Monday, December 14, 2009

Checking In

Just a quick post. We moved into a new house that we had to fix up because of the growing family. It's been very stressful, but we love the house.

The only current issues related to DE are things I've talked of recently: not telling our family and their comments and seeing the likeness (or not) of our children to me. The funny, wonderful, completely surprising thing is how much my daughter is like me. More and more of her personality characteristics remind everyone of *me*! Twin DS is so much like his brother and father that no one is looking at him and seeing me. But my daughter? She could not be more like me if she came out with my bizarre hair completely done up on her head.

Of course, none of our children are exactly like any of us. And as they grow up, we see the differences, which are actually cool. But I love looking at my husband and seeing his open slack jawed look as he says "That is EXACTLY like you."

Loves it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Therapeutic Posting

The odd thing about those last couple of posts is how much they let out a fear in me. After posting about my concerns about whether my twin son and daughter look like me, I stopped caring. I stopped looking for it.

I am sure that my posting that the child toots like me may put some of you off. But trust me. There is a family resemblance. And it's becoming more and more clear that these children (DTS and DTD) have much more of *my* temperament than DS does. They are LOUD. They have tempers. They laugh when they are crying. And they are snuggly.

I could argue that all of those temperamental characteristics are related to hormonal products of me. My daughter is like me. Period. She's a boatload prettier. But temperamentally? She's like me. Or grammatically correct, she is like I (am). And the poor thing toots. She tooted herself awake last night and it scared her and she cried. I, of course, laughed. Cuz it was dang funny. DTS is not so much a tooter. But he's got opinions about how things should be. And if you knew me in real life, you'd know that comes from me, too.

Things are actually going well here. We are figuring out the whole sleep thing. And we are bonding like glue. Breastfeeding is going very well. I'm still about 10 lbs above what I was when I got pg. But I think that will come off when they start eating solids and my body stops freaking out about having enough fat to feed two children.

Things are well over here in DE land. What ever "wound" I needed to lance in the last couple of posts is gone. We've left it for now and are just being a regular family. It's great.

And to Music Maker Mommy et al who worry that we stop posting when we get pg, some will. Some won't. I predict new blogs emerging as DE parents move through the parenting process and blogs become more common.

I will say that there are not that many of us out here. I need you all to bounce ideas off of and to see how you're dealing with things also.

However, at this point, I need to go to sleep. And I need to snuggle with my two baby bunnies. I get my big boy bunny snuggles tomorrow morning when DE Daddy makes us breakfast and all three of my children and I cuddle in bed. It's the best time of the day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


My parents are over today helping out while I catch up on some work. I can hear them comparing how the twins look to their cousins (on my side) and predicting how they will look just like X, Y or Z.


On the other hand, since my last post, I have been thinking to myself, "Well, myself, what do you see as just-like-you in these children that is possibly inherited from you."

Well, there are a couple of things:

1) TD is definitely an extrovert. She loves hearing background noise, especially music, and that is one sign of extroversion (needing external stimulation). I have no indication that the donor was an extrovert, but boy oh boy, I am one.

2) TD is also Very Loud. Again, no indication that the donor was but my voice can carry across a full, big classroom without a microphone. My ears have bled when I've picked up TD when she's on a tear. TS and DS are not really soft either, but TD...LORD, she's loud!

3) TD and TS have a lot of gas. I know that comes from bfing. But also, my family is known for being a bit gassy and since I believe what I eat affects what genes are turned on and off, that one I fully accept. TD, though, that girl can toot. She toots when I pick her up. She toots when she stretches. She toots when she coughs. She toots when she gets excited. She toots and toots and toots and toots. I'm not going to go into as much detail about my life experiences to demonstrate why we suspect she got that from me, but let's just day DH fully believes that comes directly from me. Teehee.

We can't tell about the hair yet. I have distinctive hair. The donor does not have the same hair as I, but has some history of it in her family. Every other day we think TD or TS is going to end up with my hair. It wasn't clear for DS until he was older that he does have my hair. So we don't know about these two. When it's wet, it looks like mine. But really, they are only 14 weeks old! We don't know what it will look like in 2 years' time.

I'm not mentioning TS as much because he looks and acts so much like DH and DS that nothing is really different. But since this is our first daughter and folks look for the similarities, it seems to be more of an issue.

Also, I'm not liking the TS and TD acronmys. I think I'm going to change it to Dear Twin Son and Dear Twin Daughter DTS and DTD becuase I don't want anyone to think that I don't think these two are just as dear to me as my first born. Or should I say "DS1 and DS2 and DD?" Thoughts? Precedent?

In any case, I'm looking forward to learning more about my children, all 3 of them, as they get older and more squiggly sweet and cute.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Resemblance Talk

Well, DE folks out there, after speaking (emailing) with another DE blogger, I realized just how much I need to keep this blog going. I'm not sure I'll post often, but I have to post about the DE related issues that come up *and* that I can't talk about to my face-to-face friends. Certainly, getting pregnant had specific DE related issues, but being pregnant did not. However, I'm finding that being a mommy to newborn DE twins surprisingly does, too.

The one I've wanted to blog about is called by researchers "Resemblance Talk." The medical/psychological research I saw when we were pg said that it's stressful for DE families (especially moms) whether or not the couples are planning on telling their children. My plan had been to say "Why yes, twin daughter (TD) does have eyes like mine!" and "Why yes! TS does have legs like my brothers!" which is different than saying TD has my eyes and TS has my brother's legs.

What I wasn't expecting is the searching, searching, searching on the part of my family to find SOMETHING that looks like me or them in the babies. My poor mother. She looks defeated sometimes in trying to find some part of her appearance in the babies.

We have not told our parents basically because the fact that we're older means our parents (ansd their attitudes) are older, too. And yes, I've heard my mother say on more than one occasion about an adopted child "Is that her REAL mother?" (I was so proud of myself for answering Yes before I understood what she was really asking) And Mom made all kinds of negative comments about Michael Jackson's children who were born through DE, DS and surrogates. We will likely tell them when the children get old enough to talk to others about it, but we might not. I just don't want to be making attributions about the children ("That must be like the donor") or worse, not establishing a close relationship with the children, because they are donor inspired.

But yeah. My brother swore that TD looks just like our grandmother. My mother has stopped questioning and simply declared that TD looks "just like me." She doesn't. She's much, much cuter (and I'm not being modest--she has a much better nose than either DH or I).

Fortunately, DH has particularly dominant genes and a large, diverse family so many of the outstanding features of our children realistically look like him or one of the bazillion members of his family.

So writing this, what is my concern? I don't believe I have "perfect genes" to pass on to my children. (I heard someone say that once and it still drives me absolutely nutty) I also believe based on current research that genes do NOT lead to exact replicas. Instead, I believe based on this and other research that the incubator (i.e., me) and the physical and social environment play an important role in interacting with the genes to cause a person to "be" a certain way. Current examples: they now believe that intelligence is more related to how hard the mom works cognitively (i.e., thinks) during pregnancy than the child's inherited genes, schizophrenia is more strongly linked to mom's stress during pregnancy than to genetic disposition, and that genes for resilience turn on or off based on a child's early life experiences outside the womb. And most importantly, the most important genes for height only predict 2% of someone's height. That means the vast majority of someone's height--98%--comes from something other than those genes.

I know I've repeated this several times before, but there's a persistent and incorrect belief out there that Genes. Are. It. I'm not naive: I realize that if a child is given, say, a Beethoven sonata for their genes they are not going to come out playing Gershwin. Nonetheless, Beethoven sounds differently based on how and on what it's played: uptempo vs down tempo, with feeling or without, on a piano or on a guitar.

And did you know that most research on the effects of environment on personality, intelligence, etc. have been conducted in the US on relatively similar socio-economic status families? That's like comparing Baptists to Presbyterians and thinking they are very, very different religions. Once you start adding in Catholics, Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Wicca and even Atheism, that's when you figure out just how damn similar the Baptists and Presbyterians really are.

Blah, blah, blah. What's my point here? That's what I keep asking myself and I keep babbling around in circles just like I have above. My deep, down, middle of my soul fear is that my children will reject me because the genetic link is not explicit.

I told DH that the other day and he replied "Did Nicole* reject her mother?" Nicole is adopted and one of my advisors during this process. No she didn't. Not at all. Never. It's not even an issue because she knows her mother is her mother. Rejection doesn't work that way with good parenting.

I do worry rejection could come from one's obsessing over the genetic link (or lack thereof) with one's DE children. And really my worry is their obsession over it later. But I can't control that, can I? I can say what I've just said (which is probably why I say it repeatedly) and I can help our children find the most recent academic research in the area.

Maybe that's it, the lack of control over an issue that may or may not arise sometime in the future. Will TD be upset that she doesn't have my hair? If you could see it right now, probably not. Will there be some other feature that TD or TS wishes they had of mine or my family? Do you long for that or are you more like me and worry that you actually DID inherit some annoying trait or another from your mother, I mean, family.

I'm sure I haven't said this as articulately as I'd like to. And I'm sure I'll say it again. But I have been surprised at the amount of resemblance talk I've heard and the persistance of my family to find something, anything, that looks like me or them in the children.

These are my children. These are my perfect twins. And these are exactly the children I've been waiting for for the last 4 years. Really, the rest doesn't matter.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Am Happy

I feel like blogs have served more of a purpose for me to worry and complain.

However, yesterday was my birthday. It was a "big" year and felt meaningful. And, it was by far the happiest birthday I can remember for one very important reason: my family is complete. Everyone who is supposed to be here is here. I am absolutely and totally in love with my family.

For those of you still moving down this path: it is so amazingly worth it when you finally reach then end. CHOOSE THE RIGHT CLINIC and join me at the end with your child(ren). (And should you also choose donor egg, for the sake of your children, please deal with your ambivalence about a genetic connection before you get pregnant)

Whether it's adoption, IVF, surrogate, blended family or donor sperm/egg, I hope *your* path takes you to your desired destination.

Happiness is fleeting so I am enjoying it (as sleep deprived as I am) as much as I can.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Kind Of Here

Thanks, Sky, for encouraging me to post again. Lots of things have happened, but best of all is that we had the twins about a month ago. They were born at 34 weeks 3 days and spent 3 weeks in the NICU. Despite having placenta previa, pre-term labor and pre-eclampsia, we all thought I was going to go all the way. And then dd's water broke and they were born. (Hence, why I didn't have steroids to mature their lungs and why they were in NICU so long) That said, I was in the hospital off and on for 6 weeks.

One thing I've learned: DE significantly increases one's chances for pre-eclampsia, as does twins and advanced maternal age. Placenta previa increases with IVF, twins, and advanced maternal age. And preterm labor is increased by twins.

What's so amazing is NONE of those lead to the early birth---it was the premature rupture of membranes! What a bizarre thing!! For those of you out there thinking of DE and who are, ahem, older, keep that in mind. And I'm pretty healthy!!

The twins are wonderful and I finally feel like the family is complete. Those souls who have been trying to reach us finally have. I'm sleep deprived but so, so happy.

We have not told my parents about using DE and they are constantly looking for family resemblenaces in the babies, which is sad for them. However, the twins look very much like our first son and DH, so we're emphasizing that.

I am VERY annoyed at my OB for putting our DE status on my OB records: it ended up on the kids' NICU medical records which I am pretty sure was observed by some friends and colleagues whom we think is none of their business about our twins' origins. I specifically asked our OB NOT to do that. We are planning to disclose, but we live in a part of the country which is a little backward on non-traditional family formation, and don't want to be the object of gossip in the community. (ie, this ain't California where it's no big whoop-de-do how one forms one's family).

In any case, our twins are beautiful, healthy and completely normal. We are bonding now and getting to know each other. I do think about the donor sometimes and wonder what her kids look like as well as her other donations, but these are *MY* beautiful, wonderful, amazing children. I am so proud of what they have done already in their first month of life. They are wonderful.

Yes, I'll continue posting here and reading other DE blogs. But I still get annoyed at folks who have chosen DE and appear to regret it. I am thrilled that we have found this path and that the children who have been trying to reach me for the last 4 years have finally arrived.

Well, the babies are likely to be wanting their late morning snack soon. I need to have a snack myself before I become their cow. I love being where we are right now, even though I haven't slept more than 2 hours in a row for a month, and don't anticipate doing so for another 4 or 5 months, too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Sarah Jessica Parker, age 44, is expecting twins this summer.  She is using a surrogate carrier.  And one might seriously suspect that at age 44, with twins, she's also using an egg donor.  

More power to her.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pooped and also Not

I am feeling better as I enter the 17th week.  I'm not nearly as tired as I was.  However, I am still fracking tired.  I came home from work early on Wednesday and took a 2 hour nap.  I have no idea how I'm going to make it in 10 weeks, much less in 20 more weeks.  Yet, I will.  I promise you, little twinnies!

Weight gain is not a problem.  I'm already at 25 lbs and am actually not as hungry as I was.  I'm still eating more than usual, but I'm not trying extra hard to gain weight.  It does not appear to be a problem with me.  I'm hoping that means that despite all those miscarriages, I'm actually a hardy breeder and will keep these babies inside me until they are fully cooked.

Like the rest of you, I'm sure, I'm still processing the octuplets.  My current call is that the woman is not completely mentally stable.  But her fertility doctors are the ones who should be held accountable for their actions in this case.  Obviously, I'm not spouting out any new words of wisdom, but there ya go.  

Another thing that has been on my mind has also been less supportive and more judgemental than I'd like.  I haven't blogged in a while because I feel like I can't get past this, and it's not my normal supportive thing to say.  Nonetheless, I have to write what's on my soul.  Here it is:  I'm not sure everyone should use donor eggs to complete their family. In particular, if you crave, and I mean long for from the bottom of your heart, a complete genetic connection to your children, I don't think donor eggs is your best bet.   

Here's the reason why I think this way.  I have two friends who were adopted as infants.  One woman thinks it worked well for her, and in our discussions she is clear who her mother is.  The reason?  Her mother made it clear to her that she was her mother and my friend was her daughter.  This woman is a PhD and still has to remind herself when she goes to the doctor not to report her mother or father's history of heart disease, because she doesn't know her genetic history.  

My other friend did not think adoption is a good option.  Why?  She felt like she wasn't good enough.  She wasn't their first choice.  And that, literally, if she wasn't good enough, her parents would send her away.  She's a PhD, too, in the same specialized, smarty pants sub-discipline as my other friend.  

I did not really like the counselor we had to see to be approved to use DE in our clinic.  But I'm glad really glad we resolved any ambivalence we might have had (we had little to none) before we got started.  

Enough.  I'm hoping for more light hearted blogs later.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back on the Meds

Almost immediately after our meeting with the perinatalogist, I went off the Lovenox and started tapering off the prednisone.  Then last Thursday, while on vacation and on my last day of prednisone, I woke up completely covered in hives.  I've had hives in my life before and they have always been related to stress.  Since I was on vacation, I doubted that.  Additionally, the hives covered my thighs, my stomach, my back, my arms, my hands, and were in between my fingers.  

Despite being in another country, I called my doctor on my cell phone and got his lame opinion that I must have been "exposed to something" on the trip and his good advice to go back on the full dose of the prednisone.   Within two hours, the really bad hives on my hands began to recede.  6 days later, I still have the bumps, but they are not "hive-y."

I also decided at that moment that I'm going to stay on the meds as long as I can.  I did a little mental calculation, which is the worst error:  to be on the medications and not need them or to to be off the medication and need them?  

If I'm on the medication and I don't need them, what is the worst that could happen?  Well, for the Lovenox, the only harm is the amount of money I'm paying each month ($50) to be on the meds.  It will not harm the babies or me, even if I don't need them.  For the prednisone, it may make me more susceptible to colds and stretch marks, but again, it won't hurt the babies.  

If I'm NOT on the medication and I actually do need to be on them, what is the worst that could happen?  Well, the worst that could happen is that the babies die.  

So let's compare the costs of being "wrong" in this situation:  $200 for the additional medication vs.  my babies die.  Even as cheap as I am, the $200 seems like a lot less costly than losing my children.  

I was all prepared yesterday to get fiesty with my OBs on my insistance on staying on the meds, when I was lucky enough to get the OB in the practice who has the most experience with immunology.  She absolutely no problem with me staying on the loveonx and wrote me a 6 month prescription.  She has decided that we need to get me off the prednisone (I agree) but we have to do it much, much, much  slower than my previous tapering method. (It is likely that the hives came from my body's withdrawal from the meds)  It will take me nearly 6 weeks to get off the prednisone now.  What I love about that is that we'll be close to 20 weeks or more when I'm off the prednisone and, God Forbid, if I do have a much more serious auto-immune problem than I thought, the babies will be very well established by then.  Also, if I get another outbreak of hives, we go even slower of a taper than that.  

So there we are.  

I am gaining weight at about the right pace.  I'm a few pounds behind my goal of 25 lbs by 20 weeks so I've got to pick it up a bit.  

I'm also hoping to post a bit more.  I do have some DE thoughts I want to work through.  And I have no idea why, but the NY Times continues its trend of writing stories that are highly relevant to what I am dealing with right now.  I hope we can discuss this article on what scientists are finding out about genes and their effects on personality, behavior and even height.  The long and short of it:  Personality, behavior and physical characteristics are all inherited.  However, the genes' role in "causing" these outcomes?  Not so much.  Go figure.  It's  A LOT more complicated than you are the way you are because you got half your genes from two other people.  It is not all environment, but it is most definitely not all genes.  

Just some food for thought to encourage you to read that long article, since I think it's highly relevant to us.  They have found the 12?  8?  strongest genes for predicting height in people's genomes.  And do you know how much variance the genes predict of people's height?  2%.  TWO PERCENT!!  One of the most inheritable, objective characteristics of people and genes predict 2% of how tall one will be.  (That means 98% of someone's height is predicted by something *other* than these genes)  Yeah.  I thought it was interesting, too.

Ok.  I'm posting early and it's time for breakfast number one.  

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Obviously, I'm very interested in the effects of nature vs. nurture in children's personalities and appearances.  (Personalities more than appearance, to be honest)

What I have found to be so interesting is all the new evidence that even clones do not look or act exactly alike.  Clones: identical twins.  We've never been able to study identical twins carried by different mothers before.  With clones, we now have that chance.  

This article in the NY Times today compares cloned dogs that do not look exactly alike and have anywhere from vastly different to somewhat different "personalities." What this says to me is that the environment to which the baby/puppy is gestated and born has a much bigger effect on genes than has been recognized in the past.  I don't want that to worry women who use gestational surrogates to complete their families.  But for me, it means I have a much stronger effect on my babies' development into MY babies than has been acknowledged by science or my nutjob pre-DE therapist.

Happy New Year everyone.   I hope you're looking forward to an adventerous new year as much as we are!