Thursday, January 27, 2011

Because nothing puts you in the mood for cheesecake like talking about your uterus

As I'm sure you can imagine, I enjoy getting out of the house without my children.  The other day when I sustained a Random and Bizarre Finger Injury that required me to go to the urgent care clinic (yes, that is the second Random and Bizarre Finger Injury I've sustained since the twins were born, in case anyone is keeping track), I eagerly grabbed my book and a water bottle for an enjoyable two hours spent not responding to the constant needs of three men-in-training.  All the better when getting out of the house doesn't involve sharp and excruciating pain, such as our recent Seattle Bloggers' Night Out. It was a smashing success, and I really enjoyed chatting with Katie and Jenn and Kendra while wolfing down a fancy dinner and dessert. There was also an Anonymous Blogger who attended, but I will not share her name, as obviously she is embarrassed to admit being seen in public with me (or so I deduce is her reason for staying behind the curtain).  Naturally, I don't hold this against her.  Anyway, all four of them are inspiring, fabulous women and I am lucky to have met them.

We had such a great time that I begged them we agreed to do it again in the spring.  Stay tuned for more details!

To segue into a topic that's been on my mind, I wanted to share a question that Anonymous Blogger asked me over cheesecake that has stuck in my mind.  (Much like said cheesecake has stuck in my thighs.)  While the rest of us are parenting after infertility, Anonymous Blogger is now embarking on her first IVF cycle.  After listening to me complain about how much harder it is to have twinfants than a singleton (do I ever talk about anything else, good lord!), she turned to me and said, "So how much should I push [my husband and doctor] to transfer one embryo instead of two?"  (Two being the standard number of embryos transferred during an IVF cycle, which contributes to the high incidence of twins resulting from the process.)

I was sort of tongue-tied by that question, and I did my best to answer, although I'm sure it wasn't helpful at all.  For me, this question of TO TWINS or NOT TO TWINS (as much as it's a choice) ties into the two extreme categories of responses I get when someone finds out that I am a mother of multiples.

Response one:  "Oh my God.  I would have killed myself if I found out I was having twins."  (Yes, someone actually said this to me.)

Response two:  "Oh, lucky you!  I always wanted twins!  I think it would be SO. MUCH. FUN."

Like many unexpected turns that life takes, you can't categorize having twins as entirely good or entirely bad -- but people's reactions always seem to fall squarely on one side or the other.  I'm not sure I'm giving the balanced view on my blog, as I do seem to continually mention the high stress of having three under three.  And truly, it has been difficult.  Difficult to get pregnant, difficult to stay pregnant, and difficult to parent two newborns.  Another multiple mama blogger (I believe it was Jamie) said it best: two infants need two mothers.  Plain and simple.

Now that we have hit 9 months, the twins seem to have settled into a decent sleeping pattern, and life has gotten easier.  (Two naps each at approximately the same time, and 1-2 night wakings.)  It's only RELATIVELY easier, of course.  I'm still ready for a shot of hard liquor by 8 am 4 pm.  But in all seriousness, my feelings on having twins has completely changed since I saw two blobs on the ultrasound monitor and muttered a swear word.

Having twins is a.m.a.z.i.n.g.  It's a shite-load of work, no doubt.  It means a lot of sacrifices all around.  But the reward is that I have two human beings to love more than life itself.  They make me laugh constantly -- they are each such a gift.  And now that they are noticing each other and interacting more?  I can practically feel my heart squeeze with joy as they "play" together.  It blows my mind to watch them develop so differently, despite their similar beginnings.  They shared a womb, now they share an infancy... I'm not sure if they'll be friends as they grow up, but I hope so.  I hope they play together and support each other.  I imagine Gax standing up for Nix on the playground, and later Nix comforting Gax when a girl breaks his heart.  God willing, they will travel through life knowing that they have a twin in the world who will always be there if needed.

The main reason that I would recommend a single embryo transfer during IVF is because the pregnancy is more dangerous for mama and babies.  Too dangerous to consider?  No, certainly not in a healthy woman.  Most mamas and most babies are just fine.  But without a doubt, it's harder on your body and it's harder on your kids.  Your risk of dangers like gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, preterm labor, and stretch marks (GOOD GOD THE STRETCH MARKS!) increases.  If you thought you had to take care of yourself when pregnant with one baby, it's even more vital with two.  I ate salad and whole grain bread for lunch, people.  SALAD AND WHOLE GRAIN BREAD!  With not so much as a giant brownie to wash it down.  I mentioned the sacrifices, right?

So I'm not really sure where I was going with all this.  Another side effect of having twins is double mommy brain caused by double sleep deprivation.  Not having done IVF before, I can't really advise on a single embryo transfer versus a double.  Transferring two is the norm because IVF is such a gruelling, expensive endeavor.  Doctors and hopeful couples want to maximize the chance of success while minimizing the occurrence of multiples, and two embryos is generally a good number for that.  If you can achieve a singleton pregnancy, that's the ideal.  But if you do end up knocked up with twins, please take care of yourself.  When you make it to the parenting stage, it will be difficult, but the rewards are so indescribably beautiful that you wouldn't have it any other way.

I know I wouldn't.



Mrs. Gamgee said...

Whenever I mention to someone that we want to start trying for #2 sooner rather than later, they always 'curse' me with twins. Like it's inevitable that it's going to happen. (yes, I've got several risk factors for spontaneous fraternal twins... overweight, history of GD, over 35yo, etc). I'm sure we'd survive it, but I know it would be hard work just to get through the pregnancy, let alone potentially dealing with two infants and a toddler. (I'm amazed at you!) When it comes to the IVF question, I don't know... there are so many factors to consider.

Ludicrous Mama said...

Whoa! I didn't know the standard was 2. We did 3. The doctor asked how many we were willing to 'risk' having all at once, and I said 3. I would be TOTALLY DONE with having more kids, "go ahead and tie those ladies off while you're in there doc!" done. But my world wouldn't have been crushed with 3. (If they had all split and made 6... well, that'd be different.)
Luckily my embryos were such crap, but not too crappy, that only one "took." (I can't remember the term they used, but the 3 "best" ones had 5 to 15% higher rate of useless blobs with no chromosomes when the cells split. The rest had up to 55% higher rate.)
If I were to do it again (and I just found out my insurance COVERS IT, so I just made an appointment!!) I'd probably opt for 2 implanted, depending on the blobby percentages next time 'round. More if they're blobbier, maybe just 1 if it's the normal blobbiness (I think 20 or 25% is normal.)
But I too have a "Grandma" willing to move to help out, so it's a chance I can take more easily than someone without a local support structure.

'Murgdan' said...

I'm still not sure we could handle a number ALL, much less two more at the same time, BUUUUT, I would totally transfer two embryos next time again...unless you are working with a clinic who will do single FET transfer for free or discounted or something, sadly another thing to consider is that you may have to try more times and this costs we would do two. And if two babies were made, I would probably curse, then cry, and then dive in again to another totally worth it life experience, I'm sure.

E said...

If I ever did IVF, I would want to transfer at LEAST 2 maybe 3. If I did something as extreme as IVF I would want to maximize my chances as best as possible.

Coffeegrljp said...

A Japanese friend of my husband's here in Japan, and an American friend of mine here in Japan have bother (not married to each other) been frustrated with the apparently standard limitation on number of embryos transferred (i.e. no more than one at a time at least for most clinics that I know of here). Each of them has struggled with their respective partners for 2+ years of IVF. I don't think either of them is "wishing" for twins, but it's such a fine line isn't it? Increase the odds of viable embryo? Sure! Increase the odds of twins...ummmm. What a hard, hard choice. I'm so happy for your family that things have worked out! Finally getting a wee bit more sleep?? Yay! A chance to go sit in urgent care by yourself? Sounds like a dream to me!! (I'm totally serious.)

Misc Momma said...

My good friend now has two babies. Both from single embryo transfers. She was NOT willing to take the risk. She had good luck though and only had one transfer that was unsuccessful. Helpful, right? ha. Just sharing an experience.

Dean said...

I have twins via ivf and would not change a thing, I was never a lady that"always wanted twins" but now that I have them I can say there is nothing better. But of course I don't have nor want a third, three is just one too many!

Aisha said...

Wow- this didn't show up on my reader feed- weird. Thanks for sharing Sunny!

Kristina P. said...

I don't think I can really handle one!!

Sarah said...

Your insight is really good on this one. I think you answered your friend's question in a thoughtful and thought provoking manner. If this would be her first child, I'd say go with two so long as she understands what you said - a pregnancy with multiples is more dangerous and more work, but you get TWO beautiful babies in the end. Sure it's super rough in the beginning, but with every child, it gets better (until they are teenagers). I know I've said this a lot, but my husband constantly is wishing we had twins. He loved being a twin. My good friends are twins and they are as close as any two could be. My husband is the same with his brother. It's beyond the bond of a normal sibling. There is no doubt that Gax and Nix will be amazingly close for their entire lives. I say, if she has the help, i.e grandma or whomever, should she have twins, go for two eggs. If I went through the struggle of IVF, I'd want a + result, even it it was a ++ result!!! +++, no... ;)

She's lucky to have you to consult. You keep it real with compassion.

PS: Glad you had an awesome girls night out! You deserved it!

Anonymous said...

i think if you have two the first time around it's easier. or at least that is what it seems like. i really don't know any different. two babies. that's life, right?

glad you had fun. i wonder if there are enough bloggers in my area to do something fun like this!!