Sunday, June 16, 2013

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know."
― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

My friends, I have been remiss. I have not made the time to update you on all of the progress of our pregnancy since last year. I missed out on telling you about how we revealed our babies genders to our work peeps, I have failed to relay to you the selecting of our baby names, I have been remiss in relaying to you all the ups and downs of Heidi's ever-growing girth. And for that, I am sorry. But I am not going to tell you those stories now either. For you see, we have reached the end...the end of our journey to become parents. The excitement that overwhelms me with the prospect of sharing this news with you trumps my need to relay all of those other stories. Instead, my friends...I am presenting you with the end of our story. And in true Voci fashion, it's dramatic. So, grab a glass of wine, turn off the TV, put the kids to bed, and curl up on the couch with your laptop. This is the climactic conclusion. The story of our arrival at our destination...we have traveled the scary and difficult path to parenthood, wrought with joy, sadness, loss, new friends, every possible emotion a person can experience, and we have arrived. We are moms. But let me take you back just a little bit, to the beginning of April, where the beginning of the end starts...

April 8, 2013. We are a mere sixty-one days from our due date. 8.7 weeks. Two months. It's hard to believe how fast our pregnancy has progressed. It really feels like only yesterday that we found out we were pregnant and now, here we are, seven months pregnant.

Since Heidi's birthday was yesterday, we had a mild-mannered celebration. She and I had a low-key dinner at P.F. Changs. During dinner, Heidi started feeling small cramps but we brushed it off as her being hungry. I would state for the record that because of her new advanced age, we were eating dinner around 5:30 p.m. We have seemingly graduated to the age of the early bird diner. And in further celebration of Heidi attaining her 31st year of life, we head to bed relatively early. Apparently aging, pregnancy and having dinner at 5:30 in the evening seem to have made her pretty tired.

Around 3:00 a.m. Monday morning (yes, you read that As in 0 dark thirty), Heidi wakes up with what feels like contractions. She's been uncomfortable most of the night and now the cramping is getting pretty intense and not subsiding at all. We call our OB and she recommends we head over to Bayfront's Babyplace to get checked out. Now, if you've read any of the past blogs, you know that Heidi is atypical. Nothing seems to fall under the "Normal" column when it comes to her so we take the doctor's advice...we roll out of bed, put on the first clothes we find (nothing that is going to get us any runway notice) and drive to St. Pete in the middle of the night. We go because we need someone to tell us it's nothing. We are pretty sure it is nothing, so sure so that I email my boss from the hospital to tell him I will probably be a little late and that Heidi's probably going to be super tired and may not make it in to work. You don't send an email like that unless you're pretty sure it's nothing. Right?

When we get to the Babyplace, they put us in a room, hook Heidi up to a fetal monitor and start monitoring contractions. She's having some. Now, I'm not an expert so those hills and valleys on the monitor read severe to me. However, the RN read them as smaller than severe...more as "irritations". Huh. What does she know anyway? She advises us that she is reaching out to our doctor's office to get copies of Heidi's medical records and when they get those, they plan to check her to see if she is dilating. They also hook her up to an IV while they wait to make sure she's hydrated. Standard fare, I'm sure...nothing to worry about.

The nurse comes back in and says they are going to go ahead and check to see if Heidi has dilated at all. I would inject a little tidbit o' info here...this will be the first time Heidi has had to be checked for this. All OB appointments to date have been ultrasounds so this little exercise is new for her. For the dilation challenged, let me elaborate on the process for you. Checking to see if one is dilated generally involves taking what feels like the bulk of one's hand and shoving it as hard and far up one's vagina as is physically possible and then using the tip of one's finger to measure the gap in the cervix. Now, obviously the ideal checker for the checkee is a small asian woman with impossibly small hands and fingers. However, in our case, there were no small asian women on staff that evening. Instead, Heidi was introduced to this pregnancy tradition by a standard sized white woman. At least it wasn't a big-handed man. Small blessings, my friends, small blessings.

Standard sized white nurse checks for dilation and somehow, all of a sudden, things go from "yea, I may be a little late for work" to "what the hell do you mean we might have the babies?!?!?". After checking for dilation, the nurse promptly advises us that Heidi is having contractions and is dilated 2 cm. They decide that they are going to start giving her medicine to try to stop the contractions and they are also going to give her steroids to help develop the babies lungs in the event they are born soon. What the hells? Born soon? They have two months to go...they can't be born now. Heidi was only 31 weeks. That is incredibly early. Too early. They weren't done cooking yet. We were scared to think about what it would mean for the babies to be born this early. I mean, yes, we knew technology was amazing in this day and age, but still. Babies are meant to be born full term, not at 31 weeks. In addition to the IV fluids, meds to stop contractions and part one of an incredibly painful steroid shot in Heidi's arsafarse, they also did a vaginal swab to determine if Heidi was, in fact, in active labor. The nurse indicated that if the test came back negative, it usually meant labor wouldn't happen for at least another two weeks. If it came back positive, it didn't necessarily mean she would have the babies now, but it was an indicator that they could be coming. Again, I say what the hells?

I would like to think that I'm pretty decent under pressure. I mean, we've had a rough year, an unexpected surgery, so many things...and I would like to think that I have demonstrated strength and fortitude for Heidi during these moments. For whatever reason, be it the moon, the early hour, the difficulties already experienced on this journey, this particular night seemed to have rendered me less than strong. As I sat next to the bed listening to the nurse, holding Heidi's underwear (don't ask...I helped her get undressed and hadn't yet put them down), I couldn't help myself. Tears just started coming. I have always made it a point not to cry in front of Heidi when I was scared. I was supposed to be her rock. If she saw me start to crumble, what would she feel? What would she do? But damn it all to hell, I couldn't help myself. I just started crying. And I'll be damned if I wasn't sitting there wiping my tears with her damn underwear. This was definitely not shaping up to be a good Monday. No my friends, it was not. I sure hope she at least put on clean underwear at o dark thirty...

The test to determine if Heidi was in active labor came back negative. That was a good sign but not enough to dissuade them from admitting Heidi into the hospital. Yea, I'm definitely going to be late for work.

April 9,2013: When babies are born incredibly early, there are a plethora of issues that may accompany their birth. Today we met with the neonatologist so he could give us best and worse case scenarios for what to expect if the babies are born right now. The best news was that there is almost a 100% chance of survival at this gestation. Huh...that's a bit of a stinger. Not because it wasn't good news, but because it was hard to think of the alternative. Bad news issues that could occur include breathing issues, which we knew about, risk of abdominal infection, brain bleeding (which are minimal but still exist), and retina issues from prematurity. He gave us a run down of what to expect after birth and with the babies in NICU. We also met with our OB. Wow. That was a conversation I never wanted to have. A parent already thinks of the obstacles their children will have in life, but to be presented with so many challenges before they even got to begin theirs was a little overwhelming.

Throughout the day, Heidi's contractions decreased. The medical professionals indicated they would send her home if her cervical check showed she hasn't dilated anymore. Yea, another fist to the vagina...exciting adventures for Heidi!!! Her vaggie check indicated she had not dilated anymore so the hospital released her and told her that the remainder of her pregnancy would be spent on her back. Well, not technically or specifically on her back, but on bed rest. Whatever...I equate that to months spent collecting bed sores from lying in bed, doing nothing all day except watching mindless daytime TV and slowly counting down the weeks, days, minutes and seconds until this torture ended by hitting the due date of the babies. Oh, and she has to stay on the medication to stop contractions. A little pharmaceutical aside here...the medication they gave her to stop contractions wasn't actually created for this purpose; it's just a secondary use. It's primary purpose is to lower blood pressure. Now, my little medically inclined readers, what happens to you if you take medicine that reduces your blood pressure? Well, you get dizzy. Your heart races. It's a lot like falling in love but in an annoying kind of way. Happy belated birthday, my love...happy belated birthday. Now, on our way home to celebrate. With bed rest.

April 11: Well, we liked the time we spent at the hospital so much we got up at 3:30 am to visit again. Today's visit has brought us another centimeter dilated and since we already drank from the steroid bar, we (and by we I totally mean Heidi) partake in a sassy new 12-hour regimen of magnesium sulfate introduced intravenously. This new concoction was intended to slow contractions and as prescribed by the house doctor, intended to reduce the chance of cerebral palsy in pre-mature babies. *Sigh* I have to say I'm wearing a little thin with the constant introduction of additional potential problems that come with birthing our children early. Despite the situation we find ourselves in at the moment, I will say that from the beginning of her pregnancy until present time, our babies have demonstrated a ridiculous amount of tenacity and strength. Their difficult start has made them strong, my friends. They started and remain strong and this little hiccup is just that...a hiccup. They will overcome. Why? Because they are goddamned medically engineered. And they are Voci babies...they take after my wife ~ strong, determined, stubborn as hell. And if that weren't enough, there were prayers flying up to the big guy begging for their safety from all over the world. Every part of this little earth had someone raising their voice to God, asking for protection, safety. Let's be honest...with that kind of spiritual fire power, you have to succeed, right?

A very long 12-hour regiment, which by the way precluded her from being able to eat or drink - - - not the best of circumstance for a pregnant woman who is 1. hungry; 2. tired and hungry; 3. thirsty and irritable and 4. has the worlds fastest metabolism so missing a meal usually results in instant weight loss. It has been over twenty-four hours since Heidi has had the opportunity to eat. I fear she may disappear. At the end of this very long 12-hours...another dilation check. Sadly, this check was not done by the hoped for asian woman; instead, a very large male doctor. With large hands. And fingers. My vagina tinged in sympathy pain for my betrothed. The good news -- no more dilation! She is still at 3 cm and about 80% effaced. Her contractions have slowed down considerably.

April 12: Today is 31 weeks and 6 days. We are hoping for at least two more weeks of baking time before the little buns in the oven introduce themselves to the world. Heidi gets released today, still on bedrest. Daytime TV, here she comes!

Contractions continue on various ranging levels each day after leaving the hospital. Sometimes they are mild, sometimes they are a little stronger. The meds seem to work well to calm things down when Heidi's uterus becomes overly-agitated. She stays pretty idle, getting up to do those "necessary" know, like showering. And pooping. Things she can't do on the couch. During this time, each time a contraction starts, I panic. We've packed various bags to take to the hospital should we need to go again...our bags, baby bags, make-up and hair bags. That's right, make-up and hair...we're that kind of lesbians. We like to be pretty, even in times of strife and stress. I've all but given up my evening glass (or four) of wine for fear that a 3:00 a.m. wake-up nudge will come from Heidi and I'll be too buzzed or hung over to drive her to the hospital. Yea, cuz that's the type of reputation I want...drunken lesbian pre-mom, too inebriated to drive her contracting woman to the ER. I think not, people!

April 24: Today is Heidi's grandpa's birthday. Whilst the babies are still earlier than we would like them to be, if they did decide to make today their arrival day, it would have such a sweet connotation. Well, in honor of Heidi's grandpa's birthday, that evening, we have pain. New pain, to be clear. Not the same contraction pain. But pain nonetheless. And because we have become regulars at the Babyplace, we decide to pack up our wares and head over once again to identify said new pain. We get to the Babyplace and get to see a new room...this will be our third so we are starting to really feel like we own the place. Same monitor, ultrasound, send us home. They don't identify the pain but rule out anything that they feel could be contributing to the pain.

April 27: Today is 33 weeks and 6 days. We're so darn proud of ourselves for continuing the baby incubating! I mean, just a few weeks ago we thought we might have the babies too early and look at us! Almost 34 weeks. Go us! The neonatologist from so long ago, you know, early April, said if we made it to 35 weeks, the babies would likely not be required to spend any time in the NICU. And so that was our goal...make it to at least 35 weeks. We're only a week and a day away!

To celebrate our impending parenthood and date night restrictions that will accompany that, I invite my beautiful wife out to dinner. Nothing special, just a little something to send off our days of freedom from children and the ability to dine out on a whim. To prepare for our very special dinner date, we decide to take a tandem shower. Oh get your minds out of the gutter you dirty freaks...we were saving water! Plus, well, let's be wife is on bedrest and well, item number 2 on the discharge paperwork was an explicit instruction to refrain from, um, well, you know, um, relations. So lets just call a spade a spade...I had a brief opportunity to actually see my wife nekked. And maybe even accidentally brush against her whilst trying to scoot by her big old belly in the shower in search of the conditioner. Ulterior motives exposed. Geez...drag it out of me next time!

As we are preparing for our exit from the shower, Heidi announces that she's not feeling that great. She is actually feeling pretty crappy. So crappy, in fact, that she goes and lays on the bed without drying her hair or putting on clothes. Now, this may sound like a positive for me (see paragraph above) but seeing her in pain definitively negates the joy derived from seeing her naked. I surprises you all that this is enough to negate the joy, but I assure you, it does. Heidi sits on the bed for a few minutes, hoping that the pain will subside and we can continue with our dinner plans. Not happening, my friends, not happening by a longshot. In fact, her pain increases. She immediately wants me to call 911. I convince her to instead take a Procardia, which will likely reduce the pain...this is the medicine she's been taking to stop contractions. I hustle over to the kitchen, grab her a pill and a drink and dose her up, convinced this will be enough to get her back on track. We wait about ten minutes and the pain isn't subsiding. At all. I convince her to take another Procardia, since the doctor told her we could double up if the contractions became too severe. She begrudgingly agrees but tells me, in no uncertain terms, that this won't work. Now, for those of you who have been following our journey since October, you may be reflecting back to the beginning of our pregnancy where Heidi told me something was wrong and I told her it wasn't. One would think I learned my lesson. However, here I was again...trying to convince her that she was over-reacting. A far reach to get out of going to dinner, I tell you.

She asks me again to call 911. I tell her that instead we should call our doctor. She concedes. I call Dr. Raimer and told her what was going on. She said we should go into the hospital. I tell her that Heidi is in so much pain that she wants to go by ambulance. She tells me that if that's how she'll feel more comfortable, I should call 911. And so I do. For the second time this pregnancy...It is not at all unrealized by me what happened the last time.

Since I'm becoming a professional 911 caller, I first put the dogs outside. I also decide that perhaps my naked wife may prefer to have some clothing on instead of having strangers enter the house with her butt-nekked. I pull out a t-shirt and a pair of panties and dress her. This is no easy task. She is in an inordinate amount of pain so this small exercise makes her even more uncomfortable. But, I persevere...why? Because she's modest and whilst she's in a fair amount of pain now, I'm sure she'll thank me later. Right?

I call 911. The gal on the line was doing a fabulous job reading from her "pre-term labor" script. She asks me to look between Heidi's legs to see if there was any fluid. What??? Um, OK...I take a peeksy by opening her inconvenience not lost on Heidi and advise script reader that there is no fluid. She then asks me if there is a head coming out. WHAT?!?! This is not what is happening 911 script reader! This is different. There is no way in h-e-double hockey sticks that these babies are coming tonight and most certainly no way that they are coming in our bedroom. Of all of my self-professed skills, baby deliverer is not one of them. I advise her that no, there is no head protruding from my wife's nether regions. *deep breath* I tell Heidi it's going to be ok and I rub her leg, the traditional gesture known to indicate things will be fine, nay prove things will be fine. Script reader must not have heard me tell her that and advises me, in her all-knowing scripting reading voice, "Continue to reassure her." So, yea, again, I's going to be okay. 911 girl decides to change things up and sends me on a treasure hunt. She sends me off to find clean towels (OK - - I can figure out what this is likely for, in the event I was dishonest about that whole head protruding thing...but why do we have to use clean towels? I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that if I became baby deliverer, it is likely I would want old towels to throw away, not clean towels). I'm also instructed to find a shoelace (presumably to tie off the umbilical cord when I become baby deliverer) and last, but not least, a safety pin. Huh. A safety pin. What, pray tell, would that be for? I was already in a bit of a pre-panic state so it didn't occur to me to ask her what it was for but I will say, with pride, that I found and retrieved all designated items in record time. I have my baby delivering toolbox and advise 911 girl of same. She then tells me to remove Heidi's panties. Seriously? I just put them on! Because I'm a good instruction taker, I do as she says. As I'm pulling Heidi's panties down, almost to her knees, she asks me, in her most pained voice "What are you doing?!?" I respond with the obvious "I'm taking off your panties." I swear, a girl is in a little pain and she can't tell even the simplest of things that are going on. She asks me why and I tell her "because, the lady on the phone told me to." I would part from my story for a brief moment to say that if only I would have known earlier in our relationship that said statement was the only validation needed to accomplish this little task, things may have been a little easier for me. I digress...back to post-panty removal.

Emergency crew #1 arrives...they are from the fire department. Not the ambulance. Fire dude is, oh, I don't know, maybe in his 40's and is in a "let's mosey along" state of mind. His lack of urgency serves only to piss off my wife. When a woman is in pain, do not, I not patronize her or minimize her pain. This is what fire dude #1 did. He saunters in and asks, "So, what's going on?" Heidi says she's in an incredible amount of pain and needs to be immediately taken to the hospital. I follow-up with the fact that she has been in constant pain for approximately 35 minutes. I also articulate for fire dude that these are not contractions; we have already been in the hospital for pre-term labor and are familiar with contractions. These are different; this is a constant pain. He relays to his partner, fire lady #1, that "patient is having contractions 5 minutes apart." Uh, fire dude, did you not hear one f-ing word I just said? I did not say contractions 5 minutes apart. I said something completely different. So, I reiterate for him what is going on. Fire lady leans all the way over our bed to put monitors on Heidi and fire dude advises he's going to have to start an IV, presumably for those 5 minute contractions. Heidi advises in her I-have-so-little-patience-for-you voice that she doesn't want an IV, she wants to immediately go to the hospital. He responds in his best condescending fire dude voice that he has to do an IV first. Through clenched teeth, Heidi says fine. Fire dude starts IV...oops, wait. Fire dude starts to do IV, gets it in and says "Uh-oh, this is in wrong, I have to do it again". I would like to state for the record that if my wife were not in so much pain right now, she would have stood straight up on the bed, pantyless and all, and kicked fire dude straight in the teeth. Lucky for his bridge work that she was unable to act on that urge. He puts in the second IV with a second " a little blood on your bed." Unnecessary proclamation, fire dude. Just ignore it and let's move on to the hospital.

EMT dudes show up next. Fire dude relays to them that Heidi is having contractions 5 minutes apart. I swear to all that is holy, I am going to find some unknown jujitsu skills and just run and kick him straight in the face. Hard. Like so hard. My wife is in pain. Not a little pain, but extreme pain. She's scared, I'm scared. She's wearing no underwear. Fire dude is so living on the brink of being murdered by two scared lesbians in the most horrific painful way possible...

I correct fire dude, for the second fricking time in less than ten minutes, and advise EMT dudes of the actual situation. EMT dude says, "Um, OK, but do you want to put some panties on her?" Oh dear god...someone needs to make up their God blessed minds and decide if her goddamned panties should be frigging on or frigging off because my wife is getting pretty fricking tired of having this on-again, off-again relationship with her fricking underwear!!!

After some back and forth conversation about which hospital to go to - - Heidi wants to go to Bayfront because that's where her doctor has privileges and EMT dude thinks she should go to Morton Plant because it's closer. All of this banter is doing absolutely nothing to minimize the amount of pain Heidi is in. She concedes to Morton Plant because she's not sure how much more of the pain she can take. EMT dude asks her if she can walk to the ambulance. She responds that she can't even stand up to get out of bed. He then asks if she can walk to the hallway to the stretcher. Aside here - - while I appreciate that medical response providers are often met with situations that may indicate that perhaps the patient is being a little whimpy or whiney, if you do not fully understand what your patient is going through, THINK ABOUT YOUR FUCKING QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU ASK THEM!!! If you have a woman, in constant pain, who has mere seconds before advised you that she is unable to stand up, WHY WOULD YOU THEN ASK HER TO WALK TO THE HALLWAY??? Dear sweet Jesus, please remove your heads from your rectums and just listen to her. EMT dude begrudgingly agrees to bring the stretcher into the bedroom since apparently Heidi was going to be difficult and not just walk her happy little behind to the hospital. Heidi finally makes her way onto the stretcher and for good measure, EMT guy makes sure he scratches up a good length of the hallway with same stretcher. My wife, known for being particular, notices this amid all of her pain and frustration. She notices that now the wall needs to be fixed...

Heidi advises EMT dude that she wants me to ride in the ambulance with her. I ask EMT dude how much time before they leave, he says one minute. I dress in a mad flurry, primarily because I had just gotten out of the shower and was dressed in only a tank top and boxer shorts. I rush out of my bedroom to find my neighbor standing in my living room saying "what can I do?" I ask her to take care of the dogs, give her a key and run to the ambulance. The ambulance driver then tells me that I need to drive separately. I think when all is said and done, I'm going to find fire dude and EMT guy and run them over with a really big truck. Or a steam roller. With spikes.

I drive behind the ambulance but get caught at a light. Apparently, the lights and sirens playing in my head fell on deaf ears of the other drivers. As I made my way to the hospital, I called Heidi's mom. I have to say that whilst I like to think I'm a relatively strong gal, after this pregnancy, particularly the last two weeks, I'm at the end of my strength. I call Nancy and do what I most hate doing when I'm scared. I cry. I cry because I'm scared. I cry because while neither of us said it, both Heidi and I thought it...these were the same symptoms I had when Payton died. We didn't say it because somehow putting out to the universe might make it so. Constant pain. That's what I had. That's what she has. How could this be happening? After all that we had gone through, would it come down to this? We both knew what this could mean. We both knew the tragedy that could at that very instant be befalling us. This is why Heidi wanted me in the ambulance with her. She was scared. If something happened, she wanted me there with her. She didn't want to be alone. And here I was...crying on the phone with her mother. I tried to call Jessica and then called our doctor and left a message that we were going to Morton Plant instead. Then I took a deep breath and pretended to be strong again...I was at the hospital and that was my job. Take care of my wife and our babies. And do it without crying.

I get to the labor and delivery floor and Heidi is already in a room. I see EMT dude coming down the hall and am thankful a tray full of scalpels is not conveniently located near me as he passes. I fear that at this point in my evening I may not have the strength to resist the urge to stab him in the throat. I enter the room and there were a couple of nurses hooking Heidi up to various monitors and asking various questions.

I'm going to throw in a little caveat here, readers. The rest of this story happened a little fast for me. The chances of me having forgotten or missed some details are pretty good. When I talk to Heidi about it, she only has a spotty recollection of the night. When I think back to it, I feel like I am retelling it from someone elses mind, like I was more of an observer than a participant. Everything seemed unusually fast and slow, clear and blurry, all at the same time. Our arrival at the hospital seems to be when this Alfred Hitchcockesque type of recollection begins. So, accept my apologies in advance...a gal can apparently only take so much before she starts to show her humanness...

The nurses start to hook Heidi up to the standard machines...we have become pretty familiar with the monitors over the past few weeks. We had a quiet blonde nurse, Sharon, who started our adventures at Morton Plant. And we had Shawna, the gal who kept trying to inject calmness into the situation. At some point, Kristi and Amy entered the mix. Throughout our night, at any point in time, one or each of these four women were making heretofore unknown amazing impacts on our life and our babies lives. Remember their names, my friends. We will - - they are forever etched into our minds and hearts. We are eternally grateful for fate coming together to put these women in our room that night.

At some point, we meet the doctor on staff that night. We are hoping that they will be able to do something to identify and stop Heidi's pain sufficiently enough that we can make our way to Bayfront to be with our doctor. Heidi is not shy about communicating this to the on-call doctor. The nurses have already said we have one of the best doctors; it's a little frustrating to not have that expertise working for you when you feel like you need it the most. We did not know this doctor. We didn't know his medical background. As he was talking with us about what might happen that evening, he talked about what our intended birth plan was...asking if we intended to have a vaginal birth or a cesarean section. He also spoke about the potential for having both - - if we tried a vaginal birth and issues arose with the second baby, we may need to then have a c-section. He was talking like we would be staying...again, Heidi asks about moving to Bayfront. He indicated that she was unstable. They wouldn't transport her if she wasn't stable and if she was adamant about going, she would be leaving the hospital against medical advice. Heidi told him she wasn't going to leave unless she knew it was safe and then proceeded, to ask the doctor, with sternness and intention in her voice, "have you ever done a c-section?" The smirk on his face and his response of "well, I did read the book yesterday" did not sit well with Heidi. Apparently, it is not clear to people that when Heidi Voci is in pain, you don't make a joke. Ever. I know this. Why don't they??

The next step is one of Heidi's favorite - - checking to see how far she's dilated. She was still at 3 cm. and her contractions were showing more as irritations that full-on contractions. But still, the pain persisted. Constant pain.

The doctor ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech arrives and performed the most meticulous ultrasound I've ever witnessed (and yes, I've witnessed a shit-ton). He was checking for what may have been causing the pain. It was not lost on us that one of the things he was checking for was placental abruption. Those unspoken words again...

When the results came back, I stood behind Sharon and Shawna and peeked over their shoulders as they read the results. No placental abruption. There were other things he tested for but the words that stood out for me were no placental abruption. You have no earthly idea what reading those words meant. You do not know the weight that lifted from my chest seeing those words. The fear that had gripped my heart subsided slightly. We still didn't know why Heidi was in pain, but we knew it wasn't that. And at that moment, I knew that we could handle anything else. Why? Because anything else had the potential for a good ending. That did not.

Heidi continued to be in significant pain. Although she wasn't progressing with contractions or dilation as she should be for active labor, the decision was made to give her an epidural to help her manage her pain. Family was asked to leave the room (oh yea...I apparently failed to mention that Heidi's mom, brother and future sister-in-law were there. An epidural was given, the second one of Heidi's pregnancy, mind you. It was strangely like we had come full circle...this we eerily like the beginning of our pregnancy...weird...

Heidi's pain began to subside some. While she lay resting, a NICU nurse took me on a tour of the NICU and explained what would happen if the babies were born tonight. She showed me the beds they would be in and explained what the nurses would be doing to them when they were brought back.

I returned to the room with Heidi. Her pain was returning even with an epidural. Sharon, the quiet blonde nurse, was in the room. She was staring at the monitors, obviously deep in thought. She had the look of someone searching for answers but not being able to find them. She called the
anesthesiologist and advised that the epidural was not working. The anesthesiologist contacted another anesthesiologist to find out what should be done. She indicated the insertion of the first epidural was textbook and said she didn't understand how Heidi could still be feeling any pain. The second anesthesiologist said to go ahead and redo it and hung up. He then called her right back and said that he would come to the room and check himself.

Both anesthesiologists are conferring in the room and are uncertain as to why the first epidural isn't working. The second doctor decides to replace it himself (it would seem that he was the more senior doctor). He put in the second epidural and agreed that it was textbook. He stood conferring with the other anesthesiologist and nurses and said to us that we must smell all of the wood burning as they tried to figure out what was going on.

Heidi lay in her bed, still in pain. A little while later, and this is one of those spots where things are harried and blurry for me, her vitals start to go down a little. Sharon, ever so calmly, inverts Heidi in her bed so she is head down and with the calmest voice, hits the call button and says that she needs a little help. What felt like an army of people flood into the room to help. I'm at Heidi's head and Nancy is rubbing Heidi's arm. Heidi is inverted with people working on her and none of us know what is going on. I'm leaning in to her, telling her that it's going to be ok. Nancy is telling her to close her eyes and pretend she is somewhere else. I keep whispering in Heidi's ear. There is something about us, something so crucial to us that I know that if I tell her it's OK, she'll believe me. I don't know it's OK, in fact, I'm pretty sure it isn't. But my job is to be strong. It is to reassure my wife. It is to keep her calm and I do that by whispering to her. Something so intimate in a room so full of strangers.

Amidst all of the flurry, Sharon starts shaking Heidi's stomach. Because she's already in a lot of pain, this is excruciating to Heidi. Aiden's vitals are dropping and she is trying to stimulate him. Heidi's vitals are dropping. Her blood pressure is seventy-something over forty-something. The blur deepens as what feels like chaos ensues.

Kristi pulls me aside and starts dressing me in OR clothes. I ask her what's going on. She says they are going to take Heidi to surgery. I ask if they are doing a c-section. She says yes. I ask her what's wrong. She says they don't know. I ask her if I can go in the OR with her. She says I don't know but if you can, we're going to have you ready. They take Heidi out of the room. Kristi takes me to an elevator and then to the basement where the OR is located. On the way down, she tells me that if they do a local, I can be in the OR with Heidi. If they put her under general anesthesia, I can't go into the OR. She puts me in a small room and tells me she's going to go see what is happening in the OR and she'll come back and let me know.

Alone. All of the chaos is now silence. I am alone. The realization is setting in that this is not good. I try to call Jessica again. No answer. Fate or God or who or whatever has decided that this moment shall be mine alone. This moment is the moment that all of the fear I have been holding down comes rising to the top. I am petrified. For the first time I think that I might lose my wife and my children. I cry. I cry so hard that I am shaking. I pray. I ask God to please take care of them. I beg for him to not take them away from me. I think every single ounce of strength is used to pray, to plead with God to keep my family safe. I feel myself breaking, I feel my heart breaking. I have never been more afraid in my entire life. And I am also managing to fill the entire sleeve of my OR outfit with snot and tears. For a brief moment, I think that they'll never let me in the OR if they see how much snot and tears are on this OR outfit. It's a brief thought, but it was there. Kristi comes back to tell me that they are putting her under general anesthesia so I am unable to go into the OR. She tells me where to go so I can see the babies on the way to the NICU. She said that someone at the desk in labor and delivery will let us know how Heidi is doing. I ask her if Heidi is going to be okay. She pauses, ever so briefly, then says yes. I ask her to promise. She stares at me for a moment, hugs me and says she promises. She later tells me that was the hardest promise she's ever had to make. I go back to labor and delivery to wait.

Heidi is in the OR. There are so many people everywhere. There is a team of nurses for each baby and a team for her. She is still in a lot of pain. They do a test to see if she can feel the incision and she does. They decide to put her out, quickly. The doctor does not know why she's in so much pain. He only knows that vital signs are dropping and they have to get the babies out as soon as possible. He cuts Heidi's stomach and as he opens her up, he sees blood. A lot of blood. She's bleeding internally and he has no idea from where. He opens the uterus and there is no blood, good sign. He takes Baby A out first...our little girl. He takes Baby B out second...our little boy. They are removed so quickly that they are both born at 1:22 a.m., mere seconds apart. Baby A is breathing, just a little shallowly. They give her a little oxygen from a mask and she seems to be doing fine. Baby B is blue when they take him out. His team intubates him to get him breathing. Both teams leave the OR and head to the NICU.

In the meantime, the staff OB is trying to figure out where the bleeding is coming from. He knows its not from inside her uterus because there was no blood when he took the babies out. He begins moving all of Heidi's internal organs around, searching for the source of her bleeding. He finds it. A varicosity ~ a varicose vein on the backside of Heidi's uterus that had burst and was continuing to bleed. He tried to cauterize the bleed but was having a difficult time getting it to stop bleeding. He thought he may have to remove her uterus if he couldn't get it to stop. Otherwise, she may bleed to death. As he was on the cusp of making the decision, he got it to stop. They remove four units of blood and have to replenish her with three units.

A general surgeon is called in to go through Heidi's abdomen and examine each of her internal organs to make sure nothing else is bleeding. While they are doing this, the babies are being brought to the NICU.

I'm standing in the hallway on instant alert for any sound that may be the elevator signaling the arrival of the babies. I'm texting a million people that we are at the hospital, not because I think they'll respond, but because it's busy work. If I don't think too hard, then I won't be too scared. So, I text away. Jessica is on her way to the hospital. Again, de ja vu...we have come full circle my friends. In October so many very similar events took place...ambulance ride to the hospital, internal bleeding, emergency surgery, Jessica there to take care of me. And now, here we are again...ambulance ride to the hospital, internal bleeding, emergency surgery. Only this time, I'm sitting in this hallway unaware of how my wife and my children are.

I hear's the elevator doors opening. Out comes a huge incubator and a team of nurses. And inside that incubator...inside that incubator are two of the most beautiful creatures I have ever layed eyes upon. Our little girl is wide-eyed, looking around. Our little man, a little upset. He's managed to pull the intubation tube out on his way down because he just wasn't having any of that nonsense! The nurse stops as she walks by me and asks me the most amazing you want to touch them? I don't know that I've ever wanted anything more than that at that very moment in time. I am in love already. You see ultrasounds of your babies and you imagine how beautiful they will be when they are born but nothing, I mean nothing, prepares you for the first time you see your babies. It is breathtaking. They start to take the babies to the NICU and tell me I can come with them. Nancy is standing there with me, looking imploringly at them, telling them she's the grandmother. They tell her she can come back too. It was beautiful how much joy those few words brought to Nancy. Her first moments with her first grandchildren and she was going to get to be a part of this process.

We followed the babies into the NICU. I asked the nurse how Heidi was. She said they were still working on her. My friends, there are two things that a person can do when she hears these words. Sob uncontrollably because of the unknown or have faith that all of the prayers sent up will be enough to bring her safely back to you, and take what little energy you have left and go watch your babies get introduced into the world of the NICU. I chose the latter. I did so because I needed to make sure I was there for the babies and because to think that Heidi might not be okay would have been paralyzing, crushing. I couldn't let those thoughts rent space in my head. And so I followed the babies and watched.

They weighed each girl weighed in at 4 lbs. 11 oz. Baby boy weighed in at 3 lbs. 13 oz.

The NICU nurses continued about their business. Weighing, measuring, monitoring. It was all surreal and amazing and scary, all at the same time. The babies were here. The two little lives that we had waited for all these months. They were here. I could see them, kiss their hands, touch their heads. It was incredible but bittersweet. My wife was not here with me. She was not only missing these first few moments, but I didn't even know how she was. I kissed the babies, caressed their heads and held their hineys, because that was what was reassuring for them - - holding their heads and rear-ends. Everything else was too much stimulation for their little pre-mature nervous systems. I was overwhelmed...

After a bit, the nurses asked us to leave the NICU so they could finish their work on the twins. We were taken back to a different room in labor and delivery to wait for the doctor. Around 3:30 a.m., he finally came in to tell us all that had happened in the OR. He said he had never seen anything like this before. I guess this brings new meaning to "have you ever done a c-section before", doesn't it?

Jessica and I snoozed on the couch for a little bit until we could go see Heidi in the recovery room. Around 4:30 a.m., we were finally able to go see her. She looked so amazingly beautiful. She was going to be okay...they had stopped the bleeding. They had replenished some of her blood and she was going to be okay. She was even feeling well enough to crack jokes with Jessica, even though she wouldn't be able to remember any of them later on.

Heidi was admitted to the ICU for the next two days. The twins were in the NICU. I was always hovering somewhere in between.

Sometime in the evening of her first day in the ICU, the nurses got Heidi onto a stretcher that could sit up like a chair. Approximately fifteen hours after their birth, she was going to be able to go see the babies for the first time. She was weak and tired but wild horses wouldn't be able to keep her away from seeing them. She was able to hold Aiden for the first time...

Because she was so weak, she only stayed in the NICU for a little while. She went back to the ICU without being able to hold Riley.

The next day, they moved Heidi from the ICU back to the labor and delivery floor in the post-partum wing. This was nice because it was a lot closer to the babies. That afternoon, about twenty-six hours after having given birth, Heidi was able to hold Riley for the first time.

You would think that things were now all on the upswing, right? Well, not so. The evening that Heidi held Riley found her with a fever. The doctor said it was likely from the surgery and they would begin a regimen of antibiotics, four to be exact, all given intravenously. The bigger issue with the fever...Heidi had to stay away from the babies for twenty-four hours. My friends...imagine if you will, going through all that Heidi had gone through (if you need reminding, start at the beginning of this blog and read through to this spot) and now, after all that you had endured, now, you were forced to wait another twenty-four hours before you could see your babies again. It was almost heart wrenching for both of us. My heart ached for her because her heart ached for the babies.

In the meantime, the babies were beginning their lives in the NICU. Each were in an incubator, hooked up to assorted wires and IV's. It was, to say the least, a little intimidating to see them in that condition. They couldn't be touched too much because their little nervous systems were a little sensitive. Most touching was done either by cupping their head and hineys or by the all too infrequent skin-to-skin opportunities. After two of their daily feedings, we were allowed to hold the babies with just their diapers and our bras. You may have heard it referred to as skin-to-skin or kangaroo care. To us, it was amazing. We were finally able to hold the two amazing little lives we had ached for over the past two years. And it did something to warm our hearts knowing that simply by holding them, we were helping them...helping with digestion, helping with body temperature. But what they didn't know was what it was doing for us. We were falling in love, more and more each day. Our hearts were being stolen, bit-by-bit, during our skin-to-skin time. Soon enough, they would hold all of our hearts...

Each day in the NICU met with different tasks, challenges or accomplishments. Their first feeding was all of a tablespoon of breast milk. Since Heidi was unable to pump yet, they used donor milk. It was a huge accomplishment that they were able to eat their entire tablespoon.

Aiden had demonstrated from birth that he was going to be a spitfire. He took his intubation tube out before he even made it to the NICU. They replaced it with a C-Pap. He was not a fan. Before long, the nurses tired of fixing it since Aiden kept moving it from his nose, where it needed to be for him to get oxygen. They then moved him to a tube that ran under his nose. And they were already getting to know his personality...they taped the tube all the way across his face.

That wasn't all...Aiden had managed, at a mere 3 lbs. 13 oz. to wiggle his little body out of his diaper. Several times. He managed to remove his feeding tube on what felt like a daily basis. It was becoming increasingly clear that Aiden was going to be a bit of a handful. But he had balance...while he was a spitfire when he didn't like something, he had the most expressive facial expressions. His little forehead, with barely any fat, wrinkled like a little old man. And he always seemed so worried...with his furrowed brows and puckered lips. His animated face was a beautiful site to behold.

Riley on the other hand acted exactly as she had in the womb. Always calm, always so serene. She was always a little ahead of her brother, both in the womb with weight and now in the NICU with hitting milestones. She didn't need oxygen after the bit she received in the OR. She had her feeding tube removed sooner than her brother did. She was always just a bit ahead. In fact, she moved to a crib sooner than her brother and went home two days sooner.

But Aiden was a little spitfire so he wasn't far behind. He left the NICU ten days after birth. Not bad considering we were told that they may remain there a minimum of two weeks all the way up to their due date.

And so here we are. At the end of our journey. Almost three years have passed since we started our journey. But we made it...we made it to the end. And the beauty of it all, my friends, is that it is just the beginning.

It is with more pride than I thought I could ever muster, but I officially introduce you to our little miracles, our gifts, our son and our daughter.

Please meet Aiden James Voci and Riley Payton Voci. Our children...

Thank you for joining us on our journey. While this is the last entry in our blog, it is certainly not the end of our voyage. It is merely the beginning of our next chapter. Thank you for joining us on our unique path to parenthood.

The Voci Family

Hearts entwined
Twenty fingers, twenty toes,
two sweet babies with cheeks of rose.
Born on the same day, two gifts from above,
lives entwined, two babies to love.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mini-novella: Episode 2

Chapter 5: A New Beginning
Dateline: November 26, 2012

Before the tears were fully dry from leaving Dr. Welden, we had our first appointment with the new doctor. You should know that we were apprehensive going into this appointment. I mean, there was just no way they would be able to measure up to the way Dr. Welden's office made us feel. Preparing for our first visit, we resolved ourselves to the fact that we would likely feel like we did at just a number. No one there knew us, knew our history. We were strangers and would likely remain that way throughout our tenure with the new OB. That's just the way it would be. Dr. Welden's office kind of ruined all future doctor/patient relationships for us. The chances were slim-to-none that we would find another doctor that would feel like part of our family. This, my friends, were the resolves we had committed to. This is being explained so you know how we felt going in to a new office. Remember, we just said good-bye to Dr. Welden, Pam and Tana on Friday. Now, on Monday, we had to say hello to the strangers that would be taking care of us for the rest of our journey. I tell you, the taste of bittersweet is a strong one...sweet to have hit a major milestone in our pregnancy (12 weeks), bitter to leave the people that helped us get here.

So the stage has been set. The scene has been painted. We were foraying into the unknown, into the medical offices of strangers...or more specifically, All Children's Perinatology Specialists. We were scheduled to meet with Dr. Raimer. She came to us as a referral from Lala. Now, Lala is detail-oriented and meticulously obsessive about fact finding. If Lala was happy with Dr. Raimer, then it was because she had researched every other medical professional in the tri-county area and Dr. Raimer met the stringent criteria necessary to birthe our Godson. So, at least we felt comfortable as references we just had to meet her and reconcile ourselves to the fact that she would never be Dr. Welden; that her staff would never be Pam and Tana...that walking in would be a non-event since we were destined to be strangers for the next 28 weeks.

As we entered the office, we were greeted by Emily the receptionist. Emily exclaimed with unexpected verve and fervor "Hi you guys! How have you been?" Um, what? Emily had on a big ole smile and was anxiously awaiting our response. As we are an introverted pair (stop laughing...I am when I'm apprehensive), we merely mumbled "we're good, thanks." We were a little perplexed at the enthusiasm exhibited by Emily. Could we have been wrong in our expectation of this new doctor? Could it be that their office was just immediately friendly and welcoming? We eyed each other sideways, still slightly confused at the excitement Emily had at seeing us. After apparently noticing that we were slightly confused, Emily asked "Don't you remember me?" Um, awkward, party of two...your table is ready. The answer to this was a resounding no. No, we didn't remember Emily and were slightly embarrassed that apparently we should have. Our looks must have given her the answer we were struggling too vocalize. She said "I've been to your house." Yea, still not ringing a bell - - - no ding-a-ling-ling of recognition happening yet. There was, however, a bit of concern rising within me that people I do not know or remember have wandered the hallowed halls of Casa Voci. Save that worry for another day; back to Emily. "I was there for Becky's bridal shower." Wait...wait, we knew Becky, we knew we hosted a bridal shower for her, but Emily was still a stranger. This at least allayed my concern over random strangers in my house. "My daughter was Isabella." JACKPOT! We remembered Isabella!!! Isabella, for the record, was the most adorable, precocious five year old in attendance at said baby shower. I wanted to steal her because she was so incredibly cute. Well, mystery solved and a completely unexpected start to our visit...our initial contact wasn't sterile, not yet anyway. :)

We sat in the waiting room...well, waiting (that's why the room is named that way). The first nurse pokes her little head out the door and calls Heidi back. We both stand. She promptly tells me that I can remain in the waiting room, uh waiting, whilst Heidi goes back into the unknown. Alone. This was not going to go well. No ma'am it wasn't. Apparently, little head nurse doesn't know that Heidi and I do everything together, especially NEW EVERYTHINGS! If she needed to pee in a cup, dammit, I was going to hold the cup. That's just how it is. Wait in the waiting room, pft. So I did what every wife who was indignant about being asked to stay behind, alone, while her wife was taken away...I waited. But I did it begrudgingly. And with anger in my heart. And maybe even a little pout on my face. Again, I say pft...

To make matters just a hair worse, after Heidi did her secret stuff without me (peed in a cup and gave some vitals), little head nurse asked her if that was her mom with her. Yea, that's awesome. Fricking awesome...

Heidi corrects her, with a smirk, and said that it was her wife. The nurse immediately apologized and indicated that she should have known that since we were coming from a fertility doctor. Pft.

I am retrieved from the mom's corral a.k.a. waiting room and we are taken to a smaller room where blonde nurse (whose name escapes me) begins our appointment. Great...just like RMG. Some technician asking arbitrary, meaningless questions so the doctor didn't have to waste her time with us. Dejavu. Here we go...

Unbeknownst to me and my betrothed, blonde nurse had already completely reviewed the file Dr. Welden had sent over. She was actually aware of our fertility history and was asking various follow-up questions. Huh...unexpected. She asked if we had any questions and we did. We asked all that came to mind at the moment and when she left, we actually felt pretty good about our visit. We presumed it would be coming to an end but alas, we were wrong.

We left this smaller room and were led to a darkened room (bom-bom-bom...just kidding, it wasn't scary). It was an ultrasound room. Well, hello babies! We would be getting a surprise visit with them! We met the ultrasound tech and she proceeded to do an ultrasound. It wasn't completely new to us since we had just seen the babies on Friday, but it was still an unexpected delight. We learned that they would refer to the babies as Baby A and Baby B instead of Baby 1 and Baby 2. Not a whole lot had changed since Friday, except, of course, the name change from 1 to A and 2 to B. After the ultrasound, lo and behold, the doctor arrived. I would remind you that with RMG, we only saw the doctor at the consultation and never again, not during our pre-tests, not during an insemination, never. So, after alot of similarities, we didn't expect to really see this doctor either. But, alas, my dear friends and strangers, I was wrong (write that shit down...I admitted I was wrong. All those close to me will wholly attest to the fact that I NEVER admit I'm wrong...because I never am so the magnitude of this admission is incredible). We met Dr. Raimer, who was a very nice lady, very informal. She didn't chew Nicorette, nor did she have a North Carolina accent, but she was a close second to Dr. Welden with respect to informality and approachability. She asked if we had any questions and because blonde nurse had answered everything, we had nothing.

So, after approximately two hours our first visit came to an end. It didn't go as expected, but certainly in a good way. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all. It would be ridiculous to presume they would replace Dr. Welden's office, but it seemed reasonable that maybe they would do; maybe they would be okay as the fill-in doctors. We left our first visit a little less apprehensive than we had arrived. OK...we can do this. We can make friends with these strangers. We can do it!

Chapter 6: I can't remember if I washed...
Dateline: I can't remember...

Gosh, let me tell you a thing or two about pregnancy and some of its inevitable side effects. Aside from the obvious - - growing mid-section, frequent trips to the little girls room, a little nausea here and there - - aside from those obvious symptoms comes some other lesser known symptoms. One of those symptoms hit my wife. Hard. This symptom is known as Forgetfulness. This beast of a symptom started innocently enough. She would ask me to repeat something I'd said, or ask me a question she'd already asked me. At first, it was hardly noticeable. Only after realizing that my stories and discussions with her were feeling more and more duplicative did I realize that it wasn't because I was repetitive, it was because she couldn't remember what I had said.

I think it only fair to insert a little history into Chapter 6 so you have a solid understanding of where Heidi's memory comes from so you can appreciate where it has gone. Heidi is an elephant. Not in stature, not in girth. In memory. She could remember anything and everything. She remembered and retold stories about us that I had absolutely no recollection of. She is who I relied upon to tell the tale of our lives together because I knew there was no way I would be able to do it. I have pregnancy forgetfulness without the actual pregnancy. It's also called being 41. So, it goes without saying that her memory was the ying to my forgetfulnesses yang. Now, when her ying started fading, my yang had to step it up a little, if only to remember simple conversations we had previously engaged in. This was not a good thing. My yang is horrible. My yang can barely remember how to get home each day so both my yang and I were wholly upset that we were now expected to step up to the plate to fill the void left by Heidi's ying.

Her forgetfulness evolved. It started with asking repetitive questions to truly forgetting entire conversations we had. At work, she had to keep notes to remember what she had done so she didn't miss something important.

The most notable and telling moment that truly defines where she had sunk to in terms of short-term recollection occurred one day in the shower. Heidi has a pretty defined routine. She enters the shower (water scorching hot) and follows the same decorum every day: wash body, wash hair, wash face, rinse, exit shower. The only deviation occurred on shaving days. This particular day did not involve shaving. This is important to note because it involved one less step. One less thing to remember, if you will. This day also involved our efforts to conserve water. Because we are one with mother earth, this day we chose to combine our showering efforts into one that would be kinder to the planet. So to be good earth citizens, we showered together (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). This is important only to demonstrate that there was an additional witness to the standard routine in addition to Heidi's attendance at her own shower routine. We entered the shower and began the routine. She washed her body. She washed her hair. She began to condition her hair when she stopped, paused with conditioner still resting in the palm of her hand and said, "I can't remember if I washed my body or not." I would state for the record that Heidi did not take an inordinate amount of time washing her hair. So much time did not pass that there was a realistic expectation that she forgot. It was mere moments. I assured her that she had washed; I reminded her that she has a routine. If she was washing her hair, it must mean she washed her body. I was apparently not convincing. She washed again.

Chapter 7: Little tendrils of thank you's...
Dateline: Turkey Day

This Thanksgiving, it goes without saying that we have a lot to be thankful for. And as we prepared to have our turkey day feast, the feeling of gratitude was apparent in our hearts. I had started thinking that maybe before dinner, I would say a little something-something to our guests to thank them for all of their support during the past couple of years and especially through the past couple of months. I mean, I'm an incredible wordsmith so it only made sense for me to impart my thoughts and grace our guests with a mini-awards ceremony thank-you speech. We had a nice showing for and friends. All people important to us. None of the obligatory guests (oh come on, you know we all have them!!!). These were our peeps.

As all were sitting down ready to enjoy a feast of traditional Thanksgiving fare, I rose to deliver what I'm sure would have been my most eloquent speech ever. I mean, EVER. As I paused to mentally compose how to begin my deep, dramatic dialogue, my beloved stands and says "There's something I'd like to say." Well, what do you know about that? I should say that I was nothing short of surprised to hear Heidi, she who is quiet and introverted, stand and proffer a speech she had secretly been thinking about and preparing. I know that it will come as an almost unbelievable surprise to you, but I couldn't have been more moved or proud of her. She is quiet and reserved. She is not comfortable being the center of attention. Yet, here she was...standing before our family and friends, voice shaking but so full of honesty and gratitude for the people in the room, so thankful for their support. This was a moment that I was once again amazed by my wife. Even when I think I know everything about her, her thoughts, her intentions, she surprises me by stepping outside of herself, outside of her comfort zone to speak wholly from the heart to our family and friends. When she steps out of the wings, off the side of the stage that I usually thrive on, she commands attention...she held me rapt, amazed at her strength, her bravery and her beautiful words.

It just made me realize that in addition to all of the blessings I have had this year, I am blessed with an amazing wife.

Chapter 8: Our Big Christmas Surprise
Dateline: December 25, 2012

I like a good surprise. For some reason, it brings me an unparalleled bit of happy, happy, joy, joy to have a good surprise to share. And what, my friends, could be a better surprise than if we could share the gender of our little Voci's with our family on Christmas morning? Um, let me go ahead and answer that...nothing. Nothing could be a better surprise. Only we had one little problem (well, two if you count both babies)...we didn't actually know the genders.

Our gender appointment with our new OB was scheduled for December 31st. We talked about planning a New Years gender reveal. We discreetly tried to find out what important family commitments were to determine if we could pull together a little surprise reveal. As with every family event, there's always someone missing. This time, David and Alissa would be out of state. Curses! Foiled!

Back to the drawing board. Based on availability, we were looking at some time in January before we could tell everyone together. There were several problems with this particular scenario. One: We are horrible at keeping secrets and the idea of having to keep this one, a big one, for weeks, seemed impossible. Two: We wanted a big, memorable reveal, not just a random day in January. What to do, what to do...we, my friends, are in a planning quandry.

As we begin to resign ourselves to having to settle on a non-descript, totally un-special day, my brilliant wife has an idea...what if we called Dr. Welden's office to see if he would do a secret gender ultrasound? Do you see? Do you see why I love my wife so much??? She is nothing short of amazing. Since she had the amazing idea, I undertook the task of trying to butter up Pam to get her to help us with this little task. Of course, Pam is amazing and it took very little buttering to get her convinced. She talked with Dr. Welden and he graciously agreed to perform the top-secret scan to find out what color we would be painting the nursery.

We go into Dr. Welden's office the Saturday before Christmas, incredibly excited to actually be back there and even more excited that we might find out genders and exceptionally excited that if we do, we get the awesome opportunity to plan a super special Christmas day reveal. I think I've made it clear that we're pretty submerged in excitement. We are the last and only patients left for the day so there's no rush to get through the ultrasound, except by me because I'm ridunkulously impatient and I want to know the genders of my kiddies, like yesterday. *Deep breath...patience, I tell myself, patience*.

Dr. Welden starts the ultrasound and in his traditional, non-rushed manner, starts pointing out anatomy benchmarks, like the length of the thigh bone, how that little white line in the back of the babies neck will be measured soon by the OB. I can only think to myself, "Oh dear God, all that is holy, please let him hurry up and find me a penis or vagina.". But, there is no rushing Dr. Welden, oh no, he takes his time and makes sure he gets it right. He starts with Baby 1 (now known as Baby A). He slowly navigates the anatomy of Baby 1/A. He spends a lot of time looking betwixt the little leggies of Baby A. Hhmmm...not seeing a penis, but not seeing the clear distinct "hamburger". Maybe a girl, hhmmm...still scanning...still looking. Uh, still looking. I don't want to sound ingracious, but geez oh pete, there was a lot of looking! I have never in my days seen so many eyes staring, squinting, struggling to determine what the grainy black/white/gray screen was saying to us. After a lot of eye strain, we move on to Baby 2 (now known as Baby B). Baby B seems to be a little more cooperative in showing off some parts but not much. It took some more manuvering of the ultrasound wand to get Baby B to show some secret gender parts. Again, the eye strain was incredible...staring, squinting enough to make the contrast clearer (at least in my mind), adding a 90 degree angle to my head as if that would be sufficient enough to clear things up for me. Dr. Welden, ever so patient, ever so vigilent, continues the search. Wait...what was that? A blip on the screen, ever so slight but could it be? Could it have been? I DON'T KNOW! BUT...Dr. Welden noticed it too! And much to my surprise, I learned that his handy dandy ultrasound machine has the power of rewind!!! Who knew?? So, he slooowwwlllyyy rewinds to find the mere blip we both thought we had just witnessed. STOP! There it was!!! The ever so slight indication of...A PENIS!!! Never in my life have I been so excited to see a little penis! (DO NOT MAKE THAT STATEMENT DIRTY!!! This is my son we're talking about, you perverts!). There it was...easily missed but on a freeze-frame, a sort of clear little blip between the legs of Baby 2/B. A boy! We were having a boy!!! All that is holy and sacred, we are having a boy! *Insert the sounds of a marching band playing that traditional bom-bom-bom-ba-bom-bom-bom-ba-bom-bommmm* Okay...this is good, great even! We're halfway there because let's be serious, you can't realistically do half a gender reveal. I know they have "It's a Boy" and "It's a Girl" balloons, but I'm not sure about the "It's probably a boy but not sure about the other" balloon options. That means we needed to figure this out...back to Baby 1/A. After more searching, we (and by we I mean Dr. Welden) hesitantly announces that since we (Dr. Welden) can't find the girl parts, it is likely that it may be a girl. Good enough for me! We're having a girl! At least that was the announcements we were going to be making. Holy "Amazing Christmas Gift" batman! Have I mentioned lately how lucky I am? Have I mentioned that I have truly been blessed? No? Strange, because that seems like all that I have been feeling lately. Incredibly lucky and incredibly blessed. And now God has given us yet another gift...a little boy and a little girl.

Alright, back to our regularly scheduled program. So now we were armed with some very important information. Genders. Sweet Jesus, I'm so excited that I can barely contain myself. Now comes the planning of our little Christmas day reveal.

We decide that we are going to do our reveal in waves since we have several Christmas day family events. We also decide that we're going to do them all the same. We head over to Party City and excitedly purchase one "It's a Boy" balloon, tied to a little blue plastic baby bottle, and one "It's a Girl" balloon, tied to a little pink plastic baby bottle. We proceed to wrap each balloon separately in a box that has a lid that lifts without having to be removed. This way, when the box is opened, the balloon will waft into the open air, surprising the opener of said special gift with the glad tidings of gender via helium inflated mylar. *Insert giddy laugh here*

Our first wave of gender surprise recipients are Jessica (big-sister-to-be), Nancy (grandma-to-be), Amanda and Bryan (aunt and uncle-to-be), and David and Alissa (uncle and aunt-to-be). We start with our traditional Christmas morning breakfast and then move to the portion of the show where gifts are exchanged and opened. Conveniently, we leave the two very large "reveal" gifts in the bedroom and anyone who asks is advised those are for my niece and nephew. After all gift exchanges have occurred and everyone is doling out thank-you's for gifts received, Heidi and I bring out the two special gifts. We pick Grandma and Uncle to open box #1. Everyone is a little confused about what these two big gifts were. *giddy laugh...again* Nancy and David begin unwrapping the box as Heidi and I look knowingly at each other. We know this moment is going to be remembered for a long time. We know that as soon as they open this gift, the excitement of opening the second gift will be evident. We smile and hold our breath as the box top opens. Out floats a beautiful blue balloon. A moment of silence and unsurity is quickly replaced with understanding. Grandma immediately starts crying, as does Aunt Amanda (because Aunt Amanda cries at everything). David is grinning from ear-to-ear because he wanted a boy to take fishing and camping. The smiles on our families faces are amazing. They are heart-warming. They are incredible. And now they are anxious...there's one more box! Big sister Jessica and Aunt Amanda get the exciting job of opening this box. Unlike the gingerly unwrapping of the first box, they both knew the contents...they just didn't know what color balloon would escape the box. And they both wanted a girl in the worse way. As the box opens, their wish is realized as a pink balloon confirms that there's also a little girl growing in that little belly of Heidi's. Of course, Nancy's first words "I knew it!!!". She's been saying we would be having a girl since the very beginning and today, on Christmas, she got the proud privilege of being right and saying I told you so. She also got the proud privilege of learning she was going to be a grandma to one of each - - a boy and a girl. This, my friends, was one of those moments we have in our lives where our hearts are so filled with joy and thankfulness that it almost feels as though it may just explode right in our chests. I have the distinct privilege of looking around at my family and reveling in their excitement for the new babies who would be joining us. It was a feeling very befit for a Christmas morning.

Our second wave of Christmas family was my mom, Connie, and my niece and nephew, Alyseeia and Dayne. Almost all of the details were the same with this event, except that breakfast was replaced with lunch. My mom opened the first box and saw that we were having a little boy. Dayne and Alyseeia opened the second box and discovered a new girl would be joining the family. Again, the excitement of the reveal made it a wonderful Christmas morning for all of us.

Christmas night held a different kind of reveal. Heidi's dad and step-mom, Joe and Teresa, live in Vermont so we decided we would try to Facebook video with them. Well, of course technology is about as cooperative as a cat in a bathtub (I don't know why, but I feel like an old Southern farmer with my little saying there...insert straw between my teeth and a tilted cowboy hat on my head...digression again...). After a little while of fiddling with Facebook video, Heidi suggests we try Skype. We have Skype! We skyped with a doctor in New York a million years ago in this process so we knew it would work. Except this time. For some reason, we could see them but we couldn't hear them. It only took a good ten minutes before we realized we could actually call them and talk on the phone whilst they watched our unveiling on Skype. Apparently excitement diminishes common sense. Pft. Anywho...finally able to visually and audibly communicate, we unwrapped each box to reveal to Grandpa and Nana the genders of the new grandbabies. Nana, of course, knew one was a boy. It's nice that she was right. :)

So, my friends, we come to the end of mini-novella #2. Only one more mini-novella to go and we should be up-to-date. Hopefully I get to that before the babies are born. :)

Here is momma-to-be near Christmas...doing an amazing job of creating one boy, one girl, two hearts beating wildy, to put it mildly, it was love at first sight!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mini-novella: Episode 1

Hello my virtual readers. I apologize for my extended absence from inviting you into the annals of our baby-making biopic. It wasn't for lack of wanting, it was multi-fold. One, the hard drive of our computer suffered an untimely death (insert funeral march music here). There was no way I was going to do a blog from my phone...I'd still be typing the intro! Secondly, it seems as though the days get away from me so quickly! Everyday I intend on virtually visiting with you, but before you know it, I'm ready for bed.

Now, since it has been so long since we've chatted, there are many new baby making things to discuss. So settle in for a long read. Grab some hot cocoa, your warm jammies and a blanket (unless you have the Snuggy and your blanket is your jammies) and prepare to commit a little time to the past month or two of pregnancy for the Voci's. Oh, and so we are clear...I missed you all madly...


Since my last blog left off with Heidi being all of ten weeks pregnant, I wanted to start our little novella with a picture. We have tried to take pictures of Heidi every couple of weeks to mark her ever increasing girth. Since we have been away so long, this blog should provide a pretty decent log of said growth through pictures. So, my friends, I begin our little blog with Heidi's week 10 baby pose:

Chapter 1: Fetal Gymnastics
Dateline: November 14, 2012

Not all of you know that in her pre-Lawanna life, Heidi was a gymnast. She did gymnastics for her church group and she coached gymnastics. Gymnastics was actually how I met her...she was my daughter's gymnastics coach. So, I suppose it should come as no surprise that at our ultrasound visit, we saw the most amazing gymnastics. They were all over the place! As Dr. Welden did the ultrasound, we could see each baby, one after the other, turning and twisting, kicking and moving around! He would poke a baby and it would do a full-on body flip! It was our first time seeing so much detail in their heads, arms and legs. Even more amazing was that throughout the entire gymnastic show, Heidi felt not one thing. Now, I know that they are mere ounces, and that their little legs and arms are mere wisps at this point, but just seeing all of the movement, it was just amazing to me that the entire 2012 fall olympics were happening in Heidi's uterus and sans ultrasound, she would have no idea.

This visit is also a little bittersweet. While we had an amazing ultrasound and are literally walking on cloud nine, we also know that we are nearing the end of our time with Dr. Welden's office. Heidi is wholly aware that our time is coming to a close and with each visit, she is saddened more and more, knowing that the impending end is coming. There is something so comforting about Dr. Welden's office. They are our family. We may have taken a break from their office, but going back was the best thing we could have done...the amount of commitment from everyone there leaves me speechless. I'm sure that each person in the office will attest to the fact that I'm a pain in the ass. I'm also pretty sure they love me back. Pam and Tana are forever aunties to our babies. And Dr. Welden is forever the person who made our dreams come true. So, yea, this visit is a prelude to our inevitable, impending sadness. Bittersweet.

Chapter 2: Just say no to drugs...

My friends, during our mini-sabbatical from blogging, we reached a ridiculously exciting milestone. Drumroll, please...I have officially stopped shooting up my wife...with fertility drugs, that is. To be clear, that was the only thing I shot her up with, in the event law enforcement is crawling through cyberspace looking for criminals. I suppose to be fair, the bigger accomplishment would be for Heidi, who has been the recipient of an inordinate number of shots since August 15th. Her boom-boom-pow actually sighed a breath of relief when we announced to it that its days of receiving injections had come to an end. I would state for the record, because that's what this blog is, unofficially, our record, that at the end of our injections, Heidi's arsafarce was wrought with lumps and bruises. If you ran your hand over either cheek, you would notice two things: 1. there were walnut sized lumps covered with bruises from the progesterone injections on both cheeks...I mean, for could feel the huge lump under your hand. The second thing you would notice is me glaring at you for putting your hand on my wife's ass. Seriously...take your hand off. I will fight you. I imagine for those of you who have gotten knocked up the "old fashioned" way, there is likely not a full appreciation for what Heidi's abdomen and butt have gone through to get pregnant. To prove the old adage that "a picture is worth a thousand words" is spot on, here is a little something to wrap your head around. The picture below encompasses every needle for every shot Heidi took throughout this process. Now, to be clear, it doesn't include anything given at the doctor's office or at a hospital. And, some of the needles screw on so you don't see the full syringe. They count, brothers and sisters, oh yes they do!

Chapter 3: The "glow" of pregnancy

Another milestone reached that I'm sure Heidi would have been just as happy to skip...nausea. Not morning sickness. No, no...that is a bit of a misnomer to indicate that one is only nauseous in the a.m. And because my wife is insistent on not doing anything the normal way, her little body opted to play out her morning sickness in the evening. I would say that this was probably better for her because she didn't have to muddle through work feeling like each person approaching her desk might invoke regurgitation. Instead, I got to be that person. And everything I cooked. And the smell of the dogs. And the smell of dog food. Hell, pretty much the smell of anything. I have come to believe that the "glow" one gets when pregnancy is actually little beads of perspiration that surface when your body reacts to anything that may induce a little feeling of pending "yack attack". And with her evening sickness came extreme tiredness. Perhaps her exhaustion stemmed from the fact that I could rarely get her to eat an entire dinner, thereby leaving her depleted of the energy typically derived from food sources. So each evening, we would sit down to dinner, Heidi would start to look a little green around the gills, try to eat, effectively reduce the confidence I typically felt about my culinary skills, then head off to bed. Each night, this routine ended around 7:00 p.m. After 7:00 p.m., the dogs and I were left to our own devices. Alone. Surfing the internet, watching crappy TV. One would think that this newfound alone time would have provided me with an opportunity to quietly ponder my impending new life, to exercise and prepare myself for the increased stamina I was sure to require once the babies were born, to meditate and find myself. But no. I was just lonely. I did come to realize how much I enjoy my time with Heidi. I also came to realize that my time with Heidi while she was effectively unconscious was not the same. I missed my wife.

Chapter 4: The End
Dateline: November 23, 2012

Today is our last appointment with Dr. Welden. We are both excited and sad. We could potentially find out the sex of the babies if the planets align and the universe works in our favor. Then, the flip side...our last visit. I've already lamented about how difficult this day will be for us; now it is becoming a reality. Since this is our last visit, we bring Heidi's mom and sister with us. Both have really wanted to meet Dr. Welden and since this is the last visit (sob, sob, wiping snot), they came along to officially meet the babies and the fertility family.

Now, we knew that we may be able to find out the gender at this visit. We also knew that we wanted to find that out together, just Heidi and I. There are certain milestones within our journey that we like to share with just us at first, then everyone else afterward. This was one of them. So, Nancy (Heidi's mom) and Amanda (Heidi's sister) waited in the waiting room whilst we got started on the ultrasounding. Of course, in my head, I had anticipated that mere moments after the insertion of the ultrasound wand, a prominent penis or vagina, or count my lucky stars, both, would immediately appear on screen. I mean, let's be honest. I've seen both a penis and a vagina. I feel qualified to duly designate which fetus was the owner of either of these and heaven knows I know my way around an ultrasound, so, yea, I was more than prepared to genderize our babies. And I was fully confident that today was that day. And so it began...the process of finding out what color our nursery would be. The search began and well, I was not able to immediately locate any genitalia. Hhmmm...might I have over-estimated my capabilities? What? What am I saying, doubting myself. Of course I haven't...we shall keep searching. Still we were getting quite a bit into the ultrasound. Still nothing. For one thing, we have some squirmy little boogers. They don't like to stay very still. We also seem to have some very discreet little boogers because no matter what Dr. Welden did, he could not ping on the boy/girl parts...they kept moving. Huh...

After a bit of time, we had the nurse retrieve Nancy and Amanda because we didn't want them to miss the entire ultrasound. We were a little disappointed that we had not yet received our big news, but we didn't want them to miss out on this opportunity to see the kiddies. After Nancy and Amanda walk in and we introduce them to Dr. Welden, the ultrasound continues. Before I proceed, let me take a step back and set the scene for you...darkish room, Heidi nekked from the waist down, vaginal probe inserted, well, vaginally. I'm guessing this was not the ideal scenario within which to have your mom and sister come hang out. But my girl is committed to including mom and sis so she endured. And so we continued searching, looking at babies, searching for "parts", Nancy and Dr. Welden chatting, Amanda crying (she cries as much as me, if not more). Heidi told Dr. Welden how much she appreciated all that he did for us and now she was crying. Of course, hearing her cry and express her appreciation made me a little teary eyed as well. Nancy, well, she was just trying to recite the Message in a Minute for Dr. Welden. All in all, it was bittersweet. We left the ultrasound not finding out the gender of our babies but happy that we had made it this far in our process, far enough to have to move to a new doctor. It was sad, but important. Twelve weeks was our milestone...a sad one because we had to close this chapter, but exciting because we had made it this far; we were moving on to a new doctor. This was huge for us. But...before we could finish this chapter, we still had one more good-bye...Pam and Tana. As we were walking out, it was our time to say good-bye (for now) to our girls. (You should know that I'm crying a little as I type this...). These are OUR GIRLS. They have held our hands, laughed, cried, supported, endured (which is my fancy way of saying put up with me), taught me how to shoot my wife up, answered the phone at all hours of the morning, responded to texts at all hours, joined our family for personal events, our girls. How the hell were we going to get through the rest of our pregnancy without them? While I was incredibly happy that we had reached this point, I will still so sad to be saying good-bye to them. And so it was done. We were moving on to a new doctor, the next twenty-eight weeks of our journey.

To end this chapter, here is Heidi's twelve week picture. This is a huge milestone. Twelve weeks. It's becoming so real!

And so this ends Episode 1. I know I've not completely caught up, but I promise...I shall do my best to expedite Episode 2. Until then, my friends...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Coming Out...Baby Style!

Whilst most traditional couples, like ourselves (haha...we are SO traditional), wait the requisite twelve weeks before announcing the arrival of their little bundle of joy, we had a couple of obstacles we had to consider when making our timeline determination.

First, baby mama is skinny. She is a little girl and quite frankly, if she eats a large lunch, just her post-Chinese food baby is quite evident. Add ovarian hyper-stimulation pooch and double duty making twins, ergo two bundles of joy, it's a little difficult to hide her ever growing tummy.

Second, we work with a bunch of women. Women are intuitive. They sense stuff, especially hormonal baby-making stuff. Heidi and I had more than one conspiratorial conversation about our observation of various sets of eyes we caught wandering down to Heidi's mid-section, coupled with a quizzical look and suspecting expression (I said they were intuitive, not subtle). So while Heidi was finally starting to experience the body temperature of a normal person instead of freezing all day, she now found herself covering up with a sweater every day at work. Sometimes she forgot the sweater (clue number one as to why she would never make it in something like the witness protection program...obliviousness to the necessity of hiding something).

Finally, she's managed to pack on about seven pounds in the last few weeks. When you start out as a skinny girl, seven pounds is noticeable (I would point out that this is my average weekly weight deviation so no one suspected I may actually be pregnant...true story). These seven little pounds have settled themselves in three places on Heidi: her cheeks (facial...bring your eyes up, you perverts!), her belly, and favorite place, her boobs. I would add here, mostly for my own fond remembrance when I am later re-reading this blog and reflecting on our baby making journey that this week marked the very first time in Heidi's life that her boobs popped a button on a shirt. Actually, she did it several times in the same day. God bless pregnancy.

So, with all of that being considered and discussed, we decided that sooner was better for the telling of our news, our secret. This was, after all, big news for us. If we waited another two weeks, it would pretty much be a non-event, likely to only be met with a "Yea, duh!"...much like our first coming out.

In my last blog, I mentioned my enthusiasm about an upcoming support staff meeting and finally being able to tell the folks at work that Heidi was with child, or children as the case may be. Well, apparently my over-exuberance at the prospect of blabbing about two years worth of kept secrets overpowered my abdominal system, and with the harshness of an emotionally detached abusive parent, I was violently struck down...with a stomach bug. I awoke at approximately 12:30 a.m. with the onset of an abdominal virus that, by the next morning, had fully convinced me I would actually die from throwing up. At some point in that day, I actually asked the big man upstairs to stop dragging it out and just go ahead and take me since it was obvious that was his intention. There were several conversations between myself and John, my new porcelain friend, about how if I could just finish regurgitating by 3:00 a.m. or 4:30 a.m. or whatever time followed, I could still get enough sleep to make it to work the next day to share my amazing news. By 6:00 a.m., John and I finally accepted the harsh reality that we were not going to make it to work for our big announcement. Not that it mattered really, the big announcement would now change and be delivered by Heidi and would include something to the effect of Lawanna dying on the bathroom floor, her entire intestinal system left in the bowels of our septic system, may she rest in peace.

Well, to your amazement and mine, this blog is not being penned posthumously. I survived. So the next day, I drug my precarious intestinal system into work and immediately rescheduled the staff meeting to that morning. I was going to get this done, dammit! I was going to share our news! Heidi had already made a bad joke when she came home the day before about having shared the news and the excitement of the staff...all without me. I couldn't risk it. I had to make it to work...must take anti-nausea medicine, must get to work, must let Heidi drive today...must...make...announcement...

OK, it wasn't really all that bad. But I was very excited and anxious. So when the time finally came and I finished all the real business on the agenda, the time had arrived. Oh, a little back story...our department happens to have an inordinate number of twins. I used this little factoid as my baby coming out prop. Back to current stage: I asked several associates and Heidi to stand up. I then asked my staff what these gals had in common. To be fair, in real life, they really have nothing in common except they all work in the legal department, they are all fabulous employees, they all love me incredibly...well, I guess I was wrong, they have a lot in common. Anywho, one of the gals, actually a twin I had forgotten to include, ironically enough, said, "Well, they're all twins but Heidi isn't a twin." I said, well, sort of...and as I pointed at each girl I said, "She has a twin, she has a twin, she has a twin" and as I got to Heidi I said, "And she's making twins". It took a moment for the realization to kick in (a little longer for of the gals asked me what the punchline was, LOL) but when it did, the congratulations started flowing and I was immediately filled with pride and joy and excitement and just so many emotions that I guess just narrow down to really happy. I was giddy, that's it...giddy. I was giddy.

Well, my friends, we were not the only ones in that room who knew we were getting ready to break our news, who knew our secret. *Insert dramatic boom, boom, boom music here* After most of the congratulations had been doled out and hugs given, despite the fact that I was the potential carrier of a deadly abdominal virus, an associate asked me and Heidi into my office. She handed us a gift bag. Hhmmm...this is curious. We open the card and it contained the sweet sentiment of congratulatory accolades for parents-to-be. The gift bag held two adorable sets of booties. Now, I can shop my friends. I can do it at rapid speed, becoming a blur in Macy's in my exuberance at being able to shop til I drop. Despite my super-shopping skills, even I could not have shopped, bought, wrapped and signed in the ten minutes between the end of our meeting and the presentation of this unexpected gift. I'm sure the looks of "How? What? How?" must have been quite amusing...I chuckle internally thinking how we must have looked in our total confusion. She confided that she knew about the blog and had been anxiously waiting for us to break the news. She knew all of our secrets and had, impressively enough, managed to keep it secret even though she confessed there were times she would check the blog several times in a day to try to find out what was going on. Haha...turnabout is fair play, as they say...the secret-keeper found another keeper of the secret who knew about the secret keeping. Very tricky, my little friend, very tricky.

Our coming out at work then led to our coming out on Facebook. Facebook is the quickest way to spread any kind of news. It was incredibly heart-warming to see the congratulatory responses and the re-posting of our ultrasound picture on the sister-to-be and the aunt-to-be's pages. We realized we weren't the only ones excited about sharing our were the other people waiting to meet their new family members. If I haven't said it before, I'm saying it cup runneth over. I am so blessed and so fortunate to be surrounded by such amazing people who are so genuinely vested in our lives and are so intertwined with us that they make our lives better, complete. We are so fortunate to have family and friends that care so much about us. It is almost over-whelming in the most amazingly positive way possible. I'm almost speechless. And that, my friends, is a feat in and of itself.

This leads me to our final coming out of the week. Several of our friends have asked about our baby daddy. We realized we had only posted stuff about baby-daddy's past (which totally makes Heidi sound a little loose but I assure you, despite the fact she has had several potential baby daddy's, she is very chaste and pure.) Our most recent baby daddy, he of the apparent strong swimming sperm, is below. What do we know about baby daddy, aside from his complete medical history and personal history, which we will not share here because that would feel like some strange divulging of personal information (I gotta stop working in a legal department,'s affecting the integrity of my blogging...) but I will share this random fact. This was not a deciding factor on choosing this donor. It was actually one I believe we initially overlooked and only later found but relevant nonetheless. It was that which made this meant to be. Fate, if you will.

Our donor is a snowboarder.

I'm gonna let that sink in for a minute. I's heavy, right? *Playing ponder appropriate music* I'm telling you, it was meant to be. Not only are our children likely to be named after superheroes for their amazing endurance and tenacity, they will likely also be professional snowboarders. I mean, come on, it's clearly fate. You couple the amazing carving skills of their mothers with the fact that their completely anonymous donor is also a snowboarder and it's obvious. It's. Meant. To. Be. Shawn White...revel in your moment. Own your titles now. The Voci children are chomping at your heels, ready to take over the snowboarding world. This is prophetic, my friends. Mark your calendars for, like, I don't know...2029. Watch for the names of snowboarders in the Winter X Games. You'll see. I digress once again into seeing into the future. Back to current day. Actually, back to the past. Here is our donor in a younger man's clothes...this is not his actual current age. I present to you...snowboarding baby. While cowboy hat baby, Abercrombie baby, and glass blowing baby will always hold a place in our collective hearts, snowboarding baby has ridden his way into our lives. He has given us the gift of baby superhero snowboarders. Kids...say hello to dad. Well, donor. Not dad. Donor. Kids, say hello to donor.

One last post script before I sign off: Today marks another milestone. For my mathematician friends (which by my calculations are probably 0.0 unless you count the Korean who is just inherently good at math because of genetics), we are officially 25% of the way through our journey. One quarter. One half of one half. Ten weeks into a forty week trek. It's not been so bad. OK, well, a little trying but we're on the upside. As Heidi finishes healing from surgery, the huge abdominal bruise is finally fading. This bruise has been the primary impediment to her allowing me to take any tummy portraits. Since it is finally fading, I am hoping to convince her to start posing for some pregnancy pictures. I'm pretty persuasive...I think I can do it. I mean, I have talked her into crazier things. :)