Sunday, May 31, 2015
So, yeah, 7 months between entries is appalling, even for me. But, in my defense, a whole heck of a lot has happened since I last wrote. The biggest and best thing to happen? I became Mommy to two perfect little girls, who are now five and a half months old. They are a blessing (and a challenge) every day, but our path to being a family was not easy.
There’s no way to cover everything in one entry, so I’ll have to rewind later on. So here are the highlights, so to speak. After my last entry in October, things started to get very difficult. School was quite busy; I was working on my YA novel, Life Unlimited, in an attempt to polish it for agents (something else that fell by the wayside, alas), and I began to experience complications in the pregnancy. You’ll recall that, other than that scary bleeding episode in early September, the pregnancy had been quite uneventful (steadily shortening cervix, but still not bad). I had little in the way of pregnancy symptoms, and even managed to go on an Alaska cruise for my 40th birthday in August.
That all changed in late October/early November. They had been monitoring me for the shortening cervix, and it kept getting shorter. The words “bed rest” kept getting tossed around, but I kept hoping for the best, and that I’d be able to make it through the semester and into the New Year (the joke was everyone telling the babies, “2015 is your year, not 2014!”). Then I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in November. I was able to manage it with diet, and didn’t need insulin, but it was difficult (I like carbs, dammit!). Walking was also getting increasingly difficult. Not because I was really big, or anything (in fact, towards the end I lost a little weight), but because I would get abdominal pain after a few minutes of walking.
Then I began to itch – A LOT! I chalked it up to the dry indoor heat, and I just lathered on the moisturizer (to little effect). Even my friends, all mothers (and several moms of twins), said, “Use Eucerin!” None of us knew that this itching could be (and was) a sign of something much more serious.
When I went for a routine appointment on December 1st, a number of things happened. First, the ultrasound indicated that I had virtually no cervix left. I was also dehydrated, and my blood pressure was slightly elevated. I already knew what the doctor would say – bed rest. It was what I had dreaded most, and it was effective immediately. That meant I would miss the last couple of weeks of school, as well as final exams. Frankly, bed rest caused me more stress than going to work would have! But the other issue was that the next day, I was expecting the moving company to come pack out my stuff, to finally make the big move to Yonkers from the City. But no amount of bargaining would convince the doctors of anything but immediate bed rest.
Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the itching. On that same day, I mentioned casually to the doctor’s assistant that I was itching like crazy. Immediately, she said, “You need to tell the doctor that.” I responded, “What? Is that a thing?” Apparently it was. The doctor ordered bloodwork, and a week later the verdict was in: Cholestasis. Basically this is an overflow of bile from the liver into the bloodstream. For the mom, it doesn’t mean much – just that awful, intense itching. But for the baby(ies), it can prove fatal after 35 weeks gestation.
I received that news on December 8th (the day after my shower, which I will have to write about another time), when I was 31 weeks and 2 days along. My doctor felt we could manage it with medication and, since I was due for an office visit and non-stress test the next day, she felt we could continue to monitor and rest for a few weeks. Unfortunately, that all changed on Tuesday, December 9th.
Maybe it was the stress of the move, and dealing with school stuff, and worrying about this new diagnosis, but when I went in that morning, I just sensed that I would not be going home, and I was right. Now, in addition to the diabetes, and the cholestasis, my blood pressure was through the roof. And the non-stress test showed that I was actually having contractions. The doctor sent me straight to the hospital. We thought it would be for a few days of bed rest and observation, but that was not to be.
I missed out on a lot of things by choosing to have my children in the way that I did. No dad. No grandparents. And no packing of a “go-bag” or planning my hospital trip or developing a birth plan. No. I just drove myself to the hospital that day, walked in, and asked for labor and delivery. Then I went upstairs, checked in, and texted a few people. Surprise!
Of course, the real surprise came the next day. On Tuesday, they just kept monitoring my vitals (which remained all over the place), and they told me I had to stay overnight so that the perinatologist could check me the next day. On the morning of Wednesday, December 10th, after once again checking my vitals, they brought me a breakfast tray. Minutes later, the nurse comes running into the room and shouts, “Don’t eat anything!” I said that I hadn’t because I was waiting for instructions. She said, “Good. If you need to deliver today, then you need to have an empty stomach.” Yeah, basically, my response to that was, “Wait, what now?”
Things moved, strangely, both fast and slow after that. By then I definitely had preeclampsia (my blood pressure had remained steady at elevated levels. They gave me magnesium to help with that and to try and slow the uterine contractions (I was now hooked up to all kinds of monitors). They did an ultrasound around late morning, at which point they saw that both babies were lined up, ready to come out (this was a switch because for most of the pregnancy, Twin B – Hayden – had been vertex, with the babies basically forming a T for “twin.”). What they also saw, though, was meconium. Twin A – Jocelyn – had passed fecal matter into the amniotic fluid. This was a potential sign offetal distress and posed a possible risk to the baby’s health.
By about 1:30 in the afternoon, they had decided that I needed to deliver the babies that day. Again texts and calls had to be made. And decisions too. I hadn’t taken the birthing class yet (it was scheduled for December 21st). In fact, when I remarked on that to one of the nurses, and said I would need to cancel. The nurse laughed and said, “I run that class. Consider it canceled.” The big issue was how to deliver the girls. The doctor said it would be better for them to be delivered vaginally. Now I had never imagined a vaginal delivery. You always figure that twins end up as a C-section. Plus. With my vaso-vagal syncope, I didn’t think I would be able to handle labor without passing out. But I wanted to do what was best for the babies, so I said I’d give it a go (they do it in the OR just in case they need to do a C-section after all).
That afternoon, they gave me more magnesium for the preeclampsia, while at the same time starting Pitocin in order to induce active labor. That was around 3:30PM. As I waited for the labor to progress, I emailed my boss and tried to get matters settled for the final exams. When he found out I was in labor at the time, he wrote, "How are you even emailing at a time like this?!" Hey, I'm nothing if not professional!
By 5:30, I needed the epidural (I’m no hero!). At about 6:30 or so, I was 4 CM dilated. Around 9:00, I decided to try and take a nap. I was exhausted and starving, and I figured that I had a long night ahead of me (first births are usually a long labor, right?). I couldn’t get comfortable and one of the fetal monitors slipped. The nurse had come in and was working on the monitor, when the doctor came in to check me again. To everyone’s surprise, I was 9CM, and he decided that I needed to go into the OR. I texted my friend Maria, “Time to scrub up!” and she hurried in from the waiting room where she, my brother Keith, and my cousins, Ann & Bill were having pizza. “I thought you were napping!” she said. “Guess not,” I replied.
By 9:45, we were on our way into the OR. BY 10:15, I had started pushing. At 10:32, Jocelyn was born. She had the umbilical cord around her neck, and the doctor basically told me and everyone near me to freeze while they removed it. I barely saw her as they whisked her away. Hayden had no intention of waiting and was out 5 minutes later. She made her personality known immediately when she grabbed the doctor’s stethoscope out of her ears as she was examining her (that’s my girl!). I got to see her and give her a kiss before they took her away.
They took me back to the room, and I could finally eat! My cousin Jeff (who shares a birthday with the girls!) scrounged up a couple of blueberry muffins from the pantry. I don’t even like blueberries, but these muffins were the best thing I had ever tasted! It wasn’t until 3AM that I got to see the girls in the NICU. Hayden was doing well, but Jocelyn was struggling a bit. My gut somehow told me that would change, and I was more right than I ever wanted to be. But that is a long (but ultimately happy) tale that must wait for another entry.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
**Once again, life has gotten in the way of writing about life. So, here is a long overdue entry about choosing just the right baby names.**
There are so many intense and stressful things that go into planning to have children, and for a lot of people, choosing a name is the most intense and stressful. After all, this is the name that your child will likely carry for the rest of his/her life, and if you choose wrong, you could be looking at thousands of dollars worth of therapy. Just think of the people who have chosen names like “Robin Graves” (get it?), “Adolf Hitler” (that really only worked once) or this selection of names favored (but ultimately rejected) by our Kiwi friends: Stallion, Yeah Detroit, Fish and Chips, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit were disallowed by registration officials. Choosing a name like that is clearly more about the parents, and their desire to be unique or different, than it is about the children. If it were about the children, the parents would have given more thought to what it might be like to go through life with such a name. People are mean. Kids are especially mean. Why set up your child for a lifetime of teasing?
Even if the name isn’t something ridiculous, naming your child after a famous person, or a literary character can have its own issues. I taught a student named Emily Dickinson once. Her dad thought it was clever. She hated it – and hated every time a teacher said to her, on the first day of school, “Oh, like the poet!” or “You know, there’s a famous poet with that name!” How could she not know? She was a writer herself, and a talented one, and her ambition, in high school, was to one day be able to Google her name and not have to sift through page after page to actually find herself. That’s quite a burden to put on a kid.
Then there was the student I had in England named Lizzie Bennett. Now, I know that one won’t be as obvious to some, but she shared her name with the heroine of Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice. She didn’t face quite as many frustrations as Emily Dickinson, but she certainly dealt with her share.
It’s important to me not to saddle my kids with names that will prove to be more of a burden than a blessing. I’ve thought about names a lot, and I know my preferences have undergone a change over the years. In the past, I focused on somewhat superficial things, like should I give my kids the same initials as me (a long-since rejected issue)? I also thought about what the names meant, and whether anyone would actually know what they meant. Much time was spent browsing baby name websites, although I’ve thought about it long enough that I actually started with a character naming book that I’ve had for years.
I didn’t take it as far as some, though. A New York Times article from last year detailed the extreme lengths to which some New York parents would go to insure that their children had names that were both unique, and Ivy-league worthy. The article explains the status symbol that a child’s name can be – for the parents – and even describes how some parents have lied about how they came up with the name, if it’s found that others in their child’s playgroup or class have the same name (apparently, Ethans and Ellas are a dime a dozen in NYC pre-schools).
For me, the baby naming process became more heavily influenced by a different factor in recent years. The loss of my parents made it important to me to carry on a part of them. I was unable to do that genetically, but I decided that I could do it in the selection of my children’s names. I didn’t want to simply use their exact names, because I still wanted my children to have their own sense of identity, but I figured I could use names “inspired” by my parent’s names.
I had some choices picked out, depending on whether they were boys or girls, and now that I know it’s two girls (Yay!), I can reveal what they are. My dad’s name was Joseph Patrick, and my mom’s name was Haydée (no middle name). And, of course, my middle name is Marée, taken from “Mary” (Mom had a strong faith in the Virgin Mother), and the last two letters of Mom’s name.
So, little Bedazzler will be named Jocelyn Marée (I liked Jocelyn as a variation of Joseph, rather than the standard feminization of Josephine). And, Sparkle will be named Hayden Patrice (I thought Patrice flowed better from Hayden than Patricia, and adding the “en” onto the “Hayd” from Mom’s name also puts a little bit of me into that name). As for nicknames, time will tell. Jocelyn could be Joss or Josie (I favor Joss), or something else entirely. I have more trouble thinking of nicknames for Hayden, but then again, I may not have any control over what they choose to call themselves, or what their friends choose to call them.
I’m happy with my choices, and I do like the fact that the names stand alone as pretty girls’ names, even without the backstory. The names will be significant to me and my family, and anyone who might be curious. To everyone else, they’ll just be names.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
So, most people know the MTV show “16 and Pregnant”, where girls end up pregnant, usually because their boyfriends didn’t want to wear a condom (?!?!) and/or they were afraid that birth control would make them fat (yeah, how’d that work out for you?). Well, obviously, that does not reflect my situation because A) There was no chance of my accidentally getting pregnant and B) The age of 16 is so far in my rear-view mirror that it’s barely a blip anymore. But if you look closely at the title of this post, you’ll see that it doesn’t say “16 and Pregnant,” but, rather, “–16 and Pregnant.” And that, of course, has to with my choice of egg donation.
Rewinding a bit, I’m reminded of a conversation that I had with Dr. K during my last visit before he discharged me to Dr. W. He told me that, of all his patients, I was probably the one who went to egg donation the quickest. In fact, over the almost a year that I was his patient, he remarked more than once that I was moving through the process more quickly than most.
Of course, there are a variety of reasons for why it takes some people longer, and for why I made certain decisions in a rather expeditious manner. The first is a very basic reason, and that’s money. Fertility treatment is not cheap, and few insurance companies provide coverage for it. As a result, many women and couples must space out their procedures until they have the money to pay for it. As I have detailed in the past, my treatments have come out well into the low six figures (especially when factoring in the +/- 30% tax penalty I paid on the money I withdrew from the beneficiary IRA). But, Mom and Dad left me in a position to be able to pay for these treatments, so I was not forced to put anything off. Yes, I went through an obscene amount of money in a year, but it will end up being the same amount as if I had spread it out over a longer period, so there didn’t seem any point in waiting.
That, naturally, leads me to another factor – time. I’m 40 now. I started this process just shy of my 39th birthday. From a reproductive standpoint, I was already way too old to take my time in getting pregnant. Unlike a woman, or couple, who started treatments in their early thirties (or younger), I could not afford, biologically, to take several years to get pregnant. The risks just keep going up with age, and the odds become less favorable. So, it was sort of a “now or never” kind of situation.
You can start to get a picture of the progression here. I had the money and I didn’t have the time. I also tend to have an imminently practical streak, and I don’t believe in repeatedly doing something that hasn’t worked, hoping for a different outcome. So, after two failed IUIs, we did the testing to see what might be at issue, and found the blocked tube. That, along with a lower egg reserve, suggested IUI was not a practical approach. So I chose to move on to IVF. Obviously that was more expensive and invasive but, again, there didn’t seem much sense in trying another IUI and just hoping we got an egg out of the side that wasn’t blocked (waste of money and sperm in my mind!).
After the first failed IVF, when it was clear that I couldn’t produce a lot of eggs, I brought up the concept of egg donation to Dr. K. He seemed relieved because he had wanted to bring it up with me, but it can be a sensitive issue (more on that shortly). I knew that I still wanted to try IVF once or twice more with my own eggs, but figured I should lay the groundwork for the donation process.
So I tried IVF two more times. The second time resulted in the chemical pregnancy that has previously been detailed, and the third time resulted in once again not getting a viable embryo. At that point, it did not seem to make sense to continue down that path. My eggs were not cutting it, so it was time for a new approach.
This is where the final hurdle to egg donation can arise for many women and couples. Using a donor means that the mother will not have a genetic connection to their child. For many people, that is a difficult reality to come to terms with (as is using a sperm donor if the father’s sperm cannot be used). For some, it is a hurdle that they can never overcome, and that is perfectly understandable.
For me, it wasn’t really a huge deal. The genetic connection was never as important to me as simply being a mother. I won’t say it didn’t matter at all – there was a part of me that wanted to carry on a part of Mom and Dad. But (and again, I’ve written about this before), I never had any concerns about my ability to love a child or feel connected to a child that did not share my genetic make-up. I have previously discussed my attachment to my dogs, and we know that they have no genetic connection to me! So, when it came to the emotional aspect of “letting go” of the dream of my own genetic children, that was not such a huge step. My real dream has always been to be a Mom, however that might come about (adoption was always an option for me as well).
So, in the end, it became more of a question of what was the most practical and expeditious way to make my real dream of motherhood come true. Like I said, I didn’t have the time, or the inclination, to keep throwing money away on things that weren’t working. So the answer to the question of how I could become a mom became clear: egg donation. That, naturally, is where the title of this entry comes in. Through egg donation, Dr. K and I found ourselves working with 23-year-old eggs, rather than 39-year-old eggs, and that was the last ingredient we needed for success – eggs that were 16 years younger than me.
That was the trick. Younger eggs gave me an exponentially higher chance of getting pregnant (and it did work on the first try). As Dr. K put it, it put me in another stratosphere (from a less than 20% chance to a 60-70% chance). Even though we only got 2 embryos, they were far healthier than the ones we got from my own eggs (you can see it if you go back and look at the embryo pictures). And, the more I thought about it, the more I found comfort in the idea that this would give me a much higher chance of healthy babies too. My early screens showed a 1 in 7000 chance of Down Syndrome, while using my own eggs would have resulted in something more like 1 in 200. The risk of Trisonomy is far lower too. Overall, with 23-year-old eggs and 20 year-old sperm, my risks are the same as if I were 23 and had a 20 year-old partner.
So, for all practical purposes, this was definitely the right decision for me. It was a journey that seemed long, even though it was less than a year – but it fit a potential several years of emotional ups and downs into that time. And I am kind of grateful that I am able to put at least some of the risk factors largely out of my mind. And then there’s the comment from the in-house psychologist at RMA, who told me that a lot of her clients come back to her and tell her how freeing it is to know that any little issues their kids have (allergies, bad hair, etc) aren’t their fault! That’s a whole load of Mommy Guilt off the shoulders. So, yep, all in all, a good decision!
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
La, la, la… This is me, blithely making my way through pregnancy, marveling at my lack of symptoms (never puked once!) and commenting to all and sundry how uneventful things have been. My only worry (which has been well-documented) was that all this ease was misleading, and that something was wrong. Now, I’m not going say that something is wrong, exactly, but something went very wrong on Friday.
My biggest concern during the day on Friday was having to drive back into the City from the Bronx to get the dogs in order to then drive up to Friends Lake. It was such an inconvenience, putting me more than two hours behind in the drive, but the dogs could not stay in a hot car while I was in class. So, when I finally left the City, in all its Friday afternoon traffic, at 4:30, I kept griping that I’d already be in Albany by then if I could have left straight from school. I could not have known that I would never see Albany that night, but I would spend some time in picturesque Rhinebeck,NY.
Rhinebeck is a lovely little town in the mid-Hudson Valley, filled with galleries, shops and restaurants. Or so I’m told. The downtown certainly looked nice, with all the people gathered at the sidewalk cafes, enjoying the late summer evening, as I drove through it at 8:30 at night, looking for Northern Dutchess County Hospital.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. After picking up the dogs, it was a struggle to get out of the City in all the traffic. About two hours after leaving the City, I stopped at my traditional gas station stop in Hopewell Junction, about 65 miles North of the City. A quick fuel up and bathroom break, and I’d be ready to go. It was the bathroom break that began the real odyssey. I noticed a small amount of bleeding, which concerned me a bit, and I considered turning back for home, but I didn’t want to overreact. I put in a liner and figured I’d monitor it and see how things went. Back in the car, and off we went.
About 20 minutes or so later, I started feeling cramping, and I knew that was not a good sign. But I kept driving. After all, what was I supposed to do in the middle of the Taconic? Then Brooke started whining in the back seat. At first I tried to hush her, but she kept it up. I knew she hadn’t really gone to the bathroom before we left, so I reluctantly pulled off in Pine Plains (Now about 90 miles or so out of the City). Before I could find a spot to pull over (and by now both annoyed and growing more concerned about the cramping), Brooke puked all over the backseat. I finally found an area near a park, got her out, cleaned it as best I could, and took both dogs for quick walks. But by now, I could literally feel blood flowing out (sorry for the graphic detail), and knew I was in trouble.
My next choice was to try to find a place to buy sanitary napkins on a Friday evening in roughly the middle of nowhere. The GPS directed me to a Stewart’s, and that’s when I realized how bad things were. Not to be too graphic again, but some garments did not survive the night. Once I took care of that, I called my doctor’s office. The on call doctor, Dr. E., called me back and when I described what was happening, she asked, “Why didn’t you just come to the ER?” I said that I didn’t know what to do, and oh, yeah, I’m about 100 miles away! She told me to get to the nearest hospital, and when I said that the GPS said that was Northern Dutchess, she said, “Yeah, that’s a good one. Go there.”
So, now’s a good time to ask what people think is the biggest concern on my mind at this point (you know, beyond worrying about miscarriage). Yeah, big surprise, I was worried about the dogs. What was I supposed to do with them if I had to stay in the hospital? How long would I even be in the ER? They couldn’t stay in the car indefinitely. I had been in touch with Keith, who was prepping to leave for his Divisional tournament on the St. Lawrence River at 5AM the next day. He said to keep him posted, and I knew he would come if I needed him to, but everything was so up in the air.
Now is a good time to point out a fairly obvious thing – Northern Dutchess Hospital is nothing like a City hospital. And, yes, that’s a good thing. I pulled into the lot, got the dogs settled with water and open windows in a secluded spot in the back, and went into the completely empty ER waiting room. In less than five minutes, the triage nurse had processed me through and led me to an exam room (she also promised to let security know my dogs were outside just in case). I was in luck in one respect – the only good timing I had was that I had come in when the ultrasound tech was on-site (another patient had needed an ultrasound). Otherwise, they would have had to call her in from home – definitely a difference from, say, NY Presbyterian or Montefiore.
Also unlike the City hospitals, within three hours, I had been examined, had blood and urine taken (and the results obtained), had a thorough ultrasound, the ER doctor had consulted with Dr. E., and I was discharged. They discharged me because they could not find any cause for the bleeding. The babies both looked fine on the ultrasound, blood and urine came back normal and the cervix was closed. So, they had no idea why I was bleeding (by that time the bleeding had slowed somewhat, but I was still cramping). So, it was bed rest for the weekend and follow up Monday with my doctor’s office – and no, I could not go to Friends Lake.
Here are the ultrasound pics of the little troublemakers:
Twin A "Bedazzler" - likes the photo shoots
Twin B "Sparkle" - likes to moon the camera
So, once I was discharged, out I went to the parking lot. Cali and Brooke were sound asleep in the car. I woke them, walked them, grabbed some snacks from the cooler, and started the two-hour drive back to the City, getting in at almost 1:30AM. The poor dogs spent 9 hours in the car and ended up right back where they started! And I spent the rest of the weekend obsessing – I mean, resting.
The verdict? So far, all I’m getting is “Sometimes this happens.” I have to go for an ultrasound tomorrow to double-check that everything is OK with the babies, but nothing else for now. But, the nurse basically told me that, if anything else happens, I have to stop working and it’s automatic bed rest. And that, of course, raises any number of life complications, even as it might solve the pregnancy complications. Because, of course, I have dogs to walk and a move to make in a couple of months. Groceries to do. An apartment to clean. And despite what the baby books seem to believe, I have no husband, partner, mom, grandma or sister who can swoop in and do all that for me.
I did have that once. I had two parents who would (and did) drop everything to be there for me. Right now, Mom would be here, looking after me. In fact, when everything kicked off on Friday, all I would have needed to do was call them and before the words, “I’m at the ER” had left my mouth, they’d have been in the car, motor revving, pulling out of the driveway. Aside from the obvious concerns about the health of the babies (and the dogs!), that was the most difficult part of this whole experience, and the only part that ended up making me cry. For most of my life I was blessed with the kind of unconditional love and support that everyone dreams of having. And I won’t say that I took it for granted, because I always knew how lucky I was. What I took for granted was the assumption that it (they) would always be there.
I know some people never have that, and I should be grateful for having it for as long as I did. But it’s hard to have people like that in your life and then not to have them. And I know that Keith would have come if I’d asked him to – like I said, he was on call in case I needed him to come get the dogs. But he has his own issues and obligations, and I wasn’t going to ask him to drive an hour and a half just to hold my hand.
I don’t need someone to hold my hand. I really don’t. But, on occasion, it would be nice to have someone to do that. Or to put their arms around me and say, “It’ll be all right.” I’m very comfortable with who I am, and with being on my own. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes wish for that someone who would hop in the car and speed out of the driveway before the words, “I’m at the ER” have left my mouth.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
So, once again, apologies for the long gap between entries. A variety of reasons go into why I haven’t written in a month. A lot has been going on with school starting up, a writing conference, and travel (case in point – I’ve been trying to write this entry for two weeks, and things/people keep getting in the way!). Mainly, though, it’s because not much has happened with the pregnancy. It has been an uneventful pregnancy thus far, so there hasn’t been much to write about – I’m pretty sure no one wants to read yet another entry about how I worry about the pregnancy because it’s uneventful! Most people would tell me to get over myself and be grateful. And they’re right, of course, but I can’t help imagining that somehow the babies are gone because I’m not feeling much of anything.
In the last month, though, I did take the twins on an Alaska cruise, which was nice. It was a trip that Mom and I always wanted to take. I missed having her there, of course, but I really enjoyed it. I decided to go as a 40th birthday trip once Dr. W. said that I had to be sure to do any travel before the end of September. Figured it would be the last trip I got to take while the kids were still inside! Just days after I got back, I celebrated my birthday. Keith came down to the City, since it was the last birthday I’d get to celebrate as a Manhattanite. We went to the Atlantic Grill, which was a place I’d been wanting to try for a while. It didn’t disappoint.
The next day was my birthday party, at Rory Dolan’s (of course!). We had a nice crowd of mostly family and a few friends. Once we got everyone seated and liquored up, I made the big announcement. This is more or less what I said after thanking everyone for coming:
“I know that we told you that this was not a surprise party, but there is a surprise tonight. On February 7th, which most of you will remember is the anniversary of my mom’s passing, I’m expecting twins.”
At that point there were shrieks – actual shrieks – of surprise. But as I looked quickly around the room, I saw that the surprise was mixed with happiness. Although shocked, people didn’t seem scandalized. They seemed genuinely happy to hear the news.
I went on to say, “Now I do believe we have some smelling salts around if anyone needs it. Just to answer some questions that I’m sure people have – Yes, I just said what you think I said. No, I’m not involved with anyone. I’m doing this on my own with the aid of modern medicine. And if anyone would like to learn more, I have cards here with the address of my blog. And, yes, this is the main reason why I’m moving out of the City. Finally, apologies to anyone who has asked me recently what I’ve been up to, and I’ve just said, ‘Oh, nothing!’”
Then I went table to table. Again, everyone seemed really excited. Some of my dad’s cousins were happy to know that the kids would be Clearys, because we don’t have too many Clearys left (that carry the last name, I mean). One of my cousins did sayt hat if they had known beforehand that it would have been easier to shop for a gift. But, hey, that night was my night. Baby gifts can come later! J My mom’s cousin did try to fix me up with someone, but Keith told me that she had been talking about that before the announcement, so it wasn’t directly connected.
Overall, I was pleased, and relieved, by the response. Any fears that I had that people would be scandalized seem to be unfounded. Certainly they were shocked – it was not at all what anyone was expecting me to announce at my birthday. If anyone was scandalized, they hid it well. It turned out to be a really special moment, more so than I could have imagined.
When I got home that night, it was time for the Facebook reveal. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to do things the plain and ordinary way. What’s the fun in that? So, I made a film trailer, in the style of an adventure film, to announce the pregnancy. It can be viewed here:
I got a great response to the trailer. Again, people were shocked. Beyond the small group that has been along for the ride with me this past year, no one could have guessed what I’ve been working toward. But again, the reactions were incredibly positive, and people liked the idea of the trailer as an announcement.
It’s nice to have it all in the open now, and to know I have the support of my friends and family. I hated lying, even if by omission (as I say in my lie detecting lessons – withholding information is still a lie!). So that’s some stress lifted. Now I can just relax and enjoy the next few months. Oh, yeah, right, I’m me. I don’t do relaxed. OK, so now I can focus instead on just selling my apartment, moving, getting an agent, starting a new Master’s program, and being pregnant with twins. Eh, nothing I can’t handle!
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa! It’s been an unconscionable amount of time since I have written. I blame the main early pregnancy symptom that seems to have hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks – extreme and utter exhaustion. I feel like all I do is sleep, and I’m still tired when I get up. That fatigue, coupled with a general feeling of malaise (the up and down levels of nausea, etc.) have left me completely unproductive. It’s no excuse, really, more of an explanation as to why I haven’t shared any news lately. Case in point, I started writing this entry five days ago and then never got around to posting it. Bleh!
Oh, but there is news! In the last post, oh so long ago, I mentioned that we transferred two embryos, and that there was a chance of twins. Well, that chance is a reality now – I am definitely expecting twins! I guess because I was prepared for the possibility, and I had valid reasons for wanting twins in some respects (see earlier entry), it wasn’t much of a shock when they first said there were two gestational sacs at the five-week ultrasound. We had to wait another week to confirm twins because they only saw one yolk sac at the time. But, at the six-week ultrasound, not only did they see two yolk sacs, but they saw – and heard – two tiny heartbeats. That was a rather surreal moment. I consider myself pretty even-keeled, but seeing and hearing the heartbeats of my babies was pretty damn cool.
I had two more visits to RMA and both twins have looked good – growing properly, with strong heartbeats. On July 1, Dr. K. discharged me, and last Wednesday (7/9) I went to my regular OBGYN, Dr. W. to begin ongoing pre-natal care. Of course, I’m still obsessing, as usual – worried that something has gone wrong, and there will be bad news. Especially since Dr. W. didn’t do an ultrasound this time. I’m forced to just assume that both babies are still in there. I even took yet another pregnancy test when I got up to Friends Lake Friday – I keep worrying that I’ll suddenly stop being pregnant. Of course, that has been how I’ve felt going into every visit, and so far everything has been fine, but I can’t seem to help myself. I’m so worried that I will lose this pregnancy that I can’t let the reassurances convince me. Like with the spotting – the doctors keep telling me that spotting is normal, especially with multiples, and not a sign of miscarriage. Yet, that doesn’t stop me from worrying every time I get spotting. Same goes for every little pull and pain I feel in the abdomen – is it normal? Or is something wrong?
But, never mind all that – there’s plenty of time to write about my obsessing, especially as I don’t think I’ll be finding my Zen anytime soon. Instead, let’s focus on that whole twin thing, in general. Like I said, in some ways, I wanted twins. Dad was a twin, so it’s a cool thought to have twins. And I wanted more than one all along, so this gets it done in one shot. And it allows me to split the cost of the last year of treatments between two – two for the price of one! Regarding wanting more than one, I may be venturing into controversial and touchy territory here, but I feel like kids need siblings. Growing up without siblings robs kids of some important aspects of childhood. The bond between siblings can be incredibly strong – you are each other’s first friends, and your shared history is something you just don’t have with other friends. I know that not everyone is close with their siblings, and I think that’s a shame. I would never trade my relationship with my brother for anything.
There’s another aspect of having a sibling that I think is important. Now, I should say that there are some people I know who are only children who are great people. But, I believe that when one grows up an only child, it is more challenging to fully develop one’s sense of empathy, and the skills to understand things from another’s perspective. Growing up in an environment in which sharing space, parental attention and possessions is not necessarily an issue, can make only children unintentionally self-centered. Despite the best intentions of their parents, only children tend to grow up with the sense that they are the most important person in their orbit, because they have the full attention of their parents, and are encouraged to develop that strong sense of self, without having to worry about sharing the spotlight.
Again, I want to reiterate that I am not saying – at all – that only children are bad people, or anything remotely like that. Any potential egocentrism resulting from being an only child is, I believe, unintentional and subconscious. But, if unchecked, it can lead to problems in interpersonal relationships. And, as I stated before, I know plenty of terrific only children, whose parents made the effort to teach them that empathy as they grew up, deliberately focusing lessons on how their child might feel if in another’s position. And it works. Parents who are conscious of the potential issues can make sure they provide their children what they need. The problem is that most people don’t realize it’s missing, until it’s too late. It’s always been important to me to raise children who have a strong sense of empathy and care for others, and I feel that having siblings is one step in that direction.
I am no child psychologist, and I am less than a rookie in the parenting game, so I hope no one interprets any of what I have just said as an attack or as an arrogant assumption that I know what other parents deal with on a daily basis, or that I think I know better than anyone else. These are merely my musings based on my completely unscientific observations of the people I have known over the last forty years, and part of the reason that, for me, having siblings for my children is important.
Let’s move on to a different aspect of the twin game (I choose to currently not address the How the F*** am I going to handle twins?!?!?! aspect of things right now). So, what aspect do I mean? Well, these twins will be fraternal, so we have three possible outcomes: Girl/Girl, Girl/Boy, Boy/Boy. Now I can be all PC and say that all I want is two healthy babies, and that is true. Whatever I have will be a blessing. But, it would be hypocritical for me to pretend that I don’t have preferences. My first choice would be Girl/Boy. One of each. Family complete. Just like Keith and me, or Dad and his twin sister, Kathleen. Second choice would be Girl/Girl, and last choice would be Boy/Boy.
Why this order of preference? Because the relationship that I had with my mother was special and unique, and I want a daughter so that I can try to develop a similar relationship. It could never be quite the same, because I’m not Mom, but I learned how to be a mother from the best, and I think I can emulate much of what she did right. Having one of each means that I have one daughter with whom to develop that relationship, and I can develop a distinct (but hopefully close) relationship with my son as well. Two girls might lead to competition in terms of the mother/daughter relationship, although I would do my best to avoid that. Finally, two boys. First, let me say that if I had two boys, I would love them dearly. I already do love these babies, and they’re little more than tadpoles at this point. But I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t be a little disappointed to not have a daughter. I’d get over it, of course, but it would still make me a little sad. If the twins do turn out to both be boys, then I have considered adopting a girl a little ways down the road.
But we’re not at that point in the road yet. I have about another month or so before I found out the sex of the babies. I do intend to find out – there are so few things under my control in this experience that I feel like I need to know as much as possible. I mean, I need to know if the nursery is going to be English country rose garden, Seashore cottage, or Yankee Stadium! I don’t want to be stuck with all the gender-neutral stuff either. I know some people still want that surprise, but not me. I hate not knowing things! In the meantime, since I don’t want to constantly refer to the babies as “it” or “they,” I have given them nicknames that reflect my love of all things bling. So, they are now known as Bedazzler and Sparkle. But, don’t worry, those won’t be their real names!
So much to discuss, but I’m exhausted again, so I’m signing off. Got to put the fur kids, the fetuses and myself to bed! ‘Night!