Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A random act of kindness strikes twice

I came home from work yesterday and a small package was waiting for me on the kitchen table. I hadn't ordered anything, so I was a little surprised to have something waiting for me. As I tore it open, I realized it was from an embryo adoption blogger friend, Jess.

Inside was an incredibly touching letter letting me know how much she appreciated my friendship and how sorry she was for our loss of our baby.

And as if the letter were not touching enough on it's own, there was also this...

Her letter explained that each part of this key chain represented something for our angel baby. The pink stone is for October, the month she was due. The blue stone is the March birthstone, the month she was born into heaven. And of course the snowflake represents that she was a snowflake baby. The heart says "you are always in my heart" which is something I had written on my blog when we planted her Magnolia tree. 

The continuing outpouring of love and support we have experienced has been unreal. I am still just in awe at how lucky and blessed I am. 

I had to share this act of thoughtfulness and kindness with you all because it was so touching! I have a beautiful key chain and a beautiful necklace to always remind me of the little one who waits for me in heaven. I am so touched by the random acts of kindness from my blogger friends. I am eternally grateful for you.

We are still moving full-steam ahead in working through the process to adopt our new four precious snowflake babies. There is a lot of coordination involved, and we are working diligently with both clinics to get everything in order. Libby has been fantastic! She is very determined and has been relentless on getting her side of things done, and I am very grateful! 

At the moment I am waiting for a checklist of blood tests from my clinic that the donor needs to have (or get done) for my clinic to accept the embryos. We are also waiting for the attorney to return his first draft of our embryo contract. There is just so much to try to get done before Libby has her baby, which has been our goal. It's been hard to post daily for the muchness challenge that I started, so I think I'll end my challenge a little early. Just know that I continue to make a habit to find the simple joys in life, and that has helped me get through the dark times.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wishes for a new life

Yesterday we went to a wedding for a colleague of mine from work. It was the first one Kevin and I had been to in three years as a married couple. One of the unique things they did during the ceremony was to pass around the wedding rings in a dish and ask that each guest lay their hands on top of them and give them one silent wish for their marriage. Without hesitation, I knew exactly what I'd be wishing them.

The dish came to me and my eyes welled up with tears. In my mind I said:

I wish that you will never know the pain of infertility.

I had to quickly pass the dish to the next person so I didn't get too wrapped up in the emotion involved in that moment, but it was very powerful for me. I watched the bride and groom smile at the alter, blissful and in love. I remember staring at Kevin the same way the day we got married. We had no idea what was ahead. I had a moment of reflection on how much has happened since our blissful wedding day.

So much joy.
So much pain.

But there was something freeing in being able to wrap up the road we've traveled into a single wish and send it into the universe for this couple's new life.

I was reminded that I am not the same person I was when I stood at that alter, I am forever changed. I am even more in love with Kevin today than I was on our wedding day despite...actually no, because of the hard road we have walked. I feel as though I have aged by centuries. This has been difficult, yet rewarding at the same time. I can say that we have had to remind ourselves of the vow "in good times in bad" more than we ever thought we would. And for that, we are stronger.

On the way home from the wedding I was surprised to hear Kevin express that he had done much of the same reflecting that I had done during the ceremony. It was so sweet to hear him talk joyously about the day he took me as his wife. I asked him what his wish was for the newlyweds and...

It was the exact same as mine. Infertility changes our husbands too, ladies.

If I could go back in a time machine to October 24, 2009 I would have told myself:

Don't let the bumps in the road make you forget to show love to your husband.
Pain hurts, but it has a purpose.
Never give up.

It will all be worth it in the end.

What would you have told yourself on your wedding day if you could go back?

The beautiful rings that will forever remind me of my vows

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Oh my gosh....do I have some news for you!

I cannot seriously believe I'm able to write this so soon after our devastating miscarriage which was only four weeks ago.

We are adopting four new embryos!

A woman recently contacted me through a DE/DS Facebook page and put me in touch with a woman in California who had four embryos to donate. We got to emailing back and forth and we clicked. They want an open adoption and they even live in the same area that DH and I lived in for 10 years before moving to Texas. We have a whole slew of other things in common and have I've had a great time getting to know her. Her name is Libby. It feels right.

And on Tuesday she said the magic words: We want you to have our embryos!

All four are day 5 blasts and they were frozen in 2006. I'm giddy with excitement and didn't want to share the news until it was official, but this is really happening! The attorney is busy drawing up the legal contract and the donor is busy getting shipping set up.

We are moving quickly to get everything done for shipping because Libby is expecting her fourth child and is scheduled to deliver in two weeks. I'm so happy for her and I think we can get a lot done before then. Fingers crossed!

I feel so blessed, Thank you for the thoughts and prayers!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Some fun, then some un-fun

This weekend was a busy weekend! My dad had his birthday yesterday. It was a special birthday because it was his first one since moving to Texas from Utah. We celebrated by going to dinner then headed back to our house to have some homemade Dr. Pepper ice cream. Everyone had a really good time, including Oscar, and as you can see he was Papa's best birthday buddy. Even Chloe got into the action.

Now onto the un-fun.
I started my week-long on-call rotation assignment yesterday for work. Sure enough, the minute I took over on-call duties I got a call and I had to deal with it until after 1am. I fell asleep an hour or two after that only to get another call at 6:50am. Argh! No fun. I'm already counting down the days until I can hand the on-call duties over to my team mate next Sunday.

Nothing really going on other than that, just waiting patiently for the autoimmune test results but I doubt I'll get those for a couple of weeks. I hope everyone is having a good start to their week!

My muchness was obviously in celebrating my dad's birthday. :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Overwhelmed by an act of kindness

Finding my muchness - Day 11

Yesterday Kevin brought in the mail and I was surprised to find a small package addressed to me. However, I didn't recognize the name on the return address.

I tore it open and to my surprise, inside was a card and a small box from a blog reader! The card was so sweet and uplifting and was intended to brighten my day. And it did that more than words can even express.

I opened the box and inside was this necklace. I shot a photo with my new camera and it actually captured the beauty!

I was speechless! It was a beautiful snowflake necklace with a little "M" for Maggie. It also had a beautiful blue bead.  It brought tears to my eyes. 

I recently wrote a post about the impact of being kind to strangers but this package had to have been sent before I even wrote that. Not that it would have mattered if it hadn't. :)  This was so powerful and I am so touched at the gesture. I want to pay this forward, and I certainly will.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Lara!

I found my muchness in an incredibly kind gesture from a stranger. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

My camera is here!

My new camera is here! I don't know anything about photography yet, but I've been having fun playing around with it trying to learn the basics.

Artichokes growing in our garden

Maggie's memorial statue

Oscar's beastly B&W model shot

Nadia yawwwwwwwwwn

I can't wait to learn how to really get to know this thing!

24 vials of blood!

This morning I had my blood drawn for the autoimmune testing.

They took 24 vials of blood. TWENTY FOUR!!! Wow! The lab tech was in awe and we both had a good laugh about the MTHFR acronym that was on the order. I guess you have to find the humor in it all sometimes.

Here are all of the labels that had to be created for the vials. I have no idea when I'll get the results but I've decided not to stress about it.

After the blood draw, I headed home. I'm working from home today and Oscar and I are intently watching the news unfold around the attempted capture of the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. I hope all of this ends quickly and peacefully.

What a crazy week this country has endured between these unimaginable bombings to then learn that ricin sent through the mail was by a nut job Elvis impersonator. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes. And I'm sure many of you saw the massive explosion at the fertilizer plant in Texas. The explosion happened approximately 100 miles north of us. Kevin is a volunteer firefighter and he got a page that night shortly after the explosion happened to prepare neighboring cities' departments for mutual aid.  I am so saddened by the loss of life, and my heart goes out for the fallen firefighters and their families. Kevin ultimately didn't have to go and I am thanking God he's safe and sound here with me.

My thoughts and prayers continue to be sent for the victims of these tragic events.

Finding my muchness - Day 10

I've slacked on my muchness posts, no doubt. I've just been very busy and it's hard to write a post every single day. But I'm keeping my eyes out for the muchness moments even if it's not always posted.

As for today, as mentioned I'm working from home and that means I have my trusty brindle co-worker (or co-napper) here with me. I just love how sweet he is. Snuggling with Oscar while I work on my laptop is today's muchness.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why was she crying?

12 years ago I pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall. As I pulled into the lot, I saw a woman pulling out of the same lot and could clearly see she was crying hysterically. I know it sounds like a weird thing to remember, but that woman has haunted me since I saw her that day. I've pictured what she was crying about as I've entered into different stages of my life.

When I was in the dating world, I wondered if her boyfriend broke up with her in a ugly way.

When I got laid off of my job, I wondered if she was devastated not knowing how she'd pay her bills.

When I got married, I wondered if she just had a big fight with her husband.

When my mom got sick, I wondered if she found out she was going to lose a cherished loved one to a terminal illness.

And of course now I wonder if she had just been handed an infertility diagnosis or maybe had lost her baby to miscarriage.

Obviously I'll never know for sure, but it's fascinated me that she's stayed so embedded in my thoughts this long after the fact.

It has made me realize that no matter where we are in life, someone we walk past might be about to get into their car and cry. Or maybe they just got done crying and had wiped away the tears to face the world again. When we see the woman in line who dropped the mayonnaise jar and tears well up in her eyes, it may be deeper than the mayonnaise. When we walk past someone at the mall and accidentally bump into them and they respond with dirty look, they might not be a rotten miserable person after all. There may be pain that is not as obvious as a billboard sign on their face.

The moral for me is that it is important to be kind to strangers because you never know what battles they are facing. There are times I wish the world had been kinder to me even though no one knew the pain behind my smile. And kindness from strangers felt amplified when I was especially sorrowful. I hope and pray I've offered a moment of kindness to a silently suffering stranger. But one thing I know for sure, I've definitely been that woman crying alone in the car. And I wonder if there was ever a time a stranger saw me and has wondered why.

Have you ever been that woman?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A pillow that chases cats

Finding my muchness - Day 7

A few months ago, our little seven-pound cat Chloe managed to get her dainty little collar attached to a heavy decor pillow from our bed. She came flying around the corner of the hallway into the living room with this giant pillow stuck to her, totally freaking out. I wish I could say it wasn't funny, but *giggle* it was. I felt bad for her because she was so panicked having this pillow chase her, but there was no threat of real harm since it was a stretchy break-away collar.

I didn't think anything else of it until this morning I found the same pillow in the corner of the bedroom with a broken collar next to it. It seems the infamous killer pillow tried to chase her down yet again and this time it won.

Here's the busted collar. I figured we'd need to get her a new one

I decided to head to the pet store and brought Oscar along since he doesn't get out as much as I'm sure he'd like to. So the two of us hopped in the car and headed to Pet.co. We browsed up and down the aisles. We made friends with another rescue dog named Betsy who looked like a pit bull crossed with an Oreo cookie. And then we bought some pumpkin "Wag more, Bark Less" treats that Oscar picked out himself. And last on our list, Oscar and I picked out a sparkly pink collar for little miss Chloe. Hopefully this one doesn't attract stalker pillows and it will finally leave her alone.

We had so much fun at the store that I forgot to take a picture of him while we were there. But at least I captured the smile he had on his doggy face when we got home.

I found my muchness today in a cat-chasing pillow that led to a trip to the pet store with my brindle four-legged buddy.

The tragic events in Boston

The horrific events in Boston have been weighing heavily on my mind ever since they unfolded yesterday.

Kevin is a runner. He's run many marathons and half-marathons. These events are full of excitement and joy as the runners realize the payoff from months of training. Families and friends excitedly cheer the runners on and the anticipation to see your loved one cross the finish line is such a special moment. I am so incredibly saddened by the bombings. But the part that brought me to tears on my drive home from work yesterday is the part about the little 8 year old boy, Martin Richard, who was killed in the blast. I understand he was waiting at the finish line to give his dad a giant hug with his mom, brother and sisters when he lost his life due to a senseless act by a monster(s). His 6 year old little sister lost her leg and his mother is hospitalized with serious injuries to her brain. I can't even imagine the Richard family's shock and sorrow.

I will never understand why these things happen and can't imagine what the victims and their families are going through right now. I just know that they have all been in my thoughts and prayers, especially the Richard family who lost their beautiful little boy far too soon to a horrific and senseless act.

I'll post my muchness when I get home from work. Its 5:56am here now. I have to go into work early today, tomorrow, and Thursday.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Autoimmune blood tests

A couple of weeks ago, I did some research on pregnancy-harming autoimmune disorders and blood tests and sent a list of them to my RE. She said normally we wouldn't do this kind of testing until we had multiple losses, but given that we can't just recreate more embryos on demand we would be able to do testing to be ultra cautious. I finally got the lab slip from my RE and I plan to get the blood drawn sometime this week.

I'm nervous because it feels like every time things are going well, there's a blow that knocks me down to my knees. Sometimes I'm scared to open new doors like this, because I don't know what's behind them. But I know that for peace of mind, I need to get these tests done. Many of them would result in conditions that are easily treatable, so I hope that if I do test positive for anything that it's something simple with an easy solution.

I have my second appointment with the counselor today and I'm really looking forward to it!

I didn't do a blog post yesterday because I was being too lazy. :) So I'll catch up on my muchness posts in a two for one today!

Finding my muchness days 5 and 6

Day 5 - As mentioned, yesterday was full of complete and utter laziness. And it felt GOOD. Kevin and I just loafed around all day long and watched two movies that I've been wanting to see:

Zero Dark Thirty and Life of Pi.

Both movies were excellent and they completely surpassed my expectations. If you haven't seen them, I highly recommend both. I'd give anything to be chasing around a little one, or to be worrying about my child's needs, but since we don't have that right now we are able to take part in lazy days like this!

My muchness was in being lazy beyond comprehension and loving it. :) Sorry, no photo for this one.

Day 6 - As I write this, I'm sipping on some delicious coffee and enjoying "me time" as I get started on my day. I love coffee so much and got this mug to put it in. I love this mug because it's always a great reminder of all that I need in life.

My muchness this morning is in an inspiring and delicious mug of coffee.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I decided on a camera

Finding my muchness - Day 4

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I've decided to take up photography as a hobby. Well, after researching a whole bunch of cameras and deliberating between a Sony and a couple of Canons, I finally decided on the Canon EOS 60D Digital SLR!

The local camera shop we visited today in Austin had it and we were able to check it out in person. My professional photographer friend Candace suggested just buying a camera body and then getting a 50mm f/1.8 lens separate to start. Unfortunately, the local camera shop wanted hundreds of dollars more than the online shop Candace suggested, so I opted to buy both the camera and the lens online to save the money. A BIG thanks to Candace for all of her help with my questions and decision making!

Of course, I had to get a cute bag from Amazon to carry it around. Now I can't wait for it all to arrive.

I can't wait to start taking photos!

I found my muchness in ordering a new toy and in the hope for a new hobby. Oh, the anticipation. :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Post-op update and new hobby

Shortly after I wrote yesterday's post, the OBs office called me back. This time instead of an obnoxious scheduler, it was one of my favorite nurses. You know why she's one of my favorite nurses? She listens! She cares! Is that too much to ask? :) Anyway, as I explained the situation, instead of scolding me or trying to figure out when to do the appointment, she took the approach of do I even need to have this appointment to begin with? Sure enough, she talked to the OB and he confirmed I did not need to come in after all and that this appointment was actually optional for most patients. I still can't take a bubble bath or use our hot tub for another two weeks, but at least I can start exercising again! Life is returning to normal! Yippee!

In other news, I took a look at my blog post yesterday, specifically at that delicious cupcake picture. That photo was taken with my phone camera. In fact, all of the photos I take are with my phone camera. Despite how rich and pretty that cupcake was in real life, the photo just seemed so.....blah. 

I wish I had a good camera. 
And I wish I knew how to use it.

I've always had an interest in photography, and in fact I used to work as a graphic designer in the early 2000s and am very familiar with photo editing.  But the technical aspects of an SLR always seemed very overwhelming to learn so I haven't made it a priority to take it up as a hobby. But now that I'm blogging and posting photos, I have a much renewed interest in it! Plus, I am tired of infertility and treatments being my unwanted hobby in life. I'm sick of it trying to define who I am. I need something else to occupy me, and I think this is a perfect thing to do just that. I remember when all of the technical aspects of TTC and infertility treatments used to overwhelm me. Now, I could practically write my own book on it and teach classes! Hopefully I'll pick up what I need to know quickly.

My friend Candace has a blog over at cheese and cheesecake (non-IF blog.) She started off blogging a long time ago, and took up photography as a hobby for her blog. She has become so good, and is so incredibly talented that now she owns her own photography business. You can see her beautiful photos! I'm lucky to have such a professional to answer my newbie questions and give me pointers. She's even helping me figure out what camera to get! More news to come on that later, but I wanted to share how excited I am to get into this and have something else to focus on other than infertility.

Finding my muchness - Day 3

This photo was taken last night (again with my crappy camera phone.) Every once and a while, Kevin and I will make howling noises and Oscar will join right in. It always makes us laugh. Both of them are great howlers! HOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLL!

I found my muchness in my wonderful doggy/hubby pack!  :)

PS: If you have a dog, this video will get him/her to howl. It works for Oscar every single time.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

D&C post-op appointment vent

I was getting ready for work yesterday when I got a call from a scheduler at my OBs office saying the doctor will be off on Friday. They would need to reschedule my D&C post-op. Ugh. In a weird way I had been looking forward to it because I just want to know things are back to normal and I can go on with my life physically. It was disappointing to hear it would be postponed and this aspect of closure will be delayed.

The next available appointment they had was at 1pm next Wednesday.  Well, I work 10:30am -7pm M-F and that would mean I'd have to miss more work. Keep in mind that I've missed a lot of work between FET appointments and then ultimately the D&C/recovery itself. And unfortunately the next appointment they had available before my work hours wasn't until April 25th. This is almost a whole month past my D&C.

About an hour later, I called back later to see if the post-op appointment was just a talking appointment or it there was an actual exam performed. Because if it was just a talking appointment, I was probably going to skip it completely. When I called their phone went straight to voicemail so I left a detailed message. In the voicemail I asked if I could resume normal activities (baths, hot tub, exercise, etc) in the meantime and also asked if the visit was going to be an exam appointment.

To complicate things, I work in the Bermuda Triangle of cell signal because even though I am smack dab in the middle of a very populated area of Austin, I get little to no cell signal at my work. Neither do my coworkers. It's awful! In my voicemail I specifically asked that they call me at my desk phone knowing I wouldn't likely get the call on my cell.

But of course, murphys law -  around 5:30pm a voicemail symbol popped up on my cell phone with no ringing (thanks, Bermuda Triangle) and it was the OBs office. They said I can't resume normal activities until I have my appointment and that I should have just accepted the first appointment they offered me. WTF? What is that supposed to mean? I dare you to walk a day in my shoes right now. How could they say that I "should have just accepted the first appointment they offered?"

I swear, I love my RE. And I absolutely adore my OB. But the common denominator of doctor problems ALWAYS seems fall with the office staff.

It's not my fault that Friday's appointment wasn't going to work, it was theirs. I wish I didn't have to work at all and had the luxury of just rolling in whenever was convenient for them. By 5:30p their office had already closed so I tried calling again this morning, but again went straight to voicemail. I left them another voicemail to call my desk phone hoping to avoid phone tag and explained I can't miss anymore work, hence the need for a morning appointment. I even asked if I could see another doctor in the practice sooner. I feel like groundhog day. This kind of stuff drives me batty.

Vent over.

Now onto...

Finding my muchness - Day 2

I discovered a cupcakery that makes fabulous gluten free cupcakes just a block away from my work. I'm a pretty good cook and can bake up a storm, but ever since I learned I can't eat gluten I haven't done much baking. It's really hard to master gluten free baking since the flour is very finicky. So to find a place that knows what they are doing with baked goods, Score! Mmmmm.

Check out this little lemon-raspberry beauty with lemon icing and a cute little raspberry on top. And to my surprise, it had raspberry filling in the middle! I found my muchness today in the middle of a gluten free cupcake.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Accepting the "30 days of muchness" challenge

In yesterday's post, I copied a list from Standing Still Magazine with ways to honor your child. On that list, you may have noticed that it mentioned starting a 30 days of muchness challenge.

I was intrigued. What the heck is "muchness" anyway?

According to Tova, the author of the finding your muchness site:

Muchness is the energy, the life, the spark of positivity that fuels our days, our imaginations, our confidence. Kids are filled with Muchness. Their desire to see and learn and know and experience is something to be envied. As adults we often lose our Muchness. The day to day routines that can drag us down, the disappointments that sometimes seem like they’ll never end… we don’t take the time to see the positivity. We forget to be inspired.

The more I read about Tova's story, the more I felt inspired. What an incredibly strong woman. She lost her twin girls 6 months into pregnancy and has focused on healing and helping others find healing too. Her 30 days of muchness challenge seems like exactly what I need right now. The sparkle and glitter is all around us, we just have to take a moment to recognize it and call it out.

Challenge accepted!

I will identify one thing a day that brings me joy and post it to my blog with pics. I'll still write about what is on my mind and what is going on, but I think it will be an uplifting aspect to my day. I'm looking forward to it and already feel my spirit lift just thinking about it!

Finding my Muchness - Day 1

Today's muchness is the rain we got last night. Something about getting rain makes my heart tingle. It may be because we live in such a hot place with sweltering summers. Or it might be because Kevin is a major weather enthusiast (it's really cute.) But there is always this big anticipation in our household when a storm is on it's way to central Texas. Is it here yet? IS IT HERE YET? And when the rain and thunder finally rolls in, it's so cozy and wonderful. There are some nights when I'll wake up and realize Kevin isn't next to me. I'll find him in our formal dining room sitting on a chair and staring out the window at the storms at 3am! We have been blessed to have had two major storms in the past week and I just love it! You can see from the photo below that we planted herbs in the pots on our patio and it makes me happy to know they are getting some much needed moisture. Not to mention Maggie's tree needs it too which you can see on the far right side of the back of the yard.

I have found my muchness in the rain today.

If anyone else is interested in taking the 30 days of muchness challenge, let me know. I'd love to follow along!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What is on my mind?

What to update today? Hmm....Maybe I'll just do a brain dump of what I've been thinking about lately.

I'm doing okay. I really am. I am surprised at how well I am doing, actually. I'm not sure what I thought these days would look like. Maybe crying from morning to night? Well, I'm not doing that so I think I'm okay! I bet much of this goes back to the fact that we were dangled over the miscarriage cliff for so long before actually falling that we knew what was going to happen and processed much of it ahead of time. You're never ready to lose your baby, especially one that you've begged and pleaded with God for for so long. But I've learned that you can definitely come to terms with it as the process unfolds and even grieve while you're still pregnant.

It's still very hard to talk about everything with well-meaning friends and family since it is still so raw and fresh. Kevin and his mom finally talked about it yesterday after a long silence. Most of our friends have reached out with kind words and offers to lend an ear. We appreciate the show of care so much, but still know it's too soon. I know time will change that, but for now we are healing. I'm really glad I have this blog! Sometimes I write with tears streaming down my face but it feels like a healing outlet for me to get it all out. I know that many of you "get it" where as unfortunately so many in real life just don't. And I don't blame them. How could they understand without walking this horrific road themselves? I've also learned that there are things that others experience that I will never understand either. The best thing we can all do is acknowledge that we can't understand another's pain fully but love and care for that person regardless.

It seems that physically I'm healing pretty well from the D&C also. I still have some minor spotting, but nothing like it was a week ago.

I still miss my baby and the dreams of who she'd be, but I know history is written for us and baby Maggie not being here on earth is just how it is. Ask me how I feel tomorrow, and that might totally change. But today I'm doing okay with it all.

And for whatever reason I took a pregnancy test this morning and only an incredibly faint line showed. It was so faint that I could barely tell it was there. It was similar to the line I got on the night of 5dp5dt. So I bet my beta has dropped to below 10 now, which is great news as far as moving on is concerned. I never thought I'd actually want to see a negative pregnancy test! I have my post D&C follow-up on Friday and hopefully the OB says everything looks on track and we can cycle again in a few months when we get more embryos.

I will never forget my baby Maggie and she will always be a part of our family. I came across an excellent article yesterday about how to honor a child born straight to heaven in Standing Still Magazine: Embracing Life after loss and infertility. I thought some of these ideas were excellent and wanted to share in case any readers who have experienced loss have been considering ways to honor their child.

  • Plant a garden (in your front/back yard or community)
  • Release beautiful Sky Lanterns in their memory on a special day
  • Make a memory Shadow Box
  • Take memorial pictures at cemetery or cremation site or with urn
  • Make a scrapbook / photo scrapbook of items worn/used or bought for child
  • Make or buy a piece of jewelry (bracelet, necklace, ring) with your child’s name and date
  • Get a Tattoo of your child (name, photo, date)
  • Take photos of something in nature that help you feel closer to your angel (light, butterflies, flowers, dragonflies, etc…)
  • Make a charitable contribution in your child’s name to your favorite charity or organization
  • Collect Soy Jar Candles with scents that remind you of your child
  • Create a place in your home for your child’s special things
  • Purchase and name a crater on the moon after your child
  • Name a star after your child (unofficial, but still cool)
  • Start a charity or non-profit to help others in your situation
  • Keep a blog and write your heart. You can even make it private if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your journey with others
  • Do a balloon release on their special dates, or any day
  • Participate in March of Dimes walk in their name
  • Speak to your hospital about starting or being involved with the bereavement support program available
  • Create or order a custom piece of jewelry with their name on it, and possibly charms that remind you of them
  • Order a Molly Bear
  • Get a custom portrait done (available for babies at any age)
  • Plant a tree
  • Donate memory boxes to your local hospital
  • Donate to a local charity in their name, like Ronald McDonald House or March of Dimes
  • Do a butterfly release
  • Take a creative Photography course
  • Order a Certificate of Life
  • Miscarriage Certificates of Life (UK)
  • Speak their name to anyone willing to listen
  • Find your muchness with this 30 Day Challenge
  • Celebrate their birthday, in a big or small way, whatever you might feel comfortable with
  • Collect little things here and there that remind you of them
  • Write a letter to them
  • Take a creative writing course, or just start writing
  • Send notes on helium balloons to them
  • Order a customized candle or Guardian Angel bottle for them

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Facebook is very painful

Today is finally a day I don't feel like a prisoner of my home and can get out and do something uplifting. Last weekend was full of cramping, bleeding, and recovering from the D&C, and even looming ER visits. Plus I had to work all week long. So now that I am physically doing better and it's a weekend, Kevin and I have decided to find activities that make both us happy and do them together and focus on that. I got up early and got a pedicure and a delicious coffee and we plan to have a blissful no-thoughts-of-losing-our-child kind of day. I left the salon right as the woman next to me pulled out photos of her beautiful newborn to share with her salon attendant. That was my cue to head out, no doubt about it.

And in a few minutes, we are heading to a nice lunch and then to an animal sanctuary zoo. But first I wanted to talk a little about Facebook and what it's like for someone to be on Facebook having traveled such a hard road of infertility and now loss.

I've had to make some serious changes to my Facebook. While I would like to remain on Facebook to continue to be part of some private infertility support groups, I've had to unfollow nearly all of my friends who have children and families. Kevin had to completely deactivate his for the same reason. This is going to be hard to explain, but those of you have dealt or are currently dealing with infertility and/or loss will understand completely probably with no explanation needed.

We love our friends and families dearly and we love their children so much. We love how happy they are and we are happy for them too. But believe it or not, you can feel both immense joy and debilitating pain at the exact same time when it comes to the subject of your loved ones' children. It hurts beyond comprehension to be reminded of what we don't have and may never have. To see children's milestones, baby photos, the videos, life updates, funny things kids say, the pregnancy announcements, the birth announcements, bump updates, the first days at school. All of these things rip open already deep wounds that seem to never heal. Of course the parents should be proud and should share. We would do the same if we had children. But for right now we know the issue is in our world. Yet the pain we are experiencing is just too great regardless of how much love we have for our friends, families and their children. We recognize that we can't be exposed to it right now. Those who have never suffered like this may feel this is selfish. All I can say is there's no possible way for you to understand what this is like unless you've been down this hellish road yourself. It's a million times darker and harder than losing your own mother to cancer, and I can speak from experience on that one.  I don't expect the world to change for us, but we must change our world right now.

It's even harder when we see someone complain or even jokingly complain about their children or pregnancy.  In fact, I confronted one woman recently who offered one of her children up in a "Free child for the taking" post. For as many friends as she had on her friends list (300+) I guarantee I wasn't the only one who was hurt by her post that given that 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility. Most people don't recognize what an incomprehensible blessing their children are. I spoke up on behalf of all of those silently suffering and I am glad I did. She didn't mean to offend or hurt, but I think it was important to understand the pain these kinds of posts cause.

I hope it will get easier someday. We are in a dark place right now and are trying to focus on one another for our healing. We hope someday will be our turn. But we have suffered for years and now have been dangled torturously over a high cliff for weeks on end only to finally be dropped to then sustained horrible injuries. We are still assessing the damage done and are working on rehabilitating ourselves. Limiting our exposure to our friends and families children updates is important to the healing process right now.

In an effort to spend some time together just as the two of us, Kevin and I are going to a new fancy bistro for lunch, then visiting an animal sanctuary/zoo here in Austin. I am so looking forward to it! We went there last spring and had a wonderful time. We are huge animal lovers, and this particular sanctuary rescues zoo animals from terrible situations and gives them a place to live out their lives. Most of the animals are misfits such as goats with tremors, three-legged wolves, geriatric lions and tigers etc. It warms my heart so much to be around animals, especially ones that had once hard lives yet since rescue now have good ones. Animals are so healing for us as humans if we let them be. In fact, our three wonderful pets were rescues from horrific neglect and abusive situations and are all misfits in one way or another. I'll have to dedicate a separate post to them one day. But know that they now live the lives of spoiled little fur balls. They are appreciative and seem to know when we are hurting and make an effort to help us in their own ways. No matter how bad we feel, animals always help us feel better.

Here are some pictures of our pets. Chloe is the toothless black kitty, Nadia is the fatty calico kitty, and Oscar is the blind-in-one-eye dingo-eared hotdog-shaped brindle dog. He's dressed up for Halloween, he's not actually a Travis County sheriff. Hard to believe, I know.

I hope everyone has good plans to enjoy the weekend.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The first week post-miscarriage

I can't believe I've made it through a week post-miscarriage. I never thought a "me" could exist after losing a baby, yet here I am... existing. Not sure if that makes sense, but it does to me. You just don't think ahead in life about what it would be like AFTER losing a baby.

Yesterday was our appointment with the counselor. Kevin went with me and it felt really good to get a lot of what has happened off of both of our chests. This particular counselor specializes in infertility and issues surrounding donor gametes so it was wonderful to know she understood what we were talking about without going into a lot of explanation. While at the appointment, we learned a lot about the grieving process, and about how important it is that Kevin and I care for one another during this difficult time. Most of the appointment was us talking and the counselor listening. However, she had some great advice when we did let her speak. I'm sure I can't capture her words as eloquently as she actually put them. But basically she said one of the best ways to make yourself miserable is to constantly ask yourself "why me?" Many times people get into a major rut because they won't let go of the "why me" aspect. We as humans try to look for patterns and explanations for why bad things happen to us but....
There is no pattern, no explanation. No reason why we drew the card and got picked for such severe infertility and why we shouldn't be able to have children. No reason why we got picked to lose our baby. That's the unfortunate fact of life for us but we have to accept it to move through the grief.

It's best to attempt to use our energy on things we can impact like putting a plan in place for moving forward.

She also explained that anger is a sign of fear and helplessness. Many times the most aggressive dogs are the little ones! I've definitely noticed that in my years of volunteering with animals. I've rarely met a chihuahua without some major attitude! That's because they recognize that they are physically small which leads to fear and helplessness so they turn to aggression. I've found my emotions wrought with anger through parts of this process and I realize that much of it did stem from fear and helplessness.

Lastly, while it's okay to question God to some degree, one of the most harmful things we could do is let go of Him completely right now. I'm not sure if the counselor was Christian or if she was just saying this because studies show that belief in a "higher being" is critical for working through grief. But she surprised me at the end of our session by saying that He felt immense amount of pain when His son was on the cross. He doesn't enjoy seeing his children in pain. And the worst thing we could do is sever our relationships from Him.

Here's the interesting thing. I came home from the session and spent a while continuing to talk to Kevin about what was discussed.

And then I slept like a baby last night for the first time in over a week. And it was WONDERFUL.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New clinic or old clinic?

I'm still recovering physically from the D&C last week. After the scary episode Easter morning where I was in excruciating pain and passed some clots/tissue, I thought that would be it and it was winding down. I stopped bleeding pretty much all day yesterday and even went back into work. However, toward the end of the day I started having pain again, and came home a little early and passed some more tissue! Thankfully it appears I've stopped bleeding yet again so I'm really hoping this comes to an end. The OB nurse said it's fine and to not worry. However, it's difficult for a lot of reasons. Obviously, it's hard to work when you're in a lot of pain and I can't keep running home from work every day. But it also reminds me of what we lost so recently when this continues. I feel like once my body decides to finally heal, I can really work on healing myself emotionally. Regardless, I have an appointment with a grief counselor tomorrow to talk about everything. I'm looking forward to it!

Surprisingly, I'm feeling better emotionally than I thought I would at this point. I think it's a combination of things. First, I knew this pregnancy was failing pretty much since our third beta result. So I had already come to terms with a lot of it so once it was completely over it wasn't such a shock. This isn't to say that I feel wonderful, it's still incredibly difficult. But I'm surprising myself at how I feel. I have a feeling it will sneak up on me later but I'm going to talk to the counselor about that tomorrow. Also, I think I have some hope for the future. 

I am also evaluating which RE we want to use for the next FET. We have loved the actual REs at both clinics, however some of the issues with my current clinic are causing me concern. However, I did get pregnant there so that is a huge plus! I just think it's smart to always think about my options just in case. There are a lot of factors that play into our decision as to where to cycle.

So just to cover my bases, I called my old clinic last week to ask about the status of their donor embryo program that they've been saying is in the works for a while now. When I talked to one of the nurses there, I mentioned our recent loss. She expressed her sympathy but I didn't think much more of it. Until two days ago, we got a sympathy card in the mail from not only that nurse, but the entire nursing staff AND my old RE! They all hand wrote their thoughts and sympathy for us, including the doctor herself. This is impressive considering what a huge clinic they are. They do over 800+ IVF cycles a year, they aren't a small mom and pop shop! To take the time to do that shows how much they care and I'm not even a current patient.

We had already been tossing around the idea of seeing if they would let us cycle with them for the next round. We would have last time if it wasn't for our current embryos allegedly not meeting FDA and ASRM standards. The FDA problem is that the genetic father lived in eastern Europe in the 80s. When my old clinic learned of this, they said they weren't willing to do the cycle there. However my new clinic said that because the embryos were created before the FDA rule came into place (2004 or so I believe) that it didn't apply. I emailed my old clinic yesterday and let them know this asking that they please reconsider. It may not even be an option.

Also a big factor is cost. My current clinic charges $4050 for a FET cycle. My old one charges $2500. My old clinic is incredibly convenient and is right here in Austin. My clinic now is in San Antonio (1.5 hours away) but has a satellite office in Austin. However, it isn't really that close to me and I'm still upset that I was told I had an ectopic pregnancy when I did not.

Lastly, while we are waiting to cycle I am going to get some more blood work done. Even though I don't have repeat losses, we don't have the option to make more embryos like many couples do. So my current RE has agreed to do a autoimmune panel and an MTHFR mutation test after just one loss. I'm wondering if I should request anything else to be added just to cover our bases. 

So that's where we are! Fingers crossed I have a pain free day at work today!

Update: The donor coordinator at the old clinic just responded. She said regardless of the date the embryo was created, they will not cycle me there with it because of current FDA guidelines. So I will stick with my current clinic. That's fine by me. :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

We are looking for embryos. Do you know of any?

In the past few weeks, Kevin and I have done a lot of thinking about and talking about next steps. The fact is that even though we are struggling just to have our first child right now, we would eventually like more than one someday. So that being said, it makes sense for us to start looking for more embryos now and have them ready for our upcoming FET as well as some frozen for future siblings. Of course we would love for our final remaining embryo to make it. But given how much money, time, and resources go into a transfer, we would be devastated if that final snowflake didn't survive thaw and that was our only shot. And it sounds like there's a good chance of that scenario unfolding based on what the embryologist said about it's chances. If it did survive thaw, we would love to have another good embryo to transfer with it. So that being said, it makes sense to start looking now. I talked to our previous donor Vicky and she is incredibly supportive and understands our desire to be parents and is cheering us on. I pray with everything I have that we find more and find them fairly quickly since waiting to find embryos last year was some of the most depressing times of my life. Hope changes to hopelessness quickly when you have no leads on the horizon.

Today's post is a plea to anyone who might be considering donating their remaining embryos to a couple, or to anyone who knows someone who is considering donating. We wish to be parents so much and have so much love to give. And having adopted embryos before, we are very familiar with how the process works and can do most of the leg work to make it happen. We will arrange for costs associated with shipping and drawing up the legal agreement. We just need a willing donor with embryos who wishes to give them a chance at life and wishes to give another loving couple the opportunity to be parents. And trust me, this process is much easier than it sounds.

If you are new to my blog, please know that we loved our adopted embryos so much. We put all of our heart and soul into them and their potential futures and it devastated us beyond comprehension us to lose two at thaw. Then to miscarry... words cannot express the love we had for our baby and the sorrow we feel now that she is lost. Know that we would love any future embryos just the same. We are dedicated to giving any received embryos their deserved chance at life.  I hope anyone reading my blog can see the dedication and love we had, and would have for any embryos we received. And while we felt it was a blessing knowing our donor in our open adoption relationship, we are open to any type of situation that a potential embryo donor might be interested in (open, semi-open, or closed.)

If you have embryos to donate or know someone who does, please email me at wishingonasnowflake@gmail.com and we will answer any and all questions you have. We have so much to give and we are an open book!