It has been over a month since I last posted. That is just pathetic! The last few months have been challenging on so many fronts.

We spent most of July away- which brought many challenges, including traveling to the west cast with the twins (and without Jeff). Exhausting.

Then in August the proverbial S&*@ hit the fan with my 11 year old stepdaughter, who has type I diabetes. She and her brother spend summers with us- and having 4 children under my care would be overwhelming enough, but as my husband says, "she has enough emotional and medical needs to occupy a full-time staff." I so want to make this situation comfortable and enjoyable for everyone, and often feel that I just fall short, plain and simple.

After my stepkids departed, it was a race to complete my proposal draft- all the little details that are so easy to put off to the end... tables, appendices, references... and then edits etc- and finding time to make it happen while keeping I and J safe and entertained became a delicate balancing act! I am happy to say it is done, and I will be in TX on 9/25 for my proposal hearing. Taking steps forward on that front feels SO good!

And then, perhaps most importantly- I am still pregnant. Just shy of 13 weeks- nearly out of the first trimester. We have our nuchal translucency u/s on Thursday, and I am hopeful it will go smoothly- and then I will feel safe in announcing it to the world. I have done pretty well this time- the nausea is more manageable, and though I am exhausted, I have learned to nap with the twins. :) It's a great luxury- I don't know how I would possibly manage if I were working full-time. All of my u/s up until now have been reassuring- the baby has been growing at a perfectly consistent rate. I currently have placenta previa, but am hopeful this will resolve as my uterus grows and stretches. And then there is the status of the TAC stitch- which is still unclear. So, I take it one u/s at a time... each one bringing me a little closer to the goal...

I realize that this entry is pretty factual and there's not a whole lot of emotion there. I think, as much as I hate to admit it, that I have set this 13 wk u/s as the first real "goal" of this pregnancy- telling myself that if I can just make it that far, my chances of delivering a healthy baby will increase exponentially. And to some extent, this is true, statistically speaking. But the real challenges for me lie ahead. So now I wait to see if I can achieve this next milestone. I'm not sure what comes after that... time will tell.
I've been in CA and am now in OR for our annual family reunion. First part of the trip was spent with my mom's family, and the second half with my dad's at the OR Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. We've been doing this every year since I have been alive - it actually started while my parents were in college. Ashland is the ideal small, artsy town and the festival is unparalleled. My experience of it is a bit different now that I have two small children who need constant supervision, but it is still a wonderful place to spend time.

The day before we left I had an u/s to give us a better sense of the status of this pregnancy. A sac, fetus, and "cardiac activity" was visible. This was reassuring, because the lab managed to lose the results of my second beta so I didn't have those numbers to give me a sense of viability. So I left knowing that, for now, I am pregnant. I told my parents and siblings the news (they were both shocked and excited) but have chosen to keep quiet with everyone else. It's not hard, surprisingly. I suppose this is because I am still not convinced that this pregnancy will continue. I feel very much "present" in the moment, and so projecting 9 months down the road seems silly- like a waste of energy.

As I see it, there are two equally likely possibilities. One, that Jeff and I will be blessed with the amazing gift of a third child. We will experience new challenges and joys. We will know that it was meant to be.

Or, this pregnancy won't continue. And we will know it was not meant to be, for whatever reason- that this strange interlude had a purpose other than to bring a child into our lives (though right now it is hard to imagine what that could be!) And if so, there will be a silver lining if I choose to see it. I will be able to focus on myself in ways that being pregnant and parenting a newborn simply would not allow me to do. I would like to work part-time, to start running, to finish my dissertation this year.

And most importantly, I know that regardless of what happens, I will continue to experience the incredible love in my life that Isabelle, Julien, and Jeff give to me every day. And I will continue to be profoundly grateful for that.

So, in about a week I will go for another u/s, another clue in terms of what the future will hold. Until then, I have decided to live as though I am pregnant- eating well without guilt, sleeping as much as I can, and avoiding all that is forbidden.

It's all I can do. For now.
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So I went at 7:30 am to have my blood drawn. Resigned myself to waiting 'till 4:30 for the results (which is when they called on Monday). Hadn't heard from them at 4:30 so I called. Office is closed. F*CK!

Guess I'll be waiting 'till tomorrow.

On a brighter note, had a really positive phone call with the OB who reviewed my U/S from yesterday. She took alot of time with me, and didn't seem the least bit concerned about the discrepancy between my beta and my u/s. (Not that I trust dr's who don't seem concerned... I usually assume that I know better about my penchant for falling in the .001%'ile).

So, I am in limbo-land for a while yet. Fortunately, we leave for CA on Friday, so I have a bunch of packing, etc to do.

Still feeling OK about the possibility of this going either way. It's just the uncertainty that I hate.
OK, so U/S today showed a gestational sac and yolk sac, measuring 5 wks 1 day, which is consistent with the timing of my "second" period in June. However, it is NOT consistent with my high HCG levels. Plus, I have continued to have a little pinkish-tan spotting (a very little).

I am concerned it may be a molar pregnancy.

Tomorrow, they test my beta again. Then Thurs I see the doctor. I am praying to have answers of some kind before we travel to CA and OR on Friday.

Emotionally I am doing OK. I know I will be OK with either outcome. I just HATE uncertainty. Jeff says this is a great opportunity for me to work through that. I think it is easy for him to say!

I just keep looking at Isabelle and Julien and remembering how lucky I am, no matter what happens. It is hard to think of asking for more than those two perfect munchkins... who I love more than life itself.
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Just got a call with my HCG levels - 11701 - so perhaps I am further along than I thought?

Progesterone is 22.8. Can't remember if that is good or not.

U/S tomorrow at 1:40. Can this really be happening??!!
I believe that all life is energy, pure and simple- energy that is captured in our bodies, and ultimately returns to its source, or is channeled into new manifestations, when this physical life is over. Is there some sort of divine plan that is at play- whether you call it God's will or fate or cosmic order? And if so, how does this intersect with our own attempts to control the creation (as in assisted reproduction) of life? I have to believe that our ability to control this process is, at least to some extent, limited by forces that are perhaps beyond our consciousness or awareness. Is it possible that there are children who Jeff and I are "meant to have", or do we just believe that whatever children we end up with are of course the ones who are meant for us? I mean, on a deep, fundamental level I believe that IF I am meant to be pregnant at this time, if those two or one of those two embryos are meant to become our child(ren), that it will happen. And if not, it will be for a reason, and one day I will look back on this experience, along with the others, and know it was "all for a reason". I know it sounds cliche, and that perhaps there would be people who would suggest that this is an attempt to cope with pain and loss, to find meaning in the most unfair and cruel of experiences. But the thing is, I really do believe that each of my experiences of loss- most significantly the loss of our twins, but also my early miscarriage and ectopic, have been for a reason. That I have grown up in the past two years, that I have evolved, that I have moved closer to a place of appreciating motherhood than I EVER could have had I not faced these challenges. I have no regrets- and have a sense of deep respect for the process of life and spiritual evolution, and see an amazing wisdom. Maybe this is why I feel a sense of trust that is hard to explain or justify that if it is meant to be, it will be, and if it is not, there is a reason. I don't pretend to know what on earth this reason might be, but it is out there. Perhaps I need to do more work on myself before devoting myself to others. Perhaps we are meant to adopt children. Perhaps those two embryos are simply not destined for life as our children. I don't pretend to know... all I can be sure of is the fact that even the most difficult of battles in my life have turned into spiritual blessings, and for that I am grateful.

I have found myself thinking about the pain, anger, and bitterness that most women who experience infertility feel. Of course, it is all justified- how can something that comes so easily to 90% of the population be our lives greatest struggle? But then again, another part of me wonders if we make this pain worse by feeling justified in expecting to have our needs and desires fulfilled when and in the way we expect them to be? No one ever said being a parent was meant to provide self-fulfillment, first and foremost. Being a parent is allowing yourself to be a part of something SO much bigger and broader than your own needs and wants! Perhaps it might be easier to start BEING a parent before even getting pregnant, and realize that you are simply an instrument for a force that has little to do with your own timetables, needs for identity fulfillment, or the image you have had of what your life would or should be like?

Does this sound harsh? I hope not. I just can't help but think we can end up making a difficult situation even worse by bringing to the table expectations that really don't make a whole lot of sense in the first place. We're taught all of our lives that they make sense- that we are ENTITLED to certain experiences and realities, parenthood certainly one of them. But parenthood is not about US, it is about the miraculous creation, nurturing, and development of life. It seems that being able to release some of our expectations of being able to harness, control, and own this process might both make the process less painful and also make us better parents in the long run.
** DISCLAIMER: This post includes info about a surprise BFP and my ambivalent feelings about this turn of events. This may be a maddening post for my fellow bloggers who have experienced loss and IF to read. Please proceed with this in mind.**

I have no idea who out there reads this blog, but I felt compelled to include this warning nonetheless. I need to write, and I know what I have to say may be hurtful to others... so please know that I am aware of this and am sensitive to how my words may be perceived.

I guess I should start by saying I did not get my first post-partum period until the twins' first birthday. To the day, unbelievably! It was a heavy period, as though my body was making up for a year of being period-less. Two weeks later, more bleeding. Nothing heavy. June 6th, one month later- period #2. I was amazed that my body had done anything "regular". Two weeks later, more bleeding (so not too regular!)

Last week we were on vacation in Williamsburg, VA... Jeff, Julien, Isabelle, and me. A busy, hectic, hot, and fun week. During our time away, I had some weird twinges in my boobs. They weren't painful per se, but there were these hard to explain twinges. And I was tired- so tired. And on Thursday am, it occurred to me. Maybe I ought to take a HPT (ha ha) just to see the lack of a second line and confirm that my body was back to its strange ways and schedules.

Two blue lines. Immediately. I had thrown away the package and directions at the store, in hopes of keeping my stepchildren from guessing what was in my RiteAid bag. For a while, I convinced myself that I was supposed to see a "plus sign", not a second line. Ran out and got a digital. "Pregnant". Told my husband, who told me it was impossible. I don't ovulate. I only have one fallopian tube. It took a miracle and all those doctors and drugs and procedures to conceive the twins. I told him I knew... but evidently it was not as impossible as we thought. There was some HCG in my system, at least... and there was only one way for it to get there. We had been having unprotected sex like blissfully ignorant teenagers. But we weren't ignorant. We were all too well-informed about the limits of my fertility. And the old baby dance, sperm-meets-egg, missed period routine is one that doesn't apply to us.

Except that in this weird and unexpected case, it seemed to.

Given my history of miscarriage (though this was likely due to my now-removed septum) and ectopic pregnancy, we have serious reservations about the chances of this pregnancy. As I type, I am awaiting this results of my first beta test, which won't really tell us much... not until we know if the numbers double will we have a sense of whether this craziness could represent a viable pregnancy. Though the numbers COULD help me get a sense of how far along I am... with the weird bleeding I had, I have no idea when my last period was. Was it June 6? June 20?

I have also had some brown discharge over the past day- just a tiny bit when I wipe. I know this could mean absolutely nothing (irritated cervix) or it could mean that whatever is in there is not well. No way to know.

And so, here I am. Never dreamed I would be back in this place of uncertainty again so soon... and so unexpectedly. And I have to be honest... I have mixed feelings. Having three children under the age of two would be a challenge, for certain. Would I be able to mother Isabelle and Julien the way I want to if I was also caring for an infant? Would I be able to withstand another pregnancy? Am I really ready for this? Do I really want this?

And then another part of me longs to experience the joys, the utter rapture, of another child... another infant... another little being to love with every ounce of my own.

I find myself returning to the words I wrote as I awaited my beta for I and J. This is about creation-something far larger than myself, my awareness, my control. I am just a vessel for this amazing process.

If Jeff and I are meant to bring another child into this world, this pregnancy will progress. If not, it will end in a miscarriage or an ectopic. Hopefully not in a later term loss.

So while I am nervous and uncertain and scared... there is a sense of peace behind all that. What is meant to be, will be. And I will be OK, we will be OK. Now we wait to see what this process has in store for us now.
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Two years ago, I went to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia with my husband and two stepchildren, Shannon and Reagan. Two days prior, I had undergone emergency surgery in which my right tube was removed. It may have been crazy. No, it WAS crazy. I could barely get in and out of the car without significant pain. But at the time, my stepchildren were living in TX and Jeff and I in NC- so this was during the 6 week period when we had them with us, and I couldn't imagine denying Jeff this opportunity on my account. It seemed that we all needed to reconnect and have fun more than ever before. So we went. And... it was indeed fun. As I write this, I have two images that come to mind. One is of a picture of us taken on one of those rides with a big drop. I am SCREAMING- terrified and exhilerated. I have never liked roller coasters- I like to be in control, not at the whim of some stupid vehicle designed for people who think being scared is FUN. That has never been me. But that summer, that trip, I took a couple risks. After all, I had experienced things that were truly scary so recently that perhaps these trivial frights seemed fun in comparison. Whatever the motivation behind it, I did it and we have the pictures to prove it. The other image is of me on a waterslide, ripping open one of my stitches. After the years of caution- eating right, not drinking, not doing anything that might possibly hurt my chances of getting pregnant- I said screw it. Screw doctor's orders, screw my fears, screw my better judgement, screw responsible adulthood. I am riding this waterslide, come what may.

The stitch healed, as did my fresh emotional wounds.

Two years later, we plan to depart for Williamsburg once again this weekend. This time with four children, not two. Again, people tell me I am crazy for driving 8-9 hours with 14 month old twins, for braving the heat, for trying to navigate the crowds and complications of a decidedly un-baby-friendly environment. And again, I say screw it- why not?

And so, next week when I am feeling sorry for myself because I am stuck in a townhouse while my husband and stepchildren are off galavanting, and when I am exhausted because Julien refuses to sleep for more than a three hour stretch in a new environment, and when I am wondering what exactly possessed us to undertake this adventure...

I will remember where we were two years ago. And how far we have come. And how ridiculously blessed I am to be "burdened" with these complications. And who knows, maybe I'll even take a moment to throw caution to the wind and do something that scares me, just for the hell of it. Just because I can. And to remind me that conquering my fears led me to the most fulfilling, wonderful, amazing ride of my life.
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I just sent off a completed draft of my dissertation proposal to my advisor. I'm not sure I ever thought I would get to this point... with all that has happened in the past three years, finally finishing my PhD felt like a distant possibility.

In reality, it is still pretty far away, as goals go.

But I am a step closer, and that is more than I have been able to say in the last three years!

Thanks for reading... off to continue my happy dance...
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It has been quite a long time since I have been able to return to the blog, as chaos in my "present day life" has kept me from continuing my journey through the past... Long story short, I got sick with a cold/flu that turned into a horrible sinus infection, and then Julien got "hand, foot, and mouth disease", which is evidently running rampant through our area. And if that weren't enough for the poor guy, he developed a serious double ear infection (they found strep/pneumonia bacteria in the culture!) Needless to say, it has been a challenging couple of weeks. Especially given that I was crazy enough to brave the 6+ hour drive to MD for my best friend's baby shower... I was thrilled to be able to attend the shower. But I learned one important lesson- traveling alone with the twins just does not work. I can handle alot on my own- but not an overnight in a new environment with no help. We cut our trip early and drove home right after the shower- just in time to celebrate my 32nd birthday with a nice meal, just Jeff and I.

Despite the challenges, I do believe it was the happiest birthday I have ever had. Mainly because I realized that I am happy with my life and with myself in a way that I never have been before. And before I am justifiably accused of suggesting that my life is a picture-perfect "achievement", let me explain. There are plenty of challenges, rough edges, frustrations, areas of unfinished or unresolved business. PLENTY! But I am so fulfilled by where I am... so able to embrace the good and bad, beautiful and ugly (most of the time, at least) that I can't help but wonder if this is truly as good as it gets.

And I am deeply, profoundly grateful. Grateful to my husband for sticking with me when he probably wanted to run the other direction. Grateful to the family (and family of friends) who has shown me love, taught me love, and never for a moment let me doubt this love. And grateful to my children. To Carynne and Lucas, who never lived outside my body, but whose presence altered my very core. To Julien and Isabelle- who have taught me that being a parent doesn't mean "having" children. They are not mine. I am theirs. I am lucky enough to be given the opportunity to be a part of their lives, to love them, to hold them, to laugh with them, to try to use all that I am to nurture and guide them.

And so, in the wake of sickness and sleepless nights and birthday celebrations...

I am profoundly grateful.
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OK, I am back. I have to be honest, these posts have been somewhat emotionally draining, and I find that I need some recovery time in between them. My emotions get thrown out of whack, and I forget why it was I started writing about this in the first place.

Which is, indeed, a good question. One that the therapist in me can't help but ask. Why now? There may be a couple reasons... my babies are now a year old. They are no longer fragile infants- instead, they are active toddlers with very distinctive personalities and minds of their own. My role as their mom is changing. I am considering part-time daycare so that I can increase my college counseling hours AND find time to work on my dissertation. I am sure that on some level there is a sense of guilt in leaving them for any amount of time, and for picking up pieces of my adult life that lay dormant during their first year of life and to some extent during the previous years of treatment, pregnancy, more treatment, more setbacks (read on for more about that!), more treatment, and then pregnancy. And then there is also the issue of my dissertation topic- focused on infertility's impact on marriage- that has me re-examining my own experiences as I delve deeper and deeper into trying to understand others'. So for these reasons, and I am sure others that I am not fully aware of, I have returned to this process.

Recently, I posted a comment on a blog regarding how, for me, grief has a cyclical nature. Rather than a linear process of "moving on", mine seems to be one of moving around that black hole of grief... getting a little distance from it, gaining a new perspective, and then returning to experience it once again from a new vantage point.

This is a time in my life when, for whatever reason, I am returning to this experience. "Rapprochement", we might call it in psychological terms. And it is hard, but hard in a good way. I feel closer to the babies I lost, I feel their presence in my life. And I know their spirits live on within me.

That said, I find that this blog triggers a certain sense of vulnerability. There are so many people who I know both in real life and online, who do not know this side of me. They may know that I lost twins, but they know little about what this experience meant to me. In their eyes, I am Isabelle and Julien's mother... there are two children in our family, not four. And so I feel, quite honestly, a little apprehensive about what they might think should they stumble across this blog. It all seems so dark and heavy! How can this part of my life be more integrated with the parts of my life that the outside world sees? How can I live as the mother of four children- rather than two? I so want this truth to be told, and feel so lacking in terms of a finding a way to tell it. I hardly want to respond to the question (often asked by strangers): "are these your first children?" with "no, I had another set of twin and lost them when I was 20 weeks pregnant". It feels way too personal to share, yet at the same time, there is a part of me that I am denying the very existence of my children, and feel horrible in doing so. And so, Carynne and Lucas have become parts of my innermost, most private identity. And quite honestly, I think this blog has become a place for me to "try out" making their presence known more publicly.

And so, I return to my story. January, February, and March of '06 were a blur, really. I remember the day I returned to work quite vividly. It was about a week or so after my loss, and I was eager for the routine distractions of my former life. The first day was hard... each time I faced a colleague for the first time, there was that horribly awkward moment in which the dark truth of what had happened needed to be addressed. Even not addressing it represented a response laden with meaning for me- there were certainly people who seemed to think that ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room might be easiest, might be best. Sometimes it was. Often it wasn't. Honestly, no response was the right one because nothing could diminish the sense of loss that lay just below the surface.

Nothing, it seemed, except moving forward mentally and logistically to my next IVF. I needed that next "fix" of infertility drugs to keep me going. My breasts were still leaking when I attempted my IVF in March, and this is telling both in terms of my emotional and physical state. The pregnancy was still living in me, fighting to hold on, had not yet let go. But I moved forward anyway... foolishly... thinking a new pregnancy might be just the solution we needed. I think my inner ambivalence manifested itself on many levels. I have no recollection of how many eggs were retrieved- only that they weren't great quality. The day after my transfer, I walked 3 miles- not exactly the way to support a potential pregnancy. My mind may have longer for another positive pregnancy test. My body and my emotions were simply not ready- and no good could come from this misalignment. The pregnancy test was negative.

I jumped right back on the trying to conceive train. By mid-May, I was doing a frozen embryo transfer. The quality of the embies upon thaw was so crappy that they stuck all four of them back in me (which in retrospect, makes me realize how pessimistic my dr was about my chances). I wrote the cycle off. Surprise, surprise- two days after our second wedding anniversary, I had a positive pregnancy test.

My beta was very low, however. And in the subsequent weeks, it behaved abnormally- sometimes doubling, but in general remaining way too low to be a viable pregnancy. If only the story ended here! This pregnancy proved to be extremely complicated. There was a sac in my uterus. A blighted ovum, most likely. But there appeared to be something in my tube, as well. So, I got a shot of methotrexate to eliminate the pregnancy. Went back for another beta. I was in the bathroom at Target when I got the call (this I remember vividly). My beta had gone UP, not down, following the treatment. Got yet another shot of Methotrexate. Everyone was optimistic that this would do the trick.

I didn't feel good that weekend. I had heard of people having GI issues as a result of the treatment, I figured that was the case. Called my Dr on Monday am, just to let her know. She asked that I come in for an ultrasound, just to be safe.

I walked into the clinic before work, thinking I would be in and out. Much to my surprise and everyone else's, the U/S revealed that my abdomen was filled with blood. My tube had burst. My wonderful Dr drove me in her car to Duke Hospital, where I was met by my husband and rushed into surgery. I lost my tube, but fortunately, the rest of me remained intact.

Everything except my sense of being able to continue to try to achieve a pregnancy.
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I am not sure how much I can write about my first twin pregnancy right now. It is a deep well of pain and loss that I keep tightly sealed as I navigate my current life. Typing their names brings tears to my eyes.

It was a wonderful pregnancy- I was blissfully, naiively, deeply happy and grateful.

It lasted twenty short weeks.

And then on December 29, it all came crashing down around me. This is the email I wrote to my best friend (who was in India for a wedding) the day after it happened. It is all I can do now to read it again, and re-live the memories...
Dearest J,

I am sure that by now you have received my email from yesterday and know the news. I really feel the need to sit and write about all that happened- and knowing that I can do so to you is tremendously comforting. So know that even though you are far away, I feel your presence here supporting me and it is a gift to be able to share this experience with you by writing.

So we had spent a few very busy days in New York- alot of walking. I was feeling good, though a bit tired. By the end of the day on Tuesday I felt pretty exhausted and my abdomen felt heavy. I was looking forward to returning to Dover and having some "downtime". We arrived that evening, and I felt some pain. Honestly, I thought it was just that my pants were too tight. I lay down for a few hours- it didn't get better, and when I realized that the "pain" seemed to have a rhythm to it, I began to worry. I decided to go the ER to have things checked out. They found two healthy heartbeats, but couldn't find my cervix (they thought it was just "tipped back") and sent me by ambulance to Brigham and Women's. At this point, I figured I had just gotten dehydrated, would need some fluids, and maybe to be on bedrest for a day or two. The Dr. at the Brigham, a young female resident, did a pelvic exam and her eyes filled with tears. She put her hand on my stomach, and with tears in her eyes told me that the amniotic sac had already descended to the vagina; my cervix was fully open and there was nothing they could do to stop the labor. The cause was uncertain, perhaps an "incompetent cervix" or perhaps a uterine infection- there was no way to really know for sure. Of course, I asked if there was something, anything we could do. The chief resident came and basically told me that there was virtually no chance that they could do anything that would allow these babies to live prior to 24 weeks... and if they were born at that time, they would likely die or have severe developmental disabilities. All I could think of was that I didn't want these two perfect little babies to have to suffer in any way... and it was unimaginable to think about trying to hold onto them because I wanted them to be born on my time frame. It was such a difficult shift after the controlled process of IVF, pregnancy... doing everything "right" in order to keep these babies alive and growing and well... to realize that doing "right" by them meant letting them go. The guilt on my part (did I walk too much in NY? Did I allow myself to get dehydrated? Is there ANYTHING I could have done differently?) also made it hard... but the doctor's were great about being very up-front and direct. We called my parents immediately- I wanted them there with me. It was amazing that Laurie and Patrick were around to stay with Shannon and Reagan- we couldn't have picked two better people to be with them so that the rest of us could feel totally confident that they were OK.

And so, we went forward with the labor. They gave me an epidural so I would feel no pain, and morphine and Atavan to keep me relaxed- and I was very aware of everything that was happening, and of what I was feeling, but less anxious and scared. I know you of all people can imagine how wonderful my parents were... and I worried about them... I didn't want them to have to go through this horrible process without the benefit of the drugs that I had- but they stayed with me the whole time. Jeff could not have been more wonderful to me... he just told me again and again that we would get through this together, that we are a team, and that we will be stronger as a team for having gone through this together... and that our dream of becoming parents will come true when the time is right.

I felt so unprepared- as to what to expect from labor, and even more so what to expect from such an early labor. And I had no idea whether I wanted to see and hold them when the arrived. But one of the nurses encouraged me to do so- and I realized that the one thing I wanted more than anything was for them to be kept together from the time they were both born. I didn't want them to be separated a moment longer than they had to be.

They started me on Pitocin, and the contractions came very regularly- and it was painful for a while and then they adjusted the medication so I felt nothing at all. At one point, the nurse checked me, and my water broke, and I pushed a few times, and the first baby, Carynne, came out. I remember crying so hard when they carried her over to the bassinett to clean her up, and then they brought her to me. She was tiny, but she had the sweetest face. It looked as though she were smiling in her sleep. I held her and touched her and told her how much I love her, and how glad I was that she was so peaceful. Jeff and my parents did the same. Shortly thereafter, the second baby, Lucas (yes, Jeff and I had just agreed on his name the week before) was born. They cleaned him up, and wrapped him in a blanket with Carynne and brought them both to me. They looked so different from one another- two little people- and I held them for awhile and talked to them and told them how loved they are.

Lindsay arrived, and the nurses had dressed the babies in teeny outfits and lay them together in a bassinet. It looked as though they were holding hands. We stood there around them, holding hands, and she baptized them and blessed them while all of us, including the nurses, cried. And then I was ready to let them go... they had taken pictures and later gave them to me in a satin box with the outfits they had worn. I plan to add the little album of all the ultrasound pictures I had of them- there are so many- and also the many many emails, letters, and notes I received from all the people who love them and us so much. I honestly don't know if there have ever been two unborn babies as loved as those two- and those are the things I want to keep to remember them by.

I have struggled to find my own sense of spirituality for so much of my life, and from time to time, Jeff has always told me that my turning point would come and I would find it when I wasn't looking for it. I do remember telling him at one point that night that I had made it to that turning point- and somehow what I believe to be true became so unbelievably clear to me. I believe that those babies came into and also went out of my life in the time and way that they did for a reason... and that one day I will look back and know that all has happened as was meant to happen. All my life I have worked and struggled and manipulated (as you know!) and tried to control my life so it would happen on my time. This is the ultimate lesson in the reality that life just doesn't work that way... and as I look back, I realize that some of my greatest blessings have thwarted all my best-laid plans. I also know that the life, the spirit, the energy that was within Carynne and Lucas still exists- it did not go away even though their little bodies did. They are still out there, there are still with me, and their energy and spirits will manifest themselves in my life when the time is right. I can't really describe that feeling in words, but I know it with more certainty than I have ever known anything in my life. And I also know that I have two choices- I can either move forward from this with anger, disappointment, and bitterness- clinging to the idea that this is NOT fair (which it isn't) or that this shouldn't have happened to me or that somehow I brought this on myself. But what a sad legacy for two perfect little creatures to leave behind! The only other choice is to face this head on- and to go through all the pain and sadness and loss and disappointment without denying it- and then to use what I have learned to change myself, my life, and what I do with my life- as a parent, a partner, a friend, whatever... for the better. That is the kind of legacy that I would wish for those babies to leave behind on my life- and maybe even on the lives of the other people who loved them so much. I don't deny the trememdous grief I will feel as time goes on, and know that the next months will be hard, and also that I will get through it- hopefully with alot of love and help and encouragment from the people in my life. It is truly in times like this that you learn how extensive and strong your "family" is- and just in the 24 hours that have passed, I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love- not only for Jeff and I, but for our family... who are also struggling greatly. Who would have know that one could feel so blessed during the darkest of times.

Ah, it feels good to have gotten all those thoughts out in writing. It's incredibly cathartic for me, and also meaningful knowing that I can share this with you, my second sister. I know your support and love are with me even though you are so incredibly far away.

I love you, J, and will look forward to visiting in person as soon as we can make that happen. In the meantime, ENJOY the rest of your time in India, and give my love to A.

Love always,

and her response...

My dear friend,

It is so difficult to know how to respond. And I regret that, sitting in an internet cafe surrounded by curious onlookers, I do not feel completely free to take the time I need. It seems that no matter which direction I contemplate, I fall short for not wanting to allow myself the tears that are so close to the surface.

So, for now, let me say again how much I love you. Thank you for sharing the details of your experience with me. My heart goes out to you and Jeff and your whole family, and of course to those two beautiful children of yours. I am so sad that they will not know you in the way we expected, for they could not have come into a family that loves them more. I really understand your desire for them to stay together--it is a comfort somehow to know that they have each other as we have had our family in times of unexpected grief. I guess we must look for the little rays of light--thank God there is something here to hold onto.

Traveling as a group has certainly made me think a lot about our trip to Europe years ago (dynamics are a challenge here as they were there)--I know how you have struggled to find a sense of peace in relation to your own spirituality and have a good sense of how far you have come. Hearing you speak of a turning point was all the more poingant as I have been struggling alot with similar questions as we try to put together a wedding ceremony that is meaningful. A and I have had some important conversations about how we want to go forward together as a married couple. I tell you this, because I want to share something of what it was like for me to hear your news.

Certainly, I was inexpressibly sad. You are my family, and so are your children. I know that you and I are connected, but I was surprised to notice the emptiness I felt in my own body. Nothing compared to what you are going through, but I think at least an indication of how connected we are. It helped me feel less guilty for being away...less upset for lack of something to do. Before I called you, I came back to the guest house we were staying in and cried with A. AR and J came to find out if things were ok--I hope it is ok that I told them what had happened. We all cried together and AR helped me understand what had happened in medical terms, based on what little we knew of the details. I needed to know that you were going to be ok physically. And somehow hearing a little more about what may have happened helped (nothing compared to your own words, but something to hold on to for the time being).

J folded two beautiful paper cranes, which I took to my room. Adrian and I sat together and I prayed with him...something I don't think I've ever done. My first thought was for your comfort. I was so relieved to understand that you were in Dover with your parents and Jeff. And then I felt very clearly that those two little people will remain with you throughout your life. I told A how sure I am that they will manifest again when the time is right. I can't help but hope that they will return to this Earth in body so that you can continue to explore being their parents; but, perhaps they have given their gift and have left it to you to love additional children who also need you. I am so confident that you and Jeff will have the opportunity to be parents together again. And as sad I am, I am also quite awed by your strength and clear thinking. As parents we are sometimes called upon to do what we think is impossible...I can't imagine two people on this Earth who have demonstrated their capacity and sincere intention in more ways.

Please let me know as you decide how long you will stay in Dover. I really want to see you when I return and will either come to Dover to Durham...whichever makes the most sense. I return on Jan. 4th (Wed), but there is no reason I can't take "sick" days on Thurs or Fri to travel--afterall, Indian food is quite hard on the digestive track.
Just let me know. I know you have all kinds of wonderful people around you, but I can't help wanting to hug you myself.

Allow yourself to grieve. And don't try too hard to find the "reason" in all this--things will become clear when the time is right and you will know how to move forward.
I wish you and Jeff and Carynne and Lucas peace. Love each other ferociously. And trust yourself to do for each other what is right and good.

I love you.


I sit here now, two and a half years later, with tears streaming down my face. What I felt that day was deep, true, and in such a sad way, beautiful. And even thought it has been such a long time since I have read the words I wrote, they are with me.

They are written on my soul.
So to continue this storytelling journey...

After my first m/c, I became all the more obsessed with achieving a pregnancy. Unfortunately, my body didn't cooperate. Ovulation didn't seem to come naturally (or monthly) for me. We saw an RE. We tried Clomid. I became evil. A crazy, raving psychobitch.

My body ovulated on Clomid. Barely. And after days and days of waiting.

And then my husband took a new job in North Carolina. I was devastated, but it would ultimately be a blessing. Along with his job came insurance coverage that included 100% of infertility expenses. As many of my readers know, this is winning the IF lottery. It is nothing short of amazing. The company we both ultimately joined was partnered with a company in MA for insurance purposes- and thus, we were the beneficiaries of MA's infertility coverage mandate.

Just an aside- if you have ever thought of finding a "cause" to support- the push for mandated infertility coverage is one that can make a HUGE difference in peoples' lives... I am one of them. And if it makes you as angry as it does me that Viagra is routinely covered, thus insuring that men can be "potent" throughout their lives... and women are routinely denied treatment for what I consider a far more devastating blow to their lives, well-being, and families... well, WRITE TO YOUR LOCAL LEGISLATORS. Let them know you care. Join RESOLVE's efforts.

OK, off my soapbox.

So, my new RE at Duke - the wonderful and fabulous Grace Couchman - did an HSG and discovered a uterine septum. Anyone see "Baby Mama"? I think the line was "I don't like the look of your uterus". That was me. This septum had likely caused my first m/c. So, off I went for surgery, which was a success. And then, after a three month break, on to my first injectable / IUI cycle.

My body, we came to realize, likes Follistim as much as it hates Clomid. I developed bushels of eggs, my e2 went through the roof. There was talk of cancelling my cycle. But thanks to the wonders of our insurance, we simply converted the cycle to an IVF cycle. It was a bit touch-and-go, and I had to coast for a while... but at the end of the road, it worked.

I got my long-awaited BFP. And it was twins. My prayers had been answered, my dreams realized, my IF journey was over.

Or so we thought.
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OK, so where was I?

Young, conflicted, and scared, I suppose. And then I met Jeff. To summarize the first three years of our relationship: we met, got engaged, I freaked out, we got unengaged, Jeff moved to TX, we realized that we were/are meant to be together, I moved to TX, we got re-engaged, and finally, on May 30, 2004, we got married.

Not long after, I figured it was time that we give the baby-making routine that scared the bejeebers out of me (given that I felt destined to fail) a shot. I read "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" cover to cover. Was amazed by how little I knew about my body. Took my temperature (daily). Checked my cervix, the fluid, etc etc etc.

And here's where the story gets weird.

I got pregnant. The first cycle we tried. Yes, I was one of "those" women who I would later grow to hate. I was surprised, amazed, ecstatic. I was an uber-fertile woman! We had done it!

Three weeks later, I began spotting. The u/s revealed a fetal pole, but not the heartbeat that should have been present. Three days later, it was gone. It was over. We scheduled a D&C. I lay huddled on the couch, feeling empty. More than anything else, I felt that I had been right all along... I would get my due, my punishment would be meted.

It is hard to say what was stronger at this point- my desire to BE a mother, or my desire NOT to be infertile. Does that make any sense? I was willing to do anything in order to get pregnant. In retrospect, I am not sure I was able to see beyond the "getting pregnant" part... motherhood was a distant goal, one that was obscured behind the years of guilt, shame, and fear.
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So here we go with my first attempt to re-introduce myself to blogland.

"Hi, my name is Elisabeth and I am infertile. Was infertile? Am probably still infertile?"

If this were an AA meeting, I would need a couple pots of coffee and a few hours to make an introduction that made any kind of sense. Fortunately, in this forum I have all the time in the world, limited only by the needs of my twins, who are currently entertaining each other and most likely causing trouble of some kind.


When I was a teenager, I was a "bunhead". A ballet dancer. Ate, breathed, lived ballet. Unfortunately, I was not blessed with a body made to fit the aesthetic ideals of the art form. Short-waisted and wide-hipped, I had curves that were deemed inappropriate- unlike my classmates, I would never be mistaken for a nine year old girl. Ever determined, I vowed to change the unchangeable. A five year stretch of my life between the ages of 16 and 12 was eclipsed by eating disorders.

People made all kinds of ominous-sounding threats at this time. Only one was memorable: "if you don't gain weight, you might never be able to have children".

I had always wanted children. Always. Needless to say, this threat scared the sh*t out of me. I carried with in me a seed of "truth" - that I had ruined my body's ability to bear the children I so desperately wanted. Strangely, this was coupled with a sense of terror that any sexual encounter would result in an unwanted pregnancy... but there you have it, a perfect depiction of the deep feelings of shame and conflict that accompanied my sexuality for a very long time.

OK, time to feed the monkeys. More soon.
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OK, so I have been busy. The last time I posted, I was finishing an IVF cycle. My fourth. I was terrified of the pregnancy that was ahead.

Fast forward 20 months. I am a mom of year-old twins, Isabelle and Julien. They are the loves of my life (although I suppose I should include my husband in that group!)

Life is good. And yet there is still a part of me that feels infertile. That thinks of the two babies I lost. That feels guilty that I do not keep their memories alive in the ways that I had hoped to.

And so I return to the blog.

I return to ask the unanswered questions.

I return to make space for the parts of my life, my history that nobody in my "real life" seems to remember, want to talk about, want to keep alive.

And yet they are alive, very much so... just overlooked. Buried.

And so I am here.