infertiltiy

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My biggest twin parenting surprises so far

Published February 19, 2017 by Jennie

The twins are 7 and a half months old. I can’t believe how fast it has all gone by. We have had a lot of ups and downs as well as a lot of surprises. Parenting twins is nothing like I thought it would be (then again I am not really sure what I thought it was going to be like). Before I start though, I figured I would share a few pictures of the little munchkins.

These have been my biggest surprises so far.

1. Working outside the home makes me a better mom.

When I had the twins, I originally planned to stay home with them for at least a year. I ended up starting work when they were about 3 months old. It was really hard for me to admit this to myself but I am a better mom when I have a chance to miss them. I am lucky that I have found a daycare that takes excellent care of them. One of the reasons they are doing so well is because of everything their teachers at daycare do for them. This was not our original plan (or the best solution for all families) but we are all happier.

2. The twins are tougher than I sometimes give them credit for.

They have come so far since their days in the NICU as preemie twins.

They still have their challenges (for example Luke tends to get frequent respiratory infections ) but they are not my frail little preemies anymore. They are tough cookies!

3. They are completely different

For me, this has been the hardest part of parenting twins. They do everything different, including reaching milestones. Lauren tends to reach them first which causes me endless anxiety. Luke also had severe torticollis, which really limited his movement for the first few months but he has weekly therapy for it and has made great progress. Even so, it is so hard not to compare them and wonder why one can do something but the other one can’t. Their pediatrician has reminded me multiple times that they are different people and I can not expect them to be the same.

4. Mommy judgement is alive and well

Most of the feedback I get from people is positive. Even so, every so often I get a harsh dose of mommy judgement. During our Christmas party at work, one of my coworkers let me know she could not imagine letting one (let along two) babies at daycare until they were at least a year old. I have also gotten some less than nice comments for formula feeding. That one is especially hard to deal with because I did everything I could to breastfeed and it simply didn’t work.

5. We need a lot of help

When I was pregnant I figured that if I was organized and motivated enough, my husband and I could handle the twins without outside help. I was wrong. We get lots of help from friends and family and could not do it without them. I am not supermom and that’s okay.

6. Time has become  very valuable

When I want to do something, I now have to decide if it is worth time away from my kids. A few months ago I decided it is finally time to get back in shape. To do this, I have to take away some of the limited time I have with my kids to work out. This has been hard. I take them to the gym with me (usually after work) about 4 times a week. While I really like the people who take care of them at the gym’s childcare center, that is 4 more hours I do not have with them. I try my best to make the time we do spend together count.

7. I still miss the baby we lost

I am so thankful for our twins. Even so, they do not replace the baby we lost. I still think about him and wonder what he would have been like. He was loved and will always be missed.

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone is doing well! – Jennie

DOC Band Drama

Published November 24, 2016 by Jennie

The twins have had their DOC Bands for a few weeks now. It sure has been an experience! I thought I would share our ups and downs as well as some tips that make our lives with the bands less miserable. Before I get into things, here are some pictures. Even with their bands, I still think they are pretty adorable.

This is what we have learned so far.

1. People are curious about the bands.

When we take the twins out, people ask me what the bands are and what they are for. One person even asked me what’s wrong with our babies (not very nice!). The are called DOC Bands and primarily treat Plagiocephaly.

While tummy time can help decrease the change of Plagiocephaly becoming an issue, some babies still get it even with lots of tummy time. Our babies were especially susceptible because they were premature and spent time in the NICU.

2. DOC Bands can indirectly help with other issues

Our son developed severe Torticollis (partly from being breech, a preemie, in the NICU, etc). His flat spot is on his right side and it makes it really hard for him to move his head around, especially when he is on his back. His physical therapist saw him the first day he had his band on and said just having it on helps a lot with his alignment. The DOC Band does not treat Torticollis but it definitely helps when used with PT and exercises at home.

3. Insurance does not always cover the bands.

This can happen 2 ways. In some cases, they offer coverage but deny the claim. In this case you can appeal. Other times (as in our case) insurance companies create  a provision that specifically excludes band coverage (jerks!). That means we can not appeal but we can file a grievance. We did. A grievance won’t help us but I hope they change their policy so other people can get coverage.

A while back I wrote a post about our insurance not offering coverage and got lots of great tips. Here I leaned there is an organization called the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation that will help with the cost. Unfortunately, we do not pass their income requirements. Even so, I would like to thank Meredith for letting me know about them as well as any else who read my post. I hope if someone else is facing this issue they may be able to help them.

Ultimately we did have to pay for them out of pocket but Cranial Technologies did give us a twin discount. We are thankful for that.

4. Timing is important with DOC Bands

As a baby gets older, their skull hardens. That means if they get a late start with the DOC Band, they will likely have to wear it longer and it may not be as effective. On the other side, you do not want to get on too early because some babies heads will naturally reshape without needing a band. We had our babies initially measured at around 3 months and then remeasured around 4 months. That way we could see that things were not getting better on their own (although our son’s head was really misshapen even at 2 months so I pretty much always knew he would need a band).

Even though we got the band through Cranial Technologies, we worked closely with our pediatrician throughout the process. I have had nothing but good experiences with Cranial Technologies but some reviews have said they have pushed some parents to get bands when their kids did not need them. Knowing our pediatrician also highly recommends they have bands makes me know we made the right choice.

4. You may have to rethink how you dress your baby when wearing a DOC Band.

We were told when we got the bands they would make the babies hot, but we did not realize how much so. Two days after having them on, we noticed rashes on their face. We took them back to Cranial Technologies and turns out they had heat rash. We now keep the babies in onesies, no pants, and no socks. They are so much more comfy now even though they can not wear all the cute footed PJs we bought for them to wear this winter. Of course, we got doctor’s approval to do this and bundle them up before going outside. Also, all babies are different and some may not get as hot.

5. DOC Bands get gross!

Even when we keep the babies cool, their heads sweat a lot. Wiping the bands out every day does not cut it. I got a great tip from a coworker whose baby also had a DOC Band. He told me to scrub the bands out every night with a toothbrush using 70%  Isopropyl alcohol. Cranial Technologies did tell us to clean it out daily with the alcohol but did not suggest using a toothbrush to scrub the band. We asked them if this would damage the band. They said no and it works like a charm. No more dirty, gross bands!

6. They take a while for babies to get used to

We are still working on this one. It has gotten better but we still have a ways to go. They seem to have them most trouble with them at night. Before we got them, they had just started sleeping through the night, which was freaking awesome. That feels like a distant memory now. They are now wearing them 23 hours a day as instructed. Hopefully as time goes on, they will continue to get more used to them. Someday in the future this will all be a distant memory.

Thanks for reading. If anyone else has any tips at all for surviving these bands, please share!

I hope everyone is doing well and all my US bloggers have a fabulous Turkey Day (or anyone else celebrating the occasion)! We sure do have a lot to be thankful for this year. – Jennie

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Our Twin Dream Team

Published November 3, 2016 by Jennie

It is crazy to think how much life has changed since having the twins. While things are now going well we had a really rough start. Shortly after we brought them home from the NICU I made an appointment with my therapist because I felt like I was not handling thing well. She asked me what was the hardest things about taking care of twins. I told her that I constantly felt like I did not know what the hell I was doing. I felt completely unprepared and incapable of keeping two babies alive. What she told me next completely changed my perspective on things even to this day.

She told me that it was ok that I did not know what I was doing. I needed to accept that I can not do this on my own and instead I should focus on building a strong support system. Since that day that has been my number one goal. I am so thankful I have found some wonderful people and resources that have helped not only care for the twins but have helped them thrive.

Before I talk a little more about this journey I thought I would share some pictures 🙂 The bottom one is from Halloween.

I like to think of our support system as our twin dream team. Here is the lineup!

Pediatrician

Our pediatrician is amazing! One time when Luke was sick I took him in. That evening our pediatrician called after he had left the office just to check to see how he was doing. I can also email any question I have and he takes the time to make sure he addresses all my concerns.

Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Lauren has had some feeding issues. Our GI doctor set up a Barium swallow study to check for structural abnormalities and make sure she is not aspirating. Her swallow study came back okay but he still keeps an eye on things. He is also very patient and takes time to answer all my questions.

Pediatric Cardiologist

When we had to go back to the hospital we were told that Luke has a heart murmur. The echocardiogram came back okay but we will continue to monitor it and know who to go to if we have future issues.

Pediatric Neurologist

I will admit that taking your child to a neurologist is scary. Our PT recommended we do this due to Lauren’s feeding issues. Luckily her neurologist has a wonderful bedside manner. She said that Lauren looks great but we will continue to monitor things. She also told us that later on Lauren may benefit from occupational and or speech therapy. Even so, she told us that the brain at this age is very changeable so if we do find problems, with the right therapy, she has a bright future. This is assuming she even needs therapy which may not be the case. I have been so worried about her and I can not adequately express how comforting that is to hear. I am also incredibly thankful that if issues do come up, we have a plan in action to get her the best help possible.

Cranial Specialist/Orthotist

Both Luke and Lauren are in the process of getting fitted for Doc Bands for Plagiocephaly. While this is really expensive I am thankful we are doing it now where treatment only lasts 5 or 6 weeks. If we did it later they would have to be in the bands longer and would likely not have as good of a result.

Pediatric Physical Therapist

We actually have 2 PTs. One is a family friend. She has been instrumental in helping us set up resources for both twins. The other PT is also wonderful. She comes to the daycare weekly to help Luke with his torticollis. He has made noticeable improvements even after only a few sessions.

Early Intervention Team

I love love love this program. Early intervention provides services for kids aged 0 to 3 who may need extra help in any area of development. Since the twins are preemies, they do need a bit of help catching up. While it does take a while to get set up, it is a great program once things get started. They were the ones that help us get weekly PT set up at the daycare for Luke. His torticollis has made it difficult for him to develop good head control, but he has been very responsive to treatment. EI assigned us a case worker that frequently checks in with us. Any time I have any concerns at all I can discuss them with her and she provides me a wealth of resources.

Daycare Provider

Going back to work was a hard decision for me. There are definitely pros and cons to staying at home or going back to work. I ultimately decided that I am a better mom when I am working outside the home. I did decide I would not go back to work unless I could find someone I could completely trust to care for the twins during the day. The day care we found is wonderful. Their teacher actually has a grandson born at 26 weeks so knows all about the potential issues preemies face. She has even taken the time to show us stuff we can do at home to help them.

Therapist (For Me!)

Taking care of twins is hard! It took me a while to realize that I need to take care of myself if I want to be the best mom I can be. My therapist is great. She gives me wonderful advice that has helped me manage the struggles of being a twin momma. Other times she lets me vent, which I enjoy too.

Psychiatrist (For Me!)

As I mentioned before, I was not in a good place when the twins came home. I ultimately made an appointment with my psychiatrist. He prescribed a combination of SSRIs and it changed my life. If anyone is curious, my magic combination is Trintillix and Wellbutrin. It still amazes me how much of a difference it makes!

Local Mothers of Multiples Group

No one understands what it is like to have twins like a veteran twin momma (or daddy!). Their advice is priceless. For example, I never thought of how difficult it would be to get two babies into a car and to the doctor at the same time. They gave me some tricks and tips that make stuff like that easier. It is also nice to connect with people who face a lot of the same struggles as I do.

Friends

I am thankful for every friend who has brought us a meal or even came over and held a baby for a while so I could take a nap. It is always appreciated.

Family

We are very lucky to have an incredibly supportive family. My mother in law frequently stays at our house. During her visits she not only helps with the babies but also helps with the chores and also cooks homemade meals. My parents have also been invaluable. Shortly after I had the twins, they sold their house and moved 10 minutes away from us. I honestly do not know what I would do without them. They are my lifesavers.

Of course it goes unsaid that my husband always plays a huge role in caring for the twins. Now that we are both working we take turns with night duty. He can handle the twins on his own, which means I am able to get a full nights sleep when it is my night off. Also, one of my favorite things is to watch him interact with them. He is one proud dad.

Well there you have it! That is our twin dream team. While I have learned a lot, I still feel like I don’t know what the hell I am doing. Even so, I think that if we continue to receive the support we need we will be ok.

Thanks for reading 🙂 – Jennie

Embryo 3

Published February 27, 2015 by Jennie

Blastocyst (2)

On Wednesday we had our very first (and hopefully only) single blastocyst transfer. Our RE first showed us our PGS results for each embryo which was kind of cool. We had 2 normal ones from retrieval #1 and 5 normal ones from retrieval #2.  Most of our abnormal ones had some type of trisomy which is three copies of a chromosome instead of two. Each embryo is numbered and we got #3 which is a boy from retrieval #1. This may sound strange but I wanted to know which retrieval he was from so I could know exactly when we made him.

The picture of him was taken after he defrosted and started hatching. It is SO hard to not get attached already. They also let us take home his tube that he was frozen in. I know this is thinking ahead but if he does work out, it would be cool to show him where he came from when he gets older :).

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He is a grade A although my RE said that there is little difference between a grade A and B embryo (a C, however, is problematic).

I asked my RE if I needed to limit my activity after the transfer. He said no. He actually said I could go shovel snow after the transfer if I wanted to. I have done some research and science seems to back this claim up (here is a link to a recent study). If anyone is interested, 2 other studies also find that under normal conditions, bed rest is not necessary. Kucuk (2013) actually suggests it may be harmful:

Li, B., Zhou, H., & Li, W. (April 01, 2011). Bed rest after embryo transfer. European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 155, 2, 125-128.
Kucuk, M. (April 01, 2013). Bed rest after embryo transfer: is it harmful?. European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 167, 2, 123-126.

I completely understand that there are different situations and it is important for people to follow their RE’s directions. Even so, I feel better knowing that scientific research backs up my RE’s protocol. My RE is very science based. He is ok with me doing other things that are supposed to help (like eating pineapple and Brazil nuts) but he says that if it is going to implant, it will implant and there is not much I can do to influence what happens. I think that is the hardest part. It makes me feel helpless.

The transfer itself took about 10 minutes. It was not painful but was uncomfortable. I had to completely fill my bladder first and they pushed down (not too hard) on my stomach to get a good image and check placement. Did other people have to do this first? Afterwards, I rested about 5 minutes and then walked out which felt a little strange. We had lunch and chilled out for the rest of the day. Even though I am cleared for normal activity (minus sex) I am going to take it easy which basically means I am going to avoid the gym for awhile.

That evening, they cancelled my class for the next day because we were supposed to get 4-8 inches of snow. We ended up only getting about half an inch but since they already cancelled class, I didn’t have to teach! I am sure that my students were devastated that they did not get to take Microeconomic Theory at 8AM 🙂 I actually slept in until about 11AM which I rarely do. I think that now that the procedure is complete, I can relax a bit which is nice.

Since I transferred a 5 day blastocyst, implantation would have happened 12 to 24 hours after transfer. I really wanted to see some implantation bleeding but that did not happen. Al I had was mild cramping which lasted about a day.

This coming week is spring break. I am going to Asheville to hang out for a few days. I am so glad I am going to have a distraction because I think I would go crazy sitting at home by myself all day.

My RE waits 10 days after a day 5 blastocyst transfer for the Beta test. Unfortunately that falls on a Saturday so I get to wait 2 more days (yay!). At least that gives me a few extra days to think I am pregnant as long as AF does not show up. Here’s to hoping the time passes quickly! – Jennie

 

 

 

What I Learned From Trying to Order IVF Meds

Published August 30, 2014 by Jennie

August was supposed to be our IVF month.  It has come and (almost) gone and I have yet to even start injections.  Our first hold up came when LabCorp botched my genetic testing  which put us back a few weeks (you can read about that here).  Well those tests FINALLY came back this Thursday and everything was fine.  My RE then called in my IVF drugs to the pharmacy.  The plan was to get those on Friday.  Apparently, the pharmacy my RE used does not take my insurance.  I have Blue Cross Blue Shield and they are very picky about which pharmacy they will use for infertility medication.  My RE then called everything in to another pharmacy which we later found out is also not approved my insurance.

I called my insurance and they told me that the only place I can go to is called Freedom Fertility.  I hope no one ever has to use them because they are awful.  I called them Thursday evening and they said they had not gotten my prescription even though it had been sent several hours ago.  I try again on Friday morning and they finally had it. They told me if I gave them my credit card they would process everything and get my meds to me by Saturday.  It sounded strange that they wanted my credit card information before they would even tell me the prices with insurance.  I told them I had a right to know the total cost of a purchase before I make it and I wanted a total before my card got charged.  They did not like that.

I told my RE and she said that Freedom Fertility uses very shady business practices.  They are the only pharmacist my RE knows of that will not give insurance prices to doctors over the phone.  Also, they make the cash price of a drug much higher than other places.  In some cases, using insurance with them is more expensive that paying out of pocket at other pharmacists. For example, 3 units of Follistim 600 is $1,655 at the original place my doctor sent my meds to (Success Meds), but at Freedom Fertility, it is $3,237.

Freedom Fertility told me they would not give me copays until my order went to processing.  I do not understand why they could not just look that up.  I told them I needed to get those copays ASAP.  They said they would call me back in an hour with that information.  After an hour came and went, I called them back and got the same story.  I continued to call them every hour with the same story.

At about 5:30, they called me with the copays.  They also told me that one drug, Lupron, needs prior-authorization. When I last spoke to my insurance company, I SPECIFICALLY asked if any of the drugs needed prior-authorization and they said no.  At this point, my RE is closed so I am out of luck.

Due to the holiday weekend, the earliest these drugs can be shipped is Tuesday with Wednesday arrival (this is assuming no other problems).  This might not be so bad but I recently learned our insurance may be ending soon (this is a long story I may get into later) so our time is limited.  I really want to run genetic testing on our eggs but that would turn my cycle into a FET and we simply may not have that much time.  In fact, we may not even have time for one fresh cycle, especially if we keep running into problems.  I do not think I have ever been this frustrated in my life.  This whole process has been awful and we haven’t even really started yet.  I just want to hide in my room and cry. – Jennie