Tuesday, April 27, 2010

To Bank or Not to Bank

Happy note: 34 weeks tomorrow...and holding!

Long before noodles were in the picture and the propaganda started rolling in, Mr. W and I had discussed cord blood banking. It was mostly scientific and medically related conversation and had no relevance to any real-life situation for us at the time.

But as noodles continued to grow, the topic became more timely. We discussed it with one of our perinatologists, who felt it was still experimental and that private companies preyed on the fears of new parents. He felt the private banks were too expensive, and that public banks were a better choice, however there isn't one in our state. So in our usual fashion, we made a pro and con list that looked something like this:


1) The technology is evolving daily. We don't know what cord blood and stem cells may be capable of doing in even the near future.
2) There is a 50/50 chance noodles' cord blood would be a match for me. And a slightly smaller chance there is a match for Mr. W or another family member.
3) Mr. W's pancreas was attacked by a virus or other autoimmune disorder when he was 20. There is otherwise no genetic history of diabetes anywhere in his family. These stem cells may be an option for him down the road, or for noodles if the same thing happens.
4) Mr. W's first cousin needed a bone marrow transplant last month. There were no matches in the family.
5) Because noodles are identical, the cord blood can be stored together, thus the potential to get twice as much for only one fee.
6) There is a courtesy professional discount available to Mr. W since he is in the medical field and there is a discount to lock in and pre-pay the storage fees.
7) The long-term cost, including processing, collection, and factoring in a pre-paid 25 year storage agreement works out to only a few dollars per month.
8) It's a relatively inexpensive 'possible' life insurance policy for two kids, with the possibility of benefit for one of us.
9) We can lose more money in one day in our 401k than the cost of this program.
10) There is no charge if the collection is insufficient for processing.


1) The technology is still experimental.
2) The initial up front cost is still a chunk when you're trying to bring home 2 new babies on top of it.
3) There is a small issue of custody of the cells, should both of us die before noodles turn 25. It's similar to the embryo custody issue. We figure the cells would need to be addressed in the family trust.
4) There is another issue of custody after noodles turn 25. Since all of the cells would be stored together, which one of the noodles gets to decide when to dispose of them, or when to stop paying storage?
5) There is the possibility the cells could be lost or destroyed in courier transit, or a natural disaster could wipe out the storage lab facility.
6) It adds an extra layer of things for doctors to do in the OR while you're trying to have your kids delivered.
7) There are 30 or so private banks. Which one do you pick?

As you can see from our list, the pros outweighed the cons for us. I researched banks for awhile and narrowed it down to two. In the end, the one I picked (while more expensive) was the longest established one and was funding the most research and had been involved in the largest number of actual beneficial procedures with positive outcomes. Our kit arrived last week (not a minute too soon!) and is packed in noodles' bag o'stuff for the hospital. I am happy with our decision and hope we never need to use the cells ourselves, but they could still benefit someone else one day too.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Forced Parenting

Note: We are still in a holding pattern...32 weeks and 3 days happy.

This post has been gathering steam for some time, so I apologize for it's length.

In my recent boatloads of free time I've been planning two vacations Mr. W and I want to take with the noodles. Both of them were vacations we intended to take anyway, but are now reworking to accommodate the little guys.

The first is to San Francisco in July. Noodles will be just over 2 months old. This was a scheduled visit to the Italian consulate we pushed back because we need noodles' birth certificates to finalize our Italian citizenships. This will be a travel "dry run" of sorts. Easy trip, familiar surroundings for us, and an opportunity to test out a nanny we've identified. Of course, we'll also wander our way 6o miles to the north, to my favorite place. Mommy is going through withdrawal and needs her wine. Mr. W and I joke that we must break noodles in the right way, so they will grow up to be good little winemakers.

The second trip we have planned is to Italy in September. I've spent the last few months researching travel needs and trying to work out potential bugs. Noodles will be close to 5 months old and if the nanny works out in July, she will travel with us on this trip too.

I've talked with a lot of people who travelled with infants, including multiples. Many have said it is the easiest time of all to take them places. These same people have well-adjusted kids who seem easy-going and flexible as they get older. A triplet mom told me that often whatever disasters she imagined were far worse than anything that ever happened. I'm sure she's right.

Then there is the other camp. The parents who cast a horrific look at me when I mention our plans and tell me I'm completely frigging nuts. These people lecture me about how I have no clue what I'm in for. They shake their heads, roll their eyes, or make reference to 'my lifestyle' not being so accommodating anymore. Interestingly, these people often never left the house for the first 6 years of their kids' lives. Their kids don't adapt well to change, outside stimuli, and generally behave crappy. And here's the real truth - in the majority of these situations, these children were accidents-popped out like little farts in the wind. These parents didn't battle IF. They were never told they couldn't have children. They never had something ripped out from inside their bodies. They never had something die inside and then carry it around for months afterward. Mr. W and I labeled them "forced parents." Now, I am sympathetic to hardships others encounter, but my sympathy runs thin when people talk about how they went off the pill and couldn't believe they got pregnant. Like, the next day. Well, WTF did you think would happen?

And this brings me to my favorite forced parenting story. I've been picking a friend's brain who had 'accidental' twins. Interestingly, she's had virtually nothing positive to say about the experience. She dishes me most of the crappy side of things, and rarely shares so much as a single glimmer of enjoyment. I've chalked this up to her odd personality traits and the fact that she gets pregnant just by casting a glance her way.

So the other day I decided to try a different route. Her husband stopped by to bring me info on a product he was selling that I asked about. I expected his usual cheery self to inject some humor into raising twins when I asked. However, when I expressed our extreme excitement and travel plans, he grimaced. His face sunk and then he stared at me like a deer in the headlights. He quietly suggested I wasn't prepared for what I was about to experience, then mentioned every time he comes home from a business trip, he walks into a disaster. He let out a big sigh, then got up and left.

As a last ditch effort, Mr. W decided to call the friend's husband. You know, just for guy talk. Mr. W half jokingly asks what advice he can give for raising twins since ours are coming soon. The friend's husband says, "Dude, if I had to go through it all over again, I'd run the other way."

We were both speechless. Is it possible we are that naive?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Formerly Boring Meets The NICU

Apparently I stayed boring for about as long as I could.

Wednesday I was admitted to the hospital for what turned out to be gestational hypertension. After several labs and other tests, preeclampsia has been ruled out, for now anyway. However, doctors expect the hypertension to escalate over time and predict a delivery in the next 7-20 days.

Got your attention now, I bet! Yeah, got mine too !!

I am 31 weeks and 3 days today. Delivery will put us at 32-34 weeks. As a result, noodles will likely spend 2-4 weeks in the NICU. I have been given 2 courses of steroid shots to mature their lungs. Following a complete meltdown in the hospital (partially steroid induced I'm sure) in which I blamed myself, a friend who had three kids in the NICU including a set of twins, visited to help pull me back from the ledge. Yesterday Mr. W and I met with a neonatologist and toured the NICU. Highly recommend both of these events, if you find yourself headed in this direction.

Noodles are measuring 2lbs 12 oz and 3 lbs 8 oz. Yes, there is a widening difference in size. And yes, Baby A seems a bit behind in the 20th percentile. Despite all of this, doctors are optimistic about the noodles development and expect them to do well in the NICU. Baby B has hiccups now, almost every time after I eat. Baby A was practicing his breathing skills on my last scan. And the non-stress tests (NST) were fine. All of this is good news.

I am back home now, on full bed rest until delivery, with the exception of twice weekly office visits. I have stepped away from the ledge and am trying not to pour salt in my wounds. I don't feel panicked. Everything is ready for noodles when they come home and as 'less than optimal' as this is, I must admit I can't wait to meet them. Mr. W is like a rock. You would think after nearly 18 years of marriage, I would have every one of his personality traits analyzed to a T. But I find myself still amazed by the stuff he is made of.

My last matter of resolution is this blog. I have been pondering for several weeks now what to do with it. What started as an IF blog, has morphed into a pregnancy blog, and could very quickly become a blog about life with noodles - something I have decided against. I've considered protected posts, as some of you have done. I've considered just being "done". But there are a few of you I would like to share stories with and keep in contact with if you're interested. I think I can best accomplish this in emails. If you're interested in getting these emails and keeping in contact with me that way, please let me know. Drop me an email at speclk2 at hotmail dot com or leave me a comment with your email address. Comments left on my site must be approved before posting so I will not post your email address if you leave it there. Oh, and I'm still reading all of your blogs with great interest, I just haven't been commenting as much lately.