Friday, December 28, 2012

felt like home


I am only being semi-dramatic in saying that, but, seriously, the OB MBL and I met with yesterday was awesome. I haven't shared a whole lot (yet) on here about our birth plans, but basically I made the crazy decision to have our baby near where my parents' live. This decision was made after realizing that MBL may not be able to be around as much as he was after Piper was born and, if I have another c-section, I will need some serious help taking care of Piper (and the new baby). My sister lives close to us, but has three precious kiddos of her own and she is the only family nearby. So, after looking at the hospitals near my parents and realizing how awesome it would be to have two extra adults to help me, we decided to deliver near them.

It's a great plan, but it means that I need to establish care with an OB near them so that I actually know someone in the area capable of delivering my baby. So, I did some goo.gling and discovered there was a practice in the area that does a great job of supporting VBACs. I made an appointment so we could meet with them over Christmas break and that's exactly what we did yesterday. It's a practice that has both OBs and Midwives and they explained to me on the phone that the first appointment is always with a midwife and any following appointments will either be with the rotation of midwives or OBs (whomever I choose to see). The midwife was incredible. She was attentive and funny and so personable! When I explained to her my low fluid she listened carefully and even offered to make sure my bag of waters hadn't ruptured, but she added, "It means having to stick a speculum up your hoo-ha which isn't much fun at 20 weeks." As soon as she said the term "hoo-ha" I knew I had found the right practice. And, so, as dramatic as it sounds, going there felt like going home meaning that it feels like the right place to be receiving care. When MBL was teasing me about using my doppler and getting easily scared about something going wrong, the midwife assured me that the last thing they want is for me to be scared about anything, so they want me to call if I ever have any concerns. Music to an infertiles/scared preggo's ears!! The great thing is that all of their VBAC practices are perfectly in line with what I am looking for and I just really feel that they will be able to offer me the delivery I want. Oh, and I promise I will be talking about that very soon!

Now on to even better stuff... Today MBL and I got to see baby boy again. Due to the fact that we were out of town at 20 weeks, my doc went ahead and gave me an order to have an ultrasound done wherever I could get in. It just so happened that the MFM department of the local hospital could squeeze me in today. And, as a bonus, they not only checked my fluid level (the real reason for the scan), but gave me a full level II scan! It was done by both a tech and the doc and it was probably the most thorough ultrasound I've ever received. We told her that we were originally sent for the scan due to fluid and after 10 or so minutes she told me that even though she hadn't done the official measurement yet, she could tell that I did not have low fluid. She said my fluid looked normal today! And, after getting a lot of the images and measurements she needed, she finally took the official AFI and it was 11cm!!! I really wanted to see the number be above 10 and it was!! I actually started to cry. I have been drinking a gallon of water a day, so it was definitely nice to see some improvement. When the doc came in and looked at my fluid he said it looked great and that really true AFI measurements can't be done until after 20 weeks. He also said that it can be difficult to get a good measurement when there is (my) bowel in the way, which there was today and during my two scans with my OB. He basically released me from having to see him again and said I should have an uneventful pregnancy. Considering this guy is the go to guy for high risk pregnancies, I'm inclinded to trust what he has to say. I'm still going to stick with drinking a gallon of water a day and I still want my OB to follow up with me until at least 28 weeks, but all in all I'm going to relax again. I'm even going to start running again (but I'm going to make myself drink 2 extra 20 ounces water bottles after those workouts). We are so thankful for this news!

Have you ever had that a-ha moment when you met the "right" doctor? Do you feel like you receive good or superior medical care? What makes you feel that way?

Friday, December 21, 2012

shoe drop-part two


I left off with an appointment on Monday to speak with the doctor and verify my fluid levels. Basically I just wanted to hear whether or not my baby was going to be crushed to death by my lack of fluid and if I needed to go on strict bed rest. I was also thinking I might be able to find out that all the water chugging I did actually made a difference. Well, my doc was running behind and we didn't get called back for our appointment until AN HOUR after it was scheduled! Then we had to wait another 20 minutes for him to actually come in the room. Piper had been amazing this whole time. She spent some time looking at the tree in their lobby, sitting on my lap playing with my phone, and just goofing around. By the time we got to the room, I could tell she was getting restless and by the time the doc came in, she was in meltdown mode. I mean, who could blame her? I was about to meltdown. It was dinnertime, we had been there for an hour and a half, and there's only so much available for entertainment at a doctor's office. We spoke with the doctor and for whatever reason he thought I was worried about the heart. I guess they couldn't get a good visualization of the baby's heart, so it was in the report that they needed to recheck it. He was trying to assure me that everything looked good, but they would probably just want to do a level II to fully visual the heart. I finally stopped him and said, "Look, I'm not worried about the heart. I saw all four chambers, it looked good. What I AM worried about is my fluid level. I want to know more about that." And finally he realized why I was there.

He looked at the report and said something along the lines of how it was low but not too bad and they see that all the time. Now, I knew from my research that my level was not "normal". It was low. Not critical, but definitely something they needed to pay attention to. I explained to him that I was scared and that I wanted to make sure my baby was ok. He then agreed to recheck my levels right then. Over to the ultrasound machine we went. Baby was moving all over when we saw him, which was actually a relief because I thought I had been feeling him all day, but didn't want to say for sure. The doc then began measuring the pockets of fluid and explained that if he saw one greater than 5cm, he wouldn't need to measure any more. We saw 3, 2, 2, 2. 9cm. The same as it was a week earlier. At least it hadn't gone down, but this meant that it wasn't a one time occurrence, this meant that I actually did have low fluid. The doctor said it wasn't critical, but that I would need to be rechecked every few weeks. He shook our hands and showed us the door. I didn't get ANY of my questions answered. At that point Piper had had it. She was fussing and squirming and the doctor was rounding out the end of his day. I tried not to cry as we made our next appointment. The receptionist informed me that she couldn't get me in for 3.5 weeks even though the sheet said 2-3. I tried not to panic on the drive home and I tried not to lose it when I started googling "low amniotic fluid 19 weeks". I talked to my mom and tried to figure out what I should realistically be doing or not doing. It's hard to figure out the balance between how much I should freak out and what I can do to help the situation. My mom was a great person for that. She told me that I should be freaking out--being in the 5th percentile is not good. BUT, she also said that there are things I can be doing which will hopefully help the situation. She told me to sit as much as possible and rest up. She told me to ask for help when I need it. She also told me that I did not need to call a perinatologist, but that it did seem like my doc was open to monitoring me closely (plus I'll be seeing a different OB next week--part of another story). I feel like I needed permission to sit on my butt and rest up. I also felt like I needed permission to relax and take it easy. My mom gave me that. She also helped assure me that although my situation is not the best, it's also not the worst either.

So, there you have it. I can relax now because the other shoe has dropped. It's almost a relief because I know what caused it. I have low fluid and will need to be closely monitored for the next 20 weeks. I will need to pray daily that I'm able to keep this little man cooking until at least 36 weeks. And, even better, I can pray that I'm able to get my fluid up to the normal range and can still go for a VBAC. I've been drinking a minimum of a gallon a day since Monday and also trying some other tricks (baths, laying on my left side, upping my protein). Here's hoping I get good news next week!

Have you ever experienced a complication while pregnant? How did you deal with it?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

my shoe drop-part one


When you get pregnant after infertility/loss/ART you tend to feel like you are always expecting the other shoe to drop. Always holding your breath waiting to see if the news from the next phone call or appointment will be positive or negative. I spent my entire pregnancy with Piper waiting for the other shoe to drop. I held my breath between betas and then I held my breath between ultrasounds. I kept telling myself I would just hold my breath a little longer... Until 15 week, until 18 weeks, until 24 weeks. I basically had a countdown in my head at all times of how much longer I needed to stay pregnant in order for her to be OK. And the funny thing is NOTHING ever went wrong. But, I managed to rob myself of ever really enjoying my pregnancy. Even as I sat in a labor and delivery room, strapped to monitors, with a baby bassinet in view, I just could not imagine the reality of getting to bring a baby home. I ended up with post partum anxiety because of it. I had never really mentally prepared myself for a real live newborn in my house and, in the end, that's exactly what I got. It was all very alarming.

Fast forward to this pregnancy and, in light of what happened with Piper's pregnancy, I vowed to ENJOY this one. To enjoy every little milestone. One good beta? AWESOME! Another good beta? GREAT! Heartbeat? WOOHOO! A baby with limbs? YES! Negative first and second trimester screens? JACKPOT! Gender scan? IT'S A BOY, YAY! I even kept up running. I had to give it up a bit in October, but that was more because all I wanted to do after work was sit on the couch and try not to feel nauseous. I ran two 5ks (at 8 and 15 weeks) and even managed to only drop a minute off my PR. I was maintaining 15 mile weeks and feeling good about how chill I was being about everything. Somehow, I was enjoying my pregnancy! And I had even managed to accept that I would be bringing home a new baby in May. I was so blissed out on my pregnancy happiness that I didn't even give a second thought to my anatomy scan at my doctor's office. I had, after all, just had a private scan to look at the gender 2.5 weeks prior and everything looked great, so why should I worry? And then the other shoe dropped. Or maybe it just tumbled. Either way, it fell.

The tech starts the ultrasound and is measuring everything, telling us what she sees (spine, femur, heart, brain, pen.is) and then I start to notice something. My baby, my boy looks way more squished that I am used to seeing. Instead of seeing a sweet little profile shot, I see that my placenta is basically touching his nose and the bottom of my uterus is simultaneously touching his back. MY BABY IS SQUISHED! So, I ask the tech if he looks more squished than normal and in normal tech avoidance, she says, "Well, I've definitely seen baby's that are more squished." And then I start to panic. She has basically confirmed that he IS squished. I try to ask more questions, clearly making her uncomfortable, but I NEED to know why things look the way they do. I watch her measure quadrants of fluid and I try to keep track of the numbers, but I don't know what they mean. I ask her what low fluid means and she says it could be something with the baby's kidneys or bladder. She said she'll look to see if he has fluid in his stomach and bladder which would show that those organs are functioning. She looks at them, but doesn't say anything. At this point I'm almost in tears, terrified at what is going on. I keep asking her if she saw anything in his kidneys and she tells me it's more important for there to be something in his bladder. I press her to tell me what she saw and after assuring her I just want to make sure my baby is okay, she tells me that, yes, he does have fluid in his bladder. Phew. Still, the pictures she prints out confirm that this little boy, MY little boy does not have the "right" amount of fluid around him. I tell the tech how worried I am and ask her for more information, which she refuses to give me, and instead just says that if she saw anything concerning/dangerous she would have called the doctor in. She also says that they will probably follow up with me and have me come in for another ultrasound.

We leave. I sit quietly in the car and then I start madly goo.gling "low amniotic fluid, 18 weeks". It's not good. When we get back to our condo I hop on the laptop and do more goo.gling. I knew that I saw the number 8 on the screen at one point when she was looking at my fluid, so with that in mind, I am able to calm down a little. I read that 8 is not good, but it's not super dangerous, either. And, really, without solid data as to what the tech saw, I can't properly look up information. I call the doc's office every day until I am able to get the results from the nurse. On Thursday. At 5:30pm. She tells me that my amniotic fluid is fine. I ask for the number--93. I then ask for the range for normal--87-202. So, barely normal. She said it's nothing and the doc can go over my ultrasound in more detail at my next prenatal visit in 3.5 weeks. Um, no. I schedule an appointment to meet with him Monday, hoping that the low fluid was a fluke. Praying that after a week of no running and good hydration it will be well into the normal range.

I'll end there for now. I'll have part two up tomorrow.

Monday, December 17, 2012

my gift to the world


Last week I had the incredible privilege of attending a 3 day conference/retreat. It was an awesome experience and I feel so lucky that not only was my current employer willing to send me (without having to take personal time), but my former employer (the host of the conference) paid for the conference AND paid me to attend. But, money was not really my main motivator. I went because after reading the brochure, I knew I NEEDED to go. My job now is very stressful and it would be so easy to get burnt out and forget why I started doing what I'm doing. Well, the conference delivered in a big way and I let KNOWING that I'm not only in the right field, but that I'm deeply interested in figuring out how to continue some sort of part time work after this baby is born.

But, that's not really what this post is about. Twice each day at the conference we were asked to come sit in a giant circle and share a little about ourselves. On the second day, we were instructed to bring in a token that represents our gift to the world. I felt very overwhelmed by this task at first as I don't feel like I've given a whole lot to this world. I mean, I'm just one person in one small area of the country. I try to do good each and every day, but I know that I'm not making global impact with my work. And then it occurred to me, there is something little I can each day that makes a big difference for this world and just so happens to tie in nicely to what I do on a daily basis. So, this is what I brought in to symbolize my gift to the world:


I may not be able to impact the whole world, but I can certainly impact my little corner of it. I explained to the group that my gift to the world is being a good, kind, and patient mama. My gift to the world is being someone my children can look up to, someone who takes care of the ill and suffering, and offers a lending hand to those who need it most. The way I can impact the world the most is just by raising my kids to be good, kind, caring people who try their best. And in order to teach them those skills, I need to model that kind of behavior. My biggest struggle with where we currently live is that all too often I see parents who treat their kids as if they are the world's biggest inconvenience. I see parents hit and scream and belittle their children. I see parents who are not invested in how their children are doing in school or how they can help them reach their full potential. I work with kids who have parents who are the very definition of selfish, putting their addictions and desires ahead of the well-being of their children. It makes my skin crawl. I can't make these parents change, but what I can do is make sure that I am intentional with how I treat my children. Make sure that I am intentional in how I discipline my children. Now, I'm not going to let Piper or her brother get away with naughty behavior, but I can teach them right and wrong without raising my hand or my voice (we use Love & Logic). I may not be able to change the people around me, but I can still make an impact by being cognizant of the impact I am making at home. And that is quite powerful.

I have been meaning to write this post since last Thursday when I had that experience at my conference, but it seems all the more important now considering everything that happened on Friday. I cannot end the grief for the families out there and I cannot make sense of the senselessness of what happened, but what I can do is love the child(ren) I have been given. I can do my best to be intentional about the time I have with them. And I can shower them with a million smooches just so they know that they are loved and treasured. I picked Piper up more times this weekend than I can count and gave her so many kisses that she started telling me, "Mommy, no." It's always felt important to me to let Piper know that she is a great treasure, but it seems a little extra important now.

What do you consider your gift to the world? How have you been feeling/coping the past few days?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

still infertile


After I wrote my last post, I took some time to reflect on where I am on this infertility journey. I looked at the tickers at the top of my blog page and my heart both beams with excitement over how things worked out and, yet, still feels sadness for everyone out there who hasn't been as lucky.

I really wanted to have my babies 2 years or less apart and I can't believe that it's actually going to happen. Because this is a natural pregnancy, I find myself forgetting everything we went through already this year. We started back with our RE last December because we knew that we didn't have time to waste (both for spacing reasons and because of my less than stellar AMH results). We went through 2 IUIs and a full IVF. Heartbreaking BFNs. Then we took some time off and focused on getting healthier. We decided to go with CC.RM and flew out there in August, only to come back and get pregnant on our own!! We were looking at the budget busting, soul-crushing cycle cost of $16,000 and that's WITHOUT meds. When we got our BFP, I was more relieved over the fact that it meant we might actually be able to save money. (Because who knew that TTC meant forking over thousands of dollars).

Getting pregnant on our own, felt to me, like we had dodged a great big bullet. You see, MBL lost his job in May and I've been the sole income earner since then and I don't make a lot of money. And we own two homes (a house and a townhome). And, the reality is that IVF is expensive. So, even though we went to CC.RM and began discussing potential cycles and protocols, I knew in the back of my head that we might not be able to cycle again this year. And, in the way back of my head, I was slowly preparing myself for the fact that my children might be 3 or more years apart. With financial resources as tight as they are/were, I knew there was little chance that we would be able to afford the $16,000 price tag of a CC.RM cycle easily, especially when you factor in travel costs. And I was beginning to come to terms with the fact that the mere cost of TTC might keep me from being able to realize my dream and hope for my family that my children would be close in age. And even though we have the most precious one year old and I knew that no matter what we would one day have more children running around, coming to terms with the fact that IF was keeping me from what I wanted for my family was really difficult.

Then I got a line and another line and positive betas and good ultrasounds and, somehow, I've made it to nearly 17 weeks. 3 more weeks and I'll be halfway. 7 more weeks and we'll be at viability. 20 more weeks and I'll be full term. Tomorrow is December, which means that there are only 5 more months separating me from my due date. I'm still as nervous as ever that something might go wrong, especially because this seems like an easily won pregnancy, but I try to remind myself that the chance of anything going wrong at this point is 0.5%. I'll probably be scared until my ticker says 34 weeks. And then I'll hold off getting scared again until it's delivery time. That's what I've gotten from going through infertility and knowing how fragile everything is.

As a side note, despite the fact that I sometimes joke with my family that this is our "free" baby, it's really anything but. I calculated it one day and we've actually spent at least $18,000 on fertility treatments this year. The good news is that we're looking at a really nice refund check. The bad news is that after spending all that money, it's good old se.x that got me pregnant! HA!

What are your family building dreams? Do you have an idea of what ideal spacing would be for your family? Anybody else want to share their medical bill total for the year?

Friday, November 30, 2012

the big reveal!!

So, MBL and I had a very special Thanksgiving day because we got to find out what baby #2 is going to be! My family ended up "rescheduling" the Thanksgiving meal to Friday, so we decided having our ultrasound on Thursday would be perfect. It was actually quite a fun filled day: we ran a 5k, found out the gender, and spent the rest of the day at the zoo!

With Piper, MBL and my youngest sister found out the gender at the ultrasound and then kept it a secret from me until we were back at my parents' house. Once we got there, I cut into a cake with the right color inside and saw pink. Fast forward 2 years later and I decided it was MBL's turn to be surprised. Things were a little different this time around as I didn't have as much time or energy to think about how to reveal it to MBL, especially after we decided to meet the rest of the family at the zoo immediately after the appointment. I actually didn't realize my lack of a plan until the morning of the appointment--whoops! I gave MBL a few options and we decided that after the appointment we would stop and buy two different flavors of slurpees--one representing girl and the other representing boy. Once we got to the zoo, I would give him a drink of the correct one (with his eyes closed) and he would have to guess which slurpee it was. Sadly, the 711 we stopped at didn't have blue raspberry, so we picked orange for a boy and red for a girl.

Once the whole family was together at the zoo and my sister had my phone to take a video, I held up the correct slurpee to MBL's mouth and he took a drink. The only thing was he couldn't tell what flavor it was! HA! So, I let him taste it one more time and the result was...


Baby #2 is a boy!!! I'm not going to lie, I knew it was a boy all along. MBL comes from a long line of one of each and so it just seemed like we were destined to have a variety! The tech who did our scan says she's 99% sure it's a boy and that you only get to 100% when they come out. During the scan she even turned on the doppler over the umbilical cord to show me that what we were looking at was indeed boy part not the cord. We'll get confirmation in 2 weeks at my official anatomy scan, but there is pretty much no way this little boy is anything else!

We are SO excited to be adding a little boy to our family. My mom raised all daughters and, so far, my sister has all sons, so it's definitely going to be different being a mom raising BOTH genders, but I'm really looking forward to it. I think Piper will be a great big sister to a little brother and I really couldn't imagine it any other way!

When/if you were pregnant, did you have an inclination towards what you were having? Were you right? Did you experience any initial disappointment over what you were having? If you haven't been pregnant (yet), do you have a preference over what you would like to have?

Monday, November 26, 2012

what I don't believe about infertility


When you are struggling with infertility, you will come across a gamut of articles and posts and comments all about how people view infertility. Any article written about the advances of IVF or other reproductive procedures brings out the naysayers who all have something negative to say about those who suffer from IF. I have to be honest, I tend to sit and read each and every one of these negative comments. At times they made me cry or hurt my heart, but most of the time they made me so enraged I wanted to reach through the screen and shake the person writing that nonsense. Instead of doing that, I decided to write this post all about what I DON'T believe to be true about infertility.

For starters, I really struggle with the generalization that "everything happens for a reason". I totally disagree with that statement and, unfortunately, it's a favorite among those supporting their friends/family through IF. The statement seems perfectly harmless by itself, but when put in the context of IF, it can be really painful to hear. If everything happens for a reason, then that suggests that even infertility happens for a reason and that stillbirth happens for a reason and miscarriage happens for a reason. I think it's fine if after having gone through one of those circumstances yourself, you have come to that conclusion, but I think it's difficult for that statement to always be true. Every single parent I know who has gone through baby loss or stillbirth has said that they would do just about anything to have the baby back with them... Not a single one has said, "Well, everything happens for a reason." I think that senseless things happen and we won't always know why.

To piggyback on that, I also do NOT believe that infertility happens to those who deserve it. Going back to what I said about the comments on articles discussing IF/IVF/ART, those articles ALWAYS have commenters arguing that infertility is God's way of controlling who carries on the population. Or, if they don't mention God, they say that it's nature's way of controlling the population. Ridiculous. I work as a school counselor, which means that inevitably I get to hear all the dirty secrets that families have and I don't mean that in a good way. The school in which I work has students living with grandparents because mom and dad are too strung out on drugs to take care of them. I meet with elementary aged kids (we're talking 5-7 year olds) who are allowed to stay up until midnight to watch scary movies. I currently have a middle school student who is FAILING every single one of his classes and mom refuses to return a single phone call. MBL and I took Piper to a pumpkin patch back in early October and I stood in horror as I listened to a mom beat the snot out of her 10 year old in the handicapped port-o-potty. The idea that fertility is granted to those who deserve it the most makes my blood BOIL. I have read too many blogs to know that the people who would make the most fantastic parents often have the hardest time reaching that goal and it's NOT because everything happens for a reason.

In light of the above two points, I also must add WHY I don't believe that infertility happens for a reason and what I DO believe. I don't believe that I was given infertility because I deserve it. I also don't believe that everything happens for a reason, even though I sit here with a 16 week, naturally achieved bubs in my belly after what has been one of the hardest years of my life. If I were to believe that everyone is given what they deserve, that means that I would also have to believe that children in orphanages who are mentally and/or physically handicapped and will spend their entire lives chained to beds deserve the life they are given.* Or that children born into poverty and drug abuse who will inevitably be neglected and/or abused deserve it. If I believe that infertility happens to everyone for a reason and that it's God's will for some people to have no children, it means that I also must believe that the child I heard beaten in the bathroom deserved it; that somehow it's okay for her to endure that because it's happening for a reason. I've seen too much hurt to know that bad things happen to amazing people and good things happen to the scum of the earth.

What I DO believe is that we can learn from the hard times. I know that because I did not get pregnant easily that I look at parenting in a totally different light. Even without IF, I would have been a good mom, I would have loved my children and been good to them, but I know I wouldn't look at them with the same wonder as I do now. And there have been other things that have happened in my life that were absolutely terrible and I have learned amazing lessons from them, but I don't believe that those things happened for me to learn a particular lesson, instead I believe that sometimes bad things happen because that's the way things are, but we can certainly learn from them. As cliche as it is, it's the simple fact that although we may not deserve the lemons we get, we can still take them and turn them into something sweet.

I know I've said a lot, but this has really been weighing on me. It's been weighing on me because of the job I have and the people I come into contact with on a daily basis. It's also been weighing on me simply because of the judgment I have felt. I know that we all must reach our own conclusions on why we are struggling with infertility or loss, but I just really felt compelled to share my thoughts on the matter. Please share in the comments your own thoughts/opinions.

*This is a fact and most of these children are in orphanages in Eastern Europe. It absolutely breaks my heart.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

thankful-2012

If you're here from ICLW, welcome! I have information about our journey to parenthood and our experience with infertility up in the tabs at the top of the page. Basically, we are parents to a one year old after IVF #2 was a success and we are now pregnant with #2 "naturally" after going to CC.RM for our one day workup... It's been quite the adventure!

The past year has been a tough one. Really tough and, at times, I wasn't sure how I was going to keep going along. I couldn't imagine getting to the holidays and having everything be OK. But, miraculously, here we are and everything is better than ok, it's great! I have so much to be thankful for every day...

For one, I am thankful that my marriage has been forced to face ups and downs. I know that MBL and I are in a better, healthier, stronger place because of what we have gone through. I know that we are more grateful for the little things because of the big, hard things that have happened in our life. And while it would have been better all around if we hadn't had to face those big, ugly things, I am thankful that in doing so we have grown closer together.

Every day of my life I am thankful for the gift of parenthood. It was a hard journey getting to this point and I certainly would have loved an easier route, but the end result has been more than worth the pain of our journey getting to this point. Piper is at such a fun age and I just treasure seeing her grow and learn every day. Being her mommy is such a joy and a priviledge!

I am thankful for my family. Not just my little family of three, but my extended family of my parents, MBL's parents, and our siblings. I am thankful that Piper has cousins to grow up with. It's a gift to be surrounded by the people who love and care for you no matter what. And I am especially thankful that I am able to spend quality time with them. Today that included running a 5k and going to the zoo; a day full of great memories!

Finally, I am thankful for the baby in my belly. I am grateful that we have made it this far and that everything looks good. I am so thankful that I get to experience pregnancy again and that Piper gets to be a big sister. I feel very blessed for this amazing gift!

What are you most thankful for today? What are you most thankful for during the every day? How did you spend your Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 19, 2012

traditions

This post is a part of the PAIL monthly theme post. To read more about it, please click here.

The timing of this theme could not be more perfect--with the holidays right around the corner, traditions seem to be at the forefront of my mind. Being a parent is such a huge responsibility, and I definitely feel pressured to make good, lasting traditions for our growing family. I want to be diligent about planning out the holidays and making sure that our time together is spent meaningfully. And not because I want to be a perfect mom or the best mom or a Pin.terest worthy mom, I want to have good traditions because it's something I want to be able to give my children.


One tradition I want to have is to make birthdays a big deal. I was so sad when I met MBL because he couldn't remember how he spent his 30th birthday. I thought that was such a shame, birthdays should be special. Birthdays are the one day we get each year to feel really, truly special and celebrated. Plus, I love a good reason to eat cake, give presents, and have a party. My parents always did a great job of making each of us feel extra special on our birthdays. They didn't go crazy and buy us a million presents, but they made sure we were celebrated. We always got to pick the restaurant for dinner and my mom made us our favorite cake. And they always did a thoughtful job of picking out our big gift. I want to make sure that for my kids their birthday is always celebrated in a way that they will remember and treasure forever.


Another tradition I will continue is to have my children attend our big family Christmas party. My dad's family has been having a Christmas Eve party since the 1940's and I've attended every year I've been alive. I told MBL when we got married that I'm willing to compromise on a lot of things, but not on where we are spending Christmas Eve. It's really important to me that my children maintain relationships with their extended family and get the joy of experiencing a big, special, long standing Christmas tradition.

Along with the Christmas party tradition, another tradition I would like to start with my children will be the idea of giving to those less fortunate. I told MBL that every Christmas, I would like our kids to use some of their own money to buy a present for a child who doesn't have as much as they do. MBL thinks it's kind of mean to make them use their own money, but I think it teaches a valuable lesson about sacrificing for others, especially since my kids are likely to have everything they need. I probably won't start this tradition until the kids are a bit older and have a better grasp on giving/sharing.

When it comes to other holidays, the tradition I care about the most is just stressing the importance of being together. Family is so important and the memories that I build with my kids will be something they have with them forever. Things won't always go perfectly and every day life is bound to be full of ups and downs, but holidays and birthdays and special occasions are a chance for us to get together and celebrate the gift that is family. I know that sounds super cheesy, but as someone who fought like heck to have the family I have, I'm going to do everything I can to treasure the special moments that I have with them.

What are some traditions that are important to you? Are they new to your family or are they things your parents did with you?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

different than before

First off, thank you everyone for your congratulations! I am still in shock that there is truly a baby in my belly, which is partially why it took me until I was 14 weeks to make the big announcement.

Basically, this pregnancy has been so different than my one with Piper. First off, there's the obvious, this was a "naturally" achieved pregnancy. We don't have any pictures of this baby as a wee little embryo... Only a picture of my positive OPK. There were no PIO shots for me and I basically had to beg and plead to just get my beta/progesterone drawn. There hasn't been any spotting (unlike the 6 weeks I had with Piper). I have even kept up running.

With Piper, when we got the "official" word that I was pregnant, I had a whole little surprise planned for MBL and it was amazing to see the surprise on his face. With this pregnancy, I took an internet cheapie test, saw a line, freaked out, took a FRER, and slid it under the door to MBL (who was in the other bathroom). Not quite as special as with Piper.

Now, there are some things that are the same... I've still been totally worried about this pregnancy; I spent the first 8 weeks waiting to start bleeding, waiting for the heartbeat to be gone from the ultrasound screen. I've also been battling nausea and have made friends with zo.fran yet again. I also have crazy cravings and can only think of one food that will satisfy me.

I have a whole lot of thoughts on "natural" or "spontaneous" pregnancy after infertility, but this will have to do for now. The short version is that it's about the same as I thought it would be, as in I'm still totally counting down to 24 weeks and cannot wait until May!

Monday, November 12, 2012

what I got from CC.RM

So, MBL and I went to CC.RM for preliminary testing and an IVF consult in August. We flew out there and had all sorts of blood tests run and left with orders for additional testing to be done at home. All in all we spent around $4,000 for just our one day of testing/consultation, but it seemed to be worth it. We were looking forward to working with them and getting more answers about our fertility struggles. We were also looking forward to getting pregnant again (hopefully!). The week we got back I went in for my HSG which came back all clear (much to my surprise, actually). Nine days after we got back, I got a positive OPK and just happened to be returning from a work trip in time to "be" with MBL.

9 days after that I ran 10 miles and moved across the state, convinced that I wasn't pregnant because I didn't feel any more tired or out of shape. The evening of the next day (or 10dpo), I got this:


And then I got this:


And over the next few days, I collected these:


And at 10 weeks we got this:


I am now 14 weeks pregnant with baby #2. Our "freebie" from one day of testing at CC.RM. We are shocked, thrilled, and oh so thankful.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

(mostly) wordless wednesday

It's been a busy few days, but I am still trying to find the time to blog at least every two days. So, here are a few of my favorite things in pictures and a few words.


This show always makes me laugh! It took us a while to get on the fan bandwagon, but now we LOVE it!


MBL and I have been on a total popsicle kick. Fall is probably not the best season to be loving a cold dessert, but I find them totally irresistible (especially since you can get 12 for $1.99).


BOOTS! What's not to love about a shoe that helps keep your legs warm? I love to wear boots with leggings or tights.


One accessory that I love to wear with boots? A scarf! I swear, you can never have too many! And I love it when my accessories keep me warm!


And, finally, I am loving my space heater! I swear my office is kept at 60 degrees, so I absolutely need something to keep me warm during the day (other than my coat). I love that with it I can keep my office as warm as I like :).

What are you loving right now? Any other scarf or boot lovers out there? Do you tend to run hot or cold?

Monday, November 5, 2012

the start of something good


(not me)

Today was the start of something good. It's been working it's way to the surface for a while now, but we finally got solid evidence of the fact that things should start turning around soon. After literal months of dealing with negative thing after negative thing, today we got a bit of good news. MBL got a job. He received the official offer letter via email this afternoon. I was at a conference all day and, therefore, unable to talk with MBL over the phone. I knew he was set for a phone call with the head of the company, but I didn't hear anything from him. I ended up finding out about the job offer because I checked his email to see if he had sent a different email regarding another position. I almost burst into tears. Happy, happy tears. Thankfully, I was with my sister who could properly celebrate with me and give me a giant hug. I really, really needed that hug.

When I finally gained composure, I went back to the email and read through the offer letter. And, it was good. Really good. They are offering MBL a base salary that is right in line with what he had previously been making. On top of that, he will receive bonuses for each week he travels. And, he's required to travel 2 weeks a month. They are going to pay him for work they already expect him to do. So, actually, he will be making more than he was making before. I am in shock. I had accepted the fact that it was going to be years before he got back up to a salary with which we could afford for me to stay home either part time or full time. I had spent the weekend on the verge of tears over this. And, now? MBL will have this new job by the start of the new year. At this point, I feel totally comfortable getting through the next two months with just my income and me working full time. There's no longer this giant unknown out there. MBL can do this job from anywhere as long as he is close to an airport. There are limits on the amount of travel he will be expected to complete and they are going to reasonably compensate him for being away from his family, something his former employer had put off for over a year. Finally, this position will allow him to work into his dream position. They told him they would want 12-24 months of field work and then they will move him into the area where he has the greatest expertise.

I've just been spending a lot of time thinking about what it is I actually want out of this life and I just know that I want more time with Piper. She is at such a magical age. She's beginning to try and communicate in full, albeit incomprehensible, sentences and is learning so many new things. I truly hate being away from her. I want to be at home doing all the homemaker type things. I love playing with my girl, running errands, and making dinner. And, with this new job for MBL, I may actually be able to do the things I love again. I am just so, so thankful.

What are you thankful for today (it can be big or small)? Any new and exciting changes in your life?

**I want to add that I wouldn't normally talk so much about money/jobs, but I felt like I needed to include those benefits in order to express why I am so excited about this opportunity!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

the tough stuff

Over the past 6 months, MBL and I have been going through a bit of a rough patch. Not really a marital rough patch, but more of a life one. Without going into too much detail, MBL has really been struggling. He has never been great with seeking out healthy outlets for his feelings/frustrations and, unfortunately, that has led to him make some bad decisions. Now, I truly believe that this has been a life long struggle for MBL, but it has never been to this extreme before. During this time of reflection and recovery, one of the most important questions I have asked MBL is what precipitated all of this. Like I said his inability to cope healthily with stress/emotions has been lifelong, but clearly something shifted over the last year or two that caused him to really struggle. I never would have guessed his answer... He told me that he really started to struggle when we went through our first IVF. Wow. I really never knew that infertility was impacting him in such a deep and significant way. Sure, I knew that what we were going through was both personally and financially stressful, but I felt like I was taking on the brunt of that. I was, after all, the one receiving all the shots, getting my blood drawn, and having the vag-cam get far too comfortable with me. I just assumed that MBL had the easy role; all he had to do was accompany me to appointments and hold my hand. Oh, and provide a sample on the big day.

Looking back, I feel bad that I was so selfish about the whole thing. He's always been a good provider and a good supporter, I just assumed that he was okay with everything because of how well he supported me through it all. We went to see a therapist after our first IVF failed, but we ended up talking far more about other issues and the stress of TTC/IF/IVF kind of fell to the wayside. And all along it was still an underlying stressor for MBL. I know that I fell into a depression after our first IVF failed and I coped with eating too much and being cranky. I eventually pulled myself out of that funk and tried to get back into running and making healthy choices. I felt good when we went through IVF #2, both mentally and physically. I just never thought to check in with MBL to see if he felt the same because it just seemed like he did. And the reality was that he continued to let various issues pile on top of the stress of 21 months of infertility, $30,000 worth of medical bills, and, then, the anxiety/increased responsibility of expecting a new baby. And I guess he reached his breaking point.

To be completely honest, up until recently (as in the past 6-9 months), I really did not know that MBL was in such a bad place. I had no idea how deeply he was hurting. I've always been able to cope with hard times/stressful situations by turning to friends and family around me and by running. When faced with tough times, I try to buck up and make things better as soon as I can. Even if that means just the rush of endorphins from a good run. Now, MBL should have been verbalizing how he was feeling long before getting to rock bottom. We were seeing a counselor on a regular basis for over a year and none of this was ever brought up. I wish he would have just shared with me or someone else what was going on. How much he was struggling with everything. It's too bad that he didn't have his own version of the ALI/blogging community to turn to. I feel like I have support on every side and MBL doesn't have that. He hasn't built that for himself. So, now we're trying to do that. We're trying to build up MBL's support system and trying to build up our marriage so that he feels like/remembers to share what is going on in his head before it comes out in an ugly way. With all that's been going on and with all that we went through prior to this, I've been saying that something good better be coming our way... I'll have an update on what that is in the next week :).

How have you and your spouse dealt with infertility or any struggle? Do you draw closer together? Do you have any strategies or great resources you want to share?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Blogging for Blogging's sake

I have decided that this November I am going to do my darndest to participate in NaBloPoMo or National Blog Posting Month. It's basically a challenge to post every day during the month of November. I've seen other people participate and as I still feel like I'm in a blogging routine funk, I think it just may help pull me out of that! I am also going to participate in ICLW again this month as I really feel like it better connects me with the ALI community and I LOVE getting a chance to get to know new blogs/bloggers.

I like the start of a new month because I feel like it lets me start all over again. There's something refreshing about it being the 1st. And my goal for this month is to get back into blogging. I love connecting to other bloggers and I love having people connect with me through my words, so I'm doing this more because I want to rather than because I feel like I have to. Make sense? I'm hoping to post more about daily life as well as more about my thoughts on what it's like going through secondary infertility and TTC #2. And I will DEFINITELY be posting all about how I don't believe in the myth of fertility fairness. I meant to post about it during ICLW, but I failed at that miserably. It's a post that means a lot to me, so I WILL get it out there.

In the meantime, I've been thinking a lot about where we were a year ago... This time last year we were in NYC. MBL was there for work and Piper and I tagged along. I LOVE the city and I had a great time even with an infant in tow! It was the second time MBL had been sent there for work and the second time that I got a chance to waltz around the city. Visiting last year involved eating several Sprin.kles cupcakes, taking our time walking through Grand Central, and eating a very fancy, schmancy dinner out with MBL's coworkers (the restaurant hostess literally threw a fit when we brought our stroller in!). This year, NYC was in the midst of frankenstorm and, after 12 years, MBL no longer works for that company. It's funny how seeing NYC front and center day after day (due to the storm) made me reflect on all the feelings I have pent up from MBL losing/leaving his job. There is a lot of hurt from both MBL and I and I don't think we've even begun to fully process through why we feel the way we do. Or, how we can start to feel better. I'm sure it's how a lot of the storm "survivors" feel. Everything they know has changed. And that's a lot of how MBL and I feel. After 12 years working for and with the same people, everything MBL knew has changed. When he gets a new job it will be different. Our lives are remarkably different from where they were a year ago, just like NYC and the surrounding areas have changed from last year to this.

Change is hard. Oh so very hard. Especially when the rebuilding is just in its beginning steps. My biggest hope is that a year from now I will look back and think that I'd rather be exactly where I am rather than looking longingly back on the past. I'm optimistic that will be the case.

How did everyone fare in the storm? Any NYCers out there? Anybody else hate change or weathering the storms of life?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October ICLW

I signed up for ICLW this month, but then totally dropped off the face of the planet. We were at our other house (no, we're really not that fancy) this past weekend and we don't have internet there any more. For whatever reason, I assumed I would still be able to get online and read blogs/comment/update, but things didn't work out like that. So, here I am, 4 days into it and I'm just now getting around to updating and commenting. Better late than never, right :)? I figured I would go the easy route on this post and just do a little about myself, almost a get to know you combined with a bit of my bucket list. I'm hoping to get to know some of you better as well!

Here goes...

My name is Christine.
I just turned 27 on Sunday.
My husband I struggled through infertility for 21 months before IVF #2 gave us both a BFP and a take home baby.
Our daughter's name is Piper and she was born via csection in May 2011.
Naughty little girl was breech and that was the reason for the csection.
I constantly debate whether or not I want to try to VBAC #2.
On our journey to #2 we have done 2 IUIs and a full IVF.
We have also flown across the country to consult with CC.RM.
The only other blogs I read, other than IF blogs are about running.
I trained for my first half marathon this past summer.
Doing so helped me FINALLY lose the 15 pounds I had put on during our IF treatments.
I actually really enjoy running.
One day, I would like to run a marathon. Ok, that's a lie, I wouldn't like to, but I'm going to...
I subscribe to WAY too many magazines and the only ones I read on a regular basis are Red.book and Run.ner's World.
I am trying to get my hubby into running.
The first race I ever ran was a 25k (15.5 miles).
I think infertility sucks.
I think I enjoy running so much because I can just forget about everything and enjoy the endorphins.
I work as a school counselor.
My job shows me every day that fertility is not granted to those who deserve it most.
Seriously, you would not believe the stories I hear!
I hate that people misunderstand infertility and am doing my darndest to break down the myths!

That's a little bit about me, now tell me about you! What do you do for a living? What are your favorite hobbies? What kind of blogs do you read? Have any fun fall recipes you'd like to share :)?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

what infertility has given me

So often I focus on what infertility has robbed me of--a normal se.x life with my husband, the ability to build our family on our own, being able to not worry about spending our kids' college tuition on bringing them into the world, and not having to go to the doctors office every month for months on end. Going through IF is tough. It's tough on every part of my life and I think while you're in the middle of it, it's so easy to only focus on the negatives. But now that I'm (somewhat) on the other side of it, I can see all that IF did give me. All the good I have because of it.

One amazing thing that going through IF has given me is an incredible support group and the opportunity to "meet" so many great women/families. I am constantly impressed by the people out there in the blogging world who have gone through IF. Impressed by how they have managed to press on even through difficult situations. How they continue to pursue their dream of building a family even when it seems impossible. And, to be honest, I'm impressed by how much I can relate to these women. It has shown me that disease, specifically the disease of infertility, does not discriminate. IF doesn't care how much you make, how happily married you are, or what kind of education you have... It affects women/families of all kinds. I have been in awe of just how much I have in common with those struggling with IF. And I'm thankful for that.


Another thing that infertility has given me is increased compassion. Prior to going through all of this, I thought I was compassionate. I had plans to go into human services and felt that I was particularly well suited for that because of how well I care about and for people. But, deep down, I was harboring a lot of assumptions/prejudices/stereotypes. I had known women who struggled with infertility, but I still wondered why they were going through that struggle. It's awful to think about now, but it's the truth. But, now? Because I've struggled? I find myself bawling over just about anything heart wrenching. It doesn't matter if it has to do with parenthood, infertility, or anything children related... My heart has opened up in so many wonderful ways and I am so thankful that I am now more perceptive to truly caring for and about other people's struggles.


Finally, the most magical thing that infertility has given me is a deep appreciation for my child. Now, I have loads of friends who got pregnant the first time their husband looked at them and those friends treasure and take magnificent care of their children. That being said, as sad as it is, I believe that my friends are in the minority among parents. What infertility has given ME is perspective on just how lucky I am to have this little person in my life. Last Sunday, MBL and I took Piper to a pumpkin patch/petting zoo/farm and while we were walking around looking at the animals I literally almost burst into tears. My heart was so overcome with just how lucky I feel to be Piper's mom. I could not believe that after all we went through, after all the heartache and struggle, there I was with MY child having a family day. Piper was just walking around looking at everything and I just wanted to pinch myself. How did I get so lucky? I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I know that had I gotten pregnant on the first try at the age of 23, my perspective would have been totally different. Sure, I'd probably still want to take my child out for fun adventures and I'd probably still treasure her, but I know it wouldn't be nearly as overwhelming as it is because I went through infertility. It just couldn't be. For ME, if I had been easily given a child, I wouldn't be pinching myself at the gift of having a child to take the pumpkin patch. I literally come home every day from work and cannot wait to spend my precious evening hours with my girl. She lights up my life and I tell her every day that I would have spent a million dollars to bring her into the world and I'm not exaggerating one bit (although how I would have gotten that kind of money is not clear).

Bottom line, for all that IF has robbed me of, for all that I have "lost" because of it, I am still downright grateful for all that I have because of it. And I am especially grateful that because of it, I will never take the time I have with my child(ren) for granted.

How about you? Do you find it hard to find anything positive from your infertility journey? Do you feel that you have a different view of parenthood because of what you went through?

Monday, September 24, 2012

I thought we'd looked at it all...


Having been on and off this IF journey for 4 years now, I feel like every test in the book has already been done. All of the basic infertility work up stuff was done a long time ago and we've had the priviledge (?) of getting a better glance at what is happening with everything due to the fact that we've gone through 3 IVFs. But, in heading to CC.RM, I knew that there was one thing I wanted out of our time with them, almost as much as I want a take home baby... I want ANSWERS. When we first started down this road, we were armed with a diagnosis: male factor infertility. MBL had low everything; low count, low motility, and low morphology. We knew that with his numbers, the only decent chance we stood at conceiving was via IUI or IVF. But now? His numbers have been much better since his two varicocelectomies. And in the past 2 years it has become clear that the our "problems" aren't all his fault. I'm a poor responder for my age and my AMH is not where it should be. BUT, I still have a decent(ish) antral count and age on my side, so why have we only had ONE out of three cycles be successful? Moreover, why haven't we been able to get pregnant on our own? MBL has swimmers and I have eggs... What's the hold up?

Well, Dr. Surrey at CC.RM won me over for life when he sat down with us and promised, without any prompting, that while he could not guarantee that he could get us pregnant, he could guarantee that by the end of all this we would have answers. Hallelujah! That's one thing I don't think our Chicago doc understood, he didn't get why I wanted more tests run, why I came armed with questions to every single appointment. Dr. S. gets it, he understands that I need to know the "why". I'm not willing to just accept that things just didn't work out like they thought they would, I need answers and it looks like I am going to get them.

What we've gotten back from CC.RM as far as results go have all been fine. MBL's count is up, but his motility and morphology are still on the lower than normal side. But, at least we have more swimmers to work with! My antral count was lower than I would have expected with only one follicle on the right and 12 on the right. But, still, 13 total should be a workable number. My AMH is lower than normal at 1.0, they wanted to see it at 1.5 or higher, but it's still in the "normal" range. I had a hysteroscopy and that was normal. And then I had a repeat HSG and that was normal. We now are just waiting on my day 3 labs, but those were good back in April, so I can't imagine that they've changed much. BUT, I did have some questions on the ratios of my labs, so I'm hoping that Dr. S. will be able to help me out with those.

A few of the things that make CC.RM stand out as a great choice for us is the fact that they should be able to help with two of the factors that I think held us back in our last IVF. For one, they are able to mature eggs in the lab, so if I have 25% immature again, they can try and help them mature so we have more embryos. They also have the equipment to do IMSI. Basically, they use a very powerful microscope to pick out the very best spe.rm. This helps a lot with potential DNA issues on the male side. We are very excited and impressed by the technology they are able to offer their patients.

So, now, we wait on the follow up phone consult with Dr. S. We will talk about strategies for an IVF cycle and also what his impression is as to why we even need to do IVF. Overall, I'm just thankful that we will have answers that will hopefully lead us to a sibling for Piper!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I’ve been gone again. I’m not going to try and make excuses for my absence, instead I’m just going to try and get on here (at least) twice a week to update. I know have a job where I would feel comfortable taking my half hour lunch to write a blog post, so my goal is to get on here Tuesdays and Thursdays. This community and all the blogs I have found mean so much to me, that I’m just not ready to give up this whole blogging thing.

So, where have I been? Well, we’ve been moving across the state and I started a new job while still wrapping up my old one. We bought a new condo, but we still own our house. We’ve been living on the east side of the state during the week and then traveling back to the west side for the weekends. Life is just busy. And even though I certainly have time in the evenings to sit down and write a blog post after Piper has gone to bed, I find myself mindlessly scanning face.book instead.


I wanted to be sure to get on here and talk all about our time in Colorado. We LOVED it. The clinic, the area, and our experience were all amazing. The only not amazing thing was that MBL lost the rental car keys the morning of our departure and we spent 50 minutes searching for them… I was convinced we were going to miss our flight, but we didn’t. PTL. For starters, we got to Denver late on Saturday evening. Our second flight was delayed and then our luggage took forever to get off the plane because there was lightening outside. By the time we got to our hotel, it was almost 9:00 mountain time. I had gotten up early that morning to go for a nice long run and so I was particularly exhausted. Not too exhausted, however, to search out the nearest frozen yogurt self serve place :). I was pleased to discover that there was one located just 1mile from our hotel AND they had cake batter frozen yogurt. It was absolute perfection. The next day, Sunday, MBL and I didn’t have anything going on at the clinic, so we decided to just kind of explore. I went on a 4 mile run and he drove around town. It took me forever to get my 4 miles in because I kept running into construction/sidewalks ending. Not fun. When I got back to the hotel, we decided to lay out by the pool for a bit and get some sun. We did some errand running and then it was time for dinner. I follow a blog where the writer always talks about Which Which and when I saw that there was one basically right across the street from our hotel, I made MBL go check it out with me. We were both really happy with our sandwiches, my only regret is that I didn’t get mine toasted. We finished off the night by grabbing frozen yogurt again… SOOO yummy!


The next day we had to wake up bright and early to get to CC.RM by 7:30. We actually got there a tad bit late due to traffic. We were really impressed by how scheduled everything was. The day started off with a meeting in the conference room where a nurse went over everything from the basics of IVF to the protocols they use there to what we should do when we are cycling there. The meeting was held in a conference room and I was surprised to see how many other couples were there. All the seats were full, so I’m thinking there were 5 other couples. They were all different backgrounds, sizes, and ages. I really wanted to have us all go around the table and talk about our IF journeys. I wondered if anyone else there was trying for #2 and what their diagnoses were.

We basically had back to back testing with some fun for MBL and some fun for me. It was cool to hear about all the different tests they were going to run and everything that they were going to look for. My ultrasound was disappointing, but my hysteroscopy didn’t show any new polyps, so that was good news. We also decided to have me tested for SMA and Fragile X. I was beginning to think that the Fragile X was going to come back positive as I have signs of decreasing fertility and I’m still fairly young (26), but I found out a few weeks ago that both came back negative. My AMH is sitting still at 1.0 and I do not have sp.erm antibodies, which I guess is a good thing.

We were sent home with instructions to have an HSG done by my OB and to do the CD3 blood work at the start of my next cycle.

I think I’ll have to end the update there as I feel like this is already a lengthy post! Overall, we are very excited about cycling with CC.RM and feel like they really are the best choice for us at this point. The price tag is hard to swallow—around $16,000 for ONE CYCLE, but with having Piper, we know it’s all worth it. The things we do for those two pink lines…

Monday, August 13, 2012

big changes, big plans, and big pants


I seem to have gone missing again. My absence is anything but intentional. To say that life has been busy the last 8 weeks would be a gross understatement. Essentially, MBL and I have been travelling every weekend since July 7th. Literally we have not spent a full weekend at home since June 30/July 1 and I had to work that weekend so I wasn't even really home. The reason for all of our travel? Well, big changes are coming for our family!!

First off, the big changes.


We are moving! We aren't moving that far, just across our state (2.5 hours), but it signifies a big change for our family. MBL has lived in the area since 2001 and I've lived here since I started college in 2003. The reason that we are moving is that I accepted a job. A job in the field for which I got my Master's. I will finally have the chance to put my $28,000 degree to use! Now, I have a tendency to say that this is my dream job, but we all know that my true dream job would be to have the priviledge of staying home with this cutie:


But, seeing as I am still the only one working in our house, that won't be possible any time soon. Both MBL and I are really excited about this move. The timing really couldn't be better. MBL has the chance to pursue new job opportunities and we both have the chance for a new start. Additionally, this allows me the chance to build up the hours I need to get my full licensure. Clocking those hours will allow me more flexibility in the future; it will mean that we could move pretty much anywhere in the country and I would be able to participate in a private practice. All good things.

Next, the big plans. Well, I am writing this post from our hotel room in Den.ver. What brings us to the state of Colorado? This place:


I guess you could say I've reached the point of no return. The next step that I want to take is whatever is most likely to end with me getting pregnant. After two failed IUIs and a failed IVF in the midwest, MBL and I decided to just go for it and visit the big guns out west. When I first started blogging I remember reading about people who visited CC.RM and I couldn't even fathom being able to visit the best of the best. Or, frankly, needing to visit the best of the best. Oh how naive I was! There are so many oddities in our IF journey that it seems necessary at this point to pull out all the stops. So, we flew out here for our one day work up. It'll be good to have answers. Well, hopefully we'll get answers. So far what we've gathered is that I don't have the fertility of a 26 year old, my uterus looks good, and I may need to worry that my tubes are blocked or that my stage one and a half endometriosis has gotten worse. My ultrasound study showed 12 follicles on my left ovary and ONE on my right. Not what I wanted to hear. She also saw eccogenic spots behind my left ovary and fluid in my uterus. All I wanted to hear was "You have a perfect uterus ready for a baby. Oh, and 20 perfect follicles." Always the optimist over here. I have an HSG scheduled for Thursday with my OB back home. With that I'm expecting to discover there are new obstacles with my fertility. At least it will be nice to have answers.

And, finally, the big pants!! Two days after Piper turned one I started training for a half marathon. I laced up my shoes and went for a six mile run.

It was hard and I hurt the rest of the day, but I continued to follow my training plan to a T. I went for short(er) runs 3 times a week and did a long run every Saturday. The result? Well, two weeks into July I was at a conference for work and I was seriously worried that our dryer wasn't working properly. I couldn't figure out why it wasn't drying my pants properly. Why did I think this? My pants felt so big. Usually if I put them in the dryer they shrunk right up to their right size and felt great, but my pants were feeling baggier and baggier... It took me two days to realize that my pants felt bigger not because of the dryer but because I was getting smaller!! All that running was paying off. Post-Piper I was wearing a size 12 and decided I would be perfectly happy getting into a 10 again. Well, I now own 4 pairs of size 8 pants and weigh 12 pounds less than I did when I got pregnant with P. Running has not only helped me shrink down, but it's helped me stay grounded. When I run I feel good. It doesn't matter that I am infertile or that I need IVF to get pregnant, I can just pound the pavement and allow the endorphins to flood over me. I went for a 10.5 miles run on Saturday just for fun and I spent the whole time thinking about all the good things ahead of us. Our upcoming move, my job change, and the babies in our future. I am clinging to hope, praying that the best is yet to come.

So, how are you all?? Anybody out there have any experience with CC.RM? Any other running addicts out there? What do you do to relax and let go?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

still here!!


I cannot believe how long I have gone without posting. Life is busy and when I sit down at night all I want to do is watch tv and veg out. I used to be able to pop on when I had downtime at work, but that hasn't happened a whole lot lately.

So here is the latest and greatest:

-MBL is still unemployed. I am pretty sure he thought he would get a job immediately and he is definitely an employee worth having, but we just haven't been able to find the right "in". It's pretty frustrating. We won't be able to continue like this for too much longer. I mean, we're fine for the moment, but if we want to move forward with any of our plans, we're going to need his income.

-We have some exciting and scary changes in our future. I have a job opportunity on the opposite side of the state and I am planning to pursue it seriously. I am terrified of this. I feel like so much of my life has changed lately that I'm kind of exhausted. But, it's an incredible opportunity to do what I really want to do. It would mean maintaining two residences as our house isn't ready for sale, so we would be looking at renting a townhouse and coming back to our home on the weekends to get it in sellable condition. We would probably do this for a year as that's likely how long it will take to finish all of our projects. Just typing all of this is making me exhausted.

-On the baby making front, we have been trying naturally but have had no luck. My luteal phase is shorter than it used to be and last month I didn't get a positive OPK until cycle day 19 and I still got AF on day 31. Which means that my luteal phase was only 11 days when it used to be 14-15. I don't know if my body is still all crazy from our last IVF or if it's just crazy from having a baby a year ago. Either way, I'm irritated that we thought MBL was the problem and now I'm beginning to wonder how much my body is contributing to our TTC woes.

-Also on the TTC front, we have our phone consult with CC.RM next week Monday. I'm looking forward to what they have to say about our situation and start really thinking about whether or not we should pursue treatments with them. We aren't in the best financial situation, but we're not in the worst either and one thing I'm sure of is that I AM READY. It's time for us to add another little one to our family and I'm ready to do whatever it takes to achieve that. I'm terrified out of my noggin, but I know that what you gain when you have success makes it so worth it.

I plan on participating in ICLW this month as we prepare to dive head first into further treatments. I also plan on coming back to post soon :).

How are y'all? Any news? How have you all been holding up in this heat?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

the tipping point







Have you ever read the Mal.colm Gladw.ell book called "The Tipping Point"? I was actually reading it on my first date with MBL. I was reading it while waiting for him to (FINALLY) show up. Basically, it's about how trends start or how change occurs.

I think I've reached the tipping point on our journey to #2. This happened when we were trying for #1 as well. I got to the point where I didn't want to "just" try anymore. I didn't want to try things that might help us get pregnant, I was ready for the big guns. In getting pregnant with Piper that meant going with shared risk IVF at a well rated clinic. I realized I was at this point for baby #2 during my long run on Saturday. Granted, we've already done IVF #3 at the well rated clinic that got us pregnant with Piper and it failed, so there's that.

I am SOOOO ready for baby #2. I'm ready to be pregnant with another precious little one. I tell MBL every day how I want another baby. He keeps saying, "I know" and "We're going to have another one." It's sweet of him to put up with me.

So, what are our next steps now that we already have one failed IVF under our belts? I have an appointment with a Reproductive Immu.nologist on July 5th in Chi.cago. It'll be interesting to see if she finds anything. She'll run blood tests and do an extensive ultrasound. Then, we have a phone consult with the REALLY big guns, CC.RM, on July 23rd. I'm excited to see what they have to say and if they would have done anything differently with our last cycle. I'm also curious as to whether they see any other underlying fertility issues. Like, do I have diminishing ovarian reserve? Why do I have a below average number of mature eggs to eggs retrieved?

We may go with CC.RM if we can afford it. Or, we may go back to our clinic in Chicag.o. The hard thing is that if I am not pregnant by the end of August/early September, our kids will be more than two years/24 months apart and that kind of bums me out. No, it's not the end of the world and I am so lucky to have Piper, but I really wanted to have my kids close together.

Here's hoping we are on the verge of our BFP!

Friday, June 15, 2012

a tangent...

I keep thinking of posts to write on my runs, but fail at putting them down. So, here is a tangent for you :). 1. Some days I really REALLY hate my job. I am fairly certain that I have one of the most thankless jobs on the planet. Basically I get yelled at for things over which I have no control and the higher ups show no concern for the beatdown I get on a (near) daily basis. It pretty much sucks. BUT, the hours, although quite early, aren't that bad. I go in around 6:30 and get to leave around 3:00. I still feel like I get a lot of time with Piper and MBL in the evening. 2. I'm back to diligently running several times a week. I have signed up for this race: I am following Hal Hig.don's half marathon training plan and so far it is going well. I do three shorter runs during the week, ranging from 3-5 miles long, and then one long run on Saturdays. I'm also supposed to do a day of cross training, but I've only succeeded at that once. What I've been doing is packing my running gear in the morning and then skipping lunch and heading out to run from work. Then, when I get home, I am able to totally focus on my family! 3. I would love to lose at least 10 pounds. I have been running since Piper was 7 weeks and counting points, but I've only lost 6 pounds. I know that if I lost that weight, I wouldn't feel like I was dying when I run and I would feel better about getting pregnant (meaning I would have lost some of my infertility/IVF weight). I'm going to try out a new way of tracking my eating habits by using my fit.ness pa.l instead of just doing the Wei.ght Wat.chers points system. I'm hoping that counting calories will help make the scale move! 4. I started following some running blogs and it's nice to spend some of my time focusing on my physical health rather than just my struggle with infertility. It's funny because I'm really enjoying getting back into shape, but I still really want to get pregnant. I have a blog post ready to talk about our family building plans. 5. I've been looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow ALL WEEK. As much as I am thankful for getting off early in the afternoon, the early wake up call is not my favorite. But, tomorrow is supposed to be 90*. And I'm scheduled to run 9 miles. I cannot run 9 miles in that heat. So, I will have to get up early on my day off in order to run NINE MILES. Oh boy. I promise to not go two weeks in between updates again. Things have just been really crazy and I'm finally getting back into my groove. How are you all? Anybody else out there infertile and a runner? How are you all enjoying your summer?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

that wasn't it...

Two weeks ago, I thought we hit rock bottom, I was fairly certain that things wouldn't get worse. It was reassuring to think that the only way to go was up. But, I was wrong. That wasn't bottom, that wasn't as bad as things could get. Last Tuesday, while I was at a friend's house, MBL broke the news from me that his job let him go. I cried so hard that when I called my mom she freaked out thinking someone was seriously injured. I cried and cried and cried. And then I went to get my hair done and drank wine and felt (somewhat) better. I then dove headfirst into job searching for MBL and figuring out how we are going to make this work. I make a pittance. To put it into perspective, MBL provided 75% of our income. So, this is a BIG deal. MBL did NOT deserve to be let go. He had been with the company for 12 years and had absolutely no record of bad behavior. He dedicated a lot of time and energy to making sure the systems and processes they used were in the best interest of the company. He seriously put his everything into that job and, in the end, they treated him like total crap. I'm pretty bitter about the whole situation, but that's not really going to fix things. In the wake of this, I did what any rational infertile would do and googled the top 50 most fertility friendly companies. I then gave MBL a list of companies that are hiring in his field that cover infertility treatment. The truth is, he should be able to find a new job without much difficulty. Any company would be lucky to have him, and I'm not just saying that as his wife. He seriously could go into any workplace and fix the way they do things. He is able to look at programs and systems and figure out how to make them better. He is really talented. The hard part now is convincing MBL of that. This has been a really hard adjustment for him. He is heartbroken by what happened. In a time when he needed their support the most, they turned a cold shoulder on him. The company claims to be family focused, but, obviously, when it comes to caring for their employees, they really aren't. We have about eight weeks for MBL to get his act together before we need to really panic. I'm not going to let MBL take that long. I want him to submit resumes this week. With how much experience he has, I am certain that he will get interviews for most of the jobs for which he applies. He just needs to get focused on getting them out! (can you tell I want it done now?) In the meantime, I am going to try and not pull all my hair out and just hope that something REALLY good is just around the corner... Surprise, natural triplets anyone ;)? And a free minivan? Please?

Monday, May 28, 2012

the other shoe

I haven't been on here in almost two weeks. The main reason for this is that the pesky other shoe finally dropped. As if our failed IVF wasn't enough, I think we've reached what I hope is rock bottom. I can't and won't go into too many details for a variety of reasons, but it became clear about a week ago that MBL is struggling. It would probably be more accurate to say that he hit rock bottom. All of the stress of his new job and family pressures as well as the financial strain of our medical issues (i.e. IVF), he just kind of reached his breaking point. The good news is he's getting help and is deeply invested in recovery and healing. He's finally being totally honest with me about his emotional struggles and he even admitted (FINALLY) that he has chosen his job over nearly everything else in his life, including his family and his own health. He's been travelling at least a week out of every month and facing tremendous strain as he has tried to balance work, Piper, and our marriage. He basically broke under the weight of it all. This has, obviously, put our whole life into a tailspin. All I really wanted was a minivan full of kids and to stay home with them all. Instead I will have to keep working full time, driving around my (very nice) station wagon/SUV, and put off our IVF cycle. We definitely aren't going to stop TTC, but we are going to put off using medical interventions. We don't have the money for a minivan or IVF, so we need to take some time to save up for those things. And, more importantly, we need to get MBL in a healthy place. Right now, we are hoping that MBL will be able to take FMLA from work and really take the time to set up healthy interventions and coping mechanisms so that this doesn't happen again. As of right now we are taking it moment by moment, day by day. Praying that the only way we have to go from here is up.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

spinning

(source) That's what my mind is doing a lot of these days. Just spinning and reeling and going back and forth. I've been meaning to post for days, but I've had so much to say/share that I didn't know where to start. Life is crazy busy. Between work and Piper and house care and working out, there is hardly time left at the end of the day to respond to my personal email. I am still reading blogs, but haven't had much time to write a post of my own. And it doesn't help that blogger doesn't open up correctly on my work computer, so I am unable to write/publish posts there (you know, on my lunch hour :). Despite the fact that I'm pretty sure nearly every infertility blog I follow just announced a pregnancy, MBL and I are in the same exact place. The not pregnant place. The ugly crying over another BFN place. I'm on track for a long cycle this month (post failed IVF) as I'm pretty sure I just ovulated on day 22. We went for it and tried naturally this month, but I'm not holding out too much hope. We plan on doing an IUI again next month and I'm still debating whether or not to do clo.mid and injectables or just injectables by themselves. I truly believe that we could conceive via IUI, so we'll just have to see if IUI #3 for baby #2 is the lucky one! As far as an update on where we are with further fertility testing/etc, we got MBL's sperm DNA analysis back and his level was 18%. Normal/excellent fertility potential is 15%, and 15-25% is good/fair/normal fertility potential. So, it looks like that isn't a major hindrance in our quest to have another baby. We also had our post-failed IVF consult with our RE. It was a phone consult due to our geographical differences (we live 4 hours away). I was ready to hear the donor egg speech/suggestion, but he surprised me and said that everything looked good until we got to day five and only had one embie left and even that one embie stood a chance at making a baby. He said my age is a great indicator of my potential and so he doesn't think that donor eggs are necessary unless I prefer someone else's DNA over my own. We talked about the whole three day versus five day thing and we expressed that we might want to do a three day next time as maybe the embies prefer a more "natural" environment. Unsurprisingly, he told us that usually if an embryo fails in the lab it would have never made a baby, but we pointed out that there is no real way to test that (i.e. you can't BOTH test whether the same embryos would develop into a healthy pregnancy from a day three transfer AND see if they would have made it to a blast in the lab) and he essentially agreed. He asked if we would still want to transfer three on day three knowing how hard parenthood is and we gave a wholeheartedly, "YES WE WOULD!!". Piper is an unbelievably easy kid. She goes to bed and sleeps for 12 hours, she adapts to her environment, and she is happy most of the time. Even IF we somehow ended up getting pregnant with triplets from a three embryo transfer on day three, we would be able to handle it because our first kid is so easy. PLUS, we just LOVE being parents. Like LOVE LOVE LOVE it. There is something to be said about having to fight for something you want because I totally treasure being a parent way more than I ever thought possible. I WANT to spend time with my daughter. I treasure every single moment with her and I swear I'm not exaggerating one bit. Especially now that I am a WORKING mom, I treasure those moments even more, even when she is melting down because she got zero naps at daycare. I am amazed at the experience I have been given and plan on doing whatever it takes to be able to do it again. I intended on blogging about Mother's Day on Sunday, but I was too busy sleeping in and enjoying the perfect weather here in Michigan (seriously, it was gorgeous). It was still hard to celebrate a day that is set aside for women that have been able to achieve something that so many others dream of having. Infertility sucks the big one and it still bothers me that so many people ignore the fact that there are a lot of people out there hurting. And even though I have achieved motherhood, the day still stung. We have our precious Piper and she is the light of our lives, but we know we are not done. We want more and fully intend on doing whatever it takes to get there. I keep saying it, but I know it's just a matter of time, I just wish I had a glance into the future to know just how much longer we will have to wait. And just because my mind is still spinning, I'll give a preview of other updates I plan on sharing soon: the VERY generous Mother's Day gift MBL and I received, my found again love for running, balancing TTC with the rest of my life, the guilt I feel for working, losing my desire for genetic connection, and the sacrifices we are making for our family dreams. How are you all doing? How did you handle Mother's Day this year? What is going on in your head?