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Dec 30, 2016

Au Dieu 2016


in French class...we learned two distinctive phrases.

Au Revoir and Au Dieu.

Au Revoir was kind, meaning until we meet again.
You would say that to someone you liked.

Au Dieu...quite the opposite.
It means Good Riddance...a permanent farewell.

That's how I am letting go of 2016.
Although far harsher phrases have popped into my mind....Fuck You, 2016. Burn in Hell, 2016, etc...the anger I feel towards an entire year will be short-lived.

Do I ever, ever want to go back and replay this year? Hell to the no.
Never ever ever....but my mind has a funny way of re-hashing shit over and over, so 2016 will likely be burned in my memory forever. Sure, the edges will soften and I'll forget the really shitty times, but it will always be there...like the bastard step child of my life.

As 2015 came to a close, we felt more prepared than ever to tackle whatever was thrown at us in 2016.
We knew we were headed into battle, we just had no idea how much of a battle it would be.

Grab a drink...this is long-winded.

JANUARY:
January 5 - our IVF consultation with Dr. Jacobs
January 23 - Crash turned 10
January 26 - Our Genetic consultation
In between these meetings, I painted our entire home and updated our guest room and dining room.
We planned fun outings with friends and family.

FEBRUARY:
February 4 - My dad's biopsy results came in, positive for prostate cancer
February 8-12 - Our parents genetic testing was completed and shipped off
February 15 - The first of a six week genetic probe set-up begins.
February 26 - We had our main floor bathtub refinished
In between, we did our tax return, kept working on the house, installed new lighting and met up with friends.

MARCH:
March 17 - Our PGD set-up is complete and successful
March 28 - I start birth control for our first IVF retrieval round.
My results come back showing higher blood pressure and low ovarian reserve. Our protocol is adjusted knowing my egg quality is poor.
We wrapped up our home renovations, went to a car show, attended birthdays and paid out the bulk of our deductible.

APRIL:
April 6 - Our first of many large medication deliveries
April 14 - Our nursing consult to learn how to set-up and take injections. Consents are due
April 17 - last birth control pill
April 22 - The start of stimulation medications for retrieval #1
Our company participated in a charity dodgeball tournament. We are able to get outside a bit more as the temps rise, and spirits are nervous but high still.

MAY:
May 4 - Our first egg retrieval. We collect a measly 6 eggs.
May 11 - By Day 7 all of our embryos have died
May 13 - My brother is released from a 6 month stint in jail
May 15 - We head over to my parents for a welcome home bbq
May 17 - Our second medication delivery for round #2
May 20 - Round two stims begin
May 27 - Our English bulldog attacks our cat and breaks his jaw. We head into the ER for one of many surgeries. He is given a feeding tube and we begin round the clock feedings and medications.
May 30 - We trigger on Memorial Day for a June retrieval
During this month, we open our pool, take our first boat ride, I get a hair cut and we enjoy the nicer weather.

JUNE:
June 1 - Our second egg retrieval. We collect 7 eggs.
June 3 - I am on PTO for retrieval recovery and take our cat in for his second surgery to re-work his jaw. This begins a six week recovery.
June 7 - We get the call that ONE embryo makes it to Day 6 and is biopsied. This ends up being our future son that I carry for 10 weeks.
June 13 - I start birth control pills for our final egg retrieval round.
June 21 - My mom's birthday, and follow-up consultation with Dr. Jacobs, who changes our protocol for round 3 and reiterates my poor egg quality may not give us the results we are hoping for.
June 24 - My third medication delivery for round 3.
June 30 - Crash is taken to the vet for his first ear hematoma. It's drained and he is on the mend.
This month my dad starts to slip back into a depression. His antics to constantly be checking in on my mom and my brother again take a toll on the family. We push for outpatient therapy and rehabilitation.  Mark and I push on with a few summer plans and boat trips, always leaving early to feed the cat through his tube.

JULY:
July 3-5 - 4th of July long weekend trip on the boat. A  nice change of pace and semi-relaxing weekend.
July 6 - 3rd medication delivery
July 7 - specialty compounded medication delivery (microdose lupron protocol)
July 8 - Shots begin. Escalating up to 5x a day.
July 23 - Burn turns 5
July 24 - Final egg retrieval. Most eggs retrieved to date: 16
July 31 - Our 6th wedding anniversary. We get the call that 4 of our embryos make it to blast and are biopsied. We are done with the injection/stim rounds and head into genetic testing

AUGUST:
August 3 - The cat's feeding tube is removed and we scramble to work with his new jaw placement which didn't heal properly.
August 4 - I start birth control pills for our first transfer
August 16 - We receive the results of our genetic pgd testing. Of the 5 embryos tested, we have 2 normal embryos; one boy and one girl. We choose to transfer the girl first.
August 21 - My 33rd birthday
August 27 - We finally get out of the house for a date to see a comedian
I submit our genetic testing claim to the insurance this month...which ends up sitting in limbo for 3 months and then ultimately rejected for coverage. We still find a few weekends to lounge in the pool and soak up summer.

SEPTEMBER:
September 2 - 5 Labor Day weekend. We host my cousin and throw a Labor Day party.
Mark turns 38.
My dad's depression is at an all time high and he smashes out a window in my mom's car without realizing it. Mark and I make the choice to have an ambulance pick him up for in-patient treatment. We work to repair my mom's car and continue with transfer medications at the same time.
September 16 - Our first transfer. This same day I get into a yelling match with my dad as he doesn't realize we even had our transfer as his anxiety and depression have taken over.
September 27 - Our beta is negative. The transfer fails.
I spent the next few weeks processing this news and coming to terms with our failure.
I stop medication and get a rashy-itchy reaction to stopping the progesterone in oil.

OCTOBER:
October 3 - Baseline for our final transfer. We keep this timeline a secret for our sanity.
October 11 - I get an endo scratch
October 13 - I start transfer meds; ganirelix and minivelle patches
October 15 - We visit a haunted house with close friends
October 16 - Dinner at Maggiano's for my dad and bro's birthday
October 28 - I pay off our huge credit card
This month I tried to stay positive and festive. We meet up with friends for dinner and a couple date nights. We spent Halloween rolling around our neighborhood giving out candy in the golf cart.

NOVEMBER:
November 2 - Our second transfer
November 6 - Election Day
November 7 - The day the entire United States divides and people who were formally friends turn against each other in fits of rage. Facebook becomes a nightmare and I swear off social media for a bit.
November 14 - Beta day. It's POSITIVE. I'M PREGNANT. Number was 435
November 16 - Beta #2, numbers are rapidly increasing to 1,119...more than doubling
November 23 - first ultrasound showing our little baby embryo, measuring 5 weeks, 5 days.
November 24 - Thanksgiving. We proudly share the news with family
November 25 - Shrimp Boil. We proudly share the news with our friends
This month we mailed out announcements to our extended family and go "facebook official" with our pregnancy on the blog. We are going to have a son next July!!

DECEMBER:
I have weekly monitoring through 8 weeks, 5 days.
Crash's health starts to rapidly decline and we are forced to put him down on December 10th.
The day before, at 8 weeks, I have my first bleed scare. The nurses can't find the source of the problem, but our baby is still measuring on track with a strong heart beat.
I feel disconnected from the pregnancy. We mourn the loss of Crash for weeks. We keep up spirits with my Company Holiday party and my annual Christmas Party.
My brother gets in trouble with the law again and will be spending the next few months back in jail/rehab.
I become furiously sick just over a week later. I miss my exit interview with Dr. Jacobs but am told to stop injections on the 20th.
On Christmas Eve my miscarriage starts and ends December 26th.
We are devastated.

So there you have it.
We went from hope, to worry, to joy, to devastation.
December was by far the hardest pill to swallow.
Two losses in a matter of weeks has made us question our sanity at times.
2016 gave us more life lessons and set-backs and hurdles than we could have ever imagined.
I am truly blessed that we took it by the horns and survived and thrived as a married couple.

We are both working through the emotions of all of this.
We know we are both eager and ready for better luck and news in 2017 and beyond.
I know many, many people have harder situations, but the amount of bad or poor events that occurred back-to-back this year has brought us to our breaking point.

I have replayed the last couple weeks of my pregnancy countless times in my head, and I truly believe I simply overlooked some signs that it wouldn't keep. Starting at 8 weeks with our bleed scare.  I know bleeding is common in early pregnancy, so I brushed it off, to avoid looking like a crazy person. At that point I started to feel disconnected from my pregnancy, like I was taking it for granted or something, and felt guilty.
I realize now my symptoms started to lack. I quit having to get up to pee overnight. My boobs deflated a bit. I generally just felt....lighter.
I also remember reviewing my exit paperwork from the IVF clinic...the last couple of ultrasounds had conflicting information on them, like the baby may have been measuring behind by a few days to a week at one point.

I am convinced that although we did everything we could to avoid any genetic issues, and I believe we succeeded, the reality is...my poor egg quality and Mark's poorer sperm quality simply didn't yield healthy embryos. They were slow to grow. We didn't get the numbers we should have.
Simply put, we were lucky to come as far as we did, but without the support of massive amounts of hormones, pills, and injections, our little guy didn't stand a chance.

The minute I stopped those injections, it was over. What little life was left in him, simply could not keep.

I am furious. I am angry and saddened and every other emotion imaginable.
Mark's coping mechanism is to move on and forget this whole fucking thing ever happened....I am looking to slap a band-aid on it.
I want my baby.
I want to be pregnant again and build a nursery and welcome a summer baby.
I want a baby so badly now more than ever that I can't think straight.
This chance at life was literally ripped from my body and I'm fucking pissed that I can't look at his little box of clothes without choking up.
I can't stand to look at that room that was going to be his nursery.
I can't believe he no longer has a heart beat.

But I also know this is a phase of grieving.
I know that with time, I will soften my edges with the anger, and harden my heart from the pain.

As for the future?
I don't know, really.
I know we need a break. A real, long, frivolous, care-free break.
Back-back cycles and back-to-back failed transfers and a miscarriage and the death of our beloved pup and stress from family, has finally caught up with us.

I know I promised Mark I would be done with IVF after this monumental year.
And I think that if the second transfer failed as quickly as the first, I would be standing firm in that decision.

But....I now know I can get pregnant, and I do feel like I can stay pregnant, as long as we can try and find the source of this failure.

My poorer egg quality and time are working against that, and I know in my heart of hearts it's the biggest reason for all of our hurdles.

I have already reached out to our genetics lab and our IVF doctor, to see what their opinions are.
I never imagined going through the IVF ringer again...three times seemed like enough for me, especially back to back, but I'm wavering these days.

I just want this so badly now that it's been ripped from me, I could do something crazy.

I DO believe I can carry a pregnancy.

I have a follow-up consultation this afternoon to go over everything with Dr. Jacobs.
His opinion will determine what happens in our future.

I don't know if I will ever be a mom in the traditional sense.
But I do know we can be a really good aunt and uncle in the interim.

So, Cheers to a New Year.
To new beginnings, to new adventures, to new loves and to a better life.
Thank you for reading and continuing to support our dream. XO

Dec 26, 2016

We Lost Our Baby


At 10 weeks, 3 days, I miscarried.
About an hour or so after I published my 10 week bumpdate photo, we watched our baby slip through our fingers.

Christmas Eve was wonderful. Surrounded by family, Mark and I opened presents for the baby.
We laughed and talked about the future.
As the night progressed, I started to get a bit of lower back ache.
This had happened briefly the day before, so I just assumed I had been on my feet too long and needed rest.

The lower back ache slowly crept to the front of my stomach, but by the time I went to bed that evening, it had all but subsided.

Christmas day was much of the same. I had mild, ongoing cramping along with lower back pain.
I'll just take it easy, I thought.

The uncomfortable sensation kept up during dinner with my parents, and for the first time, I suspected something was off.

That evening, just after midnight, the aching had become so abundant that I could barely move.
I stood up and felt wet.
Shit.
I hobbled to the bathroom and realized there was brown blood.
Old blood is good blood...I kept repeating.
Until it wasn't.
Another trip to the bathroom confirmed the first bout of bright red blood.
I nearly passed out at the sight.
The waves of pain and nausea mimicked that of when I had to take Misoprostol, to mimic labor pains.

I took some Tylenol and prayed to keep our baby safe.
A couple hours later, the pain had passed, and so had much of the bleeding, and I finally fell asleep.

This morning, I met up with a lovely younger couple and eagerly handed over the remainder of my IVF medication, as they were paying out of pocket.

In exchange, we were given a most generous present of yet more baby clothes, each one cuter than the last.

And the entire time I chatted with them, I could feel the pain returning.

I laid on the couch with the dog, wrapped up my bumpdate post, and Mark walked through the door.

I'm so glad you're home, I smiled at him.

I hit publish on the blog post, and was immediately flooded with texts of concern, at the mention of my cramping.

I'm ok, really. This stuff happens all the time. We're taking it easy....I responded.

I headed upstairs to lay down.

The cramping became extremely intense when I laid on my left side, like almost immediately.
It had this weird popping sensation.
I slowly rolled over to the other side but still couldn't get comfortable.

The next 20 minutes were spent rushing between the bathroom and my bed.
Every time I wiped, more blood, brighter blood.

Then a small clot.
Mark and I examined it.
It's small...I think that's just leftover because it's dark looking.
I agree.

Back and forth.
A few minutes later, I watched something much larger fall.

Oh my God....MARK!!!! Baby, I think it's the baby.
I plunged my hand into the toilet.....it was.
I went ghostly white.

Our beautiful baby.
No bigger than my thumb....sitting in the palm of my hand.

It was over.
My doctor was on call and I spoke with him about the miscarriage.
We wrapped him up and drove down the road to his office, where upon arrival, I passed the placenta.

Mark was a mess, puking and generally ill.
I stared off into the distance.

The doctor chatted with us for a bit then gave me an exam.
Luckily, no D&C is needed.

Everything was said and done, nearly as cleanly as possible, within the hour.

So, we are home.
I will be taking bereavement this week.
We need rest.

This year has been one big fuck-you, and this most definitely is the icing on the cake.
It's weird.....making life plans...and then having them stolen from you in a matter of minutes.
It's NOT. FUCKING. FAIR.

I know Mark and I will be fine.
I know we are strong together.
We know we could use a break....a different perspective.

Life will sure be different, knowing we will never be parents.
We poured our everything into making this happen...we have tried and failed to be parents for five years.
And now it's over.
We absolutely have no regrets.
But this chapter will be closing.

Life moves on, and we need to keep up.
We don't believe it's healthy to continue to make the sad times and struggle the norm.
We married each other, not for our parenting skills, but because we are soul mates.

And we will continue to love and honor each other.
Perhaps we'll travel more....maybe adopt more dogs.....maybe retire early.
Whatever it is...we'll do it together.

Thank you, for your continued support.
For your love and gifts and kind words, especially in the droves of IVF this year.
We were not expecting this....but we will get through it.

I may be a little social media shy in the near future, but know we are healing as the minutes pass.
Thank you for reading. XO

Bumpdate: 10 Weeks


How Far Along: 10 weeks, 3 days

Baby: Baby is the size of a strawberry, measuring 1.2 inches long. I have to rely on my Bump app to update his stats as I won't have another ultrasound for 2-3 months. :(

Cravings: Hungry for all things every 2 hours. I can't get Rolo's out of my head for some reason, so I caved and bought a bag when I refilled my Thyroid Rx at Walgreens. Totally hit the spot.

Symptoms:
- Constant, ravenous hunger every couple of hours. I get so annoyed that I feel like I have to constantly scavenge for food. If I'm hungry but was hoping for a nap, I need to eat first otherwise I will lay there staring at the ceiling, debating about what sounds good in the fridge.
I can then only eat a small amount and end up feeling queasy afterward for a couple hours.
Then the cycle repeats.

- Constipation has reared its ugly head, and I'm sure those fucking hemorrhoids aren't far behind.

- Ongoing intense, period-like cramps along with bleeding.
You guys, this one is completely freaking me out. I stopped injections last Tuesday and by Christmas Eve, I started getting these lower back aches and stomach cramps like my period was right around the corner. I noticed a consistent amount of brown blood as well.
It all came to a head last night.
The cramps became really intense and painful, and I noticed a good amount of bright red blood.
I was sure I was miscarrying.
I begged Mark to give me another progesterone injection hoping that would keep baby put and just prayed everything would be okay.
We debated going to the ER around 1am, but I know they don't have a magic potion to stop a miscarriage so I tried to get comfortable with my heating pad and just rest.
The pain did eventually subside, but it still comes and goes along with the bleeding depending on how much I walk around.

Mood: Trying to stay positive. Christmas was good to us and we already have a nice stock pile of baby clothes and blankets and goodies. We are so blessed to be at this point in the pregnancy and I am really trying to focus on our health and happiness moving forward.

Sleep: Besides my insane cold this past week, sleep has been good. There was only one night of major insomnia. As in, getting up at 2am for a bowl of cereal.

Weight Gain: I weighed in at 133 last Wednesday. WITH boots on after lunch.
So who knows...maybe it's a pound or two less. But that means I am down at least couple pounds since I went on exercise restriction back in October. No weight gain.

Fitness: Haven't made it to the gym yet. Maybe January?

This Week: Busy. I was sick for a good portion of the week and that didn't really help my mental state. I missed my exit interview with the Infertility Doctor. I guess I'm supposed to reschedule but who the F knows when that'll happen #insuranceisrunningoutsoon

Not being able to take any real medication turned me into a total wimp so I broke down and make a Doctor's appointment by Day 2, only to get there and realize I planned my insurance for this year solely on infertility and my normal doctor wasn't in network.

You know how I responded? I cried. In the lobby.
It's fine...they probably would have sent me home with the same info....take Tylenol.

I also had my first OB appointment and met my delivery doctor as well. He is super nice and I like his nurse. So at least that is off to a good start.

My injection schedule had me stopping on the 20th. But with all this cramping, it's making me incredibly nervous. If this pregnancy fails it will NOT be because I didn't keep my hormones in check, so we have decided to keep up with the shots every other day through the 12th week.

And of course, Christmas Eve and Christmas. How can I forget?
I loved getting presents for the baby. It's weird but it always felt so selfish to still be getting presents from my parents, as an adult. I'm glad the focus was off of us for a change.
He is very spoiled already!!
Mostly, we are happy to have survived 99% of this year and are looking forward to completely shutting down 2016 in less than a week! Good riddance!

That's a wrap for week 10!
Thanks for reading!! XO

Dec 23, 2016

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

...let your heart be light
...from now on, your troubles will be out of sight.



If there was ever a time I needed to really resonate with some Christmas music....this would be it.

I have repeated these phrases over and over and over...and they have yet to sink in.

This Christmas, as compared to years past, sits heavy on my heart.
Christmas is a time for joy and magic....but also brings on the nostalgia, good and bad.

And so it goes; a certain Christmas song may remind you of a loved one passed on.
The glow of the fire may send your mind into a tail-spin, reminding you of all the struggles in the past.
Sometimes finding the magic in the Holiday can drum up a lot of bad or sad memories too, and sometimes they win.

As hard as I am trying, and believe me, I am putting in full effort these days, I can't seem to shake the sads.

I have had this conversation, multiple times, with Mark, and the outcome is always the same.
I feel like I am repeating myself constantly because I want to be able to recognize depression and anxiety, should they creep up, but we are both on the same page.
It's not just me.

We both recognize how blessed we are to have a baby boy on the way.
Part of my internal guilt is recognizing that I may not be handling this pregnancy with any grace, knowing what most couples struggling with infertility would give to be in our shoes.

I struggle knowing that I have a strong, healthy baby growing inside me, and yet, I cannot shake the day-to-day struggle we are facing at the moment.

I am simply more sad about recent events that I am happy about my pregnancy.
And that statement alone makes me want to blubber into my pillow and nap until next year.

Now, I know this is just a season of life...this too shall pass...but it sure is a heavy one.
I am trying to allow myself to grieve as new obstacles enter my life, but some days it just seems overwhelming, like I will never get back on top and appreciate the good.

I am so very grateful that through all of the shit in 2016, Mark and I are closer than ever.
This was a very defining moment in our relationship...one of the hardest thus far.

If our relationship wasn't as strong as it is, who knows where we would be right now.

It's a hard pill to swallow, to recognize you may not be as strong in every scenario as you thought you were, and your only option is to fall to your spouse....to truly crumble in their arms because you can no longer move forward...and hope to God they will have the strength to pick up the pieces and push you forward.

That...is what makes a solid relationship.

Was this the hardest year we will ever face? Doubtful.

But it sure as hell has tested every ounce of my being, and I am weary trying to stay optimistic and go above and beyond.

Our rawest emotions have been laid on the table for each other to witness.
Something people may not be proud to show others, but we had to, for the sake of our marriage, and our sanity.

This year, we cried together, we worried together, we screamed together, we laughed together, and we cheered together.

We will be taking the time to enjoy the company of family this weekend, and find peace in the present.

I am so thankful that we are inching ever closer to being DONE with 2016.
I am so thankful that we have a few days away from the office, where I can spend time with loved ones...or do what I think I should be doing...sleeping.

There will be time to wrap presents, and lounge on the couch, and sip tea, and take baths (Hallelujah!)

And sometimes, a small gesture from a stranger makes all the difference in your mood and the fog of despair starts to lift a little...making you realize there is still a lot of good in the world, even if it is shadowed by darker days.

Still to come this year, a full recap of the ups and downs in my End of Year post, along with my 10 week Bumpdate.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
XO

Dec 19, 2016

Bumpdate: 9 Weeks


Still looks like I just ate a piece of pie and drank some coffee....which is a true fact.


How Far Along: 9 weeks, 3 days

Baby: Baby is the size of a cherry. He was an inch long at my last ultrasound (8w5d) and his strong heart was beating away at 187 bpm. You could see his little paddle-shaped arms and legs!

Cravings: Still waking up hungry. To be honest, I'm hungry constantly, but get full rather easily. Everyone that is around comments I am always eating, but I swear it's not a ton of food!!

Not craving anything specific, but I can't tell you how many times I see food commercials and wish I had whatever they were advertising.

Symptoms: I feel like my energy is back on track for the most part in the mornings. At the very least, I am waking up right at, or just before, my alarm, so I think that says something. Otherwise, I have had very minimal symptoms.

Mood: I have been kind of down with all the recent mis-haps in my life, still. Each day brings a new challenge, that isn't fun in the slightest and I feel guilty for wishing away the rest of this year.

Sleep: When I'm not up at night, nervous as all get out, about something going wrong (outside of the baby), I'm actually sleeping like a champ.

Weight Gain: My goal was to drag my ass to the gym this morning but I decided to get sick instead. Hopefully Tynenol should do the trick on this sinus infection <--- that was sarcasm.
Being pregnant and being sick in tandem is super fun.
Can't wait to see how being sick with a baby works out. Should be equally amusing.

Fitness: When I can breathe out of both nostrils at the same time and stop mouth breathing, I'll head into the gym. I'm glad I was able to get sick at the same time it was -12 outside this morning. #blessed.  I was super sore from starting to work out last week, but will attempt to workout 4x a week moving forward.

This Week: I had my last fertility clinic ultrasound and blood draw on Wednesday. They call the last day Graduation Day. I was sent home with a copy of all my paperwork and will be back one last time to meet with Dr. Jacobs and say Thank You. It's weird and maybe harsh, but I was so ready to be done with that place that I literally ran to my car, gripping the photo of my baby and his little paddle arms and laughing.

I just want to be a normal, pregnant lady, and I'm finally getting to do that.

The nurse also sent me my medication weaning schedule (yes, I'm still taking injections and pills and all that). I finished my last Endometrin suppository and Estradiol tablet on Saturday, and will be DONE with all IVF shots on Christmas Eve! Let the countdown begin!
And let me tell you, we are CELEBRATING that day! NO MORE SHOTS!!

Over the weekend, we hosted our Annual Christmas Party for my side of the family. With Crash passing the weekend prior, I considered cancelling, but changed my mind knowing that being alone isn't going to help anything. This party is the only time I get to see some of these people so I made sure to keep it going. And it was a blast and I don't regret it at all!

I'm still trying very hard to keep the Christmas spirit alive. Some days I feel like I'm just going through the motions, but seeing the ultrasound of our baby and seeing his arms and legs instead of just a little peanut blob started to make me realize this is all really real.
Does that make sense?

It's really starting to sink in and I am getting excited for the future, as long as I can continue to work towards being at peace with this past year. Plus, receiving a few cute baby gifts doesn't hurt either. :)

That's a wrap for week 9!
Thanks for reading!! XO

Dec 14, 2016

Post-Transfer Symptoms


This one is super late. Sorry. I meant to get to it sooner, but then all Hell broke loose in my personal life, and well....better late than never, amiright?

This one is for all my ttc-sisters and those in the trenches of the two-week-wait, wondering if that pulling feeling or if those sore boobs are a sign of a progressing pregnancy.

I guess I should also say that there really is no way to tell if it worked or not unless you pee on a test early. Progesterone symptoms mimic actual pregnancy symptoms so it's basically just a big crap shoot. But obviously that doesn't stop us from questioning every twinge.

Side note to non ttc people: You're going to see an acronym that reads something like "2dp5dt."
Let's break this down so it makes sense.

"5dt" stands for 5 day transfer.
In the IVF world, depending on how many days your embryo developed in its petri dish, that's the numbered day for your transfer.

Some IVF-ers have day 3 transfers because their doctors recommended it.

Some let their embryos develop to the crucial blastocyst stage (by day 5 or day 6) before they are put back into the woman.

It actually makes much more sense if doing a "fresh" cycle, meaning the embryos are not frozen prior to transfer. Those people would have their egg retrieval, let the embryo grow 3-5 days, then transfer the embryo(s) back into the woman's womb on the 3rd or 5th day.

In frozen cycles....it's sort of irrelevant. You are typically put on a calendar, and will likely start your progesterone injections six days prior to the transfer, but they still call it a 3 or 5 day transfer.

Just go with it.
Now for the good stuff:

Transfer Day: 0dp5dt
Transfer #1: 12:45pm transfer time. Slight cramping that evening
Transfer #2: 10:45am transfer time. Slight cramping that afternoon, sore boobs and headache

1dp5dt
#1: Slight cramping. Tired.
#2: Slight cramping. Sore boobs. Headache. Tired.

2dp5dt
#1: Nothing
#2: Sore boobs. Headache. Tired

3dp5dt
#1: Nothing
#2: Sore boobs. Headache. Runny nose. Dizzy like I haven't eaten enough.

4dp5dt
#1: Nothing
#2: Sore boobs, Headache. Runny nose. Dizzy like I haven't eaten enough.

5dp5dt
#1: Wave of intense cramps like my period is about to start. Sore boobs.
#2: Minimal, quick zings of a cramping sensation up the middle of my stomach. Sore boobs. Dizzy in am.

6dp5dt:
#1: More waves of intense cramps in the am. Sore boobs.
#2: very mild, dull, ongoing cramping or pressure sensation for most of day. Boobs are less sore. Dizzy in am.

7dp5dt:
#1: More waves of intense cramps in the am. Sore boobs.
#2: a couple hours in the evening of dull, mild lower back and lower stomach cramping/pressure sensation. No more sore boobs.

8dp5dt:
#1: About an hour of intense cramps. Then nothing.
#2: Symptoms have all subsided except very minimal lower stomach pressure for the entire day. This sometimes changes to a localized pulsing sensation just under and to the right of my belly button.

Boobs are sore on the insides, but only to the touch....and maybe they just hurt because I keep poking them. :)

9dp5dt:
#1: Nothing. Symptoms have gone away.
#2: Woke up feeling lethargic, as if I am getting a cold. Stuffy nose and tired. Mild lower stomach and back pressure continue.

10dp5dt:
#1: Nothing
#2: Firey, throbbing sensation in my boobs, woke up to them much fuller and sore again. Mild lower stomach and back pressure continue

11dp5dt:
#1: Negative Beta
#2: Beta for this one was pushed one day because it fell on a Sunday, adding one more day to the torture. Sore boobs and stomach pressure continue.

12dp5dt:
#2: Woke up with minimal symptoms. Boobs are fuller but not hurting. Today is beta day.
Positive result at 435!! Slight nausea and insomnia begin.

And finally, things I did differently, or that were adjusted between the transfers:

Transfer #1: All meds were managed well, PIO shots were in the evenings, drank POM juice for about a week prior to transfer and a couple days after

Transfer #2: Completed an endo scratch, PIO shots were moved to am (doctors orders), drank POM juice from Transfer day plus five days. Took it a lot easier in terms of stress and movement.

Things of note with #2:

- I kept forgetting to take my daily vitamins/supplements.
Actually, I would forget things often....like I would walk into a room and totally forget why I was there, or I would forget that I sent an email out at work.
I do this sometimes in normal life, like put the cereal in the fridge....but this round even Mark mentioned how spacey I was.

- My Minivelle patches started giving me incredibly red, itchy welts this round, and I would realize I was itching them and they would fall off early. That happened a couple times.

- Mark administered my PIO shots in the wrong area for about a week before I reminded him about the upper-outer quadrant of the bum. I didn't realize he was so off until one of the shots literally felt like it went in my asshole. Yea...super fun.

- Most nights I would have very vivid dreams, need to get up and pee, and/or have night sweats. I can't remember how often, if at all, this happened with #1, so I didn't add it for the comparison.

Since my first beta, symptoms have been minimal but ongoing.
Sometimes it's a bit of nausea, sometimes I have vivid dreams, sometimes I have pressure in my stomach, sometimes my boobs hurt...but so far nothing overwhelming.

So that's a wrap! I suppose the take-away from this....is symptoms mean nothing, really.
You can have a ton and be negative.
Or you can have none and be positive.

Thanks so much for reading! XO

Dec 12, 2016

Bumpdate: 8 Weeks


Welcome to my weekly Bumpdates!

I will share all the weekly details on growth, cravings, symptoms...the usual, but I would also like to make these updates about life in general as we go along, so at the bottom you'll see what we've been up to outside of the pregnancy.

How Far Along: 8 weeks, 3 days

Cravings: Not necessarily craving anything, but am waking up starving these days so I usually have a bowl a cereal as my first breakfast, followed by another breakfast around 9am. The photo above is actually right after a bowl of cereal, so I'm pretty sure what little bump is there is just food.

I am still eating my normal variety of foods. Around 5 weeks I had an aversion to mayo, but otherwise I will typically eat the normal stuff. The only thing that has changed is when I get hungry, I need to eat...NOW. Sometimes I can brush it off, especially when I have been stressed, but a lot of times I literally have to stop what I'm doing and make food.

Symptoms: My symptoms are not constant. Every few days I will have a wave of all-day nausea, or some mild cramping, but nothing major. I have had a stuffy nose but its hard to tell if it's the cold weather, or an actual symptom. My boobs were sore, but while they are still fuller, they don't hurt anymore.

Mood: I can get super angry or bust out crying pretty easily, so I have tried to combat that with Christmas music and not trying to do-it-all these days. Stressed and tired are not going to help anything.

Sleep: Sleep has been good, nothing to complain about. I started getting a stuffy nose, so at the recommendation of a fellow preggo, I bought some essential oils and a cute diffuser. The combo of Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Lavender seem to conk me right out at night.

Weight Gain: I actually have no idea what I weigh. As of Halloween, a couple days before my transfer, I was holding steady at 135. However, I have been on exercise restriction since then. I would assume I would likely weigh the same, or even less at this point, due to lack of exercise. I'm not really eating much more so I doubt I've put on anything.

Fitness: I tried to start walking in the mornings last week, but with everything going on with our pup Crash, it was tough just to get out of bed in the morning, to be honest. I was overly tired, and kept thinking it was pregnancy related, which it very well may have been.
I started working out this morning, some body-weight plyometrics, squats, push-ups, in my home.
The plan is to switch up between this and walking on the treadmill through the end of my first trimester, and see how it goes after that.

This Week: Well, we all know Mark and I had one of the shittiest weeks of our lives. Having to put down a beloved pet is never, ever easy. I can still cry at the drop of a hat if I think about it too much. Whenever there are "firsts," I tend to get choked up. Such as, the first time I walk downstairs and he's not there, or the first shower where he isn't sleeping on the rug, or the first time I walk into the kitchen and his crate isn't there, etc. I know it was his time and we did the right thing based on how sick he was, but it still left a huge hole in our life that will take a while to get adjusted to.

On top of all the issues with Crash, I had a pregnancy scare Friday morning that made me realize I am clearly not putting the right priority on things. I started bleeding and had mild cramping so I rushed to the fertility clinic for an ultrasound.

It's funny how life works out. I waited around for almost an hour to be seen, and while I had told Mark not to rush over, he did anyways, showing up minutes before I was escorted back.

He had mentioned that he was at Menards and had talked with our Vet, but I just brushed it off while I prayed our baby was okay.

In the ultrasound room, we could clearly see our beautiful baby, heart rapidly beating away at 181 bpm, measuring about 3/4" long. Tears streamed down my eyes. THIS is my future, and I need to start making it a priority, instead of brushing off that everything will just be okay and I can go about my normal life like I'm not pregnant. I am and it's affecting every aspect, good and bad, and I need to get on board with it.

Mark told me afterward, that the vet outlined their options for putting a pet down. We were allowed to take him home with us afterward, which is exactly what I had hoped for if we had to make the choice to put him down ourselves. I was nervous about cremation and didn't feel it would do our little guy justice. Once Mark got the information, he found a perfect little white kitchen cabinet that we used as his casket. We lined it with his bed and toys, and he will rest peacefully in our back yard, exactly how it should be.

On a more positive note, I have been receiving a few shipments both maternity and baby related that have made me more than happy. I purchased two inset panel jeggings from the Gap and some baby clothes and I just get giddy looking at everything. I may or may not have already worn one of the pairs of maternity jeggings and I'm pretty sure they are my new favorite thing. :)

And finally, in an attempt to stay festive and keep my mind busy, I baked a whole slew of sugar cookies. The two recipes I used were these sprinkle cookies and these cut-out sugar cookies with royal icing. I may have made one too many but I'm sure they will all be eaten soon enough.

That's a wrap for week 8!
Thanks for reading!! XO

Dec 8, 2016

A Tough Week


Crash is sick.
And I feel like I'm right at the breaking point most days with my emotions and my sanity.

Don't get me wrong, life isn't all gloom and doom, although I think Mark and I both agree 2016 has tested us in ways we had not anticipated.

I am still finding joy among the pain, and still laugh and smile each day, even if brief.

For weeks, I watched Crash throw up frothy-vomit after most meals and after big gulps of water.
I observed when he started showing less interest in his food.
Odd, I thought, since he was still full of a TON of energy, often running from room to room, playing his version of "fetch" (which really meant he would scoop up a tennis ball with his snaggle tooth, and bolt out of my reach, never really giving up the ball again).

So I switched his food, thinking maybe he just simply grew tired of what he was being fed for years.

Then I got the best news that our transfer worked and I was pregnant!

Crash started lapping up water at an alarming rate, and not being able to hold his pee through the night anymore.

He continued to throw up as well.
Our new morning normal turned into whoever got up first would clean up a pile of pee and a pile of puke.

I prepped my morning progesterone shot and would shuffle into work with messy hair and a lot of concealer, trying to fake that I didn't have worry or sadness.

It always seems like there isn't enough time in the morning, no matter how early I get up.

So we took him to the vet.
He had a UTI, which was sort of odd because he is male, but we were given two weeks of antibiotics and sent on our way.

And the dramatic need for water and overnight peeing stopped.

Victory!

Pregnancy symptoms started to rear their ugly head, and my nausea and intense, immediate hunger creeped in, but sometimes it was pushed to the wayside so I could re-focus on Crash.

But then he stopped eating.
And grew weary and weak.
And the constant drooling started.

A side effect of the pills?
Maybe.

He was tense and angry and it made me nervous.
Nervous for our future. I have always been nervous about him and his biting, especially around kids.
We have always had to watch our step around him; move too fast and you could easily become a victim of those teeth.

But I love him to death, so no worries, I'll just make sure I accommodate his failing eye sight and tense nature.

I went to pull him to me one evening, and must have squeezed his side a tad too hard, because he launched at me like I was trying to fight him.
Luckily I knocked him away and had enough time to hop over the baby gate, narrowly escaping his immediate attack. Something I'm all too familiar with, but you don't give up on loved ones.

A quick blip in the evening, and it was business as usual mere minutes after the incident.
He tends to forget as quickly as it takes to get him angry.

That night I held my stomach, fearing I may have moved too quickly and would cause a miscarriage.
That was the first time I worried about the babe, but all was well.

I tire more quickly these early days of my first trimester. It has taken me much longer to do simple things like decorate for Christmas.
All the while Crash slept next to the boxes of decorations.

Still in an eating lull; Monday morning we scheduled a vet visit.
They re-tested his urine and blood.
And the results came back completely normal.

Crash puked again Monday night while we slept.
The first time we saw blood.

I panicked and made another appointment Tuesday afternoon for an x-ray.

Through it all I was able to smile while we waited, watching Mark squirm because we had to sit longer than 10 minutes. He kept asking me to go grab him candy from the front desk.

The results were worrying. They showed an extremely bloated stomach and enlarged heart.

We were shipped off to the ER for an ultrasound, and after several grueling hours, an attempt at a biopsy, and many tears later, we were given a "sort of" result:

Crash likely has lymphoma in his lower stomach and intestines.

There is an intense thickening in the walls of the affected area, likely causing the gas build-up and nauseous feeling.

They couldn't be sure without more invasive testing; including a scope and more internal biopsies.

But the writing was already on the wall.
The doctor gave it to us in black and white, and we stared at him blankly while he spelled out our options.

We were sent home with a bunch of meds and an impossible schedule to keep.
Much less intense than the cat's recovery schedule, but more impossible since Crash is so stubborn.
It is difficult enough to get Crash to take one cheese-wrapped pill a day, much less 4+ and one that requires a syringe.

I laughed far too loud and hysterically when they told us it would be over $500 for an ultrasound and four antibiotics.
Thinking....I have literally had seven dozen ultrasounds this year, all costing less than this.
They had us by the balls.
I surrendered my credit card.

Merry Christmas, I said, looking at Mark.

And if the medication didn't take down the inflammation?

Game over.

It's cancer 100% and we need to deal.
Once diagnosed, survival with lymphoma ranges from one week to six months.

The next day I had my weekly baby scan and lab-work.
And I ugly-cried all morning and all the way to the appointment thinking about Crash's fate.

Our baby is growing right on track at 7 weeks, 5 days, measuring .6" long with a heart rate of 168.
One more week and I graduate from the fertility clinic.
I smiled looking at the photo of our lil' man. He looks like a tadpole right now.

And then cried again knowing the likelihood of Crash and this baby ever meeting were slim.

I stopped by the grocery on my way home, and bought everything I could think of that Crash may eat. Doctor's orders to feed him anything he will stomach.

At my front door were two deliveries: our Christmas cards and a bag from the Gap...my maternity jeggings. Two things that brought another moment of joy in the day.

I rushed inside to check out our cards, laughing at how ridiculous they are.

Back to Crash. I shoved two pills into his mouth, narrowly missing those teeth, and started furiously opening cans and containers of food.

Vienna sausages....tempting to smell, but not eat. Next.
Apple sauce....nope. Next.
Cheerios...hell to the no. Next.
Baby food mac n' cheese.....maybe...maybe....he ate a little.

I'll take it!
I scooped the rest of the container into a bowl and he took one sniff and walked away.

Fuck.

Burn is whining because Crash is getting all the fun food and he's not.
The cat comes sauntering in and starts eating the open containers.
I shoo him away but not before Burn barks ferociously at the cat.

I slide the non-eaten food to Burn and he gobbles it up without chewing.

Carrying Crash under my arm, and laptop in the other, we settle in for the afternoon to finish working.
He snores loudly the entire time.
I can barely focus.
In between work, I am frantically googling everything possible, from cancer symptoms and recovery, to side effects of the pills he was just on, etc.

That evening, I made dinner for Mark and myself, and Crash got one whiff of the food and perked up.
Oh! Maybe he'll eat!
I gave him a plate and he laid down next to it and fell asleep.
Shit.


After putting everyone to bed and cleaning up, I walked out of the laundry room to the sound of him gulping down his bowl of food.

I stopped, dead in my tracks, holding my breathe, for fear I may startle him and he'd stop eating.
Mark was at the sink, doing the exact same thing.

We waited for 20 minutes.
And he cleaned his plate.

I scooped out seconds, and he gobbled it down too.
I left thirds, hoping he might come back at some point in the night.

Mark and I looked at each with blood-shot eyes, smiled so big, and high-fived so hard I thought my hand was bleeding.

We went to bed satisfied for the night.

The next morning was a complete 180.
He fought me on his pill.
He wouldn't eat.
I left him seven different food options, put down his pee pad, squeezed him and told him I loved him, and finally left for work with bags under my eyes from crying, and messy, half-wet hair.

I am so, so friggin' tired, but am trudging on.

Mark and I had a very serious conversation about where we stand with everything.
There is no denying Crash has cancer.
Dogs that won't eat are at the end of their lifeline and cancer is to blame most of the time.

It seems silly to even bother with additional testing. I don't feel it's right for him to be hooked up to machines and put under and cut and poked and prodded, just so the doctor's can hopefully confirm he does have cancer.
I don't get the logic between knowing a bit more, and knowing what we already know.

We both agree he will be kept comfortable, in our home, in our shelter, in our protection.

A french bulldog's life expectancy is 10 years, and in one month, Crash will be 11.
He has had the best possible life a dog could have. We have given him the best shelter, the best food, the most love, and the best care possible. I have bent over backwards for his happiness in the past, and will continue to do so until his last breathe.

And he has walked away from many, many hurdles in his life.

Surviving his first car accident, the day we brought him home.
A mis-diagnosed kidney failure.
Facial paralysis.
Double staph ear infection.
Lock jaw (3 times)
Multiple dog fights with outside dogs (usually provoked by him, one was not, and the other dog didn't fair well)
Being hit by a car
Falling into a pool....twice.
Two hematomas in his ear.

And the list goes on. He has always bounced back, always been our little fighter.

But I know.
I can see it in his eyes.....he is tired.
He doesn't want to fight anymore.

I'm hoping when Mark gets home, he'll tell me Crash ate all his food (with the hidden pill) and he is perky. I want comfort for him. I want no pain.

I want my normal back.

The worst part of all of this is the waiting....knowing the end is sooner than later.
I wake up every morning and tip-toe towards Crash's bed, listening for snoring, hoping I hear it.

Crash has been in my life for as long as Mark has, and it breaks my heart to think that I won't be able to hear his insanely loud snoring, or smell those rancid farts, or have my little shadow following me all over the house, especially to the bathroom, or those silly repetitive sneezes that make his whole face twist up, or those wide smiles that make him look like a little clown, or those funny bunny hops as he chases after a toy, or the sound of him licking his paws, or how he sniffs the cat too closely and then sneezes in his face, or how he would rather sit in the sunlight, preferably with his head just over the edge of the pool, or sleep on the driveway while we play croquet, or sit on the edge of my toes when he wants to be pet, or bite any and all tires that move, or tuck his face into Mark's thigh when he sleeps on the couch......for very much longer.

Alright, this post has been sad enough.
The end isn't here yet, and I am trying my best to keep his interests at the forefront, give him the attention, and still focus on myself and cooking this babe.

Mark and I have been through a lot of shit this year, and I thank my lucky stars every day that IVF worked and we have something to grateful for this year, otherwise, I may not be so positive about it.

2016 has been a mother-fucker.
Thank you for your continued love and support.
I'm hopeful to update with good news in the future.
XO

Dec 7, 2016

Our Final Transfer. Lucky Embryo #3


Can I just preface this by saying how DIFFICULT it was not wanting to spill all of the beans last month!?

I mean, you guys know I am basically an open book, but at the same time, Mark and I were almost giddy with excitement knowing that just the two of us had this tiny little secret.

It set the table for far less pressure to announce.
I could take my time with different ideas, instead of a quick text or phone call.
I was hoping for something a bit more personal.

However, it sort of did nothing about the whole stalling thing.
After going through one round with a transfer, people sort of knew when to start asking questions...when is your transfer date?, etc.

So, I dodged every bullet I could....oh, I'm not responding as well as they had hoped....or.....oh, the Holidays are extending our timeline a bit because there aren't normal hours....or....I'm on a different protocol this time, so it's longer.

Secrets and lies, folks. Secrets and lies.

I DID have a different protocol the second round, but mainly due to time constraints.
When our first transfer results came in at the end of September, it was too late to jump on the mid-October transfer cycle, so the next available opening was early November.

Exactly 37 days after our failure, we transferred our last babe.

I will never forget this day, because HELLO, it actually worked, but more significantly for every other Chicagoan....the Cubs won the World Series that evening.

And here I was thinking all those fireworks were for lil' ole' me. :)

November 2nd wasn't without it's share of crazy, though.
If you Midwestern-ers don't really remember, it rained that day.
Really, really hard, in fact. (that's what she said)

And because I was in my super zen mode that morning, I failed to plan accordingly to accommodate
a slower commute due to the weather.

Because guys, I really really needed to eat my biscuits and jelly before I hopped in the shower.
#priorities

We were scheduled to arrive at the Highland Park center at 10:45am.

And instead of leaving with 45 minutes to arrive at the facility, for a normal, perfect-weather commute.....we left at roughly 10:15am...in the pouring rain.

I made sure to pack my jug of water and valium, and left wearing a hoodie, yoga pants, and didn't give a second thought to make-up or hair.

Mark came downstairs looking like some freakin' baller from a rap video.
Why do you have all that jewelry on?

It's all my lucky stuff.
We need luck.

Good thinking...I said, and ran upstairs to put on a few lucky items of my own.
I also tucked into my purse, a flying pig figurine given by my mom as a gift a few years back.
And haven't taken it out since.


The entire ride I kept getting more and more nervous.
I told Mark I should email our nurse, so they don't worry, but he kept telling me we would look irresponsible if I did, and that we'd only be 5 minutes late anyways.

Wrong.

At 10:50am I got a call from the facility.....um hi Tia...just want to make sure you are still planning to arrive for transfer?

I went into complete freak out mode...semi-lamaze-breathing through my spiel.

OMG...YES....I'M SO SORRY, I DIDN'T PLAN WELL AND MY HUSBAND TOLD ME NOT TO CALL AND WE ARE SO CLOSE AND I WILL RUN INSIDE AND PLEASE DON'T BUMP US.

She said ok and hung up.

SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. SHIT.

At this point I'm basically telling Mark he needs to start going around people and blowing red lights.....only to end up behind the BIGGEST semi-truck in the entire world, that couldn't easily take right-hand turns.

AWESOME.

We finally get the the center at 10:57...Mark doesn't even come to a complete stop as I literally roll out of the car and waddle into the building.

I am frantically punching the elevator buttons... downdowndowndown...openopenopenopen....closeclosecloseclose.

Finally busted through the doors of the center.
No one else is in the waiting room.

Shit...we were last.

I sign in, still apologizing like a mad-woman.
They slap on my wrist band, immediately call me back, dump me in the room and tell me start getting dressed in my paper gown.

I stop, pop my Valium, and finish getting assembled when Mark walks in, leaving the door WIDE OPEN with my BARE ASS exposed to these poor victims.

Who knew we were on such a tight timeline?
Within minutes, we had finished our paperwork, signed over the disposal of our abnormal embryos, and were being escorted back to the transfer room.

The transfer, again, went perfectly.
I shed zero tears this time, and instead, just tried to calm my fucking breathing and focus on the moment.

Our little embryo, in my eyes, resembled a tiny Slimer...so that's what I called him for the remaining of the two week wait, as I would often talk to my stomach.

He was lucky #3. In our second egg retrieval, of the seven eggs retrieved, he was the third one counted. That's how our facility gave him that number.



Side note: After getting the second retrieval results that one had made it biopsy, (this embryo was the first one we collected), I distinctly remember coming home from work and kind of jokingly telling Mark...."wouldn't it be hilarious if this is the one that worked!? If only we had a crystal ball to tell us we didn't need to do anymore rounds of IVF."

Hilarious indeed.

We were literally in and out of the center in 12 minutes.
I was high as a kite at this point, and we headed home....in complete sunshine.

I spent the rest of the day sleeping and being a total couch potato...all the way through the Cubs win!

All this to say....it's okay if your transfer doesn't go as smooth as silk. Sometimes a bit of chaos can bring good luck!

Stay tuned for my symptoms tracking during the two weeks between transfer and beta!
Thanks for reading and all your well wishes! We are still so beyond excited!

XO

Dec 5, 2016

The Days Before Transfer


It wasn't until after I had closed the chapter with my first transfer, that I realized just how incredibly stressed out I was leading up to it.

I mean, I knew I was busy, angry, sad, overwhelmed, anxious, nervous, excited, and stressed, obviously, but I guess I never really stopped to think I might be in over my head.

I was trying to step in as a therapist and a savior to my parents.
Our cat was not eating properly after months of rehabilitation.
Our dog's ear was swelled beyond comprehension.
Our other dog had a weird sty and yeasty skin problems.
Mark's work was at a lull.
My work was overwhelming.
Our credit card debt was still through the roof.
My genetic claim was still pending, after months of checking and begging and pleading and submitting more and more rounds of paperwork.

And all of this caused me so much friggin' stress!

And as hard as it was at the time, I decided to step away.
Focus on the stuff I could improve within our home and move forward with less of a crowd.

I love my parents and my family to death, but I cannot take away their pain, I cannot fix them, and I sure as hell can't save relationships, marriages (other than my own), trust, faith....you name it.
I am not a miracle worker.

So I stepped away.
I stopped most communication and made no plans.

And I cried making that decision.

But it was probably one of the best, in the sea of stress, to take away.

Our pets?
Well...they are always a work in progress.
We tested new foods, new grooming techniques, and after many vet visits, settled into a not-quite-perfect-yet-better routine.

Work?
Well....you can't really stop that kind of stress. I mean, we signed up for it.
But again...with no major decisions on the line, I allowed myself to let my always tight-deadlines...slip a little.

No harm, no foul.

On Halloween, we paid off our credit card.
In full.

And on the same day, we were gut-punched with the finalization of our genetic testing claim.

Denied.
In full.

And to all this I said....OH. WELL.

I just let the fuck go of all of the things in my life that made me hesitate.
I let it all go.
Doing the bare minimum may have been a far cry from the go-getter I typically am, but whatever.
Seriously. Whatever.

It set me up with some amazing coping techniques that I was able to utilize over the course of the dreaded two-week wait as I waited for confirmation that I was, in fact, a mom.

And at this point, all of this.....stuff....that lead up to that voicemail, and that moment, was just that.
Stuff.
Pointless banter, frivolous worrying, endless annoyances.
Just stuff.

Stuff that got in the way of the real goal.
To finally become a mom.
And become a mom I shall.

Stay tuned for the details about our final transfer!
XO

Dec 2, 2016

Choosing Joy in December


Happy Friday, loves!
December is a month to count your blessings, find the joy in loved ones around you, and live simply with a grateful heart.

But, I am realizing these days I am becoming really sensitive to negativity.
I am fully aware this is completely pregnancy related, so bear with me.



Instead of the sassy exterior I have built up from years of hustling in Chicago, I am turning into a big ole ball of mush.

And I don't like it.

I AM trying to give myself a break because I realize crying isn't my normal go-to.
It's usually just a bunch of side-eye. :)

I am just so sick of all the extreme emotions, hateful words, and violence these days.

People are quick to fly off the handle at anything that may rub them the wrong way, even if it wasn't directed at them in the first place.

I have witnessed first-hand how quickly someone will shut you out of their life if your lives and beliefs are not completely aligned.

Well guess what?


Instead of taking a step back to breathe, and realize that we are all human, with human error, and subtle, different opinions, people are completely lashing out at others simply because they have become offended from one statement that THEY took out of context.

Perhaps....shockingly, one statement on social media may not actually define a person, or a community, as a whole, but instead, may simply offer a glimpse into one perspective of many, many opinions.

What works for one person, shockingly, may not work for another.
Maybe it's okay to accept that we are all built a little differently.

Instead, people are completely dismissing each other and turning into raving lunatics.

Wouldn't it just be easier to move along and brush off the indifference?

Freedom of speech is an amazing right we have been given as Americans.
But having that power and knowing when to use it is shows maturity.

It's literally the difference between a superior, well-mannered adult, and a person with immature, child-like qualities.

Having the capacity to understand that human nature, human opinions, and human mistakes, are not black and white, and are instead varying shades of gray, is what makes for a rational, functional person in society.

We all have struggles and triumphs that differ from other people.
We all have different successes.
We all have different failures.
We all have different opinions. Gasp!
We are all (hopefully) trying to make the best life for ourselves, and doing it in the way that best suits us, and our families.

The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence, so stop comparing.
Nobody owes anyone anything.
You work hard to reap the rewards that may find you, but sometimes those rewards don't come right away, if ever.

That's a hard pill to swallow.
But that's life.
You get up when it knocks you down, and brush that fucking chip off your shoulder.

Me, personally?
I try to stay neutral for the most part.
I simply don't want the drama.
I find it a waste of time to try and argue with someone that obviously won't bother hearing an opposing opinion.
OF COURSE I have opinions and beliefs about a lot of things, but in my little social media world, I get to choose what I write about, and what gets spattered in the comments.

I don't have to keep shitty, passive-aggressive comments on my site if it stresses me out and triggers others to lash out as well.
Just like a town doesn't have to keep graffiti on the wall of a building just because the "artist" had an opinion about something and felt compelled to write it.

So what can I do?
I can't move mountains, and to be honest, I don't want to.
I don't want to change others opinions, or rally around the in-justification.
It's not my burden to bear.

Instead....I can move forward with my life.

Bring the happy back to the Holidays.
Turn on the Christmas radio station.
Tune out the crazy people.
Thank God for the huge blessing I have been given to become a mom.
Decorate our home for Christmas.
Sip hot chocolate by the fire.

Appreciate that I have a wonderful husband, three healthy and happy pets, a warm house, a paycheck to put food on the table, buy gifts for loved ones, and even save a bit for the lil' man brewing inside me.

I can remember we have loyal friends and family...our tribe...that rallies around us, and us around them, through the good and the bad.

The good.
That is what cancels out hate.
I hope you can find ways to keep the joy in the Holidays as well.

Thank you for reading and stay warm this weekend. XO

Nov 30, 2016

And then I exhaled

YOU GUYS!
Thank you so, so much for your kind words over the past week!
I love the excitement surrounding our big, super awesome news!
I can't believe how many hundreds, upon hundreds of people reached out in celebration!
We are DEFINITLY feeling the love around here!!

I think most everyone is in the know at this point, but if you're not, CATCH UP SILLY!
Because I'm fucking pregnant!

Anyways....so I think when normal people get knocked up, they tend to go into super-planning mode.

I mean, don't get me wrong...I have basically already set a date for my baby shower, but all the other stuff?

Daycare, labor, hospital tour, birth plans, baby names, maternity leave, whether or not I will actually ever make it to the gym again, when exactly I will stop eating popcorn for every meal, etc
....I just haven't given it any thought.

I actually don't think of much right now.
Mark is thrilled.

I have literally been pregnant for a hot second....even though we have clearly been trying for years.

You would think I should already have all this stuff figured out.

But I totally don't.

After spending SO. MUCH. TIME. trying to figure out exactly why we couldn't get pregnant in the first place, and trying to figure out how to make it happen, most specifically, this last year....
I am spent.

The second we got that voicemail that said we were VERY, VERY PREGNANT...I totally lost my ever-loving shit....and then this wave of calm washed over me.

My inner dialogue was all....duh, this is exactly how it was supposed to be. I don't know why you freaked out this whole year.

Every minute of every day since IVF became a really real thing, I was stressing out about all the little details: medication schedules and appointments and insurance coordination and statistics and phone calls and waiting, waiting, waiting........and it all came down to this ONE. PHONE CALL.

And then it was over.

I wasn't stressed anymore.
I wasn't freaking out about the next appointment.
I wasn't concerned about the next beta number.

It's weird to say that....but I'm just not. I'm not doubting myself anymore.

It worked! I'm so happy.

But I'm absolutely not beaming like I thought I would be.
At least....not all the time.

I go about my day, and when I notice another lovely symptom pop up...I definitely take note, but I'm not tracking or googling anything.

I'm just...living.

And it's pretty nice.

To be honest....I think we are both in shock that it actually worked.

After barely sliding by most days with positive-ish news, the fact that there is a wee bebe pea IN MY STOMACH....AT THIS VERY MOMENT...is kind of crazy.

Like...I am REALLY going to evacuate a baby out of my hoo-ha in 9 months.
We are REALLY going to be parents.
Life is REALLY going to change.

And while we are both clearly handling these realities in different ways, I have made a conscious effort to try and stay calm, remain in the present, and stop obsessing over the big picture right now.

It's just too much.

Any additional, un-necessary stress isn't going to help anything at this point.
This baby is coming no matter what!

My lofty goals these days are to keep cooking the baby, not pass out in my chair at work from exhaustion, and try and find a good contour that hides the fat face I'm slowly getting already.

Also sleeping well....that's HUGE at the moment. I used to make fun of Mark constantly for getting up in the middle of the night to pee....and karma has slapped me across the face with that one because I now get up at least twice.

If you have any suggestions or input about those massive preggo body pillows...I'm all ears.
Do I get one? Are they worth it? Should I just steal my husband's pillows?

Ok...this post has been random enough.
Up next....details about the days leading up to transfer!!

Thank you again for all the LOVE!! XO

Nov 28, 2016

I. AM. PREGNANT !!!!!

We have been keeping the BIGGEST SECRET OF ALL TIME!


I can't believe I FINALLY get to write this blog post!

After nearly FIVE. LONG. YEARS. of battling the unknowns of infertility, genetic testing, and our sanity, to see if I could actually become pregnant, we have our answer.

And that answer is YES. YES! YES! YES!

YOU GUYS.... I AM REALLY, REALLY PREGNANT!!!!

And the best part, since we did genetic testing, we know the gender.

IT'S A BOY!!!

We quietly set the wheels in motion for our final transfer in early November.

We transferred our final embryo, Lucky #3, on November 2nd.

We have been waiting for this moment since October 2012.

1,503 total days.
A 1 in 289,000,000 chance of us both being genetic carriers of MCAD.
Over $125,000 in (covered) medical claims.
$13,000 in out of pocket expenses.
18 arguments with the insurance about said medical claims.
217 injections.
200+ estrogen patches
90+ birth control or Estrace pills.
60 early morning monitoring appointments.
60 blood draws.
54 pieces of paperwork: authorizations, consents, and signatures.
3 rounds of IVF egg retrievals.
29 total eggs retrieved.
Of which 5 made it to Day-5 Blasts.
Of which 2 were genetically normal.
2 frozen transfers.
1 failure.
AND ONE SUCCESS!!!!


On Monday, November 14th, at 12dp5dt, my first blood beta result was positive at 435.
(The number should be within 100-550 on this day)

On Wednesday, November 16th, at 14dp5dt, my second beta result was 1,119!
(This number should at least double in 48 hours)



We had our first ultrasound the Wednesday before Thanksgiving that showed our beautiful itty bitty baby with a strong heartbeat.

He was measuring right on track at 5weeks and 5days.
Heart rate was 99bpm.

It was amazing to see the tiny flicker!
The tech was amazed to see the heart beating this early...our little guy is very strong!

I took my first BLAZING POSITIVE pregnancy test the afternoon of my positive beta, on an expired pregnancy test, at a dear friend's house.

Those two beautiful pink lines appeared before the urine had reached the other side of the window!!

We shared the news over Thanksgiving with family and friends!


I need to give a huge shout-out to JLaw Creations for priority shipping the cutest announcement t-shirt of all time! Seriously, check out her Etsy shop! So many adorable options!

The shirt reads "New Little Turkey on the Way."
I went with a size Medium slouchy t-shirt in case you're wondering.

It's happening.
It's REALLY happening!

I am currently just past 6 weeks pregnant and due late July!
We have a slew of milestones to get through in the coming months and we will face them head-on as they arrive.

I AM GOING TO BE A MOM!!!!

I have so many posts ready to go in the coming weeks to get everyone caught up on the details we have been keeping secret.

I am also going to start doing weekly "bumpdates" soon.
I always loved reading the week to week progress with other bloggers, and now I am finally getting my chance!

So WATCH OUT everybody.
This boy mom is going to be large and in charge soon enough!

WE'RE GOING TO BE PARENTS! GAAAHHHH!!!

Thank you all for your kind words of support this last year as we battled infertility head-on.
This one has a happy ending, and I could not be more ecstatic!!

WE BEAT INFERTILITY!!
XO

Nov 2, 2016

Halloween Recap

I know, I know, Halloween has come and gone and I didn't talk about it ONCE.
What's up with that?

Well, here's my recap.


Halloween is hands down my favorite Holiday.

It's when Mark and I met, which puts the icing on the cake.

I love to go to haunted houses and look around at all the detail and gore and spooky that goes into freaking people out.

I love dressing up in costume...although Mark would prefer I wear stuff that's more sexy, I would rather look much scary...think Walking Dead-style.

We have a few haunted traditions each year.

I'll be honest, I was happy that I wasn't pregnant for Halloween, and I likely never will be.
Costumes and drinking are pretty much my favorite things of all time.
#noshameinmygame

Each year, we always visit at least one haunted house.
This year we went with friends to the House of Torment, but not before downing some beers at a local dive bar.

Then there's the pizza joint down the road from our house. It has a really old basement that they completely over-decorate for the holidays...and Halloween is no exception.

Pretend you grandma, who is hard of seeing, and has a certain knack for piling on the decorations, owned a bar and did it up to her liking....that is exactly what this place looks like.

While we never visit over the summer, you can guarantee we will be seated among the decorations at least a few times over the winter....it's not like there is much else to do!

Right now, I have no reason to bust out of work early to take my own brood door-to-door on this festive day, but it doesn't stop us from decorating our golf cart and taking it for a spin.


We don't get any trick-or-treaters to our home so we bring the candy to them!!

And let's not forget the movies.
Each weekend, I tried to fit in at least one.

Hocus Pocus, The Great Pumpkin, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ghostbusters (the original), Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, etc.

Call me a dork but I really like the cartoon ones (and Tim Burton, apparently!)

After our jaunt in the golf cart, we settled in for some spicy chicken soup and Poltergeist.

Finally, I didn't go overboard with the decorations this year, but did manage to fill the home with some spooky features!!


I'll be packing everything up this weekend, but Halloween is the best part of Fall, hands down.

Until next year, spooks! XO

Oct 26, 2016

Endo Scratch



When our first transfer failed, I immediately jumped into action to see what our options were.

I had read that our doctor frequently performed endometrial scratches that could lead to better success. (part of me just assumed he did this in the first attempt, the same day as my saline sono, but turns out....nope.)

The day of our negative beta, the nurse had called to leave the shitty news around noon.
And between that point and when I left from work, around 4pm, I had two additional emails.

One from the nurse, and one from my doctor.

Thankfully I didn't read either, otherwise I would have spoiled all the "fun" in letting us both get to hear the bad news at the same time.

The nurse emailed to say the doctor recommended I get an ERA biopsy testing completed and would perform an endo scratch with the next transfer, but it's typically not performed until after a second failure.

Personally, I just think this is complete nonsense.

A person has to go through what I just went through, TWICE, (assuming they even have enough embryos), to get the better treatment?

Oh nooooo. Nuh-uh gurl. Don't mess with my only baby. 
No way, no how, was I going to allow that.

I did some research on both of their suggestions, and while the ERA is definitely something I think will be making more of a presence in the future of IVF, I am running out of time this year.

See, an ERA stands for Endometrial Receptivity Analysis.
It is cutting edge technology that helps to determine if Day 5 is the correct day the doctor should be transferring your embryo.

The study reads that 25% of all transfer are being performed on the "wrong day," meaning the woman's lining and hormones may be just shy, or even too far past, their correct development. When the the embryo is launched into their uterus on Day 5, the woman's body may reject it because it's not the right timing.

So you get the test done and it'll tell you, right? Ehhhhh.....not quite.

The nurse did indicate it would be out of pocket because it's considered experimental.
To the tune of $900.

At this point, $900 isn't even a big deal considering everything we have been through before, but before I said yes, I kept digging.

Here is what I found out.
What happens is...you go through the entire transfer process...all the shots, all the monitoring, all the hormones (yes, even those dreaded PIO shots), and then on the day of your "transfer"...instead of putting an embryo back into you, they do a biopsy of you uterine lining.

Sounds like a blast right?
You get no baby and instead a cut on the wall of your uterus.
Good times.

And then they test that biopsy.
And if it's the wrong day....guess what?

You have to do the fucking biopsy again...on a different day.

And you get to pay another $900.

And do more shots and all that jazz....again.

This can set someone back months....MONTHS.

Or, the results could just come back to say....yea, you were doing it correctly the whole time, do you boo. And all those shots and that painful biopsy would technically be for nothing more than peace of mind, should you be at your wits end with multiple failures.

So with that I said a big NO THANK YOU....I'll just take my endo scratch, please.

And what is an endo scratch, you say?

Well, IVF docs believe that by irritating your uterine lining with a shallow biopsy from a catheter, the way it heals releases extra good baby-sticking hormones that allows the transferred embryo to attach reeeealll nice and good-like.

I have heard of other practices using things like Embryo Glue (yes, it's a thing...but the scratch is supposed to trump the glue...did I mention how weird all this shit is?)

For whatever reason, the standard protocol is to fail twice, and then try it.

Well, we all know I only have one shot left, so I pushed.
And I got my way.

And the nurse kept telling me it doesn't hurt that bad, but after everything I have been through in the last few years with scrapes and shots and surgeries and tests, I can tell you one thing....everything fucking hurts in one way or another...so I begged for Valium.

I would rightly assume that a catheter scratching the inside of my lady parts is about as comfortable as sitting on hot coals.

But...I'll do almost anything for a baby at this point, so I headed in.
Mark took me to and from work, as my appointment was scheduled for 3pm.

I headed back to the room with the stirrup table, while a newer nurse awkwardly talked me through the process of undressing from the waist down.
I quickly stopped her, told her I've been here since January 5th, and where is the paper gown, please?

The Valium was sort of doing its magic, so I tried desperately to relax.

Ultimately, it really was a quick procedure, but it most certainly wasn't painless, even with the Valium.
The doc talked through the process the entire time.
CRAMP. In goes the catheter.
MEGA CRAMP.....and the scrape is over.
Think of it like one of those scrapey pipe cleaners grinding over your delicate lady-bits.

So. Much. Fun.

Doc tells me to hang tight for a few minutes to let the cramping subside, but it was awkward enough just sitting there half naked in a brightly lit room, so I hustled up, got dressed and went home.

You will likely have slight bleeding or discharge from that betadine cleaner, so ladies...pack a pantiliner so you don't have to use one of the hospital-grade thunder pads...unless you're into that stuff. :)

The cramping finally went away after about 30 minutes, but the bloat was real.
That lasted for about a day.

Will it help? Who knows....but I'm hopeful we are doing everything in our power to make this one work. And we are one step closer!

Thanks for reading! XO