Grateful for my Nagging “Mom Guilt”

There is this nagging feeling I get sometimes after my daughter has gone to bed for the evening. I think …did I do enough today? …Did I play with her enough? ..Did I give her enough healthy food? Water? Did I pay her enough attention?… Allow her adequate exercise? Ultimately …did I show her how much I love her today?

It’s so hard to answer that last question with a firm yes because my love for her is immeasurable. No amount of attention, perfect parenting decisions or kisses could show it. But tomorrow is another day to try again. I love her so much it hurts. I’m forever grateful this love has me up at night torturing myself with how I can be a better mom to her.

3 Choices

In IVF, you have to make decisions about things fertile people may never even think about. Today my husband and I had our follow up appointment with our doctor. We learned the twins were girls and had Turner syndrome- essentially they had only one X chromosome. Miscarriage is common with this condition.
The doctor has presented us with three choices (the last choice I have “rewritten”)

  1. Test our remaining embryo and if it is viable transfer it
  2. Transfer our remaining embryo without genetic testing
  3. Do another egg retrieval and test all embryos. I have rewritten this choice as “Leave fertility treatment behind and embrace being a family of three.”

So there it is. Three choices. One rewritten by me as the only thing I am confident about is that I am not undergoing another egg retrieval.

Grief

Grief is funny. It sneaks up on you. It disguises itself as so many different emotions. Today it visited as anger.

Today I had a moment where I thought back on the last few months and how everything happened so fast and thought “wow did that really happen? Was I really pregnant?” It seemed like before I could fully process the pregnancy, they were gone. And that makes me angry. Angry my fears didn’t allow me to soak in the joy of being pregnant. Angry I didn’t relish every moment with my twins. Angry that my nausea got in the way. Angry that covid restrictions prevented my husband from hearing their heartbeats. Angry that we struggle with this when it comes so easy to others. Angry that I have to make a decision to undergo emotionally and physically exhausting treatments if I want another chance of giving my daughter a sibling. Angry that I have one embryo left that is making me feel guilty about moving on from treatment, moving on with my life. Angry when people say everything happens for a reason. When people claim God makes these calls.

And I’m really angry I have to go to morning monitoring tomorrow so they can check my HCG levels. For some reason these appointments really sting. I don’t mind the other blood draws that come along with IVF. I’ve accepted the poking and prodding as part of the process. But THESE post D&C blood draws to watch my HCG levels plummet just seem cruel and unnecessary. And I’m angry about it.

Telling my daughter

So we are three days past the d&c and we told my daughter last night. As a school psychologist, I knew what to say. To be clear and direct. To tell her this is no ones fault and answer any questions she had. But I didn’t know was how hard it was going to be to see the twinge of disappointment in her face. It lasted for just a second but I saw it there pass over her every so quickly. More then that, I felt a pang in my heart when I said the words “the babies stopped growing.” My heart hurt that this girl may not ever be, will probably never be the amazing sister I knew she would be. My heart hurt that she wouldn’t get to have a sibling to share in all the holiday traditions with. A sibling to run downstairs on Christmas morning with. A sibling to argue with and care for. A sibling to ride in the backseat with during car trips. A sibling to pass in the hallway at school. A sibling to reflect on a shared childhood with when she is an adult. A sibling to have inside jokes with (probably mostly about me and my husband). A sibling to stand beside her at her wedding. A sibling to help her through difficult times, like my sisters were helping me with now. A sibling for when my husband and I have passed on.
I know a sibling does not guarantee all of these things. I know not all brothers and sisters are close but I knew she would be. I knew they would be. These babies are missing out too because my girl would have loved and protected them fiercely. My little girl is so deserving of this special relationship. So tonight I let the tears roll down my face for the siblings that could have been. The ones I could picture so clearly in my mind. Tonight I cry for all I know that she may miss out on. She may have had a twinge of disappointment but I can see the whole big picture. My daughter did not even get a chance to meet her best friends.

A Grateful Heart

Today is my D&C. I am sad and I am scared but I am also grateful. Grateful to have my daughter. Grateful for my wonderful and supportive husband. Grateful for my family and friends who have been checking on me nonstop since we got the bad news.

This experience has me reflecting on all of my time at fertility treatment. We have not had an easy go and this loss is further proof of that. So while this experience is painful, I am feeling even luckier that we have a happy and healthy child. Grateful that IVF worked for us that one time because that one time brought me the greatest gift.

I have three babies in heaven that will always be in my heart. I will never forget them and they will always be a part of us. But I am also looking forward to moving forward with my life and leaving fertility treatment behind. I am ready to embrace a one child lifestyle. It may seem odd but I feel like I am coming out of this loss with a new level of appreciation for what I do have. My heart is sad but it is also grateful.

The last 18 days

The last 18 days have been filled with so many emotions.

After finding out we were having twins and becoming a family of five, I admittedly had a hard time accepting what our new life might look like. I would have to get a car with a third row or a van, I would not have the independence to go places on my own without the help of another adult for awhile, we would not be able to afford the vacations I had planned to take, I would have to consider maybe working less hours so I could have more time to manage our household , we would have to swing double daycare, cars, college…my mind was abuzz with fear. Fear for the financial strain but mostly for the lost of a lot of things I LOVE about our current life. Fear of losing the freedom I have as mom, as an individual. I had put a lot of work into ensuring Brynn was a good traveler by taking her on car trips and airplane trips from a young age. I can take her to restaurants, to NYC, to day trips, anywhere. Before the pandemic she was used to being out and about and enjoyed it just as much as me. I made sure my husband and I still had date nights and time with her friends. I had created a balanced life that I loved. I knew I would sacrifice some of that by having another child but with three children, I began to feel like I would have to sacrifice it all. I kept trying to tell myself but there will be more love, more laughter- our house will be chaotic and loud but it will be beautiful chaos. I wouldn’t care about all I was losing because I would gain so much. I told myself I should feel lucky this worked. It is another miracle. I reminded myself of this over and over but I would lying if I said I fully believed it yet. Although I was gaining faith that I would believe it, that these feelings would come true. I would feel the same way about this pregnancy that I felt about my last. I would feel the same way about these babies as I feel about my daughter. Pure obsession and love.

THEN there was the feelings prompted by my google searches. You see at the appointment on Sept 22, my doctor mentioned that my twins may be monochronic. She went on to say “don’t google it but you could have a high risk and complicated pregnancy with bed rest.” She then added “it would be hard but you will have your babies.” So what did I do the first chance I was alone, I googled exactly what she told me not to google. I found out that I could be having mono mono twins (sharing same sac and placenta) or mono di twins (sharing same placenta and different sac). And then I went down a rabbit hole… I thought having a third row vehicle would suck …what I was reading was some of my worst fears…

babies born still, babies born before 30 weeks, having to go to the hospital at 24 weeks for bed rest and constant monitoring, cords tangling, twin transfusion syndrome, procedures were parents had to choose which baby lived and which one died, months in the NICU, children with serious health issues…

The fear took ahold of me. I began to have some terrible thoughts. Maybe I should have never done this transfer. Our lives are going to be so hard. The thoughts were dark and made me feel guilty and like a bad mom, a bad person. Again, I tried to tell myself, we could get through this too. Whatever comes our way, we will handle it. I really did not believe these things yet but I was trying to.

so what came next? An obsession about whether my identical twins were mono mono (sharing the same placenta and sac) or mono di (sharing the same placenta but different sacs). I studied the ultrasound pics. I studied others ultrasounds online. I visited messaging boards, read scientific studies, I researched this shit like my life depended upon it. My doctor told me at the next appointment, she would look for a dividing membrane. Right now the twins looked to be in the same sac but it may be too early to tell.

At my appointment on October 1, I saw the twins again. They were bigger and I immediately saw flickering hearts. The doctor turned on the sound and I heard two strong heartbeats. It was amazing and terrifying all at once. I marveled a bit about how they were together. How they already had each other and thank god because their mom was kinda a mess right now. What we did not see was a clear dividing membrane. My instructions from the doctor were to make an appointment with a maternal fetal specialist so they could make the diagnosis of mono mono or mono di. I would then come back for one more appointment at fertility. I was also told to schedule my OB appointment too. This was it…I was graduating. This graduation seemed so much different then my first.

so I went home and continued my google searches for the next week…. slowly the searches began to transition to more positive subjects like pictures of smiling twins, names that go together, double strollers and success stories about mono mono and mono di twins. I was warming up to the idea of a family of five.

I went into my final fertility appointment yesterday, more accepting of being a mom of three but still terrified about the challenges that may lie ahead. But at yesterday’s appointment, all of the feelings I had felt for the last 18 days no longer mattered. The heartbeats were gone, the babies had stopped growing. My twins are in heaven. Again a flood of so many emotions has filled my mind…

The surprise of a lifetime

I was so sure yesterday’s appointment was going to go one of two ways. No yolk sac would mean impending miscarriage and my heart would break. Yolk sac would mean my baby is there and I would be filled with joy and relief.
I never could have guessed that there would be another outcome- a third path. One that would fill me with joy, fear and shock all at once. A third option that would change our life in a way we never expected.
You see I never expected that seeing two yolk sacs, two embryos and two heartbeats was an option…until it happened. Our embryo split. We are pregnant with identical twins and I just can’t believe it.

Nothing to do but hope and wait and pray

The nerves are at an all time high. Tomorrow is my follow up ultrasound appointment. I am praying we see a yolk sac and hear a heartbeat. No yolk sac will indicate an impending miscarriage. It all comes down to tomorrow. Since my last appointment, I’ve had a nice weekend and really tried to relax. Friday evening we hung out with some friends. Saturday we decorated the outside of our house for fall and celebrated my mom’s birthday.

As much as I’ve tried to avoid thinking about the appointment, it kept coming up. Friday evening all of our friends congratulated me as soon as I walked in the door (as my husband had told the other husbands a few weeks ago when he saw them the evening after our good news). I didn’t plan on bringing anything up about the ultrasound but then one of the wives asked if I had an ultrasound yet so I shared some of the details. Of course everyone was overly positive and assuring me all would be ok. Then on Saturday as we were decorating the house my neighbor walked by and asked me about my doctor appointment so I again shared the details again. I was starting to regret that we shared the news with so many people this time around. Later that day we went to my sister’s house to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Well at this party, we all got quite a surprise- my middle sister announced she was pregnant! I am so incredible happy for her. This is her first pregnancy and she just started trying two months ago. I had always worried she would have to go through IVF so I immediately felt relieved that she got pregnant naturally and quickly. My sister shared that she has not been to the doctor yet but estimates that she is about six weeks along- meaning we are literally days apart. For the rest of the evening my family talked about how amazing it is that we will be pregnant together and our babies could possibly even share a birthday. Us being pregnant together is truly a dream come true. My sister and I are incredibly close and always say we want to have sister babies- our way of saying babies the same age who grow up together. As excited as I was all night, there was this gnawing anxious feeling inside of me. This dream come true may come crashing down on me in two days. My sister’s news will make my Monday appointment that much better or that much worse. There is nothing to do but wait and hope and pray.

A shitty day (literally)

So today I had bloodwork and my first ultrasound… and let’s just say the day started stressful and ended shitty (literally).

Morning monitoring took two long hours! Apparently there was some computer issues at the office so the wait was insanely long and there was no available chairs to even sit and relax. People were getting too close for my comfort in the hallway. It was extremely warm in the office. By the time it was finally my turn for an ultrasound, I was so flustered- I actually just pulled my mask off when I get in the exam room. I took some deep breaths and tried to compose myself. Finally the doctor entered and inserted the wand. I knew immediately something was off. I spotted the black hole (Gestational sac) immediately but also noticed it was empty. I knew there was supposed to be a circle (yolk sac) in there. The doctor said I was five weeks and three days. She noted seeing the gestational sac was good and said it may be too early to see the yolk sac or it may be that she can’t get a good look because of my tilted uterus. She maneuvered the wand around but their seemed to be nothing to find. No sign of the sac. She didn’t seem too concerned but said they would want me to come back in a few days to look for it again.

I tried to tell myself to keep perspective, but already my mind was connecting dots (between lack of symptoms and lack of yolk sac) and drawing conclusions (must be an impending miscarriage).

The day then continued with back to back meetings, no time for the lunch I had planned, running late to pick up my daughter, running late to a Zoom meeting, etc. It was a rough work day!

The day ended with my daughter having multiple poop accidents in her pants. At one point I was playing with her on our living room floor and I noticed some poop on her foot. I looked down at the rug to see that there was poop smeared all over the rug. Apparently she had stepped in the poop and tracked it over the rug. After finally cleaning her up and cleaning the rug, I went upstairs to wash my hands. As I entered the bathroom, I noticed I too had poop on my foot and had tracked it through the house.

It was just one of those days!

It actually worked?!

So today I am 4 and 1/2 weeks pregnant! I’ll give you a rundown of the past week. At 5dp5dt, I went to bed believing it didn’t work. I told my husband so before we went to bed. The symptoms just didn’t add up for me compared to the other transfers. I was sad and anxious. Morning of 6dp5dt, I tested. I have never tested this early before. The first two transfers I did not test before beta day. With Brynn, I tested on day 7. As I stared at this test I didn’t see any line but slowly a light line showed up. I was shocked and relieved but still worried. The line was light. Would it darken? Could this be a chemical pregnancy? The rational part of my brain knew it was good to have any line on day 6 but the emotional part was still worried. I tested again on day 7 and the line was still light but definitely darker. Then again on day 8 -even darker. I lined up the tests on my dresser and every few hours ran upstairs to look at them again. I kept thinking, could this have really worked on our first try. Last time it took a year (and one filled with lots of heartache and stress). Day 9 was blood test and HCG confirmed pregnancy with a reading of 162. Day 11 bloodwork and my HCG was 400. Now I am on day 14 and go back in 4 days for bloodwork and ultrasound. I am feeling excited but still a bit nervous to accept the fact that I am pregnant. I am feeling pretty good. Besides a bit tired and swollen boobs, the last few days have been pretty symptom free. I did have a terrible skin reaction to the estrogen patches that got worse and worse with each application. I switched over to estradiol pills a few days ago. But other then an itchy and red stomach, I feel good. I am excited to get a glimpse at the babe (or gestational sac at this point).

The best part of this past week was when we told Brynn.
Daddy: there’s a baby in mommy’s belly and you are going to be a big sister

Brynn (with a hug smile): Today?