Both transferred blastocysts had implanted, and we were absolutely giddy with the news. We maintained composure until we left the office, but out in the hallway it was a completely different scene. Hysterical laughter, lots of holy craps, hysterical laughter again, hugs so tight I was in danger of breaking, the works. A week later, we went back to see each of their heartbeats beating away inside me, tiny but strong.
Our biggest reaction at the news of twins - even more than happiness or nervousness about TWO of everything - was relief. We'd never have to go through infertility struggles again. No more IVF. No more drugs. No more countless clinic visits. We'd always said two and through, and now we had them in one punch. The news felt like such a gift.
True to form, I flew into twins research mode. I read three twin books before the month was up, I launched into research of what you need two of versus what you only need one of, I looked into local multiples clubs, and I started upping my protein intake dramatically, per the Dr. Luke diet for moms of multiples. We'd had a sure-thing girls name picked out for years, and had recently come around to two sure-thing boy names, so we launched into figuring out what we'd name a second girl if need be. Although a boy and a girl would be ideal, I had a sneaking suspicion that I had two girls cookin' inside. T - big brother to two sisters and big fan of girls in general - was happy with that scenario, too. We knew we were doing the Maternit21 genetic test at ten weeks, so we'd be able to find out the sexes early, but even that short wait felt too long. I wanted to know basically the minute we were sure we were pregnant.
After we saw our ferocious heartbeats, I became an official "graduate" of the IVF clinic and was transferred to an OB. I chose an OB at the same hospital who specializes in births of multiples, but had such mixed feelings leaving the close confines of the IVF clinic. For better or worse, those IVF clinics become an extension of family if you're a patient long enough. We'd been there for almost a year and a half, sometimes visiting multiple days per week. I also came to appreciate - after the fact - how much I'd come to rely on the very close monitoring the clinic provided. Think about it - I was used to near-daily ultrasounds, and an average pregnancy these days has maybe three of them... total. I was desperate to see the tiny beans again. In hindsight, I really wish my clinic had some sort of transition guide to help steel my expectations about the level of monitoring I'd receive with an OB, or an exit interview of some sort where they could warn me.
For some reason I was sure we'd have an ultrasound at the first OB appointment, but nope. The doctor felt my uterus and said it was larger than a normal pregnancy at that stage, thus indicative of twins, but that was it. I was definitely showing far earlier than a singleton pregnancy (it was there if you were looking by 9 weeks, and pretty obvious by 11), so it seemed like an obvious statement. I did the most "me" thing I could thing of to avoid focusing on how anxious I was about not seeing them - I kept very busy. There was workworkwork, there were weddings, there was always more twin research to do, and there was also resolving the difference in my head between my ideal birth and the realities of a twin birth... quite a gulf there.
9 weeks pregnant, at a wedding
10 weeks pregnant, at a work event
Our second OB appointment was on May 2, and I was sure I'd have an ultrasound this time. It was the day after that hard hat picture above was taken; I was a day shy of 11 weeks pregnant. I dragged T out of work again, but the appointment proceeded much like the first. When it was clear it was wrapping up and there was no talk of putting the babies on the big screen, I finally lost it. The OB called the sonographer and fit me in right away, and at last we were in a mini-movie theater of sorts, darkened and ready for the show.
What followed was one of the strangest experiences of my life, the most dramatic mix I'd ever experienced of terrible and joyous news combined. The terrible is this: there was only one baby inside, and one empty sac. Baby #2 had lasted well after we heard heartbeats, because it was significantly larger than what we'd last seen. The sac was completely empty, though - a blessing, really, since it meant no action on our part was required. The joyous news is this: the baby that was still inside was not just there but thriving. The sonographer burst out laughing at how much the baby was moving. We saw flips and waves and spins and kicks - pretty amazing for how early it was. We had lost one of our little ones, but the one we still had was there tenfold.
A rare still moment from our singleton, a day shy of 11 weeks
I think it took me a week to get over the worst of the emotions. I'd become so attached to the idea of two - and frankly, twins solved so many of our problems - that the loss cut deeply. Even acknowledging how much easier a singleton pregnancy and birth would be - not to mention having only one baby to handle at a time - didn't help that much, not at first. My biggest fear was that losing the twin meant we'd only ever have one child. Because siblings are so important to both of us, I felt like I was already robbing our baby of something important. I just didn't know if I could give her what I wanted for her, and that acknowledgement was searingly painful. Time heals most wounds, though. Today, we're... actually, this post is long enough, yes? I'll bring us up to date next time.