Archive | December, 2011

“I Miss the Mountains” – Next to Normal

30 Dec

After a week of being stuck in bed, the solitude is already starting to get to me. I went from being extremely social and interacting face to face with several people a day to having a small amount of human contact since most of my interactions these days are by phone, text, email, Facebook, and now this blog. Even in this technological day and age, absolutely nothing compares to in-person interactions/communication. I don’t think I will ever take this for granted again.

I had a breakdown the morning of my week anniversary here at The BirthPlace because it was the first day that was very quiet. The nurses were concerned about my sad state so they sent in the social worker and hospital chaplain to offer some guidance. Since arriving, I have had a good amount of visitors for the holidays and my birthday because most of my family and friends were off of work. Now, work has started back up for most and the number of visitors are down to a slow trickle. This leaves long stretches of time where the only human interaction I have is with my nurses when they come in to feed me various drugs. Not only is loneliness setting in, but the loss of independence and freedom is equally as frustrating. Since I can only get out of bed to use the bathroom, all other normal activities must be modified versions which are to be done while in bed. For instance, I am not able to take a shower, wash my hair, brush my teeth, etc. unless I am lying down. Sponge baths are my new best friend. Washing my hair is also a challenge because the nurse has to do it in the sink and transfer me to a special gurney which lines up with the counter. Plus, the nurse can only do this in a moment of downtime since it is a little time consuming. This means that my hair is getting washed about once a week if I am lucky. Dry shampoo is another new best friend I have made. Not being able to leave my room or go outside is getting very claustrophobic so I am now leaving my door wide open so I can at least listen for signs of human life in the hallway and sometimes I even get to see one of these humans walk by!

The one thing that really helps keep my sanity in check is this new Facebook group I started shortly after arriving here. I quickly asked the nurses about other women in my same situation who are staying at the hospital too. They were able to confirm that there were a handful of others just like me but they could not give me their information because of patient confidentiality. Instead, I gave permission to the nurses to distribute my information in order for these women to friend me on Facebook. I added them to a private group where we could chat and share our stories with each other. Within a matter of a couple of days, we were all in the group and sharing up a storm. It was so refreshing to know that we all have such similar stories and experiences which helped make things a little less isolating and foreign. In addition, some of the women have either done this before or have been here long enough to give really helpful and supportive advice. On my week anniversary when the tears could not stop falling, I quickly turned to the group to let them know what was going on with me. Immediately, they were all responding to my post and telling me that they have been through the same exact thing and described what they did to make themselves feel better. This strange new sorority has truly been my saving grace and will continue to make this experience more bearable. As we all come and go, I hope that this group will keep going in order to continue to help future bed rest moms who are in need of support and friendship.

In addition to the new friends I have made, I received a very nice surprise from one of the nurses which has helped cheer me up. She arrived with a very large decorative sunflower to hang on my wall and a truly inspiring story to go with it. About three years ago, a mom on bed rest who was pregnant with twins bought this sunflower to hang in her room. Her twins were able to be delivered at full term and were very healthy so she suspected that this sunflower had something to do with the positive outcome. Before she left the hospital, she gave the sunflower to the nurses with specific instructions that this sunflower should continue to hang in patients’ rooms for other moms on bed rest, specifically moms with twins on the way. On the back of the sunflower, everyone who has kept the sunflower in their room has their name listed and each and every one of them had the same positive outcome with their own twins. Not only does it brighten up my room but it has magical powers…just like those jeans in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Yeah, I know you’re jealous of my magical flower. But seriously, this flower helps remind me that even though I have had a drastic change in my day-to-day life, the reason for me being here and making this huge sacrifice is to ensure that these babies stay alive and are born healthy and happy.

*The song “I Miss the Mountains” is from the 2009 Broadway musical Next to Normal which is about a mother named Diana who struggling with bipolar disorder. Not the happiest of subjects, but the show is amazing with great music…plus it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. I obviously don’t have bipolar disorder or any mental illness for that matter, but this one song really describes what I have been feeling over the past week. In the song itself, Diana describes how she misses her life before her illness and that she yearns for normal again. Now I have a new version of normal which I am slowly getting used to but it is encouraging to remind myself how temporary this is. There is an end in sight where I will be rewarded with two beautiful angels in my arms and then the sunflower will be passed on.

20111230-173450.jpg

Magical twin sunflower

“30/90” – tick, tick…BOOM!

28 Dec

I never in a million years imagined my 30th birthday being celebrated in a hospital room with me lying down the entire day. The original plan was a few crazy nights in Las Vegas followed by a week long cruise to Mexico..I like to “go big or go home.” Regardless of the change of plans, I was going to stay positive and make the best of my new situation. I did have a lot of people lined up to come visit me and that made me feel a whole lot better.

The day seemed to go by so quickly and when friends or family had to eventually leave I wished that I could have them a few minutes longer. Even though I was stuck in bed, there were still a lot of fun activities going on. My brother brought a karaoke machine so I got to sing a few songs (lying down), there were numerous presents for me to open, plus I got some yummy cakes and food brought in as well. I only wished that I could blow out candles on my cake but since we are in a hospital room with oxygen coming out of the walls, that was not an option. But it would have made my birthday party pretty smoking hot!

The highlight of the day was when my doctor surprised me with an ultrasound in order for us to finally find out the sexes of our babies. He was supposed to check last Wednesday on the 21st but got sidetracked when he saw my cervix and I had to rush to the hospital. Now on my birthday he was giving me the greatest gift of all and it brought so much joy to finally know what our future had in store. Like my husband and I originally planned, we had our doctor write down in a card the results because Brett was still on his way to the hospital and could not be there while the ultrasound was being performed. I eagerly waited for Brett to arrive so that we could find out together. He finally got to the hospital and we opened the card which revealed that we were having exactly what we were praying for…a boy and a girl! Brett’s reaction to seeing the results inside of the card reminded me of our wedding day about 3 1/2 years ago when he saw me for the first time in my dress. He was so happy and overcome with emotion and I think that the next time he has that kind of reaction will be when our children are born. I can’t wait to see that look on his face again because it is so authentic and sweet.

After the excitement passed and all of the party guests left, it turned midnight making it not my birthday anymore. Then I started to get the birthday blues. Turning 30 is such a milestone and with twins on the way I feel like my life is officially starting such a new and different chapter. For nearly 12 years I have been with my husband and it has just been the two of us. So much has happened throughout our relationship and this latest occurrence is bitter sweet. We are finally starting a family but for the last several months before that officially happens, we have to be apart and live separate lives while he takes care of the day-to-day tasks with his job and our apartment. He visits as much as possible but selfishly I wish he could be here 24/7 because I miss him so much.

Other than just missing my husband and my former life before bed rest, I can’t help but think about what my thirties will be like. My twenties were pretty typical of others…the college experience, moving out on my own, getting married, securing a career, etc. Now my thirties will be all about starting a family and raising the children. I guess some people turning 30 might not have a plan yet (not married, no set career, no kids, etc.), so I am very grateful to have a clear path that I am in the process of preparing for. I really do feel like a full blown adult now and this experience in the hospital is kicking my butt by forcing me to let go of my “wild and fancy free” twenties lifestyle. Even though my path is pretty clear, there is always that element of surprise and not truly knowing what will happen which is scary and exciting all at the same time. Life changes in the blink of an eye and everyone has the choice whether to embrace the change or run from it. I choose to embrace it.

*The song “30/90” is from the 2001 Off-Broadway musical tick, tick…BOOM! which is actually an autobiographical show about Jonathan Larson (creator of Rent). Jonathan wrote the show and performed it solo in 1990 which was the year he turned 30…hence the song title “30/90.” In 2001, the show was revamped and became very successful during its run, now using a three person cast. Jonathan wrote the show at a time in his life when he was at a crossroads. Should he continue to follow his dream and write music or should he quit so that he could make more money at a 9-5 job and start a family like all of his other peers? Thankfully for us, he chose music but unfortunately it was short-lived due to his untimely death in 1996 from an aortic aneurysm. In the song “30/90,” Jonathan talks about how turning the age of 30 can be extremely scary especially when you don’t know exactly what the future holds. I really relate to this song because even though I do have my life pretty much set in place, everything has the ability to change just like that. You go to a doctor’s appointment one minute and then the next, you are being admitted to a hospital for a four month stay. Or more seriously in Jonathan’s case, your musical Rent is on the brink of opening and becoming one of the most successful Broadway shows of all time…but then you drop dead in your kitchen from an undetected medical condition. Fear of the unknown will always be there but you cannot live your life with constant worry. Live your life with this quote in mind: “No day but today.”

20111229-181414.jpg

Searching for the sexes

20111229-181424.jpg

The big reveal!

“I Dreamed a Dream” – Les Miserables

27 Dec

Let’s take a journey to the past for a moment. Before I ended up pregnant and on bed rest, I spent 2009-2011 being taught a huge lesson in patience. Having no knowledge that my body was flawed when it came to getting pregnant, I got off of birth control and the “trying” began. After nine months with no period and numerous negative pregnancy tests, I saw a fertility specialist and was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Basically, it was discovered that I had numerous cysts inside of my ovaries that were not harmful but caused a hormonal imbalance making it very difficult to ovulate on my own. The treatment for this syndrome is actually birth control pills because they regulate your hormones and provide regular periods. I was on birth control for a while and never noticed before that I had irregularity or any issues so this diagnosis was a little shocking, especially since my mom and sister did not have any issues getting pregnant. The big problem for women with PCOS is when they want to get pregnant, the treatment of birth control pills is not an option obviously. I was quickly started on an oral medication called Clomid which helps trigger ovulation. After many months of trying this medication in different doses, it was realized that my body was not responding at all. The most that Clomid ever did for me was give me a bunch of hot flashes and a false sense of hope that was quickly killed once an ultrasound was performed that revealed no action inside of my hot little body. After more research, it was clear that I didn’t fit the PCOS mold and did not have a lot of the common side effects associated with the syndrome. I still had it, but a rare form which did not respond to the typical treatment. My pituitary gland was also showing signs of defects as well so my doctor had to start bringing out the big guns (aka big needles).

The first time I injected myself with fertility drugs into my stomach, I screamed so loud and could not believe that this was my new reality. If this treatment did not work, IVF was the next step which costs about $15K each try and it is not guaranteed. The injectable drugs alone were about $1K per try so this was going to be an expensive endeavor if miracles didn’t start happening. Can you believe that insurance refuses to pay for this?!?!? Apparently, getting pregnant is not considered a necessary act so any cost to try to make this happen is not recognized as a valid insurance claim. Yet when you get pregnant, everything is covered. Plus infertility continues to be such a taboo subject and many women with the issue keep it a secret because of the emotional feelings that they are a failure. How can numerous women get pregnant at the drop of hat on the first try and others have to empty their savings accounts and see a therapist for depression because they are the unlucky ones? To top it off, if you mention to people that you are having trouble getting pregnant, their initial reaction is “oh, you just have to relax and stop thinking about it” or ” the minute to stop trying, you will get pregnant.” Would you tell a cancer patient that their cancer would be cured if they just relaxed? Infertility is a medical issue…not a mental one and I wanted to punch people ‘s faces when they would tell me to get a little drunk and relax. So if I just relax, my defective pituitary gland will magically start working properly to create the hormones FSH and hCG and ovulation will occur? Oy Vey!!! The bottom line is that after a few tries and experiments with dosage levels, the injectable drugs ended up working for me. It wasn’t magic…it was hormone replacement therapy since my body did not naturally make the hormones necessary to get pregnant.

Finding out that all of our blood, sweat, and tears actually paid off was very exciting and I was grateful that we did not have to go to more extremes than what we had already done. I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the women who are not as lucky and end up not getting pregnant at all. Now that I am not in the most ideal situation for pregnancy, being on bed rest and requiring surgery to fix yet another failing body part, I am still so blessed that I was able to get pregnant regardless of the complications I am now facing. Everyday I say a prayer to all of the women who are still on this journey and in a way I am glad that I travelled on that difficult road to gain such an important perspective. So please, if you meet someone who says they are in the trying phase of getting pregnant, never tell them to relax. Just simply say that you hope their dream comes true and you are sending positive thoughts their way.

* The song “I Dreamed a Dream” is from the 1987 Broadway musical Les Miserables and it is incredibly emotional. I think everyone has experienced the sad reality of a dream dying. The lyrics in this song talk about the moment when you realize that a dream has been killed and all hope is lost. Pretty depressing I know, but hey…this is coming from a show in which the title translates to ” the miserable ones.” This song was constantly playing in my head throughout the two years of infertility issues I dealt with. Luckily, this was not my fate and my dream did come true but I do have to acknowledge where I was beforehand in order to make sure this new challenge is appreciated and not looked at as a burden, but a tremendous blessing.

20111229-182349.jpg

The twins at 10 weeks

“Defying Gravity” – Wicked

26 Dec

After my first night at the hospital the initial shock faded and my brain was ready to process what was going on. I barely got any sleep and was constantly being woken up for medications, IV maintenance, and checking for contractions. In the quiet hours of the night when I was trying to fall back asleep, I started to think about what my late mother would say if she were there with me in the hospital. She would say “you are exactly where you are supposed to be” or “everything happens for a reason” or “focus on the things that are going right, not wrong.” She truly believed in fate and it made me start thinking about how lucky and blessed I was. Thank God that my doctor caught this issue when he did! If he didn’t or if I was on vacation with my ticking time bomb of a cervix, I would have been destroyed emotionally if I lost the twins. With my new positive focus I had to get on the phone and computer and inform my loved ones about what was going on because I was going to need all of the prayers and support I could get…especially since the one person who I needed most, was only able to be here with me spiritually and not physically. I loved being able to connect with a bunch of family and friends and it definitely made me feel less isolated because many people want to come visit. Now that I was getting on-board with the idea of what bed rest would entail, I began to learn about what my new daily routine would consist of.

The first action plan for “Operation Keep Babies Inside” was to put me in the Trendelenburg position where my bed was kept at a slant (feet up, head down) to get the pressure off of the cervix. Since arriving at the hospital, I was being monitored for contractions and given drugs to stop them. The next big step was to have a surgical procedure called a cerclage in order to stitch the cervix closed throughout the duration of the pregnancy. I was scheduled for the procedure on Christmas Eve so I had a few days in between where I had to be extremely careful so that meant staying in bed constantly and only getting up to go to the bathroom. Everything else had to be done in bed (brushing my teeth, sponge baths, etc). It is really hard to give up my freedom but my eye was now on the prize…or prizes.

*For those of you living under a rock…the song “Defying Gravity” is from the 2003 Broadway musical Wicked and it bleeds girl power. Again, for the rock dwellers, the song comes at a pivotal moment in the show where Elphaba (the wicked witch) realizes that she has to go out on her own, become independent, and literally fly free. Ironically, the night that I found out I was being admitted to the hospital, I was actually wearing my green Wicked shirt which says “Defying Gravity.” Little did I know that my twins and body were doing the exact opposite of that phrase which is what caused the whole problem in the first place! Now at the hospital, we are at war with gravity as we fight to keep the babies safe while I lie in bed in my slanted position getting a constant head rush. Other than the irony of the situation, this song spoke to me by telling me it was okay to give up the expectations and accept what was happening to me with vigor and focus. Even though my babies are being brought down by gravity, I refuse to be and I will do everything in my power to keep them alive. No wizard that there is or was is ever going to bring me down!

20111229-182320.jpg

Moments before we got the bad news…ironically wearing my Defying Gravity shirt

“I Want It All” – Baby

24 Dec

December 21st, 9:00pm, Pacific Standard Time, from here on in I shoot without a script…

At this moment I realized that the quote “we plan, God laughs” was going to be my new mantra from now on. Just an hour earlier life was as it should be. I was attending yet another routine ultrasound with my husband to view our twins of 19 weeks and we were so exited about the upcoming activities and events on our schedule. First, on December 23rd we would be driving to Palm Springs to celebrate Christmas/Hanukkah with the family. Then on December 26th I would turn the big 3-0 and we were going to drive to Las Vegas for a couple more days of fun and celebration. To top that all off we were then going to hop on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera from December 31st-January 7th to complete the “Dirty Thirty Birthday Celebration Extravaganza” (aka Babymoon). With our schedule so filled up, what could possibly go wrong?!?!? Oh yeah…the twins wanted to pop out and join us!

We are at our ultrasound appointment eagerly awaiting our doctor to begin so that he can find out what the sexes of the babies are, then secretly write it down in a card which would be opened exactly at midnight on December 26th (my birthday) for the big reveal. More planning for God to then laugh at. Instead, our doctor quickly noticed something was very wrong and that is when the party ended. My cervix was deemed “incompetent,” I was having contractions without feeling a thing, and I was getting close to losing both babies if we didn’t act fast. We were instructed to go directly to the hospital…do not pass go…do not collect $200. I was informed that this would be my new home for the next four months.

To help rid my mind of the potential danger that my unborn babies were in, I naturally started focusing on the superficial tragedies that were completely of no meaning or importance at all. What about our upcoming vacations? Will we get our money back for the cruise if we can’t go? Why didn’t we purchase the traveler’s insurance?!? My birthday is ruined! What am I going to do about work? Disability will only pay a portion of my salary! Blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah…STOP! As my late mother would have said…”rich man’s problems.” Luckily, my rock (hubby) brought me back to reality to start focusing on what was really important which I was trying to avoid thinking about because of how extremely scared I was.

It took us two long years of patience, frustration, and expensive fertility drugs to finally get pregnant. You would think that we would be cut some slack after all we had already been through. How could I be so close to losing these angels that I prayed so hard for? I felt like I was in a bad Lifetime movie that I was unfortunately starring in. We finally arrived at the hospital, took a deep breath, and a leap of faith.

*The song “I Want It All” is from the 1983 Broadway musical Baby where pregnant women are singing about how they want to have a baby but also have everything else they want in life as well, which is hard once your child takes priority. This song really rang true for me because I was trying to cram in so many fun experiences before the babies were born. I wanted it all and knew that would not be possible come April/May so I booked up my schedule. Little did I know that the twins had a different plan for me and I had to let go of wanting it all because from the moment I became pregnant, they became the number one priority. Most Moms are able to get a lot out of their system before the baby comes and then shift their focus once the birth happens. This would not be my story due to the circumstances but the reward in the end will be completely worth it. Once those babies are born, I will truly have it all and nothing else will matter.

20111229-182246.jpg

Best news ever!