SPRING HAS SPRUNG

It seems that Spring has truly sprung early in other parts of the country as well as New England.  I’ve been busy working in the garden, Marti has been busy planning and hosting a birthday party for her twins, and Jessica has been busy giving birth to her twins, welcome Grant Louis and Maria Isabel.

Gardening to me is kind of like the IVF process.  You have a goal you strive towards, and what happens is truly out of your control to a certain degree.  One of the reasons I enjoy gardening is because it is something that I’m creating without putting a lot of thought into the actual process.  Everything is left to Mother Nature and the weather that God sends our way.  I have an idea, and I enjoy working towards the goal.  As I do the mundane preparing, pruning, weeding, etc., that is involved, my mind tends to wander.  I was finding myself thinking of Jessica and her two babies who were trying to be early arrivals and did in the end succeed, but all is well.  I’d been checking the blog for updates on her condition, but there hadn’t been any to date.  I had thought no news was good news, or her battery in the Blackberry needed charging.  It all worked out fine in the end.

I also found myself wondering how the birthday celebration for Natalie & Julian was going.  It sounds like it was a success despite the mishap at the end.  I’m looking forward to seeing the promised photos.  I was hoping the weather was better than ours.  We had started Saturday with lots of rain, enough to cancel baseball practice for Joel (YEAH – did I just type that?  Hopefully the Coach won’t read it.  I just like practice when it’s sunny, otherwise my cross stitching gets wet!).  It did clear later in the day, and Sunday it waited to rain until I was halfway done pruning in the middle of the garden, so I finished as we had a steady sprinkle with the sun still shining.  And we all know the bright side of that, the rainbow that reminds us of the good things in life.

All in all, everything was great:  my garden looks tended, Marti’s party was great, and Jessica’s arms are full.  You really have to admit, a lot was accomplished this weekend.  It’s no wonder God needs Sunday to rest!

STRAIGHT A’s!

Last week I took the twins for their two year check up. They always weigh and measure them then give their percentage. I would always call and tell my Mom and she would be so excited to hear about how much they have grown. Unfortunately, I did not feel that anyone I talked with seemed to be as excited as my Mom was. No one will ever take the place of a Mother’s love or her excitement over her grandkids.

Later that night I called Jim and Patty and told them that Natalie weighs 24.2 lb( 17%), 33.5 inches long (47%) and head circumference (69%); then Julian is 26.14 (35%), 33.75 (37%), and head circumference (78%). Patty and I then talked about how her children always had big heads also and if a hat came with an outfit, it would never fit. That is how it was for the twins as well. I told Patty that I tell the doctor that they have big heads to hold their magnificent brains!

Patty has mentioned before that her and Jim’s relationship to Natalie and Julian are like grandparents and I agree with that. It is nice to have that kind of relationship with them. You can never have too many people who love your children. They are quite lovable!

TA-DA!!

The last time I wrote I was a crock-pot. Now I’m a mom. We were hoping the babies would continue to cook a little while longer despite my water breaking, but they had other ideas. Not only did their arrival surprise us, but the doctors and nurses as well. I probably went into labor late Friday/early Saturday. However, no one, including the doctors and nurses knew I was in labor. I was having periodic contractions on Friday, but nothing too intense. Early Saturday morning, I was having a lot of lower back pain and cramps, which the staff attributed to the antibiotics I was on to stopping me up and loaded me up on Mirilax and prune juice. My elimination issues only got worse as Saturday wore on and I was not a happy camper. Still, the monitors didn’t indicate labor, although I was relatively miserable. (Jeremy says they can no longer trust my subjective rating of a 6 on the pain scale – after the fact, I would rate it as a 12 – I figured if I wasn’t in labor that labor pain would actually be worse, so I didn’t want to top out early). I had multiple catheters to relieve my bladder and my doctor thought I was just tense, so he gave me something to relax me. It didn’t work. At 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, my nurse, Elizabeth, was going to give me another catheter when she asked the last time my cervix had been checked. Thursday morning was the answer. She thought something just didn’t seem right and decided to check me. I couldn’t see her face, but I heard the tone in her voice as she told the aid to get Mandy, another nurse. Mandy said something about that being a baby butt and said to call the doctor, who agreed that what they were feeling was a baby butt. “We’re going to have some babies!” is what I heard. So, I had a baby blocking all my exits, which explained everything! Soon I was being wheeled off to the OR. Jeremy was calling our parents to say the babies were coming and called my Aunt Lynne who works at the hospital and was going to be with us for the c-section. She was on the riverfront with 750,000 of her closest friends for Thunder Over Louisville fireworks show and began a sprint to the hospital.

The next hour was a blur, but life got a lot better as soon as my lower body went numb with the epidural…RELIEF!! Jeremy finally got to come in, all in surgery garb, and Lynne made it just in time. She was panting, but she made it. The two doctors cutting me open were discussing their golf game among other things, but soon I felt them lift Grant from my belly. He wasn’t crying too much, but Maria sure made up for it. She was wailing and I took a deep breath for the first time in about two months. Her screams were music to my ears. Grant needed a little help, but soon decided to get in on the action. I got to see my babies in little wrapped up burrito bundles before they were taken to the NICU for further evaluation. I was sewn up and was taken to recovery where I got to see digital pictures of the babies for the first time. What pretty babies!

Everything was a bit surreal and still is. My labor and delivery have been the talk of the unit, and now I can laugh about it (sort of). The hard part is that the babies are in the transitional care unit so we can’t be with them all the time like we want to be. Being born at 32 weeks and 5 days means they aren’t coordinated enough to suck, swallow and breath at the same time, which means they are eating through a tube until they are able to coordinate. They both pulled out their oxygen within a couple of hours of birth…I like how feisty they are. I keep telling them that the quicker they gain some weight and get coordinated they faster we can break them out of there. As for me, I can see my feet again when I stand up, which is cool and I will never take being able to pee for granted again.

So, we welcomed Grant Louis and Maria Isabel to the world on April 17, 2010 at 8:09 and 8:10 p.m. It’s a little ahead of our schedule, but we’ll trust God’s plan. Grant tipped the scales at 4 lbs 7 oz and 18 ½ inches long. Maria was 4 lbs 3 oz and 17 inches long. They are doing well. Jeremy is plying me with water and insisting on rest in order to get my milk supply in so the babies can get good “mama juice” and fatten up quicker. We’ve started Kangaroo Care with them and I love getting to feel their warm little bodies. We’re looking forward to the day when we can bring our babies home. We knew parenthood would be an adventure. We just didn’t think it would start out quite so crazy.

Hanging out with Maria

Grant aka Mr. Drama

Grant and Maria after their first bath.

Maria Isabel

TWINS’ BIRTHDAY PARTY

What a wonderful day my family and I had. The weather was about 66 degrees and sunny, a perfect day for a birthday party! The Easter Bunny stopped by and many children thanked him for all the wonderful treats he left them a few weeks ago. Everyone got their picture made with him and we hunted eggs too!

This was all planned for the day before Easter (April 3); however, that was canceled due to my Mother’s death. I was not sure if I should still go with the Easter theme, but decided to after a friend told me that the kids would not get in the car and say, “Can you believe she gave us Easter toys after Easter?”

The twins enjoyed swinging, sliding and running around. Natalie did not stay still long enough to open all her gifts, so Julian had the pleasure of opening several of hers. They both found many eggs and everyone seemed to have a great time. One thing everyone loved was the cake. A good friend of mine made their cake as a gift and it was a hit! I had two helpings myself and I think other people did as well.

Unfortunately, the party ended on a bad note with my Mother-in-law falling on the pool cover and chipping her tooth. Apparently, last year my Mother fell at the twin’s party, too. Next year we will have to have their party someplace safer! Now I am off to have another piece of cake before bed.

(photos to follow soon!)

CRAZY LOVE

When I was flying out to see the Cassidy family, I had the opportunity to start the book, Crazy Love, by Francis Chan. Now as I get back into it, I came across a passage that made me think of both Jessica and Patty. “Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.”

As Jessica had mentioned in one of her blogs, not everyone understands her and her husband’s decision about accepting “possible” special needs embryos. Then Patty told me the other day, that some people did not understand her and Jim’s decision to donate their embryos. This made me think about how these two strong families have followed God’s will even when it does not make sense to others, I really admire them for this. I think their decisions should be seen as acts of love and nothing else. Until you experience the desperate need of something, you may not be able to comprehend the magnitude of their generosity.

I desperately longed for a baby to hold in my arms for so many years that I cannot express my over-abundance of joy now that I have finally been blessed with the gift of motherhood. When I hold Natalie and Julian, I just think how truly blessed I am to have both of my arms full of pure love. Thanks be to God for allowing me to be born in a time when such technology exists!

UNFASHIONABLY EARLY (FROM HOSPITAL VIA BLACKBERRY)

My Crockpot days are going to finish at the hospital. We had a bit of a surprise when my water broke last night around 10:00. The babies are still cooking well and I’m not in labor.

We have a short term and long term goal. Short term is to cook for 48 more hours to give time for the steroids to help mature their lungs. Long term is to get to 34 weeks, which would be April 26. Ultrasound says the babies are both about 4 lbs 7 oz, which is great. Thankfully, I’ve been able to get up and move around and eat … otherwise I would have been scared to be around me. My Aunt Lynne is a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital where I’m staying and she hooked me up with a much more comfortable mattress. My sister-in-law, Meredith, is a labor and delivery nurse where we started out last night and had the staff there notified of our impending arrival. Its great to know insiders. I’m very thankful to Meredith for her swift pickup and delivery of me since Jeremy was at work last night.

I did not make friends in the ER last night as the two women doing admitting were too busy talking to each other to fully focus on me. HELLO?!?! Panicked pregnant woman here! All is well now despite this little schedule change. My blood pressure is no longer at near stroke level, so I’ve calmed down nicely. I see lots of reading and bad television in my near future.

TIES THAT BIND

A few nights ago I talked to Marti for the first time since her mother had died. She’s doing as well as can be expected, but she finds she misses her mother quite a bit. She and her mother had a close relationship, and although there are many happy memories, you do find a big gap in your life. Marti said during her mother’s funeral the pastor had said her mom had prayed that she would live to see Marti have a baby. She did that, and Marti had two! They all enjoyed their two years together, and Marti says Julian will pick up a picture of her mother and say Grandma. Even in their short time together, a strong bond was formed.

My mother was older when she had me, 39 years, and in 1967, that was not the norm. My family would tell a story about my father looking for my mother and I in the hospital, (remember dad’s weren’t in the delivery room then either), and they thought he was the grandfather (he was 44 yrs old). My oldest sister was an employee at the hospital to boot. I’ve mentioned before how my mother had trouble getting pregnant, and sought infertility treatment in its earliest stages.

Oftentimes as I was growing up, because of her advanced age, my mother would tell me how she prayed to live long enough to see me graduate from kindergarten. That prayer would change over the years for each of the milestones throughout my childhood. After we discovered in my adult years that I would have to undergo infertility treatments, she would say novenas for me to be blessed with a baby. After my oldest son was born, I received a few blankets from her friends at the Senior Center (yes you read that right) with a note how the knitter had said a novena while making the blanket. I sometimes think of this as I knit a blanket for someone and chuckle. I don’t say novenas, but I do wish them well as I knit.

When I took a look at the NEDC blog this morning, I was reading the latest posting from Jessica. She was blogging how it is best to be open and talk about what your dealing with. I agree with her, and we had always been very open about our infertility treatments. There were some people that thought we should just adopt and not go through all the bother. That route could be just as exhausting. I’m pleased that embryo adoption can now be added to the list of options. The more choices that couples have the better their chances are of finding what works best for their particular situation.

Jessica also mentioned that they are open about the fact that the embryos were frozen for 7 years. One of my sons was conceived from a frozen cycle, and our friends would often jokingly ask which one was the popsicle! It just amazes me that what can be done with the advances of technology and science.

The more I read the entries on our blog, the more I realize we all have ties that bind us in different ways. This blog has reached out to many and is forming new bonds as well as strengthening old ones. Thanks to bloggers and readers alike.