Friday, August 2, 2013

Guest post: Oh yeah, remember what fertility drugs, twin pregnancy, and bedrest was like? She's still IN IT!

My favorite story to tell about Mollie, who happened to be one of my grad assistants at Univ of MD Music Admissions, is when, on my first day of running my first year of auditions, which I had experimentally condensed into one week for the first time, leaving chaos and random prospective students in its wake, it snowed. Buckets. Feet, actually. And I called everyone and said not to worry, I was going to video all the auditions myself [with hubby] and everyone should stay safe at home while I fielded the barrage of questions and visitors. 

No sooner had I walked in the office but there she was with my other assistant, armed and ready for what was to come. Pretty much won a million dollars right there in that hallway as far as I was concerned.

And being the sweetheart that she is, she even offered up her email address should anyone be interested in chatting with her, about the experience she details below, some more: Molmcd [at] msn [dot] com. I know I wish her all the best, and can't wait - I mean, I CAN wait - to see those precious babes.

While Ashley is cruising it up, she asked if I would guest blog for her...and being that I am on bed rest with lots of time on my hands, I agreed!

Everyone's pregnancy experience is different.  We all have heard a million stories, have that friend who was thinking about having kids and oops was pregnant the first month she and her significant other talked about it, etc.  I am not one of those people.  I discovered after a few months off the pill that my body didn't ovulate (I went through way too many of those darn ovulation test strips), saw my doctor who was cool with waiting or exploring, and I said enough already.  Sure enough I had poly cystic ovaries and the infertility fun (aka not fun) began!

The short version of the story is that I responded very well to hormone injections (and not at all to chlomid) - so well that after my first 8 week attempt at ovulating oops produced ten eggs and I was warned to stay away from my husband for at least ten days.  A few rounds of producing too many and I said enough and began the Ivf party.  Being that I was a mass follicle producer, this seemed like a good plan.  My first round yielded 18 embryos and after fertilization and five days of growth, 4 follicles good enough to freeze or use.  The first implantation didn't work, the first frozen attempt got canned because the lupron and I didn't get along, the first frozen stimulated attempt resulted in a chemical pregnancy, and we figured for the last frozen stimulated round we would put in two.  And, when it rains it pours - we were pregnant with twins!  I am a twin and I was pretty open minded about having two at once, but my husband was definitely thrown for a loop.  Of course I was so hyper stimulated I could not breathe, missed a week of work, and couldn't wear clothes because I was bloated with about 20 lbs of water hanging out in the 30 follicles I had produced and not had extracted (yay frozen STIMULATED cycle)....but after a few weeks I shed 25 pounds of water and could wear clothes again and do my job.

My mother had an incompetent cervix and once I finally graduated from the fertility clinic to an actual ob, I went to the high risk clinic down the street from me.  They were closer than my regular ob and I wanted people to be ready to deal with my high maintenance approach...it had taken me a long time to get to 10 weeks and I wanted to be as closely monitored as I could be.  I told every doctor that my mom had a crappy cervix and I wanted to be checked!

Everything was going swimmingly (22 week cervix measurement was 4.5 and the goal is greater than 3cm), when I went in for my 24 week appt and after running laps around the hospital to have my gestational diabetes test, we discovered my cervix was millimeters long and around 1 cm dilated.  My husband was at work downtown and I was flabbergasted.  Here I was, feeling rather cocky about having made it past 20 weeks unscathed, making it through my 14 concerts and the end of the school year without any problems.  I was planning on swimming, napping, and playing with my dog. Instead I get sent to labor and delivery to make some serious decisions.

My husband jumped in a cab and got to the hospital.  He sat with me while doctors shrugged their shoulders about what to do and made us make some of the toughest decisions of our lives.
We could: 
a. Have me do strict bed rest at the hospital (odds are deliver around 26 weeks), 
b. have a cerclage put in (risky because they could see the membrane to baby a's sac and could puncture it) and maybe buy me around 6 more weeks if successful and
c.  If unsuccessful we would be delivering within the next 24-48 hours and were we ready to sign dnr's for the babies?

We went with the surgery, which went great.  They were able to fully close my cervix (although not as high up as they would have liked), they gave me the magnesium iv for 24 hours and beta-methazone injections, a ton of antibiotics, and sent me home after 4 emotionally ridiculous days. Babies were looking good, cervix was closed, and I could go home to lie in bed on my side and be up for taking showers, trips to the bathroom, feeding myself, and could go up and down the stairs 1-2 times a day.  I was so happy to be home and see my doggy, but at the same time this was daunting.  I have run two marathons, competed in long distance swimming and biking events, done a few triathlons.... Let's just say sitting on my butt - or lying on my side - is not high on my list of preferred activities!

It's been almost six weeks.  My mom flew out the day after the surgery and has been feeding me, walking my adorable doggy, doing the laundry, and keeping things together for us.   I have read a lot of books, tried to do some writing (not easy on one's side), watched some t.v. (I try to save it as a last resort so I can feel pseudo productive each day - like today I read about baby sleep habits, planned some stuff for school for my substitute teacher, agonized on the phone with my girlfriend about how much discharge is really okay...), had a few meltdowns, and sent my mother to help one of my closest friends plan her wedding because I can't.  Not being able to leave except for dr appointments sucks, getting diagnosed with freaking gestational diabetes on top of everything else sucks, but knowing that I am doing this for a good cause helps me appreciate each day they are still in me!

Knowing I could be (and hopefully will be) doing this for another 4-6 weeks makes me nauseous (a few other things do too, yay pregnancy), but I have been trying to take it one day at a time.  I am lucky to have my mom here from New York, my husband is super supportive, and I could not do this without visits/phone calls/emails  from my friends.  Distraction is key!  I love hearing about what other people are doing/working on/struggling with and my default visitor mode is friendly and positive :) which forces me to not get too dark and bummed about everything.
If you have a friend on bed rest, call them!  
Bring them food from a favorite restaurant, ask how they are doing....but please don't ask them what they are doing :( because my answer is not much!   Please don't make things darker - I don't need to hear about how awful this sounds to you, and on the flip side, don't do the 'My life is so stressful, I wish I could be on bed rest!'  I have heard that a few times and no violence has erupted yet but it could happen.  Sure, anyone would like to lie around for a day or two but no one really wants to for six to twelve weeks!  I also signed up for an online multiples support group and a bed rest support group.  A little encouragement and empathy goes a long way.

For anyone on bed rest, hang in there.  The time does pass.  For anyone who has done it in the past, congrats you made it through and if you have any advice on how to get through it faster or better I am all ears!  As perverse as this may sound, getting gestational diabetes has added some structure to my day - when you have to eat six times a day, test blood sugar 4 times a day...it makes me feel like I am doing something to help myself.  I get dressed every day, I have had a prenatal massage therapist come to my house twice to help work out the kinks of not moving so much, my mom brought a woman in to give me a pedicure :) and the little things make a big difference!

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