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COVID, PREGNANCY, AND PERSEVERANCE

COVID, PREGNANCY, AND PERSEVERANCE

Brenda Alvarez / Mar 28, 2020

Brenda leads our local Thursday Night Flight Club at our Seattle Flagship Store and writes an email to the group each week. The emails are normally about events of the week plus running routes and occasional streams of consciousness filled with humor. But this week was different, so we are sharing it here.

Evening friends,

Anyone still up? I guess a better question would be who's actually sleeping through the night these days, am I right? I was already a terrible sleeper way before this pandemic broke out and just when I thought I had a handle on my insomnia (thanks to modern-day drugs), we got pregnant. And the docs were like, "Yeah, we can't have you taking your Prozac anymore. We know it's really helping you manage your anxiety,” which was leading to insomnia and so many other health issues, “But we don't really know how these drugs affect pregnancy, so no more happy pills for you. Okay?"

Yeah, not okay, but did I have a choice? Here I was, elated to finally get pregnant and the very drugs that I'm convinced helped me get pregnant were now being taken away. Okay, no big deal. We can do this. It's just nine months. I battled with bouts of anxiety, depression, and severe anxiety most of my life. What was nine months?

Fast forward to our first ultrasound where we discovered we were having twins. No medical intervention, just one of life's little miracles. Right? Enter hysterical laughter followed by three days of sheer panic and some joy because, hey, double the blessing, right? No problem, we got this.

The first trimester goes by without a hitch, despite being told repeatedly that this pregnancy was high risk. For starters, at 39 I was already labeled Old AF by the medical profession. They call us preggo ladies over 35 “geriatric,” so, lovely, huh? I guess my old-ass eggs took offense to that, decided to become magicians at the eleventh hour, and split into two. Shazam! Enter identical twins with a shared placenta. It's like we were winning the high stakes lottery, but not one we had in mind. Okay. Okay. I feel fine. My body can do this. We got this. 

For starters, at 39 I was already labeled Old AF by the medical profession.

Then week 20 rolls around, and the fun keeps coming at an unprecedented pace. I was somehow tossed onto a rollercoaster I didn't even know existed or had any interest in riding. LOL. (I'm afraid of heights and hence don't care much for roller coasters. No thank you!) Turns out that the babies that were once thriving and growing beautifully at 18 weeks decided they were gonna act up from here on out. One baby kept growing nicely (Baby B), while Baby A kinda started to lag behind. Okay. Okay. Smiling through the rest of that appointment, putting on a brave face, only to lose my shit shortly after walking out and getting in my car. Mayday, mayday -- we don't got this!! 

Every-other-week appointments become weekly appointments. More inconsistencies begin to show. I'm gonna spare you all the medical terms because ain't nobody got time for added stress. LOL. Long story short, Baby A is simply never gonna catch up to Baby B and now there's concern the babies may develop twin-to-twin transfusion. Emotions officially on overdrive.

Gutted. I dig as deep as I can to stay strong, but truth be told, I've never felt more vulnerable and afraid in my life.

Week 24 rolls around and my heart is in my throat. We get admitted for the first time because Baby A is still acting up and making everyone nervous. So they gave us a round of steroids in case things go south. I am beyond devastated. Gutted. I dig as deep as I can to stay strong, but truth be told, I've never felt more vulnerable and afraid in my life. (Like, ever, and I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father. Just so you get the picture.)

We make it through week 24. Twin-to-twin transfusion is ruled out. We get released from the hospital and I feel shattered both physically and emotionally, but thankful that our babies didn't have to come out yet.

Fast forward to today, and guess who's back in the hospital? We are! Whatta ya know. Baby A coming in hot with the drama again. Now there's a new development where Baby A's blood is not flowing properly, and, since these babies are connected, if one baby develops an issue, the other baby doesn't have an option to sit it out. Next up, another round of steroids, more monitoring, poking, prodding, ultrasounds, and my favorite part, the waiting. The unknown in overdrive. Oh yeah, and in the middle of a pandemic.

So yeah...sleeping through the night and staying calm takes a lot of extra work these days. And not just for me, but for so many people around the globe. Yes, I want to sit here and write you inspirational things, but I also wanna keep it real with you guys, which is why I decided to share my story. Not for pity or attention, but to walk the talk and remind us all that we can do hard things and we can overcome. It doesn't have to be pretty, or glamorous, and we certainly do not need to fake or suppress our pain or avoid talking about hard things.

I think most of the time we go through life trying to prove how brave and strong we are all, which is great. But there's something to be said for allowing ourselves to feel sad, scared and vulnerable. Sitting with fear and vulnerability is no fun. They're not sexy or cool emotions. We usually work really hard to keep these emotions at bay or suppress them as best we can. But these emotions, whether we label them good, bad etc., they're part of our humanity. We are all these beautiful and hard emotions together, and right now we're straddling a thousand emotions in a given minute.

I encourage us all to sit with these emotions and let them out. Share them with a loved one or call a friend. Seriously, like, actually call. Hear their voice or leave them a voicemail. Now more than ever we all need connection, and thanks to technology we can do that in an instant. What's more, for so many of us in Seattle and all over Washington state, we can still go outside as long as we continue practicing good social distancing. So, do that. Get your blood flowing via a good run or virtual workout. Sit and breathe deeply through a hard emotion, but whatever you do, don't hold that shit in. Don't confuse social distancing with isolation. Keep connecting and sharing with us. I know it's been said before, but, gosh darn, it's just true...We are in this together.

Stay safe. Meet your emotions where they are and keep moving. Sending huge virtual hugs to you all.

Warmly,

Brenda Alvarez

TNFC Leader | Oiselle Flystylist

10 comments

  • Murray Leah: May 10, 2020

    So touched by your story. My baby spent 77 days in the nicu (was born at 29 weeks) she is now 16 months old and thriving 🤍🤍🤍 the nicu time feels like such a blur, do whatever you need to get thru it and hang on to your favorite nicu nurses !! I’m still Facebook friends with mine ;) all my love and CONGRATS!!!!!

  • janet: May 05, 2020

    love this, bren❤️
    hope you’re able to find some quiet snippets of space in your days, after the boys come home, to continue sharing your thoughts.
    🤗❤️🤗

  • Kay Schwalm: April 03, 2020

    Morning Brenda!
    We met at Bird Camp and I was so happy to hear your news of your pregnancy. I am a high risk OB nurse for 35+ years and I have taken care of many pregnant woman with your type of twin pregnancy. As for the “advanced maternal age” don’t let that get you down. 30-40’s are the new 20’s these days! And heck you have the spirit of a 20 year old and that in itself will be on your side. Your twins are getting you ready for parenthood a bit earlier than most. But know you are in the right place and the monitoring is the best means for watching their well being. This pandemic though has robbed you of the family support at your bedside. And for that I am sorry. I can tell you I would spend many hours with my patients who didn’t have family close by. I wish you were my patient right now because I would create the atmosphere you need and we would have many moments of laughter along with many moments of tears. This is not how a pregnancy is suppose to be. You feel fine, so why can’t you be enjoying your pregnancy like everyone else. But, sometimes we get thrown a curve ball, and you my dear, will be the batter that takes that curve ball, and hits a home run. I would tell my patients that right now in this moment, it seems like forever. And it is the toughest thing to go through. But once these twins are born, and you are involved with their daily routine of which hours fly by, and when they turn one, you will look back at this time and realized it is a brief time in their lifetime. And you will be able to share with them the time you spent keeping them safe inside your womb to give them the best shot once they were born. I too had a high risk pregnancy of which I was on bedrest for 10 weeks. I kept a journal (no computers back then!!!LOL) and my son to this day reads it. He now has a son of his own and realizes the sacrifices a parent takes on the moment they find out that they are going to have a baby and in your case babies. The stories you can tell them especially baby A how he/she gave you more grey hair prior to his/her birth!!! You will have good moments and not so good moments, trust me. But allow yourself to cry, be angry, be sad but then realize you are still blessed with two little humans growing inside you of which you will get to meet and mold their futures. This is the most difficult thing you will go through. Trust me. But I know you to be a very strong woman. Know so many of us are supporting you and your babies. Let us help you in any way you need it. And if you have any questions, or thoughts or just want to talk to another mom who knows what you are going through and also knows the medical aspects of your pregnancy, please reach out to me. Hang in there my dear sweet Brenda. Many prayers are being said for you and your babies and your family!!!
    hugs my dear,
    Kay

  • Kim: April 03, 2020

    Thanking you for being so brave in sharing. Sending you love and strength and hugs! 💗

  • Jenni: March 30, 2020

    Hang in there, mama! I just had my second baby last night (despite also being old AF at 40), and she’s amazing! Suddenly, all the trouble going on in the world doesn’t seem so bad while we’re laying in this hospital bed. I wish you all the best in the remainder of your pregnancy (and don’t let anyone actually use that age thing against you!!!)! P.S. thanks for the heads up on the Roll With It Bird Hug Tights – You told me about them on Instagram when I was looking for maternity gear and they were my go-to for the third trimester!!!

  • Claire : March 30, 2020

    From another geriatric mama, obgyn, runner. You got this lady, you are in the right place and everyday in the uterus is fewer days in the nicu. You will get to run and frolic outside again before you know it! Until then I’ve heard Tiger King is quite popular 🤷🏻‍♀️

  • Renee: March 30, 2020

    You rock, Brenda! I can relate to dramatic pregnancies as I had my own tumultuous experience. Try to breathe and keep yourself from freaking out as much as possible (way easier said than done)!! Hang in there!!

  • Tonya J. Hancock: March 30, 2020

    OMG! So much.

    Ok, before Corona, we have the Tornados. March 3 there were seven tornados to tear a 60 mile path of destruction through Davidson County. Seven days later, as we were still picking up rubble and debris and my husbands Guard Ynit was activated today managed the tornado cleanup in nearby county, we have to evacuate and sanitize the schools. Then we close them altogether. Then, last night, we were under a tornado watches again; I have never been so freaked out. My husband is deployed, again, for two different COVID-19 missions: o e to distribute supplies across the state (he is the logistics guy), and is to figure out how to handle an…infested…assisted living center.

    Then Lauren breaks the good news: TWINS! I knew you were pregnant, but Twins? Twins! I always wanted twins! Now I am reconsidering my wish. It is hard enough to stay at home with one seven year old (who I did likely unwisely force to run a 3 mile distance with me on Friday, just because Inwas going CRAYCRAY, but two :0!

    I was also pregnant at 39 and most of the medical community went CRAZY (ultrasounds every week? Really? I don’t have that much room on my computer!), but my midwife said, “39 is a concern for the majority of 39 year olds. But you don’t look 39. You don’t act 39. Your body vitals do not test 39, they are more like 28, so no worries.”

    My plan for a home water birth went awry when we were over a week PAST the due date (that’ll never happen with Twins, right?) at my checkup the doc said, “there’s no more fluid. We need to induce now.”

    Okay, no problem, I’ll just go home and get my things,

    “NO! Go across the street and get checked in now!” (still would have been fine, as I had plenty of time in checkin to let my boss know I was going on maternity leave and send a detailed note to my husband who was speeding home to get my things…but I did not know that when I said on the third shelf in the bathroom that he would look in the third drawer and not find XYZ, or when I said my red bag is packed and in the guest room he would grab it and not zip it (WTH) and loose some essential items enroute).

    In any case, just 13 hours later with an oxygen mask thrown in later, a bouncing beautiful blue-eyed baby boy Baxton. Complete with the outfit (THANK GOD) that I and my older sister wore when we were infants (I had laid it out in an obvious and easily describable place along with the cloth diapers). Mental note: best laid plans, and all that. If you are planning to have a home north there is no downside to having everything ready and packed in a bag on the changing table..

    And you get two! Suhweet! It will be awesome! You will be awesome! You ARE awesome!

  • Bonnie J Dewkett: March 30, 2020

    WOW. I’m unpacking this post and I just want to send you some light and love. I too was a geriatric momma and there’s always drama! My babe was a dream during pregnancy…they kept telling me I won the lottery….until the caused a scene three weeks before his due date….and it was a SCENE.

    You know how they say misery loves company? Well I think your freak out is lessened by the fact that the whole country is freaking out with you. Just tell yourself that we’re all staying awake FOR you, and you can chill out and relax a bit. We’re are all biting our nails on your behalf. :)

    Hugs!

  • kathy j: March 28, 2020

    Yes! Thank you for much for sharing this Brenda.
    From one “geriatric” mama to the other – you got this! And ya to sharing ALL the emotions – that’s where our shared humanity lies. xo, kj

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