Gimme Some Oven

Hey, Bebé!

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Ali Martin and Baby Bump in Barcelona

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve looked forward to finally having this news to share.

We’re pregnant, you guys! ♡♡♡

Those of you who have been following our story for awhile know that it has been a long road for Barclay and I as we have been trying to grow our family. But for the first time ever, we finally saw that miraculous double line this summer after our second IVF transfer. And I’m thrilled to announce that we are now fifteen weeks pregnant with our sweet little bebé who’s due to join us around Barclay’s birthday in March 2021.

This past year has been a complete whirlwind as we navigated our way through IVF in the midst of the pandemic, followed by a failed first embryo transfer, a successful second transfer, and then an intense roller coaster of a first trimester. But we’ve officially now made it to the second trimester with our little sprout and we’re over the moon that this dream of ours is finally coming true. We’ve totally turned into those nerdy first-time parents who have loaded up our Kindles and downloaded a half-dozen apps to learn about the development of our little one week by week, and can’t get over how fascinating this whole baby-growing process is. We’ve also been extremely lucky that our clinic has allowed Barclay to attend all of our ultrasound appointments during the pandemic. And wow, each time we’ve been able to hear our baby’s heartbeat and watch it wiggle on the monitor has just felt like magic. We’re awed and so thankful to finally get this chance to experience pregnancy and aren’t taking a single day of this for granted.

That said, just as our infertility journey was not at all what we had anticipated, our first trimester also brought its own share of unexpected surprises, joys and heartbreak. So today, I wanted to share a bit more about what life has been like here behind the scenes these past few months, as well as an update on how we’re doing today.

Here’s the latest from our little familia here in Barcelona. ♡

Pile of IVF syringes

Our Infertility Journey

First, though, a bit of a brief backstory for those who may just be tuning in.

Getting to the starting line of this pregnancy was not a quick nor easy road for us. Like 1 in 8 couples around the world, my husband and I came to find that we were unable to get pregnant on our own and were eventually diagnosed with infertility. (In our case, “unexplained infertility,” which basically means that doctors were unable to find a specific medical reason why we could not conceive.)  We went through a battery of tests and exams, sat through what felt like a million appointments, and tried all sorts of different approaches (from traditional fertility medicine to meeting with homeopaths, nutritionists, acupuncturists, and more) to try and get pregnant. But in the end, we were never even able to see the faintest shadow of a double line on any of our pregnancy tests. And our doctors eventually recommended that we consider in vitro fertilization.

Fast forward to this past March and we were finally given the medical clearance to begin treatment here in Barcelona. But — hello, March 2020! — this ended up being the month when the global pandemic hit hard here in Spain. Literally just days after we began our injections for IVF (or “FIV,” as it’s called here in Spain), everything with the country’s medical system was thrown into flux and Barcelona went into strict lockdown. And we found ourselves in a day-by-day standby situation of not knowing whether or not our clinic was going to be able to stay open long enough for my hormone-riddled body to complete the first stage of the treatment. The timing of everything was stressful upon stressful, to say the least. But thankfully, our clinic was able to remain open just long enough for us to complete our egg retrieval and we successfully collected 17 eggs from the first stage of the IVF process.

Those 17 eggs then fertilized into 13 embryos, which survived to the “blastocyst” stage where they could all be genetically tested and frozen. And in the end, the results came back that 3 of those 13 embryos were officially viable. Once our clinic was allowed to open back up, we resumed our treatment plan and transferred (implanted) the first of those three embryos, which sadly did not survive the first two weeks in the womb. So we then underwent a second transfer. (I actually shared about it here on Instagram, if you want to watch our literal moment of conception!)  And two weeks later, our doctor called us with the good news that this transfer was successful and we were finally pregnant for the first time ever!! We gasped and screamed and absolutely could not believe that we were finally hearing good news. But our doctor assured us that our numbers were strong, so we were elated.

Doctor's appointment finding out we were pregnant with twins

Two Heartbeats

Well, two weeks later we went back to see our doctor for our first official ultrasound. And once she began the ecografía, we were comforted to immediately be introduced to our baby’s strong little heartbeat on the monitor for the very first time. But then my doctor grabbed my hand with a twinkle in her eye and told us to listen for — yep — a SECOND HEARTBEAT.

You guys, I can’t even begin to tell you how shocked we were. ♡

Nowadays, thanks to recent improvements over the past decade in blastocyst technology, IVF twins are much less common than they used to be and mainly only occur when two embryos are transferred — and we had only transferred one. But sure enough, our lil’ embryo had clearly split upon entering the womb and there were now two adorable little blobs there on the screen with two hearts beating strongly. We were stunned. (As was evidenced in basically all of our ultrasound videos from that appointment, which have a background track of me saying “ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh” a hundred times, lol.) But of course, the idea of our little “IVF two for one,” as Barclay called it, quickly began to grow on us and we started to feel more and more excited about this chance to become an instant family of four. Our very own identical twins!!

Well, we barely had a chance to catch our breaths from that news before we were informed that this type of embryo split appeared to be the rarest and highest-risk type of twin pregnancy possible. Very long story short, because our twins shared both a sac and a placenta (with nothing to prevent their cords from tangling), they were high risk for a number of critical or life-threatening complications. And even in the best-case scenario, this pregnancy for would require that the twins be delivered a full two months early and I would likely need to be hospitalized full-time for constant monitoring for eight weeks prior to their birth. Statistically, though, we learned we would be very lucky if we even made it that far.

So just like that, we suddenly found ourselves drinking from a firehose of sobering information for hours upon hours a day as we sought to study more about this type of pregnancy and (at least try to) wrap our minds and hearts around all of the possible scenarios that the coming weeks could hold. While at the same time, of course, trying to celebrate the fact that we were finally pregnant for the first time. With two precious twins!

It was a lot to process all at once. But of course, we already loved these sweet babies and would do absolutely anything for them. So we were hoping hard for the best and preparing ourselves for whatever the next few months might bring.

Two hearts in the sand

A Bittersweet Loss

Well again, just as that news had begun to settle in and we were starting to feel more ready to take on this type of twin pregnancy, the tides turned again. When Barclay and I went in for our final ultrasound appointment with our IVF clinic, we both initially breathed a huge sigh of relief the moment we saw both of our cute little blobs still hanging out there together on the screen. But then our doctor had to break the news to us that one of the twin’s heartbeats seemed to have just recently stopped. Which meant that our precious baby was miscarrying.

We were crushed.

As our doctor went on to gently explain, this type of miscarriage is deeply bittersweet. Because there would no longer be two babies vying for the resources of one placenta, nor two cords running the risk of entanglement in the same sac, nearly all of the potential complications we had been fearing with this type of twin pregnancy instantly evaporated with this news. Our surviving twin would now have the chance to develop as it would in a more “typical” single pregnancy and also amazingly now have the potential to be carried all the way to term. While meanwhile, my body would eventually “absorb” our angel baby over time. (Something I’ve actually come to find very comforting, that I’m still physically carrying this tiny baby throughout the course of our pregnancy.)  To put it simply, the death of one twin was now giving our other twin a greater chance at a healthy life.

It felt like an impossible pairing of news to take in all at once. And initially, I just couldn’t. All I could think about in the weeks following our appointment was the sound of our angel twin’s heartbeat that we had heard so strongly just the week before. I was devastated that we would never get to hold this precious child in our arms, or see what our very own identical twins would have looked like side by side, or laughed at the inevitable epic twin pranks we sure hoped they would have pulled. Even though our twin pregnancy was brief, I know that so many of you also know from experience how quickly your heart can attach to these little ones. It just felt like such a loss. And I quickly found myself overwhelmed with anxiety that we might then lose our second baby too.

Thankfully, though, this baby is still with us today and is continuing to grow strong. So while my body has been in the process of quite literally letting go and holding on tight, our hearts have been doing their best to follow its lead.

The loss of our angel twin still feels raw and hard and is constantly on my mind, but I’m so grateful for those precious few weeks that we got to spend together. And I find comfort in knowing that our child will forever have a little sibling rooting him or her on from heaven. As for our surviving twin, whew, I can’t even describe our relief that this little one has mercifully stayed snuggled in there tightly these past few months. Our baby has grown from being the size of a poppyseed to the size of a pear (yes, cue all of the cheesy pregnancy apps!) and loves to show off its long arms and legs and dance moves every time we’re in for an ultrasound. And with each passing day, this pregnancy has begun to feel more real and more exciting and more hopeful again, and we are grateful.

Ali and Barclay Holding Sonogram Photos

Fifteen Weeks

Well fast-forward to today, and I’m happy to report that our baby made it through the rest of the first trimester with flying colors.

And thus far, we are all LOVING second trimester life together. ♡

That 13-week milestone definitely gave our hearts a welcome boost of confidence, as does each passing week that this little one continues to grow. And while everything that I was experiencing physically in the first trimester honestly felt secondary to what we were walking through emotionally, I’m am definitely very relieved that the intense nausea, vomiting, exhaustion that also accompanied my first trimester is now almost completely gone too. Turns out that it’s pretty hard to try run a food blog with constant cooking, taste-testing, photographing, and writing about food when the smell of food basically sends you running for the bathroom, lol. (I already had a backlog of recipes already prepared that I ended up posting during that time. But if the writing these past few months has seemed a little lackluster, it’s because English muffins and egg drop soup were basically the only foods I could stand to eat!)  I’m feeling so much better now, though, and my appetite has returned with gusto just in time for fall soup season. So I’m very relieved and happy to be back in the kitchen again and can’t wait to cook up some new recipes for you guys!

As you can see from the cover photo, my baby bump also totally “popped” recently, which has been surreal and comforting and crazy cool to watch grow from day to day. We also finally found out our baby’s gender a few days ago, which we look forward to sharing here soon once we’ve told family and friends. (Don’t worry, we won’t be doing a gender reveal party and starting any more wildfires!)  Mostly though, we’re just feeling happy and lucky and grateful for each new day in this second trimester that we get to wake up still pregnant with this precious baby of ours. This whole journey has been such a reminder to us of what a sheer miracle it is that any new baby makes its way into the world. And we will forever see the gift of this pregnancy through the lens of everything it took us to get here. So we don’t take a single moment of having this bun-in-the-gimme-some-oven for granted.

And we cannot wait for the day when we will finally get to hold this little one in our arms. ♡♡♡

Sugar Cookie Hearts

Lots of Love

I just wanted to conclude with a word of thanks for all of the love and encouragement you all have continued to send our way throughout this journey. It still feels surreal that I’ve never met most of you in person. But whew, your kind comments, emails, prayers, and love have meant so much and have carried us through some really hard times this past year. So from the bottom of our hearts, Barclay and I again just want to say thank you.

And for those of you who have also walked through infertility, miscarriage, or any form of pregnancy or infant loss — especially those of you who may be in the midst of it all right now — you are on my heart today and always. Sending lots of extra love your way today. ♡

I promise to be back here with some more updates over the next few months. But in the meantime, you can follow more of our life here in Barcelona over on my personal Instagram account if you’d like. Here on the blog, we will be back to recipes later this week. (With the yummiest pumpkin cinnamon rolls ever, get ready!)

Thank you so much for reading, everyone. Un abrazo fuerte from Barcelona!

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256 comments on “Hey, Bebé!”

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  1. So lovely to read…I’m in the story with you. I’m born early in 32. week with my twinsister and it was a rough time for my parents first.
    I wish you the best pregnancy and a wonderful birth with your sweet Baby. Your twin will follow you up all the time ?❤
    Thsnks for sharing your wonderful story.

  2. Just the best news!!!!!