Double Vision

Can you remember when you spent money on something that you considered extravagant?  You didn’t REALLY need it, but it sure did make you feel like your life was easier because of it? BEST MONEY we even spent was on 3 things. I’m quite sure you’ll know what those things are by the end of this episode!

We left off with the news that we were FINALLY pregnant!

The pregnancy with our first child was pretty easy, except for the 3-4 months of awful nausea and extreme fatigue.  The only part of this journey that was stressful was when we went to the 18 week ultrasound and the doctors once again called us into another room for a meeting.  You know when they do this and also close the door that poop is about to get real.  Our child had a two-vessel cord – also known as single umbilical artery — which occurs in 1 percent of singleton pregnancies.  

During the anatomy ultrasound, one of the things the sonographer looks for is the presence of three vessels within the umbilical cord: one vein (which carries oxygen and nutrients from the mom to the baby) and two arteries (which shuttle that waste back to the mom, to be processed and disposed of by the kidneys). Instead of those three vessels, our little one’s cord had only two: one vein and one artery. 

They also told us that the heart, kidney and liver had spots on them.  Because of all of these things, they would definitely need to keep a close eye on the babies development, which meant a lot more ultrasounds than normal.  In a way I was nervous, but also I was ok with being able to see our nugget more often and get more pictures!  I ended up having 8 ultrasounds in total and every one of them showed our baby was doing great and growing like a weed.  At one point I was even shown the middle finger – showing attitude even in the womb.

On September 3, 2008 our baby girl Avery Rose arrived!  No words other than pure love….and pure utter panic.  Holy smokes. I wanted this baby soooo badly and now I don’t know what I am supposed to do. 

Scared out of my mind.  And tired.  And scared. 

I had one nurse that came to help me in the wee hours of the morning and she was so kind.  We got to talking about our infertility journey and she let me know that her and her husband were also struggling and had run out of options.  The hormones and love for my baby….but I was SOOOO tempted to offer up our remaining embryo that was now in cryostorage.  Little did I know that that would be a part of our story years later.

I didn’t have a smooth start with my baby girl….she was fine….I wasn’t.  Suddenly, I started bleeding VERY heavy not long after we brought Avery home.  I went to the ER in Strathmore.  My temperature was spiking…I was bleeding too much.  So they took me by ambulance to Calgary and they ended up doing a D&C surgery.  James took great care of Avery while I was in the hospital.

Not long after that surgery, I was home taking care of our new baby girl, just sitting on the couch watching Dr. Phil and started to feel that something was not right…..  I called James and asked him to come home.  He called an ambulance, I was in bad shape. When they arrived my temperature was at 104.  They took me to the hospital and I ended up staying there for 5 days.  Apparently I had multiple infections going on – one from the D&C surgery….and I had also developed Mastitis. 

If you don’t know what mastitis is – just know it is awful, it involves your breasts and I had to show one of those beasts to one of the hottest doctors I’ve ever seen – just ask my Mom.  She was DYIIINNNG of embarrassment for me, but also laughing at my beet red face. 

Again, James was left to take care of our baby for the second time in less than 2 weeks.  This time, thankfully our parents came up to help him out.  They would come to visit me in the hospital every day so I could spend time with my new baby and every time they left I would be very sad I couldn’t have more time with her.

We thought our family of 3 + 2 dogs would be it.

We had one frozen embryo left and knew the odds were not great. Instead of thinking about having another baby, we just enjoyed having our little girl and thanking God for the blessing we did receive.

But….if you’ve ever been through the IVF journey and have embryos left over in storage, you never stop thinking about them and if you should use them.  Especially when it took so much effort to make those miracles (time, money, all of it).  Eventually, we were ready to give our last remaining embee a chance. 

This time, I was diligent about doing more Acupuncture.  With Avery I had a couple appointments but this time, I was a regular!!   Acupuncture has been shown to help reduce depression, which was definitely something I was still battling but not as drastically as before I had Avery. Acupuncture has also been known to help decrease stress and anxiety that can contribute to fertility problems.  I was going to try everything possible to ensure the transfer was a success.

The date was set for the embryo transfer.

I headed to Calgary for my Acupuncture appt and then to the fertility clinic right after.  On the drive to Calgary, the Fertility Clinic called and gave me the sad news that our frozen embee didn’t survive the thaw.  I had to pull over, the tears were so heavy that I couldn’t see anymore.  What a crappy feeling, especially knowing that was it, they’re all gone now.  All that effort and it’s over.  BUT, we had our girl and that definitely helped with the heartache that stuck with me for some time. 

You’re probably thinking – they probably went and got another dog?  Well it actually DID cross my mind but James would never let me!!  Two dogs and one toddler was plenty! 

For awhile we were pretty set on being a one child family.  Neither one of us grew up that way – I have a brother and sister and James has a sister.  So we both knew what it was like having a sibling.  We couldn’t imagine Avery never having one.  We were most sad thinking about her being alone once we were no longer around – who would she lean on for comfort?

And so the hamster wheel started spinning.  Should we do this again? How will we pay for it? Can I deal with the hormones again? The roller coaster of emotions is not enjoyable. Did we REALLY need another child, why couldn’t we just be happy with the beautiful girl we already had.  

I know God has plans and he wasn’t letting my hamster off his wheel until I made that call to my doctor to get back into the RFP clinic.  As usual we had to wait a few months.  Thankfully we were helped in the financial area by our family and for that we will always be grateful.  They wanted us to have another baby as much as we did!

My body responded like a pro this go round – maybe having a baby cleared up some junk in that area and made room for  good stuff to happen.  Who knows.  All I know is I produced more follicles, they retrieved more eggs and we had 8 embryos!!This time, we had more embryos than we ever planned on using….unless all of them didn’t work.  There was always that potential so we didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves.

The embryologist labelled two of our embryos “rock stars” and gave us the “be prepared for twins” speech since we were having two transferred.  

The two week wait was PAINFULLY long.

Having a 3 year old running around definitely distracted me.  I’m not going to lie, I was PRAYING for twins.  Even knowing how much work 1 child was, I still wanted the experience of having twins.  Some people thought I was crazy – James was one of them!  On the morning of the pregnancy test, I couldn’t wait so I took a test at home.  It was really early in the morning – like 4 or something crazy like that.  And I couldn’t wait any longer. 

I was waiting in the bathroom for the test to be ready and I looked up and Avery was standing in the doorway.  She didn’t say a word, she just stood there.  The timer went off and I was so scared to look at the stick.  It was negative.  Our rock stars didn’t make it.   I started crying and Avery came over and gave me a hug.  People….this child NEVER woke up that early – it’s like it was God saying it’s ok….remember what I have already given you.  

When you have a failed embryo transfer they recommend waiting 2-3 months to try again in order to get your system back in somewhat normal condition.  After a few months we decided it was time to try again with frozen embryos.  Remember our last experience with a frozen embryo?  We did not have high hopes. 

This time when they went to unthaw the embryos one didn’t make it but two of them did and their quality was good!  Pregnancy rates with frozen embryos is lower than using fresh embryos so we still didn’t have high hopes.  Please God, just let us have one more – a sibling for our Aver.

Think thick, so you stick, and become a fetus and come out and meet us!

I had been doing photography mentoring around this time and I had scheduled a family photo shoot with this photographer a couple of months back, not knowing where we would be in our fertility journey.  Well it turns out the day we were supposed to get our test results was the day of the photo shoot.  This could either be a really good day captured on film, or a really, really crappy day.  I almost cancelled but getting this photographer was tough so we rolled the dice. We got the results minutes before leaving for the photos.

We were PREGNANT!!!!

The nausea and tiredness kicked in pretty much right away and it was BRUTAL.  

A couple of weeks later – I started bleeding.  It wasn’t a little bit either.  I immediately thought I was losing the baby so we called the fertility clinic to see what we should do.  They asked me to come in right away for an ultrasound to check out the situation.  On the drive there, I cried and prayed.  I told James that I still felt very nauseous so I don’t know what is happening.

I had a hard time breathing laying on that ultrasound bed waiting for it to start up. Please, please, please let there be a heartbeat….please.  The doctor put the wand on my belly and IMMEDIATELY I knew what I was looking at.  It was clear as could be.  Two sacs.  “Is that what I think it is?”  And our doc said “that would be a twin pregnancy”.  The bleeding was attributed to implantation and with multiple pregnancy it can be heavier than usual.  

Telling our families was so exciting.  My parents were now going to be grandparents to 2 set of twins in less than a year!  And James’ parents had never been around twins so they were in complete shock!!

Besides getting very, very large it was a pretty normal pregnancy.

With Avery we kept it a surprise – we didn’t want to know if we were having a boy or girl.  That was tough since I’m a planner.  So when we found out we were having twins I needed to know….I needed to PLAN for two babies!!  

Waiting for the sex of your baby was way more suspenseful than I thought it would be, especially with twins.  The technician was doing all the measurements for Baby A and finally told us, it’s a BOY!! 

But I kid you not we had to wait at least 30 minutes to find out what Baby B was.  And when she finally told us it was another BOY, well the look on James’ face was priceless!  It’s like he had a thought bubble above his head and he was envisioning playing catch and hitting the links with his little guys.  I was happy because it meant way easier shopping and decorating!!  And of course because they would always have each other as best buddies.

The labour and delivery was interesting.  That’s the best way I can describe it.  It’s pretty intense knowing you are about to have two humans come out of you but my doctors and nurses were Ahhmazing and kept me calm.  When you deliver multiples and you’re not scheduled for a c-section, you still need to deliver in an operating room…..just in case.  James should have been the only person in the room with me but they also allowed my mom in the room and for that I will forever be grateful for.  This meant that she has witnessed the birth of all of her natural grandchildren.  And she got some amazing photos so that was special.

I didn’t have to push too much with Baby A, he was quite cooperative.  And that’s when Ryder James entered the world.  As soon as we saw his face, James and I both looked at each other and said “that’s Ryder”.  We had picked out names before hand but wanted to see their faces first. 

Typically, the second baby is delivered quite quickly after the first baby.  But not our Baby B….he was not having it.  He loved the extra room he had now and wanted to hang out awhile longer and stay on the inside with his Momma.  I pushed and pushed but no way….he was not coming out. 

At one point the doctors said if we don’t deliver him soon we’ll have to do a c-section as his heart rate is dropping.  Ummm pardon?  I am not about to recover from a vaginal delivery AND a c-section delivery….not happening.  So I’m not sure where I got the strength (well I do know, thanks God)….I pushed like a crazy woman.  When they said you can take a break, I said no thank you I’m going.  56 very long minutes later, Dylan James entered the world!  

And when they weighed them, the size of my belly made sense!

They were both just under 7 lbs and 21 inches EACH… yeah, big babies!  I was carrying around almost 14 lbs of just babies let alone everything else in there!

As I was laying there lovingly looking at our new babies, I caught a glimpse of my doctors delivering the placenta and I knew something was wrong right away.  She was giving instructions to the anesthesiologist and the nurses were pushing James and my Mom to a back corner of the room.  My mom told me later that I was bleeding very heavily, it was pouring onto the floor below me. 

And out of nowhere this nurse comes flying in my direction with a needle and jabbed my leg.  I didn’t feel it because of the epidural but it still startled me.  What the heck was that for – she said “to save your life”.  I guess it was something to help clot my blood from the hemorrhaging that was happening.  Then the room got back to normal, everyone calmed down and the happiness returned to the room.  

Bringing two babies home was CRAZY.

We had lots of help at home in the first 2-3 weeks, with my parents, James’ parents and my sister. Thank goodness.

Because of my mastitis infection with Avery I was not going to attempt breast feeding, especially with twins.  So from day 1 we did formula.  Which made it much easier to have others help in the middle of the night! 

In the first couple of weeks, the mornings at our house looked like a scene from the night after a frat party.  People crashed on couches and floors, some with a baby or not….but instead of beer bottles there were numerous empty milk bottles laying around.  I never knew where my babies were unless I actually had one with me.  And I couldn’t have been happier.  

But then they all left and James and I were left to parent all three kids by ourselves.  It didn’t take long for us to realize we were likely going to possibly die from lack of sleep if we didn’t get some more help.  You know that feeling of being so tired your hair hurts??  You should see some of the photos from that time, we look like zombies. 

I was part of a Facebook group for parents with multiples and one day I saw someone post something about using a night nurse.  Wellllll, let’s just say I looked into that so bloody fast.  And within a couple days our sweet angel Michelle walked into our lives. 

We had her come once a week (Wednesday’s) at 10 at night until 6 the next morning.  When she arrived we hightailed it to our room and instantly fell asleep.  We looked forward to Wednesday’s soooo much….we would do a count down once she left. 

And then the flood of 2013 happened.  Michelle called and said she wasn’t sure if she could make it because the bridges might be closed off but she would try her best.  I got off the phone and told James. 

I haven’t seen James cry often, but that day I distinctly saw water in his eyes and a lump in his throat!  He was devastated and to be honest so was I.  We needed sleep!!  But…did I say she was our angel….10pm our doorbell rang and there she was!!  James hugged her and bolted to the bedroom.  

Life with 3 kids was BUSY!

We definitely did not give Avery enough attention in that first year.  We tried our best but it was a matter of survival and making sure people just got fed or bathed.  Avery was such a good big sister and was very helpful with getting me diapers and putting bottles in the warmer. 

I knew she needed more interaction and I needed more time to go do other Mom things, like grocery shopping, or shower, or brush my teeth.  We hired a wonderful young lady named Chantal to come over a couple hours at a time to spend time with the kids so I could feel like a human again.  She was a god send.

I also started looking at long term childcare about 3 months after the boys were born.  I had a feeling it would be hard to find someone that would be willing to take a 4 year old and twin babies. 

We were living in a small town at that time and the options just weren’t there.  Chantal was working with multiple families at the time and wasn’t prepared to take care of our family as her only job.  So it was either quit my job and stay home with the kids or look at other options.  With Avery, I was sooo ready to quit my job and be a stay at home Mom but did end up going back.  

This time, I was NOT ready to be a stay at home Mom, I was quite excited to be back in my office and start being around other adults and get dressed and have coffee and go the washroom in peace and go for lunch with coworkers and on and on.  But in order to do that we needed to find childcare. 

That’s when I started looking into nannies, both live out and live in.  Because we lived in a small town about 20 minutes from Calgary, our options were very limited.  We were getting no interest in a live out nanny… the next option was hiring a live in nanny.  I used an agency that helps place nannies from other countries. 

We started interviewing nannies from all over the world and that’s when we met Digna.  She sent us some photos of her with the kids she was taking care of in Hong Kong….a little girl and twins.  She aced all of our questions and we knew she was the one. 

We offered her the job and she accepted.  It was just a matter of waiting for her to arrive.  I got her room downstairs ready and put a basket full of goodies on her bed. We wanted to help make her first night with us more comfortable.  

I am not going to lie, I was sooooooooo nervous about this whole situation.  I had heard positive stories about live in nannies but also not so positive stories.  We were having someone LIVING in our house with us that we didn’t know, someone that was coming from another country, on a very long flight, to live with our family……and take care of our kids.  Were we CRAZY?!  Sometimes I thought we were nuts for doing this.  

Digna was arriving on June 12, 2014.

I was picking her up at the airport while James stayed home with the kids.  Nervous would not even come CLOSE to expressing how I was feeling.  I made a sign with her name on it and waited at the gate.  The doors opened and I knew it was her flight coming off.  And I saw her…..and she walked right on by me!!!  Even with my sign!  Oh crap, this is NOT a good start.  What the heck? Now what do I do? 

So I nervously walked up to her where she was waiting for her luggage and tapped her on her shoulder and showed her the sign.  She smiled at me and I smiled at her and we hugged.  And it felt right.  I’m not kidding when I say my anxiety and nerves went away immediately.  There was something in her eyes and her smile that told me everything was going to be ok.

My GRATITUDE from this part of our story…..

Until next time, be kind and stay well.

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Date posted :

July 7, 2020

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