Monday, November 28, 2011

Is it Karma?

To all of our friends,

We thank you again for your kind and supportive words. As you have in the past, you allow us to stand up a little quicker, smile a little sooner, and look forward a little faster.

Ken's follow up scan was done Saturday. Along with the hygroma, he had several other complications, and sadly, no heartbeat. We can only hope that he is in a much better place now.

As most of you know, Ken was one of three miracles due to arrive come spring. We feel incredibly fortunate that along with the loss of Ken, we have not completely lost this very last opportunity to become parents. Nevertheless, I have packed away my first purchase-- a wonderful book called "The Night You Were Born," I have ceased my online baby gear browsing, and I have decided that I will no longer attend my very first "Moms of Multiples" meeting this week.

Sadly, along with losing Ken, I have lost that confidence that I will become a mom this spring.

I feel foolish for thinking that we had finally escaped our black cloud, that surpassing our first trimester meant we were "safe," that we had endured enough loss, enough grief, enough hurt, that lightening couldn't possibly strike again. I have returned to sleeping with my phone, to checking my email at all hours of the night, to fretting over our next scan... even though it is still a long three weeks away. 

Not surprisingly, we didn't do anything we had planned for the weekend. Instead, we just did "sad." Having gone through this far too many times, we still have not figured out an easy or a right way to do it. A lot of tears, a lot of anger, no one to blame...

As we sat in bed at 5:00 p.m. Saturday night, not really sure how to function, we came across a documentary called The Sounds of Mumbai. We tuned in, as seeing the people and the sights of India elicited a few longed for smiles.

The documentary is about a group of slum children who are asked to sing with the Bombay Chamber Orchestra. Ashish, a boy of eleven, is given a solo part. Both him and his family see it as their opportunity to escape generations of poverty, their "golden ticket" out of the slums.

Ashish struggles with the immense pressure placed on him, however, his determination is admirable; I find myself cheering for him as he nails his solo on the night of the performance. Shortly after, I find myself crying along with him, as he realizes that aside from compliments, none of the rich attendees have offered him money, a chance to become educated, an opportunity for a new life... none of the rewards he was certain would flow from all of his hard work.

When asked to reconcile the perplexing disparity in wealth amongst the Indian people, a wealthy Indian woman comments that perhaps it is karma. She suggests that perhaps, these slum children, they have done something in their former life that has caused these circumstances, and regardless of how unfair, how unjust, how inexplicable it may seem, it is simply their lot in life... and it is something that cannot be changed.

It makes me wonder. Can we change the direction of this seemingly endless road of sadness? Will all of our hard work, our determination, our perseverance pay off? Surely it cannot be our lot in life to remain childless. Surely we CAN change the future.Though we have lost Ken, we are blessed to have two remaining rays of hope. Please let us hold them in our arms come spring.

Please let us become the parents I know we were meant to be.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Not What I Had Planned to Post Today

We didn't receive our scheduled scan for Ken today.

Not because he was partying too hard the night before, running a little late, or up to any of his usual antics.

We know now. It was just too hard for him to tell us...

Instead, we received an email from Dr. S asking for the best number to reach us.

I knew it was bad news.

By the time the phone was ringing I was crying, and we both just stared at it, neither one of us wanting to pick it up.

I handed it to Duane, and as he was listening I'm asking "Is he gone?" And Duane says "Well, no" and before he can finish I take the phone. I should have let him finish...

Now Duane is crying and as I'm listening to Dr. S, he is telling me, "Tell her we'll love him no matter what. Whatever is wrong with him we don't care. We want him."

Ken has a cystic hygroma. Dr. S is going to terminate the pregnancy.

I am glad that in that split second before Dr. S gave me the news, Duane said what he said. In my heart, I need to know that if we were given the choice, we would have fought for Ken. Unfortunately, there is no choice. His condition is fatal and we know that Dr. S knows what is best for everyone involved.

Our surrogate is sad. She is not talking. I pray that she will be matched with another loving couple, and that the sadness will fade as she helps another couple realize their dreams.

I woke up this morning, poised to write a lovely post about how much better today was as compared to three years ago today... the day we lost our first set of twins.

It wasn't better. It wasn't worse.

It was the same. The same heart wrenching sadness of loss that has haunted us since we first embarked on our family building journey. Unfortunately, we cannot insulate ourselves from it-- no matter how much money we spend, how many egg donors or surrogates or different doctors we use, no matter how many gestational milestones we pass. Somehow, this sadness, it always returns...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

Well, we may not be "THERE" yet, but we have officially/unofficially made it to Trimester
.... the unofficial part being that we're not exactly sure when Trimester 2 begins?!?  However, as of yesterday, our conception age was 11 weeks 4 days, we received our "12" week scan, and "our twins" (still haven't come up with blogging names for them yet) were measuring in at 13 weeks 1 day and 13 weeks 3 days. Which, if my calculations are correct (11 weeks 4 days + 12 weeks + 13 weeks 1 day + 13 weeks 3 days) equals graduation to the second trimester!!! Apparently, judging from their size, these little gals were just as anxious to plow through that first trimester as we were!

Go babies go!

Along with our ultrasound pictures, we also got a "bonus" page full of random letters and numbers. To be honest, it might as well have been written in Hindi-- we hadn't a clue what anything meant.  So, we dutifully copy and pasted each line into google, and wouldn't you know it, everything is just fine! Head size, nasal bone, nuchal lucency, athletic ability (just kidding)... it was all there and we are thrilled to hear that everybody is doing "a-ok." My favorite line, of course, was "the liquor is adequate." Indeed, the liquor is adequate at mommy's house as well-- these past few months have been VERY stressful!

And while this whole "average, normal, everything is fine" concept is still very new to us, we are slowly getting used to the idea, which is the very reason I received this second email yesterday morning:

No sorry, this is a $400 stroller, I will take $175 but there is no way I would take $50.  Best Offer usually means a REASONABLE offer.  Your offer is a joke and very unreasonable.

Bahahaha, guess who was on Craigslist the night before "browsing" for triplet strollers??? The seller's response of course can be read in one of two ways: (1) I am "cost-conscious" (nice way of saying cheap) or (2) I am not quite ready to actually make a baby purchase, but I am at least becoming comfortable with the "idea" of making a baby purchase.

The truth is, the answer is both. I will always be the "saver" in the relationship, and I certainly predict that my efforts will increase as soon as we acquire three more mouths to feed. I am also, however, not quite ready to go baby shopping yet. I am getting very close though, and accordingly, expect to see some mindless "small" ticket item purchases in the coming weeks (minivans and triplet strollers to be reserved for 25+ weeks).

Finally, as Ken has now managed to have his scans scheduled a full week apart from the twins (yes, we see this as a sign of things to come) we will be reserving his graduation festivities for the end of this week. Until then, much love to all, particularly those who are dreaming sweet dreams of a delicious Thursday feast!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

.... depending on who you are.

It's official. A week prior to Thanksgiving and right before our eyes the WHOLE WORLD is slowly transforming into a giant winter wonderland. Twinkling trees, mall Santas, daily catalogues screaming toys, toys, toys!

For many, this time of year is indeed, The Most Wonderful Time of Year. Unfortunately, for those who suffer from infertility, these "magical wonderments" can leave one wanting to crawl up under the tree skirt until the morning after the ball drop. (Or at least slightly before. We all know there's nothing the infertile loves more than a giant glass of champers to drown the sorrows away.)

Don't know if it's my age, the changing times, my infertility (um, yeah) or a combination of all three, but roughly four years ago it dawned on me just how "kidcentric" the holidays had become. Which is right about when I suffered my first bout of... HOLINXIETY!!!

In case you're not familiar with the term:

Hol-in-xi-et-y: the feeling one who suffers from infertility gets upon realizing that she is going to endure yet another set of "er" ending months without a child of her own.

As used in a sentence:

I had major Holinxiety when I attended my work Christmas party and all my pregnant coworkers spent the evening counting the number of pieces of sushi they were eating so as not to exceed their weekly mercury limit.

I had major Holinxiety when I waited in line for an hour (to buy toilet paper) while the moms with carts full of toys in front of me complained about how stressful it was having their kids home on break.

I had major Holinxiety when I couldn't find anywhere to park, because the only spots open were labeled "Stork Parking-- for Expectant Moms."

I had major Holinxiety when I received my fifty-third matching-sweater family photo holiday greeting card and discovered that I don't even have a Shutterfly account.

Infertility sucks. Infertility around the holidays can be DOWNRIGHT MISERABLE.

While I'm more than grateful that my own Holinxiety symptoms have diminished this year, my heart aches for all my friends who are still awaiting their good news.

While I know I can't bring them what they really want for Christmas, I've decided that this holiday season, I'm going to do what little I can to help "cure" their Holinxiety. Small, subtle things, that will make them smile versus make them feel like I'm throwing them a giant pity party.

This past weekend, I started by discreetly picking up the tab of good friend who had several glasses of wine to get her through a baby shower we both attended. (I admire her. A baby shower during the holiday season? She is one strong lady.) I could tell that she was grateful, not because I paid the tab but because she felt like I "got" it. Which, of course, I do...

Mommys and daddys, mommys and daddys to be, mommys and daddys in waiting... though we may be at different stages in our journeys, we are all in this together.

 Cheers to hoping we can lend each other support, to make it a Wonderful Time of Year... for all.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ken a/k/a Our Troublemaker

We've been working on coming up with gestational names for our growing babies, mainly so that we can stop flinching every time we refer to them as "the twins" and "the singleton." Of course, seeing as there are multiple women, multiple babies and one "Duane" contributing to our expectant state, I believe that the addition of more names is going to require a Who's Who page, lest the stray reader who stumbles upon my blog think that we are getting ready to shoot our very own episode of Sister Wives: Across Two Continents.

But I digress. Duane has officially dubbed "the singleton," "Ken," short for his namesake Ken Singleton. Haven't a clue who he is? Yeah, me neither. Nevertheless, I thought it was pretty witty. As a result, I concurred (which apparently is how this whole naming thing works-- two parents need to agree on one name) and "the singleton" is now "Ken." At least for the next 7 months (at which point I will exercise my executive powers as Wife and Mother, and christen him with a new name without any relation to pro sports.)

However, after this week, I'm finding it rather appropriate that Duane has taken on the naming of this child, seeing as Ken has now officially cemented his role as his "father's child." In other words, it's clear he is going to be the troublemaker in the group. At 6 weeks he gave us a scare by measuring a week apart from his gestational "house," at 8 weeks he spent an extra day partying it up following Diwali, while his parents stayed awake the entire night, wondering why they hadn't heard from him, and most recently, at 101/2 weeks, he failed to appear as scheduled once again.

I know I'm violating the cardinal rule of parenting multiples with what I'm about to say next, but really Ken, why can't you be more like your siblings?!? You know, the overachieving, punctual ones? Mommy and daddy have been through enough. Could you please just curb the antics until after you are in our arms?

But, we're on to him now, and when he didn't appear in my email as scheduled on Friday I remained cool as a cucumber. (Ok, if we're being honest, I may have sent one tiny email to our doctor asking if our scan had occurred, but it was nothing compared to the all-points bulletin I sent out last time.)

And sure enough, when we awoke Saturday morning, there he was looking cute as ever, waving to us from the computer screen with his newly unwebbed fingers. Naturally, we were overjoyed. Carlos, unfortunately, had his very own Toby moment-- literally, leaping across the bed, straight into my lap and letting out a  growl like we've never heard before directed straight at the computer screen. It was classic and left us rolling on the floor. (Poor guy... wait until we break it to him that Ken will be arriving with not one, but two roommates!)

And last but not least....

HUGE CONGRATS TO DOUGLAS AND CHAD ON THEIR TWO NEWEST ADDITIONS-- Looking forward to all the upcoming "Tips on Parenting Multiples" posts!!! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Very Special Children

My sister Elizabeth is 3 years and 3 months older than me. Having a sister 3 years and 3 months older is very special indeed. It means that never in my life have I been without:
  • someone to play with (even if it meant that I was always the student, the hostess and the dad while she got to be the teacher, the waiter and the mom)

  • someone to show me the art of the feathered bang (we were '80s children)

  • someone to show me the art of bleached blonde hair and indoor tanning (we were '90s teenagers)

  • someone to drive me to all the cool places when my parents temporarily turned not-cool
  • someone with whom I could share a bottle of wine (or two)
  • someone to call late night when I've had a bad day
  • someone to call mid-day when I've had a good night
  • someone to "borrow" clothes from... without asking
and most importantly...
  • a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, and an ear to listen when I needed to vent about lost pregnancies, failed cycles and the fact that I still fit into my skinny jeans... when all I really wanted was a big 'ole pair with an elastic band
because like it or not, we both ended up members of Club Infertility...

Which means that like it or not, we have both always known that we'll each get one shot at this whole pregnancy thing (and be grateful that we even got that). Which means that whether they like it or not, we have always vowed that our very special children will be the best of friends and enjoy the same unique relationship that we share.

We call this our "Happy Couple Waiting to Adopt" pose

When diagnosed with infertility I was told that the odds of my becoming a mom were in the 1-5% range.

My sister was given lesser odds than that.

My sister's daughter was born Summer 2009.

My children will be born Spring 2012.

OUR CHILDREN will be exactly 3 years and 3 months apart.

Very special children indeed...

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    For Bec...

    My wonderful Aunt E sent this to me when our 1st Indian/5th & 6th Total transfers failed. (She is an incredibly thoughtful lady and I know that she would not mind my sharing.) Hoping that you will lean on us-- your surro family-- to find a way to stand back up. We will ALL be here for you as you find your legs just as you have been there for us. Love, All of Us

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    All I've Ever Wanted

    By: Bernadette, Esq.

    Over the past two months, I have worked hard to perfect my sleepless night stare at my smart phone hit refresh button every two seconds routine. As a result, I was quite pleased this past Friday when I was able to apply my newly acquired talent to activities other than checking for ultrasounds from India.

    For those of you who recall, I sat for the bar exam a week prior to our trip to India. Like infertility, acquiring your license to practice law in the USA takes too long, costs too much, and often leaves you wondering what possessed you to hop on the crazy-train in the first place.

    Nevertheless, when it's all over and you finally SUCCEED... boy does it feel good!

    And so, I was thrilled to receive notice on Friday that if ever I am in the mood to display an air of superiority, justify my penchant for "debating" marital issues with Duane, or oh yeah, practice law, I am free to tack three special little letters onto the end of my name because... I have officially passed the bar!

    Can I get a GIANT sigh of relief please? (I'll spare you the story of a girl who had a complete break down mid-exam on Day 1 when her computer crashed one fourth the way through Essay Question #3. However, if Dad, Esq. happens to be reading, "that girl" would like to publicly THANK him for the mid-day pep talk, the after exam support, and the phenomenal celebratory dinner this past Friday!)

    And wouldn't you know it, because I was so relieved to receive the above piece of news, I made it through an ENTIRE ONE HOUR yoga class the following morning without checking my phone for an ultrasound update-- now that's what I call progress-- after which I discovered that we had received our update and both Twin I and Twin II (definitely coming up with blogging suedos for these gals this week) continue to do wonderfully, measuring roughly a week and a half ahead with solid heart rates of 150 and 156. AHHHHHHHHHHH! Look out second trimester, here we come!!!

    To top off this fantabulous weekend, a good friend of mine that I met in law school got married last night, which meant I had the opportunity to spend the weekend with my three favorite newly minted lawyers a/k/a the only other people on the planet who could truly appreciate just how AWESOME this bar-passing thing feels.

    Feeling very official with our new titles

    It was also the first time I got to share "our baby news" with them in person. Over the past three years, I spent a LOT of time with these lovely ladies. They were the perfect infertility friends-- young, childless and still more concerned with not getting pregnant than getting pregnant.  Unfortunately for them, acquiring me as a friend meant that they got a crash course in all things baby-making-- whether they signed up for it or not. Nevertheless, they were always there for me as the bad news came pouring in.

    Which is why last night it felt SO GOOD to finally have some positive news to share!  Of course, the highlight of the night (aside from one of the above mentioned ladies "dancing her way to the cake line") was definitely the woman at our table, whom none of us had ever met, eyeing up my stomach and commenting to her date about the number of vodka tonics I was pouring back. We couldn't understand it, until we realized that the entire night we had been discussing "my pregnancy" and "my babies due in the spring." To make matters worse, throughout the night, I continually asked her if she was sure she wouldn't like a drink, only to discover that when she stood up, she was sporting a baby bump of her own. Perhaps I should start wearing a disclaimer of sorts when out in public and simultaneously drinking alcohol and discussing my unborn children. (Or not. The look on our tablemate's face was priceless!)

    As a result of all this recent good news, my sister asked me this weekend what third good thing I thought was coming my way-- you know, because "good things come in threes." First the babies, then the bar, what third "good thing" could possibly be next? Whatever it is, I don't want it. Seriously. I have never been SO HAPPY in my entire life.

    This is it. It's ALL I've ever wanted. I have a wonderful husband, an engaging career and most importantly, I AM GOING TO BE A MOM (x3)! 

    What else in the world could I possibly want?