from the blog.

As Long As They Are Okay

I secretly delighted in being labeled “high risk”—at first. High risk meant closer monitoring and more ultrasound scans—more chances to see how my twin girls were doing. When life seems so tenuous on this journey—reassurance is both welcomed and feared. I thought of it as “Schroedinger’s babies”—they were both doing fine AND in some sort of danger in my mind until I saw the comforting image each time—one of them smiling, the other getting kicked in the head by the smiling one.

At first the complications started off small. My jaw became stiff, making it difficult to eat; my gums were bleeding and my wrists became useless as carpal tunnel syndrome tightened my fingers. I couldn’t eat solid foods or wipe my behind after using the restroom but “as long as they are okay,” I told myself with a gigantic smile (and anyone who would listen), “I can handle anything!”

At the 16 week ultrasound scan I was informed that I had complete placenta previa. I was told that I shouldn’t walk long distances and to stay rested.  This included pelvic rest (which incidentally is the name of my fictitious all female punk band.) I was warned by “the internet” that twin pregnancies often result in bed rest and since I was still able to walk around—a little—I considered this a victory.  “The placenta previa will most likely clear on its own,” so I wasn’t worried. And even if it didn’t, I would be at risk for a Cesarean section. But the golf ball sized fibroid removed from my uterus a year prior already dictated that I would require one of those.

Just about the time the placenta previa resolved, gestational diabetes arrived to take its place. I considered it the universe intervening on my intake of ice cream. I would now have to learn different ways to “increase my calcium intake for the girls.” This was an inconvenience, but always looking for the silver lining I determined eating 6 times a day was not all negative (especially when cheese was involved.) I turned to the internet to prepare myself for the pitfalls of gestational diabetes: overly large children—a positive I thought, considering twins—and a potential C-section—already predetermined. Monitoring my sugars four times a day gave me something to focus on besides whether or not I would lose my girls at any point. And again I thought, “as long as they are okay, I can handle anything.”

Sometime at the beginning of the third trimester, I was unable to walk. Acute sesamoiditis of the accessory navicular bone, the intense pain that rendered my right foot useless, would be the beginning in a series of incidents for which I was unprepared. X-rays showed that I was one of the “lucky” people that had extra bones in my feet. Being lucky in my life is always juxtaposed with some unfortunate occurrence. Accompanying the jaw and wrist issues—my ligaments had loosened around these extra bones and I could no longer walk. Putting the slightest amount of pressure on my foot instantly brought tears to my face and I worried about how I would get to the refrigerator (for cheese) to eat every 2-3 hours. My husband would have to stay home for the next few days as it resolved to take care of us. A pregnant woman on crutches with three flights of stairs in her tall, skinny house required some supervision.

During the 30th week, I ate ice cream for the first time in weeks. I should have known better. Forty five minutes later, I felt like I had received novocaine at the dentist. My lips were numb and I couldn’t taste anything. I didn’t think too much about it until I woke up the following morning with the left side of my face incapacitated, left eyelid frozen, eye tearing and no longer able to easily move my lips. Labor and Delivery triage doctors determined that “good news!” I didn’t have a stroke! But rather, I developed Bell’s Palsy. I asked if this would affect the girls at all and doctors assured me once again they would be okay. And they would be okay after the two courses of steroids. And they would be okay after the trip to the Emergency Room when the pain behind my ear and along my jawline was so bad that I was crying in pain—again. Doctors told me I could expect recovery in three weeks. Nine months later, I have 75% function of my face. Now I tell myself that whatever beauty I ever had—I gave to my girls before they were born.

My father, knowing full well that these would be my only children, joked with me that I was having the “full pregnancy experience.” I laughed even though I no longer found any of this funny.

At this point in time, cliched hands on belly, I whispered to myself, “as long as they are okay…” I no longer felt the need to tempt fate to see what else I could develop.

I felt horrible, even guilty for thinking about how I might be seen as complaining about my pregnancy. The girls were growing, heartbeats strong and I didn’t want to feel ungrateful about how *lucky* I was that our second IVF treatment worked.

During my fourth or fifth nonstress test around 34 weeks, my blood pressure started to creep up. There was protein in my urine.

Things moved quickly now.

A day or two later, what I thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions were happening every hour. Another trip to L & D triage—and they couldn’t complete a nonstress test on one of my girls. Her biophysical profile scored low. I had a headache. My blood pressure was rising. What I did not know earlier on was that Bell’s Palsy has a correlation with preeclampsia; and I was developing it.

Around midnight, I was transferred by ambulance to a hospital with a Trauma Level III NICU. The surgical team met me in my room shortly after my arrival and told me that the twins were coming into the world and they were coming now. Through tears, I pleaded with them to take good care of my girls.

They would be born an hour later at 2:33 am and 2:35 am—on room air. They would need no significant interventions in the NICU for the next twelve days as they just worked on gaining weight.

I couldn’t help but feel like I was willing to make any sacrifice for them. Scientifically, the things that happened to me were unrelated to how the girls fared. My foot issues weren’t protecting the girls from possible congenital heart defects. My carpal tunnel syndrome wouldn’t guarantee that they would be developmentally normal. However, infertility changed how I thought. The fear of saying anything positive inevitably felt like it would lead to loss in some way, some irreversible detriment that would break my heart.  Despite my outspoken war on jinxes, I always still secretly believed in them.  And as things got more difficult for me physically, I truly believed that I was protecting them and taking the blows of the universe for them—so that they were okay.

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25 Comments

  1. As I said when you reblogged this, I can relate to so much of what you wrote here. Thank you for your raw candour and tenacity. Your girls are so very fortunate to have you as their mommy. Of course, they knew that as they chose you long before those two lines appeared on any pre test. 🙂

      1. Thank you so much for this. I often thought the same about you too – so happy that you have your little one here with you now – and of course the miracle toddler! <3

  2. I can relate to the idea of never saying anything positive so as not to tempt fate! You really went through the mill there xx

    1. There were definitely times when I said to myself, “I thought pregnancy is supposed to be so magical – this is far from it!” I think we are all so aware of our own journeys and those of others that we are the last to complain even when things aren’t going so smoothly. But that is one of the nice things I like about this community – it is okay to be human and be frustrated at times. Thank you so much for your kind words. <3

    1. JINXES AREN’T REAL! Oh! I am sorry I was just yelling that at myself in the mirror 😉 Perhaps I will write about that next 🙂 Thank you for the support, that you have always given me <3

  3. Woah, I knew you been through a lot but that is one insane journey. You truly are an amazing woman, your strength, courage and love for your girls really inspires me. Thank you for sharing.
    And I’m right there with you on the jinxes! (I was even going to write about that in my next blog post). I try to tell myself they aren’t real but then I have very strong “coincidences”. Grr.

  4. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop when I was pregnant. Everything was going so well and I had such an easy pregnancy compared to most people. I felt so guilty!

    Is there treatment or therapy for Bell’s palsy, or do you just wait and hope?

    1. Some people swear by vitamin B12 for nerve growth, others say acupuncture and chiropractors helped them. In severe cases, people have surgery to replace the nerve all together. I did facial physical therapy which I think helped a lot – got me from almost no smile to having somewhat of my smile back. I think if it happened a little later in the pregnancy or not at the beginning of the colder seasons, it would have been better.

      And personally, I am glad that you had a relatively uneventful pregnancy – the fear of something bad happening was enough for you to deal with <3 Please don't feel guilty about that!

  5. I constantly tell myself that jinxes aren’t real but secretly believe in them and fear them too especially when it comes to the pregnancy after infertility bit! It took so much to get here I feel like I’ve snuck behind fates back and at some point she will notice and take away the baby I was never meant to have.
    you my friend did an incredible job at growing those gorgeous girlies! Xoxox

    1. I just feel like it is so unfair to us to believe in jinxes – but we have all had those experiences so it is hard to escape. How horrible this process is – to make such a wonderful person believe that she isn’t meant to have a child of their own. Hoping and wishing for you. *hugs*

  6. Damn. Just had a chance to read this in full—the published version—and I’m in awe. Chills and tears.

    I vaguely remember all of this…I know I didn’t know you as well back then. I remember it being scary, but I don’t remember knowing how much you struggled.

    Beautifully done, honey. So glad your lovely little ladies made it into the world safely after such a fuss! <3 <3

    1. I think I tried my best to laugh things off – tell myself that at least I knew the pregnancy was progressing if I was having all of these issues. And I think on some irrational level – the more I went through, the less they would have to deal with.

      Thank you for all of your support. xoxo

  7. Wow, I don’t think I was aware of ALL you went through. I don’t even know what to say. I’m glad you are all okay now.

    1. Thank you – I tried to have a stiff upper lip until the Bell’s Palsy hit and then I threw my hands up in the air. We are lucky that the complications weren’t worse and I am thankful for that every day.

  8. I had no idea everything you went through! What an amazing post, you are such a strong woman.
    When the girls start giving you attitude when they’re teenagers, you can show them this post and prove how much you love them 😉

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