Monday, December 30, 2013

Graduation day!

I graduated from my RE today. Dang. Did I just say that? Unreal. The RE has been such an intertwined part of my life for over two years. Now (dare I say it) I'm just a regular ol' pregnant lady! I couldn't be happier to be just a regular ol' pregnant anybody!

Our final RE appointment went great. Baby looks perfect and had a strong heartbeat of 183bpm. He/she still looks like a blob with a yolk sac, but the nurse did point out the little leg nubs this time. So adorable! I can't wait to squeeze those chunky baby thighs someday. Ah, I melt just thinking about it! I really can't wait until this baby starts taking the shape of a baby. Maybe he/she will at our first appointment with the OB next Thursday, which will put me at 10w1d.

I've found myself going to my ultrasounds with only a slight feeling of anxiety. I'm trying to put blinders on when it comes to Dr Google, or even knowing what to expect at these appointments. I'm just going with what the doctor tells me and it's keeping my anxiety to a minimum, which has been great. With pregnancy/miscarriage #1, I lived on Dr Google. I spent so much time learning anything and everything there was about betas, blighted ovums, miscarriages, ectopics, etc. It was a desperate attempt to feel like I had some control, when obviously I did not. And in the end, it just made me so full of fear and anxiety. I couldn't shut it off. I've learned that while information can be power, too much information can be detrimental to mental health. There's a fine balance.

I'm so glad this is still going well, and I still can't believe I am at this point. We are overjoyed.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Words beyond the grave

I was born in August. I was also my mom's firstborn. In fact, her due date was August 3rd, only three days from my due date of August 6th. I've found myself thinking about that quite a bit lately. Was my little heartbeat the sound that brought her to tears back in 1981? These thoughts give me a connection to her as I experience milestones, symptoms, etc. My mom never dealt with infertility, but I know that her calling to be a mother was one of the most important things in her life and she loved her children more than life itself. I feel an extra special connection with her now that I am pregnant and as I anxiously wait to meet our special little baby next Summer.

Last night I got home from work and I was surprised to find a box from my cousin (who has no idea I'm pregnant) waiting for me. I opened it, and couldn't believe what was inside.

My mom's journal.

I flipped it open. I realized she was writing to her future children. Me.

"I love you already and I haven't even met you and I know my life will be more complete as I meet you."

She was speaking to me beyond the grave.

I can't believe this treasure is now in my possession. I can't wait to read through it and feel like she's here with me again, only in a new light.

Thank you, mom. There's never been a doubt you're near, but moments like these definitely remind me you're watching from the other side.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The day after Christmas

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas! We sure did. On Christmas Eve, we drove to see a big light display in a neighboring town. It was beautiful! I kept thinking how fun it will be to bring our future child(ren) there someday. I find myself thinking this about all kinds of different activities lately, and it's blissful. And when I do, it hits me that it is likely that our first born child is inside of me right now. It's still such an incredible concept. We are so in love with this baby and we can't wait to experience the world with him/her in it.

On Christmas day, Kevin helped make the elaborate dinner which was a huge help because I wasn't feeling so great physically. The symptoms are hitting me full force now, no doubt about it. That's okay though, because I wouldn't change it for the world. One of Kevin's gifts to me was a beautiful snowflake pendant with a blue diamond in the center. Isn't it beautiful?

As far as pregnancy symptoms go, I have been experiencing a lot more nausea. It started Sunday after we went to brunch and hasn't really let up. I have nausea if I don't eat, and sometimes nausea after I eat. Nothing has brought me to throw up yet, but I've definitely been to the point of gagging. I have mostly food aversions, and no cravings to speak of, because very little sounds good to me. Well, the things that do sound good to me contain gluten which I can't eat lol! I'm forcing myself to eat cottage cheese and rice crackers, and a green smoothie when I first get up to kick start my day and it helps me a lot. I just look at it as fueling my body. I am very fatigued and go to bed early any opportunity I can find. I'll still get occasional sharp cramps here and there as I assume the uterus stretches. But no bleeding, which is great. I am thrilled to be experiencing any part of a healthy pregnancy I can get - the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm incredibly grateful and none of this is complaining, just documenting what is going on with me!

I'll leave you with a picture of our dog, Oscar, enjoying his new bone that Santa Paws brought him for Christmas. Someday Santa CLAUS will be visiting our home and spoiling our two legged loved ones. :) Someday soon!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The cuteness overflows

We had our second ultrasound appointment with the RE this morning at 7w5d. Not only was snowflake baby's heartbeat going strong at 159bpm, we were able to get a recording of it inside of stuffed animals! Whenever the lamb or elephant is squeezed, we can replay the beautiful heartbeat sound. Can you believe how adorable this idea is? Amazing keepsakes!

And here's the incredible sound of the little lamb playing baby's heartbeat!

Here is an ultrasound picture from today. Hi, baby!

And as if this day wasn't special enough,  I was so touched to find this delivered on my porch this morning as a gift from my friend Jess! Crazy cute!

We have our third and final appointment with the RE on Monday, and then I graduate to the OB. My first OB appointment will be on January 9th.

I still can't believe this is really happening!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Two years ago

Thank you SO much for all of the kind words and congratulatory messages for our successful ultrasound on Monday. We are on top of the world! I've been feeling increasingly symptomatic, but I think that's a really good thing. The late afternoons and evenings are the hardest physically, but I wouldn't change it for the world! I'm seven weeks today. Such a miracle to type those words!

Today is a really important day and I want to talk about someone who is very special to me. Two years ago today, heaven gained one of it's most cherished angels when my mom passed away from colon cancer. Some days it feels like it was just yesterday, and others it feels like decades ago.

What would my mom think about the events that unfolded in the years after her passing? The painful path of our infertility would have crushed her. She knew how badly I wished to be a mother. Our losses, our failures - she would have been devastated right there next to us. But today, I know for certain that she'd be elated we are finally expecting our baby! She wanted only good things and happiness for her family. She wanted us to know the joys of parenthood. A couple weeks before she passed, I had barely been diagnosed with DOR and we had touched on the concept of embryo adoption. We had just learned of it ourselves. She was incredibly supportive of the idea. She loved all of her grandchildren even if she hadn't met them yet.

After her funeral, I sorted through her jewelry box to take anything sentimental home with me. I was surprised to find a beautiful snowflake pendant. To most people, it probably wouldn't have meant much to them. But to me, it felt as though it was my mom offering a smile and a nod to us for the incredible path of embryo adoption that we had only just discovered. I almost felt like she knew of the greater plan in store and was just showing us a glimmer.

I wore it so often that unfortunately one of the tips broke off!
In the months leading up to her death in 2011, "Without you" by David Guetta ft Usher would regularly be played the radio. I deemed this to be her song. The lyrics cut right into my soul. How in the world would I go on without her? She was my best friend.

I can't win, I can't reign.
I will never win this game without you, without you.
I am lost, I am vain. I will never be the same without you, without you.
I won't run, I won't fly. I will never make it by without you, without you.
I can't rest, I can't fight . All I need is you, & I without you, without you.

Coincidentally, I learned my dad had also deemed this to be her song. This was especially strange because my dad mainly listens to classical and choir music!

My mom was a beloved high school teacher in her local town. After her passing, the school started a scholarship in her memory and hosted a faculty talent show to raise money for it. While the entire talent show was amazing, one particular performance by the art teachers moved me to tears.

It appeared that my dad and I weren't the only ones who knew this was her song. Everyone else knew it too.

As months went by, her song played less frequently on the radio until hardly ever at all. But after a while, her song seemed to only play at pivotal moments in my life. I remember a monitoring ultrasound for our IVF cycle in 2012 where the RE told me that my ovaries were not responding whatsoever. I was devastated. I got into the car and started to cry. I turned on the car to make my drive into work, when all of the sudden her song began to play on the radio. It was as though she was trying to comfort me by telling me she was near.

About a year after her death, my dad moved from Utah to Texas. Buying his home just 15 houses up the street from us was such a special day. I remember how excited we were meeting the realtor and being handed the keys to his new house. I hopped back in the car with the keys in hand, turned on the radio and there was her song! I felt like she was pleased my dad would be looked after. She was definitely near.

Unfortunately, I haven't heard this song played on the radio for many, many months.

However on Monday, after our amazing ultrasound, I was stunned, in awe, and basking in the joy of hearing our baby's heartbeat for the very first time. On the drive home, I turned on the radio and guess what song was just starting to play? Her song! No doubt she was with us for such a joyous occasion. She wanted us to know she was near.

I love her and miss her so much, but I'm comforted knowing she is watching from the other side. I think she knows the bigger picture and is smiling as she watches it unfold.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The ultrasound

Meet our precious snowflake baby. Baby looks great and has a strong heartbeat of 134 bpm!

The nerves leading up to the ultrasound were unreal. I have never been so scared in my life. But with this amazing news I am so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that I am in tears. Thank you so much for your prayers.

We will be going back on Monday morning for another ultrasound - not because the RE is worried at all about this baby. But because the RE is ultra cautious that a second baby isn't growing somewhere it shouldn't be. My RE encourages single embryo transfers. So in cases where they transfer more than one, they always like to be extra careful. I'm not worried about that at all, and it's another amazing opportunity to see this beautiful baby growing in there! Can't wait until Monday!

Worst night of sleep ever

I barely slept last night. I tossed and turned pretty much the whole night. I couldn't shut my brain off. I kept thinking about today's ultrasound and was subconsciously playing through all the potential scenarios I could think of - both good and bad. I kept thinking about the first ultrasound during my first pregnancy where I was told I had an ectopic and my world came crashing down around me. I'm so full of anxiety it's crazy. I was optimistic for the majority of the wait for the ultrasound. But over the past day, my mental state took a negative turn. This crazy post-miscarriage brain of mine clearly has a hard time with this sort of thing.

We head to the clinic for the ultrasound at 1pm CST. I really wish it was earlier *sigh*. If we get good news, we will be stopping by Kevin's mom's house on the way home to tell her the news and show her the ultrasound picture. If we get bad news, I imagine we will come home and cry/sleep. Either way, when I get home I will update you all. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I've never prayed so hard in my life!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Are you in there?

As I wait for my ultrasound, I'm constantly wondering what is going on in there. I'm 6w1d today. Baby snowflake should be the size of a sweet pea. Is there a little heart beating yet? Are there two hearts? Hmmm, I really think there's just one. Well, I hope and pray there is at LEAST one, let's put it that way.

Are you in there, tiny little baby heart?

Monday seems so far away!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The elevator speech

Kevin and I went out to dinner on Sunday night. As expected, the server started by asking us what we wanted to drink. Kevin selected a beer from the restaurants extensive list of on-tap beers. And of course, I asked for water with lemon. I told our server I had a gluten intolerance and asked a few questions about the menu. The server returned with our drinks and then said to me "Did you order water only because you can't drink beer due to the gluten in it? Because we have gluten free beer if you'd like that." And my response was "Actually, I'm pregnant."

Whoa. Did those words actually come out of my mouth? It felt really foreign (yet oh-so-good) to say! The server's face lit up with a smile and she beamed "Congratulations!"

She began asking questions like "When are you due?" I answered "August."

She asked "Are you scared?" and of course my first reaction was "Yup, I'm terrified."

Then it dawned on me that she was likely asking if I'm scared to be a mother - NOT if I'm scared if this baby will actually die before being born as my first two had. Cue the reality of infertile brain.

After the brief conversation, Kevin and I reflected about what a surreal moment we just had with this stranger. I really am pregnant. And to this server, I was probably just a regular ol' pregnant woman who has a baby growing inside of her because of a roll in the hay with her husband. Does it matter to me if she knows the miraculous additional details of how this pregnancy came to be or not? Not really. But it did get me thinking about it since I imagine I'll be having similar conversations with others as my pregnancy (God-willingly) progresses.

I always told myself that I would be an advocate for embryo adoption. It is an incredible but widely unknown path that I wish was more known and accepted in our society. I always strive to live by the motto of "Be the change you wish to be in this world." So with that being said, I need to make sure I'm not afraid to talk about it or share. This is one of the reasons I blog. It's one of the reasons I started our EA/ED Facebook group. But it's a whole new territory broaching this topic with strangers as we discuss my seemingly "ordinary" pregnancy. Who exactly should I share our story with? With servers at restaurants? When exactly is appropriate? I feel I need to be delicate so that I don't over-share, BUT I feel called to share. Because if the story of our experience with embryo adoption ultimately gets back to a suffering infertile couple who then begins to research it and they ultimately find success with it themselves, it will all be worth it to me. I would also love for couples with leftover remaining embryos to know an amazing option exists for them as well.

There's a concept used in the business world called an 'elevator speech.' An elevator speech is when someone explains an idea in a quick yet powerful 30-60 second speech as they might stand next to a stranger in an elevator. It's the chance to make a strong first impression on any particular topic. I feel like I need to come up with my 'elevator speech' for our story of embryo adoption. I need to condense it into a nutshell, ensure I share only the right amount of details, and have it ready if the right moment presents itself. I know I wont use this speech with everyone I meet, but if I feel the moment is right, I want to be ready.

For those of you who have been through embryo adoption, do you have your 'elevator speech' prepared? What do you say? What questions prompt you to bring up your experience with embryo adoption? Who do you find yourself sharing your story with and why?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Iced in!

Like much of the rest of the country, Austin is experiencing extremely cold temperatures and ice. But unlike much of the rest of the US, Austin isn't used to cold weather and ice! So in our case, much of the city comes to a standstill. This means we avoid the roads, light a fire, find a fluffy blanket and stay cozy. I grew up in Utah and sometimes miss the cold temperatures so I'm weird and am liking it.

I've been in good spirits with the news of my doubling beta. I've had regular cramping, sore breasts, food aversions, heartburn etc. Even though the physical symptoms are uncomfortable, it brings me much comfort every time a symptom rears it's head.

I can't express to you how much I want to see the flicker of a tiny heartbeat on the 16th since we never got to see it in our first pregnancy/miscarriage. Week after week we'd go to the OB and some progress would be made, but no heartbeat. We'd tell ourselves "Maybe next week" but it never happened. And at 9w1d it was over. I'm trying to make myself believe that this time will be different and we may actually get to experience that beautiful heartbeat this time. I still can't help but be scared as the memories of my first pregnancy come rushing back.

In the meantime, I'm trying to keep myself occupied while cooped up at home.

I decided to conquer a pinterest craft and made myself this DIY sharpie mug.

And I also made two pounds of sugar coated pecans this morning. They are so good and will be a hit at the Christmas party we are hosting on Saturday!

I hope everyone is cozy at home in this cold weather. Brr!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Beta #2 results

Beta #2 came in at 1373 which puts the doubling time of 51.6 hours! Betas start to slow down to 72-96 hours anyway as they get past 1200 so I'm happy with the results!

And the other good news is that my RE doesn't want anymore betas like I first thought. Hallelujah! She thinks two is enough. My ultrasound is scheduled for December 16 at 1pm CST. It's going to be another long wait but the prize at the end of this wait should be unimaginable. God willing, we will get to see the flicker of a tiny heartbeat.

I just want to see that little flicker that day. I have never wanted something so badly in my entire life. Please God, PLEASE let us see that tiny heartbeat.

And we wait once again

My blood is drawn and I anxiously wait for the phone call to let me know the results of beta #2. I'm not as nervous about this one for some reason. Although the crazy damaged brain in me thinks that by me NOT worrying somehow I'm jinxing it so the results will be bad. How bizarre is that? The irrational and superstitious places my wacky brain goes while I'm waiting are ridiculous.

As the mark of an infertility veteran, I've officially blown the vein in my right arm. I've had multiple lab people tell me that vein was on it's last leg and today it was official. It's no good anymore. I guess I have something in common with hardcore IV drug users. Just crazy! I hope it comes back to life at some point and is usable again! Good thing I have plenty more that are juicy and good to go!

Okay I'm off to work. I really hope it's a good result because I can't handle a meltdown while I'm there. Thanks for your prayers! I'll post once I get the number.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Another milestone: 5w0d

I'm 5w0d today!

I'm staying hopeful that my beta will look great tomorrow, but I have a feeling I'll still be a nervous wreck until I get the call. My clinic not only made me wait until 13dp6dt for my first beta, they make me wait three days in between repeat betas, and I have to get three betas total before moving onto scheduling an ultrasound. Holy moly it feels so dragged out. This means my third and final beta will be Monday, and hopefully my ultrasound will be later next week or early the week after. I hope my betas are rock star great, and I can continue to feel happy about all of this!

Physically, I'm feeling pretty good most of the day. But other than extreme hunger (which lasts all day and night) most of my symptoms mainly come out in the evenings. My breasts are the most tender in the evenings, I'm the most tired and nauseated, and most of my cramping happens between 5pm until I go to bed. In the mornings and afternoons I find myself wondering if I'm still pregnant because my symptoms are so mild or gone altogether. But when I get home from work, I definitely remember because my symptoms are all back. I guess this baby is a night owl. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

I'm finding myself thinking a lot about our donors. My heart is bursting with gratitude to both of them for these extraordinary gifts they have given us. Both Vicky and Libby have been angels to us. At the same time, my heart is incredibly heavy and sad as I think of Libby and the suffering she and her family continues to endure with her daughter's brain tumor. I think of her constantly.

I will never understand God's reasoning for why this happened to her, especially for the timing of it. Her daughter's diagnosis gives her survival approximately nine months. And as we all know, nine months is also the length of time it takes me to have a baby. I find myself realizing that in nine months, Kevin and I could be experiencing the most incredible joy we will ever know as we bring our first child into this world. Yet at the same time, Libby and her family could be experiencing the most intense pain they will ever know as their precious baby leaves this world. I really don't understand and it seems so incredibly unfair. It's beyond my comprehension. I would trade all of this if I knew it would fix her little girl. I wish we could both have our babies here with us forever and have our "happily ever afters." I ask that you all will continue to pray for Libby's family.

Monday, December 2, 2013

My beta results are in

Never have I cried and laughed so hard in my whole life. All at exactly the same time.

I'm 13dp6dt and my beta came back at 522.

I am overjoyed. Actually, overjoyed doesn't even come close to describing how I feel. I am SO GRATEFUL. OH my gosh am I grateful!

Please continue to stick, little one(s)! Your mommy and daddy love you so much!

Next beta is Thursday!

And now we wait

The deed is done.

My blood is drawn, and now we wait. I am crazy, no, I am INSANELY anxious. There is no doubt that my first two miscarriages damaged me emotionally and mentally. I have never had a blissfully happy beta day, and I've had plenty to look back on. I had something like seven beta draws with my first pregnancy and three for my second, so driving to the lab brings up so much anxiety and fear. I felt like I was going to puke. Every time I do that drive, I feel like I'm driving to get an inevitable outcome: low, non-doubling betas.

The thoughts are racing through my mind like crazy. If I'm nervous today, I can only imagine how nervous I will feel Thursday for beta #2! Yes, I have to wait until Thursday, as if waiting 13dp6dt for beta #1 wasn't torture enough.

I appreciate the kind words and reassurance, but unfortunately there's no talking me out of the nauseating anxiety I am dealing with as I wait for the call. In fact, I started talking to a psychologist shortly after losing baby #1 and she said she thinks I suffer from post-traumatic anxiety stemming from my mom's death, severe infertility diagnosis, and subsequent losses. And on days like today, there is no doubt she's probably right! Holy anxiety, batman! I just want that call to come already so I can begin to process - good or bad.

My plan is to try to relax (ha!) by going to go get a pedicure before work and try to focus on everything else except my fears (ha again!) I have a feeling that's going to be a tall order! :) I usually get my results anywhere from 4-6 hours after draw, so stay tuned. I will post once I get them.

I thank you all so much as you pray for my beta results today. Your support means the world to me, my amazing readers!