Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Our Trying to Concieve Journey, and TWINS!

I am pregnant with TWINS! And I can't believe it...it is all so surreal. But, I wanted to share the journey Frank and I have been on in trying to concieve our first child with all of our friends and family, as some of you may not know just how hard we tried, and how heartbreaking it was at times.

I was on birth control when I first met Frank when I was 17-years-old. I moved out of my parent's home to live with Frank the weekend I turned 18, and on my 18th birthday, we decided I would go off my birth control and we'd start trying for a baby. We figured it wouldn't happen right away, since I had been on birth control for at least a year or so, and we knew it may be a while for the birth control to leave my system. But, we weren't in a hurry at that time. So, we didn't really use any certain "methods" when we first started trying to concieve. We were just going with the flow..."not preventing." One month short of a year later, in November of 2006, we concieved. Although, we didn't know we were pregnant until January of 2007. I had NO symptoms of pregnancy, and my periods were pretty irregular as it was, so my missing a period was normal for me, so I didn't think anything of it when my period never showed. One night, January 4, 2007, I mentioned to Frank that I thought I was getting a little fat. He just threw it out there to go get a pregnancy test. So, I went to the dollar store across town, and bought one. I held my pee in all night (I had heard that first morning urine was the best to use) and took the test first thing in the morning when I woke up. To my disbelief, TWO lines appeared! I was SHOCKED and SO EXCITED! I showed Frank and all he could say was, "Oh boy!" Being a dollar store test, I wasn't sure how accurate they really were, so I called my doctor's office and asked if I could come in after work for a walk-in pregnancy test. They said yes, and right after I met Frank at home after work, we went up. That test was positive also. We were PREGNANT! I think it came as such a shock at that time simply because we weren't even really thinking about getting pregnant. We knew we wanted to and that I wasn't on birth control so there was definitely the chance of concieving, but we just weren't thinking about it and stressing about it, so it was a nice surprise for us. We told friends and family after that, and set off on our journey to become parents! I was 7 weeks pregnant when I found out, and felt GREAT! No symptoms, no morning sickness...just peeing a lot and hungry. We were on cloud nine. But, in the back of my mind, something didn't feel quite right. I had the feeling that it was all too good to be true...and sadly, I was right. We went in for our first prenatal appointment on January 23, 2007, when I was about 10 weeks pregnant. We were excited to start our appointments and to get an ultrasound to see our little peanut, as we lovingly referred to him/her. But when my midwife started the ultrasound, she got a puzzled look on her face. I asked her what was wrong and she said, "I can see the sac but I don't see any baby." My mind started racing as Frank tried to calm me down and stop me from overeacting. At first, she thought I may just be really early, so she decided to do a transvaginal ultrasound to see things a little better. But, that too showed only an empty sac. And she couldn't pick up a heartbeat on the ultrasound screen. By 6 weeks, you can see a heartbeat on an ultrasound, so that definitely confirmed that things were not right. She looked at us and said, "Since I can't pick up a heartbeat...that probably means your baby died two weeks ago." Tears immediately fell from my eyes. I could not believe this was happening! She sent us next door to the hospital, where they have a bigger, more high tech ultrasound machine, to double check, but they found the same thing. A sac, but no baby. I was scheduled for a D&C a few days later, and sent home to mourn the loss of our little peanut. After the D&C, the leftover tissue was sent in for testing to determine what exactly had happened. The results came back a few weeks later that we had had a partial molar pregnancy, which most frequently occurs when two sperm fertilize the same egg. There may be partial placentas, membranes, or even a fetus present in a partial mole, which was the case for us. However, there are usually genetic problems with the baby. The incidence of this happening is about 1 out of 1000 pregnancies, so it was very, very rare, and the chances of a woman going on to have a healthy future pregnancy are extremely good. But that wasn't any comfort for me at that time. We were told by our doctor to not try for a year, in order for my system to get back to normal. This was devastating news, also. Just as we had gone through something so horrible and terrible, and looking forward to starting to try again, we were told we had to wait about a year. The doctor reccommended going back on birth control, but I didn't want to mess with my system like that again, so I just told him we would use condoms for protection...but of course we didn't. We were lucky, and were given the formal green light to try again around July or August of 2007, so sooner than we expected. I didn't have a period until about September of 2007, and I think I had one around October. But the rest of 2007, nothing happened. I didn't have another period since September or October either. It was also around the end of 2007 that I found a website called Baby Center (www.babycenter.com), with lots of information for woman who are trying to concieve, who are pregnant, and who have children already. I met new friends on the message boards there...other women going through the same thing as me, or that had been through similiar situations, and I found this so helpful. I soon learned from these new wonderful friends that I met that there were various ways to track my ovulation pattern to help with trying to concieve. The website Fertility Friend (www.fertilityfriend.com) offers free e-mail tutorials on how to chart your ovulation signs to best time intercourse to help get pregnant. I used the free tutorials, and then started the fertility process of tracking my basal body temperature, which is the temperature of a person's body taken first thing in the morning after several hours of sleep and before any activity, including getting out of bed or talking. I started taking that every morning as soon as I woke up, and them inputting the temperature for that day onto a graph online, my fertility chart. Any other signs of ovulation, such as fertile cervical mucus, were also noted on my chart. Once the website Fertility Friend detects ovulation from your temperatures and fertility signs, it gives you a set of crosshairs on the day it thinks you ovulated. It is normally very accurate. For the first few months that I was charting and tracking all of that, I still wasn't having a period, and I never got any crosshairs. Ovulation wasn't being detected on my chart. At the end of January 2008, I had a few days of really light, light pink spotting, and thought maybe I was pregnant and it was implantation spotting. I was pregnant again, but that ended in an early miscarriage. Finally, in February, I went in to see my midwife and told her I was overly frustrated with trying to concieve. I was having regular periods now, and it had been a little over a year since our partial molar pregnancy, and we just suffered another miscarriage, and it took long enough to get pregnant that time around, so what were our next steps to hurry this process along? I was lucky in that my midwife was very pro-active, and usually they don't start fertility testing until you have been trying for a year or more, and we had only technically been trying for 8 or 9 months since our molar pregnancy. But, she sent me right in for a bunch of blood work to test for thyroid problems and hormone issues, and when the results came back from that, everything was normal. I was in great health and things seemed to be working fine. At first, they thought I may have had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is a genetically-linked hormonal imbalance that prevents ovulation. PCOS also may cause overproduction of estrogen, abnormal thickening of the uterine lining, very heavy and/or irregular periods, as well as acne and facial hair. I was devastated at the thought of having PCOS, and thinking that although there was medicine I could be put on, the possibility of being pregnant may be out of my reach. But, after an appointment with the doctor, he determined that I was just having annovulatory cycles, something very simple to fix, yet something that makes it very difficult to concieve. I would have cycles, but sometimes I would ovulate with them, and sometimes I wouldn't. So, that made it much more harder to pinpoint my time of ovulation, and therefore, much more harder to time intercourse properly to concieve. So, he decided to start me on the fertility drug, Clomid, a drug used to stimulate ovulation in women who may not be ovulating or may have a luteal phase defect. He said there was a small chance of twins or triplets on this drug, but it wasn't the type of fertility drug that would give you 6 or 7 babies at once. Thank God for that! Even the rate of twins and triplets was pretty low. So, he started me on 50 milligrams for the first time. He said to wait until the end of March, and if I didn't get a period when I should, take a pregnancy test. If it was positive, great! If not, call him and he'd prescribe me Provera, a drug used to start your period, and then the Clomid to take during my period. If I did get my period however, I was to call him and get the 5 pills of Clomid to take on days 5-9 of my period. The end of March came, and my period showed up, so I got on the phone and got my first round of Clomid. I was so excited!! We hoped it would work on the first try. After I took my last pill, I started taking ovulation tests (the 10th day of my cycle), so I could catch when I was possibly ovulating so we could time intercourse and hopefully get pregnant! However, we only had intercourse a couple times during that time, and obviously didn't time it right, because at the end of April, I got my period again. I was disappointed, but optimistic again when I called my doctor and he decided that since the 50 milligrams didn't work, he would raise the dosage to 100 milligrams for that month. With the higher dosage, I was definitely crossing my fingers for that to work! I had hernia surgery on May 1, and was feeling down that we may not be able to start the second round of Clomid, since I was afraid I'd be laid up and recovering from my surgery, therefore unable to have intercourse. But, I figured it out on the calendar that by the time I was done taking the Clomid, it takes at least another week or two for it to kick in and make me ovulate, so I figured that by 2-3 weeks after my surgery, I'd be able to have intercourse without being in so much pain. So, I started the second round of Clomid in the beginning of May, on days 5-9 of my period. Little did I know that this was to be the most confusing cycle ever...and the cycle I would get pregnant! I started taking my ovulation tests on the 10th day of my cycle again that month, and a few days later, got a positive, so I thought I may be getting ready to ovulate. We had intercourse a few times, and that was that. I had more ovulation tests though, and kept taking one a day just to see what happened. But, the day after I got that positive, I got a negative! I had learned that usually, when you are ovulating or getting ready to ovulate, you get a positive ovulation test for at least a couple days in a row. And the fact that I was still tracking my basal body temperature helped too. Usually, the day after you ovulate, your temperature has a rise. But mind stayed low. I was confused, but kept taking the ovulation tests, thinking maybe that positive one was just a fluke and I hadn't actually ovulated yet. About a week later, I got another positive ovulation test, and we had intercourse again for a few days in a row. They say the best time to have intercourse when trying to concieve is the day before ovulation. For some women, they can have intercourse the day of or day after ovulation, and end up concieving, usually because the egg is sitting in the fallopian tube, waiting to be fertilized or to drop out and start a menstrual cycle. The next day, my temperature stayed low and I got a negative on an ovulation test. Now I was really confused. I continued taking the last few ovulation tests I had left and then made an appointment to go in and see my doctor and ask him what he thought of my chart. He couldn't give me any real clear answers but he did say, "This could be your most confusing cycle and the cycle you end up pregnant!" So, we just waited it out. The website I charted my information on ended up giving me crosshairs for the 19th day of my cycle, which didn't add up for me for my day of ovulation, but I was so confused anyway, it didn't matter. I just got set in the mindset that we weren't pregnant that month. Looking back, I had symptoms of pregnancy...I was moody, I was eating dill pickles out of the jar (I normally only like the sweet kind...but I just could not get enough of the dill ones!), I had twinges/sharp pains in my lower abdomen, and I was starving! But, I figured...sometimes I can be really moody, I like pickles, pregnant or not, the twinges/sharp pains had to be left over from when I ovulated, and I was always hungry anyway, pregnant or not, so I braced myself for my period to arrive at the end of the month. When I woke up one morning to take my temperature, 10 days past the day I possibly ovulated, my temperature spiked up quite a bit. If you are pregnant, your temperature goes up and stays up. It crossed my mind at that time, and I took a pregnancy test. It wasn't with my first morning urine though, so I got a negative. I decided to test the next morning though, just for the heck of it. I was 11 days past my ovulation then, and held my pee in allllll night. I woke up before Frank that morning, went in the bathroom, and peed on the stick. Then I went and laid down for 3 minutes to wait for the test to reveal the results. I went back in the bathroom after, and saw the very dark control line and no second line next to it, so I figured, "Ah, it's negative. Just what I thought." I picked up the test to throw it away, and as it caught the light just right, I thought I saw the beginning of a second line slowly appearing! I kept turning the test, trying to see it better, and I thought for sure that my eyes were playing tricks on me, since I wanted this so badly! I took the test out to the bedroom and woke Frank up and told him to look at it for me. I told him he may need the light to see it better but he said, "Nope, I see it. Let it sit for a minute and see what happens." I let the test sit for a few more minutes and sure enough, it was positive!!! VERY light, but positive, regardless! We were SOOOOOO excited!!!! I couldn't believe what I was seeing!! We told a few friends and family at first, and then told everyone we knew by the next day! We thought about waiting until I was further along just in case something happened, but...we were so excited, and I had such a good feeling that this one was going to work out that I figured, Why wait? I took a dollar store test that night, and it was waaaaaaay light, but still positive. The next morning I took another test, and it was a little bit darker. I took a total of six tests over the next week, and the last one I took came up in a split second and was as dark as dark can be! The Clomid and all of our hard work trying to concieve had finally paid off!! We called my doctor, and had our first confirmation of pregnancy on June 9. He did an ultrasound, and that's when we saw two tiny little sacs in my uterus. Twins?!?! We knew there was a chance but...it's the type of thing that you never really expect to happen to you! However, we were excited, nonetheless. The doctor said that there was definitely something growing in my uterus and that the uterine lining looked nice and strong, and told us to come back in two weeks to check on another ultrasound. We went back on June 20 for a second ultrasound, and as soon as the doctor started the ultrasound, he said, "I don't even need to tell you what I see up there." We saw our two sacs with our twins immediately. They had grown SO much in two weeks! And now we could see our little jelly beans, which was even more exciting. The doctor pointed out the heartbeats to us and we saw the tiny little flutters of our babies beating hearts on the ultrasound screen. He did a transvaginal ultrasound too, because he needed to get a better idea of how far along I was. We had thought I was 7 weeks, 3 days, but after the vaginal ultrasound, he determined that by the measurements of the babies, I was 6 weeks, 1 day. Good enough! He gave us a bunch of ultrasound pictures and said to come back in 3 weeks when he was back from vacation. I said, "Ugh, that seems so far away!" But he said we had NOTHING to worry about, both hearts were beating and both babies were good and healthy. It was SO nice to hear that!

Now, here we are, 31 weeks and 2 days pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl, and on top of the world! We can't wait to meet out little ones in January! Our due date is February 8, 2009, but twins usually come somewhere between 30-37 weeks. Both babies weigh about 4.5 pounds right now, and if they don't come on their own around 35 or 36 weeks, then my doctor will induce me, just so we don't end up with two 8 pound babies, since they are growing so fast and so big already! It's so exciting!!!

We've had a long road of three miscarriages (we had one when we first met...an "accident" pregnancy that ended in an early miscarriage also), trying for so long and for so hard, and now, God has blessed us with not one, but TWO beautiful babies. I can't help but feel so thankful and blessed, and can only conclude that God is just making up for lost time and for the angels we have lost by giving us two at once.

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