My Defective Ovary

I’m having surgery soon. I think Jeremy and I both had this as a very real possibility in our minds and now it’s coming true. I’ve dealt with ovarian pain on an off since I was 16. Ever since the babies were born, I’ve had periods of intense pain on my right ovary. One time led to an appendectomy in 2012. Turns out my appendix was fine, but I had a bloody cyst that was the source of my “textbook” appendicitis symptoms.

I had an ultrasound last May that revealed a small “normal” cyst. My doctor suggested that I might actually have endometriosis because this particular cyst would not cause the pain I had been experiencing. We had always been told that our infertility was strictly male factor, but now perhaps we were both responsible. In any event, I started with a series of supplements prescribed by an integrative practitioner and had a great deal of relief in my symptoms of suspected endometriosis. I was thrilled to be healing.

Well, this week, pain returned with a vengeance and came to a head Wednesday night as I was in tears. Jeremy states that I have a freakishly high pain tolerance so, if I was in tears, it was bad. The only way the pain was dulled was by a shot of whiskey, so I thank Jeremy for his enjoyment of the stuff. I managed to get an appointment with a nurse practitioner at my OBGYN’s office. By the grace of God the ultrasound tech also had a cancellation and I was also able to see the OBGYN who explained that I had a complex cyst on my ovary and it needed to come out. This wasn’t the little normal one they saw last May, but larger and certainly not “normal.” There is a chance they will have to remove my ovary, but hopefully it’s not damaged by this funky looking cyst.

I’m relieved that they took my complaints to heart and took quick action to diagnose me. For now, I will deal with the pain and, while I’m not happy that I have almost a week to think about the surgery, I’m hopeful that my pain will soon go away and I can get back to normal life. Prayers for us all are greatly appreciated.

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My Eyes

I looked into my own eyes. I never thought I would do that. But while brushing Maria’s teeth, I saw my own eyes. Green. The same shade. The same dark ring. Neither genetic parent has green eyes.

It made me stop. I told her to look in the mirror. We looked at each other’s eyes. She agreed we had the same eyes. “I have green eyes like you, Mommy!” I don’t know how to describe the feeling. But it was certainly God-breathed.

I don’t know the exact scientific explanation of her green eyes. Maybe it’s epigenetics at work – the impact of my blood on the expression of her genes. Maybe it’s the combination of genetic parents’ hazel and blue eyes. Maybe it was a random genetic mutation. I don’t know. But I don’t think I need to know.

We get told that Grant and Maria look like “ours” often. Strangers comment. It always makes me pause. I’m learning to accept the comments. Embrace them. It used to make me uncomfortable. Like I was hiding something by letting the comment slide. But I’m learning that the comment needs no explanation or correction. Like the comment this weekend that Maria has “good hair like her mom.” My hair takes a lot more work to get that smooth, but I let the comment slide. I took it in. “Like her mom.” Me. Mine. I’m so thankful these two children are mine.

Johnny 5

Does anyone remember the 1980’s movie called Short Circuit? The main character was a robot named “Johnny 5” and he craved input. On some days, Grant is our Johnny 5. For the last year I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading and research on sensory integration issues. I’ve long wondered if Grant might be a bit of a “sensory kid” and, when it took us forever to potty train in part because he liked how “comfy” his diapers were, I became more convinced. Between his need to be swaddled until he was almost a year old, his army crawling, and need to touch everything, it is apparent that he craves a certain type of sensory input that includes deep pressure and some “rough and tumble” play. I discussed with our pediatrician and he agreed that Grant likely has some mild issues as it’s not uncommon for preemies, but he was reluctant to refer us for a formal assessment. He didn’t want to label Grant and, while I don’t disagree, I also want to be able to provide tools to help him be as successful as possible as we go to school in the fall.

With the help of one of my best friends who is an occupational therapist, we’re working on strategies to help his brain function best. When he’s having a “sensory day” he’s incredibly difficult. He’s moody, obstinate and a general pain in the butt. One strategy I implemented recently was building an obstacle course in the living room. This included jumping, tumbling, hand stands, crawling and even some weight lifting. After only a few minutes of play, Johnny 5 left and Grant returned. I now had a settled and more agreeable child.

His sensory needs definitely played a role in our school decision and how we structure our time. This benefits not only him, but Maria as well. Routine is important, as well as properly preparing for transitions. The timer is a great tool for us; I let them know they timer is set and, when the timer goes off, they generally are agreeable to switching gears. We also don’t overly schedule our days as that can be overwhelming and cause a sensory meltdown, which is not pretty. We had one in Costco recently and nothing causes a mom to sweat like hauling your screaming kid out over your shoulder.

Are we labeling Grant? I hope not. Everyone of us has different sensory needs….some are just more pronounced than others. I think it’s imperative for parents to research as much as possible and pursue all avenues to help our children be able to function at their best in this world. Sometimes it means quiet time in the rocking chair snuggling and sometimes it means flipping a kid upside down to get the neurons to reconnect. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last almost 5 years of parenting, it is that there is not a one-size fits all approach and we must do what works.

New Traditions

Christmas 2014 is in the books. We did things a little differently this year. Last year when the kids finished opening presents they were quickly rushed away from their new toys for our traditional Christmas brunch with my family. We’d been doing brunch for many years. But last year, I didn’t like the feeling of rushing out. It was time to make a change. On Christmas Day this year we stayed home.

Christmas Eve included a trip to Jeremy’s grandparent’s house and church and I think we hit the sweet spot in getting the kids to bed before a total meltdown. Grant was asleep by 8:00 and we didn’t hear a peep until 7:40 Christmas morning. That was a Christmas miracle!

On Christmas morning, Grant and Maria opened their three packages and were both very excited to see that Santa knew exactly what they wanted. I can think of few things more enjoyable than watching their enjoyment of the magic of Christmas. Jeremy cooked a big breakfast and we spent the rest of the day being lazy and enjoying their new toys.

Jeremy’s parents came over for dinner and, again, the kids were beyond excited for their new toys. We finished Christmas celebrations with my family on Friday evening. I think we managed to make it through all the festivities with no major meltdowns.

We will definitely be staying home on Christmas Day next year. We all enjoyed the time together and Grant and Maria were happy to have unrestricted time to enjoy their gifts. Sometimes it’s important to change things up and start new traditions. “Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.” – W. Somerset Maugham.

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Frozen

Twelve years ago this week Grant and Maria were conceived and frozen. They were perfectly formed. Suspended in time. Just waiting.

At some point during their wait their genetic family, whom we will likely never meet, lovingly donated them; thus, giving them a chance for life out of the freezer.

Had they been born based upon their conception date we would be looking at middle school instead of kindergarten.

Twelve years ago Jeremy and I had been dating for 2 1/2 years and we were recent college graduates. I was working my first professional HR job and contemplating graduate school. Jeremy had just gotten a job with a local TV station where he would end up working until Grant and Maria were born.

Twelve years ago we were discussing marriage, but we weren’t ready yet. Both of us needed to live on our own first. I had recently moved into a small apartment and adopted my first cat and bought my first Christmas decorations. That first Christmas she knocked over the Christmas tree. She’s now a crusty old lady who eats the branches of that same small Charlie Brown tree.

Twelve years ago I wanted to adopt after we had “our own” children.

Twelve years ago I assumed having a baby would be something that would come easy on the timing that we determined.

Twelve years ago God had other plans.

Thankful

I have much for which to be thankful this year and every year. I think it would be trite to say that I’m thankful for my family and friends because I’m not sure thankful is a big enough word to capture my feelings toward those people in my life. So yes, I’m extraordinarily thankful for my family, friends and the life that I have. I’m also thankful for much more. Here is a list…and I’m sure this is not everything….

I’m thankful for (in no particular order):
• My church where not only the gift of salvation is shared, but also sin and grace. The truth is spoken in love and I’m regularly challenged to be a better person and to walk closer with Christ. (And for the couple who saves our seats for us each Saturday.)
• My morning gym time and the friends that I’ve developed over the last 2 1/2 years. The 6 a.m. crowd is a very steady crowd year round. I find encouragement as well as listening ears in the group of ladies that get ready together each morning.
• My spin instructor for pushing me harder than I would push myself…especially at 6:00 in the morning. He says things like” “You made the choice to get out of bed this morning.” “Most people in this city today will not work as hard as you are working right now.” “Are you in the discomfort zone?”
• My job where I have great co-workers and the ability the grow and stretch myself professionally.
• My physical therapist who talked me off the ledge last week and let me know I have several more options that don’t include knee surgery to address my pain and preserve me knees as much as I can (for a person who has 60 year old knees).
• Making a school decision for Grant and Maria. We’ve tried our hand at homeschooling and while Jeremy is doing a great job at pre-K, we know this isn’t what is best for us for the long haul. They will be attending a small Catholic school about five minutes from our house. I felt at home the moment I walked through the door…maybe it was my Catholic school upbringing or that it was just what is right for us; either way I’m looking forward to being a part of the community.
• Grant for making me smile when I want to fuss at him for getting out of bed the 100th time…”Mommy….I need to tell you something….I like you.” And his silly body language and twinkling eyes.
• Maria for making me laugh when she looks at Jeremy and says with an emphatic tone that oozes with the sass of a 13 year old, “Daaaaaad.” I also love her spunk and her awesome hair (and the fact that before we meet someone new she asks if they have good hair).
• Jeremy for the little and big things like prudent management of our grocery budget and knowing exactly how many buns are needed for the week. 🙂
• My closest friends…you know who you are.
• My parents and in-laws for loving our children unconditionally and doing their part to spoil them rotten.
• Our two cats…one who only loves me for my gray sweatpants that must remind her of her mother and the other who loves me in spite of marrying Jeremy and bringing another cat, a dog (RIP, Charlie) and two kids into her life.
• My new-found enjoyment of cooking and baking with the kids and feeling bold enough to alter a recipe on the first try. There is something about having a kitchen with a spacious counter that has brought out the Betty Crocker in me.
• Grant and Maria’s gymnastic coaches for having amazing patience with preschoolers and for lovingly encouraging them to improve upon their skills each and every week.
• The Embryo Adoption Support groups that I’m a part of who have validated many of the roller coaster feelings I’ve had regarding our unconventional road to parenthood.
• Those who advocate for the tiniest of lives and see that a person is a person no matter how small.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. May you be thankful in all circumstances.

Twin Questions

We still get a lot of questions regarding twins. These include:

“Are they identical?” Uhh, is the fact that one is a boy and one is a girl not your first clue? They have different plumbing!

“Do they have different personalities?” They are two different people so, yes.

“Do they get along?” Yes, they are best friends and arch enemies. They are extremely bonded, but also know how to push each other’s buttons.

“Do they have their own language?” They understand each other when we sometimes can’t and there are times when no words are exchanged, but they will simultaneously get up and switch seats or positions. There is a mental connection that I don’t think non-twin siblings have.

“Did you know you were having twins?” This typically comes from someone older but, yes….we knew very early – 6 weeks and 3 days to be exact.

“How far along did you make it when you were pregnant?” 32 weeks…which is generally followed by “That’s really good for twins.” No, actually, it is not good. Plenty of women go 37 plus weeks with their twins. Had they not been born in the modern era of medicine they would have likely not survived. By the grace of God they were a good size and were breathing well on their own. Our NICU experience certainly made me stronger and more compassionate, but I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

“What was it like carrying twins?” I have nothing to compare it to, but there were days when there was a dance party on my bladder and, without the aid of 39 pillows, I would not have slept…and it’s a good thing Jeremy worked 3rd shift because there was not room for him in the bed.

To me, the following are attempts to find out if we used fertility treatments:

“Were you surprised to find out you were having twins?” Depending on the situation I will either give a very short “No” which I think leads to more questions that the inquirer isn’t brave enough to ask or I will simply say “No, we had a little help.”

“Do twins run in the family?” I can honestly answer yes to this questions as there are twins on both sides of my family. However, I usually take this questions as a fishing expedition and I’m getting to the point where I don’t like it. I know people are naturally curious about twins, but does it really matter how they came to be twins? Is there something more magical about twins who came about spontaneously or twins who were fought for and spent 7 years on ice? Both are pretty awesome if you ask me.