September 15th 2011:
IUI – intrauterine insemination cycle #6. We had a discussion with the doctor about our next step and he suggested exploratory surgery.
September 29th 2011:
Pregnancy test came back positive. HCG level = 368. The nurse seemed a bit over-excited when she shared that number. I called to schedule the second lab and the nurse openly laughed when I told her the number. Anything above 25 is considered positive and I had tested on the earliest possible day to get a reading.
Nora and I jumped into the car and met Nate for a surprise lunch. I shared the happy news in the parking lot where he works and we felt sort of numb for the day. I mentioned the high HCG levels and thoughts of twins started tumbling through our heads.
October 3rd 2011:
The second HCG level = 2331. They were looking for the original level to hopefully double. Instead it’s more than 6x the original 368. Now we’re really wondering what’s going on but we sort of push it to the back of our thoughts.
A few days later we had dinner with Nate’s family and were able to tell many of them the good news in person. Nora was having trouble sharing with her cousins that night and Nate’s Mom mentioned that the other kids were like that as siblings at her age as well. Nate said that we’d have to start working with Nora right away then – and Kathy actually caught on to his intention right away. I barely got what he was saying!
October 14th 2011: (6 weeks)
At 6 weeks we went in for our first ultrasound. With the prior ectopic pregnancy in my history they check the placement of the baby very early on. We were overjoyed to see a heartbeat right away when they began the ultrasound. YES! But – then we saw more. Two? The ultrasound technician kept measuring and taking pictures and measuring the heart rate. Over and over and over. Why was she doing this so many times? There must be two?! Oh my goodness. TWO? She stopped her measurements and looked up and said, “Well, it looks like there’s THREE!” This is when my first panic attack began.
The perinatologist, was called into the room and could likely sense our fears. She suggested we return a week later to talk in person about what all of this meant. We were warned that with two of the babies having somewhat low heart rates that she expected we’d have a 50/50 chance that two of them would make it through the week.
Nate and I got in the car and looked back at the empty seats in the van and then at each other and both sat there dazed for a while. These little moments continued throughout the day. We picked up Nora from my cousin’s house and shared the news with her – another panic attack. She gave me a huge hug and looked me in the eyes and said, “it’s all going to be ok” (before we left for this appointment she gave me a little polished stone with the word “miracles” etched into it). I called my closest friends and had the panic attack of a lifetime. They somehow interpreted what was going on through sobs and supported me with hopeful thoughts and comforting words. I was in complete shock. Happiness and fear were tossing back and forth in my mind. I sat at home sewing flannel baby blankets while Nate made apple/rhubarb jam. I stayed up late making a “Big Sister” shirt for Nora.
October 15th 2011:
My nephew, Ethan, had his 10th birthday party and we were seeing my side of the family in person. Only my Mom and Dad knew that we were pregnant (and Mom thought she was pretty smart knowing the “secret” – little did she know!). We walked through the door with the camera rolling and caught Auntie Amy at the door. She tried to keep it together after seeing Nora’s shirt so we could make it upstairs. We made it to the top of the steps and the rest of the family saw her shirt and reacted in a variety of ways. Some speechless with tears and others jumping and screaming. Quite entertaining and emotional.
Shortly after the news we asked everyone to have a seat in the living room for more news. It’s no secret that we’d done infertility treatments to get here (see our About page for that long story). I’m sure several of them were thinking twins. We had Nora bring a little doll backpack over to my Mom and asked Nora to show her how many babies were in the bag. She took each one out counting as she went 1…2…3… and everyone’s jaw dropped. Mom’s hand went to her mouth in shock as did mine – which started yet another panic attack on my part. I couldn’t stop shaking. The rest of the day they processed things in a variety of ways just as we had been doing. Some things were scary and others humorous and exciting all at once. What a day!
October 20th 2011: (7 weeks)
We returned to the clinic for our second ultrasound and walked in with tentative steps. How do you walk into a room to hear if your babies are still alive? How do you look at that with hopes that they’re all ok and yet fearful that they’re all ok? At this point I was still so scared of what this meant for me physically. I suffered with post traumatic stress disorder after nearly losing my life to HELLP syndrome with my first pregnancy and now I was facing another very stressful pregnancy. At the same time – these were 3 babies that we very much wanted. A big family that we hoped and dreamed of.
The tech began her scan and there they were – 3 strong heart beats.
Next came the appointment to talk with the perinatologist. She sat us down at a small, round table and slid a piece of paper in front of us. It outlined all of the facts and figures about what our odds were for delivery during each week of pregnancy. 24 weeks, 28 weeks, 32 weeks. What the survivability was. What we’d expect for critical health concerns and major health concerns at each week. How our odds would be decreased if we considered selective reduction and her support of that choice if we decided to do that. Every fact and figure was clearly typed in black and white and stared back at us.
The doctor made one statement that haunted me for days, (paraphrased from memory) “It would be terribly sad for you to lose these babies before 24 weeks (there’s a 15-30% chance of natural miscarriage up to 24 weeks which is the point of possible survivability for babies), but if they were born between 24-28 weeks and survived, you’d have 3 very sick babies to take care of for the rest of your life. Not one sick baby. Three.”
I left that appointment with a new, very real fear – but not for myself – for the three new lives I was now responsible for.