though I think now she’s starting to worry if I can get all those important things done before the babies get here ;)

Public notice: sorry to anyone with a Blogger blog (and captchas, I think) for not commenting lately – there seems to be some technical glitch and it just won’t let me. Hoping they sort this out soon. I’m thinking of you anyway!