Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yeah for photoshop ;-)



(TWO is TWICE the fun!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hide and seek

It's very hard for me to blog about my pregnancy. It's not that I have nothing to tell. Not that I don't enjoy every tiny little moment it will last. Not that I am not completely in love with whatever is growing inside of me.

It's just that somehow, I feel I didn't deserve it...



Two years ago, when I was pregnant with our twins, I was fully aware of the fact that it took a lot of hard work to get that far. 4 hard tear-filled years. And since everyone around me had already become pregnant once (or twice, or even...) and had the child(ren) they wanted so much (or didn't want at all...) during the time we'd been trying and failing, I felt fully justified in enjoying every moment of my pregnancy. I was in love with our twins from the moment that second line appeared. And I wasn't afraid to show that love to other people.

Oh yes, I was still aware of the vast amount of people that have trouble conceiving. But I'd been there. I knew those tears. I'd cried them myself. And even though I was still afraid it was all just a dream, that I would soon wake up never having been pregnant at all, or that I would suddenly lose them, I never felt I had to excuse myself for being pregnant.

Even though with the twins I never really felt I belonged at maternity-classes, even though I felt out of place and lost at a baby-store, I still felt I had every RIGHT to be there.

This time around? I'm having a hard time with it. I have so many fears about this pregnancy. I worry so often that it will go wrong, that I will lose the baby, or that it will be born extremely premature. I can't do anything to prevent bad things from happening. I know that. The only thing I can do is love this child with all my heart, for as long as it's here to stay. Whether that's a few more days, a few more months, or forever. Those worries won't go away, but I can deal with them.

What I'm having a hard time dealing with though, is the GUILT.

In my mind, I know that we worked just as hard for this baby as we did for the twins. We cried the same amount of tears for it. It was conceived at the exact same day as our twins, during the same IVF cycle.

But.

My heart feels it was somehow too easy. This FET was basically our very first serious try for a second pregnancy. And it worked. Just like that.

Two of our closest friends started trying for their first just after our twins were born. They got pregnant their very first cycle, but miscarried at 9 weeks. And have not been able to conceive since. It somehow feels WRONG that I am pregnant now, and they are not. It feels out of order. We have our twins. AND this pregnancy. They have nothing. Just the hurt of losing their first baby, and an uncertain future. And they are not the only ones.


When in the privacy of my own bedroom, I stand in front of the mirror and marvel at how fast my body is changing. I touch my belly and dream about this new child. I wonder if that little movement I just felt inside me was our baby. I secretly try to find it's heartbeat once a week with the doppler I got off the internet. My heart skipped at least three beats when I finally found it Yesterday. And when I know for sure that I'll be able to find it again, easily, I'll let my husband and the twins in on my little secret. Let them hear it, too. Let them get to know our new baby.

But before I go out, I put on wide shirts and jeans that are at least two sizes too large. I don't fit my regular clothes anymore, but I'm afraid to dig out the maternity clothes I saved after the twins were born. Afraid I'll tempt fate, sure, but also afraid to show people I'm pregnant. Afraid they'll judge me, just a little. But mostly afraid I'll hurt them.

And so this blog, too, has been quiet.



It won't be for much longer, though. I want to write about this pregnancy so much. About the way it's changing my body and heart. About how it affects the way I look at our twins. About my worries and fears, but also about my dreams. I want to remember every little thing about it, want to be able to read back in a few years and relive every single moment. The good ones, AND the bad. And I want to share it. It's too much for just one person. Too much worry. Too much love. Too many fears. Too much joy.

If you don't want to read it, don't. But I'm going to stop hiding. This child deserves more...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hello little bean...

Our ultrasound today showed a tiny little miracle, measuring spot on for 7 weeks. With a perfect little heartbeat.
Knowing we had two embryo's transferred, and having had twins before, it was a bit weird seeing just the one. But it feels exactly right. It feels perfect! Welcome, little bean. Welcome home!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Countdown

After 5 days, the spotting stopped. Just like that. No blood yesterday, not even a little bit. I am carefully starting to breathe again.

I feel like a little kid now, nervously counting down the nights until her birthday. Looking forward to it, but also a little scared of what that day might bring.

8 more nights until the first ultrasound. 8 more nights until we "meet" our new baby for the first time. Or our new babieS. Or nothing at all...

*** update: Shit. It's back... ***

Friday, July 31, 2009

Freak-out mode

As of this morning, I am officially in freak-out mode.

I've been spotting for 2 nights in a row, have lower backpain, and just an overal pre-mentrual feeling. And I'm FREAKING OUT!!

The first night I thought: oh shit. I'm getting my period. And then I realised I am 5 weeks pregnant. Whatever's coming, it's NOT a period. And then I cried.

The second night I tried to convince myself it might just be some delayed implantation spotting or something. And then I cried again.

And then this morning, it hadn't stopped. Unlike yesterday. I don't know what to feel anymore. I'm afraid to even think the "M" word. Maybe if I just call it a delayed period, it won't suck as much? Oh hell, who am I kidding?!? I SAW the double lines. I KNOW what's in there. And I don't want to lose it!!!

So to prevent myself from losing my mind entirely, I have decided to go into complete denial. Hence the white pants I'm wearing right now. That's right. WHITE. I am NOT going to lose this baby. I'm NOT, you hear?!?

If I yell and scream that loud enough, over and over again, do you think I will start believing it? Please say I will. And please say any greater power out there will hear, and help out...

I am NOT going to lose this baby! I'm NOT!!

Am I...?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Believer

How's this for a positive peestick?



I am actually starting to believe I am pregnant. Me. Again. Wow!

And it already amazes me how different it feels this time. Not physically, but in my heart. Last time, it was so surreal. We had almost given up hope we'd ever become parents, didn't look further ahead than the next day. We knew we were pregnant then, we saw the double lines. Saw the ultrasound pictures. Felt all those little kicks. But we knew nothing about having children. We had a vision in our head of what it might be like, but it was blurry. At best.

This time around? I KNOW what might be growing inside of me. I FEEL it. With every fiber in my body. There's already a connection. I feel it when I look at our twins. They are my family. The ones that are here already. And the one(s) that we can't yet see. It's weird. But I love it!


Oh shit! When this ends up going wrong, I will crash so hard I won't know what hit me for months...

Ultrasound on August 12.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I confess...

Okay. I confess. I'm not THAT patient...

Yesterday morning (14 DPO) I peed on a stick. I'd been feeling a bit sick since Tuesday. Nausea. And I was tired enough to fall asleep on the couch while watching NCIS. I NEVER fall asleep watching NCIS. And I just felt, well, pregnant.

Turns out all of the above? Just a stomach bug that hit me full on Yesterday afternoon.

But.

The test?

It had a second line. It's faint, but it's there. As opposed to the test I took on Monday (yes, I did take a test on Monday, too. What do you think I am, a saint?!?) which had no second line whatsoever. Nothing. Nada. Not even while squinting and holding the test in front of the window letting the light shine through. Yes. I am that desperate.

So. Well. Yes. A stomach bug. But. I might just be pregnant, too...



(told you it was faint, didn't I?)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stuff it!

I'm not "supposed" to test until next Tuesday, but that's just torture! I am certain they just say that to bug you. They are like that...

But. I am not on any progesterone or hCG shots (cryo transfer in natural cycle). So. I should start menstruating tomorrow or Thursday. Thus. If I haven't seen any blood by Friday, I will consider myself pregnant. And once I do, they can stuff their official testdate where the sun don't shine!

Monday, July 13, 2009

What did we get ourselves into?

Yesterday morning we had to call the IVF lab to hear if there was anything left to transfer. The only other time I've been so scared for a phonecall was just over two years ago, the morning of our second IVF transfer, the day we met our twins for the very first time...

Yesterday around lunchtime I was in the car, on my way to the clinic.

Yesterday evening we looked at each other and said: "Oh help! What if they BOTH stick around?"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Because...

...we don't want our family knowing about our upcoming transfer (and yes, they do know how to use Google). How's that for a boring reason?

If this works (yeah, right), we would like to choose our own time and place to tell them about our pregnancy. We missed out on that last time...

They will start thawing our little popsicles tomorrow. Nervous? Me? Nah... *biting nails while wiggling toes nervously (which is hard, since they are still crossed for Stacie)*

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"plop"...

...and gone was our follicle.

Uterin lining at 11 mm, ovulation confirmed.

Now they're busy trying to find out at exactly what day past retrievel our embryo's were frozen, so they can figure out the best day for transfer. My file seems to have gotten "lost".

Man, they are good at losing things there... The NICU files of our twins (yes, of BOTH kids) were missing too. I asked for a transcript in NOVEMBER, and they finally arrived in the mail last MONDAY. Oh, and the High Care Nursery files are STILL missing.

At least they didn't lose the KIDS, right?

I wonder if they'll be able to find the freezer come Saturday (or Sunday, depending on what's in the still missing file)...


*** update: just called the embryology lab (which is in a different hospital), and they still have everything on record. Transfer on Sunday! ***

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back on track

The scan today showed a leading follie of 19 mm. On the RIGHT side. It seems my right ovary looked at my left, saw it wasn't cooperating, let out a big sigh and thought: "Well, if you don't, I will!"

Ex-leading follie on the left is now at 17 mm so it, too, is still growing. Imagine that: double ovulation in a NATURAL cycle? If we'd not have chosen to go ahead with the FET, we might have ended up with twins (again) this month (if we weren't so, well, infertile)! Weird... It almost seems like I'd be messing with nature if we decide to only transfer one... Is the universe trying to tell me something?

Next scan on Wednesday, transfer (please, let there be anything left to transfer) Friday or Saturday.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Did you hear that?

Did you hear that? That loud grinding noise? Did you? Did you?

That was me. Or more accurately, my FET-cycle. Grinding to a halt...

I was prepared for everything this cycle. The phonecall from the lab saying: "Sorry, no go, none of your embryo's made it through the thaw". The spotting. The cramps. The negative pregnancy test. The positive pregnancy test but no heartbeat on the u/s. And every possible complication afterwards. I was prepared for everything.

But not for today's scan.

No progress since Monday. No growth. Nothing. Still that one dominant follicle at exactly the same size as 3 days ago. And by exactly I don't mean "still somewhere around 12 mm". I mean still exactly at 1,0x1,4 mm, like Monday. Lining still at exactly 6 mm, like Monday. WTF?!?

Next scan on Monday. Wonder what that one will show...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Being "the fertile one" sucks

Yesterday's scan showed 1 dominant follicle in my left ovary, measuring about 12 mm. Lining approximately 6 mm. Right on track for CD 10. Next scan thursday.

My guess? Ovulation Friday or Saturday, and FET Monday or Tuesday. If there is anything left to transfer after the thaw of our 3 popsicles...

That's the hard facts. Now for the rest of the story:

I am such a bad person. I am. Really!

Remember that person in the waiting room? That woman who would always be there while you were waiting for your scan? The one that made you painfully aware of just how empty your arms were? No, not the one with the pregnant belly. Yes, the sight of her hurt, too, but she couldn't help it: pregnant women need scans, too. No, the OTHER one. The one who brought her CHILDREN with her to the clinic. Yes, THAT one...

Yesterday? That woman was me.

The "babysitter" cancelled at the last minute, leaving me with no other option than to bring the kids with me to the hospital for the scan. There I was, in that waiting room I am so familiar with. The same waiting room where I waited for so many hours, so many days, so many years. Waited for another follicle-scan, another IUI, another appointment. Another DISappointment.

But also the waiting room in which I waited for the many many scans during my pregnancy with the twins. It being a "high risk" pregnancy meant every OB/GYN appointment was accompanied by a thorough scan to measure size and fluid levels of both babies. Sometimes sitting there with my obviously pregnant belly made me very aware of the women there who were still in the midst of IF-treatments. Sometimes I'd try to hide my belly. Sometimes I'd try to give them an encouraging smile. Trying to let them know that I was aware of their situation. "Yes, I am pregnant. But I know what you're feeling right now. I've been there. And someday, I hope not too far into the future, you will be me..."

This time was different though. This time I could've left the kids at home. SHOULD have left them at home. But didn't. I tried to, but ended up having to take them anyway. And all the encouraging smiles in the world couldn't hide the fact that I had two healthy, happy, beautiful children with me. And it being a combined RE/OB/GYN clinic, as far as anyone knew I could be there for a pregnancy scan. Trying to send knowing smiles to the other waiting women I must've seemed like the most smugly overly fertile person in the whole wide world. I have never hated myself more than I did at that moment.

And I have never been so glad at hearing the nurse shout the following words at me from across the room: "Cycle day 10, right?"

Do you think she knew?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Countdown to FET...

CD3...

Called the clinic this morning to schedule u/s for first (and last) FET. Since then I've been alternating between excited, nauseated and scared shitless.

There's this knot in my stomach that just won't go away. All the fears and hurts of all those years of ttc for our twins came flooding back in the second I put down the phone. Multiplied by the fears and hurts and worries surrounding their premature birth. I thought I'd "gotten over" them, or at least hidden them somewhere hard to find. Guess not...

I thought I was ready for this.

Am I, really?

What if this doesn't work?

There's less than a 10% chance that it will. What will be the next step? Will there BE a next step? Will we start all over again with a fresh IVF-cycle? He doesn't want to. I don't really want to, either. We have two wonderful, healthy children. We have the family we always wanted. Why would we start all over again? But I'm afraid I'll change my mind. Afraid I'll drag our family back into the whirlpool of emotions surrounding IVF. Afraid I'll magnify the little piece that's "missing", forgetting about all the big pieces that ARE here. I'm also afraid that I'll forever look back on this and think: "Why didn't it work? Why does everybody else get lucky and we didn't?" instead of "Look at those two beautiful kids! Aren't we the luckiest people in the whole wide world?!?"

What if it DOES work?

Will I carry this new child to term, or will it be born even more premature than our twins? Will it be healthy? And if it's not, will our still a bit shaky family be able find a new balance? Am I a good enough mother to even raise two, let alone three? Will I be able to love a new child as much as I love our twins? Oh my god, what if I love it MORE? What if this child has a "normal" start, and when I hold it in my arms for the first time right after birth, the way it is supposed to be, my love for it will suddenly hit me like a huge big tidalwave and make me doubt all I've ever felt for our twins?

Did we make the wrong choice? Is it too late to turn back? Do I even WANT to turn back?

Right now I don't know anything. I feel a thousand things, but I can't wrap my head around any of them. So I'm just letting those feelings flow through me, wash over me. Trying to ride the wave, wondering where it will take me...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Where did those babies go?

In about two more weeks our twins will be 18 months old. A year and a half. That's ALMOST TWO! Well, not really, but in just a couple of weeks they will be closer to two years old than they will be to 1. They are becoming less baby and more toddler everyday.

It's amazing how far they've already come. When I look at pictures of their NICU stay, of their first few weeks of life, it seams just unbelievable that those small and fragile beings grew up to become such playful little babies. Excuse me. Toddlers.

They started off so small, with such an uncertain future, and now look at them! All those things they told us could happen, didn't. All those things I worried they might not ever be able to do, they are doing. Or at least trying.

From the beginning I have tried to give them space to grow and develop on their own schedule, but it hasn't always been easy.


When our son failed to put on weight like he was supposed to, and our pediatrician sent him to a dieticien when he was 8 months old, I worried. I knew he was drinking/eating enough, but was my milk good enough for him? Was I giving him enough and the right kinds of pureed foods? Should I be feeding him bread and solids as well, like so many people were telling me to? Even though he just couldn't keep them down? Even though he started refusing them as soon as he realised that they would come right back up? And how much was he keeping IN with all the puking he had been doing since the first time they introduced him to a bottle or nipple way back in the NICU? How much of his energy was spent on crying and feeling miserable, that should have gone to growing? Was I doing something wrong, or was something wrong with HIM?

He has gained some valuable pounds since he's stopped puking all the time about three months ago, although it is still a problem whenever we take him out of his comfort-zone or whenever he's feeling "off". He's doing great now: he's growing and playing and in between his fortunately ever rarer puke-fests and his unfortunately still frequent "suddenly-crying-and-yelling-and-feeling-miserable-for-no-apparent-reason"-fits he seems the happiest little boy in the world. He must be healthy after all, and I must not be a complete failure of a mother...

I wonder when he'll start realizing it's the perfect blackmail-opportunity, though: "NO, I don't want that! Stop it or I'll PUKE!" or "Pick me up NOW!! And give me everything I want! And more!! Because you know I'll puke if you don't!!"

Weight and nutrition have been such defining factors in their lives, from the first half cc they "drank" through their feeding tubes in their isolette and the first few grams they gained on their road to come home with us. Those first few weeks in the NICU, and the first few months at home, how they were doing was judged almost solely on how fast they were growing. When those are the terms you face as a new parent, it's very hard to let go. Every puke (and the inevitable missed next feed because of him feeling miserable and of us being scared of him puking more) means a loss of calories, of nutrition, of growth. And a step up the anxiety-scale for me. There will come a time when he will realise that. And will use it against me. That's just how toddlers work...


When our daughter was still not showing a lot of gross motor skills at 1 year (she would roll over, but that was about it) she had me really worried. I started to forget that she was developing okay in other areas, began to focus on just the gross motor skills, comparing her with her twin brother (and every other kid the same age) all the time. Looking back on it, she was just focussing on other areas at the time. And since energy can only be spent once, and most of it was already going into catching up on weight and fighting off all sorts of nasty winter-related bugs, she was just a bit picky when it came to motor skills. Prefering to learn how to pick up small things between her fingers (to be able to pinch her twin brother when he would try to crawl on top of her again) and to put blocks into boxes (to be able to hide her toys from her twin, next time he'd come up to her to try to steal them from her), instead of spending energy on moving around. She probably knew her brother would beat her in a rolling race anyway, him cheating by weighing so much less than herself. So why bother trying?


Now, at over 17 months (real age), they have caught up to each other in all areas. It's amazing how much more "twin-like" they are now compared to a year ago. They are roughly the same height and weight. They are both chatting away at the world and eachother in a language noone but themselves understand. They are crawling like crazy, following each other everywhere. They're cruising, and have started to try to stand up without support from tables or chairs or toys. Sometimes they even take a few uncertain steps without holding onto something. They've completely caught up with their corrected age, and I'm sure those two months they are still behind their real age will fade into the background when they grow older. After all: what difference do eight weeks still make when you are, for example, 4 years and 7 months? Or 7 years and 3 months? Or 29 years and 8 months, like myself? If I had been born in August instead of October those 29 years ago (my mums due date was early September, so I wouldn't even have been much premature if I had), would I be any different now?

I try not to compare them too much to each other, and certainly not to all other children around them. They are two unique little people, growing and developing in their own way and on their own schedule. They are happy and healthy and who cares if they can walk 3 unassisted steps (They can! They can!!! Are they brilliant, or what?!?) or 30?

I try to let them be just them, to let them be the perfect little miracles they are, but I still worry. I can't help it. That's just what mums do. But letting them find their own way in this world has paid off so far. I'm sure it will continue to do so in the future. Whether I worry or not.


Fortunately, there's moments like these to remind me of just how strong and healthy and happy they are. Moments like these in which all the worries in the world just plain fade into the background and all that's left is love:




These are the moments in which I feel I am ready to dive head-first into another pregnancy, another child... But also in which I am most scared of it...

3 weeks until our FET-cycle. Possibly. Maybe.

Yikes!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When you are still small... (warning: baby/toddler-video)

...the whole world is a playground. And everything in it is just waiting to be discovered!

The backyard is a jungle, the tall grass a place to hide while stalking the neighbour's cat. Until she comes too close and you remember she's no mere cat, she's a huge tiger! And you are her hunter. Or, maybe, her prey...?

The stairs are a mountain, covered in ice and snow. The attic its summit. You dream about climbing it, right up into the clouds! There you are, look, you're holding a flag! What do you see from up there? And more importantly: how will you ever get back down...?

Or something as simple as a hammock. For mum and dad, it's a place to relax. To read a book. To forget about work for a while. Not for you. No. When you are still small, that same hammock is a great big ship sailing on an unexplored ocean. You are it's captain, steering it towards unknown worlds and sunken treasures!

Oh, to be that small again...

video

Friday, May 1, 2009

Desperate and dead

How desperate does a person have to be to drive his car full speed into a crowd of people? A crowd of people celebrating Queensday. Wearing orange, waving flags, laughing. Trying to catch a glimpse of the Royal Family, nodding and waving from the relative safety of an open bus... A crowd of HAPPY people, bringing their CHILDREN along to celebrate and watch a yearly event that's become a valued tradition in the Netherlands.

Fathers with children on their shoulders. Mothers with babies in their arms.

How desperate does a person have to be, to do something like that?

Suddenly, in the span of mere seconds, our country went from orange to black. In those few seconds, in which some man decided his life and the lives of 5 others (so far) he didn't even know were worth nothing at all, this whole country fell quiet. From partying to mourning in the blink of an eye.

This country, where the Queen regularly walks amongst her people, where politicians cycle their bikes to work, suddenly has to decide whether those things will have to become a thing of the past.

And while the country tries to wrap it's head around what has happened, the friends and family of those people standing in the way of this one desperate man will have to deal with the fact that their loved ones are in hospital fighting for their lives. Or will have to arrange the funeral of their husband, wife, mother, father, daughter, son, friend. All those people were partying, celebrating, having fun. And within seconds, their whole lives changed. Or ended.

Because of this one man. Who got off easy. Who died in hospital last night. Who will never be able to explain WHY he did what he did. Who will never be able to answer questions. Or be put to justice.

This man who was not only desperate, but kind of stupid as well... After all, what was he thinking trying to stop a BUS with his tiny Suzuki Swift?!? Did he really think he could hurt anyone other than those innocent bystanders when he drove his car into them trying to get to the Queen? Did he??

I am against the death-penalty. Not only because I don't believe that other people should get to decide when a person's life should be terminated, but also because in some cases, death is the EASY WAY OUT.

If I think about the fact that it could just as easily have been ME standing in that crowd, watching a car head full speed into MY children, knocking them 6 feet into the air and dropping them head first onto the pavement, broken, wounded, dead, all I can think is: I hope he SUFFERED!!

HE got off easy... No matter how his life might have sucked, no matter how desperate he was, he had no RIGHT to decide the lives of those 5 other people were worth wasting!

My heart aches for the family and friends of the victims. And for the children who were there with their parents, celebrating Queensday, waving their little flags, trying to see the Royal Family, and who instead will now forever have those terrible images burnt into their retinas...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Three easy ways to fill a blog post...

Thanks, Stacie, for letting me tag myself...


THREE NAMES I GO BY

1. Mijke
2. Mickey
3. Still working on the last one: MOMMY. So far all I've been able to get out of our twins is "Whawhawhaaaamamaaaaaaawhaaaa!", "Uh. uh. uh" and "Bah"

THREE JOBS I HAVE HAD IN MY LIFE

1. I was a volunteer with Girl Scouts USA, helped out at day camps and courses and even had "my own" Girl Scout Troop for a year. Not really a "job" job though, since the "job"-part would require some form of payment at the end of each month... ;-)
2. I was a "check-out-chick" at a local supermarket during my final year in High School. Worked at least 30 hours a week for 8 months, while simultaneously studying for my final exams, so I could help pay for my Exchange year in Australia. Madness.
3. I was a "student-teaching-assistant" at University, teaching small groups of first-year students subjects like Logic Programming (Prolog), Logics and Robotics. Great fun. Much more fun than studying. Which is probably why I never finished my degree...
4. I have my own workshop (well, okay, it's still really just a garage) now, where I make and/or paint (wooden) nursery-decorations, toys, puzzles and "birth signs". The last is a tradition in the Netherlands: whenever you have a new baby, you (or your family/friends) put out a cute wooden sign in your front yard with some sort of Disney figure or stork on it and the name of the new baby painted on. Oh, how I hated those signs when we were still ttc. How I hated walking past them, knowing here was yet another family who got what we wanted so badly. How I hated looking at the sign of the neighbours across the street from our kitchen window for weeks on end, not knowing whether we would ever be able to put one up ourselves. (And when we finally DID get pregnant and I had the most beautiful idea for a Twin-sign, I never did get around to making it because our twins arrived so early. So. I made a "birthday-sign" for their first birthday instead. There!)

THREE PLACES I HAVE LIVED

1. Amsterdam (the Netherlands)

Go on, ask me. Please. Just so I can kick you. Please?

NO. I DON'T DO DR.UGS!! (Well, okay, yes. I DID shoot up all that IVF-crap, but that wasn't what you were asking, was it?)
NO, I'm NOT a PRO.STIT.UTE!

2. Mungindi, NSW (Australia). On a huge big cattle farm. And yes. That place is just as small and remote as it sounds...
3. Madison, WI (USA)

THREE TV SHOWS THAT I WATCH

1. Amazing Race - Seasons 1 to 8, all reruns, when we lived in Madison.

Yes, I so want to be on the Amazing Race, too! But I would have no idea who with, because my husband would probably kill me before the 3rd episode, I would quite possibly kill my sister before the 2nd, and my mum and I would lose each other before we would even have grabbed our backpacks and found the car keys... And even if we made it that far, neither of us would be able to get the car out of "park".

Wait, maybe my dad? Oh, no. He would just stand there and wonder at how beautiful the starting place is, grab his camera, start shooting pics and forget all about the race...

2. NCIS
3. House

THREE PLACES I HAVE BEEN

1. Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
2. Great Barrier Reef (and Uluru), Australia
3. NgoroNgoro, Tanzania (Africa)

Just three? But there have been so many more... There was the equator in Kenia, and the desert in Tunesia, and the Grand Canyon, and the lakes in Sweden, and the mountains in Canada, and Paris (after all, it's only a 6 hour drive from here), and and and...

THREE PLACES I WANT TO GO

1. Iceland
2. South Africa
3. Australia (Again. And again. And again)

Just three? But there are so many more... There's South Africa, and Finnland, and New Zealand, and and and... Life is just too short!

THREE OF MY FAVORITE FOODS

1. Strawberries (with lots of sugar)
2. Steak. Lots of it. I was born a carnivour. I think I must've been a Lion or a Wolf in a past life...
3. Kroket. Met mayo. En frietjes.

THREE THINGS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO

1. A long night (or no, a whole weekend) of uninterrupted sleep. Just sleep. Sleep, and nothing more than sleep... Zzzzzzz...
2. Seeing our twins grow up to become healthy and happy people. Being there every step of the way. Except for maybe the abovementioned long weekend of sleep, just sleep and nothing more than sleep.
3. Possibly getting pregnant again (right there with you, Stacie!). Oh, and STAYING pregnant for AT LEAST 37 WEEKS this time...


THREE PETS THAT I HAVE OWNED

1. An imaginary wolf-puppy.
2. At least three generations of little grey/white russian hamsters my sister and I shared when we were kids.
3. Two pigeons. And lots of little pigeon eggs that never hatched.


THREE FAVORITE TEAMS TO WATCH

1. Ivo and Robin, ganging up on their dad, using him as their private playground climbing equipment.
2. Really?? Do you really think I have TIME to watch sports? You must be joking...
3. The Dutch Speedskating team. But that's not really a "team", is it?

THREE FAVORITE DRINKS

1. Chocolate Milk
2. Hot chocolate
3. Milk

What? What do you mean "child"? You don't drink (chocolate) milk? Great. More for me!!

Any other volunteers for an easy post? Just copy-paste these questions and write your own answers on your blog... Oh, and comment here that you've tagged yourself so I'll know where to find your answers...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Waiting for the train...

Yep. We're back at the station. Waiting for the train. Still not quite sure whether we'll hop back on when it stops in front of us, but we've at least packed our bags and headed towards the platform.

I called our IVF-clinic yesterday. Told them how much we liked playing at their russian roulette table last time. So much so, that we might want to sit down, grab a gun, and start shooting. Again.

Yikes.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The one thing we can do without help...

There's a lot of things most women have been able to do for centuries. Millennia, actually. Maybe even millions of years. Most women take all those things for granted. They "just happen".

One of those things is conceiving a child. It happens all the time, everywhere in the world. All that's needed is a willing bloke (and aren't they all?) at the right moment, a little hanky panky, and done! So incredibly easy. That's all it takes. For most women.

Not for me. Oh no. For me, years and years of hanky panky just wouldn't do the trick. We needed help. lots of help. Hormones and needles and lab coats and petri-dishes didn't even do the trick at first. Not until that second IVF. That cycle where everything seemed to go wrong right from the start, but that ended up giving us that one thing we had longed for and dreamed of for so long.

Another of those things is staying pregnant. Carrying that baby (or in my case: those babies) to term. So many women manage to do that, without even thinking about it. Without realising what a beautiful miracle it is to be with child for a full 9 months. The way it's supposed to be. Millions of women manage to do it.

Not me. Oh no. My water broke at 7 months. I wasn't ready to have those babies yet. They weren't ready to be born yet. We went to the hospital for help. We needed help to get pregnant, maybe with a little help I could also STAY pregnant? Nope. They tried, but those babies were coming out. Today!

Yet another thing that's so natural, so normal, for so many millions of women: childbirth. So many just go through the motions and end up with an empty belly, a blissfull smile and a pink wriggling baby in their arms. Without help. They just do it.

Not this woman. I tried. And even though my two miracle babies were still too tiny for this big world, they just wouldn't come out. They thought they wanted to. After all, they were the ones that started the whole labour fiasco. They were the ones that poked a hole in one of their sacks and let the water out. They wanted to come out, but at the last moment, they chickened out. And so I needed help. Again.

And when there was suddenly four of us, where first there were just two, we again couldn't do what so many people do without thinking about it. Our children were whisked away to the NICU and we couldn't hold them. We had to ask permission to even touch them. We couldn't feed our children without the help of nurses and IV's and feeding tubes. We needed help. THEY needed help. They needed help breathing, they needed help staying warm, they needed help eating. They needed help LIVING.

That was 14 months ago. And sometimes I still wonder... Two little babies who needed so much help to become, so much help to stick around, so much help to just BE. Two little miracles that would never have entered this world, never have been able to stay here, if it weren't for all these helping hands. How on earth did they ever manage to turn out so complete? So beautiful? So healthy? So PERFECT!?!


*****


Then the moment came in which we finally got to bring them home. After so many years of needing help to become pregnant, and after so many weeks of needing help to touch them, hold them, feed them, they were finally all ours. It was suddenly just the four of us. We could just walk towards them and pick them up if we wanted to. Cuddle them whenever we felt like it. No glass cages, no "May I?", no alarms. No help. For the very first time.

It was heaven. And it was scary. So scary!

But we managed. We cuddled and we carried. We laughed when they were happy and we cried when they felt sad. We got to know them and they got to know us. We changed them and bathed them and fed them. All by ourselves. And I pumped and they drank their bottles. And she slept and he puked and they cried and drank more bottles. And I pumped and they drank and I pumped and they grew. And when we had gotten used to each other, when things were quiet, when it was just the four of us, or just the three of us, we tried. I tried. And he tried. And she tried. And we did!

And then one day I could put the pump away. Because they COULD! He could. And she could. THEY could.

I nursed them. Me. Without help! Here was something I could do by myself. On my own. Finally. We could do it together, the two of us, or even the three of us. Without help! It was something so natural. So normal. And so unexpected. Here was something I alone could do. For my children. Something noone else could do for them. They were mine! I was theirs! We belonged...

I was told it might never happen, told it would never work. Most preemies have difficulties. Some preemies never learn. And twins? That would be too much for me to handle. I wouldn't have enough. They wouldn't drink enough. They wouldn't have the strength. It just would never work. Or so they said. But here they were, nursing, and growing. My two miracle babies!

They shouldn't have been here. They shouldn't have lived. But they are, they do.

Is that why it's hard to let it go? Why I keep nursing them even though people are starting to look at me in a funny way? Even though people start pointing fingers, asking questions? Even though sometimes even my husband, their father, thinks they've had enough? They are getting too big. They could do without. It's just not right.

This one thing that I have been able to do for them without help, this one thing that truly made me feel like we belonged together, like all was well. This one thing that is so natural, so the way it should be. How could I just stop that?

It's a fine line between doing something for your children, and doing it for yourself. I know that. I know there will come a day when they really won't need it anymore. When they might not want it anymore. A day when they will go without.

It won't be long before that day arrives. Just a couple more months, maybe. Time flies by so quickly. Children grow up so fast.

But for now, please let me enjoy those quiet moments we have together. Those moments when it's just the two of us. Or sometimes the three of us. Those times in the middle of the night when the whole world is asleep. Or those moments during the day when life just overwhelms them, when the world suddenly seems too big for them to handle and they just need to be with me. Not with anyone else. Not with nurses or doctors but with me. Just me...

Please let me treasure those moments a little longer. The world is so big, and they are still so small. For all their 14 months, they are still babies. Let me hold them and nurse them and treasure them. Untill my whole heart is filled with it. With them. With love. Let those precious moments take my fears away, let it take those bad memories away, let it leave just us. The way it should be. The way it IS.

Don't point fingers, don't whisper bad words, don't judge. Know it helps them grow. Know it helps us heal. And know it won't last forever. It might only be a few more months, a few more weeks even.

For the short time it will still last, just let us be. You don't have to look away like it's something bad. Something sickening. Something not quite right. You don't have to think I'm weird. You don't have to think at all.

Just look at us, and smile...


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is it a flower? Is it a princess? No, it's a...

I think I have to clarify something. Something I thought of when reading some of your comments. Something minor, really. Not important. At all.

Here goes: Only ONE of them is actually a BOY... For the other, it's completely okay to be dressed in flowery outfits!


That said, yesterday I did something even worse: It was still Carnaval, and I was supposed to drop them off at daycare in funny and/or cute outfits. I only had those flowers, which are for, you know, outdoor activities. Like sitting in the double stroller in the middle of winter watching a two-hour parade of other flowery people dancing around with clowns and animals and other weird creatures. They would have died from a heat stroke if I'd let them wear those things at daycare, where the thermostat is always set to "Gee, are we supposed to drop off our children here and take all of their clothes back home with us?"

So what did this WORST MOTHER EVER do?

Yep.

I dressed them up as EACH OTHER!

If he didn't already hate me for the flowers, he will for dressing him up like a GIRL. Worse, for actually thinking he looked kind of cute in that purple dress...

I think his sister got the good end of THAT deal. And the better end of the flower deal as well. Hmm, I'll have to make up for it at next year's Carnaval. And the year after that. And maybe every year untill he goes to college. Where he will finally seek his revenge by crossdressing voluntarily, freaking out his dad who will then take it out on ME.

"See? I TOLD you it wasn't a good idea to let him wear that purple dress when he was still a baby!"


I'm screwed...

But at least I'm not posting any pictures this time. That must count for something, right?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oops!

Okay, this ICLW thing... It seems I didn't quite understand what I was getting myself into...

Reading new blogs and meeting new people: check!
Listening to their stories: check!
Leaving a comment: check!

Okay, I'm not up to full speed yet, it being weekend and carnival and all. But I'm working on it. I read the "rulebook", but it seems there's some little things that are not in there yet but have become common courtesy or something. Like leaving "ICLW" somewhere in the comment, so people will know how the hell you've ended up on their blog in the first place. Good point! Without it, I kind of felt like an intruder, but now at least people will know why I dropped in. It's because, well, they've asked for it!

Second little thing I forgot was introducing myself to all the other ICLW'ers. But fortunately Cathy took care of that one, at least partly, by interviewing me for my first English blog post.

And to explain the baby-pictures on this blog: those two miracle-babies are the result of 4 yrs TTC, 6 IUI's, 2 IVF/ICSI attempts and a 5 week NICU stay. The road to motherhood was long, painful, emotional and at times very hard, like it still is for most of you. But the endresult was worth EVERY SINGLE MINUTE!!! I honestly hope your own road will eventually bring you as much joy (and as many nighttime feedings) as mine did!

If you are not satisfied with this introduction, tough luck!

No really, I'm not actually that rude... If you have any more questions, please just ask them!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Parents do stupid things... (warning: babypictures ahead)

Sometimes, mothers do stupid things. Little things, like forgetting to bring extra diapers when leaving the house. Bigger things, like stepping on small hands or feet. Huge things, like not using a car seat while driving*.

Most of those things go unnoticed. Most of them are forgiven easily. Babies are resilient. And they have short-term memories. And they will love you no matter what. Or will they?

Sometimes, mothers do stupid things. And some of those things will never be forgiven.

I did something stupid yesterday. And I knew it was stupid but went ahead and did it anyway. You guys will hate me for it. Forever. And ever. And ever...

Here's what I did**:

















































* See? It could've been worse. I ALWAYS use carseats...
** In my defense: it's Carnaval in the Netherlands. You guys would've looked even more silly had I NOT dressed you up funny. Yes, I COULD have dressed you in something that would've made all your little friends jealous, like Pirate costumes, or SuperBaby suits. But no, of course I had to go ahead and get the cutest and most flowery outfits ever made. I'm sorry. I really DO love you guys. But sometimes, mothers just do something stupid...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oh boy...

...have I just set myself up for disaster?

I just signed up for IComLeavWe. And it starts on a Saturday... So with us trying to keep computer-time to a minimum over the weekends so we can spend the precious time we have together as a family doing the things we love most, that means triple the comments on Monday...

Sometimes, I need a big kick in the butt though, and participating is a great way to make myself think about some new blog entries for this new blog that is not even a week old yet. And to maybe meet more of those wonderful women. Women like Julie or Alexa, who write about their struggles with infertility and their fears and feelings surrounding the premature birth of their children. Stories that have helped me cope with my own infertility. Helped me to keep going cycle after cycle, treatment after treatment. Helped me keep my hopes up in dark times and let me know I was not alone.

And when finally all my hopes and dreams came together in our last IVF-cycle and resulted in a healthy (twin)pregnancy, having read Julie's blog might just have prepared me a little bit for the premature birth of our twins. Nothing can really prepare you for an event like that, but I probably wasn't as freaked out as I might have been without her. After our twins came home from the hospital, Alexa's entries about her son Ames and daughter Simone made me go back to our own NICU experience, which had only just ended. Reading them made me more aware of feelings I'd already hidden deep inside myself, and helped me come to terms with maybe not all, but certainly some of the events surrounding the birth of our son and daughter.

My own story is already somewhere on the Internet, in Dutch, for friends, family and other interested people to go to if they want to know how we are doing. When they have had questions about our struggles with infertility, about our fears surrounding the pregnancy and birth, about how the kids were doing, it was sometimes just easier to refer them to that website than to try and explain it right then and there. Most of them have known about our struggles from very early on, but they could not always understand our pain. Not because they didn't want to, but because they hadn't been there themselves. So more often than not it was those wonderful women, those complete strangers on the Internet, that made me feel understood. Just by reading their stories, by listening to what they had to say, I felt more whole. More like a person instead of just a tiny bundle of raging hormones and streaming tears.

Those women kept me sane! And although I am not one to comment a lot, espescially when a lot of other people have already said what I would want to say, I am still listening to their story. I am there, where they can't always see me, rooting them on with every little step they take!

It is time for me to step out of the shadows and let them know I care...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Yes, Cathy, they do!

And when they do, they STILL look cute... *grin*


Pictures? Here?

Are you really sure you want to know what we look like? The kids are cute and all, but my own face might not be a pretty sight on an empty stomach (or a full one, really). Maybe just a couple of tiny feet to get you started?



Or maybe, just maybe, some hands that just started to discover one another 8 months ago?



Oh well, what the heck. Here they are:

Friday, February 6, 2009

Q&A

Hello blogosphere,

It doesn't seem fair that I have been reading some of your (English) blogs for, like, forever, and commented on some of them as well. Not while the only things I throw on the Internet myself are written in Dutch and thus nothing more than complete and utter Gibberish to most of you. Okay, there's the pictures. And since my kids are obviously the most wonderful and special kids in the whole wide world, that should be enough. But I'm pretty sure you all think the same about your own kids, so I guess it's time for me to reveal a little bit about myself in my second language, English. You're welcome to read, comment, gaze at all the pretty pictures I might post here in the future, or just avoid the whole thing altogether...

For my opening post, here's the answers to 5 questions Cathy asked me:


1) How did you come to be bilingual? You obviously read and write English fluently, but you also speak Dutch. What's the story?

I was born and raised in the Netherlands where all television shows and movies, unlike in a lot of other European countries, are broad casted in their original language (with Dutch subtitles). And since Hollywood spits out a lot more crap movies and series than possibly all European studios combined, English kind of sneaks it's way into our brains from a very young age. Spooky, isn't it? Moreover, English is taught as an obligatory foreign language to all children in Middle/High School. Those two things combined ensure that by the time we leave school, everyone here has a basic understanding of the English language.

Okay, that was the boring part. Now for the fun part:

When I was 17, fresh out of High School, I left my family, friends and country behind and went on my biggest adventure so far. I hopped on a plane and flew to Australia to live on a huge big cattle-farm with a family of complete strangers, sharing their home, their traditions, their language and their school (well, basically their whole lives). After a few weeks of "OMG, I thought I was going to a country where they speak English, not Gibberish" and "Wow, 2 hours of English a week in High School didn't in ANY way prepare me for this!" I started living, breathing and even dreaming in English. When I flew back home 12 months later I was another person in more ways than one. And English Australian came to me easier than my native language.

More fun? Here goes:

Having found some random bloke who was willing to share his life and sperm with me the love of my life, I wasn't going to let him slip through my fingers. So when he found his dream job and had to go to the USA for training, we got married (ever tried to plan a wedding with only 6 weeks notice? It's possible!) and went to live in Madison (WI) for 18 months. There my (by that time already somewhat faded) Aussie slang got mixed with some genuine American babble. Great fun, because now most English speaking people have NO IDEA what strange country I've sprung from. It's not English. It's not quite Australian. It's not American either. Could it be South African? No, not really. WTF?

Will/are you teaching the kids English too?

Not right now. They will grow up hearing a lot of English around them though. And if we have our way, in about 3 years (before they have to start school) my husband will take a sabbatical from work and we will go travel the world (or at least parts of it) with them for 6-12 months. They will pick up a lot of valuable things along the way, one of which might just be English.

Or, maybe, he will find a new dream job in (or his current one will send him to) some other beautiful part of the world and we will just pack up our kids and leave. Or hey, maybe I will find a dream job and HE will follow ME this time. You'll never know what adventures life will throw at you...


2) Do you think you'll try to have more kids, or are you done?

Er... Well... Hmm...

It took a lot of hard work (understatement of the year) to get to the point where we are now. We've hoped and dreamed and yelled and screamed and cried our way through 4 years of infertility, 6 IUI's and 2 IVF/ICSI's in two different continents before we got pregnant with Ivo and Robin. And when they arrived after "just" 32 weeks gestation (and believe me if I tell you I feel we are the luckiest people in the world to have even gotten that far) we practically lived in the NICU for 5 weeks before we finally got to take them home. Right now I feel so very lucky to have them around me every day, growing and playing and thriving. Somehow trying for a 3rd feels like tempting fate. How could we presume to be this lucky TWICE?

And this time it's not just us two we have to worry about. There's the kids, too. Will they suffer the consequences if we start treatments again? If my hormone-riddled self is crying over another failed cycle, will they feel my pain? And if my ob/gyn puts me on bed rest to prevent another premature birth, who will take care of them? Who will love them and cuddle them and play with them? And if the next pregnancy ends as soon or god forbid even sooner than the last, and we are stuck with weeks or maybe even months of NICU visits again, who will do all of the above with Ivo and Robin when we sit next to the isolette willing this new child to hold on, to breathe, to LIVE? Or will we choose to spend most of our time with the children already here? Because they are older and more aware? But if we do, will we damage our new child? Will it feel lonely without us sitting next to it's little glass home? Will it miss being touched and held by us? Will it not know who it's parents are?

But... Well... Yes... Another child would be welcome. We have enough cuddles, enough kisses, enough love to give to help another child grow and learn and find it's way. We would love for Ivo and Robin to experience being a big brother/sister as well as a twin. And, more selfishly, I myself would love to experience another pregnancy, another birth. Would love to feel those first kicks again, to know there is this new life inside of me, living, growing, waiting to come out. Would love to again meet my child for the very first time, get to know him/her, watch him/her grow and learn and live...

So when Ivo and Robin celebrated their first birthday, we chucked our condoms and our caution out the window. We opted to let nature take it's course. HAHAbigfuckingHa! As if that simple action would ever do the trick for us! But there's just too many fears, too many "what if's" (and too little sleep) to do more than that right now.

From our last IVF we have 3 leftover popsicles. 3 potential children waiting patiently for us to make up our minds. Waiting for us to decide whether we'll say "What the heck, people think we're crazy already anyway, we might as well give it a shot!" or "Who are we kidding? We should count our blessings! Let's give them to some science nerd who might just be able to cure cancer or Alzheimer's or some other horrible thing using those tiny clumps of yet undifferentiated cells..."

So... Um... So far... Undecided on that one...


3) Do you like to travel? Where have you been? Where would you like to go?

Yes, I do! I love to close the front door from the outside, knowing it will be a while until I see the other side again. To go places I've never gone before, see things I've never seen before, meet people I wouldn't otherwise meet. I love to be outdoors, be somewhere where it takes some searching to find the nearest person, the nearest road, the nearest house. People in the Netherlands live very close to one another: there's always someone else in view, some house nearby, some road you can hear in the distance. It's great to leave all that behind for a while and pretend you're the only people in the whole wide world. You and all the other people around you pretending the same thing, that is...

I've lived and traveled in Australia and in the USA. We also traveled through western Canada together for two months, working on farms along the way. I've seen most (okay, I'll rephrase: some bits of most countries) of Europe and parts of Africa, some with my husband and some with my (grand)parents. Even some on my own.

I would love to travel to Australia again, or to Africa. Actually, most of the places I've been are wonderful enough to warrant another visit. I would love to show most of those places to our kids, to tell them about what it was like for me the first time, and to let them experience their own "first time". To see those places through their eyes as well as my own.
I would also love to discover new countries, new worlds with them (Iceland is high on my list, as is South Africa). To let them take me by the hand and show me all the wonders they see. Right now we don't even need to travel far for that: around the corner are just as many wonders to discover if you are one year old and just learning to crawl or walk...


4) If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Oh boy. And I thought the first 3 questions were hard to answer... Let's see... Yes! The little legs and cheeks of my children! They are so cute I could eat them all day long... But wait, they are tiny. Really tiny. Even them being twins and all and therefor having twice as many, they still probably won't last that long! Hmm, back to the drawing board...

Steak! Outback Steakhouse's Rib eye Steak, Medium-well, seared to perfection on a red hot grill, to be precise. Man, do I miss Outback Steakhouse... Any chance they'll be opening one up in the Netherlands soon?


5) If you were to be granted 3 wishes (and no wishing for more wishes!) what would they be?

- For Ivo en Robin to stay healthy and grow up into happy and confident people.

Wait, did that count as one wish? Or two? Or even three? Doesn't matter, right now it's the only thing that's really important to me anyway. But just in case it only counts as one, here's the other two:

- Another healthy and this time much LONGER pregnancy: to be able to experience it all once more, the way it SHOULD be. (wow, guess there's your final answer to question NR 2)

- Since I'm all healthy and happy already, and so are my family and close friends, my last wish is for Daniel. And since he is still too young to wish for anything but toys and cuddles and to be left in peace, I appoint you, Cathy, as its guardian. Use it as you see fit, or give it to Daniel when you think he's old enough to make his own wishes!