Thursday, June 10, 2010

Moss and Giles. Born June 7, 2010

Where does the journey begin?  1998, Rockport MA.  I was working at a coffee bar and living in an art gallery.  I brought Cymande black-eyed susans which she accepted.  We moved to Beverly, to Gloucester, and were married on the Back Shore in 2001 with the wide cold Atlantic beside us.  We endured graduate school together and somehow ended up in rural North Florida via the National Health Service Corps.  We settled into Old Wire Road, restored our old cracker home to a livable state, planted fruit trees, raised chickens, and attempted to balance our careers with the rest of life.  

Then, we thought, 'Oh, let's have a baby!'  We thought about it and spoke of it matter-of-factly, after all, we saw our friends and patients getting pregnant accidentally, after one try, while on birth control, at age twelve or forty.  We were fairly young and fairly healthy people.  We enjoyed diets rich in anti-oxidants, donated to the Sierra Club, and provided health care to impoverished children.  The universe was practically begging us to have a child.  One year passed.  Two years passed without conception.  A year of basal body temperatures and a thorough map of the menstrual cycle was documented.  So, what was the universe trying to tell us?  If you know me you probably realize that I don't believe in that sort of thing…no magic, no ghosts, no god telling anyone anything and no universes that speak.  The universe, beautiful and seemingly miraculous does not care.  Amphibians, earthquakes, gravity, ice cream, lichen, black holes, infertility.  It does not care.  There was still a question though, 'How do we, who apparently can't get pregnant the good old fashioned way, conceive a child?'

Transfer Day

I prefer my outfit over Cymande's

The answer was, of course, science.  Cymande bravely endured a battery of lab work, two examinations of her fallopian tubes and an exploration of all the parts that matter.  We discovered the likely problem: narrow fallopian tubes.  The egg couldn't make its way to the uterus to be fertilized.  Enter the powerful University of Florida IVF team: Turkish reproductive endocrinologist (RE), Russian embryologist and our IVF nurse.  They were confident, honest, and we trusted them.  As you may or may not know, Cymande documented the entire process here: Here's a quick summary: Via drugs, we sent Cymande's body into a brief, but powerful menopause during which no eggs were created. Then, we turned her body into an egg production machine and instead of making one egg per month she made twenty.  When those little eggs were ready to hatch, under sedation, the RE removed about 20 of them with a big needle. Simultaneous to this procedure the embryologist provided me bag of nonacademic reading material and a sterile cup.  I then retired to an obscure reading room and…read.  The embryologist put the eggs and sperm together and grew them in a dark, warm and mysterious place and watched them with care.  We had 16 embryos, but only six survived to be considered for an attempt to be babies.  The team decided which two embryos were the best candidates and called us with the plan.  The other four were sent to deep freeze.  The team gathered together one exciting morning to place them into the uterus while the embryologist exclaimed, "Shooting stars!"  We then waited two weeks to find out if it worked.

Moss and Giles

Cymande, third trimester

We had a positive pregnancy test.  We would have twins.  Infertility makes you crazy though and while I was excited, I was equally worried.  We had a couple of scares along the way that thoroughly shook my confidence.  A subchorionic hematoma resulted in me being diaphoretic and nearly unconscious with worry.  Later,  placenta previa scared us into the ER early one morning.  The ER doc gave us the dog and pony show (a serum Hcg at 16 weeks?  C'mon…The ultrasound revealing two healthy babies was pretty good evidence that Cymande was still pregnant).  At 24 weeks, we all got unbelievably sick with gastroenteritis.  Cymande got some IV fluids and recovered quickly.  Cymande was resilient throughout and made the declaration "We need to believe in these babies!"  and I did what I was told.  I worried less, but let us be honest here, often there was only one glass of wine between me and a panic attack.  We had two baby showers: a planned work/family shower at our house which was just perfect and a surprise shower by her knitting group that produced amazing handcrafted gifts.  Friends and family sent us amazing and generous things for the babes.  Thank you again. Cymande worked through week 30 but she was beautifully large, sleepy and often uncomfortable.  She needed rest.  She spent her time at home sleeping, eating, sitting by the fountain, practicing the guitar, watching birds, knitting and preparing for the twin's arrival.  We went to the beach in Ponte Vedra and wondered if the babies heard the waves.  We waited.  One night we had a tornado warning that sent us scrambling from our house and haphazardly into the direction of the storm, but we outraced it.

Moss takes his first breaths

Giles warming up

Moss, Giles and Mum

At 35 weeks we had some contractions and we sped off to Gainesville, but things slowed down.  We ate palak paneer and returned home.  Another week passed.  The birds were amazing.  We sat one morning and watched fledgling bluebirds leave their nest.  Everywhere we looked there were fledgling chickadees, mockingbirds and cardinals.  Powerful thunderstorms turned our fields green.  We waited.  We got impatient and even a bit frustrated.  Just how long were they going to spend inside when there was an entire world waiting for them?  Cymande counted all the people that were waiting to meet them.  We thought for sure they would come just a bit early because they were twins.  We read the data.  We were ready.  The OB set a date that we thought was so late that it could never arrive: 38 weeks and 5 days.  Moss and Giles did not read the data on twins.  June 7, we found ourselves driving down to UF for our scheduled C-section at exactly 38 weeks and 5 days without a hint of labor or dilation.  Of course we arrived at the time the C section was to begin because of a miscommunication.  Our OB (that was once described by our IVF nurse as, "ooooo Earthman!") didn't really care.  The C section and day went perfectly.  At 10:41 Moss was born and two minutes later, Giles.  They were screaming, pink and back to their mother to breastfeed within an hour.  We felt the indescribable power of looking into the eyes of creatures so anticipated, familiar, yet new (I know all parents feel these things so I'll spare everyone the gory dramatic details).


Giles keeping an eye on his brother

Our second day together



Our view and the staff at UF were both perfect

Giles and Moss partying on the bed

Cymande relaying the happy news

The past few days have been an essentially sleepless delirium fueled by high doses of hormones and dopamine, but we know family is arriving soon and things will settle into the more predictable rhythms of early parenthood. 

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