feelings, healing, labor and delivery, multiples, pregnancy, sharing, triplets

Start At The Beginning

I’ve spent a good amount of time putting my thoughts into words and updating our CaringBridge website. I want to separate that source as a place to prioritize Ryan’s health updates. This though, is my place. My place to share my own thoughts and feelings in a real, raw and therapeutic way. I don’t owe anyone anything, but what I’ve found is that sharing on Instagram and here has connected me with so many people who I wouldn’t have otherwise met. Additionally, I’ve experienced things recently that have the potential to make me feel very alone. Thankfully I feel extremely supported but, if my sharing can help even one person feel less alone, then I feel like I’ve added value to the universe and that brings me joy. 

But where the hell am I supposed to start? I have SO much to say. I wrote last about my first trimester. It was a time where I wasn’t very thrilled about being pregnant. The boys were wreaking havoc on my body. I was tired and couldn’t eat anything. I was also grateful for the greatest gift of all, three babies. Who would have thought I would be here now, in my third trimester, with no babies inside of me. Instead, two babies dead and one baby living off machines, spending days in the NICU, uncertain about everything.

Honestly speaking, I would love to go back to the part of the story where I was pregnant and more than anything in the whole world, I’d like to re-write my reality. It would be a reality where Chase and Ben were still alive. I miss them so badly. I think what I need to do for myself is go back to the part of the story where my water broke and things took a turn to scary-town. I need to process it all through words and put it ‘on paper’ to help myself move forward. I don’t know if that changes the tone or the theme of this blog, even just temporarily, but I don’t really care. This is real life and until recently, I never imagined what this could feel like. My naivety had the best of me, through pregnancy and even through being admitted to the hospital. While I hope to every higher power that you’re never in this position, I need to explain how it became my truth. 

My water broke at 23 weeks 4 days. It was about 1 am and I woke up thinking I had peed myself. I shimmied to the bathroom and about half way there, the fluid dribbled down my legs. At that point I knew I wasn’t peeing. I tried to stay calm. I sat on the toilet, actually peed and thought – I’ll clean myself up and then get back to sleep. Except I tucked myself back into bed and fluid kept coming. I knew something wasn’t right. I had never experienced a broken water, but in my heart, I knew I needed to get to a doctor. What I knew about waters breaking lead me to believe I was going to be giving birth within an hour. I was immediately terrified.

Off we went to Lawrence & Memorial. I knew we would eventually deliver at Yale New Haven but at this point, as scared as I was, I knew it was FAR too early for these babies to come. I guess my optimism was suggesting I go get checked out more locally and then go home until it was time for the big show. I thought maybe bed rest was in the cards. Boy, I was wrong. At L&M, they admitted me. The on-call doctor came in and told me that I wouldn’t be going home until the boys arrived. As if I wasn’t already terrified. I had no hospital bag. (As if that was even remotely important at that moment? I’ll get to that later.) The next move was to transfer me to Yale in New Haven so that I could be with the appropriate medical group.

At this point, the doctor assured me that some women experience PPROM (preterm, premature rupture of membrane) and go on to keep their babies in utero for weeks. I regained some hope. I had finally reached a point in my pregnancy where we’d had enough normal scans, I’d felt pretty confident in our potential longevity. I had been saying that our next milestone was viability at 24 weeks. Looking back, I knew it would be an important milestone, but for the wrong reasons. 

Upon arrival at Yale, many medical professionals came to meet us. One of those people, we now refer to affectionately as ‘Uncle Zain’. Like Dan, with a Z, he told us at our first meeting. The intent of said meeting was to have a “hard conversation.” Zain came to talk to us about the reality and potential risks in our situation. At 23 weeks, 4 days, there are certain statistics we needed to be made aware of. Our babies had roughly a 30% chance of survival at that gestation. It would improve as time went on, but Zain wanted to talk about what our wishes might be in the event they were born and couldn’t survive outside of my body. Did we have the conversation? Of course. Was it hard? Most definitely. Did I feel like I was aware of the possibilities? Sure. But I was also so sure my babies would stay inside of me for at least another two weeks. I never imagined what would come. I kept willing the universe to give me more time with them.

I started to make myself comfortable in the hospital. Care baskets came from loved ones and I asked the kids in our families to make some artwork for décor. The nurses and doctors encouraged it. I wasn’t dilated and my non-stress tests were all unremarkable. I felt slightly concerned that Baby A, now Ryan, had a little less fluid than the other babies, but overall, I felt good. I was eating, sleeping, resting. Honestly, I kind of felt like it was the pre-baby arrival rest I had been craving. 

Monitoring took place around every 4 hours. I stayed calm with the results of each session that was unremarkable.

I had spent the first night at Yale alone, knowing Tom was exhausted and wanting him to have his strength for all the responsibility that would inevitably fall on him with me hospitalized. Thankfully, my separation anxiety is strong and I asked him to come back and stay with me for the second night. At about 1 am on October 6th, I woke up out of a dead sleep with cramps. I went to the bathroom and returned to bed to try and sleep more. That wasn’t happening, so I buzzed my nurse and let her know I was having a hard time. She called for the doctor to come and they checked my cervix. I was still not dilated. This gave me some mental relief, but my discomfort was progressing. In the meantime, the effort was made to hook us back up to the monitors to check on the babies. Unfortunately, my nurse struggled to get all three babies on the monitor. I was frustrated and growing impatient as my cramping became more intense. 

Faking a smile under my mask for this picture. Monitoring 3 babies was not a fun task.

Inevitably, the doctor returned and an ultrasound machine was used to locate and check on the babies. About 40 minutes after my previous cervical exam, the doctors checked again to find that I was 5 centimeters dilated. I’ll never ever forget the fear that struck my body when she looked at me and said that it was time to go to the operating room. I looked to Tom and I sobbed. I cried out that it wasn’t time yet. Then, as if there was a slap across my face, I stopped. I quieted myself and I listened. I focused on what was happening around me and most importantly, staying calm for myself and for my babies. I knew I had to be brave. They rolled me out of my room, and into the next chapter of my life.

My first room after I was rolled out. Looks like a tornado touched down and this was just the beginning of the wreckage.

feelings, multiples, parenting, pregnancy, sharing, triplets

“There’s three babies.”

Two. Pink. Lines. Tears, joy and a smile that’ll make your face hurt. Hugs, more tears and excitement that you could only feel in this very specific experience. It was a full year of wondering when it would happen and then…

There’s three babies.

THREE BABIES. I swear I said only those two words for the hour that followed the news. But before I take you there, I’ll back track just a little bit. 

On May 11th, 2021, we had our second IVF transfer. The doctor gently placed two frozen embryos on the lining of my uterus. I’m not a hugely religious person, more spiritual if I had to label it. Doesn’t matter. I prayed. I prayed as the embryos were placed with a few tears in my eyes. I quietly begged whatever power that might be to please help give us a baby. You see, our intention with a dual embryo transfer was just to have one healthy baby. After our first round of IVF was unsuccessful, we came up with this plan in conversation with our doctor. We agreed that because we didn’t genetically test our embryos, it would be good to increase our chances of success with the trial of the dual transfer. Truthfully it was a no-brainer. When the doctor said we could end up with multiples, I just thought, “ending up with twins is not a deal breaker” and Tom agreed. I don’t think either of us imagined the news that would follow. 

On the afternoon of May 14th, the first response pregnancy test in my bathroom drawer was burning a figurative hole. I had tested early before, never this early though. I knew it was too early and told myself I wouldn’t be discouraged if it came back negative. Tom wasn’t home and I knew his feelings might be hurt if I found out any news without him so before I spilled urine on the stick, I taped off the results window. I peed when I had to and let the stick sit. Thankfully he was home about 15 minutes later and we looked together. We both saw the very faintest line and in that moment, the thought crossed my mind that it was two babies. To be honest, I thought it was twins from that very moment, almost without question. Of course I questioned it with Tom and the one girlfriend I told. I asked daily (maybe hourly), “Do you think its two?” They did. I did. It was definitely two. Tom and I watched the pink line get darker and confirmed with a blood test that we were in fact expecting. My first two blood levels seemed slightly high, but it was the third blood results that drove home the idea of twins for me. My HcG came back upward of 40k. Keep in mind though, Dr. Google says very firmly that HcG blood levels are not a good indication of multiples. Be as that may, there were no doubts in my mind. Even the nurse on my voicemail said “makes me think there might be two in there.”

On June 9th, we went to our first ultrasound. 6 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I felt so nervous. I think I would have felt that way regardless of the circumstance. I knew I would be perfectly happy if it was just one baby. I was so thankful to be pregnant. I didn’t want to be greedy, but my gut told me “TWINS” and I had it in my head and heart. I had already imagined our life with two little ones. The picture looked so pretty. We went in, I took a deep breath and held Tom’s hand. We saw one baby, then two babies. It felt like I exhaled from holding my breath. I dazed off. The screen was at an unfavorable angle for me to really see what was going on. I felt so relieved that our two little embabies stuck. Then I remember coming to (so to speak). The nurse looked at me and said “Are you following what’s happening?”

I looked up at her with a big smile and said “We’re having twins!” and she corrected me. “There’s three babies.”

THREE? My eyes filled up all over again. I was trembling. I was shocked and scared. No, terrified. I felt so many emotions, none stronger than the next. I looked at Tom and I asked him if he was okay with all of this.

He barely looked away from the screen and replied “of course.” He squeezed my hand and smiled. It was that moment precisely that I felt at peace and excited. My imagination corrected all of those images of us with two babies to us with three babies and everything still looked great. VERY different, but beautiful. We finally finished the scan and we took our little pictures and went on our merry way. We had the nurse make us a print zoomed in on one baby to show our family and cover up our very big secret for the next couple weeks. On the car ride home, we could not stop smiling and laughing. We immediately found humor in the fact that we’d be a minivan family, despite me swearing I would never drive one. 

I like to say that I manifested having a plan for pregnancy and parenting, and the universe is having a good laugh at that whole plan. (In case you didn’t guess, there is no longer a plan – unless you count survival as a plan) I don’t know what the duration of this pregnancy or beyond it will look like, but I think this is my chance to give up a certain level of control and let our lives unfold. Having triplets is going to be exciting, overwhelming and unique. I look forward to the adventure and the challenges it’ll bring. I hope to meet the triumphs and failures with humor and grace. At the end of it all, I find immense comfort in the ideology that we would not have been given these circumstances if we couldn’t handle them. We will keep pushing forward and take it all as it comes. Our hearts are so full.

As always, thank you for being along for the ride with us! xo

feelings, sharing

12.04.20 – I had a miscarriage.

Six days ago, I peed on a First Response pregnancy test. My period was 5 days late. When I was 3 days late, I knew something was up. At that point, I tested with a Clear Blue Digital. Negative. I had tested again and again in the next 48 hours with those little Easy @ Home strip tests. They were all negative. I thought I must be skipping a period because of how busy my mind and body were with moving into our new home. I came out of a state of sedentary and my body was physically working hard to de-popcorn our family room ceiling. It had to be a missed period. Or was I…? Could I be? I couldn’t… Or could I? 

Six days ago, I got a positive pregnancy test. Then another one. And then for the next six days, more and more and more. But six days ago, with my positive test, I also started spotting. I sent a message to my doctor in the patient portal, despite my weariness, proclaiming “I’m Pregnant!” I came to find out that was a true statement. 

Hindsight is 20:20. I can see clearly looking back that there was no way I should have gotten my hopes so far up in the first place. The spotting should have been the brick to keep me on planet earth and off could nine. We had been trying for around 8 months and I just couldn’t help myself. I thought of all the reasons why it made sense. I let my husband tell me it was real and tried to trust his ‘good feeling’. My heart was telling me I was pregnant even though my head knew I should breathe and pause.

“Of course, I am pregnant,” I thought. “I must be. We just closed on our forever home. We are really, truly ready now. My cousin just passed away and my spirituality tells me that this is a sign from him that he is with me. He wants me to have this new life.” 

It all clicked. Despite the spotting, it took so very little to convince myself. “Of course, I’m pregnant now. It happened when I least expected it. Like everyone said. When I dropped the ball on trying. This was meant to be.” 

Every morning, I took a test. Every morning, there was two lines, giving me hope and keeping me held on to the pregnancy. I knew on that last test that the line was fading and I lost the pregnancy. I didn’t want to, but I had to trust my instincts.

If I backtrack just a little in this story, this was also the cycle right after my husband and I had testing done to determine our preliminary fertility prognosis. I had been getting itchy about not conceiving and my gut told me there must be a reason why. Results came back that my beloved has lower sperm counts than desired for baby-making. When we got that information, we proactively set up an appointment with the UCONN Center for Advanced Reproductive Services. Once that appointment was established, we simply went about our business the way we had in months passed. I felt a lot less pressure knowing that help was on the way.

I didn’t think there was a chance that this could happen on our own. I thought with low sperm count on the table, we could ‘baby-dance’ until the cows came home, but we would not be making a baby without science on our side.

Then six days ago, those two little lines appeared on a stick and then a “Yes +” on a digital version. My whole life changed in that exact moment. It’s something I could have never understood without it happening to me. I yearned for that moment for so long that I didn’t even think about what I might feel when it happened. It was magic. I fell in love with what I learned was the size of a poppy seed and didn’t even have a heartbeat yet. 

Tom and I looked at each other, then the two positive tests, then at each other again and we cried. We did it! We were victorious against the low sperm counts and we beat the odds to create a miracle. 

Looking back on that moment, it’s one I will never forget. Unfortunately, the magic of it will be forever tainted with this morning’s phone call from the doctor’s office. My eyes filled with tears and my heart full of break as I was informed that my second panel of blood work had lower levels of HCG than my first. I lost our baby. I had a miscarriage. I don’t know when and I’m not sure how. I will probably never have anything better than hypothetical answers for those inquiries. 

I have so much on my mind right now. It’s just after 3pm. I got the call this morning. I am unsure about so many things. I can’t even really put the feelings into descriptors. My eyes hurt and my body aches. When will we be able to try again? I want to know, what’s the bottom line? When will we have what will now be our rainbow baby? 

The thoughts are racing but the one thing that’s not taunting me is that I did something to cause this. I know this is not my fault and there is absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent our little poppy seed from leaving us. I think that in this exact moment, that’s what is most important. That, and knowing that we will be parents. It’s not our turn right now. I am thankful I didn’t cancel our consult with The Center and I look forward to sharing how this sad story will eventually turn happy. I know it will.

I am not burdened with negative thoughts about myself, and for that I am thankful. I can feel how easy it would be to fall down that rabbit hole. It’s tempting. If I was going through what I am now, even a couple years ago, I have no doubt I would be processing it differently. In this moment, I am grateful for all the women out there who have shared their stories, their journeys and their truths about trying to make a baby. It is because of those stories that bravely and honestly depict the real experience of miscarriage that I am not sitting here feeling like there must be something wrong with me. 

The whole thing happened in the blink of an eye. Miscarriage has happened all around me to couples I know and love dearly. I am not the first or the last woman who will go through this. Today, I will choose to accept what I can’t change. I can’t change that I am no longer pregnant and I also can’t change that it makes me overbearingly sad. What I can do is write about it and share my story from a place of bravery as a form of therapy for me, and maybe to help you. 

If you’re waiting for your turn to become a Mama, if you’ve struggled with infertility, if my experience stirs up any type of feelings for you, I see you. I love you. My heart is with your heart. Thank you for reading this and being with me. 

empathy, feelings, mental health

It Could Be Worse

I’ve read a lot of blogging tips that advise a writer to begin with the end in mind. Spoiler alert: I am sick and f*cking tired of the way society has made it okay for people to respond to others woes with an “it could be worse” attitude. It is hurtful.

I would LIKE to think that someone could read that and do the rest of the thought work in their own head, but if that was the case, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post. Listen, we have all done this at least once in our life. This does not make us bad. This gives us opportunity for improvement. If you’re confused about what this is, it’s invalidating someone’s feelings by placing a negative connotation on the way that they feel or the emotion they are working through.

Each and every single human experience, every last stinkin’ one is experienced differently. There are no two people who are the same. So why is it that when I stub my toe, and I say “ouch!!”, some people are so inclined to say “I stubbed my toe once, and it hurt worse than that” or “You should be glad you only stubbed your toe because one time, I sprained my ankle!” or “You think stubbing your toe was bad? Just wait until tomorrow, the bruise will be worse.”

I know what you’re thinking. No person has ever said that. 

But stop and think for a second. They have! 

…just not regarding stubbing your toe. 

I want to write about this from the place of how it affects me. This is after all, my blog. But while I share my own person anecdotes, I really encourage you to think about how this has potentially applied to you. It is highly likely that you have been on both the giving and receiving end of this behavior. And just to note, that’s 100% okay. Not because I said so, but because none of us are perfect – that’s science. I am here to learn and grow with you. That is why I created this space and that’s why I’m dumping this opinion of mine on you. If you disagree and you just think I’m a giant pansy, so be it. I digress. 

As you may or may not know, my husband and I are trying to make a baby. It’s no secret in my life. Some people choose to be private about baby making and I really respect that because if I was trying to stay quiet about it, I would be suffering in silence. YES. I said suffering because that is what MY EXPERIENCE IS every month that I do not make a baby. How long we have been trying is not a variable here because we’re not talking statistics, we’re talking feelings. I wanted kids 5 years ago. I am very thankful I did not HAVE kids 5 years ago. I am now 31, married and more than ready to grow this family that I am so so thankful for.

Notice my dual mention of gratitude in the end of that paragraph. It was intentional and it’s because I know there is someone out there who is going to read a blog post about a woman who is pissed about not being able to conceive after 5 months and think “that ungrateful x-y-z”. THIS IS MY POINT. 

I am not here to say that anyone is bad. I am honestly not even here to say anyone is wrong. All I am here to say is that this variety of response to my feelings HURTS me. This is not directed at any one person, but instead to each person who reads this and can relate. 

I am so curious about why we do this to one another. Where did the compassion and empathy go? When did it become wrong to feel sorry for someone outside of a tragedy? Also, who gets to decide what is a tragedy? I am perplexed. 

I am not writing this blog post with answers, but instead to perhaps plant a seed. I want to see who is out there that hears what I’m saying and thinks, “Shit, I’ve done it. Let me try to do better next time.” Or maybe someone will read this and think, “That seems to happen to me too sometimes and it really does make me feel bad. Now I can identify that and hopefully block some of the pain because I’M NOT THE PROBLEM.”

And what a solid realization. I have been working through this in talk therapy for a while now. When our wedding was cancelled, do you know how many people responded to that situation in a way that made me feel invalidated? Honestly, majority rules. I am aware that there are people who get married only to get divorced and sure they had a big party, but they had a shit marriage and I am the freakin’ luckiest woman on the planet to have a partner who is more than textbook perfect. I am and have been for a long time, in a state of acceptance that no matter what happens to me, there will ALWAYS be someone who is suffering more. I do not need a reminder to be grateful for what I do have when I am processing through sadness, loss or any other emotion – big or small. And neither do you. Instead what I think we might need, is empathy or sympathy. It is not wrong to feel bad or sorry for someone. That can be a stand alone action. 

Maybe you lost a parent. Maybe your dog is sick and has a good shot at life after a major surgery. Maybe you have been trying to get pregnant for 2 years and you have no answers as to why it’s not happening. Maybe you went for a walk and twisted your ankle, but you have an event coming up that you really wanted to wear heels to and now you can’t. Maybe you stubbed your f*cking toe. Whatever it is that happened or is happening to you, you deserve to FREELY feel whatever feelings you have about whatever is happening. Without looming judgement and inevitable invalidation.

There is a bit of a side bar here and it needs to be reiterated. None of us are bad for having responded to someone else’s feelings in this manner. I think that in itself is why it’s so hard to accept that it’s really uncool to do this to someone. Because you said whatever you said, highly likely, with good intentions. And GUESS WHAT? The person you responded to this way, probably knows to the core of their soul that you didn’t mean any harm. BUT that does not make it less harmful. 

If we continue to invalidate each other this way, it will become a whole other scary ‘new normal’. Speaking of ‘new normal’, how about that pandemic? In case you didn’t know, we are ALL having struggles right now. Parents trying to work full time and navigate a hybrid in-school/homeschool structure. Individuals with loved ones who are high risk, that they haven’t been able to see. Couples who planned their dream wedding and pushing their date for the 3rd time. None of those problems are bigger or worse than the other. 

Are some things trivial? Yes. I am one of the most emotional individuals that I know. Sometimes the wind blows the wrong way, and I cry. Do I think that’s as big of a problem? I don’t. But when it comes to the stuff that you might see as trivial, try empathy. Because if you take the time to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you will likely feel different than your impulses direct you. 

If you can’t understand why someone is so upset over something ‘so small’, be the ears that their feelings can fall on safely. Or, walk away without passing judgement. It’s very much okay to say, “I can’t imagine what your struggle feels like, I wish I could help.” And then go away. Make room for someone who can be empathetic and supportive. We could all use a little grace right now. I encourage and really urge you to try to do away with whatever your “it could be worse” attitude looks like.