Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It begins early

At 23 weeks I develop this increasing cramping pain and go in to see the doctor. They do a cervix scan and tell me my cervix has shortened quite a bit since a week and half ago and want to see me again in two days. I was told if it was shorter I would be hospitalized so might as well bring a bag with me. I was crushed because my baby shower was the weekend and I just knew I would be going into the hospital. Sure enough Thursday comes and it shortened. I just cried and cried but I knew this would be happening, but I wanted to wait until I was further along. My babies are not ready to come out yet.

I've been in the hospital for almost a week now. The doctors are going to re-evaluate me and tell me my fate this week. I'm planning on staying in the hospital because I have this gut feeling the twins will be born before the end of the month. I pray they stay in for a long time, but I just know that isn't the case. My mom keeps telling me to stop saying that and I should have a positive attitude. I do, that is the thing. I just know that's all... I got steroid shots so they should help.

We are preparing ourselves for a long NICU stay. It will be so hard leaving my babies in the hospital when I am discharged. I just can't believe it's coming so soon. This year has been one hell of a roller coaster.


I grieved privately for a long time, as did Eric. I only broke down once. It was just Eric and I in the car on our way to Marion. We talked about the twins and I started to cry. I asked Eric if he though the babies have forgiven us and he started to cry to. Gosh while I am typing this I am getting teary eyed... We pulled over and I just lost it. I told him I miss my babies and I hope they can forgive me and I hope Eric can forgive me for having to make this decision with him. He told me it wasn't my fault and we did what was best for our twins. It still hurts to this day but I know that they will be waiting for me and they are protecting me now. One day I will tell Adam and Emma about their unborn siblings.

Since that day I have been able to focus on the twins. We found out about 17 weeks that we are having a boy and girl. We named them Adam Bennett and Emma Marie. We got the nursery together really quickly since we didn't know when I would have to be put on bed rest. We became excited each time we saw their little heads and body and just prayed that they would stay with us. I rented a Doppler so I could hear their heartbeats each night before bed. I just felt so much more at ease and pregnant. It was like I could actually enjoy being pregnant. My sickness was going away and I was feeling much better about everything. Soon I could feel them move and then it became real. They are really in there. Then Eric could feel them on the outside and it became more real to him also. We know how blessed we are with our babies on board and we are holding our breaths for a safe and healthy delivery.

The long road ahead

I kept a front at work and with my family (expect mom and dad, MIL) and acted like nothing was wrong and that we were excited to be expecting twins. That is what everyone was told anywho. We had a meeting to talk to the reduction specialist on the telephone within a week to discuss the plan.

He called and was very nice and explained everything to us in detail. I had tons of questions, like will all the babies die? What are the chances that they will make it? How do you decide which ones to keep? I was told that my chances of keeping the twins that we aren't reducing is 90%. Pretty high rate I thought. However, our chances for preterm labor is very high. He explained that my body can't reset itself and even though there are only two babies in there the body still thinks that there are 9. I would be lucky to make it to 30 weeks he said. We did have the option of aborting the whole pregnancy but we didn't want to do that... we came this far we might as well see it through.

I had mixed feelings about the reduction. I didn't want to do it, but then again I know I couldn't carry nine babies and expect them to come out ok. There are NO recorded cases of any live births of nine or more babies. One women in the middle east tried to carry them but all of them died due to severe prematurity. The closest was an American women who had 8 and they lived, but some have physical hardships. If I am being told that reducing the pregnancy to twins will give my children a fighting shot of living without problems you better damn well believe that is what I am going to do. I fought many time with myself, prayed a lot and cried but I was able to make the decision to go on with the process.

We scheduled the reduction in Pittsburgh for the 2nd week of May. My mom and MIL took the trip with us. It was so scary. I went in for the ultra sound to make sure that there were still nine in there. Sure enough all nine were beating away. I was 11 weeks pregnant and prayed that some would leave on their own and find new families that wanted children, but I guess my kids take after their mom and hard headed. They stuck around. It was heartbreaking. The room I was in for the ultra sound also served as the reduction room. A stupid aid came in to set up the "amino"... we corrected her and made her leave. She just upset me more. The doctor came in and explained what would happen... he would inject me with numbing medication then insert a long needle into my belly followed by ultrasound. He would enter the sac of the fetus and inject potassium chloride into the fetus' heart to make it stop beating. Once the heart has stopped he would remove the needle and start again with the next fetus. If he could get two at one time he would to prevent 7 different sticks. He had me and Eric sign paper work stating that we are approving an abortion. I disagreed with the wording because I didn't feel like I was having an abortion, I felt like I was saving the lifes of two babies. But in the state of Penn it considered an abortion and we had to sign it. The doctor left the room and another doctor came in to do an hour long ultra sound. She said she would be determining what babies we would keep. She wouldn't explain anymore, nor did I want to know.

Finally it was time for the reduction. I was so scared. My mom and MIL tried to keep me occupied by telling me storied and having me talk about other things. It helped a lot but still was hard. It was quite painful. I'm not sure if it was knowing that I was loosing babies that day or the burn of the potassium. I just prayed for the Lord to forgive me and for my children to forgive me and know that I love them and always will. The procedure took about 2 hours to complete. I was black and blue from the sticks. He told me to lay still for about 15 mins and they would come back to repeat the ultrasound to make sure my twins were still ok and confirm the other 7 had passed.

The doctor came back in and did the ultra sound. They were quite at first then showed me my twins. They were moving around and had strong heartbeats. I was quite relieved. They he told me to look away and that Eric could look if he wanted. Eric was interested and he did so the doctor showed My moms and Eric the passed fetus. He then explained that 2 that had been reduced still have a slight heartbeat. I was confused. He said sometimes that happens but normally they pass on later. He told me not to worry about it now but will have me come back tomorrow morning for another ultra sound. If the two are still beating I would have to come back a week later for a repeat reduction. I was faint.

We went to the hotel that afternoon and prayed that the two babies would go. We went to the office that morning and was told it would not be the case. Their heartbeats had gone up in fact. However, part of their heart valves were damaged by the medicine and if we decided not to reduce them again it would just cause more problems. We left Pittsburgh that afternoon saddened. I had to go back and do it again. I can't believe it. I was being punished I just knew it. Eric and I decided to go it alone this time. We went back and the reduction didn't take that long. This time he made sure the hearts completely stopped before he removed the needle and I was glad for that. My two little ones wanted to stay with me and that broke my heart. We stayed the night again and Eric talked me into swimming in the pool to ease my mind. It was relaxing and I was able to forget about it for a while. We ordered room service that night and watched a movie. We didn't say much.. we just held each other while we drifted off to sleep. I had horrible dreams that night and cried for my 7 babies.

The start of hell

I was floored when I saw that positive pregnancy test. Actually it was 1 am and I woke from a dead sleep having to pee... it was the "first pee of the day" so I went in a peed on the sick. It took maybe 30 seconds for the digital read "PREGNANT" to appear. I just looked at it and looked at it. Could it possible be? It had been more than 10 days past the trigger so the HCG was out of my system for that. I ran into the bedroom and woke up my husband. Look honey I said, we're pregnant. He said that was nice and layed back down.. then woke up and said What?? Yup I'm pregnant. He got a goofy smile on his face and kissed me and fell back asleep. I was wired and went downstairs. I called my sister, my mom and texted my MIL. I was so happy.

Easter came and we went up to Marion. On the way up there I lost my cookies big time. Like we had to pull over on the high way so I could puke my guts out. Too early for morning sickness I thought... there was something wrong. I felt like shit the whole day but tried to keep a smile on my face while we went to house to house to celebrate the day. We didn't tell anyone that didn't already know because we had just found out and waiting on our second beta to come in.

Come Monday I couldn't stand. I was so sick. I called my RE and told her something was wrong and I couldn't keep down water. She told me I was hyper stimulated and I needed to be seen ASAP. A long day in the ER wound up with me getting sicker and sicker by the minute. They sent me home on a fluid only diet. I couldn't even keep that down. I called my mom on Tuesday and just told her to help me. I felt like I was dying. My sister came down and drove me to the RE's office. Was a swollen, couldn't breath well, and puking up a storm. The RE tried to tap me vaginally (removing fluid off my belly) and it hurt like hell. I cried out in pain. The RE stopped what she was doing and told me I was being admitted to the hospital. I called my husband and he met us there. I spend a solid week hospitalized and feeling like I was going to die. Seriously, I didn't care if I died.. if it meant me feeling better I would have gladly went. God had other plans for me though.

The day before I left the RE came to tap me again but this time from my belly. I had gained 3o lbs due to the fluid and it had to come out. I couldn't breath hardly. I'm not going to lie, it hurt like hell but once she was finished it was a relief. I was discharged the next day and was told to come back to the office on April 9th for my first ultra sound. She had done one in the hospital but she wouldn't let me see the screen. I saw fear in her eyes and I knew something was wrong.

April 9th came... I still felt like shit but not as bad as before. I could actually work now. We went in for the ultra sound and she placed the probe inside me. She started to cry and showed us the screen...Look Elizabeth... there are 8 possibly 9 babies with heartbeats. What I said? She said yes... there they are. Yup there are nine. She showed me every last one and I started to cry. I didn't feel anything at that moment. I just looked at my husband and cried. He cried with me and she took out the probe. She told me to get dressed and come to the office when we were done. She left crying.

The rest is somewhat a blur but I remember talking to a reduction specialist in Pittsburg and New York and coming to terms with what I am dealing with. There is no way you can make it with nine babies she kept telling me. Either you will die or the babies will die. You have no choice. My mind just kept spinning. How will I tell my Catholic parents, who should I tell, who will judge us... why is this happening to us... how in the world could we be so selfish and foolish? WHY DIDN'T WE LISTEN?

My mind just kept spinning. We left the office with tons of paperwork, numbers to call, our ultrasound picture, and an empty heart. This was suppose to be the best day! We were going to see our little bean that we created together. Instead we left knowing we will some of all the babies that we have now.

My mom called as soon as we left the office. My husband urged me not to answer the phone but I know it was no use. She would keep calling she knew what we were doing today. I answered and asked her if she was sitting down. I told her not to react since she was at work and what I was about to tell her could not leave her lips unless she was telling my dad. I begin to tell her that yes we are confirmed pregnancy, however, we are pregnant with nine babies, yes nine mom, like 8 then 9... Yes we are sure mom.. I know mom... it's bad news... I don't know what we are going to do.. we just found out mom... please pray for us. I ended the call crying and stunned. Eric and I didn't talk the whole way home. He stopped at Olive Garden to get something to eat. I don't know why, maybe to do something normal? We parked and I told him he needs to talk to me. He just broke down and cried. I told him to call his mom and let her know. While he was doing that I called my friends at work and lied. I told them the appointment went great and there were twins! I know I can't believe it either... I know we are so happy...

I got out of the car and Eric was crying to his mom on the phone. I don't know what they said to each other but once he got off he just held me and told me we will get through this. We had lunch and went home and made the phone calls to the different specialist we would have to see in the coming months.

The honeymoon and first year

It was bliss. Mexico was wonderful and we still talk to this day how we need to go back one day. We spent a lot of time "together" as any new husband and wife should but also explored. We went horseback riding, site seeing, and just laying on the beach. The honeymoon went by quickly too... we though to ourselves on the flight home is our life going to go by this fast too?

We got home and settled into married life. Honestly, nothing really felt different. We acted like an old married couple for many moons now and now it was just official.

Right off the bat we talked about kids and how many we wanted to have. Way before we thought about marriage we both had this crazy dream the same night how we would have three children. Two boys and a girl, but one of the boys and the girl would be twins. We always thought we would have one boy first then end up pregnant with twins later in life (we were wrong with that one, but still kinda right). We started to pick out names even. It was really cute. That's what I mean, before we even talked about marriage we just assumed we would be together forever. That's how connected we are.

Not long after the wedding we talked about going off birth control. It was December 1st, 2005 and that was the last day I would take the pill. We were very nervous and expected a fast pregnancy. Boy were we wrong! Come April I hadn't had a period and was frustrated about the many negative pregnancy tests. I called my OB and told her what was going on. She had me come in and give me a beta test (to check for pregnancy hormone) and it was negative. I told her how we have been trying to get pregnant but I wasn't having a period. She gave me progesterone to "jump start" my cycles again since coming off the pill could put it on hold. Sure enough I had a period not long after starting the medication. We waited and tested and nothing. I called her again in July and told her the only period I had was one from the medication and still getting negative test results. She gave me another beta test and that was negative too. She told me that I probably had Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and that was causing me not to have a period. She ordered an HSG test to make sure my tubes were open. I had that done in August 2006 and it came out normal. She gave me a script for Clomid (no instructions, just take take it). I did and she did another beta test at 28 days into my cycle and it was negative too, but I didn't start my period either so I was really frustrated. She told me to take the medication again but this time come in on cycle day 21 for a progesterone test. That would tell her if I was ovulating. I did and my results came back at .41. I didn't ovulate. That was the first smack in the face. If I wasn't ovulating I wasn't going to get pregnant. I spent two more months with her before I decided to take matters into my own hands and meet with a reproductive endocrinologist. I would get pregnant I determined. She confirmed the PCOS and tried two more cycles of the Clomid. This time I was monitored and new well in advance something wasn't working out. In February 2007 we did our last round of Clomid and it didn't work out. No eggs for me. I had gone a full year trying to get pregnant and it just killed me. I was tired, frustrated, and hopeless. She suggested that we try indictable fertility drugs. Something stronger to get me to make eggs. She promised I would make eggs and since Eric's swimmers were perfect we wouldn't have any trouble getting pregnant that way. The problem was we couldn't afford the medication at that time. So we decided to quite the IF route and chill out for a bit. I was heartbroken. In March 2007 I started to see an acupuncturist and she did help me get my cycles back, but I still wasn't ovulating. I guess they were fake bleeds and I only had a couple. We kept trying though.

In October 2007 I got my employee benefit handbook and about fell out of my chair when I learned my insurance at work would now cover infertility treatments and drugs! We were over the moon! I signed up and excited that we would be able to start a cycle in January. We called our RE and went in for a refresher appointment and got a game plan set for the coming year.

To celebrate we took a Cruise to help ease our mind and get ready for baby making!

January came and I took the progesterone to start my cycle. I stared Follistim the end of January and went through my first cycle. Come the middle of February I learned that I wasn't making any eggs to go through the IUI and was cancelled. I was crushed! I wasn't going to wait for my body to start the period on it's own so I took more progesterone and called the nurse on CD 1 of a new cycle. We started the Follistim again but this time at a higher dose. It was March 8, 2008 when the blizzard hit. We HAD to get to the clinic to get my blood results and see how many eggs I had. What typically takes 20 minutes turned into 2 1/2 hour drive to the clinic, but we made it. We learned I had too many eggs and the doctor would call me back to give me my E2 levels, but chances are we would be cancelled again.

I went home and was crying. Not again I said.. I will make this work! When you go through infertility you get desperate for a baby and your mind goes fussy. You don't make the logical decisions you need to.

I got a call and was told my E2 levels are too high. If I trigger she won't do an IUI because of the high risk for multiples but in the end it was my decision. I talked to Eric and we agreed to do the trigger and then make love all weekend long in hopes for a baby. I prayed while I took that shot and each time we were intimate praying for the baby we both so desperately wanted. God must have heard my prayers because two weeks later on Good Friday I got a positive pregnancy test.

The wedding

Not long after we planned the wedding. It would be October 15, 2005. Yes, a while away but I wanted to drink at my wedding and we loved October so we decided to wait. 2004 seemed to drag forever but towards the end of the year we decided to find a house and call it our own. Since we were still in school we found a place just outside of Columbus and bought it by ourselves December 31, 2004. We moved in the very next day and begin to set up our house and realize we were house poor... Stupid college kids! We made it though and got better jobs to support our higher bills. All that year we planned the wedding.

It would be a Catholic church wedding with a large reception at the country club courtesy of my parents. I didn't have to pay a dime, and glad because I didn't have a dime to spare. I picked out my dress, my colors (burnt orange and navy) and everything else. I actually became bridezilla for a while. I am an obsessive over organizer and it just had to be perfect. I loved everything about me wedding.. the flowers, the DJ, the food, the venue, everything. Eric and I planned to honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta. We had saved about $1600 for the trip and found a great deal to stay at an all inclusive report and air fare included. We were pumped.

The wedding day came very quickly. Almost too fast. It was a magical day though. I remember getting ready to walk down the isle and seeing my dad just look so proud. I didn't cry until I saw his emotionless step-father crying at the sight of me. Then I lost it. Eric was crying like a baby and was so happy to see me. We held hands throughout the wedding.. even the priest mentioned how much in love we are. I was so happy to become Mrs. Stevens that day. It truly was the best day of my life. I married my soul mate, the man I am going to grow old with, the man I will have my children with... nothing could be more perfect.

We left in a limo to the country club and kissed the whole way there. We are so in love and it showed. The reception was kick ass. It was the best that anyone in my family had seen and it was talked about for years to come. It went so fast though. Soon it was 7 pm and it was time for us to leave. We had an hour drive home and a 5 am flight to Mexico the next morning. Our car was packed up and we kissed our families goodbye and told them not to expect to hear from us for the next week. We thanked everyone and left. The drive home was kinda surreal. We were man and wife driving to our house for the first time. We got home and unloaded the car. We were beat but opened our gifts looking for spending money. We made out very good and got a lot of nice things. We crashed and didn't get a change to consummate our marriage. We didn't care though, it's not like that would be different! We woke up at 3 am kinda grouchy but very excited and left for the airport. We had breakfast and was on our flight.

The proposal

It was December 23, 2003. It was a rainy day in Columbus and I had the blues. I loved snow and there wasn't to be any for Christmas this year. I was working in the cash office at Meijer and getting ready to leave for the holiday. I didn't have to work Christmas Eve or Day so I was planning to go home to my family. Eric was driving up with me but he would stay at his parents house. It was about 1 pm in the afternoon when we left down for the hour drive back home. I had been working since 5 am that morning and I was starving. He ordered Papa Johns Pizza to take up with us. We drove up 71 North and I was watching our exit past by. Uh dear you missed the exit... he said without skipping a beat "Oh crap, well I can get off in Mt. Gilead and head up that way". I was a little peeved off since I hate going off course. We drove by the state park (yes the one where we had the kiss) and he pulled in. "I just want to see it since we are here. Come down with me". I told him no since it was raining and cold. " Oh come on please just come with me". There was some urgency in his voice but I didn't catch on. I was just pissed off but went anyway. We walked down the long hill to the water fall. However there wasn't much water and it was kinda ugly this time of the year. He held me though and backed up and said "Wow look at that".. He pointed to the woods and I looked. I turned around and said "What do you..." he was on his knees in the pouring rain and looking up at me. He said "Elizabeth, I love you with all my heart and soul, please do me the honor and make me your husband". I was dumbfounded. He pulled out a slick black box and opened it up. It was a beautiful 1/2 caret round diamond engagement ring with white gold. (I love white gold). I still didn't say anything.. I was shocked. He looked at me and said "well?" I said YES YES YES and he got up and kissed me so hard. He put the ring (his hands shaking) on my finger and kissed me some more. He told me he loved me and this is the best day of his life. The first thing that I said is OMG my parents... holy shit they are going to flip! Then he proceeded to tell me that I was the last to know. He went up weeks ago and asked my father for my hand and showed the ring for approval. He told his parents too and everyone was waiting for us to congratulate our engagement. I was dumbfounded again. You are slick Mr. Stevens that is for sure. I oogled me ring the rest of the way to my parents house. We got our and my mom didn't say a word just looked at me and I started to cry. She was so happy and hugged us both and proceed to call Eric son and brought us inside. The rest of the day was a blur but that moment in time will never be forgotten.