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.