Friday, December 31, 2010

Maternity Clothes

Maternity clothes have such a stigma attached to them...don't they?

I finally gave in and bought a pair of maternity jeans a week before Christmas. It was getting a bit ridiculous. I was still wearing all of my regular clothes but only because Jenn had bought me the belly band  in November. Once I started to grow, this band became a godsend. I could wear my regular pants and put the band over top in order to keep them unbuttoned, but not falling down. When you get pregnant, get this band!

So, maternity clothes... Right when I put on those elastic-waisted jeans (yes, I know how that sounds), I was more comfortable than I had been in weeks. Honestly, they are NOT ugly! You can't even tell that they are maternity jeans when I have a shirt or sweater on. Tip number 2...get at least one pair of maternity pants early on in your pregnancy and don't wait too long to wear them! It is so worth it. And, thanks to Jenn's family, I have a few other items as well (jeans, sweater and some yoga pants!). Thanks guys :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sooo Jenn's children already...

Last night Husty (aka. Justine) gave us a most awesome early Christmas present. Well, technically, she gave our unborn children an awesome present. Like Husty, Jenn loves shoes and has so many pairs, many of which are practically the same (to me). I can see the three of them now 'walking' down Queen St. in their Pumas... (Thank you Husty!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas trees and baby bump

I absolutely love Christmas time. I love the spirit of Christmas. The family time, the decorations, the music, the lights, the movies...even the snow is pretty. My Dad and I are the Christmas nuts in my family. One of my fondest childhood memories was shopping for that perfect tree with my Dad. So, when Jenn and I went tree shopping last week, my Dad's voice was running through my head, "always look at the trunk...make sure it's straight."

Jenn, Justine and I decorated our Christmas tree (with a perfectly straight trunk) on Friday. Here it is:

I've been asked by a few people to post a picture of my growing bump. I did my best to get a half decent self-portrait. Honestly, it's not great, but hopefully for those who know me well, you'll be able to tell the difference! So here it is, my 14-week bump picture:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Playing the Twin Card

My Mom and I went to Vancouver this past weekend to visit my brother, Michael. We went into the lounge prior to our flight to grab some breakfast. I was hoping for something a little more substantial than the cereal that I had had for my first breakfast at 6am. I needed protein. My Mom pulls someone aside and says, "excuse me, my daughter is pregnant with twins, can she get some cheese perhaps?" The twin card, as we started calling it, had been pulled.

On Friday morning, my Mom goes to grab herself a tea and brings me back a few small items. I need to eat right when I get up to ward off the nausea. She brings them back on this lovely tray. She tells me, "don't worry, I pulled the twin card with the girl upstairs!"

While walking around Whistler village on Friday, my Mom sees a double stroller with young twins in it. "Oh look, twins!" She runs over to the couple. Michael and I keep walking, just a little bit quicker now. When she catches up with us she tells us, "don't worry, I didn't tell them you were having twins."

This continued for the rest of the weekend. It became a big joke between us.

I laugh as I write this. My Mom is awesome. She has always got my back. I love her so much and I love how excited she is for her first grandchildren. She'll have them on skates as soon as they're walking!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1st trimester...check!

The first trimester is coming to a close. It's gone so fast, yet so slowly. I remember seeing that positive pregnancy test exactly two months ago today. I'll never forget the shock that I felt! It seemed like the "apple seed" week (week 5) took a month to go by. Now, we're here...the end of the first trimester and onto the next. I'm hoping that the energy level picks up a little bit and the nausea simmers down. Right now though, I'm definitely on a high from seeing my little peaches (yes, this week's size) on the screen.

So yes, we went in for another ultrasound today. The babies were both looking great! Their heart beats were good and their sizes were spot on. We actually got to see their little hands and feet moving around. They looked like little astronauts bouncing around in space! The ultrasound took longer than it should have because the little devils were giving the tech a hard time. They weren't getting into the right position for certain measurements. As you can see (hopefully!) from the pics below, twin B's hands are waving and legs are stretched out. Twin A is curled up. We asked the tech to guess at their gender, even though we know that it's still too early. Her guess, you ask?! One of each!! Twin A is the possible boy and twin B is the possible girl. We're not running out to buy the cliche blue and pink just yet though. The real determination will be at the 18 week ultrasound.

We've decided that after our 3 ultrasounds and the news we received today, we're going public with the news of our growing family. I know that everyone does it, but man it's challenging to keep this info a secret for 13 weeks!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks Today

Living in the US, Thanksgiving was always my favourite. I'll never forget my first "American Thanksgiving." My Mom felt bad for me because the city cleared out with everyone going to their respective homes for the holidays. She wanted to fly me home for the weekend, so I would be alone. Little did we both know that attempting to travel on Thanksgiving is not only crazy, it was also expensive. A flight to Toronto was going to cost $1000. I can get a flight to Europe for cheaper than that. Needless to say, I stayed in Boston.

Thankfully, my friend Jack took our friend Katie and me in for the holidays. His family lives in a town north of Boston and has a huge Thanksgiving feast every year. His sisters and their friends came home from university and their family friends came over. We had an amazing dinner with the football game(s) on in the background, of course. It was awesome. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect intro into the American Thanksgiving tradition.

I have a ton to be thankful for on this day. First and foremost, I am incredibly thankful that Jenn's surgery on Tuesday went smoothly and she's now home recuperating. Hopefully, it's ok with her that I mentioned this on my blog :) Even though she was having a routine surgery, the stress that I felt was enormous. I barely slept on Monday night and prayed for the strength to be strong and supportive for her. She was the one, after all, having the surgery! She is everything to me, so the thought of something going wrong was too much for me to think about on that day. I am incredibly grateful that my prayers were answered. She's home and I'm being the best "home nurse" that I can be.

I am thankful for the most incredible family. Sometimes I don't know how I got so lucky to have the most amazing and supportive parents. They are true role models for marriage, love and life. I am so proud to call them my parents and can only hope that the twins feel the same way about us. I am often told that there aren't many "boys" out there like my brothers. They are the most kind, thoughtful and loving brothers any sister could ask for. And of course, I can't forget Gillian, Riley and Finn...three amazing Wheaten Terriers who all provide so much love in their own special ways.

And then there's the whole point of this blog...the limes :) I'll let you in on a little secret. Many months ago, I had this fear. I feared that because I have been so fortunate in my life, for some reason, I was not going to be able to get pregnant. Irrational or not, the fear was there. It didn't happen for us for 4 months, which in retrospect, is no time at all. The reason it didn't happen makes complete sense to me now. Jenn and I were meant to have twins. My body, the universe, God, or whatever you'd like to call it, was waiting for those two eggs. I'm so thankful for this opportunity to be pregnant and be pregnant TWO times over! I couldn't imagine life without both of them now.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends! I hope you've had an amazing day with lots of good food, family and friends, because that's what it's all about.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mean little prunes (almost limes)

I love those food comparisons. The prunes have been brutal to me this week. They must be going through a growth spurt or something. I have been so exhausted and nauseous. I described it the other day as feeling like I've run a marathon but have the flu. Tuesday was my worst day yet. Despite a nap, I felt like absolute crap. It probably doesn't help that I've developed mild insomnia as well. I fall asleep in minutes (snoring while Jenn tries to watch TV apparently), but usually can't fall back to sleep after my second middle-of-the-night bathroom trip. I'm not really the type to get angry at not being able to sleep. I end up lying there, my mind wandering to all sorts of places.

The prunes and I had a chat the other day. I explained that they're kicking the crap out of me this week. I said that I don't mind dealing with it, as long as they're growing big and strong. Apparently, they're the strong, silent types, so they didn't have much to say...

I love you little prunes, almost limes. My bitch session is done!

Monday, November 15, 2010

We've got a midwife!

I knew that I wanted a midwife before we even started trying to get pregnant. In my opinion, midwives offer far more personalized care than an OB. They get to know you on a personal and "pregnant" level. Appointments last for 45 minutes, as opposed to the 10 minutes at most that you get with an OB. Midwives also tend to be more holistically-minded (like me!), especially since some couples opt for home births. I also have a friend who works for the Associated of Ontario Midwives, so I've been able to get the insider's scoop! With that being said, midwives are not right for everyone. If you're pregnancy is higher-risk, OBs are definitely the way to go.

Midwives are in super high demand, especially in Ontario. I called them on the day that we received the positive blood test result. I called 3 practices and put in my info. (Note: If any of you are interested in using a midwife in the future, tell them that you are undecided when it comes to home vs. hospital birth. Say that you're very interested in finding out more about home births. Say this even if you have ZERO interest in giving birth at home.) Thanks to my insider's knowledge I know that midwifery practices have home birth quotas so by saying that you're "interested," they are more inclined to take you. After putting in my info, I anxiously waited for one week to hear if one of them would take us. We ended up getting into all 3!! I ended up calling our first choice back to tell them that we would love to be accepted by their practice.

Enter twins....again, thanks to my insider's knowledge, I knew that the midwife might not want to keep us because we were having twins. By law, midwives can't deliver twins at the hospital. I will also have to get an OB who specializes in twin pregnancies. Therefore, midwives can decline these women because they can't provide the full range of care themselves. Since they are in such high demand, they'd rather reserve care to parents having singletons. So, I was told to go to our first midwife appointment and "plead my case." (Read: Beg for her to keep us!) Luckily, our midwife is awesome and really wanted to keep us, so the begging and pleading was kept at a minimum.

The prenatal care for someone having twins is quite thorough. We'll see the midwife, the OB and possibly go to the Twin Clinic at Sunnybrook Hospital.  Right now, things are pretty tame, but come the third trimester, the visits will increase exponentially. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

So, did you know?

Conversations about how we got pregnant often start something like that. People want to know and want to ask but are too afraid or shy to ask outright. Honestly, sometimes I just forget that it's not common knowledge so I don't intentionally not explain things. This was reminded to me the other night. My friend, Caitriona, said that I should write an entry explaining how we got pregnant. Brilliant idea, my Irish friend. Why didn't I think of that?!

Our journey started out last September. We decided to work with a fertility centre. Some couples opt to work with the sperm bank directly. The benefit of working with the fertility centre is that they are extremely thorough. If there was any tiny, little reason that I may have trouble getting pregnant, they would find it. We had a long chat with the doctor and then they took 12 vials of blood from me. They test for a variety of diseases, look at standard info like CBC and test for thyroid function. We then went through one month of cycle monitoring to ensure that everything was happening the way it should. This involved going into the clinic almost every day at 7am for a blood test and an ultrasound to track follicle growth and size and hormone levels. After one month of cycle monitoring, it was up to us to decide when we wanted to begin the process of trying to make a baby. 

Ok, so the process continues...follicles hold the eggs. "Healthy" women usually have quite a few (ie. 5-8) follicles in each ovary at the beginning of a cycle. Fortunately, I was one of these people. As the cycle progresses, one follicle breaks away from the rest. The little champ becomes the dominant follicle. This follicle is monitored closely because it will be the one that will ovulate the egg. Meanwhile, blood work is done to test the levels of estrogen, progesterone and luteinizing hormone (LH). When the follicle size and the blood work levels are just right, they schedule the insemination for the next day. 

Once the insemination is complete, the waiting game begins, just like every other couple! The clinic schedules a blood test for exactly two weeks to the day of the insemination. You always know before that though. On the most recent (successful!) cycle, I tested on day 12 and received a faint positive. If implantation occurs (ie. the ridiculously good looking egg and sperm meet and bond, travel down the fallopian tube and attach onto the uterine wall), it usually happens around day 6-12. It takes another few days for that "change" to show up in a pregnancy test. 

But, sometimes, if you're rrrrreally lucky, your body decides to create TWO dominant follicles! So, on this most recent cycle, we were fortunate enough to watch two little follicles compete for that top position. Instead, we had a tie. With this being said, getting preggo with twins is not a given. Sometimes only one egg ovulates, despite the two follicles and sometimes both ovulate but only one gets fertilized. 

And there you have it...our journey into parenthood! If I've left some thing out or confused you even more, let me know.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The first baby purchase

Jenn and I made a deal that the first baby purchase had to be made together, when we were both ready. Well, Jenn was ready from the second I showed her the positive home pregnancy test ;) I still couldn't believe that there was life growing inside of me. I guess part of me did believe it though because unbeknownst to Jenn, I had a plan. If all went well at our first ultrasound, I was going to suggest that we make our first purchase before I dropped her at her office. After hearing about our TWO green olives (I found a site that compares the size of our growing babies to olive = 9 weeks), I pitched my idea and it was accepted. We stopped into the Children's Place in the mall under Jenn's office. After looking around, it was obvious that they had virtually no unisex clothes. We ended up finding these adorable yellow onsies with monkeys on them (see below). Even though they are 0-3months, the babies will probably not even fit into them right away, given that twins are usually born smaller than singletons.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Subchorionic Hemorrhage and Gummy Bears

Yeah, I know. Say that one 5 times fast. I had a bit of a scare on Sunday night. I woke in the middle of the night to use the washroom (as usual) and discovered that I had a bit of bleeding. It wasn't excessive but it was definitely enough to scare me. Getting back in bed I tried to wake Jenn to tell her what had happened. Jenn had been sick for the last few days with a nasty cold, which resulted in laryngitis. She had taken a Neocitran (read: a drink that knocks you on your ass so nothing wakes you). So the "funny" part of this story (I can call it funny now), is that she was completely incoherent. I'm freaked out and worried and she's in dreamland. Super. After calling the clinic the next morning, I was told that I have a very small subchorionic hemhorrage, a fancy phrase for a ball of blood in the uterus. Mine was so small that they didn't bother telling me about it last week. But, don't fret dear friends, the story has a happy ending....

Today we went in for ultrasound #2. After my bit of bleeding, I was nervous and really hoped that the babies would be ok. The ultrasound could not have gone better! [See pictures below!] The babies are measuring the exact same size. Our babies have now been coined Baby A and Baby B. Baby A's heartbeat was 162 and Baby B's was 167. Both heart beats increased which is perfect. As you can see from the picture, Baby A is far clearer than Baby B. This is only because Baby B is rather shy and turned to the side, not wanting us to see all of him/her just yet. The tech got the most perfect picture of Baby A though, who is clearly going to be the actor/actress. He/she looks exactly like a gummy bear with those little stubby arms and legs. Also, please note the monstrous brain.

We are now officially out of the clinic's care and onto the midwife and OB!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Oh twins"...part deux

Last Tuesday we went in for our first ultrasound (at 7 weeks). I had this irrational fear that there would be no baby. Crazy, I know. I had been exhausted, nauseous yet hungry with abdominal twinges, among other symptoms...yet for some reason, I still thought that maybe this pregnancy thing wasn't really happening. No sooner does she put the gel and ultrasound wand on my abdomen, then we hear, "oh twins!" My mouth dropped. Jenn and I just looked at each other, speechless, yet beaming. The jokes about having twins had become reality. Putting the shock aside for a moment, we were able to see these perfect little blobs on the screen...our TWO babies! She then shows Jenn their rapid heart rates. Jenn said that they were flashing on the screen. One baby's heart rate was 152 and the other's was 150, which are perfectly within the 120-180 range.

I call my mom the minute we leave to tell her that she's going to have to buy two pairs of skates now! But seriously, in our family, babies are born in skates. 

Later that afternoon, I call our friend Sarah. We had joked for months that if we happen to have twins, they can have one of them. I call to tell her that their wish is our command (kidding, of course). Now, they just have to move to Toronto!

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Oh twins..."

"Oh twins." The ultrasound technician says oh-so-nonchalantly. To her it was an every day occurrence. To us, it was a complete shock! Let me back up...

Jenn, my partner of five years, and I decided about 18 months ago that the time to have kids was approaching. We were married in August 2008, in Toronto, my hometown. Jenn is originally from Connecticut. We met in Boston. I had recently finished university and was ready to leave the nest. I got a job down in Boston and off I went. Jenn, funny enough, was one of my roommates. The rest is history!

So, fast forward slightly to September 2009. We went to a fertility clinic in Toronto for our initial consultation. After filling out a very lengthy form, a half-hour chat with the doctor and about 12 vials of blood taken from my arm, we were almost ready to go! That November we did one month of cycle monitoring to make sure my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to and thankfully, it was. At that point, it was up to us to decide when we actually wanted to start trying to make a baby. 

Before the baby makin can begin, the 'baby daddy pickin' needs to be done. The process of picking a sperm donor is initially very strange. Initially I felt like I was shopping for a sweater or a car online. If you'd like to give it a go, check out Xytex's site: Friends of ours told us to not get too crazy over the whole process. Inevitably, a donor will have a disease in his family or poor eyesight or hair that isn't quite right. If you're looking for perfection, you're not going to find it. Jenn and I picked a few things that we're important to us, mostly having a donor with similar characteristics as her. We picked our first (yes, first) donor quite easily. 

After returning from a trip to CT and Boston in late December/early January 2010, we decided that we were ready to begin the process of trying to make a family! Our first insemination was in mid-February. Unfortunately, after a difficult "two week wait", we realized that it had not worked. I thought that I was going to be the exception, that it was going to work for us on the first time. One major issue that we ran into was the quality of 2686's = very poor swimmers! We tried three more times, twice with 2686 and once with another donor. By May, I was feeling frustrated, exhausted and completely worn-down. I was positive that we'd get pregnant quickly. I was afterall, young, healthy and fertile. We decided to take the summer off regroup and relax. I had also become resentful of the fact that I'd given up my morning Americano and my wine! 

As the end of the summer approached, Jenn and I were feeling rejuvenated and ready to start trying to make a family again. So in early September, we were back at the all too familiar clinic for my 7am blood test and ultrasound. As the follicle monitoring progressed, it was quickly shown that I had not one, but two dominant follicles this round. [Side note: A follicle holds the egg. At ovulation, the follicle bursts and the egg starts its journey to find a mate] By the time insemination day arrived, my veins made me look like a junkie. It was definitely well worth it though. After a grueling 11 days, I was convinced that it hadn't worked. On the Thursday night, I was in a terrible mood, thinking that we were going to have to start the process yet again.

We were planning on going to to the cottage that weekend for one last time before the season's end. On the Friday, I was running around getting packed up. The dogs and I were in the bathroom (they demand to come in with me) and for some reason I felt like I should take a pregnancy test. I had bought these no-frills tests online because pregnancy tests are damn expensive! I pull one out from under the sink and do know, the test. I look down and see the strong red control line that I have gotten to know all too well. Next to it, I see a faint red line. Completely shocked, I show it to Riley for a second opinion. He agrees that I should go to the drug store and get a "real" test. Thankfully, I have a small bladder so by the time I got home, I had to go again. Sure enough, a "plus" sign shows up within 30 seconds. "I'm pregnant," I say to myself! Dying to call Jenn, I force myself to refrain. She's at a client in meetings all afternoon. I didn't want to tell her like that. Given that it was the 5 year anniversary of us being together, I put together a little card and a gift bag. I wrapped the test in about 5 sheets of tissue paper and drove up to her client. I sat in the parking lot waiting for at least 30 minutes. Finally, after what seemed like ages, she arrives at the car. "Ohhh you got me chocolates!" she says. I had used a bag from a chocolate shop. The bag was as light as air, so clearly not chocolates. She opens it up, realizing what was inside before she got to the test. A massive smile across her face, she looks at me. "You're pregnant?!" She says. We were both in shock but beyond excited for the two hour drive to the cottage.

Still in disbelief, I took one more test (my third!) early on Saturday morning. It confirmed, yet again, that I was indeed pregnant. We then told my parents that they were going to be "real" grandparents, as opposed to just grandparents to the dogs. Jenn called her parents as well who were beyond excited!

Our journey into parenthood begins!