"Free" - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

At this point of my hospital stay I have gotten used to missing out on a lot of events that I was supposed to attend.  This latest one being the Passover Seder, and it is probably the first time I have ever missed going in my whole life.  Usually at my family's Seder, we read the story of Passover about how the Israelites were freed from slavery in ancient Egypt.  Then, we talk about our own lives and how over this past year we were "freed" from something ourselves.  Last year for instance, my husband was very excited to speak about how he was finally free from school since he had just graduated from Pepperdine University with an MBA.  This year for me, in less than a month I will soon be free from my hospital bed and allowed to actually leave the four walls of this room which have become my world over the course of four months. But as I near the end of my pregnancy, even though it feels really good to be so close to going home, these next couple of weeks will not be too easy on my body.  I have gained 50 pounds so far and with my limited mobility of being on bed rest, it has gotten extremely hard to walk back and forth to the bathroom since I feel out of breath and exhausted.  While lying in bed, if I need to switch positions, just turning from one side to the other feels like I am trying to complete a marathon.  I have a special bar above my bed which helps me move around by using my upper body since I basically don't have functioning abs at this point.  To help with my motivation, I have hung baby clothes on this bar so that I am always keeping my eye on the prize no matter how difficult it gets (I have to give credit to one of the Moms from my bed rest Facebook group who gave me this creative idea).  At this point, my main concern is just getting home and starting to take care of two newborns with this altered body.  By then, I will not only be recovering from my muscle atrophy and fatigue, but also the c-section surgery.  Regardless of how uncomfortable it is being enslaved in a body that has been put through so much, I will finally get the freedom to be a mother which I have constantly been longing for.

Even though I am in a lot of pain and discomfort right now, it helps me so much to flashback to a time where I gained another huge sense of freedom when my infertility issues were finally solved.  It really felt like my husband and I had a huge loss of control with trying to get pregnant for two years.  Especially when it seemed like everyone else around us automatically got the privilege to create human life without complications.  We were slaves to alternative treatments and drugs with constant appointments to our reproductive endocrinologist and acupuncturist.  Every time there was a failed attempt to get pregnant, it was so devastating and difficult to start all over again with a new plan of action.  You try so hard to stay positive but yet you don't want to get your hopes up too much just in case it wasn't meant to be.  At last year's Passover Seder, I could not help but think about my own "bondage" to these fertility drugs and really prayed that this "affliction" would soon be over.  Luckily, all of my prayers were answered four months later when we finally got good news that there was not only one embryo but two!

So for now, I am just going suck up the pain and keep myself laser focused on what I came here to do.  I have already endured two years with the infertility problems and now almost four months of strict hospital bed rest.  I can certainly last a few more weeks if it means that all of my dreams will come true of having a family of my own.  "Free! Oh, what a word!"

*The song "Free" is from the 1962 Broadway musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forumwith music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.  The character Pseudolus is a Roman slave who wants nothing more than to be free and agrees to help his master Hero find love in exchange for his freedom.  In the song, Pseudolus is fantasizing about what it will actually be like once he is free and starts talking about all of things he will get to do.  I have already romanced this idea in a previous blog post but now with the reality so close, I have taken it a step further and started a to-do list of important things to get done once the babies are born (call the health insurance, get the car seats installed into the car, schedule the first pediatrician appointment, etc).  It will be so strange to be back in society where I am not constantly connected to a monitor and watched like a hawk to ensure that I am staying in bed.  This freedom thing will become very real when all of the things in my room get packed up and then I am getting wheeled into the operating room to start my new life as a mother of twins.

My bar gets me out of bed and doubles as a rack for baby clothes!

My bar gets me out of bed and doubles as a rack for baby clothes!

"I Dreamed a Dream" - Les Miserables

Let's take a journey to the past for a moment. Before I ended up pregnant and on bed rest, I spent 2009-2011 being taught a huge lesson in patience. Having no knowledge that my body was flawed when it came to getting pregnant, I got off of birth control and the "trying" began. After nine months with no period and numerous negative pregnancy tests, I saw a fertility specialist and was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Basically, it was discovered that I had numerous cysts inside of my ovaries that were not harmful but caused a hormonal imbalance making it very difficult to ovulate on my own. The treatment for this syndrome is actually birth control pills because they regulate your hormones and provide regular periods. I was on birth control for a while and never noticed before that I had irregularity or any issues so this diagnosis was a little shocking, especially since my mom and sister did not have any issues getting pregnant. The big problem for women with PCOS is when they want to get pregnant, the treatment of birth control pills is not an option obviously. I was quickly started on an oral medication called Clomid which helps trigger ovulation. After many months of trying this medication in different doses, it was realized that my body was not responding at all. The most that Clomid ever did for me was give me a bunch of hot flashes and a false sense of hope that was quickly killed once an ultrasound was performed that revealed no action inside of my hot little body. After more research, it was clear that I didn't fit the PCOS mold and did not have a lot of the common side effects associated with the syndrome. I still had it, but a rare form which did not respond to the typical treatment. My pituitary gland was also showing signs of defects as well so my doctor had to start bringing out the big guns (aka big needles). The first time I injected myself with fertility drugs into my stomach, I screamed so loud and could not believe that this was my new reality. If this treatment did not work, IVF was the next step which costs about $15K each try and it is not guaranteed. The injectable drugs alone were about $1K per try so this was going to be an expensive endeavor if miracles didn't start happening. Can you believe that insurance refuses to pay for this?!?!? Apparently, getting pregnant is not considered a necessary act so any cost to try to make this happen is not recognized as a valid insurance claim. Yet when you get pregnant, everything is covered. Plus infertility continues to be such a taboo subject and many women with the issue keep it a secret because of the emotional feelings that they are a failure. How can numerous women get pregnant at the drop of hat on the first try and others have to empty their savings accounts and see a therapist for depression because they are the unlucky ones? To top it off, if you mention to people that you are having trouble getting pregnant, their initial reaction is "oh, you just have to relax and stop thinking about it" or " the minute to stop trying, you will get pregnant." Would you tell a cancer patient that their cancer would be cured if they just relaxed? Infertility is a medical issue...not a mental one and I wanted to punch people 's faces when they would tell me to get a little drunk and relax. So if I just relax, my defective pituitary gland will magically start working properly to create the hormones FSH and hCG and ovulation will occur? Oy Vey!!! The bottom line is that after a few tries and experiments with dosage levels, the injectable drugs ended up working for me. It wasn't was hormone replacement therapy since my body did not naturally make the hormones necessary to get pregnant.

Finding out that all of our blood, sweat, and tears actually paid off was very exciting and I was grateful that we did not have to go to more extremes than what we had already done. I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the women who are not as lucky and end up not getting pregnant at all. Now that I am not in the most ideal situation for pregnancy, being on bed rest and requiring surgery to fix yet another failing body part, I am still so blessed that I was able to get pregnant regardless of the complications I am now facing. Everyday I say a prayer to all of the women who are still on this journey and in a way I am glad that I travelled on that difficult road to gain such an important perspective. So please, if you meet someone who says they are in the trying phase of getting pregnant, never tell them to relax. Just simply say that you hope their dream comes true and you are sending positive thoughts their way.

* The song "I Dreamed a Dream" is from the 1987 Broadway musical Les Miserablesand it is incredibly emotional. I think everyone has experienced the sad reality of a dream dying. The lyrics in this song talk about the moment when you realize that a dream has been killed and all hope is lost. Pretty depressing I know, but hey...this is coming from a show in which the title translates to " the miserable ones." This song was constantly playing in my head throughout the two years of infertility issues I dealt with. Luckily, this was not my fate and my dream did come true but I do have to acknowledge where I was beforehand in order to make sure this new challenge is appreciated and not looked at as a burden, but a tremendous blessing.

The twins at 10 weeks

The twins at 10 weeks