Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Our Boys

I'm in love, I'm in love, and I don't care who knows it!

Monday, January 27, 2014

27 Weeks!

You won't find me in this vertical position for very long these days!
Oh, bedrest.
How Far Along:  27 weeks today--the last week of 2nd trimester!
Weight Gain:  I've only gained 20 pounds so far.  I haven't gained any weight while being on bedrest...  I know I should be with the boys growing, so I'm trying to eat more (healthy) snacks.  I'm definitely losing muscle mass, though!  So maybe that's why.
How Big are the Babies?  Apparently the size of a head of cauliflower... whatever that's supposed to mean.  Who comes up with this stuff?  They're roughly at least 2 lbs and 14.5 inches long.  At their last growth ultrasound, about 10 days ago, Baby A was 40th percentile for weight and Baby B was 58th percentile.  Little guys, but right on track.
Maternity Clothes: Yes but also sweats are good too :)
Movement:  They are back to their normal bouncy, kicky selves this week.  Baby A roundhouse kicks me in the early morning after my second trip to the potty, between 2-5 am.  I love it!  I really will not get over it.  I love watching my stomach move and bounce when I'm just lying down.  Last Friday we saw them again real quick on the ultrasound, and they had their little heads together, forehead to forehead.  Even though they have the dividing membrane in between, they can still bond and conspire together :)  Precious.
Belly button in or out? Still an innie, but it's flattening out.  I have the smallest belly button known to man, I think.
What I miss:  So, I am officially on strict bedrest until February 3rd, when my doctor will reevaluate things.  So  I can definitely say I miss the freedom to move around, get errands done, go to work, WALK, etc.  But this is what is best for the boys right now, so I'm trying to have a good attitude, and when I don't, I ask Jesus to help me have a happy heart :)
Milestones:  27 weeks is huge!  I have my Glucose Tolerance Test on Thursday am.  I'm definitely nervous about this.  I know there's nothing I can do about it, and my chances are higher with twins of having Gestational Diabetes.  I go in between being nervous and just not thinking about it.  
Food Cravings:  I have been wanting meat--like hamburgers and roast beef.  The Yahoo sandwich from Dilly's Deli is AMAZING.  I will have had 3 by tomorrow at lunch (a friend is kindly bringing one by!)
Aversions: I don't think there's anything right now, but sometimes I'm hungry and nothing sounds good.  I think that's just me being annoying though.
Symptoms: Um, nausea?  What's up with that?!  I've been nauseas and gagged the past 2 mornings after getting up and brushing my teeth.  I still have tightening in my stomach but nothing too major.  And when it's major, I take 600 mg of ibuprofen, per the doctor's orders.  Ibuprofen is safe (under medical supervision/direction) until 32 weeks gestation.  If you take it around the clock (which sometimes you do if you're having regular mild preterm contractions), then you need a weekly ultrasound, as it can deplete your amniotic fluid levels.  But anyway, I'm not taking it like that, so we're good.  Just an interesting fact for you!
Best Moment this week: There have been several "moments" of friends and my mom stopping by to say hi, bring a meal, or bring me coffee.  I feel so blessed.  I love our community!

What I'm looking forward to: February 3rd--my next OB appointment.  I'm hoping since things looked stable on my ultrasound last friday (cervical length stayed the same as well as the funneling), she will lift the strict bedrest orders and change them to modified bedrest...  allowing me to return to work and just really take it easy otherwise.  I would be happy with that!

Monday, January 20, 2014

25 & 26 Weeks - And Bedrest?

25 weeks
26 weeks--don't I look funny with my hair like that?  haha.
I'm not drying it these days since it requires me to stand for too long. 
 How Far Along:  26 weeks
How Big are the Babies?  size/length of cucumbers or green onions
Maternity Clothes: Yes!
Movement:  Well, yes, they're pretty active.  But over this past weekend, there's been some unwanted "excitement" involving OB triage, being admitted to the antepartum unit to monitor for contractions...  they were super busy and active until we got home late Saturday, and they've seemed to chill out the past few days.  But they are rumbling and tumbling around in there, for sure!  When we had our ultrasound on Friday, Baby A had his legs up over his head the whole time--it was so funny!  Doing his yoga :)
Belly button in or out? My little innie is flattening out!  
What I miss:  I've been put on bedrest... so I miss normal life for sure. Read below for more deets. 
Milestones:  Well, reaching 26 weeks is major for these little guys.  24 weeks is the earliest that a baby has been born and lived, and their chances of survival only grow as the weeks go by.  Obviously, I do not want them to be born anytime soon, but this is good news.
Food Cravings:  Nothing really, but fruit is still delish.
Aversions: I don't think there's anything right now!
Symptoms: I'm having tightening in my abdomen a lot more than usual... maybe these are the contractions everyone is concerned about.  And some back pain.  The great thing is my swelling has decreased significantly.
Biggest Moment this week: So, we went in for our routine ultrasound on Friday to check their growth, etc.  They both looked great.  Baby A weighs approximately 1 lb 11 oz and Baby B weighs 1 lb 14 oz.  At the very end, we checked the length of my cervix, routinely.  Unfortunately, the ultrasound tech saw that mine had shortened by 1.5 cm in the past 4 weeks, which isn't good.  There is also "funneling" of my cervix, which indicates that it might be dilating on the inside.  The Radiologist came in and talked to me about everything, asking if I've been having any contractions, etc.  Nothing that I knew of... this is my first pregnancy!  I don't know what aches and pains are good or bad.  My OB was notified and she sent me to the hospital OB triage to be monitored for contractions.  We stayed there for about 4 hours.  They only saw uterine irritability--no contractions.  But the doctor on call was very serious about everything and said that it's very important that we keep these babies in (agreed!) and that I need to be on bedrest until I see my doctor again.  I got a steroid shot and was told to come back 24 hrs later to get the second shot--these are prophylactic in case the babies come in the next few weeks--the steroids help build up their little lungs.  He also wanted me to come back the next day to get a test done-- fetal fibronectin.  If it's positive, I will be admitted; if it's negative that's great.  So, I was planning on returning 24 hrs later at 3pm Saturday, but I was woken up at 3 am by intense tightening in my belly and back pain.  I moved to the couch but really was uncomfortable for the next few hours.  I didn't know what to do, but finally around 6:30 am I paged the on call doctor, and she told me to come in now.  Sigh.  So, we went back to OB triage and I ended up being sent to the antepartum unit for observation.  Over the course of 8 hrs, they saw 5 contractions, which wasn't too bad, and my fFN test was negative.  Praise God!  So again I was sent home on bedrest.  I have a follow up with my OB tomorrow, and we'll find out if bedrest is going to last or if it'll just be for a little bit.  I'm obviously hoping to not have to be on bedrest!!  I would love to be able to keep working and lying around all day long is NOT fun to me.  Especially when I have so much I feel like I still need to get done :(  I'm definitely taking this week off of work.  This is all a little nerve wracking (to say the least), but I'm continuing to learn how to trust God in the midst of difficulty.  We're holding onto His promises of life!

What I'm looking forward to: My appointment tomorrow!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

He makes all things beautiful!

*Disclaimer:  This is a very long post with lots of details!*

I feel like on this blog, one day I said we were doing IVF, 
and the next day I announced we were pregnant.
I started off sharing a fair amount of personal details, 
but then I stopped.  
Partly because I never intended to share everything
and partly because things got really hard and trying for us.

Journeying through infertility is already an extremely exposing and vulnerable thing, 
let alone when you share every single detail on your blog.
Though, I am so thankful to the countless "friends" I have made in cyberspace
by finding blogs of Christian women who have gone or are going through this journey.
Having those blogs, in addition to a "real life" friend who has walked this road before,
has been so helpful for me to just connect and hear stories and know we're not alone.

But I feel at this point that I want to share more of our story
because it helps to underscore the miracle of our twins
and brings glory to God!

Our Infertility Timeline
October 2011:  We prayed and asked God if we could start trying for a family.  We both felt His affirmation and heard encouraging words of hope.
February 2012:  Our dear friends are pregnant!  I am so excited for them, yet this stirs up fear in me and concern--why are we not pregnant yet?
May 2012:  I see my Gyn. to talk through things.  Could there be something wrong?  No, this just takes time.  Checked some labs anyway, and things looked normal.
July 2012:  At iCon, Antioch's international church planting conference, there was a significant word of encouragement spoken out during a worship time for the women in the room.  The theme of the word had to do with fertility and being pregnant with promises--more in the spirit, though.  But then Jimmy Seibert got up right after the word was spoken and encouraged any women where actually trying to conceive and having difficulty to be prayed for by friends.  This was huge for us.  The first time Andy cried about it all, and dear friends gathered around us and prayed for God to breakthrough.  We really thought this was it!
August 2012:  Another negative pregnancy test.  Heartbreak.  But continuing to trust and believe.
October 2012:  One year of trying... Made another appt with my doctor but saw a different one.  This time both Andy and I went, and this doctor talked through the option of starting Clomid, a fertility drug that jumpstarts the ovaries into releasing several eggs in hopes that one fertilizes.  We left the appointment not know why this wasn't happening for us but with an option to try.
December 2012:  After talking with a good friend who had gone through years of infertility, we decided not to do Clomid without seeing a fertility specialist first.  Our appointment was right before Christmas.  He did an ultrasound and saw that I had numerous follicles in both ovaries, suggesting that I hadn't been ovulating for years possibly.  We drew labs, too, and he went through possible reasons and options for us.  I was shocked but also glad to hear there was a reason and I wasn't going crazy!
January 2013:  We decided to move forward with Option #1--take a med that also jumpstarts the ovaries into producing/growing follicles, giving myself an injection that tells my body to ovulate at a specific day/time, and then come in for IUI (intrauterine insemination).  This whole process involved coming in for many ultrasounds for several days in a row to monitor the progress of the med.  We were finally given a specific time for me to give the "trigger" shot and then both Andy and I would come into the clinic the following day (happened to be a Saturday), and we'd get a sample from Andy, and then the doctor would put the sample in me.  Not as advanced as IVF; this leaves more up to "chance" for the body to do its thing.  We decided last minute to forgo the IUI procedure and just try naturally in our specific window of time.
January 2013 - Pregnacy Blood Test:  Negative
February 2013:  We decide to try this same option again but actually go through with the IUI procedure. I won't go into details, but this is just not fun!  Getting a "sample" is not an enjoyable task, especially under stressful time constraints.  As soon as Andy got back from dropping off the sample at the clinic, I was about to head out to leave for my portion--the IUI part--and we got The Call.  There was zero sperm in his sample.  We were devastated.
March 2013:   We meet again with our doctor, now with new clues to our infertility struggle.  There was another test he wanted to run on Andy involving more samples and stress.  When Andy got the call about the results of this test, I was in Texas for an Antioch training, so we were apart.  It was a really really hard day for us; probably one that will go down in the history books.  Again there was nothing.  We were faced with the possibility that we might never have our own biological children.  All I wanted to do was cry and cry but we were at a training conference.  I couldn't talk to anyone about it really, and I was just heartbroken.  When I got back a couple days later, Andy had already gotten an appointment with the Urologist we were referred to, and we saw him on Monday.
We really like(d) this guy, and upon initial examination (read: painful), he told us that Andy was born with something called CBAVD - Congenital Bilateral Absence of the Vas Deferens.  A condition only caused by Cystic Fibrosis or carrying the gene for CF.  This doesn't mean Andy doesn't make sperm, there is just no way for it to get out of the body.  Wow.  What?!  If he indeed made sperm (which we found out through labs), then the Urologist could do a procedure called PESA to retrieve sperm that could be used in IVF.  Our only option at this point is IVF.
April 2013:  Andy's procedure is done.  One word:  ouch.  I won't go into details, but we both get to say we went through a lot for these babies.  We also have more sad news.  The sperm retrieved weren't many and weren't healthy.  2 options--use donor sperm or try this again.  Andy was about to leave for a month long overseas missions trip in May.  It was decided that I would start the IVF drugs sometime in May, and it would hopefully work out for the day of my egg retrieval, Andy would be back in time to do the procedure again.
May 2013:  I start my many pills and shots and ultrasounds.  (I continue some form of a shot until October, actually.) Andy is overseas and taking special vitamins to help boost his numbers.
June 2013:  My body is responding a lot slower than they expected.  There was a period of 10-14 days that I was going in everyday or every other day for ultrasounds and coming home or going back to work disappointed.  Things are not happening like they should.  We might have to cancel this cycle.  But finally, there are a few follicles (which contain eggs) that are growing to the appropriate size, and we set a date for my egg retrieval and set Andy's procedure for the day before.  Andy's procedure went well--much better than the first time.  It was actually a lot less painful, too.  We had prayed and prayed, and I really believe it was God's breakthrough and mercy that allowed the results to be so good.

Capture Day:  In IVF world, this is a fun and exciting day--even though it involves going under anesthesia and getting needles poked into places they don't belong.  But for us, again, the results were less than optimal.  We were hoping for somewhere around 2 dozen eggs to be retrieved, so when I was waking from anesthesia and my doctor came to tell us he only got 11 eggs, I was devastated.  Again, I didn't understand.  We thought we would have enough eggs to make a good amount embryos (knowing that not ALL eggs or embryos survive this process) so we would never have to do this process again.  But when we got home and I spent some time in prayer and meditation, I felt again just thankful to God for this miracle of even 11 eggs.  We prayed over these eggs - and soon to be embryos - and believed for miracles.
Got my first ever IV placed and ready to go!
Ahh, anesthesia sleep.

Post-egg-retrieval.  Excited!
We have 11 baby eggs--we are already parents!  Thankful to God.

Mid-June 2013:  We get another Call.  Out of our 11 eggs, 10 fertilized with the sperm.  But after a few days, when the embryologist watches them intensely for the optimal window for freezing, only 3 survived.  THREE.  With heavy, heavy hearts we accepted this news.  It seemed like there was only disappointment for us.  We head to Disneyland for  MUCH needed vacation.
June 29th:  We return from Disney to a letter in the mail from the embryologist telling us his opinions on what to do next, and that our three little embryos were ranked sub-optimally.  Mind you, this was communicated through check boxes and short sentences.  NOT the way you want to be told that it was recommended to do this all over again or use donor sperm.
July 2013:  We meet with the fertility doctor again to go over our options.  Our hearts are still heavy and confused.  Our doctor says that in his opinion, we should move forward with transferring the embryos into my womb and seeing what happens.  Instead of transferring the recommended 2, he suggested transferring all 3, since ours weren't very strong.  This doctor is very smart and loves to calculate statistics when you see him, and somehow he gave us a 52% chance of getting pregnant with one baby after this.  We decided to throw chance out the window and believe God.  So again, I start another round of shots and pills to prepare my uterus for the transferring of embryos in August.

August 8, 2013:  Our 4 year anniversary and Transfer Day!  
I texted this pic to my mom and sis, saying,
"Do I look like a mommy?" before heading out.
We both got to "suit up" because Andy got to be there
with me when our babies were transferred.
We were both present for their conception!
August 17, 2013:  My blood test was in a few days, and we were told to not do any home pregnancy tests because you can get a false negative, but I woke up this morning and couldn't stand waiting anymore.  Before Andy woke up, I took this test... and woke him up by shoving it in his face!

Pure JOY

We had already planned to go up to Flagstaff for the day to spend time together praying, worshipping, and trusting God for the days to come.  I really wanted to just know that we were pregnant when we did this, haha.  We found a sweet spot in the woods (wanted to find green grass, but the inclement weather prevented us) and laid out a blanket and worshipped and prayed.  We were still in shock and disbelief... and with our history of things not going as we planned, we were somewhat tentative in being too excited, but we were nonetheless.
We have a baby in there :)

August 19, 2013:  I went in for my blood test to find out if we were pregnant--although we already knew :)  We didn't tell ANYONE about this date because we wanted it to be a surprise.
Of course, I get the wonderful news when the nurse calls me at work a few hours later.  PURE BLISS.

Over the next 2 weeks, I go in for 3 more blood tests to make sure my HcG levels (pregnancy hormone) were rising appropriately.   Well, mine were more than doubling, they were tripling.  This was our first inkling that maybe God answered our prayer for twins.

These three little embryos turned into...

Trials and testing prove there's gold.

God is not haphazard or negligent.  He has a plan and purpose for everything He does.
This past year and a half has tried and tested us, but I am convinced more than ever before that
He satisfies my soul.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."  Ecclesiastes 3:11

After all that, we are now counting down the weeks to welcoming two baby boys into our hearts and home.  I will NEVER forget the faithfulness of God in our story.  They will grow up knowing that they were longed for, fought for, prayed for, and loved before they even had a heartbeat.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

24 Weeks!

Early morning before work.
Instead of doing my usual weekly post, I'll be a little more anecdotal :)

Today I'm 24 weeks and 3 days.  I feel like my belly has grown a TON over the past 2-3 weeks.  I'm loving it!  I really feel pregnant now (read:  short of breath with stairs, hard to bend over or reach to the ground, hard to get out of bed) and sometimes waddle or hold my back when I walk!  I still feel pretty well overall, thank you, Lord!  I think some ligaments are stretching and squishing on my right side, as I'm having some intense pains in my ribs in the back and front, but that's to be expected.  I'm getting a massage tomorrow, which will be lovely!

I was going to get a massage last Friday, but I cancelled it because I needed to get an ultrasound of my left leg to rule out a clot.  I've had more swelling in my left leg than in my right ever since I started experiencing swelling, but last week I started having leg pains and was just nervous.  I don't have a clot, though, praise God!  So I think I'm chalking it up to hip pain.  My blood pressure has remained normal and stable, which is good, too.  So the swollen ankles (lovely cankles at the end of the day!) just comes with the territory of carrying twins.

The boys are so active now!  I feel them all day long and early in the morning when I'm waking up.  I love them so much and can't wait to meet them.  Their little kicks and pokes and flip flops are so fun.  I'm just so amazed with this whole process, the miracle of pregnancy and the creation of life.  What a blessing it is to carry these little guys inside me!  My belly is big and tight all day long and sometimes feels like I'm about to pop already, but Andy keeps reminding me I'm only going to get bigger :)  Crazy.  My doctor is happy with my weight gain...  I've only gained about 17 pounds, and I'm more than halfway done, so I'm curious to see where I end up.

My glucose tolerance test is in 2 weeks.  I'm a little nervous about that but trusting God in it all.  I'm trying to lay off sugary stuff, but sometimes a girl just needs her chocolate! ;)  There's a higher chance of having gestational diabetes with twins because you have 2 placentas to deplete your resources, but it's definitely not a given, so we'll see.

If you can believe it, we have 11-14 weeks until these boy arrive.  The expected arrival window for healthy twins is 35-38 weeks.  If they haven't come by 38 weeks--April 14th--my doctor will induce me.  So now I'm just saying my due date is April 14th (not April 28th, which is 40 weeks).  We are down to crunch time, it feels like, to start working on the nursery, research cribs and highchairs and carseats and strollers, etc.  We started a registry last weekend, but I'm still not sure about the carseats and highchairs. I know the highchairs aren't priority, so we may even wait on those.  Carseats, though--those are important!  A neighbor of ours with twin boys offered us their carseats, so we need to go check them out.  If they're in good condition, we might take them!

Yesterday at the hospital, I saw a mom walking to the clinic holding the hands of her identical twin boys, who were dressed alike.  It was so sweet, and it got me so excited to raise boys.  We have their names and words from the Lord to believe over their lives, and I just can't wait to meet them.  (Have I already said that??)  We're saving their names until they're born.  I want to keep some element of surprise :)

Our next ultrasound is on January 17th.  I'll post pics of the babes then.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

23 Weeks

Yes, I'm brave enough to post a pic of my in my bathing suit!  Yikes.
I enjoyed a few minutes in the hot tub at my parents' house.
The temp was still pretty low, like a bath.  It felt amazing.
How Far Along: 23 weeks and 3 days
How Big are the Babies? Roughly the size of mangoes.
Maternity Clothes: Yes!
Movement:  They are moving around all the time.  Feeling your baby kick has been something I've been fascinated with for years, and now I actually get to feel mine.  It's so fun. I mostly feel them in my sides and down below in my pelvis.  I know there's still time for them to flip flop around before they settle into permanent positions for delivery, but I'm trying to imagine them head down... we'll see if that works!  I'm curious to see what positions they're in at our next ultrasound on Jan. 17th.  Someone does this move that shudders and shakes.  Is he flipping or hiccuping or what?  So funny.
Belly button in or out? Normal.  Innie, but I'm flattening a bit.  
What I miss: Well, to be honest... sleep!  My stomach feels like it has doubled in size over the past couple of weeks, and sleep is beginning to evade me each night.  No, I don't have a pregnancy pillow... I don't really want to spend the money!  I've tried with a body pillow, though, and that doesn't really help.  Side sleeping has become very uncomfortable, which is really the only position allowed.  Plus, when I sleep on my sides, my hands fall asleep from the weight of my body on my arm blood vessels--at least I think that's what's happening.  After tossing and turning most of the night, I finally propped myself up on the couch around 5 am this morning and slept til almost 8.  I told Andy that I may be sleeping on the couch for the remainder of this pregnancy!  
Milestones:  I'm officially feeling pregnant.  I still feel pretty well, considering, but my belly feels huge and sometimes I waddle or need to hold my back when I get up!  I've wanted this for ages, though, so I'm happy to be waddling :)
Food Cravings:  Still nothing.  
Aversions: I don't think there's anything right now!
Symptoms:  Still the numb tingly hands intermittently throughout the day and when I sleep.  Swelling in my lower legs and ankles.  It's also getting harder to stand up from a laying down or sitting position.  haha, I'm sure I'm a sight to see!
Best Moment this week: We enjoyed time away with Andy's family last week and ending up spending 4 nights up in Paradise Valley at my parents' new house with my brother, sister, and grandparents, too.  It has been a really relaxing past couple of weeks, and I'm so thankful.  I think I'm really taking time to rest in all senses of the word, and I feel really refreshed.

What I'm looking forward to: All that 2014 has in store!  I was so eager to take down my Christmas decorations yesterday, and I realized it's because I'm ready for this new year to get going :)  Oh, and I'm getting a pre-natal massage tomorrow.  Yay for Christmas presents!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sunshine Award! Blogging fun.

One of the blessings of our infertility journey has been the chance to connect with other women who have walked or are walking the same road.  Some real life friends and some ladies I've found through their real, authentic, and encouraging blogs about infertility, life, and faith.  
One of those women is Courtney from The Loveliest Way.
Courtney recently nominated me for a Sunshine Award--so sweet!

So, I will answer these fun questions that I'm SUPER late responding to...

1. Do you prefer savory or sweet for breakfast?  Whenever I go out to breakfast, my mouth waters thinking about pancakes, but I usually end up ordering something savory like an omelet or egg sandwich.  I've realized toast with jam hits the sweet spot enough for me.  Sweet breakfasts usually leave me feeling hungry 2 hrs later!
2. What is a beauty product you simply cannot live without?  Lipgloss/chapstick!
3. Complete the sentence: I wish I had more time for... cleaning and keeping my house in order.
4. What is the last book you read? The Mockingjay (last book in the Hunger Games series)
5. Which do you prefer: a live or fake Christmas tree? Live!  Although, we don't water ours well and they always dry out really early.
6. What is your favorite Christmas carol?  O Holy Night
7. If you could own a home anywhere, where would it be?  Somewhere we could drive to easily for last minute vacays... maybe San Diego?
8. Which do you like better: gold or silver?  Gold
9. If you were a flower, what flower would you be?  Maybe Hyacinth because they smell so amazing.
10. What is your favorite book of the Bible? Romans
11. What is something you're holding to or remembering this Christmas season?  I did a lot of reminiscing upon this past year and thanking God again for all that He has done.  I don't want to ever lose sight of the valleys, knowing they help shape who I am.