Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eviction Notice....

We have received Miller's eviction notice. If he does not decide to come out on his own (and why would he?), we are being induced on January 11 at 5:00am! I was trying to avoid this date as I know several people with the same birthday, but in the end, they are all wonderful friends and will be honored to have him share their birthday. I wasn't completely sold on the date until I wrote it down...01/11/10. How cool is that?!?! Numbers don't usually get me excited, but how often can you say the date forward or backward and have it be the same? Love it!

Mom and Grams are flying in on the 7th and staying through the 16th. I know this will be wonderful and stressful all at once, but I really was having trouble with the idea of having our baby without my mom around. I think the worst part was the fact that I know most of our friends will receive pictures via modern technology within hours of his birth, and my poor mom would have to wait for us to get something printed and mailed to her or find a neighbor with internet access. The whole idea was making me sad. I am also glad that she will get to see me really big and maybe feel him move. She saw me at 19 weeks, and I was just starting to get a little belly. It was probably a month later before I felt movement, so she hasn't experienced any of this with me at all. It will be long as I don't kill her. And I am only half kidding.

So now we have an official deadline to work toward. Pierce is putting in the car seat today, and I am continuing to organize the nursery. Yesterday I felt horrible all day and didn't accomplish anything. Today, or at least at this minute, I feel good, so I need to seize the moment!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Good Enough

Baby Sunshine - 33 weeks

As usual here I am playing catch up and wondering why it is so difficult for me to stay current in documenting the most amazing, life-changing phase of my life. True, I have been ridiculously tired. Who knew that a five and a half pound uterine squatter could make my daily life feel like I am carrying a load of bricks in a backpack? Or that twenty-five overall pounds would result in fluid-filled cankles, toes that Pierce lovingly describes as sausages and an overall inability to find comfort in anything but Uggs? But truthfully, these have been my only real issues. My normal response to all who have asked has been, "I feel really good. No complaints," and I sincerely mean it.

We have had three beautiful and incredibly generous showers. All of which deserved their own blog entries before now; however, have you seen them? Incredibly I have only just finished my thank-yous from said showers due to my other random, not previously mentioned pregnancy symptom, carpal tunnel. I don't know how many cute little jungle fold-over notes were wasted when my handwriting went askew, and I refused to mail them as is. I know that most recipients probably would not have given them a second glance, but I was mortified. They were not good enough.

Our son's room is nearly complete, but I am not ready to post pictures just yet. I am always finding something to change. Just one question, is it really important to anchor the furniture to the walls? How likely is it that he going to make it topple over if it took two grown men to haul this stuff into our house? OK that's 2 questions, but feel free to comment. I need to know what I am missing regarding our little guy's superhuman strength.

So when we found out that Baby Sunshine has a penis, my relationship with Pottery Barn Kids and the "G is for Giraffe" pattern fell by the wayside. Our first instinct was to give our little one a timeless Classic Pooh, not to be confused with the over-commercialized Disney Pooh, nursery. After a week or so of scoping out the looming plethora of Pooh-adorned bumper pads and comforters (mind you both of these items are not even safe to be used in cribs), I chucked the Pooh idea in search of something less cliche. Not willing to give up on previous giraffe concept I was thrilled to find the most adorable pattern and color palate from Cocalo. We set our sights on creating a room that would soothe our little one yet conjure up lyrics to the infamous Guns and Roses tune, yes...wait for it..."Welcome to the Jungle."

As previously mentioned it is almost done. There is a positioning of wall letters issue to contend with, but then, I promise, it will be ready. Ready for who? Despite all of my neuroses I recognize that our little bundle could give a hoot what his room looks like. As long as he is warm, fed and dry he will be a content little man. When he is born the only way he will know if it is Mommy or Daddy holding him is from our voices and smells. He will not care, much less be able to read, if his name is hanging horizontally, vertically or upside down. Clearly I can delude myself into believing that it is for him, and nothing's too good for my little boy. But in reality, it is for us to enjoy and show our visitors as some kind of unwritten parenting scorecard. Today, at 36 weeks, it is still not good enough.

Who decides what is good enough? Is it a deep internal nagging that sounds an awful lot like my mother when she disapproved of my first far-too-tight pair of Calvins in the seventh grade? Is it my friends and coworkers or the customers that I work so tirelessly to please every day in the this fragile balance to establish my own self-worth? I would like to say that I don't care about the opinions of others, but that statement deserves the inevitable eye roll that comes with working in the fashion industry. Of course I care what others think. Otherwise, why would I be so terrified for the rest of the world to learn that our son has Down syndrome. I am past the point where I feel like I have done something wrong, something that caused him to have this difference, but now I live in a place where I want him to be accepted as if the difference did not exist. I want to protect him, and I want to protect myself and Pierce from the criticisms and whisperings of the judgmental ones. I want the perceived difference to disappear.

When we had our amnio in August and found out about the Down syndrome, one of my dear bloggy friends suggested I read Expecting Adam by Martha Beck. I bought the book the same day but did not read it until about a month ago. I have never felt such a connection to a character in all of my life. The book is a national bestseller, so I suspect it appeals to many on a completely different level, as I am quite certain that one does not achieve best seller status by marketing to the 7 percent of the population with T21 children. If you do not know the story, it is about a young couple who are studying at Harvard when they learn that they are pregnant with a child with Down syndrome. The book is a journey of courage and acceptance in a cruel world where not one doctor could understand why Martha would not terminate her pregnancy. Clearly the Harvard elite could not accept a member of their community who was not "good enough". In the end Martha showed her disdain by purchasing Adam his coming home outfit at the Harvard bookstore, a newborn sweatsuit with the Harvard crest on the shirt. She went through Hell to make sure that that baby made it to this world safely and faced all of the same fears that have been instilled in me since that fateful day in August. Martha is my hero, and our "Adam" will be arriving very soon.

I find it ironic that the university I attended was nicknamed "Little Harvard of the Midwest", and I often wonder what the views of the elders there would be of my pregnancy. It's almost as if it is expected that these special children be born to the less educated or those without the capacity to make the "right" decision. I recently read a blurb on in which Robin Elise Weiss questioned why the percentage of births of children with Down syndrome was on the rise despite all of the testing options available to women now. My blood was boiling by the time I had finished reading this insensitive editorial. I could not believe that a doula would have the nerve to put something so controversial out there, so caveman like, words so completely clueless spewing forth from an intelligent human being. I considered commenting but took the time to read the four earlier comments and decided that those four women were my soul sisters and sent them a virtual kiss for reading my mind.

This may seem like an awkward transition, but I promise you I have a point if you stick with me, that is if I haven't lost you already, so high up on my soap box this morning such that I am. I have known our son's name for nearly five years now but have not gone public here for whatever reason...I can't say I truly have one. I have enjoyed the nickname Baby Sunshine for so long that it didn't seem necessary to give him a formal name just yet. However, here it is...drumroll please...his name is Miller Christian. Anyone who knows me in IRL knows that Miller is my maiden name. I spent months trying to decide if it worked as a first name and finally decided that it most certainly did. Shortly after making this decision I watched Matthew Mc Connaughey on Conan O'Brien reveal to the world that his new nephew's name was Miller Lyte. I have lived with the beer reference my entire life, so I was not surprised. But REALLY? In October I had the pleasure of having lunch with a very well known fashion designer whose last name also happens to be Miller. I laughed out loud when she asked me what we were naming the baby. When I told her, her response was, "Well, you know that is Stella Mc Cartney's sons name". So, unknowingly, I have joined the ranks of celebrities who give their kids crazy names like Dweezil and Fifi-Trixibelle. In doing so, do we move up the ranks of what is good enough? I would think so if the barometer for measuring "good enough" is public opinion. And does that opinion change when the public learns that Miller has Down syndrome?

And then there is the question of my grandfather. My grandfather, who gave us all the Miller name, a second generation German immigrant and, as he reminded us every chance he had, valedictorian of his class. A self-made, Phoenix-rising from the ashes man (How far was it he said he walked to school in the snow, uphill, with no shoes?) with a very low tolerance for inadequacy. So low a tolerance in fact that he used to correct others' grammar outwardly as they chatted over playing cards, and his middle son, my uncle became the black sheep of the family by choosing the military over a college education. So what would this larger than life Miller think of our little Miller, with his yet to be seen challenges, carrying on the family name? Would he be able to embrace the beauty of this little one or would he look at me with pity and wonder why I chose to make a mockery of his family's name in this way? Fortunately I will never know, until perhaps one day when we meet again before God. Only then will I have the chance to ask him and I doubt that I will care, "Grandpa, are you proud of my life? Did I do good enough?"

As I sit here at the computer, the lists of things still yet to be done rush through my head. I keep an ongoing shopping list of last minute items, throw more toiletries in a giant Ziploc for the hospital, and wonder what's on the mind of the little person who alternates between pushing on my bladder and rolling over and making a wave in my stretched belly. It is the opinion of our Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor that our son should be delivered some time next week. I stopped working last week after my blood pressure reached an all time high, and the fear of pre-eclampsia is on the rise. I know that we will be ready. I know that we may not know what the heck we are doing, but most of all I know that we will love him more than anything. And I know that will be good enough.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Anniversary...November 3, 2007

Yes, I am 10 days late....but I can't believe it's been 2 years. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday, but a year and half of infertility can feel like a lifetime. Regardless, there is no one else I would have rather taken this crazy ride with. Here's to my wonderful husband and soon to be terrific father. I love you more than you will ever know.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oh My, Third Tri!

I can't believe we are already here. Good bye, second trimester. Great memories of second tri include my 40th birthday, our road trip to Indiana/Wisconsin, our first shower, painting little man's room and picking up his dresser just last week. Coming up we have two more showers, our second wedding anniversary, and all of the fun fall and winter holidays. Once I can catch a breath from all of that, we will be a family of three. It's so hard for me to believe that a year ago I was still at a treatment standstill for three months after my September polyp removal surgery. Baby Sunshine should arrive within days of the one year anniversary of our first IUI failure, the one that I was so sure had worked. What a difference a year can make!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ah! Double digits!

I think I am probably the first pregnant girl to think, "Oh my God, this is going too fast!" On the one hand I want the weeks to tick by quickly as that increases his odds of being born a healthy weight and not doing time in the NICU, but on the other hand, I feel so completely unprepared and I rather enjoy being pregnant....most of the time......: )

Well, ready or not, January is swiftly approaching and so is the arrival of Baby Sunshine. 98 days to be exact, that is if he is a punctual male. Yesterday I saw the 99 days on my Bump ticker and started humming '99 bottles of beer on the wall' and thought hmmmmm....yes a beer does sound good.... OK, maybe I will be ready to evict him in 98 days. My feet swelling like balloons yesterday just about sealed the deal!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Viability Day!

No, I don't want him to be born any time soon, but it is nice to know that if he was he would have a fighting chance. 40% is not great odds, but it is a milestone, one that I often wondered if we would ever reach. Here is the promised 3D pic. So sweet!! However, I do think he's got the world's biggest lips. He also has some really big legs, so maybe he kicked himself in the face and gave himself a fat lip. Well, speaking of big, I am going to post my 24 week belly pic. I think I look pretty huge. It's hard to believe that I have only put on about 12 pounds, but I guess the extra 10 from thyroid problems and fertility treatments before hand didn't do me any favors either!

This picture was taken in his nursery. As you can see,
all we have done is the paint. My cousin gave us the
glider as a shower gift, and the animals have been
acquired over several years. The large giraffe,
we call her Penelope, has been our inspiration
for his safari themed nursery. I made Pierce
buy Penelope for me when we were in Vegas,
and he had won a good chunk of money.
He thought it would be fun to keep on playing
and probably lose everything, but I insisted that
we have something to show for his
winnings. We had been trying for a baby for only a
few months at that point, and I told him that our
baby would definitely need a giraffe.
Funny how he has about five giraffes now.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Baby Sunshine gets an A+!!!

Yesterday was the long-awaited trip to see the pediatric cardiologist. Nicest guy ever!!! Anyway, we had an approximately 30 minute ultrasound in which he called our little guy by name (sorry, I'm not announcing yet!) repeatedly, called out a bunch of numbers to his nurse who was filling out the report, and then explained the results to us in the consultation room afterwards. He explained what the major heart problems are that many babies with Downs have in common. He explained to us the difference in function between the heart of a fetus and the heart of a baby...very interesting. And, in the end, gave us a perfect report card, and said that little man has no heart abnormalities whatsoever. He offered to take a look at him once he is born, but said that there was no reason for us to come back otherwise. I haven't stopped smiling since! I knew it would be OK!

Immediately before that appointment we saw our peri for a 24 week check up. We only got 1 good 3D that we haven't scanned yet. I'll post it later. Baby Sunshine weighs 1 lb. 6 oz. and is on the high end of normal. Fluids are great, growth is great, placenta looks great, cervix is long and closed. Sounds like we are doing quite well for our high risk status. Oh, and both doctors felt his kicks from the outside while doing their exams! He has become quite active. I sure hope that Pierce feels him soon!

Monday, September 7, 2009

20 week drive-by post

Yes, it's true. I have a whole lotta catching up to do. A quick summary: Pierce and I are learning a great deal about DS and preparing for our big "test". I love this analogy Pierce came up with. We don't know how our baby will be affected much like as students we never knew what questions would be on the test, so we had to learn everything. We are in the process of learning and preparing as much as we can. More about that as our journey continues....

I am finishing up (BOO!) some much needed vacation. I had not really had a vacation since January when we had IUI #1. That's seems like a lifetime ago! Baby Sunshine went on his first road trip up north to Indiana, Chicago, and Wisconsin to visit family. While we were there, my very generous grandmother (the same one who paid for most of our IVF) threw us a baby shower. Our little one received so many thoughtful and generous gifts from our wonderful family. I also got to see my very best friend from college, who I had not seen in 8 years! We promised to never let that happen again. I cannot count how many times I was moved to tears that day. Pictures to follow. As with any road trip there are many silly stories to tell as well.

We had our 20 week appointment on the 4th, and he is right on track with growth. His heart still looks fantastic, but we are seeing a cardiologist this week for a second opinion. He weighs about 12 oz. now, and the u/s tech basically told us he was going to be big. I think a c-section is sounding better every day! Still waiting to feel movement. I think I have felt some squirming lately, but nothing I would classify as kicks. I asked the doctor where his feet should be, so I would know where to be expecting kicks. Needless to say, I thought they were somewhere else entirely so I was more prepared for a good punch. Regardless, Little Guy, Mommy would like to feel something obvious very soon!

A quick note of gratitude to everyone who responded and/or supported us through the initial shock of Baby Sunshine's DS diagnosis. Although we are still frightened and overwhelmed, we are considerably less so, knowing that we have so much love surrounding us. It is our only hope that we are able to, in some small way, be there for all of you, and we hope that you will call on us when you need someone to pick you up in order to continue your journey.

Peace and Love!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Calling All Angels

Both of my parents were teachers. My dad taught history, and my mom's love was music. My dad's dad was superintendent of schools and coach to the all-state football team on which my dad played. I grew up "knowing" I would be a teacher: It seemed to be the only path. So when I was in high school I took some classes that were meant to prep young teachers-to-be and, more importantly, solidify our commitment to the field. My senior year I had a half day of traditional classes and spent the after lunch hours as a teacher's aid at the Special Education Learning Facility because I was going to change the world, one learning disability at a time.

First of all, like most of my retail career, the training for this gig was nonexistent, what I would categorize as sink or swim. I truly believe that a great deal of the experience was so traumatic to me that I blanked it out, but I will tell as much as I can remember. One thing that I never expected, however I have since then learned to be the norm, is that all of these children were lumped into one classroom, regardless of their cognitive abilities and perceived future. I think they were all about 7 years old, and their diagnoses ran everywhere from hearing impaired to Down's Syndrome to autism to some things that were terminal, and they actually passed away during my short tenure there.

We had a routine that we followed every day like clock work. I remember all of the kids sitting around a long table and writing out their ABC's. Although they did this task every day without fail, some could not grasp it. Some were quite good and made it all of the way through with only some dyslexic B's and P's. Any small achievements were rewarded, and I am sad to say, lack of achievement was ridiculed. Before the buses came to pick them up, I was in charge of story time. Twenty special kids huddled around me on the floor as I read to them and took them to a place where prejudice didn't exist. After my story we would sing songs, and every kid in there could sign the words to every song. The majority of these children did not need sign language to communicate, but their music teacher had incorporated it into the curriculum to help the deaf children participate. I found this completely amazing! How could one write the alphabet day after day and never get better at it but, on the other hand, learn such an intricate way of communicating with such ease?

In the end I left the Special Education Learning Facility with a bad taste in my mouth. I often overheard the teachers making fun of the children and calling them stupid. It completely broke my heart. When I confronted them about what I felt was cruel and inappropriate, they told me that it was the only way they could keep their sanity and told me that I would understand if I continued my career path. I chose to abandon their shallow, cowardly selves, my career path, and unfortunately, the children. It was more than this 17 year-old could take. I went on to college, changed my major to French and International Economics, and never looked back.

Twenty-two years later I was happily married and pursuing my dream of mommyhood, not knowing that the rug was about to be pulled out from under us. When our NT scan came back a bit suspicious, I took solace in the fact that our baby showed no physical signs of a chromosome disorder and signed up for the amnio to put my mind at ease. The day of the amnio we learned that our"little girl" was, in fact, a little man. "Really, a penis? Are you sure?" The ultrasound tech pointed to a blob on the screen that was in some way supposed to reveal to me the sex of our child. I suddenly felt a strange rush, not unlike how I feel at work when I am given a project that is a bit overwhelming. A challenge. A little boy. See I don't know anything about them. I am an only child as was my mother. My father passed away when I was three, so I have been raised by all women with the exception of two amazing grandfathers. I never even babysat little boys. I know nothing of that skill that involves changing a diaper without getting squirted in the face. Three days later, Pierce had the dubious task of informing me that my "challenge" was about to catapult me into a different dimension: Little Boy Sunshine has Down's Syndrome.

The day started with a routine visit to the OB/GYN to pee in a cup, give some blood, and hear his heartbeat (a sound that never gets old). Pierce and I left the office, and as we were walking to the car he noticed that he had a voicemail. It was the high risk doctor asking him to return his call at our convenience. I had 15 minutes to spare, so I felt sure that he could call, get the reassuring news that the baby was fine, and I could still make it to work on time. Then the phone games began. Apparently, the moron receptionist at the doctor's office had set the phone to go straight to voice mail. This continued for three hours. I went to work. I received the call around 2:30, contacted my boss, and left as quickly as my shaking legs would carry me.

And now we grieve the loss of what we thought would be and face an uncertain future. Oddly it feels a bit like the day I moved out of my ex husband's house, nearly 6 years ago. At least now I have a wonderful husband to pick me up when I fall flat on my face. Now begins a battery of tests and many specialists who will work to make sure this little life is as good as it possibly can be. In my desperate research yesterday I uncovered a fact that made my blood run cold: 92% of all pregnancies with Down's babies are terminated. 92 is HUGE! Don't get me wrong: I am not about to get on some soap box, blasting abortion and a woman's right to choose. I do believe these are personal decisions, and I have never faulted anyone for the choices they have felt they needed to make. But really....if I were 92% of the population this little guy would never take a breath in the outside world, would never know how much his mommy and daddy love him, would never be given the opportunities that "normal" duo chromosome children are given. Is the whole world just sitting back and waiting to laugh at him and call him stupid?

I have had 16 hours, not nearly long enough, to digest all of this. I have questioned my decisions to pursue having a child through IVF and putting us all through so much. I have questioned my decision in college to become a smoker and regretted how long that habit stayed part of my life. I have questioned whether my thyroid was well enough under control when we conceived, and if there was more we could have done. I have wondered if Baby Boy Sunshine's twin had Down's too. And if our snowbaby has the same disorder. I have also wondered how 3 beautiful blastocysts that the embryologist had deemed, "the most perfect I have ever seen" could be imperfect little people by society's standards. Dr. Google has taken away some of the pressure and assured me that my lifestyle did nothing to contribute to this situation. It is a completely random occurrence that presents itself more frequently in women of advanced maternal age (35+).

As we continue to sort through all of this and cope in the only ways we know how, I remind myself that we are still being blessed with a child, a miracle from God. He may not be just like so many other children, but he is our miracle and God is giving him to us for a reason. If he wasn't meant to come in to this world, he would have passed with his sister and his heart wouldn't be so strong. He is so strong, and I must learn to be as well. One of my dear Nestie friends sent me the most beautiful piece last night that really helped put things in perspective. I love her for thinking to send it to me. I hope you all enjoy it as much.

Welcome to Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

by Emily Kingsley
written about having a child with DS.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Amnio Anxiety

I tossed and turned for two hours this morning before finally crawling out of bed. In those two hours I rubbed my slowly growing belly, prayed (maybe more like begged) for our baby's health and safety, listened to the little snores and soft grumblings of Pierce as he slept, and scolded the cat for getting a little too curious about my glass of water on the nightstand. It's 6AM, and I feel like I have had a full day already!

I actually fell asleep easily last night, and I remember thinking that I was remarkably calm about today's appointment. I guess I just needed a little nap before I woke up and realized that today is THE DAY. I keep focusing on the fact that today we will know if Baby Sunshine is a girl or a boy, and that is so exciting! Somehow in focusing on this I am able to forget about the large needle in my belly, the 1 in 300 chance of miscarriage, and the daunting wait for the lab results. I keep reminding myself that women do this every day, and things are completely fine. The doctor himself said that she appeared to be fine on the ultrasound. I have to believe that God would not have allowed this pregnancy to progress this far if there was anything wrong with Baby Sunshine. We lost Baby B (we have decided to name her Savannah), and I believe that she most likely did have some sort of abnormality or she would be growing along with her sibling. Of course I have no way of knowing for sure, but this is the only way I can keep my sanity through this scary time.

I will give the report in a few days when I am allowed to be mobile again. Our appointment is in 2 hours, and then it is off to 48 hours of bed rest. I need to catch up on my reading anyway.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

14 Weeks and counting..................

Despite the fact that I am no longer feeling nasty and having strange food aversions, I am still so crazy tired! I fear my thyroid is still not quite on track, so we will be looking it to this again next appointment. Hmmm, where did I leave off??? Oh right. The NT scan. Well, it didn't really go how we had hoped. Little One's NT measured somewhere around a 3.5, and they like to see it below 2.5. In fact they didn't even take my blood because they said that the blood results would not be enough to lower our risk given the measurement. Ouch! Fortunately, we had quite possibly the cutest and kindest doctor possible giving us this information. Once I was in tears, he was quick to remind us that this is all about risks and does not mean that there is anything certain wrong with our baby. I have to remind myself that he said this because it is awful hard to remember anything else he said after the initial blow.

Dr. Cutie also proceeded with a complete anatomy scan of our baby after this news and informed us that she looks perfect. Heart is beating well and has all 4 ventricles. Brain is properly formed and blood is pumping through all of the lobes. Kidneys are formed and functioning. She looks "like a very healthy, normal 12 week baby, " he said. We are still saying "she" because our little one was very stubborn (I have no idea where she gets this from!) at our appointment, and it was difficult to get an accurate view between the legs. The doctor explained his technique for determining the sex this early in the game, and we all stared at the ultrasound screen long and hard. He said his best guess at this point was that she is in fact a girl. I look forward to setting this record straight, once and for all, very soon. Which leads me to the scary topic of "further testing".

I never wanted to have to go here, but somehow I found myself agreeing to having an amnio. I guess the decision was easy given the choice between amnio and CVS. I know 2 people who have lost perfectly healthy babies from complications with CVS, and I also know plenty of ladies who have had no problems with it all. I remain scared shitless of the thought of it, and to make things worse, the doctor mentioned that it might be a little more difficult as they would have to maneuver around the sac of Baby B. No thanks. I'll take the giant needle in my stomach. That appointment is set for August 10th after more crazy controversy at work over when I could be allowed 2 days off in a row. Good times! If anyone can spare any prayers or good thoughts for Baby Sunshine, I would greatly appreciate it. We have come so far and prayed so long for this little baby that the thought of anything being wrong with her is more than I can bear.

In happier news, I turned 40 last week and entered the second trimester! Yay!!! For my birthday I decided to order a doppler from babybeatdotcom, so that we could keep tabs on the munchkin between appointments. It's really awesome! We haven't had any trouble finding her heartbeat, and it continues to be a strong and rhythmic 143-150 bpm. It makes us smile every time we hear it, and if we ever figure out how to download the recording I will post it in the blog. Pierce spent a good chunk of time yesterday looking at tutorials on the Mac and trying to figure out how to make it work, but no go.

I have so much more to share but will end this here for now. I am once again taking a vow to be better about keeping up with our little blog. I want Baby Sunshine to know all of the details, good and bad, and know how very much Mommy and Daddy have loved her for so very long.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Waiting for the placenta reprieve....

They say that around 11 weeks I should start feeling remarkably better because the placenta will be up and running and taking care of little one's hormone needs. We are 11 weeks today, and I am so ready! I have spent a perfectly good holiday weekend on the couch, playing the "What sounds good" game with my digestive system. Pierce and I have been convinced that the baby is a girl for awhile now, and yesterday I mentioned that maybe we should stop thinking that in case she is a boy. Pierce is convinced that ever since I said that out loud, she has been pissed at me for calling her a boy and is making my existence a living hell. So, please, may this go on the record as my official written apology to Baby Sunshine. I am sorry, Sweetheart, and I will not make assumptions until you have identifiable parts. You are daddy's little girl until a sonogram tells us otherwise.

Unbelievably, we will have an 80% guess as to the baby's sex this Friday! Now, I don't think I can go out and register based on an 80%, but I thought we would have to wait until 20 weeks for any kind of determination. This Friday is also the BIG TEST. We will find out if our baby is at a higher risk for Down's Syndrome and several other chromosome defects. We already know we are at a higher risk going into it because of my age, so all I can do is continue to pray. I think once we get past this one, I will be able to enjoy this time a little bit more. Maybe the magic placenta can kick in on the same day, and next Saturday I will wake up feeling amazing. A girl can dream.

We did see our little one on Thursday. This was our first experience with the "on top of my tummy" sonogram. She mentioned that it may not work, and we might have to rely on my old friend but it worked like a charm! No sooner had she rubbed the gel on me and pressed down on the transmitter that I saw a very active Baby Sunshine coming in to focus. The tech laughed and said we have a very happy baby because she was dancing and waving her arms at us. After she mellowed out a bit, she started sucking her thumb. The fact that she is 1 3/4" long, and we can tell all of that, is completely amazing to me. We can even make out a pretty good profile on one of the sonogram pics. Pierce said she has a big nose. I am thinking maybe it's just growing faster, and the rest of her face will catch up. She's only been cooking for 64 days!

I will update on Friday when we get home. My OB/GYN said that the sonogram shots they will get for these tests will be amazing compared to anything I have seen in her office. We'll see what that nose looks like then. I am sure it will be perfect.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jennifer Jeanne

October 28-November 5, 1978. She was my baby sister. She was born very premature and weighed 3 lbs. Her lungs were not mature, and after 8 days on machines my mom and stepmonster let her go. I know I didn't understand a lot of what happened since I was only 9 years old, but I really had a hard time forgiving them for that, sometimes wonder if I ever really have. She was my last chance to not be an only child, and there was nothing I wanted more.

I always knew that I would never have an only child. I could not put that burden and that loneliness on another. I know it wasn't intentional, as my parents wanted "at least 4", but now I am beginning to fear that history may repeat itself. My mom had an incompetent cervix, which she says was the result of a bad IUD, and lost at least 3 babies that I know about. Jennifer and I were the only ones to make it to this world. I, on the other hand, can apparently only get pregnant through extremely expensive medical intervention. So far so good, and knock on wood, our little one, our only child, will make it here safe and sound. Me, the lonely only child, loved the idea that there were going to be two babies born at once, loved the idea that they would have a bond that no other could ever break and that neither would ever feel alone. I didn't actually think a lot about the chances of twins when we put back two embryos. Two just seemed like more insurance to get one. But that all changed when I learned there were two.

It seems so obvious that Jennifer would enter my thoughts on the eve of the day that Baby B no longer had a heartbeat, but somehow I feel like she's been watching over this entire IVF process. I think I mentioned several entries back that I had a dream about her between our retrieval and transfer. In my dream she was sending me text messages from the ARTS lab, letting me know that she was there, watching over and taking care of our embryos. As absurd as it sounds, it made me feel better. I had really hoped that we would be able to donate our snowbaby to another couple in need, but it looks like we may be that couple. Jenny Girl, I'm going to need you to watch that little one for a couple of years.

Saying goodbye to our twin breaks my heart, but I know that over time it will be easier. I know from the experience with Jennifer that the grief never really goes away. It becomes a manageable part of me that makes me stronger and appreciative of all that I do have. I am grateful that it happened early and will not cause any trouble for our healthy baby. I am extremely grateful that I am not facing burying my child. There is nothing that haunts me more than the vision of a tiny, white casket that one man carried my sister in to the cemetery. It is something that should never happen, but over the last year and half on the Bump I have learned that it happens, unfortunately, all of the time.

I think I am finally able to forgive my mom for letting her go. It wasn't her fault. Bad things happen to good people. I wasn't supposed to be an only child: it just worked out that way. I will still do everything in my power to make sure that this little one has a sibling. Hopefully our snowbaby will survive the thaw and join our family in a couple of years. A second IVF seems quite out of our reach, and my eggs could take a turn for the worse in the next year. All I can concern myself with right now is the one perfect baby that is thriving inside me and expected to be here January 23. This needs to be my focus.

We'll miss you, Baby B, and you will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

No easy answer

So it looks like the 84% of you who voted twins were absolutely right; however, based on how tiny Baby B is the doctors give us little hope that we will ever be holding twins. Baby A is measuring 2 days ahead (7w5d at last week's sono) and has a fantastic heartbeat of 156 bpm! Baby B was measuring 6w1d and had a very slow heartbeat of 54 bpm. My heart sunk. How could one of my babies be doing so well and the other be barely clinging to life? I am also beginning to wonder about the people in which I have chosen to confide this information. I have actually had two people say to me, "Well, at least you've still got one" and "You could have had none." Does anyone here really think I am so fucking ungrateful as to not appreciate the one perfect baby that I am actually beginning to believe I will give birth to in January? Is it not possible that I could be truly 100% appreciative of this little miracle but at the same time be equally as sad that my other baby may never grow up as part of our family? Is it OK to say such horrible things simply because someone has yet to be born? If someone had two teenagers, and one of them was killed by a drunk driver would you ever say to that person, "Well, at least you've still got one" or "it could have been both of them"? So stupid and hurtful. I need new friends.

I managed to survive our annual work convention without any questions. There were a few raised eyebrows and I am sure many rumors started as I continuously turned down cocktails. After partaking in eight years of these fun fashion presentations followed by many late nights of drunken walks of shame, I would be fairly naive to escape without question. The funny thing is that I am always completely wiped out after the convention, and I always assumed it was from the late night antics. Turns out being 8 weeks pregnant makes you feel equally as tired and hungover. Hmmm....Don't worry everyone: If I am lucky enough to still be employed next year, I will more that make up for this year.

So, tomorrow we will go back to the OBGYN. I am excited to see Baby A again and hear the beautiful heartbeat. I am terrified to see what's going on with Baby B. We have been told of the "vanishing twin" phenomenon and that it is possible that I will go in for the sono and the other baby will simply be gone. No bleeding, no pain, simply absorbed by my body and gone. And then there's Mr. Optimism, my dear husband, who believes that Baby B will have a stronger heartbeat and will have grown significantly over the past week. I love him so very much, and God knows I want to believe what he believes. It's just so hard. What lesson is God trying to teach me here? Does He believe that carrying twins to term would be too physically demanding on me and threaten my health? Does He feel we can't afford two babies and would struggle too much? Does Baby B have Down's or Trisomy 13, and this is all part of Darwin's law? I may never know. For now it's just one day at a time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I will be napping this afternoon!

Pierce left for work at 3:45am, and I have been awake ever since.  I didn't wake up when we got up or when he was getting ready, but that little "ding ding" sound the alarm makes when the garage door goes down put me a in a state of tossing/turning, getting up to pee, playing with the cat for awhile, and now, I guess, blogging.

Ultrasound/sonogram, whatever it is called, is in 3 hours and 45 minutes.  As if I am not anxious enough already, our RE has moved his office and I am not entirely sure where I am going.  It's actually pretty comical because we live just north of XX St., we are 2 stoplights away.  The RE's office is also on XX St., but it's a really long road that changes direction and loops around into another city and, almost, another county!  You would think if all I need to do is get on one road and go that I would be perfectly fine.  Hmmm....maybe I will.  But I think maybe is a bit clouded by thoughts of 

*will there be a heartbeat?
*what if they don't see anything?
*what if the first thing out of the doctor's mouth is "I'm so sorry"
*what if everything looks perfect?
*exactly how many babies are in there?
*when do I graduate to the OB?
*when can we stop the torturous PIO shots?
*is my thyroid/blood pressure OK?

Yes, I worry a lot.  I wish I could be like any number of other girls on the Bump boards who pee on a stick, get there BFP and announce it with a full-blown ticker right away.  I admire that confidence, or maybe a lot of it is innocence.  I have never had a miscarriage, yet I am in constant fear that something will go wrong with this pregnancy.  I have seen this crippling fear in many ladies who have lost babies, but I find it very confusing that I have adopted it in some form.  I think it's a combination of all of the months of let downs, all of the tests coming back normal and offering no clues as to why we weren't getting pregnant, and all of the time and, not to forget, the money we put in to this journey.  We are very fortunate not to be up to our eyeballs in infertility debt.  I think it's like when you become a teenager, and your parents tell you to go get a part time job and earn your own money because if you have to work hard for something and pay for it yourself, you will appreciate it more.  I am in no way implying that ladies who have gotten pregnant easily don't appreciate their babies.  I am simply saying that those ladies will never understand my heartache.  And for that I am extremely grateful.  I would wish it on no one.

I hope that today's ultra-gram/sono-sound will give me some sense of peace.  I really want to celebrate this miracle(s).  Not with the world, not yet, but with my husband, mom, grandma, and cat.  If all is well on my birthday, then we will let the world share in our sunshine.  Now that it is only 3 hours until our appointment at the mysterious location, it is time for me to shower and make all parts pretty and clean.  I'm not entirely sure if today involves over-the-belly action or my good 'ole friend, the dildo cam.  Either way, don't want to scare anyone!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ultrasound Anticipation

It is still 10 days away, but I am actually beginning to believe this is a viable pregnancy.  My symptoms went away for a day or so last week, and I completely freaked out.  My cousin, who went through 5 years of fertility treatments and NEVER got pregnant, was in town, and I told her how worried I was.  She agreed that she would be the same way if she had ever gotten pregnant, but in my case she was pretty sure that all was fine.  For whatever reason, possibly because I want to so badly, I choose to believe her.  She's more like a sister to me, and from that moment forward I felt better.  Better, actually meaning, that I feel physically worse.  Symptoms have returned and ramped up with a vengeance.  Happy to report still no real signs of morning sickness.  We have officially reached 6 weeks,  and I am told that if it's coming it should show any time.  Cramping, constipation, and being completely exhausted most of the time has become standard.  In fact I am struggling to write this blog entry before I fall asleep yet again! 

Anyway, tomorrow is June 1.  I am just excited for it to be June 'cause when our u/s was scheduled for JUNE two weeks ago, it felt like forever.  It's still 10 days away, but somehow being in June makes it all better.  June is also an important month because it marks the 2 year anniversary of closing on our beautiful home, and it is my grandmother's birthday.   It seems only right to mention the birthday of the wonderful woman who helped make this miracle a reality by funding Project Baby Sunshine.  Happy Birthday, Grams!  I had two great-grandmothers when I was born, but our children will only have one.  One day I will tell them all you did to bring them to life.  Saying thank you seems so trivial, but I suppose it's a start.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I am a lunatic

I really hope that after a few weeks I stop worrying so much and can enjoy this pregnancy a little bit.  This last week I went to see my PCP to have my thyroid checked as Mary Shomon suggests in her book.  My TSH was already up to a 7, presumably from my little embies sucking the hormone out of me.  As of February I was holding strong at 2.6, so this discovery was very alarming.  She immediately increased my dosage to .150 per day.  I hope it's enough.  I called my OB/GYN the next day to ask about my blood pressure medication and the new Synthroid dose.  The nurse I spoke with said that my doc was OK with everything I was taking and looked forward to seeing me when I was released from the RE.  I thought for sure she would want to see me early since I am high risk.  Guess not.  So now all I can do is wait 15 days until our ultrasound and pray that there will be one or two healthy heartbeats.  I've got nothing to go on but some cramps, sore boobs and a lot of faith.  Oh, and I have allowed myself to pee on two sticks since our beta last Monday.  Both positive, of course.  I need to go buy some more....

Monday, May 18, 2009

Holy Moly! Big Fat Positive!

Let me begin by saying, yes, I am late in blogging about this.  But I think after 18 months of infertility it is still a little difficult for me to believe that I am actually pregnant.  I also felt like this post was super important and shouldn't be jumped in to until I had the proper time and energy to do it justice.  However, if I waited until I could find the words to describe the last week of my life I would never get there.  It's been a crazy ride.

Mother's Day was 4 days after our transfer.  I knew it was too early to test, and I restrained myself.  Monday after work I started spotting, not much, but enough to freak me out and be convinced that Aunt Flo was headed to town.  After the spotting incident I asked Pierce to give me my PIO shot, so I could go to sleep and not think about it anymore.  The next morning I tested, and it was negative.  I cried for several hours.  I begged God to not let this happen and questioned where we would get the money to go it again.  I was a mess.

We went out to lunch, and I went in to work for a meeting later in the day.  Meanwhile, the day before's spotting had not progressed.  I began to feel a bit of optimism creeping back in.  I decided I wouldn't test on Wednesday but would on Thursday.  If the blood was implantation, I wanted to give the little one enough time to burrow in and start producing lots of HCG.  Thursday morning, STILL NEGATIVE.  But it's worse than negative because there is this crazy evaporation line that COULD be a second line if you look at it sideways while standing on the vanity with the stick up against the light.  Seriously!  I left for work and asked Pierce to please go get some other kind of test 'cause the Dollar Tree was about to push me over the edge.

I held my pee for 4 hours on Thursday night so that I could take the Clear Blue Easy tests, one plus/minus, one digital.  Unbelievably, they both came up positive immediately! 

I laughed and cried and screamed.  I have never seen this before.  I felt like someone was playing a trick on me.  I didn't sleep at all that night.

Friday morning was our beta draw.  Pierce got the phone call around 3:00.  Beta was 196!  The average beta at 14dpo is 100.  He called me at work to give me the news.  All of sudden it was real: We are pregnant!!!!  Our second beta was drawn today and came back at 784.  That's quadruple Friday's number, and all it needed to be was double.  They are very happy with these numbers, so there won't be a third beta.  In fact I won't be going to the RE's office again until June 10 for our scheduled sonogram.   I will be seven weeks along at that point, and we will be able to see the heartbeat(s).  We did transfer two beautiful blasts, so now we have to wonder just how many little heartbeats there will be.  If you have a hunch or an educated guess based on these random beta numbers, please take my poll to the left.  I think I may go batty between now and June 10.  I can't honestly remember the last time I didn't go to the doctor for three weeks.  I will probably keep peeing on sticks to reassure myself.

Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful miracle!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Here they are!!

For anyone who isn't channeling their inner science geek or isn't a regular reader of Dr. Liccardi's blog or doesn't spend hours a week scanning pictures of embryos on countless IVF clinic websites, these are nearly perfect blastocysts, our nearly perfect blastocysts.  They are 5 day-old babies-to-be that have been carefully cultivated and grown in a lab to 100 beautiful cells each.  The embryologist graded the one on the lower left an "A" and quickly added that they almost never give out A's. She said the one on the right is almost as perfect, but they gave it a B+.  Pierce thinks he sees a penis in the one on the right.  I told him that he was probably right since that one wasn't as good as the other!  

Just a few fun facts about blasts:

Day 5 is the preferred day for embryo transfer because at this stage it is clear which embryos are the best.  10-20% of normal fertilized embryos from day 1 will make good quality blastocysts.  We had 7 fertilize normally and 3 blasts on day 5, so our % is 43.  Pretty darn good!

On day 5 it is easy to distinguish between the inner cell mass, which becomes the baby and the trophoblast, the other cells that become the placenta.  

I have spent many hours looking at them already.  I cried when the embryologist handed the picture to me.  All that fear of having rotten eggs was gone in an instant with her comment, "Lots of 30 year-old women would kill to make embryos as good as these," a la Meryl Streep in The Devils Wears Prada.  She then went on to explain that about 30% of every woman's eggs are bad, and sometimes it's really hard to find good ones, regardless of age.  She also confessed that she too had been through IVF, and she was at least 5 years younger than me.  All of this made me feel a little less like a freak and a little more humbled by the three little miracles that had been living in lab dishes labeled with my social.

Emotional stuff aside, the procedure was very "wham bam".  I put on my fancy hospital gown and was given Valium by All Business Nurse.  I began chugging water about 45 minutes before the scheduled procedure as I needed to have a full bladder.  Anyone who knows me knows that I drink water all of the time and, consequently, pee just as often.  The catch here was that I had to hold it for a least 45 minutes until procedure time, throughout the quick procedure that involved a speculum, a catheter and some definite pressure down there, and then for another hour in recovery.  Torture, I say!  Pierce got to help wheel me in to the OR and hold my hand throughout.  He also got a fancy outfit, and I took this pic shortly before they wheeled me in, 40 minutes late (remember, bladder still full!)

We left the hospital about 3 hours after we arrived, and again I was wheeled out to the curb since I had had Valium.  I laugh because I am not sure that it really did anything for me.  We drove home with strict orders for 48 hours of bed rest and a release stating that it was not possible for me to laugh, cry, sneeze, pee or poop my embryos out.  I guess they knew what laying around for 48 hours would do to me.  

But I made it through.  I received a phone call from the embryologist on Thursday to let me know that our 3rd early blast had done well over night and made it to freeze.  For those of you who were keeping track, I said we had 3 blasts on day 5, but only 2 came home with us.  The other is frozen for our future use or possibly to be donated if the Lord blesses us with twins. I returned to work yesterday, and I feel fine other than the soreness from my PIO shots.  My beta is Friday, and I am still trying to decide if and when I will POAS.  I am sure I will because I will need the forewarning.  I had sort of thought about doing it today, but I think it's really too soon.  There would definitely be some kind of magic to finding out on Mother's Day, but I wouldn't be able to handle the opposite.  Today is a tough day for those of us who haven't been able to cross over to the other side.  I'd rather find out on a day that means nothing and turn it into our own special day.  Hmmmm...well this coming Wednesday is the one year anniversary of our first consultation with the RE.  Hopefully, he has knocked this one up just under the wire.

Thank you for all of the comments and well wishes.  They truly mean the world to me.
I will close with a pic of the candle we lit in church for our embryos.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's Transfer Day!

In just a few hours my little embryos are coming home!  They should be full-grown, 100-cell blastocysts by now.  So grown up!  I can't wait to meet them.  I love them already!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The rollercoaster ride continues....

This morning I was just kinda hanging out in my pj's, waiting to take a shower just before our appointment for the transfer.  At about 9:00 I get a call from the lab. "Yes, is this Sunshine?  This is Holly from the ARTs lab.  I'm calling to let you know that Dr. B is recommending that we push to a 5 day transfer on Wednesday."  My mouth is wide open, but nothing is coming out.  "Why?" I finally find my voice. "Well," she explains, "right now you have 4 embryos that are excellent and 3 that are good.  It's impossible for us to tell which ones are the best.  If you come in today, we will have to be more aggressive, but if we wait until Wednesday we will know which two are the best blasts."  I know in the logical side of my brain that this is great news.  They are all excelling!  Our little embies are rockstars!  But of course my overly hormonal, hating surprises self was a total mess.  After countless messages to my boss about me not coming in, I had to call back and say, "Yes, please disregard.  Just kidding.  I'll be there just as soon as I shower.  I'll explain later!"  So Wednesday it is.  The other thing I loved about the phone call was Holly explaining that the only reason they assumed it would be a three day transfer is because of my age.  Apparently being old does not matter to my little embies.  Keep the prayers coming:  they are definitely working!!!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

OMG! This is all happening so fast!!!

OK, I am going to go backwards with updates, so I am sure I will lose you all by the end of this. Yesterday was our egg retrieval, and they got 11 eggs!  We went to the hospital at 7, and the retrieval was scheduled for 8:15.  Well Dr. B was 45 minutes late, but once he got there things went quickly.  The only pain involved in the process was getting my IV, and the nurses had me laughing so hard that even that wasn't too bad!  They rolled me into the ER and had me change to the table.  They turned down the lights so they could read the ultrasound screen, and then the drugs kicked in.  I was out for about a half an hour and woke up with a heating pad on my belly and a nurse offering up Vicodin.  At that point they told me that there were 11 eggs, but they were continuing to look for more.  This was also Pierce's cue to go make his contribution.  He said the room was beyond weird and filled with Playboys and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editions.  I thought for sure there would be movies, but he said no.  Somehow he managed to make it work, and he rejoined me in recovery in no time.

After using the bathroom I was released and wheeled out to the curb.  We were home before 11. I tried to rest, but I was going nuts!  I took some Darvocet for pain and knocked myself out. This morning the phone could not ring soon enough.  I woke up at 5:30 and never fell back to sleep.  I was having a crazy dream that my baby sister, Jennifer, who died when she was 8 days old, was sending me text messages from the lab to let me know that she was watching over our eggs for us.  It was crazy but felt really real.  At 12 they finally decided to stop torturing us and called.  Here's the stats:  11 retrieved, 9 mature and ICSI'd, 7 fertilized normally but they are watching the other 2 to see if they are late bloomers.  Our transfer will likely be Monday.  They will call me tomorrow to confirm or push to 5 day.

Since I said I was going backwards, I will now give the follicle sizes at our last follie check (Wednesday) before triggering.  My lining was at 16.5, healthy as ever.  Right ovary had 9 measurable follicles at 15.5, 17.5, 16, 19.5, 20, 17, 14.5, 8, and 9.  Left ovary had 11 measurable follicles at 21, 14.5, 19.5, 16.5, 17.5, 10.5, and 5 less than or equal to 9.  We knew that anything 15 or higher had a good chance of producing a mature egg, so it was time to trigger.  In the middle of all of this, my boss's father passed away, so I have had no contact with her about any of this.  I had to suck it up and tell another supervisor so that someone would know where I was this weekend.  That was so incredibly stressful for me!

So I can't believe we have 7 growing embryos!  I really was scared that they would call me and tell me that none of them were viable.  That would certainly explain why we haven't been able to get pregnant, but that doesn't appear to be the problem.  I start PIO injections tomorrow, and I have 2 black circles on my butt so Pierce knows where to go.  I am encouraged that I already have a great lining.  I am beginning to believe that this actually could work!  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  I still feel like I am hanging on a thread!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bad Sunshine

OK I have done a really crummy job of keeping up with this.  I have all of the numbers from Follie Check #2 and #3 and will post them over the weekend when I feel up to it.  Right now I can feel the effects of my trigger shot and am dreading a long night at work.  Retrieval is at 8:15 tomorrow morning.  No eating or medication after midnight, no perfumes, no makeup, no putting gas in the car on the way to the hospital.  Apparently all smells are toxic to embryos, so we have to be a blank slate.  Ivory soap blank.  I am scared to death and broke down in tears last night when I got my Ovidrel shot.  Please send lots of prayers for healthy mature eggs and a great fertilization rate.  Cycle 20 has to = BFP!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

IVF Follie check #1

I am a little behind in documenting this journey.  In a perfect world, I would be able to take vacation and completely chill out during this process.  I actually was just looking at my pay stub from Friday, and it seems that my vacation days are maxed out, as in I need to take some because I can't accrue anymore.  Can someone please explain this to my boss? 

Friday was follie check #1, and we had 10 rising to the occasion.  I was actually surprised there weren't more with as much medicine as I am taking in; however, I have never taken Menopur so I assume that is making some of the difference.  The fab 10 were fairly close in size, which is what we want them to be, measuring on the left side: 11.5,10, and 2@ 7.5; on the right: 13,12, 2@10.5, and 2@8.  Lining was already up to 13 and only needed to be a 6 to be "on track".   We were sent home with instructions to continue the 300ius of Follistim and 150 ius of Menopur and start the Ganirelix shots on Friday night.  

Tomorrow is follie check #2, and to say I am bloated is an understatement!  Favorite Nurse estimated that ER will be this Thursday, the 30th.  If we are still on track for that tomorrow, we will most likely do one final FSH injection and Ganirelix tomorrow night and my trigger shot on Tuesday night.  I think we also start PIO shots with the trigger, but I am not sure. I may have blocked that out!

I had a stressful end to the work day on Friday, and as I was venting to my mom on the way home she told me, "You probably shouldn't let this bother you so much.  You need to relax."  I was thinking the exact same thing.  I am glad I didn't have that day after embryo transfer.  But those days are unavoidable unless I get some much needed vacation.  I think the hormones are making me more vulnerable.  I cry over almost anything these days.  And to top it off, I need to call my grandmother and ask for a check to cover the rest of this process.  I know she knows it's coming, but I really hate asking!  Why can't I be like everyone else I know IRL and get knocked up the old fashioned and free way?  IF sucks!  I do pray that God will put an end to this suffering in the next few weeks.  I still don't know what lesson I am supposed to be learning here.  I am guessing it has something to do with patience, but I think I learned that one while waiting for my marriage proposal!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Let the games begin!

AF arrived yesterday morning, and I have never been happier to see her!  April 19 Beginning of IVF.  Stims began tonight.  I am sure I am imagining it, but I feel a little queasy.  I am totally freaked out about putting 300 iu's of Follistim and two Menopur powders in my body everyday for four days in a row.  It looks like nothing in the syringe, so I am sure I am overreacting.  First follie check is Friday at 8AM.  I can't believe we are doing this!!!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

And we wait

Before I bring everyone's attention to the content of said picture, how about a round of applause for the simple fact that I know HOW to post a picture in my blog???  Pretty exciting stuff, eh?  Nearly as exciting as the contents of the innocent enough looking box that FEDEX delivered on Tuesday.  And voila, here they are, scary IVF meds.  It seems unfathomable to me that I will put all of this in my body in about 4 weeks time.  The majority of it in 10 days.  But when?  I told the RE that AF would probably arrive April 20.  I really thought sooner, but tomorrow is the 18th, and no sign of the old hag.  Yeah, just my luck.

Last Monday we had our mock transfer which involved me emptying my bladder 1 hour and 15 minutes before our appointment time, and then chugging 32 ounces to refill it for the appointment.  This would have been fine except that they had overbooked their morning and didn't get me in until an hour later than scheduled.  I felt on the brink of explosion and was pretty certain I would pee on the doctor.  They offered to let me "go" a little bit to make me more comfortable, but I told them that I was pretty sure once it started it wasn't gonna stop! So while I held it a few minutes longer, my RE threaded a catheter through my cervix and in to my uterus.  The sono lady showed me everything on the screen.  It was completely amazing!  The doc removed the catheter and told us that our transfer would be easy, and there was nothing wrong with my parts.  So why do I feel like there is??   Anyway,  I got dressed and beelined for the bathroom.  Ahhhhhh..........

On Wednesday we went back to the office for my baseline u/s.  We were happy to learn that our last IUI failure had not left us with any ugly reminders in the form of cysts.  All clear!  Yay!  Also, we are starting this cycle with 14 antral follicles!  That's huge for an old lady.  If we were able to get 14 eggs, we would probably have some to freeze, assuming they fertilize correctly.  I do bounce back and forth between optimism and dread.  I am told this is common.  I am sure it is even more common among the completely out-of-pocket expense set.  I am trying not to think about that though.  All I want to think about is our family coming together, the family I have waited so long for and dreamed of nearly all my life.  Happy thoughts!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter, yet such an emotional day

I started today by taking my temperature.  Not so unusual in the whole ttc realm of things.  I think I am 9dpo.  I think I actually o'd despite having a heavily medicated cycle last month.  Then, not true to form at all, I got up and tested.   BFN.  Not unusual at all for 9dpo.  My reasoning, of course, is that if we should be so lucky as to conceive naturally is that I want to find out ASAP before my IVF meds are shipped.  They will be sent tomorrow.  I guess I am committed.  I guess prayers are not enough.  I will test again in the morning because the meds are sent from Phoenix (very ironic) and I have a 2 hour grace period.

Lots of girls on the TTC after 35 board have gotten their BFP's lately. I thought it might be a good omen for us.  I also feel bad because I have been in this position before.  Multiple BFP's usually means that someone will miscarry.  It is sad to think about, but I will be there for all of them.  I feel ill-equipped, never having been pregnant myself.  The statistics just stink for us older girls.

I do think I have done a bit to piss off a few of the ladies on my board lately.  Of course it is not intentional, but there is the reality of my situation.  18  months, no pregnancy.  Sorry, but that's my reality.  If I could change it I would.  I have flirted with the idea of moving over to the TTTC board, but I feel like TTC over 35 is my home.  If I am evicted, I will go begrudgingly, but I feel like I have a lot to offer my home board.  If any of you read this blog, I am sorry if I offended you.  My personal  journey is difficult, and if you don't want to read about it, please, skip over my posts.

Tomorrow is our mock transfer. Wednesday is our ultrasound to check for cysts, and then we wait for AF.  I just want to get this show on the road.  So tired of waiting for my little ones. And so tired of apologizing for how I feel.  Thank the Lord for blogging!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Not my usual leisurely day off

After working 7 days straight (I reach my pain threshold at about 5), I was really looking forward to sleeping past 6 AM.  Unfortunately, I felt obligated to peel myself out of bed and go in to work for an early meeting given by a vendor who had flown in from NY.  I do hope my dedication is being noted when I need to ask for time for IVF.   Speaking of said IVF, I told my boss yesterday and gave her an approximate time frame of events.  I was concerned that she might find my timing not in line with the needs of the business.  Remarkably, she was totally fine and supportive about the whole thing.  Maybe they are planning to let me go....hmmmm...I sure hope not!

After the quick meeting I drove home, picked up Pierce, and off we went to meds instruction.  We didn't get Favorite Nurse this time, but Second Runner-Up seems to be warming up to us and did a great job.  I am a little fuzzy on prepping the Menopur, but I am sure we will manage.  PIO shots continue to terrify me, and no one tries to sugarcoat it.  Yes, they are painful, they suck, you will bruise, it is necessary for your baby, OK I'm in!  I do find it moderately amusing that the nurse will draw circles on my backside with a Sharpie, so Pierce knows exactly where to stab.  Awesome!  My assistant at work is addicted to Sharpies.  I think if I told her about this, they might be ruined for her!

After meds instruction we went to Whole Foods to check on wheatgrass shots (drinkable, not injectable!).  After enlisting the help of 2 associates and pulling some poor guy off of his break to locate these things in the freezer section, I decided those things are ridiculously overpriced! Normally, I would buckle under my self-imposed pressure and purchase them after engaging half of the staff in my search, but I just had to walk away.  Too many expenses right now.  Now if they were Girl Scout cookies, then we would be on to something.

After the wheatgrass misadventure, we went out for a nice lunch at a favorite restaurant that I don't believe we have enjoyed since my birthday last summer.  It was long overdue!   The weather was  perfect, despite temps in the 30's this morning...Welcome to Texas!, and we sat on the patio.  This is not negotiable with me.  If it's not patio weather, we can't go there. Period!

Tonight we drove back to the hospital for our orientation.  One poor girl, who works in the lab and I am sure is brilliant, gave us a blow by blow of the entire embryo development process. Her power point presentation was great, but I was very distracted by the ummms and stuttering.  I feel like I am throwing stones here because I am certainly not a great speaker, but I felt a little like she was recruited to do this presentation at the last minute and wasn't completely prepared.  Despite this minor issue, I found the hour fascinating.  One point that I was really happy to hear was that we shouldn't put too much stock in the grading of our embryos.  Apparently, excellent blastocysts do not always result in pregnancies, and poor quality embryos have been known to make some perfect babies.  I am always excited when I learn something new and something positive!

I am trying very hard to remain positive.  It seems silly not to, but the more I read about IVF the more I realize that it is not perfect.  I have said several times that this is a one-shot deal for us due to the cost, but according to both IVF books I have read there is a real chance it won't work the first time.  I am supposed to prepare myself for this reality.  One book went to so far as to say that if you only have the means for one shot, then IVF is not the best choice.  I am seriously considering not picking up that book again.  I don't really know what we'll do if this doesn't work.  It's too painful to consider.  It is amazing how this journey has brought us to this place that I never thought possible.  One year ago, I knew I was frustrated with trying to conceive, but I wasn't in panic mode yet.  I knew we had an appointment with a great RE coming up in May.  And at that appointment, he outlined a plan with IVF as the final step before donor eggs.  I remember thinking, "We will never do IVF.  We will never be able to afford that.  Something else will work."  Yet, here we are.  My cousin told me that we would never know how far we would go unless we were put in the situation.  All I can say is, she was right, and we are in deep.  Dear Lord, we need you now more than ever.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Meds, paperwork, and embryo custody?

The week of work and not obsessing is coming to a close.  Tuesday's med instruction and hospital orientation are weighing heavily on my mind.  Thursday it only took a five minute phone call to the Apothecary to learn that my IVF meds will total $3,570.35.  That's actually less that I had thought they would be, and I told the pharmacist this.  She seemed shocked.  I think I have completely lost any concept of reality when it comes to the cost of this.  If I allow myself to think about all of the girls who get knocked up for free, I will continue to get more pissed off. So expecting my meds to be 5 grand and learning they are only 3,500 is fabulous.  We will be expecting our box of fabulous on Tuesday, the 14th.  Thankfully, Grams has already sent installment #1 of Baby Sunshine's funding.

Last night I started sifting through the folder of paperwork the hospital gave us.  I hate reading consent forms and learning every imaginable complication that could befall me!  I also really love signing papers that say even though I am giving you a shitload of money,  you are in no way responsible for the outcome of my treatment.  I mean really!  However, the craziest paperwork of all was that pertaining to cryopreservation of embryos.  As with everything else, they assume no responsibility for loss in the freezing and thawing process.  Mkay..... And Pierce and I have to decide the future of our frozen embryos in the event of our deaths or divorce.   Whoa, there will be none of that.  For the sake of paperwork, we have decided that I receive custody of the embryos if this perfect marriage should fail.  I mean, I am the one with the uterus.

On Friday in the middle of all of this stuff, it looked like my body might be gearing up to ovulate.  I was in complete shock!  I have never had o problems before, but my body forgot how to do this the cycle after IUI #1, so I assumed it would follow suit this time around.  I could not get home from work quickly enough!  I was convinced that it was a sign from God.  This was our ultimate Hail Mary cycle, and IVF wouldn't be necessary.  Well, it is now Sunday, and I don't think it ever happened unless my thermometer is whacked.  Who knows.  I wasn't expecting it, but it sure would have been nice!

Monday, March 30, 2009

IVF Consult/ Done!

I don't have the energy to go through all of the details tonight, but it has been a very full day.  In a nutshell, we will be cycling in April with an estimated egg retrieval the first week of May.  It looks like the RE prefers 5 day blastocyst transfers, so we can freak out for 5 days until we see what the good ones look like.  We will be doing what I believe to be the antagonist protocol.  I am not taking birth control pills or doing Lupron shots, so there will not be any suppression.  I will simply wait for my dear AF and begin stims of Follistim and Menopur on cd2.  Ganirelix will be added into the mix at some point to prevent the lead follies from ovulating too early.  Then after embryo transfer, I will begin the joyful giant PIO in the ass shots.  All I can think of is Charlotte on Sex and the City with that giant bruise on her back side.  Of course it will all be worth it when Baby Sunshine becomes a reality!

We have many appointments between now and then, and I will keep everyone updated.  First thing is our meds instruction a week from tomorrow, followed by our ART facility orientation that same evening.  I work every day between now and then, so that should help keep the obsessing at bay.   But just a little fun obsessing to get me through....if AF arrives on April 20, Baby Sunshine's due date will be January 25th.  If two little embies snuggle in tight, we may have Christmas babies on our hands.  And, with our potential ET/ER dates, I very well could have our embabies floating in my uterus for Mother's Day.  I know it would be too soon to actually be pregnant, but somehow just knowing they will be in there makes the day more tolerable.  OK, done obsessing....much better than my negative side though, right???

Sunday, March 29, 2009

IVF Consult tomorrow

We have officially reached that point.  We need the biggest help available if we stand any chance of having a family.  It's hard to accept that we are broken.  I guess I prefer to think that while it's possible that we could conceive naturally at some point, I don't have the time or patience to wait for that dream cycle.  I do know that after we have a child we will never use birth control again.  I will definitely feel the need to test the theory and all the ridiculous claims about "relaxing".

In preparation for tomorrow I have read "The Couples Guide to In Vitro Fertilization" pretty much cover to cover.  I ordered it off of Amazon on Wednesday and was given an estimated delivery date of  the 31st.  It arrived two days ago, and I devoured it like a hungry animal.   As with so many things IF related, I was shocked at how much I already knew.  I probably would have been fine without the book, but for anyone else facing this scary possibility it is a good read.

So now I am just plain scared.  Scared that my eggs stink, scared of putting lots of drugs/hormones in my body, scared of going postal on someone at work and getting fired, scared of it not working, scared of spending all of that money and not having a child to show for it, scared that I will continue to grow more bitter and angry and distant from anyone who has a family, scared.....scared......scared!  I pray that our appointment tomorrow is helpful and brings me some much needed hope.

Friday, March 20, 2009

So incredibly difficult

It's over again just like last time.  All of the good karma like triggering on my dad's birthday proved to be nothing more than just another footnote in this soul-shattering journey.  I cried through the night, sucked it up and went to work, and called to schedule our IVF consult.  I even called my mom last night and confessed to doing IUI #2, something I had kept from her to protect her from the pain.  Oddly in her dementia-wrecked mind, she went on and on about Obama being on Leno and how smart she thought that was.  I lost count of how many times she asked if we had it on.  I patiently continued to say, "no" as I cried into the phone.

I feel bad for Pierce.  I know this is equally hard on him; however, I wonder if he has a chance to grieve when all of his energy is spent saving me from myself.  I often feel that our relationship is the only evidence that God hasn't given up on me.  I am so blessed to have met and married this extraordinary man.

I don't want to say much more about this cycle because it's over, it hurts, and now we move on. Our consult is scheduled for March 30.  I think that gives me just the right amount of time to pull myself back up without rushing into more emotional turmoil.  I'm more scared than I have ever been.  Thank you to everyone who has called, commented and given words of encouragement.  I can't imagine where I would be without the amazing circle of support we have around us.  Please keep us in your prayers.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

9 dpiui psychosis

I am starting to freak out.  Freak out almost to the point that I'm scared to blog about it.  But that's silly.  What's done is done.  Either I am knocked up or not.  I can't jinx the result by blogging about it.  IUI #1 ended tragically on 10 dpiui.  If I remember correctly I had some hints to its impending doom the day before.  No hints today, and today is almost over.  I just keep saying if I make it to Friday, I will be feeling pretty confident.  Until then I am on tp watch.  

I am asymptomatic, so nothing is encouraging me to think I am pg.  I tend to not have symptoms with most things though.  My hypothyroidism went undiagnosed for who knows how long.  My doctor said, "You must be feeling miserable!"  I wasn't.  Just a little tired and cold and packing on the pounds, but I've had weight issues most of my life.  Who knew?  When I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, I also had no clue.  So I s'pose I could be pregnant and have no idea.  I prefer to think that is the case.  We'll all know soon enough.  Hopefully I'll be posting a great beta number and not a post full of expletives.  Stay tuned...

Please, Dear Lord, let this be the end of our long journey.  Please bless us with a little one.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

1 week down!

As always I had intended to right sooner, but time has not been on my side this week.  I guess that is sort of a good thing as it keeps me from obsessing during the 2ww.  First of all, the lowdown on IUI #2:
Monday, March 9  Pierce took his sample the ARTS facility at 9:15.  Around 11 we picked up our cup of 24.5 million swimmers and headed to the RE.  We actually saw our RE for the insemination (relief!), but he was done in less than 5 minutes, wished us luck and left.  I remember being excited last time.  This time I laid on the table and cried.  I am so scared of this not working.  The first time I thought for sure it would work.  Now I know that it definitely does not always turn out well.  I really struggle with being negative because I do believe very strongly in the power of positive energy; however, my self-preservation instinct has taken over. I did develop some OHSS symptoms again on Tuesday.  They were not nearly as bad as last time though.  I did manage to suffer through work on Tuesday, even though it was nearly impossible to pick out something to wear that would hide my bloated belly.  I slept hard Tuesday night and woke up Wednesday feeling completely fine.   I will not have a progesterone test this time (would be tomorrow) because my test results were so strong last time that they are confident that my body makes plenty.   My final step for this process is beta on 3/23, one week from tomorrow.  That is assuming AF doesn't show her ugly face beforehand.  Last IUI I was already on cd4 of the next cycle when we hit our beta date.  All I can do is put it in God's hands.  I know he has a plan for us, but he sure isn't offering up much insight.  And as far as that not giving me more than I can handle thing, well I do believe that threshold has been about reached as well.   I really don't want to turn into a bitter old woman!

In other news, it seems that I am the only person I know who feels that infertility  or trying to conceive in general is a private topic.  As evidence I will present two different scenarios that I have "witnessed" in the past week and have nearly made me want to bang my head on my desk or in one case, the dinner table.  #1 My dear husband takes his sample in to be processed last Monday.  While at the facility he runs into our neighbor's brother who we have met once at a birthday party.  Now while all of the other dudes in the place are trying to hide their faces behind magazines, here is my husband, starting up a conversation with this guy and telling him all about how we are on IUI #2.  I think I would likely be just as embarrassed if he brought up the fact that we were trying, and we had just had sex.  I don't know that it's the procedure that bothers me so much as just the simple fact that IT'S NO ONE'S BUSINESS!!!!  OK #2  This one is even better.  One of my best friends was in town and staying at out house for a few days.  This, by the way, is also one of my excuses for not blogging sooner.  Anyway, she met this guy on E Harmony, and they had a date last Tuesday night.  The date went well, and he asked if she would like to go out Wednesday night as well.  He knew that she was staying with friends and suggested that all four of us meet for dinner.  So we all agreed on a place and met around 7:30.  Shortly after being seated, my friend started picking out a bottle of wine.  Some discussion ensued about whether or not to get a bottle, and my friend told her date that she and I could finish a bottle ourselves.  I quietly reminded her that I was not drinking, as we had discussed on the phone earlier.  And she said, "Oh, that's right I forgot".  She turns to her date and says, "Sunshine got inseminated on Monday!"  as if she were announcing I got some great job promotion.  OMG!  Seriously?  The next day she sort of apologized to Pierce, claiming she was drunk before she got to the restaurant.  I've seen her drunk many times.  Me don't think so.

Just to make this week complete, Pierce and I attended a baby shower tonight.  This was my first one since the beginning of our journey, and it was tough.  One of the things that made it easier to be there was knowing that this couple had a long difficult journey as well.  I don't know how I would feel at a shower for someone who had it easy.  I am sure I will get my chance to find out someday, but hopefully that day will come long after our babies are here.  I don't really think that the birth of our babies will make me feel any different about fertiles because I will always know that I am an infertile no matter what.  I am pretty sure that feeling will never go away.  Part of me knows that that will make me a better mother, and although I wish we had never had to go through any of this hell I know I am a stronger person.  I am able to smile through a baby shower and hug the pregnant girl while my heart breaks inside.  I am able to go to work and run my department even after AF shows up that morning, and all I want to do is curl up in bed and cry.  I am building so much character that sometimes I think there should be two of me: Sunshine and Rainstorm.  The only one who really gets to meet Rainstorm is Pierce. I guess since he puts up with that, I can forgive him for outing us to the neighbor's brother.

I promise to try to write more often.  It does get rather lengthy when I go in these week-long intervals.  As I said earlier, I haven't obsessed much this cycle, but usually I don't start until the second week.  I pray this 2ww has a happy ending.