Whew, well, if you've stuck with me this long, your patience will be rewarded, by the end of this one, we'll finally be up to present day!
Following our appointment at 6 weeks 6 days, we were feeling very relieved that we had two healthy babies growing, but I'm not gonna lie. We were Freaked Out. It's a huge leap to go from the mindset that you may never be able to have a biological baby of your own to the news that you're getting not only one, but two little ones all in one go.
Our emotions were mixed. On the one hand, clearly, we were insanely excited that in vitro had worked, that things were progressing smoothly, that we were getting two for the price of one. But the thought of multiples is just plain scary. The pregnancy is higher risk for both me and the babies. There's a much higher chance that our babies will be born prematurely and have related complications. To put a number on it, the March of Dimes states that a twin pregnancy comes with a 60% chance of premature delivery (before 37 weeks) and the average twin pregnancy is 35 weeks long (normal gestation is 40 weeks). There's also a higher chance that I'll get gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or placental abruption.
Not to mention, two babies at once is just plain HARD. I've never taken care of a baby 24/7, but I've cared for plenty of infants in my lifetime starting with 2-week-olds, and after just a few hours with one, you're dying for a nap. I don't know how feeding a baby and changing their diaper can be so exhausting, but it is. It really is. And times that by two babies not sleeping through the night, not taking naps, having fussy moments, spitting up, needing diaper changes. Not to mention, down the road a ways needing college funds at the same time, getting married around the same time... you get the idea. We were, and still are, overwhelmed.
That said, over the past few weeks, I think we've adjusted to the idea, and while it's still scary to think about when I let my imagination wander too much, overall my general emotion is just happiness. Pure happiness. And gratefulness. I'm so grateful. I know that it won't be an easy first couple of years, and as one of the grandmas put it, our lives will never be boring again, but I feel so lucky that we've been given this chance to love and care for two babies who I'm sure will change our lives 100% for the better.
It also eased the pain of the news that our 3rd little wonky football embryo never made it to the freezing stage. We had a pretty strong suspicion that would be the case, but I was really hoping that we'd have another chance to add to our family without having to go through the long 6 weeks of hormone therapy and shell out another $12000+ for in vitro fertilization. Without the possibility of a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) there's a pretty high chance that this will be the only pregnancy I ever experience, so if it means that the pregnancy will be tougher and life will be a little more complicated for a few years, I'll take it knowing that we'll get two miraculous children out of this.
The weeks between my 7 week and 9 week ultrasounds actually went by pretty quickly. I was working a ton, prepping for our big move, and wasn't finding too much time to dwell on each individual day. It was a morning appointment on April 17th, and unfortunately, Colby was still in Seattle and was going to be in a simulator during the ultrasound, so there was no dialing in this time. I laid down on the table and the doctor got down to business after reminding me that this was my last day with them, and I'd be transferring to the women's center with my old OB/GYN for my next appointment. He turned the screen toward me, and there they were, so much bigger than just two weeks before and two beautiful 180 bpm heartbeats.
Baby A's head is on the right, and she is laying on her back. Baby B's head is to the left, and he's laying facedown. (I obviously don't know the sexes yet, but I refuse to call my babies "it".) The greyish area between Baby A's stomach and the top of my uterus is the umbilical cord... awwww!
I was also thrilled to see movement from both of the babies. Baby A just waved her arms around a little, but Baby B was rocking and rolling all over while the doctor was trying to get his measurements. It's hard to believe the baby can move that much, and I don't feel a thing! At that point, they each measured just a little under an inch long and still measured a couple of days ahead. They were still pretty blobby, but I could make out little arm and leg nubs, and started to understand how every mother can think her baby is the absolute cutest thing in the entire universe.
We had decided that if all went well at our second ultrasound, we would start making our news public. So, we spent the next week calling friends and family and sharing our exciting news. Even though I still would have preferred to wait until 12 weeks to announce, it was beginning to get awkward trying to pretend that I wasn't pregnant when so many people knew what we had gone through and had their suspicions. Not to mention, I was sporting some serious IVF bloat and already looked about 3 or 4 months pregnant pretty much from the get go. Finally, at the end of April when I was 10 weeks, we made the big Facebook announcement, and there was no going back!
The past 19 months have been such a rollercoaster ride, and there were countless times that I thought our car was going to go completely off the rails. I never thought it would be this difficult to have a baby, but I can honestly say that my mantra throughout my struggle with infertility has held true. This has all been so worth it. I still want to cry with happiness when I think about where all of our determination and effort has brought us today, and I would never trade these two precious babies for any other experience.
Today, I go for my first appointment back in the "real world", and I'm very anxious about leaving the hand holding and kid gloves of the fertility clinic behind. I've gotten used to a world where people are sensitive and educated about the struggles of infertility, and I know I'm going to have to get used to much more cavalier treatment, particularly if I end up going to a military doctor in Germany. But at the same time, I'm excited to leave that sheltered world behind and start to feel more "normal" again.
I'm sure people will never stop asking if our twins are "natural" (for what it's worth, the more sensitive terminology to use would be "spontaneous"), and I will never hesitate to open up about my experience with infertility treatments. But I am looking forward to gradually starting to feel more at one with other moms and less like the Sneetch with a star on its belly. And thank you again, so, so much for coming with me on this journey. I couldn't have asked for a more supportive environment to share my story, and I'm looking forward to sharing the next chapter with you.