Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Making Babies: Part 4. And 5.

Yep, that's right.  Plural.  Babies.  I have two tiny humans growing in my body.  And if you've visited these dusty parts of the internet anytime in the last few years, you know that pretty much the only time I ever post on this blog anymore is when something enters or exits my uterus.  So, here we are.

*If you're like, girl, ain't nobody got time for your baby drama novels - but still have FOMO, scroll to the bottom for some FAQs.*

Once again, this is the classic story of "When a man and a woman love each other very much, they pay their doctor thousands of dollars to maybe get the woman pregnant."  It's very similar to Grace's conception story, in that we used some of the embryos that we froze from Lyla's IVF cycle.  And as you may or may not recall, frozen embryo cycles are much less complicated and expensive than fresh cycles.  So, hip hip hooray for that.

Lyla's first birthday was approaching and I had been slowly weaning her as I anticipated that we'd likely be doing another Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). I weaned both Eli and Grace around the same age, so figured we'd try and keep with the timing to see if we could luck out with an equal-ish age difference between our kids.  A few weeks before Lyla's birthday, I was feeling randomly anxious and called to make an appointment for a consult with our fertility doctor.  

We had our consult on 11/13/18.  Basically went in and said, "Hey, doc. I'm feeling crazy, let's go for round 4!"  She said, "Cool, when do you want to start?" She said we could do the transfer before Christmas or plan for early next year. We had a trip to Texas planned for the middle of January, so we decided to just do the transfer right before we left. We probably could've waited until after, but again with the feeling anxious. Not Christmas anxious, but you know. Or maybe you don't know and you still think I'm an impatient basket case. Which is probably true - but clearly I care not.

I started Provera (a progesterone pill) a few days later to try and induce a period. They wanted me to go straight from the 10 days of Provera to birth control - so I thought that maybe I could put off the whole shedding of the uterus thing for a little bit longer. But alas, Mother Nature in all her bitchy glory was like, "Oh! You're going to St. George? Girl, have I got a going away gift for you." And behold, the floodgates did open.

After I felt confident that shark week was over, my uterus was like:

And then I bled for two more weeks.  And didn't die.  I still don't even understand how losing that much blood and surviving is possible.  It's like my body was just making up for all the periods I haven't had in my life.  How my uterus didn't just shed itself into oblivion is beyond me. So anyways, that was clearly real fun times. But enough harping on the beautiful thing that is womanhood.  There's still plenty of time for talk of bloody lady gardens later.  (Spoiler alert.)

As per usual, they gave me a calendar with all the important dates of the several weeks-long process of creating a Milne life.  Because a calendar that says, "Bang this day and this day. Pee on a stick 14 days after." would just be way too easy.

I finally was able to stop the birth control pills on 12/13. And thank the good Lord for that, because they were turning me into a grumpy, irritable, hot damn mess. Even my happy pills were like, "Bitch, we did not sign up for this. Calm down, woman."

I went in for my baseline ultrasound on 12/17 - where they bust out the vag wand and make sure my uterus and ovaries look good and ready to start the cycle.  They told me I was all good to start taking the estrogen starting the next day. One difference between this cycle and Grace's was that instead of taking estrogen butt cheek shots they just had me take these little blue estrogen pills vaginally morning and night.  So, pros are hooray no estrogen shots! And cheaper! Cons? Blue. Freaking. Discharge.  Yeah, I know - discharge is a gross word.  But you want to know what's more gross?  Blue. Freaking. Discharge.  Also, they don't come with an applicator to - you know - shove it up there into the vaginal abyss.  And that part just plain and simple grosses me out.

Anyways.  I had what I assume were common side effects of jacking up on estrogen: gnarly headaches, hot flashes, and being perma-bloated.  At one point when they re-checked my lining and estrogen levels, they decided that I should add another estrogen pill every night - and I don't think I need to tell you what that means.  But for dramatic effect, I will: More. Blue. Freaking. Discharge.

January 3rd rolled around and that meant it was time to start daily progesterone butt cheek shots (in addition to the estrogen pills).  I've given myself a zillion shots in my lifetime, but that first shot always freaks me out a little.  The nerves got to me and I managed to stab my finger when I was trying to re-cap the needle after that first shot and got blood everywhere.  Fun times.  The biggest side effects I can remember from the shots this time around is how absolutely tired they made me.  And the chronically itchy arse from all the injection sites.  It's common to have a bit of an allergic reaction to the shot - so it's no surprise that my butt skin is just as sensitive as the rest of me.  Aside from that, the shots weren't a huge deal - mostly because I've become so used to them.  But there's always the random times where the needle goes in a weird way and instead of gliding painlessly into my keister cheek, and it hurts like a sonofa.  Anyways, it leaves a nice array of rashes, bumps, and bruises on my butt.  It's really pretty.

January 8th: Valium Transfer Day!  We had 5 embryos chillin' in the freezer from Lyla's cycle.  Since we had transferred two embryos with all our other kids, we decided to go ahead and do that again - knowing that yes, we could end up with multiples, but we were okay with that.  We got there and they told me to go ahead and take the Valium I had brought with me and I responded, "With pleasure" and popped the best medication I get to take during these cycles.  They took us back to the room where the magic happens, told me to take my pants off and handed me a giant paper towel sheet.  Somehow the "Aren't you going to take me to dinner first?" joke never gets old in these situations.  For me, anyways.  Ah, reproduction.  The doctor came in and showed us our babies' very first picture (Well, technically 2nd, since we saw them when they were first fertilized and grown during Lyla's cycle, but whatever):

Precious, right? When my kids are seniors in high school and need a baby photo for the yearbook, I'm sending this with them.  (Do all schools do that?  Or was that just ours?)  I digress.  One new thing about this cycle that we didn't have with Grace's was being able to watch the embryologist take the embryos out of the petri dish and put them into a little bubble that basically went into a fancy pants medical straw.  It was pretty cool to watch, even though it's not much of anything.  Maybe it was only cool for us to watch, because they're our embryos - but if you feel so inclined to watch, here's the video for your viewing pleasure.

After that, the embryologist brought our embryos into the room to my doctor so she could drop 'em in my baby bucket.  Took maybe 2 minutes tops.  You know, kind of like the good ol' fashioned way.

Here's a picture of my uterus.  I circled where the embryos are - because it basically looks like nothing if you have no idea what you're looking for:

We went home and I kicked off my "Princess Days" with my usual post-Valium nap.  With my other cycles, I've had specific moments or strong twinges that I feel like was possibly the moment an embryo decided to latch on.  Whether that's true or not, who knows.  But nevertheless, it didn't stop me from trying to stay very still and hone into my body to see if I could feel anything. That night I was already feeling anxious to test, which is silly - because the earliest I've ever had a positive test after embryo transfers is 4 days after.  So, just more waiting.  Oh!  And how could I forget about the nightly addition of the waxy progesterone vag bullets.  The good news is these come with applicators.  But that's about as far as the "Pros" list goes.  These babies are super melty, and I have to lay down and stay down immediately after putting them in or I start leaking everywhere.  In the morning I have to high tail it to the bathroom so I don't wet myself with - you guessed it - so. much. freaking. blue. discharge.  Because yes, I was still taking the estrogen pills vaginally.

I had a few "princess days" before we left for Texas.  And let me tell you, princess days with 3 kids are much different than the princess days I had when I didn't have any kids.  I'm not even sure I would call them "princess days".  More like "days I don't feel as bad for sitting on my butt while I avoid being productive at all costs"days.  I had to keep reminding myself that people get pregnant while carrying on with their normal lives all the time.  Surely carrying my almost 30 pound one year-old up and down the stairs wasn't going to squander my chances.  But after going through everything I do to get pregnant, I can never help but be a little extra paranoid.  I even tried extra hard to harness my annoyance and outbursts with my kids who were driving me crazy.  I thought that maybe my embryos might catch on and be like, "This bitch is crazy, we out."

I felt a lot more pessimistic with this cycle - like it wasn't going to work.  And that's more than likely my defense mechanism to save myself from potential overwhelming disappointment in the end - but it did feel like I had already used up all my IVF luck and hoping that we'd go 4 for 4 on successes seemed improbable. But nonetheless, I continued to overanalyze the hell out of my cramps one second and lack of cramps the next.  And while I never felt the magical, telling twinge, I will say that after every single one of my transfers, I've always had a specific moment where something made me laugh really hard.  Like, tears streaming down my face hard.  And Google says laughter helps implantation, so, there.  I wish I could find the video that made me laugh so hard this time around - because it definitely wasn't nearly as funny as you would've assumed it was by my reaction.

Moving right along.  It was January 12th, the day before we left for Texas and 4 days after my transfer and I anxiously shot out of bed to pee on a stick.  Full disclosure: I actually had already taken a test the day before - which was ridiculous.  But there were ladies on Google that said they had gotten positives that early and my stock of pregnancy tests was plentiful (because I'm an addict - but also because Walmart's grocery pickup didn't have the boxes of 3, so they way overcompensated with giving me several boxes of 2), so I tried just for funsies knowing full well that it would more than likely be negative - which it was.  Anyways, day 4 pee test came back with this:

Boom.  Pregnant.  Again.  Hallelujah.

I ran into our bedroom to where Shawn was still in bed and shoved the pee stick in his face.  He responded with, "So I gave you enough time to yourself on your princess days then?" (Ha ha.)  Needless to say he was happy - although I probably would have gotten a better reaction out of him if he wasn't half asleep.  Also maybe if I had told him in a more fun way than shoving a stick I just peed on in his face.  But, meh.  The time for fancy announcement hoopla has passed by the 4th pregnancy, I suppose.  But that's okay.  We were (and are) happy and I was mega-relieved.

I continued to pee on sticks, like I do, while we were in Texas.  Just to make sure my lines kept getting darker and didn't completely disappear.  Also because I'm ridiculous.  Looking back through my pictures, I realize I didn't actually take pictures of all of them next to each other.  Super bummer for you guys, I know.  But they did progressively get darker.  (Mostly unrelated side note: I had brought a fine tip permanent marker to write which day it was on the pregnancy tests - because I'm hardcore - and Grace managed to find it in our condo bathroom and went to town on the door, walls, and toilet.  So I spent a ton of time scrubbing it with hand sanitizer before I realized I had alcohol swabs with my butt shots - and that wiped it mostly right off.  Kids are fun.) 

I waited impatiently until 1/21, when I finally had my first HCG blood test.  Then I waited impatiently aaaall day for them to call with the results.  When they finally did, it was a resounding, "You're pregnant!"  They told me my level was 2,373.  I was (what would be equivalent to) 18 days past ovulation (DPO).  For comparison's sake, my level with Eli at 14 DPO was 71; my level with Grace at 17 DPO was 464; and my level with Lyla at 15 DPO was 201.  Really, it's hard to compare numbers just because they were obviously on different days - but they also can vary from person to person and pregnancy to pregnancy.  But it's still fun to compare numbers, especially where this number was a lot higher than the others.  And while I'm perfectly aware that HCG levels don't really indicate whether or not you're pregnant with multiples, I still couldn't help but compare my numbers to pregnancies of other women.  I found a website where they averaged HCG levels for singletons, twins, and triplets:

So, obviously numbers are all over the place - but my number was still higher than the median for 18 DPO.  So I decided to look at the twins chart:

And because my number was still higher than the median, I couldn't help but look at the triplet chart for funsies:

Anyways, like I said, it obviously wasn't telling us either way - but with how much higher the number was, it did give me a bit of a hunch that it just might actually be twins this time around.  They did a repeat test a week later (1/28) to make sure that the numbers were still increasing like they should, and sure enough they were, my level was 21,187.

I was told to keep taking the blue vag pills, the wax vag bullets, and the progesterone butt cheek shot - and I'd continue all of them until around 10 weeks.  Yay.  They scheduled my first ultrasound for February 7th - ten long ass days later.

Nausea kicked in a lot earlier this time around than I remember it with my others.  So, while that and the perma-exhaustion were reassuring symptoms of something living in my uterus - it rendered me absolutely useless in the adulting world.  I felt like I couldn't function because the nausea and tiredness were so debilitating.  With my other kids, I've just powered through the nausea.  Fortunately I've been lucky enough to not be a puker, but I still was having an epicly hard time dealing this time around - so I tried the B6 + Unisom that I've always heard people talk about.  It definitely made a difference in the mornings - but it would creep back in the middle of the afternoon and stay until I went to bed.  I Googled just about every "remedy" that people suggested.  I went to the store one day and came home with Lifesaver mints, Jolly Ranchers, Warheads, Sprite, Lemonade, saltines, Sea Bands, Sour Patch Kids, and Lemonheads.  Clearly I was feeling a little desperate.  (For the record, the Jolly Ranchers and mints were what I stuck with the most, and they took the edge off a little bit.  I still think Sea Bands are a load of crap.  It didn't really surprise me that these mini sweat bands that cut off my circulation didn't do much aside from look really stupid.  But some people swear by them, so whatever.)

Anyways, an eternity later, it was finally February 7th and time to make sure we actually had a bun in the oven.  As soon as they put the ultrasound probe on my stomach, we immediately saw two babies. Two babies.  Two.  I had to check with Shawn to make sure he knew what he was seeing.  He did.

Like I said, my HCG numbers had given me a hunch it could be twins - but we've transferred two embryos with each of our kids and only one has ever stuck around.  So the fact that they both did when I'm on my 4th pregnancy?  Well played, God.  Well played.

I felt a lot of different things at that appointment - and as surprised as we were, the most prominent thing I felt was a flood of relief and gratitude that there was actually life happening in there.  Two lives.  As we drove home, all the logistics of having twins flooded my mind.  How would I breastfeed?  Where would they sleep?  Will everyone's carseat fit in the van?  Is my body going to be irreversibly damaged?  Will I be able to deliver them vaginally?  Will my house ever be clean again?  Will I ever sleep again?  Will I ever leave the house again?  We need to buy another stroller.  And another carseat.  And another crib.  And another high chair.  Will they be healthy?  Will they bankrupt us?  However, the more we talked about it over the next several days, the more excited we got.  Nervous, and still concerned about life with five kids under 5, but excited.  Also, pro tip: Maybe don't make the mistake - even out of sheer, morbid (and vain) curiosity - of asking Google 'did your stomach ever go back to normal after having twins?'  Because the results will not be satisfying.  And you'll learn words like 'c-section shelf' and 'twin skin'.  Jesus take the wheel.

Anyways, we're ready for the adventure twins will bring!  Well, okay.  We're maybe not ready.  But is anyone ever?  I feel so blessed to have the children I do and beyond blessed that we're able to add two more.  If you would have told me 6 years ago that I'd have 5 kids by the end of 2019, I never would have believed you.  I've been so nervous to tell people or officially "announce" anything because it still feels so surreal.  (Also, by the time you're on your 4th and 5th kid, people don't really give a flying fart anymore.  Your baby maker is old news.)  That, and as silly as it sounds, I was scared to jinx it.  I've been extra paranoid this entire pregnancy of losing one or both of our babies.  The fact that I have a subchorionic hemorrhage (which my doctor likes to refer to as a "threatened miscarriage") that likes to gush bright red blood every now and then definitely doesn't help.  But more on that below.  For now, we are anxiously excited and forever grateful for these little dudes to join our family!


Bravo if you made it all the way down here by reading the entire thing.  If you're TL;DRing this bish, I can't say I blame you - but nevertheless, here's some FAQs about this pregnancy for your perusal:

How far along are you?
I'll be 20 weeks tomorrow (5/9).  More than halfway done, since I've been told they won't let me go past 38 weeks, but to plan on somewhere closer to 36 weeks.  (Pleeeeeeeease let it be closer to 36 weeks.  Pleeeeeeeeeease.)

When is your due date?
Technically, my due date is September 26th.  

How are you feeling?
Right now I feel like I've been pregnant for 39 years.  I'm basically always tired and grunt like a fat old woman every time I have to bend over or stand up.  I walk up our stairs and need my inhaler.  But I have gained some of that 2nd trimester energy back, so that's been nice.  Also, the acne.  I'd say I'm breaking out like a teenager - but I've never really stopped with the whole zits thing thanks to PCOS - but I'm breaking out way more than I usually do.  You could probably draw a pretty neat picture by connecting all the dots on my chest and back.  So, of course that makes me feel super pretty.  

Are the twins fraternal or identical?
From everything we can tell - especially since we transferred two embryos - they're fraternal.  Although there's a small chance they could be identical and still be in their own sacs.  (One embryo would have just died off and the other would have split in half.)  You can't really know that for sure unless you do a DNA test after they're born though - or so I'm told.

Do you know the genders?
Yes!  Both boys!  Confirmed multiple times.  (We tried going to Fetal Fotos and they told us they were 95% sure that they were both boys, but that we could come back to be sure.  We still haven't actually gone back yet, because we've had several ultrasounds since then.)  We were initially told that Boy/Girl is the most common combination of fraternal twins, followed by Girl/Girl, then Boy/Boy.  I was hoping we'd get at least one boy, so when Shawn and I made our final guesses, I had guessed they'd be a boy and a girl and he guessed two boys.  You can imagine how stoked he is to be getting two more sons.  (Fun fact: When I was waiting to see if I was even pregnant, I had a dream that we had twin boys, and one of them had the cutest curly blonde hair.  So, if that happens, then boom.  I'm magic.)  Eli was sure that it was a boy and a girl.  He still tells me that.  But he's really excited to finally have some brothers and he makes sure to let everyone know that we're getting two new baby brothers.  Grace is excited too and thinks they're growing in my boobs.  Or my "boom booms," as she likes to call them.  So when she comes to rub my boom booms, I have to remind her that they're in my belly.  

Have you had any complications?
The only real worrisome complication I've had is the subchorionic hemorrhage I briefly mentioned above.  It's basically like a huge bruise in my uterus that will eventually reabsorb or bleed out - but it is technically a "threatened miscarriage".  Mine is fairly good-sized and right in between both babies.   I've been told by a Maternal Fetal Medicine that it will probably take months to resolve.  Which basically means, "Sorry, but there's a solid chance you're going to bleed for the rest of your pregnancy."  I've only had two big bouts of the bright red blood.  The first was when I was about 12.5 weeks and the second was last weekend (at 18ish weeks).  The most recent one landed me in Labor & Delivery because I was bleeding so much.  But the babies were fine and measuring just like they were supposed to.  So they just chalked it up to the effing hemorrhage.  Aside from the big bleeds, it's just basically been constant brown spotting that occasionally lets up for a little bit.  So now I just have anxiety basically every time I go to the bathroom.  So that's fun.  They haven't put me on official bed rest or anything - they just say no sex, no exercise, and just to take it easy.  (When I asked my MFM doctor about the no sex thing - because it's been a while, okay? - she said, and I quote, "Do you like your husband right now?  What do you want the answer to be?  He's fine.  He's got hands.")

Do you have names picked out yet?
That's a solid no.  I struggle so hard with boy names.  And then when I find something I'm okay with, Shawn vetoes it.  And vice versa.  It really is true that you don't realize how many people you hate until you try to name a kid.  (Also how many people hate their own kids with some of the names I see when I'm Googling.  Stop naming your kids weird ass things, mk?  Also, if we could calm down on spellings, that'd be cool too.  I saw someone that supposedly named their kid 'Jkmn' - or something like that.  The kid's name was NOEL for hell sakes.  Get it?  Because "no L".  Groooooooan.  Anyways.  Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.)

How does Shawn feel about everything?
At first he, like me, had an initial panicked "Oh, balls" moment - but it didn't take long for him to be legitimately pumped to have twins.  And twin boys at that.  I remember him saying to me, "I'm actually really excited to have twins.  I can't wait!"  And I was like:

I think the worst part for him is that my pregnancy snoring has set in and I apparently sound like a freight train or a dying bear or something.  My bad.

So, you guys are done now, right?
Not that this question is anyone's business - but I mean, I just told you the whole conception story, so I'll indulge.  This is a tough question for me to answer, because we still have 3 frozen embryos.  It's a moral dilemma for me, because we worked hard for those embryos, and I can't imagine what just throwing them out would feel like.  I also know that I don't mentally or emotionally have the strength to adopt them out to someone else.  A lot of people do do this and I deeply admire and respect them for that.  But knowing that I possibly had children out there somewhere who were 100% biologically mine and Shawn's - that would kill me.  And I've been called selfish because that's how I feel by the same person who said not using the embryos or adopting them out to someone else is the same as abortion.  I mean, to each their own, but also:

Anyways, getting off track here.  The short answer is, yes, the chances are high that we'll be done after this.  And if that's the case, our fertility clinic can actually put the embryos back inside my body at a time when I won't get pregnant (read: any time, really), and they would just reabsorb into my body like they usually do when an embryo doesn't implant.  But it's not something we've officially decided on.  It's something we'll pray hard about in the future and decide then.

I feel weird ending this post with a flipping the bird GIF - so here's a couple pictures of our dudes.  They haven't really cooperated with getting the token profile picture, just the creepy Skeletor face pictures - but we've managed to get a couple less creepy ones at the last few appointments we've had.

This post has taken me weeks to finish.  So we're going to call it good here and I'll try and start updating more often - because this is truly more for me than for any of you.  I really probably wouldn't remember half of this if I didn't have it written down somewhere.  So, you're welcome future self and future posterity.  And you, World Wide Web.


  1. Wowwwww! Gwen just came in and told me you posted so I was like yessss that means a blog post! As I was reading I was thinking ok I don’t know much at all about this but they would prob be fraternal. So now that you say it’s possible they could be identical is fascinating because I’m still wrapping my brain around the part that your other kids from diff pregnancies could have been twins, too!!! Am I remembering this right?
    I very much see the dilemma you have with the remaining embryos. Totally totally.
    The blue discharge does not gross me out. I think it’s funny but I’m sure it would get old real quick.
    Good stuff, here!!!

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