(Our new house as of May 6th!)
Thursday, March 31, 2011
(Our new house as of May 6th!)
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
And here we have Baby B, our mellow little one. He waved his arms a bit, but really couldn't be bothered to put on a show. Before we were focusing on him, we are pretty sure we saw him kicking his crazy brother/sister in the head, though, so I think he will hold his own well.
And finally, an image that truly melted my heart. We had just finished talking about whether the twins were aware of each other when the doctor snapped this beauty:
Our first picture of the twins reaching towards one another! Precious! I just know there will be lots of hand holding and love between these two for years and years to come.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
He saw these scrubs when we went to Chattanooga for our retrieval and transfer procedures, and has been talking about them ever since. We like to dream that we work at the Fertility Center, since the work they do is truly amazing, and they are the most compassionate, kind medical practice we could ever imagine.
Anyhow, our graduation gift was premature. I went off all meds for two days to make sure my placenta(s) had taken over hormone production, as that should happen around 11 weeks, but we weren't quite there yet. My progesterone is low, so it's back to the meds and back to the fertility center in two weeks. At least we get to see our favorite nurses again!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
The picture we're sharing this week is of both twins nestled together. Every week our doctor tries to get a "family photo," but as the babies grow bigger these get more difficult to take. Today we could clearly see arms, legs, hands, and feet, but all you can really see above are heads and torsos. I think it's unbelievably precious to see them side-by-side, though, so I don't mind the poorer quality photo. When I see these pictures of both babies at once it makes the fact that there are really two in there sink in a little more. And sinking in is a good thing, because there are definitely two babies coming our way!
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Being diagnosed with endometriosis was terrifying...Andrew and I had always wanted kids, and one-third to one-half of all women with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant. Endometriosis often damages a woman's fallopian tubes, and without working tubes pregnancy is basically impossible. We were hopeful, though, that the surgery would cure the pain issues and give us a good chance of conceiving down the road.
Unfortunately, the pain did not subside. For the next two years, we consulted multiple doctors and tried everything from muscle relaxers to bladder medications and special diets. Nothing worked, most likely because there was additional endometriosis that was not treated in the initial surgery. After more than three years of attempting to cure the pain issues, we decided to toss in the towel and try to have a baby. After all, being pregnant is one of the best treatments for endometriosis.
Having watched friends and family get pregnant instantaneously, I was sure that we would be expecting in a few months. Instead, within just a few months, we learned that I would definitely need medication to help me ovulate in a way that could produce a pregnancy. Basically, after you have a "quality ovulation," your body should produce progesterone. Without enough progesterone, a pregnancy cannot begin or be sustained. So, we began using Clomid in the hopes that it would help my body create the correct hormones.
During our second month of Clomid, we saw the holy grail for all couples trying to conceive...a little plastic stick with two lines! We were pregnant! Initial testing, however, revealed that something was not right. My hormone levels were extremely low, and though we prayed and prayed that this would be our baby, things only got worse. After having my blood drawn every other day for about two weeks, an ultrasound showed that this pregnancy was most likely in one of my fallopian tubes. The same day, bloodwork revealed that the embryo had stopped developing. On what I will always remember as one of the worst days of my life, we saw three different doctors, had two ultrasounds, and ended up in a chemotherapy ward to get a shot that would increase our chances of not losing one of my tubes.
The drug I had was very strong, so we took a month off from doctors and drugs. Somehow, at the end of that month, we saw two lines again...our second pregnancy. The initial testing was again troubling, and within a few days the little one had stopped developing. My doctor recommended a rather unpleasant test to see if my tubes were open. They appeared to be open, but he still had concerns that they weren't working. If we had one more loss, we needed to move on to more aggressive options.
The following month we upped our Clomid dosage and crossed our fingers...and again got pregnant. This baby was due the week after our fifth anniversary--this had to be it. A week later, we were facing the same nightmare. The baby had stopped growing. Based on our history, my doctor was fairly convinced that my fallopian tubes did not function properly and that it would be virtually impossible to get pregnant without more aggressive assistance. After much prayer, consideration, and two "second opinion" appointments, we decided to go for it. We officially signed up for IVF. On New Year's Eve 2010, I gave myself my first set of injections. After 36 shots, a little anesthesia, and a lot of hope, we found out we were expecting our two little miracles!
As I said before, it's been a bumpy road, full of the deepest heartbreak we have ever known. But this terrible road led us to the most wonderful gift...a double gift more precious than we could have imagined. God's plan is always good, even when it doesn't seem that way.
So why are we sharing this? First, pregnancy loss is a taboo subject. After losing our first, I longed for a community of women my age who understood my experience. Unfortunately, this is a part of life that many women experience but few talk about. If sharing our story can make just one couple feel less alone, then it's worth it. Second, infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss and IVF are so misunderstood. IVF is often portrayed as a way for couples to get pregnant when it's convenient for them. In reality, IVF is a final option for couples who have been through incredible loss and excruciating pain, both physcially and emotionally. It is a last resort when nothing else has worked, when your quest for a biological child has nearly reached its end. It is not glamorous or fun...it is a sacrifice made by men and women who long to be parents, who long to know the love of a parent for a child. Our hope is that as more people open up about their struggles to conceive, the stigma often attached to infertility will change, and people experiencing infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss will feel able to leave the shadows and receive the support they so desperately need.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
We had our 10 week ultrasound (we get ultrasounds every week during the first trimester), and the twins put on quite a show! Baby B, whose picture appears on top, was waving his arms and twitching around. Then Baby A, whose picture is on the bottom, did a full-out dance for us. It was so adorable! We had seen small twitches the week before, but this was incredible. You can actually see their little hands in front of their faces and their little feet/legs in these pictures.
While this path to parenthood is not what we would have necessarily chosen, there are some benefits along the way. From 5 weeks on, we have gotten to visit with our babies each week. Seeing the weekly growth has been an experience we will never, never forget. Plus, if we had taken a different path, we would not have ended up with these two perfect babies...the babies that we know were meant to be ours!
Friday, March 4, 2011
So how did we learn that we were expecting two bundles of joy? After initially finding out I was pregnant, we had an ultrasound a few days later to make sure everything was where it should be (more about this coming in a later post). We saw one perfect little gestational sac...one little baby beginning to form. About four days later I had a total meltdown and convinced myself I was no longer pregnant. Sweet Andrew convinced my doctor's office to let me come in for blood work to make sure everything was progressing well, so I rushed to the office. Andrew didn't come since it was just a simple blood draw and we wouldn't get the results for a few hours. My veins are notoriously hard to stick, so when I arrived the nurse suggested we do an ultrasound rather than a blood draw. I, of course, agreed...I wasn't turning down a chance to see our baby again. The doctor quickly pointed out the gestational sac, and the now visible yolk sac. He then moved the ultrasound a bit and showed me a second gestational sac and yolk sac! I will always remember that as one of the most amazing, surreal moments...and I will always remember telling Andrew that he was going to be a dad times two in the Food City parking lot immediately following the appointment.
So here we are, nine and a half weeks pregnant with fraternal twins (our 40 week due date is October 4th, but twins are full term at 37 weeks). We are excited to begin what is sure to be a wild, wonderful adventure. And we will try to keep this blog updated so you can follow along as our set of Shafers continue to grow!