Monday, December 30, 2013

Neuroses

Baby Arlo,

I'd like to start this missive with a bit of a confession. Your mother is sometimes (only sometimes) neurotic. Mainly when it comes to you, your well-being and care. I'm not sure if that will be soothing to you or terrifying, but you need to know that your mama can be a bit overly concerned about you. I would like to think that once you are here in my arms that some of these tendencies will calm down, but let's face it, they will likely only increase. I'll worry over a cough, or a runny nose, or your first scraped knee for at least the first several months of your life until I realize that you are strong and a trooper and able to bounce back from the inevitable boo-boos of life.

I'm not sure if my neuroses are due to the fact that it took SO long for us to get to you or if this is something that plagues all mommies. (I'd be interested in feedback on that one) I worried through bed rest that you in your tiny fragile embryonic state would nestle in and stay with us. I worried once we got our positive beta results that we would make it to see a healthy heartbeat at 7 weeks. I worried once we passed the hurdle of the first trimester that your sequential screening results would come back normal. I worried (sensing a pattern here?) through the second trimester anxious to feel your first movements and kicks.  And just when you think you're in the home stretch and that there isn't much to worry about anymore, your OB tells you about kick counts.

I woke myself from a deep slumber a few weeks ago worried that I hadn't felt you move as much that day. I walked around the living room and poked and prodded my belly until you sprang awake and started kicking me with full force (probably in an attempt to get me to leave you the hell alone). Lord help us, I've been a worry-wart, much to your father's consternation. 

Last night I had a wonderful dream. You were about 1 week old. I was running an errand (who am I kidding, I will likely not be venturing out with a 1 week old) to the store and I took you out of your carrier and you were happily snuggled in the crook of my arm. In that moment there was peace, no neurotic panic, no worries about your well-being, just a content baby boy in the arms of his mama.

I cannot wait to meet you and with just 5 more weeks until your due date I am sincerely going to focus on letting go of the worry and embracing the fact that you are real, and here with me. I love you so much already!

Mom

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Overwhelmed (In a good way!)

Last Sunday 5 of my friends hosted what I will now term as the most adorable baby shower ever. I was surrounded by sweet family and friends, a bounty of delicious food, and more gifts for this little boy than I could have dreamed. Towards the end of the shower I decided to let everyone in on the baby name that we have been closely guarding for the last 8 months.

As I shared his name with the group and saw their excitement, I was immediately overwhelmed and burst into my own special brand of not-so-pretty-happy-crying. The enormity of the moment hit me. For over 6 years I have dreamed of being pregnant. I have dreamed of my baby shower. I have dreamed of being a mommy. At times I thought this just wasn't in the cards for me. Sitting there in the seat of honor with 20 women oohing and ahhing over the teeniest tiniest clothes that MY BABY will soon wear just overwhelmed me. 

I was so grateful for the women around the room and touched by their generosity. Especially for my friend Jill, who in addition to hosting "the most adorable baby shower ever" in her home, has walked alongside me through our infertility journey (all 6 years of it!). Spurring me on, consoling me when treatment failed, cheering for me in our success and always telling me what a great mommy I will be. This is what a champion looks like:


The day flew by much like my wedding day did in a flurry of hugs and well wishes. I left feeling so loved and knowing that this little boy has a posse of southern ladies at his back. Watch out world! 

In the midst of my joy I thought of the women I have encountered through my blog who have encouraged me, and celebrated with me even though they are still struggling in the trenches with the monster called infertility. I am thinking of each of you (Amanda, Jess, Jessah) and praying for your happy news and special days to be coming very soon. 

And in case you were wondering, Baby Gage's name is Arlo Miller and we have just 8 more weeks to go until we get to meet him!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Saying Goodbye

I started this blog to document our quest to bring a baby into this world and so far it has served as a wonderful therapeutic outlet and hopefully someday will be something I can point at to show our son just how wanted he was. Even though this post has little to do with Baby Gage, it does allow me the chance to say farewell to my first baby, my furbaby.

Miss Laney
This week has been a particularly rough and emotional one. It culminated yesterday in saying goodbye to my 14 year old toy fox terrier, Laney. I adopted Laney over Christmas break during my junior year at Texas A&M, much to my parents initial protestations. In hindsight, their rationale was correct. I was only 20 years old, I wasn't home often, I was a full time student. What kind of dog parent would I be? I know they fully anticipated me seeing the error of my ways in a few short months and bringing this high energy puppy back to their doorstep pleading with them to take care of her for me. 

What happened instead was this little one wormed her hyperactive way into my heart. In fact, within two weeks of adopting Laney she literally saved my life. While attempting to housebreak her in my tiny college apartment, I was keeping her in a kennel at night while I slept. One January morning around 2am, she woke me barking, crying, and pawing at her kennel door. I begrudgingly got up to get her leash to take her outside to find my living room windows aglow with fire. The apartment across the hall from me was in flames and those flames were quickly making their way to me. I grabbed Laney, my car keys and my purse and we fled the apartment. No fire alarms sounded or smoke detectors, but Miss Laney's alarm was loud and clear. From that moment on, my parents looked at her as the angel who saved their baby girl and were thrilled that I had found such a loyal companion. 

In the years following Laney saw me through college exams, graduation, boyfriend heartbreak, new jobs, and 11 moves in 14 years. She perhaps has thrived the most in the last 8 years since I met the man who is now my husband. Ken is an animal lover and in addition to loving my crazy little dog just as much as I did, he worked with her and trained her. Always a smart girl, Laney picked up a whole new vocabulary and a slew of fun games and tricks. This photo was taken by Ken last week when I was away in Denver. I love the pensive "waiting for momma" look in their eyes!


The beauty of this 10 lb girl was not just in her fun, high energy personality and eagerness to greet her people at the end of the day, but in her tenderness. Like many dogs, she had the ability to sense my moods and care for me. She curled up next to me when I cried after our initial infertility diagnosis, snuggled me when I fell apart after our failed IUI, and was the most excellent bed rest partner following our IVF (see exhibit A).

Exhibit A
We knew we wouldn't have her forever, and over the last few months more and more signs pointed to the fact that she was struggling. A lump on her side, whimpers of discomfort, and in the end some pretty scary seizures that left her confused and scared. Our girl had cancer that had spread to her brain. Having recently moved, we reached out to my parent's vet and he was able to not only discuss how to cease her suffering, but was willing to make a house call so Laney could pass in peace at home surrounded by lots of love. 

A good friend of mine may have put it best when she said that Laney had been a good companion and knew that I was going to be surrounded with the love of a new little one soon. Her timing was to make room for my new joys and responsibilities to come as a mommy. 

Ken and I both feel a peace that we made the right call and have saved her unnecessary additional pain and suffering. I'm sure she is happily chasing cottontail rabbits in the great puppy hereafter, but it's still a tough adjustment. Just yesterday afternoon while picking up some groceries, we both passed the pet supply aisle and for just a moment thought about picking up some treats for her. The house is sadly much more quiet without the click-clack of her tiny nails across the tile floor as she skittered over to greet us when we would walk in. 

We will remember her as our little girl, our trial kid and our fur baby with such warm memories. Thanks for teaching me responsibility, how to care for someone other than just myself, and how to receive unconditional love. You are missed.
  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

How 'bout a little change?

In case you wondered why this blog has been radio silent for a while, it's because mama has been BUSY. Being 6 months pregnant and prepping for Baby Boy Gage CLEARLY wasn't enough change for our family. Over the course of past few months, we began to feel the pull to move closer to our family in our home state of Texas, Ken interviewed and was offered a fantastic new job in Austin, we made the mad dash to get our home ready to go on the market, purged, sold off furniture, and packed our belongings, and moved 1,000 miles. 

With a little divine providence, things have progressed with an ease that is sometimes unsettling. Our house was under contract within 36 hours of being on the market and we have since successfully closed! I was able to transition with my current job to work remotely through the end of the year. My parents welcomed us into their home and allowed us to store all our earthly possessions in their workshop saving us rent and storage fees. I immediately found a wonderful new OB in Austin and have set up our birthing classes and tour of the hospital. We began the new home hunt in earnest and are under contract on a little slice of heaven in the hill country and are due to close before Thanksgiving. WHEW! How's that for action in a 6 week window?

I couldn't be happier for this change. We will be living close to family and the thought of being able to spend time with them and raise this much hoped for baby near them is just about more than I can take. :) It's been a joy to reconnect with old friends, many of which are going to be my much needed mommy support network! I'm beginning to feel a peace settle around us which couldn't be better timing. I'm about to turn the corner into my third trimester and am ready to get settled, do a little nesting and get ready for this baby boy to join us in just 3 months!

Here's hoping the next change in our lives will be the changing of diapers!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Announcing...

Baby BOY Gage. :) I'll keep it short and sweet, but we had our 19 week ultrasound this week and were able to confirm our little one is a little man! I'm sure when he's older and reading these entries he'll be thrilled that I included photos of his 19 week old dangly boy parts, but I think it's a mom's right to document everything no matter how potentially embarrassing down the road. 


Meet our BOY!

















Friday, August 23, 2013

Authenticity

We live in a time when we have abundant forums to share our lives (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) yet we are often not authentic in that sharing. I'm not saying that we propagate falsehoods, but we really only share our best selves. We post a status update when we have something bright and witty to say. We share a photo when we look our best. We post about our careers when we get a promotion or bonus. What we avoid like the plague is posting updates about failed cycles, miscarriages, divorce, unemployment, and loss.

Please don't misconstrue what I'm saying here. I'm not suggesting that everything in our lives must be laid bare to the social media masses. Perish the thought! There are some things that are just private. Period. What I am suggesting is the importance of cultivating authentic relationships. 

When I "came out" about our infertility struggle, my private message box on Facebook filled with friends sharing that they too struggled with infertility. Soon I realized that some of the beautiful Christmas cards I receive each year filled with photos of beautiful smiling children were brought into this world with ART. My previous fears that everyone else had their lives together while I was somehow broken beyond repair were quickly assuaged. 

So now that I am joyfully pregnant, I started to wonder how I can avoid stepping into the well-intentioned, albeit annoying habit of only sharing the highlight reel of my family's life and stashing the B-roll well out of sight. Do you promise yourself that for every precious photo of your child posted, you also balance the universe by sharing your frustration with their latest tantrum? Is there a formula to follow? If you were looking for an answer, I don't have one. But I will share that my goal is to build a simple and authentic life.

When I asked myself what that looks like, I realized it sounds a little ambiguous and buzz-wordy, so I'm trying to break it down to the core of what I want for myself and my family.

Here is what I'm working towards (and putting in writing so you can call me out when I'm not!):
  • Understand that I will fail and embrace those losses as learning moments when they happen
  • When appropriate, share said failures 
  • Not be fearful of frailty 
  • Surround myself with authentic people who bring out the best in me (in my career and in my friendships). It's that whole iron sharpening iron thing.
  • Live a simple life. Get the hell off Pinterest (or at least take a break) and quit comparing my wardrobe, home, car, lifestyle, bank account to others. Live comfortably within our means and love. :)
Seems like a good starting point. 


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Note To Our Little Avocado

Today was our 16 week appointment with our OB. We were both hoping that at today's sneak peek we (and by we I mean the doc who is skilled in reading ultrasounds) might be able to tell if you are a boy or a girl. No such luck today, we did get measurements of your head, torso, femur (2.5 cm in case you were curious), and got a really cool look at your spine. I'm still amazed at watching your little life grow! You are no longer a product of my dreams, you are a real, heart-beating, blood pumping person growing at an incredible rate! 


Once the size of a poppy seed, you are now a full blown avocado! In just a few more weeks, you will be approaching the size of a grapefruit. Four weeks from today we will be halfway through the pregnancy. Halfway to sleepless nights holding you, our much hoped for child. It all feels strangely surreal, although not as fragile, tentative and nerve wracking as the first 12 weeks. 


I'm eager to begin feeling those first small flutters announcing your movements and reminding me that I'm not alone. I understand that your ears are developing so get ready for my morning commute sing-alongs, your mother has no shame in her game. 

Keep growing little one. We are already so in love with you!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

MIA

I've been MIA from my blog for a couple of weeks now. The reason? Monday kicks off my busiest week of the year at work (our annual conference) and thus the last few weeks have been very full with planning, meetings and logistics. The good news is that I feel ready for the marathon week ahead! 

So what's happened in the past few weeks with Baby Gage, you ask? Quite a bit! We had our first appointment with our OB last week and got to see our little one. Our baby is a mover! As soon as the ultrasound brought my womb into focus, both arms and legs began pinwheeling! It was so exciting to see our progeny move about. I cannot wait to begin feeling those flutterings and kicks (which my doctor thinks I'll begin to feel in early September). Baby Gage measured right where he or she should be for this point in our pregnancy. Our OB was able to get a view of the baby's brain during the ultrasound and quipped that we should keep all savings for fabulous vacations because this child would obviously be brilliant and earn a full ride to the university of their choice. I know he must say this to every patient, but it was no less thrilling to see our baby's 12 week old brain!

I had another more detailed ultrasound this week for our sequential screening. The amazing thing about this appointment was the detail the ultrasound provided. I could see the individual bones in our baby's hands and feet, and could see the baby swallow! What a tiny, beautiful miracle!

We are now headed into our 14th week and officially in the second trimester...whew! Making it this far feels like such a surreal accomplishment. My nausea has pretty much subsided and my energy levels are rebounding. My belly is beginning to protrude and I have embraced the comfort and forgiveness of maternity pants. As evidenced by the time stamp on this blog, I'm also experiencing a bit of insomnia. I wake up once or twice a night to use the bathroom and my brain flips on and begins cataloging a list of to-dos, replaying conversations from the day, and wandering to baby names.

Our next ultrasound is in just over two weeks and we are REALLY hoping to find out if our little Embry is a boy or a girl. I have strong sense that we're having a boy, but have heard countless stories from my mommy friends of how their maternal instinct told them one thing, only to be proven wrong by the ultrasound tech. Regardless of the sex of our baby, we're thrilled that he or she is growing strong and healthy!

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Graduate

Guess who has two thumbs, is officially graduated from her infertility clinic, AND weaned from her meds?



THIS GIRL!

No more 5:30 am wake-up calls for progesterone shots. No more sticky estrogen patches that no amount of scrubbing completely remove. More than anything I'm thrilled that my body seems to be doing what it is supposed to: producing the hormones needed to sustain a pregnancy and grow this sweet baby.

We are just a few short days from hitting the 12 week milestone and 6 days from our first appointment with our OB and another ultrasound to see our little one (now the size of a fig!). To say we are excited would be an understatement. Stay cozy Embry!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Letter to Embry

I had my first dream about you last night. As dreams tend  to go, it was brief and fleeting, but it was particularly vivid. I was bent over your infant carrier watching you sleep. You were so tiny! As you slept you were smiling and making tiny sleeping baby noises. I had the distinct feeling that you were a boy (forgive me if I'm wrong!) and you were absolutely breath-taking. Technically, you woke me from my dream, as I stirred to wake up and use the bathroom in the middle of the night. I desperately wanted to fall back asleep and see you again! I guess I'll have to wait two more weeks until our next ultrasound, but that grainy black and white image does not do you justice.

In other news, you are now the size of a kumquat and I think the cravings have officially begun. My current favorite foods are BLT's on sourdough and spicy dill pickles from Heine's produce stand. All my pants are snug and I wore my first pair of maternity pants to work today...talk about freedom! Visit me in my dreams anytime little one. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Moving On

I never thought I would be sad to be released from the care of my Reproductive Endocrinologist, yet here I am 9 weeks pregnant and a tiny bit sad to leave the amazing staff at Conceptions Reproductive Associates. Monday we had our last ultrasound at CRA and filled out the patient release forms so all our records can be sent to my OB. I will still go in for a quick blood draw next Tuesday so they can work out a plan to wean me off my medications, but other than that we are done. No more consults, no more exams. My care will be transferred to the amazing care of my OB who I absolutely adore! I've been seeing him for my annual exams for the past 6 years and he is a remarkable doctor who makes his patients feel special and important. I can think of no one else I would want to care for me during pregnancy and deliver our precious little one, but the transition is bittersweet.

When I would sit in the waiting room at CRA, I knew I was not alone. There was a room full of other hopeful men and women waiting to be promoted to daddy & mommy. There was a comfort in knowing you were among fellow travelers on the path of suck-ass infertility (yea, I said suck-ass). There was a tenderness and caution among the staff and they approach their patients with care and kleenex. I feel a strong attachment especially to our donor egg coordination team. For those of you who have been through IVF, you know there is an incredibly sensitive timeline that has to be managed. When you add in the component of of donor + an anxious recipient, the process is even more complicated. Our nurses coordinated our care seamlessly and somehow, without conveying any identifying information, made me feel connected to our donor in a very special way.

As we prepare to move on from "infertility patient" to "expectant parents" I wanted to provide some small token of our appreciation to our nurses, sonographers and phlebotomists who helped make this step a reality. Today I assembled some goody bags to deliver along with hand-written thank you notes. 

Lest you think I'm incredibly creative, I will credit the idea to a blog I found via Pinterest. Thank goodness for other creative people I can copy emulate.

I'm working to figure out how to navigate these new waters. I still don't feel like I have left infertility behind. It's far too fresh and far too early. I also don't know that I want to leave it behind. It is a cause I'm incredibly attached to. In case you couldn't tell from my rather lathered up post a couple of weeks ago, I am passionate about making sure that the message of infertility is shared broadly. It's about education. It's about men and women understanding how many people this disease touches and realizing that if may be part of their reality. It's about support for people struggling, and it's about changing the way our legislators and insurance companies view infertility. In honor of Independence Day, I encourage you to put to use your rights and email your legislators today and encourage them to support the Family Act. I have emailed, faxed, and sent written letters to my elected officials three times in the last 2 months. I have received nothing but stock form letters in response, but I'm pretty tenacious. I REALLY want to see a CO legislator supporting this bill. So before you leave for the fireworks, I encourage you to spend 5 minutes to send an email to your legislators here. If your legislator is already sponsoring this bill, write a note of thanks for their support!

Ok, off the soap box. Happy Fourth everyone! :)


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Little Miracle

Yesterday we had our second ultrasound.  I wasn't the nervous wreck I was last time and actually had a healthy normal blood pressure when they checked my vitals. When our sweet sonographer began, her first words were "Oh My!" In just two weeks little Embry has more than doubled in size. We heard a beautiful rapid healthy heartbeat of 185 bpm. After checking to make sure my ovaries and uterus looked healthy, we got a guided tour of our little one. She pointed out the head, arm and leg buds, spine, and heart (now with four chambers!).  Baby Gage measures right at an inch long and is about the size of a large grape. While I can't feel any movement, we were able to watch our baby move and wiggle during the ultrasound. 

I know I am guilty of overusing the words "awesome" and "miracle" in everyday conversations. "That lemon tart was awesome!" "The mailman made it to our house before 5pm, It's a miracle!" Yesterday's appointment put these words into perspective for me. I have a tiny, grape-sized miracle growing in me and that is truly awesome. 


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stats, Data and Minimalization

This morning I tuned into Good Morning America and found my favorite morning crew discussing a new article in Atlantic Monthly titled "How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?". Of course my ears perked up to hear about fertility being addressed on such a public and popular forum. If you haven't read the article yet, please do. Jean Twenge expostulates the "myth" that women have decreased fertility after the age of 35. She points to new studies and research that suggest that healthy women are just as likely to conceive if intercourse is timed appropriately between the ages of 35 - 39 as they are from 19 - 26 and that the studies suggesting otherwise are pre-victorian, dated, and rubbish.

I'm not a scientist, reproductive endocrinologist, or statistician, so I will not argue with the information she's bringing to light in the article. I will point out that even if everything she's saying in the article checks out and "healthy" women have been having self-induced baby panic over their ticking biological clocks for years for no good reason, this still does not address the 1 in 8  who are not "healthy" reproductively. It minimizes women who struggle with infertility and those stats are crystal clear. 7.3 million people in the US alone are battling this disease.

Ms. Twenge is one of the lucky women who waited until after 35 to start a family and did so with ease. She conceived her children without the staggering expense of ART and had happy, healthy pregnancies. I'm thrilled for her (seriously, not being sarcastic here). My fear is that this new research and her article will give women who do not know that infertility lies in their path a false sense of hope that they can continue to wait and will have the families they dreamed of when they are ready. 

Towards the end of the article Twenge does acknowledge that no data is perfect and that if women are concerned about their fertility they can check out "new (albeit imperfect) technologies" to freeze their eggs. It comes in as an afterthought to a piece that (to me at least) screamed "Don't worry, all those doctors and crazy infertile people are wrong! They're a minority. You can have your family on your terms and your time."

I married at 27 and six months into my marriage began trying to conceive. At 29 I found out that my ovarian reserve and egg quality were more suited to a woman 40 years old. I certainly did not expect this news (no woman does). I honestly thought I didn't have to worry about egg quality until I was at least 40. I mean, celebrities are having babies at 42 all the time right? I sincerely hope that this article does not lull women into a false sense of hope. You may be lucky and conceive at 37 after a passionate night and too much red wine, but you should also face the fact that at 34 you may conceive after investing nearly $40,000 with your spouse shooting you in the ass every morning along the way. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Ultrasound!

Today was our first ultrasound since finding out we are pregnant. I have been anxiously awaiting this day for a long time and things seemed to move in slow motion all morning. Once we arrived at the clinic and they called me back, there were multiple stops before the ultrasound room. Blood work, vitals check, weigh-in, urine sample...all steps between me and the opportunity to see my baby. When we finally made it back to the ultrasound room the sonographer stepped out so I could get undressed from the waist down. I always wear a dress on ultrasound days, drop the undies and you're good to go! I'm not one to waste time, plus every time I haven't worn a dress I'm always mid-undress when they tap on the door and I do that awkward "Just a second!" yell and hobble over to the table and the modest cover of my paper blankie. Of course today I was on the table in 20 seconds flat and today was the day they gave me PLENTY of time to get settled.  C'mon!  Show me my baby! :)

Anxiousness and impatience aside, it was a really beautiful appointment. We were able to see our precious little bean, the yolk sac, the bulge of the teeniest tiniest heart and a beautiful rapid flash of white on that black and white ultrasound screen for every precious heartbeat. Yeah, I cried big fat happy tears. Little Embry now measures 1 cm (about the size of a blueberry) and has a healthy heartbeat of 145 bpm. We get to go back for another ultrasound in two weeks to see how things are progressing and at this appointment we'll actually get to hear the heartbeat and not just see it. 


Tonight I will sleep soundly knowing that our little one is safe, healthy and growing. This week Embry will develop arms and legs and in addition to that tiny heart also has an appendix, intestines, a pancreas and liver. Hello tiny miracle. I'm in awe of you!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The DH

My DH (Dear Husband) and I have been married almost 7 years and together for almost 8. We had a whirlwind courtship and married one day shy of knowing one another for a year. He is handsome and has a razor sharp sense of humor, just two of the big reasons I decided to hitch my wagon to his. In addition to looks and humor, he's incredibly smart and capable of figuring out just about any home improvement project which is fortuitous since our 1971 charmer is in frequent need of repair. Today, in fact, he is finishing off the install of a new bathroom vanity which required him to run new pipe and fix a leak. Nothing is ever as easy as originally planned. 

I don't have any particular reason for writing this post other than the fact that I woke up this morning with a major crush on my husband. Even after "all these years" I still have moments when I look at him and get that nervous feeling in my stomach. Our journey through infertility, while challenging and heart-rending, has brought us a closeness that I'm not sure we would have experienced otherwise. He is truly my confidante and best friend and I can't imagine going through this with anyone else. 

Ken never ceases to keep me on my toes and surprise me. While I devour information on pregnancy and busy myself reading Dr. Oz's YOU: Having a Baby before bedtime my husband is more stealthy in his preparations. He recently mentioned that he thought we should invest in a new washer and dryer. While I would love a new washer and dryer, I'm fine with our current set, they're not new or high-efficiency, but they still work. Ken replied that we would need a better set since we are going to be washing and drying cloth diapers soon. Turns out he has researched the cost/benefit analysis on cloth vs. disposable. Gotta love a man with a mathematical mentality. :) 

He has been a rockstar nurse through all of this and still administers my shots each morning with TLC and a dose of silliness. If he catches me trying to pick something up or carry something (usually something well within my limits, I must add) he takes it from me and says, "no baby, you're pregnant" which after 6.5 years of trying makes me giddy. I'm thrilled to be married to a man who not only wants children, but desires to be a REALLY good father...and it doesn't hurt that he still makes my heart flutter.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why Google is Evil

I feel like I just need to put this out there. I'm having a love/hate relationship with the internet and I have been for a while. I love the instant accessibility of information. I love being able to keep in close contact with friends and family from out of state, and I love the outlet that my blog provides. But the internet has a dark, devious underbelly and some of the main culprits are message boards.

I've never been pregnant before so it's no surprise that I have a TON of questions. Every twinge, wave of nausea, lab report and night sweat fills my mind with queries. Is this normal for early pregnancy? Is this anything I should worry about? My nurses are awesome, patient women and bear the brunt of my questions with an easy grace, bless them. Even though I have a team of RNs accessible with a quick email, I sometimes succumb to the dark side and "Google It" and I am ALWAYS filled with regret.

If you Google anything with the keywords "early pregnancy" you will find sites and message boards chock full of stories about how whatever symptom you are experiencing is a sign of miscarriage, the apocalypse or both. I'm pretty sure if you Googled "Ingrown toenail early pregnancy" you would find a horrific story about someone who miscarried because they put off a trip to the podiatrist. 

The convenience of all this information at our fingertips is not all it's cracked up to be. Our mothers didn't have the internet to look up their symptoms and satisfy their neurotic tendencies. They had their mothers, OBs and friends. They hoped for the best and probably didn't worry nearly as much as the rest of us do. I remember in my first consult with my RE, my doctor's best advice on coping with infertility and the ensuing treatments was "Stay off the internet." I definitely think there is some middle ground for compromise here so I've come up with the following plan of action:


  • Do not Google every symptom. If it's concerning, email your awesome nurses and put it out of your mind.
  • Stay positive and in the moment. I will kick myself if I spend my entire pregnancy plagued with worry and not savoring the fact that I am, in fact, expecting.
  • Admit when you have an addiction to information and share this with those in your corner so they can keep you in check. :)

So with that, I move forward. I will strive to overcome my addiction to Google. I'll work to separate my anxiousness and desire for a healthy baby from becoming a full-blown neurotic lady, and I will focus on enjoying each precious moment of this much hoped for pregnancy.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Half of a Third?

This Tuesday will mark our sixth week of pregnancy, halfway through the tumultuous first trimester and 1/6 of the way to a baby six years and over $40K in the making. Of our handful of friends and family who know we are expecting, I'm often asked how it's going and how I'm feeling. Thus far, the main symptom has been fatigue. Around 1:30 each day I REALLY want to take a nap and on the weekends, I do. On weeknights I find myself nodding off to whatever television show we are watching around 8:00 pm. It isn't even dark out, and I'm ready for bed. No "morning sickness" as of yet,  but I have experienced some mid-day nausea. I'm pretty sure I looked like a crazy person last Friday walking to lunch. Everything I smelled made me want to gag as I walked through Downtown Denver. It is not a notoriously smelly city, but strolling past alleyways, hot dog vendors and businessmen with too much cologne was about all I could stand. 

Overall, I'm feeling good, the lumps in my rear have gone from golf-ball sized to a more manageable nickel or quarter size and I have only had one-night of hard core night sweats. Side note, I had a funny realization the other day when looking through my texts with my husband. If someone didn't know we were doing progesterone injections, they might think they had stumbled upon the missives of a couple into some strangely kinky and passionate stuff.  The sheer amount of texts exchanged having to do with my posterior were staggering.  I think I should password protect my phone lest someone think they have the transcript for the next E.L. James novel.

Right now, our little bean is actually a legume. He or she is lentil-sized and is developing at a rapid rate.  In one more week we will have our first ultrasound where we will anxiously await to hear little Embry's heartbeat. I'm going to go ahead and call it that I will be a weepy mess when we hear that quick galloping horse sound on the doppler. Not to go all Oprah and The Secret on you, but I'm keeping my head in a positive place.  No doubting. We're going to hear a healthy heartbeat. Period. :) 

So that's the latest on our first half of our first third of pregnancy and as it is now 1:15 on Sunday, I am readying myself for a little afternoon siesta. 


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sweetness

When I first met my husband, there was more of me to love. Like 30 pounds more. He met me while I was in the midst of my weight loss journey and didn't mind the extra curvature. :) One thing he was worried about was my sweet tooth. Even though I was losing weight and working at making healthier choices, I still LOVED me some sugar. Ken never needled me about my sugar intake, but as I started to cut back on the sweets (sodas and other items with high fructose corn syrup), he expressed his relief.  He was worried that I would become diabetic.  

I still have a sweet tooth, but the monster is in check, especially since we are pregnant. I'm reading labels more closely and really trying to make the best choices when it comes to what I put into my body. No more Dr. Pepper, no more white chocolate soy mocha's from Starbucks, but somehow it doesn't seem like a sacrifice. Life is sweet enough as it is.  My day was made even sweeter by Em at Teach me to Braid, when she nominated me for the Super Sweet Blogger Award! I found Em's blog during National Infertility Awareness Week and began following her. She has a remarkable story and shares it with a tender transparency. Beyond that, she is one of the most encouraging people I have never met in real life. ;-) 

Here's how this works, I need to do the following:


  • Thank Em for her sweet nomination (check!)
  • Answer 5 super sweet questions (see below)
  • Include the Super Sweet Blogging award image in my post (check)
  • Nominate other bloggers

Super Sweet Questions:

1) Cookies or Cake? This one is a tough call, but I'll go with cake and a specific one, my family has a favorite cake for all special occasions and it's super easy to make:

Peanut Butter Cake:
1 Super Moist Yellow Cake Mix
1 Cup of Peanut Butter
1 Cup of Sugar
1/2 Cup of Milk
  • Bake the cake mix according to the box instructions, I think the best is when I do it in a bundt cake pan, but sheet cake or cupcakes will work just as well. 
  • For the Icing: In a sauce pan on Medium/High heat mix peanut butter, sugar and milk until it comes to a slow boil and the sugar smooths out.  Pour the icing over the cake....enjoy the deliciousness!

2) Chocolate or Vanilla? If we're talking ice cream, I always vote vanilla and Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla is where it's at. Trust me.  Hands-down, the best ice cream you can buy in a store.

3) Favorite Sweet Treat? Anything including Oreos.  Plain cookies out of the sleeve, delish! Oreo cookie shake from Chick-fil-A, divine.

4) When do you crave sweet things the most? Usually around 2 - 3 in the afternoon while I'm at work. Lunch has faded and few things sound better than a bite of chocolate or a cookie!

5) Sweet Nickname? I have several thanks to my husband. The first was "sweet-pea" which has evolved into a plethora of versions which are too silly to list and quite frankly, embarrassing to admit that I answer to!

Blog Roll of Super Sweet Bloggers
I'm relatively new to the blogosphere since I just started OBG in March of this year, but I have been so touched by the outpouring of blogger love from the IF community. I don't have a full dozen to list, but these three women have been a tremendous source of information and support!

My Path to MommyhoodI know it sounds creepy to develop an attachment to someone you only know through the written word, but Jess is my donor egg soul sister! She and her husband are embarking on IVF with egg donation and her blogs have given me such comfort knowing that I'm not the only one out there with these thoughts and emotions.  

Dreaming of Dimples: Jessah is embarking on a new treatment journey right here in Colorado and I couldn't be more excited  and hopeful for her! Show her some love and wish her the best!

Genuine Greavu: Amanda is transparent and tenacious. I look forward to her posts every time I log-on. She is kicking off an IUI cycle and I have my fingers and toes crossed for success!  



 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Beta 2.0

Yesterday morning I had a blood draw for our second beta test. What they want to see in this blood test is that my hCG levels are rising at a healthy level. Even with Saturday's good news this can make you a little crazy. You get word that you're pregnant (hooray!) but there's a caveat (come back for another test to REALLY make sure).

I got the call from my nurse at work yesterday afternoon with the following good news:
  • My hCG levels rose from an 87 to 289!
  • My doctor does not feel like I need any further beta tests (woot)!
  • My progesterone was so high that I get to reduce my dosage (only one injection per morning and I can switch sides to save  my sore, lumpy rear)!
  • We are four weeks pregnant (somehow I never knew that they calculate pregnancy from the date of your last period, not from the date of conception) and they gave us a DUE DATE of February 4th!
  • We are scheduled for our first ultrasound on June 17th to listen for a heartbeat. :)
So now we move forward! I will still go in weekly for blood tests to monitor my progesterone and estrogen levels through the first 12 weeks. Around week 9 they will release me from their care to my OBGYN. 

We have a long road ahead. Most women who conceive on their own, don't even know they are pregnant until they have a missed period and are a few weeks further along than we are. I am thankful to be back at work and occupied with projects to make these days and weeks of the first trimester pass quickly. Please, please, please continue to pray and think happy thoughts that this pregnancy be happy and healthy! :) 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

B is for Beta

Yesterday morning I woke up early and drove the 40 minutes to our fertility clinic for a 3 minute blood draw.  This would seem like no big deal, except that yesterday was our beta test. For those of you not well-versed in IF jargon, the beta test is your first check to see if all your time, effort, money, emotions, and sore bottom have resulted in a significant amount of hCG in your bloodstream which will tell if you are in fact pregnant.  

I was the first person through the doors at 7am. I actually beat the phlebotomist in and had to wait a few minutes for her to get set up. I slept fitfully the night before and dreamed varying versions of how we would receive our test results, so I was anxious to get this going. After a quick prick and a vial full of blood, I was on my way home to await the results.

Ken and I lost a lovely friend and neighbor this week. Yesterday was her funeral. I wasn't sure I was up for the service, so we attended the visitation service on Friday and offered to stay at their house during the funeral to accept any flowers/food deliveries while the family was away. Ken and I were sitting in their garage, icing down sodas and bottled water for the afternoon's gathering at the house and I was literally about to crawl out of my skin from sheer anticipation of the phone call from our nursing staff. I looked at Ken and said "I REALLY need the phone to ring, I'm not sure how much longer I can wait!"  Thirty seconds later my cell was ringing.  Oh crap, this was the moment of truth.  Was I really ready?

We aren't sharing the news broadly, but for the 6 of you who actually read this blog, I thought I'd let you in on the secret.  Our beta results were positive for pregnancy! Our doctor likes to see a number over 50 for a single embryo transfer and ours was 87. I will go back on Tuesday for a second beta test to confirm that the numbers are rising appropriately, but right now I'm not thinking about Tuesday.  I'm reveling in the fact that my nurse said the words "Congratulations Lindsey, you are pregnant!" It was a precious comfort on an otherwise sad day and I know that Carol is celebrating our news in heaven. 

This morning I couldn't resist taking a home pregnancy test. I've peed on many a stick over the past 6 years and have NEVER seen that elusive second pink line.  Seeing that second line felt like a MAJOR victory!  I know we have a long way to go yet, but right now we are giddy with the hope and possibilities in our future.




Thursday, May 23, 2013

Embryo Bliss Day

Yesterday, I decided to give myself and little Embry a pampering bliss day.  I figured that I should show this little one a REALLY good time to encourage implantation. After a quick blood draw at my doctor's office (results were great by the way! Estradiol was at 541 - needs to be above 300, Progesterone was 87 - needs to be above 20) I set about doing some of my favorite things. 

First Stop: Breakfast at the counter at Mimi's Cafe while I read a book
Second Stop: Mani/Pedi. Seriously the most relaxing pedicure I've ever had. 
Third Stop: Shopping in downtown Golden. I stopped into two of my favorite resale shops to hunt for treasures and grabbed a quick lunch.
Fourth Stop: Acupuncture treatment. I met with a new acupuncturist and she was lovely! Cindy gave me the most relaxing treatment to promote blood flow to my uterus and to hopefully relieve some of my injection site pain. I fell asleep on the table. Pure bliss. :)

On today's schedule? Lunch with a dear friend at a restaurant I've been wanting to try for over a year. Today we are day 5 post transfer. We have our first blood test for pregnancy on Saturday and hope our hCG levels are high enough to detect! We have a second test to confirm next Tuesday. In case you are curious about the embryo development, check out the chart below!


5-Day Transfer

Days Past
Transfer (DPT)
Embryo Development
OneThe blastocyst begins to hatch out of its shell
TwoThe blastocyst continues to hatch out of its shell and begins to attach itself to the uterus
ThreeThe blastocyst attaches deeper into the uterine lining, beginning implantation
FourImplantation continues
FiveImplantation is complete, cells that will eventually become the placenta and fetus have begun to develop
SixHuman chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) starts to enter the blood stream
SevenFetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted
EightFetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted
NineLevels of hCG are now high enough to detect a pregnancy

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Grief and tragedy: Trying to find the happy

This morning my dear friend and next door neighbor passed away after a long battle with cancer.  Carol was an amazing wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She fought cancer not once but three times and always with a tenacity that surprised those around her.  We spent many holidays with her and her husband Butch over the last three years and had come to regard them as our Colorado family. 

My heart is just so heavy and sad today. We had dinner with Carol last Wednesday and before we left their house (with a bag full of leftovers, because she was always trying to take care of us) she hugged me and told me that she was feeling good and that she hoped she would live to see me and Ken become parents. If our beta test is positive, behind our parents, she was one of the people I was most looking forward to sharing our news with. I know that she is definitely in a better place and that she is no longer in pain. I know she is rejoicing to be reunited with her precious son Jamie that she lost several years ago, but today, I ache for the loss of my friend.

Today is the first day since our transfer that I am allowed up and out of bed, so my husband made me promise to try and not lay in bed and cry all day. So, being a good southern girl, I got dressed and went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make 2 big pans of King Ranch Chicken to stock Butch's freezer. I don't know why, but somehow the chopping and prepping soothes a wounded soul. 

I haven't bothered to turn on the TV today because of all the coverage of the tornadoes in Moore, OK. I'm heartbroken for the people who lost everything and the parents who lost their children and I know that my fragile emotional cocktail just can't handle seeing any more images of that tragedy.

I'm still trying to think happy, sticky, baby thoughts, but they are much harder to come by.  I actually dreamt the opening sequence of Look Who's Talking yesterday, so I've tried to recall that as many times as possible with the hopes that through sheer will power and positive thinking I can coax little Embry into implantation. Burrow in little one.  We need to find some happy.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

ET, Make yourself at home...

Today was our big ET (short for embryo transfer, not extra terrestrial)! My approach to today has been to be an archivist. I wanted to photograph and take mental snapshot memories of the day. I also want to remember how I feel right now. I want to be able to tell our child-to-be about this day as they grow older.

No big surprise, but I woke up bright and early around 5:00am unable to continue sleeping. I think my posterior knows it's time to wake up and take it's punishment before the rest of me is ready to crawl out of bed. We got up and I took my 2 PIO shots like a champ and my 20 units of HCG. After my required injection site massaging, pacing around the house and sitting on a heating pad, I actually fell back to sleep for another hour. When I woke up and started getting ready for the day, I prayed a lot.  I prayed that the transfer would go smoothly.  I prayed that we would have at least one amazing embryo waiting for us. I prayed that my uterus will make a safe home for implantation.  I also prayed that I wouldn't pee on the table, because sometimes you really need to focus on the practical matters.


I decided I would wear my happy socks Ken bought me for Christmas 2 years ago because they have smiley faces and they say Life is Good, which it truly is. Ken took me out to breakfast for my all time favorite, Huevos con Chorizo from El Dorado and it did not disappoint. With a full belly and quite a bit of nervous energy, we began the drive to the clinic. 

During the drive I was instructed to drink 32 ounces of water at least one hour before my transfer since a full bladder makes it easier for the doctor to transfer the embryo to the uterus.  Upon downing all this water you then have to wait until transfer time, plus an additional ten minutes afterwards before you can use the precious potty, hence my earlier prayer about not peeing on the table. :) Being the good patient (and over-achiever) that I am, I drank 34 ounces while Ken astutely observed that most women just have to drink a margarita that big to get pregnant!


We arrived at the clinic and were taken back to the embryology department to a private room to await our embryologist and the news of how those 16 fertilized eggs had progressed. This is me being patient while Ken is making me laugh at random nonsense.  Not the nicest thing to do to your wife when she has to pee! The embryologist joined us with some fantastic news.  We have NINE beautiful day 5 blatocyst embryos! He told us they were all strong embryos, but they picked the "rockstar" for us to transfer today.  So, without further ado, I introduce you to Embry (I decided this beautiful little one deserves a name). We were told that the largest sac in the embryo (between 2 and 3 o'clock in the picture) is actually the baby part of the embryo, that the placental structure was already beginning to form and that the embryo was beginning to break free of it's shell. I'm not sure what you would call miraculous, but I have a feeling it looks like this image. 


Ken and I got suited up, him in protective covering for his body, head and feet and me in a gown and foot covers, to head into the transfer room. And this is where things got REALLY cool. The embryology lab is just on the other side of the wall of the transfer room.  The room is equipped with a large flat screen monitor and cameras that connect to the lab.  Our embryologist brought out our embryo in it's petri dish labeled "GAGE" and held it up to the camera. We gave the thumbs up that we were in fact the Gage's as verified on my wristband. Then we got to watch on the screen as the embryologist drew up this tiny little embryo into a catheter and very carefully carried it through the door into our doctor. 

We were able to watch on the ultrasound monitor as he skillfully threaded the catheter into my uterus and could see the embryo release! Our doctor was thrilled with the placement and congratulated us.  The sonographer gave us print outs of the image to use in our baby book. I added the arrow, because if she hadn't pointed out the embryo I would have had no idea what I was looking at! I of course cried because I was so happy and this has been such a long journey. Ken lovingly held by hand and has doted on me all day while I've been on bed rest.

So welcome Embry. Stay cozy. We're really happy you're here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Embryo Eve!

I woke up this morning at 4:15 and couldn't sleep another wink. Tomorrow is our embryo transfer and to me the day is a LONG time coming. We've known for a several years that donor egg IVF was going to give us the best chance of conceiving, but getting to the emotional, and financial place to kick off this treatment was a long process. Saturday is going to feel a little like Christmas morning (if your Christmas morning includes a paper gown, hospital footie socks, ultrasound wands and valium)! 

Tomorrow morning we will wake up and I'll take my shots like a champ. We'll have breakfast and then make the 40 minute drive to the clinic. Once we arrive we will check in and meet with our embryologist. We haven't heard from our embryologist since Tuesday and he assured us that no news was good news. They would only call if there was a problem with how the embryos were growing. So we hope to find out that we have at least a few Grade-A embryos waiting for us. Once we've met and selected the embryo to transfer, I'll take my happy pill (Valium) and get prepped for the big show. 

The actual transfer process is quick and painless. Ken will get to be in the room with me to hold my hand and watch on the monitor, because it would be far too strange to conceive without your husband in the room. :) I'll probably cry, because that's what I do. Not from fear or pain, but because I want this so badly. Afterwards we'll be released to come home and I'll begin my three days of queendom bed rest. 

So, wherever you are tomorrow at 11:30am MT, send up a prayer or hopeful thought because Operation Baby Gage is happening! 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sore Bum, Happy Heart

Last week at our ultrasound appointment, our nurse was telling us how estrogen is the "happy" hormone. So I will credit it with giving me some serious hopeful highs along the way. I have a very happy and hopeful heart. We found out yesterday that all 16 of our eggs fertilized thanks to Ken's super sperm (a fact he was VERY proud of) so I'm incredibly hopeful that we'll have at least a few of those fertilized eggs make it to beautiful blatocysts on day five!

Even in the midst of all this hormone driven hope, I still find myself playing devil's advocate and working out our plan B in the back of my head. It can't be helped. It's a defense mechanism and honestly, probably a good one to have. After many disappointments along the baby-making road, I don't want to feel blindsided and gutted if we aren't successful.  It's not something I spend much time thinking about, but it's still there.  The main thing I think about is a more pressing and annoying problem. I've got the PIO blues.  For those of you not into all the infertility acronyms, PIO is short for Progesterone in Oil. It's a viscous liquid medication that your husband gets the honor of injecting into your rear every morning. 

I've been lucky to have enough cushion that the actual injection process doesn't hurt. I've read online of tiny little women having some significant pain with the shot itself, so score one for the curvy gals! My problem lies in the after effects. Because I was slow to respond to the PIO in our mock cycle, our doctor upped the dose for the big show. I'm taking 100 mgs each morning delivered in two 1.5" needles. We don't get the luxury of switching sides, it's a double barrelled fun-fest each morning between 5 - 6 am. :) I'm left with some pretty severe soreness afterwards that no amount of massaging, walking-it-out, or heating pads seem to alieviate. I know that this will all be worth it, and that I'll get used to it. (I better! If we get pregnant, I'll be continuing these shots through the first 10 - 12 weeks of pregnancy...YOWZA)

The other thing on my mind is my impending bed rest.  Our doctor is all about cutting edge treatment, but he's also conservative in the post procedure department. He's recommended 3 days of bed rest following our embryo transfer. So of course, being the rule follower that I am, I'm prepared to stay comfortably in my favorite PJs and let Ken wait on me.  (This is sounding better and better!) I will be fighting my natural urge to bustle. When I'm off work, I tend to whirl around the house sorting mail, cleaning, getting ahead on projects, washing laundry, etc. I'll decide that I MUST clean out our closets and make a Goodwill run or that NOW is the time to steam clean our carpets.  So, in order to not go crazy laying around for three days, I need suggestions for time consuming entertainment.  What are your favorite books? Great TV series' that can be consumed en masse? Help a busy bee out! :)