While they arrived early at 31 weeks + 3 days, they're doing really well in the NICU. Right now, I'm just grateful that we all made it and are okay. The birth story will be coming as soon as I can manage it.
Besides the news of the unaccompanied tour for next year, the other crappy news that hit us right before Christmas break that my hubby will be reviewed for forced retirement as the government reduces the overall level of the Army. You can read more about it here or here, but I'll sum it up for you based upon what I understand.
Essentially, the military needs to reduce the number of captains and majors because the size of the army force as a whole is being shrunk. Over the past few years, they have been working on natural attrition by tightening up enforcement of regulations that had been more relaxed since the wars demanded so many soldiers. However, now they are looking to reduce further to fit the numbers mandated by congress.
As such, they are reviewing the files of about 19,000 captains and majors to reduce numbers between 5-18%. There are many subcategories based upon when you were on the promotion list (year group) and your job (MOS) which accounts for the variance of the 5-18%. Besides this, if the soldier has under 18 years of service, the soldier will be reviewed by one board or group for Early Separation with essentially a severance package. If the soldier has served 18 years, they will be reviewed by the Enhanced Selective Retirement Board for retirement.
Each board will review the files of individual service members which includes a summary of all awards, jobs held, deployments, picture, etc; all of their performance reviews starting four years after their initial enlistment, and anything in their regular or closed files which can include letters of reprimand, arrest records, etc. The boards will meet in March and April, and then notify the affected soldiers in August. There's no appeal process.
For the school we are at right now, of the 1400 soldiers attending in my husband's class almost every soldier is under consideration for this. Can you imagine the shit-storm as this news hit the families right before Christmas break? Yeah, it was great.
My hubby is part of the second category since he already has over twenty years of military service. So while it would suck for him to lose his job, he'd still be able to collect his retirement. We'd just be in a much different place than what we have planned. Again, with two more kiddos joining our family, it's just not ideal. We've definitely got a few things going for us with however the situation plays out.
A) Hubby is a workhorse. He has great reviews and a squeaky clean record. He was counseled that his risk is low.
B) I've been preparing for his retirement and should be able to land a much higher paying (and demanding) job if needed.
The most frustrating things about this process is that we have no idea really what the board will target. Arrest records? Evaluations? Looks? Time in?
When all of the deployment/unaccompanied tour crap hit us, this had already been percolating in our minds. At first I felt incredibly anxious and angry.
However, now I've adjusted. If it happens, we'll adjust our plans just as we always do. Who is to say that it won't work out better in the long run anyway!
Our move from Alaska to Kansas last June was for the sole purpose of my husband attending a year long school. We knew going into it that we would be moving this following June to our next duty station which for the Army is typically for a period of two to four years. The school itself is a lot different from most Army trainings in that it's essentially a year of college. In fact most service members take additional classes in conjunction with this school to earn a master's degree. The leadership repeats that "this is the best year of your life." This makes most of the spouses smirk as in reality they don't see the service member much. I've lucked out in that my hubby a) is a good student b) is a non-procrastinator and c) already has a masters, so I get lots of family time. Not everybody gets to attend the school, so it's a prestigious training to have within the Army.
A big high point for the year is receiving the potential list of duty stations for our follow on assignments. Because let's face it, finding out you could traipse around Europe, lounge around in Hawaii, or live in Okinawa for a few years is just cool. So everybody gets excited and talks about how they ranked their list (specific to each job). Then we wait between two weeks and six months to find out.
When we received our list, the branch manager specifically included that soldiers with dwell times (time at home between deployments) over certain amounts would or belikely to deploy. My hubby fit into the would be deploying category. So while there were some fun sounding locations, we chose to prioritize the direct deployments rather than to roll the dice and land in a new location where hubby would deploy soon after. Well, we got our wish. Hubby leaves this summer for the middle east for twelve months.
Of course, I'm not very excited about this.
The reason that hubby has a higher dwell time than others is because in a six year time period, he did three twelve month deployments. He deployed, came home for four months, deployed, came home for two years, and deployed again. In comparison, I had neighbors who deployed one time during the same period. When it came to our next assignment, they sent us to Alaska because he had deployed so much compared to his peers. While we watched soldiers duck and dodge to get out of deployments, he never flinched from his responsibility. I sucked it up and made it through those years pretty much without complaint.
This time I feel differently.
There are a couple of reasons I feel this way:
1) Several of the people who I know fit into the same dwell time category as us are not deploying.
2) Many of the financial advantages of deployments are going away, in fact now his area will be an unaccompanied tour versus a deployment.
3) I'm going to have newborn twins.
4) I have a three year old.
I had a family member who told me congratulations on getting our first choice. Honestly, I was shocked that they would say this. This is not good news, this was us trying to have a little control over our lives.
Now that everything has shaken out, I feel like we got jacked. It makes me a little bitter. It makes me sad that hubby is going to miss the first year of the twins lives. I know it's going to break my heart to see E deal with this.
I've always been supportive of my husband's career, and I will continue to be. However, it's taken me this long to even write about it without feeling emotionally compromised by putting the words down here. It will take me a little while longer until I'm not mad at the situation.
Honestly, most of me feels like I shouldn't feel this way. I even feel a little disloyal for putting this out there because I should be more accepting of our reality. I shouldn't compare our situation. I should suck it up like a good Army spouse. My hubby certainly isn't complaining about it. I'm just not quite there yet.
Baby A, my yet unnamed boy, is estimated at 2 lb 7 oz.
Baby B, my girl who will probably never get a name, is estimated at 2 lb 8 oz.
It's sweet how they're already sharing by using the resources equally. Yay!
As of today, I've gained 25 lb with a belly measurement of 41 weeks.
I've slowed down tremendously over the last few weeks as I get larger and more tired doing normal things. If my mom wasn't here, I'd be seriously up a creek. But instead, I still have a clean house, good meals, help with all my errands, and I get naps every afternoon.
It's official. Today I reached the point in my pregnancy where I officially feel like a cow. I think that's pretty funny since I'm only 22 weeks along. The doc measured me yesterday at 32 weeks, and I have gained between 16-18 lb depending on the day. After measuring me, my not regular doctor said, "Wow, that's big." I really wanted to say something sarcastic too him, but I refrained.
Since getting my cerclage, I have been ticking along day by day doing normal things. With my mother here to help, I've been getting in some naps and generally able to take it easy. I'm completely pampered with certain parts of life in that she has taken over the majority of cleaning and cooking. Her presence has certainly made it easier for me and E loves having her here.
Some other traumatic and plot twist worthy events have occurred too, but I haven't the emotional wherewithal to write about it yet.
The best news going on in our lives is that E is growing like a weed and the anatomy scan showed the babies are healthy. E's pretty excited that he'll have both a brother and a sister to play with...
With most of my crying jag behind me, I'm feeling a ton better about everything. Part of me thinks I just needed to get it out, some of it's situational, and the other part is depression.
When I got pregnant with the twins, I went off my meds that I take for depression because they're Class C drugs. There has definitely been an adjustment to life without them as I went cold turkey which is not recommended. The first two weeks were the worst as I felt like a huge witch. Within a few weeks, I evened out and was more focused on not hurling than anything. Now ten weeks later, I can tell there are differences in myself when it comes to being more quick to anger, not feeling social and also the crying jag that ensued on Monday.
The next morning after I wrote my post, I called my doctor and told him he needed to reschedule the cerclage for next week. The nurse who called passed along that my doctor thought it was really important to do it this week while I was still fourteen weeks. I burst into tears on the phone, telling her that we just didn't have enough coverage for my son. They understood, and rescheduled me for Monday morning which is four days later. I called and got my mom to change her flight. Now we should be golden.
However, what really ticks me off is that I've been pushing my doctors on this issue since the first time I saw them at six weeks. I get that they don't have all of the answers in a pregnancy like mine that is complicated by history, not enough research, and twins, however changing their minds and then insisting I get it done in two days is a little much. That's why I had the discussions with them every appointment since the beginning! If I had known it would be a possibility, I would have arranged for my parents to come earlier.
Thankfully my parents are wonderful, wonderful people. Between my mother and my father, they plan on one of them being here pretty much from now through the time that I deliver and beyond if the twins are in the NICU. This was something we discussed with them before we decided to go ahead and try this time around. I'm so grateful that they can do this for us.
Really it's not surprising that trying to figure out the logistics for having my cerclage done in two days sent me over the edge. Because in reality, there are a lot of things about this pregnancy that scare the crap out of me.
When I first found out I was possibly pregnant with twins, I had little expectation that the one empty sac would develop like the other sac in my uterus that had a small flicker of a heartbeat. Yet at eight weeks, both sacs showed healthy heartbeats with one measuring just two days behind the other which explained the empty sac during the first ultrasound.
The doctor did not congratulate me or smile like you would imagine. Instead he looked at me grimly and said, well this is going to be complicated. That comment pretty much set the tone for the onslaught of fear that ensued over the next three weeks. While I continued to be happy that I was pregnant, I feared the reality of carrying a twin pregnancy to term. And then, how the hell was I going to handle twins and a rowdy three year old? I wanted them, but I was very afraid. When you added in hurling and constant nausea, I was just a hot mess.
Things began to change for me once I talked to IVFlygirl. After all, she has two beautiful kiddos with the same genetics who were awesome babies and now toddlers. Along with my husband, she was the biggest influence on the calming of my fears on how I could handle adding twins to our family.
Between the regular OB and the perinatologists, I have had doctors appointments every other week of my pregnancy. Over this time I have had multiple discussions with both of them about having a cerclage placed. Because I am carrying twins, placing a preventative cerclage is different than a singleton. Essentially, the studies show that women with emergency cerclages in a multiple pregnancy fair worse than those without cerclages. The problem is that there is not data on cerclages with multiples which are preventative not emergent. After a lunch discussion between both doctors this week, they decided that they would offer me a cerclage. The perinatologist leans about 60/40 towards me getting a cerclage based upon my complicated past and current complex case. My husband and I decided to go ahead and proceed with a cerclage as this is what our gut has been telling us all along.
My OB called me on the way home and has already scheduled me for the procedure on Thursday. Of course, having a three year old and no family around makes it slightly complicated for me to arrange childcare on short notice. My husband can not simply take a day off to help because of the military school he is attending. So I called people and figured most everything out until I realized E's Christmas program is on Friday. It's a small event in his classroom however I imagine him standing there looking around since he will be the only one without parents present. That image made me burst into tears. I haven't really stopped crying since.
Obviously, it's not just the fifteen minute program. It's my fear that I won't be able to carry these twins safely.
Teacher. Military Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Infertile. Now Mother.
I use to spend my days warping young minds as a teacher. However, three IVFs and one super fabulous donor later, I found myself knocked up by another man. Now, I'm a mom staying at home with baby E, working online, and loving life in Alaska. Now, we are on the journey for baby #2 via embryo donation from IVFlygirl and her family.
Winter '01 - Met
Summer '05 - Married
Summer '07 - Stopped BCP
Spring '08 - Referral to RE
Fall 08 - Spring '09 - 3 IUI BFN
July/Aug '09 - IVF#1 BFN
Sept/Oct '09 - IVF #2 BFN
Nov '09 - Decided to pursue donor eggs
Jan/Feb '09 - IVF#3 with DE BFP!!!
June '10 - Moved to Alaska
August '10 - Admitted to hospital at 4 cm dilated. Rescue cerclage.
Oct '10 - Baby E born at 35 weeks. Healthy.
And they lived...
March '12 - selected as recipient for embryo donation!
July '12 - contracts signed, embryos shipped, lining checked, now transfer! BFN