CHANGE OF PLANS …

This weekend did not go as I had originally planned. Brian was golfing out of town, so I was going to take the twins to Splash Country on Saturday. Friday night Julian started coughing at 4am and Natalie, from across the room, asks “Are you OK?” It was so sweet, but nevertheless, we were up with Julian as steam filled up the bathroom to help him breathe. As he was crying he was asking for his blue shoes (he actually sleeps in his Crocks)! They are so sweet even in tough times!

Brian left to golf and we slept in until 9am! I called the doctor and took Julian by 10am. Since he had croup before I felt that was it, but I thought the doctor had told me he could not get it twice in a year. As it turns out he cannot get it twice in the same season. The nurse put a strip around his finger, or so she tried, to check his oxygen intake. Julian was crying and then Natalie started screaming too, and the nurse asked why she was crying! I told her they were in the NICU for over 40 days and they may have very bad memories of the oxygen testing device or Natalie just felt very bad for poor Julian. As it ended up Julian did have croup so we did not get to Splash Country. When Brian finally got home around 7 or 8 that night I was just exhausted. I did not feel good myself, but as I have heard before, Mothers do not get sick days.

I did not go to church Sunday morning with Brian and the twins, so that gave me a bit of a much needed rest (Julian did not have a temp. on Saturday or Sunday, so he was not contagious). That night was the church pool party and Brian would not go without me, so we all went. The twins just loved it. Julian loved being in the kiddy pool and Natalie’s favorite part was going down the water slide. We had a great time and I was glad that I had gone. My brother and his family were there along with my sister and her daughter. It is nice to go to church where I grew-up and where my family goes so the cousins can spend more time together. It was not the weekend I had pictured, but a wonderful one nevertheless.

Monday, I put on FaceBook that Natalie now has croup and as our preacher’s wife said, I am teaching them to share early. Unfortunately, sickness is something twins always seem to share. That is why I am still trying to do my exercises so I can have enough energy to keep up with them. I do not get in 2 hours a day, but I am trying for at least 1 video a day. That does not always happen, but I do have more energy (except for now that I am sick) and I have lost a pound. I am only 3 pounds away from my goal weight! To think that I was over 200lb (a lot of water weight due to toxemia) when I had the twins makes me workout harder! I want to be able to do everything the twins do and that is a lot to keep up with!

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LUCK OF THE IRISH

I always tease my husband Jim that this phrase doesn’t apply to us because we have had our share of trials in our life together. He blames this on the fact that I’m (mostly) Italian, and this counteracts the Irish!

This morning I received the great news from the veterinarian that Sadie’s biopsy came back a Grade 1-2, and that the margins (surrounding area where the tumor was removed from) can be considered clean. No further treatment is warranted and chances are it is unlikely to reoccur again in her lifetime. I had missed the phone call this weekend, and had called the office knowing that it must be regarding the biopsy results. When I was told someone would return my phone call later in the morning, I was on pins and needles. It made me think of waiting for the phone call from Dr. Benadiva’s to find out the results of a pregnancy test. That always seemed like the longest 10 days of my life each time. The first time (with my oldest son Ryan), I can remember the nurse telling me I was a woman of little faith, because I couldn’t believe my good fortune. She’s right about that, I tend to be a pessimist, for my glass is always half empty. Not only is it half empty, but I’m usually upset by this fact, because I didn’t realize it was going so quickly!

I can’t wait to tell my middle son Joel. He has been upset the most by this close call, and he tends to be like me. Sometimes you would think he doesn’t even have anything in his glass what with the way he acts. Wait until he hears it is overflowing this time, lucky Mick that he is!

SUCCESS!

In my last post I resolved to make myself human before mid-day. Yesterday was my first attempt and it wasn’t a total failure. I had breakfast, my hair brushed and contacts in by 9:00. I did not, however, get in my desired exercise. Today was much better. Not only did I eat, brush my hair and put in my eyes, I got in 30 minutes of an exercise video all before 8:15. It’s a Pilates video that I did religiously before Jeremy and I married and I looked pretty good at our wedding, so I figured it was my best bet. Plus, it’s broken into four 15 minute segments targeting different parts of your body. Segment one was abdominals…I don’t like the girl who does the video. She’s too flexible for her own good. “Once you roll up, grab your feet, and if you can’t get there, grab your ankles,” she says. Ummm, how about I grab my knees? (My hamstrings have never been flexible, no matter what I do.) I finished the abs segment (ouch) and moved onto arms and both babies were still snoozing away. I thought about a third segment for my hips, but decided not to push my luck. Good thing, because no sooner did I stop when Maria decided she was ready for second breakfast. The morning continued well and I actually showered, put on makeup, got my hair done and ate lunch by noon. No doubt, this was a miracle! I think the babies are eating a little faster now and sleeping better, which helps tremendously. I feel much better having done all this and think it’ll make for a better afternoon for all of us.

When I have gotten out of the house in the last three weeks, we’ve been bombarded with questions and comments. Here are a few…

“You look great!” Yes, I’ve lost all my weight, but I think people say this even if you don’t look great.

“You look great for having twins!” So, does that mean I look like crap if I had only one?

“How do you feel?” I feel good…really, I do.

“Are you getting any sleep?” We have twins…actually, we are sleeping; the babies get up between 1:30 and 3:00 and then again between 5:30 and 7:00. Jeremy takes the middle of the night feeding while I pump and return to bed in short order.

“Are you actually trying to nurse both?” No, we only feed one baby per day. Of course, I’m nursing both. It takes a long time, but it’s worth it. I’ve nursed both at once, but we’re having trouble finding a position that all three of us like.

“Are they identical?” Do I really need to explain this?? I’m going to stop being so diplomatic and instruct people to inspect male and female anatomy then ask me again if the babies are identical.

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COMPLETED FAMILY

This past weekend we went to Dollywood again, with the Grandparents. We had intended to go to Splash Country, but the weather was not warm enough. With the Grandparents there, Brian and I got to ride a roller-coaster and a water ride together! Then we all rode the merry-go-round and the train. We had a great day and it is always a pleasure to see how much the children love their Grandparents and how the Grandparents love them as well. Later that day the Grandparents went home and we decided to go on to Splash Country since the weather had warmed up. The twins loved it! We only got to stay an hour and they were not ready to leave. I hope to go back this weekend.

Thinking about how much the twins are loved by all our family, reminds me of our fears when we were first thinking about adoption. We were especially wondering if the child we adopted would be loved and treated the same as if we had our own biological child. I think this is a common fear for everyone who is going through the adoption process, and it is usually an unfounded fear. This is the case for us; Natalie & Julian are loved just as much as any other family member and maybe a little more due to the unique way they came into this world and the fact that we almost lost them.

I am told all the time how beautiful they are and how they look like me and my side of the family (Brian’s side is beautiful too, they just do not have dark hair). We never think of how they are adopted, they are just a part of us through and through. When I write the blogs or talk with Patty, I am then reminded that they are adopted and what a precious gift she gave not only to me, but my family and friends as well. I am so thankful for embryo adoption because it made our family whole!

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A FEW NUMBERS …

I’m very thankful for an excellent insurance plan. Last November when going through open enrollment I heavily debated which plan to choose. Lower premium with out-of-network benefits and 10 or 20% co-insurance or higher premium with no out-of-network benefits and a $300 hospital co-pay. Thankfully, I wasn’t a victim of pregnancy brain and opted for the higher premium plan. My rationale and math told me that the higher premiums would not come close to the cost of our co-insurance for one NICU stay (heaven forbid)…much less, two. I received our explanation of benefits and the total cost for the doctors and hospital accommodations for their 27 day stay was just under $300,000 ($2000/day per baby for the docs and a little over $90k for the hospital). For such steep costs I would expect to see double-wide isolettes! I apologized to our benefits department yesterday for having such an impact on our utilization this year…being a self-insured company, everyone will share in the costs of Grant and Maria’s care.

A few other numbers that we’re growing familiar with…
• Average of 16 diapers a day
• Diaper champ full every 3 days
• Average hours spent nursing = 8 (Grant would camp for 24 if I let him…typical guy)
• Average hours of sleep for mom and dad = 6 (not all at once, of course)
• One load of laundry a day (folding optional)
• Number of times I ask Jeremy to get me something while I’m nursing = countless (bless him)

I have resolved that tomorrow I will not cat nap after Grant and Maria’s first breakfast, which is anywhere between 5:30 and 7:00. If I nap, I end up not eating breakfast or even brushing my teeth until about 11 and that is no longer working for me. I need to steal the hour and half or so that I get before 2nd breakfast to get myself put together, maybe do some exercise and eat breakfast. I think this will make for a better day if I get human before the rest of the world is half way through their day.

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND • A WEEKEND FULL OF MEMORIES

This weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster ride for me. Twelve years ago over the course of Memorial Day weekend I lost a twin pregnancy at 22 weeks. The trouble began with unsettled weather; actually violent thunderstorms that occurred all weekend. We were preparing for a tag sale that Friday, and my in-laws were trying to beat the storm while delivering their items. I had felt some pressure and cramping, but thought maybe I was developing a UTI or just plain overexerting myself what with all the preparations for the weekends events. The trouble began when I thought I had to urinate, but was actually in labor, and felt the placenta begin to bulge. I was rushed to the hospital via ambulance, and spent the next few days on magnesium sulfate to stop the preterm labor. It was a lost cause; my membranes were hour glassed, and it was never determined if my infection was what caused the labor, or this developed because I had hour-glassed membranes.

I delivered a boy and girl on June 1, 1998, whom were determined to be healthy in all respects, but weren’t viable because of the early gestational age at the time of delivery. They lived for just a few hours and died that same day.

After leaving the hospital, the reality of what had happened hit when I was home. I don’t know what was worse; seeing all the things for the twins removed, or getting things for their “impending” birth in the mail for the next couple of months. I took two weeks off from work, because at the time I was working in the children’s department at the town library, i.e. with small children and infants.

When my oldest son, Ryan had been born, shortly thereafter I had to have my cocker spaniel Tara put down due to complications resulting from a previously undiagnosed illness, Cushing’s disease. The kind she had was a tumor on the pituitary gland, and she wasn’t aware of her surroundings or who I was when we made the difficult decision. She had been my “baby” when I was struggling to have a baby, and was always by my side during the many disappointments I encountered during my IVF treatments. Although I had a real baby at the time, my heart was still broken. My husband Jim felt sorry for me, and surprised me with allowing me to pick a new cocker spaniel puppy as a Valentine’s Day present. I remember the whole ride there trying to think of a name, and going through the alphabet and saying a name for each letter. I continued this on the way home, and when I hit the letter “S”, I knew Sadie was the name for my new pup. She had an “old lady face”, complete with wrinkles which I think were from all the worrying she would do her whole life for everyone, human and animal alike. She has been like a mother hen making sure everything is just so her whole life.

Last Thursday, I brought her to the veterinarian’s office, because she was having trouble getting in the house the past couple of days. There is just one step up from all our doorways, and her hindquarters didn’t seem to have the strength and she would need a boost. I thought it was a cardiac issue, but when she was examined, it was found she had a mast cell tumor on her hind leg at the knee. The veterinarian feels she had an unrelated injury and that was the cause of the difficulties, but the tumor needed to be removed. She was operated on today, and the entire tumor was removed, but she feels it is a Grade 2 or 3, and the prognosis isn’t good.

I know you must wonder what does a dog have to do with IVF and related issues, but Sadie has been with me through all my losses and bed rest in subsequent pregnancies. She is like my shadow and has offered unconditional love and support when I have needed it most. She has been a wonderful companion, and it makes me sad that we are quickly approaching the end of our time together.

Almost 2 years ago, we decided to get a puppy, because we had two older dogs which were a year apart in age. I was afraid that when one died, the other would follow shortly thereafter, and it would be difficult on the kids, especially Joel, who is an animal lover as I am. (This really translates to I needed a diversion because I would have trouble adjusting). Harley is a crazy hyper cocker spaniel, but she is good as gold. Although I love her, it will be hard to fill the void in my life that Sadie will leave when she does pass or has to be put down. It took a long time for Sadie to fill the void Tara left in my heart. It really wasn’t until after my heart was aching from yet another lost pregnancy that I realized how much comfort she offered me with her presence. She would know whenever I was sad and just stay with me. I only hope I can offer her the same support and comfort when she needs me. I will miss my Sadie girl when she does finally have to go.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

If you’re interested this blog, you will definitely want to visit the CEDA website (Cryopreserved Embryo Donation Awareness Education), developed and hosted by our good friends at Bethany Christian Services. Click around and you’ll find online learning programs tailored for everyone from donors, prospective recipients, to medical professionals. Keep an eye out for our favorite Embryologist, Carol Sommerfelt, who contributes to the curriculum and hosts the occasional webinar.