Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A whole lotta Embryo Adoption press!

Wow, talk about a whirlwind of Embryo Adoption awareness! I'm super excited about all of the buzz we've been creating.

We were on Good Morning America this morning!

Here is the GMA clip in case you missed it: Snowflake Babies Help Some Couples Start a Family
People NOW: Libby Shares Her Story About Offering the Gift of Parenthood

And in case you missed the People.com stories, here they are - it was a three parter:

Part one: Meet a Woman Who Adopted Her Daughter – as an Embryo
Part two: Libby Kranz Opens Up About Placing Her Embryos Up for Adoption
And part three: Embryo Adoption: How Frozen Cells Become Babies & More Questions, Answered

For those of you wondering, how did People find me? The answer is: HERE. Through my blog. The writer of the People stories read my blog and saw my passion for wanting to spread awareness about embryo adoption, and she offered me a vehicle to do just that. I knew she'd handle our story with care and respect. And boy oh boy, did she deliver such a beautifully written story. It been wildly popular. Shared almost 35k times on social media!

And let me also say, for those of you wondering, no agency, website, or organization is sponsoring our story. No one has paid us. I won't take a penny. There's no secret agenda behind our motivation to run with this other than to let people know it's an option to build a family. I want donors and recipients to match up who otherwise may not have known this was an option for them. There was a mention about agency grants and funding fueling this media buzz from us. That's not true. I've never worked with an agency, and I don't endorse any particular agency, website, organization, etc. I only endorse this process. I plan to remain neutral, unbiased, and support all forms of embryo adoption and donation through all of the different routes that make it possible.

What is next for us? Well, I hope to go back to normal life. There are other families in our EDA community who are also planning to share their stories with the press, and I'm planning to pass the baton to them from here. I want other families to be highlighted in addition to ours. Embryo adoption is not a fad, a trend. It's a legitimate and incredible way to build a family. And it's an answered prayer for those with embryos to donate and those wishing to become parents.

And above all else, I'm so thrilled that our story has brought a spotlight to Libby's pediatric cancer awareness charity, Unravelpediatriccancer.org. If you haven't already had a chance, please visit and support her incredible cause. After all, her beautiful daughter Jennifer was the catalyst for all of this to be possible for us. She is our hero.

Please read Libby's blog for more about the the reasons behind why the Kranzes donated their precious embryos to us: For them 

#Love4JLK



Monday, November 17, 2014

We're on People.com!

Kevin and I have been interviewed by People.com about our journey to parenthood using EA. I'm so thrilled to be able to share our story on such a public stage. I hope this brings awareness to EA and inspires others to donate their remaining embryos to others who would love to have a family.

Check out the article here:
Meet a Woman Who Adopted Her Daughter – as an Embryo

Thursday, November 13, 2014

No words

There are no words to describe the love I have for this little girl...


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 25 is Embryo Adoption Awareness Day!

I'd like for us to establish November 25 as EMBRYO ADOPTION AWARENESS DAY! November is already known as National Adoption Month, so what better time to recognize EDA and spread awareness than during November? Also, with it falling near Thanksgiving, it gives us the ability to discuss the gratitude that EA brings to many families (and I know I'm beyond grateful to Sammy's genetic family!) How can you help? Tell your story. Share a graphic on your Facebook timeline encouraging questions. Blog about it. Contact your local media and see if they want to do a story on it with your help. If your RE doesn't do EDA, talk to them about it. If you have ideas on how to spread awareness, please leave your ideas in the comment. Thank you all for your support!



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What happens when your baby looks like someone else?

As you can see, my blogging has slowed way, way down. That's because the boss of my new job, Sammy, is very demanding. She runs a tight ship. But I love it. And I love her. I am so unbelievably happy to be at home raising her, waking up with her, getting covered in spit up, and being screamed at. It's all worth it 110%. Being a mother is a billion times more amazing than I had even imagined. And trust me, I had high hopes of what it would be like!

I had a realization I wanted to write about today in case anyone is thinking about embryo adoption and may be facing some of the same fears I did in the beginning. I'm not promising you'll feel the same way I do once you hopefully find success, but I just feel compelled to write a little bit about how those fears ended up turning out in my reality.

When we first starting dipping our toes into exploring embryo adoption, I was overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation. We were faced with the decision of using anonymously donated embryos, or by doing it openly and knowing our children's genetic family. We felt strongly that having an open adoption with was right for our family.  But of course, naturally all of that came with some fears too.  I feared that I might someday look at my baby and not see my eyes, my nose, or my husbands ears, and I would feel sad. I worried that I might feel like I was sharing my baby with another family. Or I would feel that he/she was not really ours and we had only borrowed her from someone else.

If you're reading this and it sounds like things you've secretly wondered or are currently wondering, you're not alone.

These worries were much relieved once our situation with our two donor families became real. We knew how amazing they were before and during pregnancy and were proud to have them in our lives. But still I sometimes wondered about those initial fears would feel once I had a baby in my arms. How might I actually feel when I looked at my baby and she looked like someone else? Yesterday, I had a moment that helped answer that for me.

Sammy smiled and she looked exactly like her genetic mother. Her eyes and lips lit up and came together in a way that was an uncanny resemblance of Libby. Libby is beautiful, and so is Sammy.

But there was no sadness. There was no jealousy.

Instead, I looked into what looked so much like Libby's face and was filled with gratitude for the genetic family who made this possible for us. I was reminded of the incredible journey that brought us to this special little girl. Children do not belong to anyone. And they are all borrowed, in a way. They are their own special spirits that are entrusted to us from God for our short time on earth. And God placed Sammy in our lives with a purpose. He has taught me to always feel thankful in this little girl's smile and remember the selfless act of her genetic mother that not only gave Sammy the opportunity for life, but also finally made us a family. It reminds me of how beautiful Sammy truly is, and not just in her looks alone. I adore that she looks like her genetic family because it's a forever reminder of all of the love that went into bringing her here and how much we love those who had a part in it. And you know what's weird? She looks a lot like us too. It's like she's the perfect blend of all of us.

I wouldn't change a thing.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I landed my dream job.

I'm now a stay at home mom! After our crazy battle with infertility and loss, it feels surreal to write that.

We weren't having any luck finding a nanny for Sammy. So I think it may have been God's way of nudging us to make the decision for me to stay home with her.  Yesterday, I took Sammy into the office to meet my coworkers and while I was there, I met with my boss and gave him my resignation. I've worked in IT in the financial sector pretty much my entire adult life and accomplished quite a bit. But I'm so excited for this new job title and responsibility. Financially, it is going to mean lots of changes. But that's totally okay. I am so grateful to Kevin who is a hardworking and loving father so we can have this incredible opportunity.

I am so blessed.

Life is good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's about time I got around to update

Sammy is already two months old! Where has time gone?

I freaking love being a mom. And not just any mom, but SAMMY'S mom. She is just incredible. I never knew I could love someone like this. I can say without a doubt that all of the heartache and pain to get to this point made the moments now that much sweeter. Who knows if I would have appreciated motherhood this much if it hadn't been so hard to achieve? Even the moments where she's screaming bloody murder in my ear are appreciated and my heart is so full. I wouldn't trade any of our journey to get here because if any of it were different, these moments may not be exactly what they are right now.

Breastfeeding is still going well....well, well-ish. I think there will always be ups and downs, as with anything else in life. She has reflux which has made for a lot of spit up and struggling while trying to nurse. So she's gaining weight not as quickly as I'd like. I'm seeing some reflux improvement in the past few days so I'm hoping her weight gain will pick up a little bit, but otherwise everything is great. I've already stored about 20oz of milk in the freezer. Sometimes I'll open the freezer door just to look at it. It's been a hard road and I'm weird but like seeing the stash as one of the many tangible payoffs to the effort put into it.

We have a new pediatrician that we will be meeting with for the first time today and I'm strangely excited. Maybe it's because it's an excuse to get out of the house. Or maybe it's because I have so many questions I'm eager for her to answer. Maybe it's because shes not only a pedi, but also a certified lactation consultant. Or maybe it's because she's just up the street from us. Fingers crossed she works out because it almost seems too good to be true on paper! Anyway, we're going to the pedi today at 2pm and she will be getting her first big round of two month vaccines. I'm a little nervous watching her get poked like that but I know it's for the best. There's a tiny bit of mommy anxiety going on over here, I can't wait until it's over so I can snuggle her and comfort her and make it all better.

Overall, things are going great. We're are following into a fairly successful routine. And ironically enough, going through the VLCAD feeding schedule her first month of life kind of set us up for that anyway. So I've found the silver lining in that hellish ordeal. She slept almost seven hours straight the other night!

One thing that surprises me is that I've really gotten into babywearing. Aside from the joy it brings me to have her right on my body, it's so dang convenient to have her on me out and about while my hands are free. Also, people tend to want to touch her less while we are in public as opposed to if she were in her carrier. I have a Sakura Bloom Ring sling, a baby k-tan (which is too big and I need to figure out how to exchange it for a size smaller) and I just ordered a Lillebaby All Seasons which should come this week or next.

Look how happy she is snuggled up in the ring sling. Well, that makes two of us!


She's cooing, smiling, and positively responding to me and Kevin when she's approached and in a happy mood. It's so heart melting. I have also started reading to her. We sit and read newborn black and white baby books pretty much every day. Who knows how much she actually cares about it this early on? But so what? She is engaged, happy, and I feel like I'm setting the foundation for her to enjoy all of the reading that she and I will be doing together as she grows. It's been one of the things I've looked forward to most as I dreamed of being a mother. That, and making soapy mohawks on her head in the bathtub. And lucky for us, she has enough hair for me to do that already!

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to get some family photos of the three of us with my own camera and remote control. Unfortunately, total fail. Each time either Sammy wasn't happy or the remote control wasn't working right. So I finally gave up and hired another photographer/friend and she took these beautiful photos that I'll share here!




Thursday, September 11, 2014

I have been so, so busy.

I am finally settling into "normal" life as a mom with a new baby. It's incredible being a mom and now that I finally have this VLCAD thing not looming overhead, I'm able to really savor it! I still can't believe how horrifying that first month of her life was for me. It really was one of the hardest things I've been through, facing a life threatening illness of someone I loved so much and had prayed so hard for. I can barely even think about it because it hurt so much!

I'm so glad she's okay and I'm happy to be busy with her even though it means my blog posts will likely suffer a little bit!

What am I up to other than the obvious things related to caring for a sweet little baby?

Well, I've been working recently on trying to find a nanny for when I go back to work near the end of October. I barely want to even type that because it makes it feel real and I still am sad thinking about leaving her at home. I hope we find someone we feel great about because it's really hard to trust someone with something so precious to us.

I've also been busy trying to get my photography business up and running which involves filing for all of the proper licenses, paying fees, building websites, etc. I usually try to do this during Sammy naps and surprisingly have made some good headway here!

I'm also dealing with some genetic issues myself. I swear, genetic testing has been so prevalent in our lives lately and it's back again, only this time for me. For those of you who know my story, my mom died of colon cancer at a young age and all of her three adult children, including myself, have had colon polyps at young ages. Doctors agree that there's likely something hereditary going on and I've been going through testing with an oncologist and genetic counselor to try to figure it out. I was tested for a single genetic disorder in 2012 that came back as negative. But this time, they did an incredibly extensive panel that will test for all kinds of uterine, breast, ovarian, and colon cancer disorders. It will be scary if/when I learn that I have a disorder that leads to a much higher risk of cancer. But at the same time, knowledge is power so hopefully I can do something to avoid it. I'll get the results on November 21 and am trying to put it out of my mind a little bit until then.

Okay - happy news! Breastfeeding is going so well. Finally! It was so hard in the beginning. Both Sammy and I had a terrible case of thrush that we believe I got from the antibiotics given to me after the c-section in the hospital. Breastfeeding started out painful and got worse and worse until it was nearly unbearable. I'd cry. I eventually had to exclusively pump. I had no reference point and figured breastfeeding was that painful for everyone. Little did I know, it isn't. Once we found out what was going on, my OB, pediatrician, and I declared war on it and after a couple of weeks of multiple therapies it went away. All the while I also was worried about VLCAD and under a lot of stress which I'm sure impacted my supply too. In fact, if she had turned out to have VLCAD, I would have been told to stop breastfeeding anyway. So there were many times I considered giving up. But I didn't and I'm glad. Once all of those crazy hurdles were behind me, operation exclusive-breastfeeding was 100% underway. I've been nursing and pumping like crazy and I am excited to report that the past three days/nights that Sammy has been 100% breastfed with no more formula supplementation. And I am even getting enough to start build a stash. I could not be more happy about this achievement considering everything I had going against me! I can't help but pat myself on the back for what I feel like is a huge accomplishment.

And I'm not sure if it's related or not, but she started sleeping through the night (5 hours) the first night she was exclusively breastfed and did it a second time last night. Yippee! I'm well rested!

Sammy just started smiling and cooing in response to our silly antics this week and it makes my heart melt. I'll leave you with a picture of her toothless grin.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Sammy's genetic origins

We found out a few weeks ago through elective DNA testing that Sammy came from Libby's embryo batch. Sammy is beautiful and an uncanny reflection of her genetic family. I am saddened about the tragedy they've endured with the loss of their beautiful daughter and I'll never understand why such horrific things happen to the most amazing people. They have been heros to us and we wouldn't have our little girl if it wasn't for their selflessness. We hope that as Sammy grows she will have a wonderful balance of "nature vs nurture" and will demonstrate some of the incredible traits of her genetic parents. I am having a hard time putting into words how I feel about our gratitude to them because words truly cannot express it properly. Not even in a fraction of a sense.

Of course, getting the genetic news about Sammy's genetic origins was bittersweet because we know that she could only come from one batch and the not the other. And in this case, it meant she is not from Vicky's embryo batch. That also means that all of Vicky's embryos are gone forever. But despite this, we've made a wonderful friend of Vicky over the past couple of years and she will always be family to us. If there's one thing that embryo adoption teaches us it is that genetics don't make a family, love does. Friends are the family we choose. And remember  - we have angel babies in heaven that are genetically related to her little boy.

I wanted to post this update because it's an important piece of our story. We love both of our donor families and now move forward with the mystery solved of Sammy's genetic origins.

We are so grateful for embryo adoption and love our little snowflake more than anything else in this world.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The news we've been waiting for...

We finally heard back from the genetic test and Sammy does NOT have VLCAD. I cannot begin to tell you how relieved and happy I am! Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers.

And today is my birthday. Best birthday present ever! I am over the moon!

Now I just hope we have an uneventful life for the next little while!

Friday, August 22, 2014

I'm an idiot.

Kevin went back to work on Wednesday which leaves me alone in my thoughts most of the day and night. It's left me a lot of time to worry about these VLCAD results, and even worse, to research it online. Libby, being the incredibly strong and amazing mother she is, gave me a pep talk the day we got the initial screening results and told me to stay off the internet. I should have listened to her. I am so mad at myself. I couldn't resist. I was looking for reassurance somehow, as if the internet can give that to me as I wait tirelessly for Sammy's results.

I'm an idiot, but I've been reading about it. A lot.

Up until recently, I was somewhat reassured that Sammy's second newborn screen came back normal. But yesterday I learned on multiple studies that a second screen for a VLCAD patient typically does come back as normal as the levels normalize. So the second screen being normal means nothing. And the fact her actual blood panel came up as slightly abnormal is worrisome to me. Big time. I don't have access to talk to the geneticist himself so all of my questions are unanswered and I'm going positively insane. He won't give us his take on the blood panel because he's waiting for the DNA test results which are more definitive. And even though we thought we'd get those results this week, we haven't.

I also know that because of the inability for a baby with VLCAD to break down very-long-chain fatty acids, commonly found in breast milk, breastfeeding could be harming her as we wait. And I'm working so, so hard at getting breastfeeding to work out for her. If she doesn't have it and I give up breastfeeding (which I'm not planning to, but I can see how someone might) and we find out she doesn't have it, we missed out on the benefits of breastfeeding. But if she does have it and has too many of the fats her body can't process, it can lead to organ failure or a metabolic crisis. It's incredibly hard to walk the line not knowing what the reality is. It's enough to make my head spin.

All of the 'normal' newborn things have me second guessing. She has reflux, irritability, some days sleeps a lot and some days doesn't sleep as much. To anyone else, they'd chalk it up as normal baby stuff. But I always go to the "Is this a sign of VLCAD?" first and foremost. It's maddening, more than anything I've ever been through in my life. Miscarriages included.

It's all I can think about and I really am worried sick. I'm having a really really hard time with it right now. I'm praying we get the results soon and they show she's 100% clear of this - not even a carrier. I guess even being a carrier can manifest symptoms in scary ways.

I'm just feeling broken watching her every move and wondering and worrying what is lurking beneath her seemingly healthy self. I can't imagine losing this little girl to a life-threatening disease like this. I haven't been able to truly enjoy this incredible experience because of this black cloud hanging above me.

I thank God Kevin will be here this weekend so I can be distracted once again. Being alone in my thoughts with access to Dr Google is clearly a bad thing!

And for those of you who may be wondering, we did get the results for the DNA test that tells us which genetic family Sammy is from and have told both of our donor families. I want to respect the families involved so that they can tell their families about it before posting here. But once I know it's okay, I will write about it.

Thanks for hearing me today and please continue to pray that her test results come soon and they are a resounding negative and this is over once and for all.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Not what I expected when I opened the door

Sammy has had some gas and reflux symptoms so while we wait to see the pedi on Tuesday, I ordered some gripe water off of Amazon to try to help her out. I knew it was out for delivery yesterday and when the mailman came to deliver it, I was eager to try it out. I had also been trying out my Sakura Bloom ring sling and have been wearing Sammy around the house. So when the doorbell rang, I happened to have her on me already and it made it really easy to get up to go to the door.

I could see through the window that the mailman had left the package and was no longer there. So I opened the front door when something came flying at me missing me by inches. YES, FLYING. And it landed on the tile entryway.

It was a baby snake. 

It took me a couple of seconds to realize what had happened. At first, I thought it was a restaurant delivery menu been tucked into the crease of our door. But menus don't start slithering toward your dining room.

Cue complete and utter freak out.

Kevin was still sleeping and I had the baby strapped to me in the sling. I didn't want to go near it, but I also couldn't let it out of my sight to somehow allow it to slither into an unknown part of the house leaving us to wonder what and where it was. I was way too vulnerable so I just started yelling for Kevin. Luckily he heard me and came running in to see this snake which had perched itself into the corner of the entry hall.  Imagine his surprise!

He wasn't sure if it was a baby rattlesnake either because they can be hard to identify when they are small. But he was able to safely get it into a plastic pitcher with a shoe and cover it so it was safely contained while we tried to identify it. If it was a rattlesnake, it meant we probably had a nest somewhere and that would be really bad!



After posting this photo to Facebook and ultimately calling a local snake guy who actually answered his phone on a Sunday morning, we identified it was a harmless Yellow Belly Racer snake. And Kevin was able to release it into a field behind out house.

We think it climbed the door to make it's way into a wreath that I have hanging that sometimes birds hang out in. Because this thing didn't slither in on the ground, it came flying in from the air!

For someone who hasn't left the house in a while except for pediatrician and OB appointments, it was quite the adventure. I'm a little nervous about going through the door for fear of what might fly at me next! You know what they say - don't mess with Texas! ;-)

And PS, the ring sling was great. Sammy slept through the whole thing!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Finally, the birth story with pictures

I've been so crazy busy I haven't had a chance to type up the birth story. I know that as time passes, I'll forget more and more about it so I want to get it down while I can. Here goes.

I had been dealing with mild pre-eclampsia for a week or two and finally after a L&D scare over the weekend, so my OB and MFM decided I would be delivering a week early via scheduled c-section. I got the call on Monday, July 21, 2014 to be prepared for a July 22, 7am delivery. The nurse was so sweet and ended the call with "you're going to have your baby in your arms tomorrow!" I hung up and cried tears of joy.

I made a few phone calls to my work, to the dog daycare, family, etc, to get all of my affairs in order. We dropped the dog off later that evening and Kevin and I laid in bed in awe telling one another that our lives would be forever changed the following day. We set our alarms for 3:45am because we had to arrive at the hospital at 4:45am.

I laid in bed feeling like a kid does waiting for Christmas morning - well, that times a million.  I knew that the following day would be magical and there was no way I could get a wink of sleep leading up to it. So I decided I'd go out into the family room and watch TV. We had to "wake up" (but I couldn't sleep lol) at 3:45am and I only had about four hours to kill.

I watched some guilty reality shows, some Top Chef reruns, and around 2:45am I went to the restroom only to realize my underwear was soaked. Huh? Pregnant ladies are known for having bladder accidents, but this was a lot. Then, more gushes came. It took a minute to register, but it finally hit me - my water broke.  What in the world are the odds of that just an hour before we were supposed to get up for the hospital anyway? It wasn't at all like I expected it to be. I didn't feel a pop, a large gush, I just happened to notice I was all wet and had to put it all together in my head.

I woke Kevin up and said "you'll never believe this, but my water broke. So let's get this show on the road a little earlier than planned. I'm sure contractions are coming." He couldn't believe it! He jumped out of bed, took a quick shower and we got all of my packed bags in the car and headed to the hospital. By the time we got there, I was already feeling some contractions and speed bumps in the parking lot hurt. A lot.

When we arrived to L&D we told them I had a planned c-section but we there just a bit early due to my water breaking. All of the nurses stopped what they were doing and laughed. They couldn't believe the timing either!

I was put into a pre-op bed and monitors were strapped on me. Contractions were coming every seven minutes or so. They tried to get an IV placed in my arm, but due to my deep veins they ran into issues. I'm not normally a fainter and have had plenty of blood draws and needle pricks in my life, but I passed out twice (horrible, horrible feeling) when the third try they finally got the IV in. Thank goodness.

I was running on no sleep and tried to rest a bit before everything picked up around 6:30am. I had a myriad of people come in and introduce themselves to me, but honestly, I can't remember much of who because of how tired and how uncomfortable I was. But finally a few minutes later, they said it was time to go to the OR. Kevin put his surgery outfit on, had a big smile on his face, and I was taken into the operating room and was told he'd follow shortly thereafter.

They had me step up onto the operating table and lean forward so the anesthesiologist could insert the spinal. I actually was more nervous about this moment than the surgery itself. But with his careful instruction, this was a breeze. I only felt a pinch as the pain numbing medication went in. I've had fertility treatments hurt more than that! Once it was in, they had me flip my legs onto the table where I felt this warmth come over them. It was welcomed because I was starting to feel a little chilly. During this whole time, I was barely speaking. They asked if I was okay, and I was. I was more than okay. I was just in utter shock. That's the best word I can use to describe it. I was in shock that our little girl was about to be born and the emotions were overwhelming. It was overwhelming and sacred.

I laid on the table taking in all of the emotions, sounds, and sights around me and Kevin came in. He held my hand.  I could feel them taping me with drapes.



Most of what happens next is a blur - out of sheer emotion I can't remember it, but it still brings tears to my eyes. After some really hefty tugging, pulling, and pushing, I heard the doctor say "wow, she's big!" and a few seconds later I heard her cry.



I don't know why her cry surprised me, but it did. I get that babies cry at birth, but for some reason I didn't register that would be happening. But hearing it was the most beautiful sound I've ever heard.

Kevin said "that's our little girl! that's our little girl!" We both cried for this moment we waited for our whole lives. The doctor held her over the curtain where I saw her open her big eyes and look down at me!

She was quickly taken about 10 feet away to the warming table where Kevin followed. I could see her little hands and legs kicking.




She quickly grasped Kevin's finger and held on tight.



They cleaned her up, bundled her, and brought her over for me to see again.



We were taken into recovery where I finally got to hold her and look at her. And I haven't stopped looking at her since. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

This little ginger

Lately, the days seem to go by so quickly yet so slowly all at the same time. Kevin has to go back to work next week which I'm dreading for lots of reasons. It's been so wonderful having him here, and he's been pretty much waiting on Sammy and me hand and foot. He's been cooking, cleaning, bringing glasses of water to me, changing diapers as needed, staying up late to help - he really is the best husband and dad anyone could ever dream of. And of course, I love having our little family time and will be sad when he has to go. But of course, real life must go on.

While Sammy sleeps, I've been knocking out to-do items like phone calls to insurance, tidying the house, etc and feel like I'm finally getting in a bit of a groove. I'm actually feeling hopeful that this VLCAD issue will end up being a false positive. Maybe that's the Zoloft talking, or maybe it's just the fact that the second screen did come back as normal. Either way, living without paralyzing anxiety has been a nice change. I can't believe how debilitating that kind of anxiety is and I'm glad I got help for it when I did. I do feel better. If any of you find yourself struggling with postpartum anxiety or depression, please don't hesitate to ask for help. I'm not ashamed to talk about it and neither should you.

As far as tests go, we still haven't received the results for both the DNA test that will tell us which embryo batch Sammy is from, nor have we received the definitive DNA sequencing for the VLCAD results. I hope to at least get the embryo batch DNA test back this week, and if not, I'll be making some calls. We could get the VLCAD results this week, but probably next.

Can I tell you how much I love this little girl? I don't ever want to lay her down. I want to hold her all day and all night. Of course, that's not realistic but it's what I would do if I never had to sleep, eat, or shower. I could just stare at her beautiful face all day long and tell her how much she is loved and was prayed for. I love our 'girl talks' we have after she's fully fed, changed, and happy as a clam. She's my Sammy snowflake and I always want her to know how special she is. Kevin and I tell her we love her at least 100 times a day, and that's probably not an exaggeration.

We've noticed she's got a red hue to her hair....

Ginger snowflake

I never expected Sammy to be born with red hair, but I think it's a wonderful surprise. Of course I would love her no matter what color hair she has - red, blonde, black, green - it doesn't matter! But I feel like there's a nod from my mom in that hair color somewhere because she always said Kevin and I would have a baby with red hair. And when we discovered my infertility, I had to grieve that red-haired child would never come to be. I wrote a blog entry about it long ago you can read here: The ghost of a red haired child.

When she's laughing in her sleep, which she does often, I think it must be my mom tickling her in her dreams! What else could a newborn baby be laughing at? ;-)

She's beautiful beyond comprehension. And not only do I feel overwhelming love for her, I also can't describe the overwhelming gratitude for the donor family who made it possible for her to be ours. We are so, so blessed.

I thank God for embryo adoption.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Some test results are in

We had our two week appointment with our pediatrician today. In good news, Sammy has been gaining weight and now weighs 7lb4oz. She's 80% breastfed and 20% supplemented with formula and the pedi is very pleased. I'm pleased too, because there are many days where I'm wondering if she's getting enough and this was a good reassurance that she is.

We were all waiting on the edge of our seats for the following tests to come back for VLCAD: A repeat state screen, a urine test, a first blood panel, and the final genetic test.

Today at our appointment, we found out that the urine sample was lost. Our pediatrician was so mad and apologized profusely to us for it, even though it wasn't her fault. We were frustrated about this too because it's hard to get urine from a tiny baby. They have to tape this little bag around her private parts, shove a cotton ball in her behind, and then wait. Not fun for anyone. But it is what it is.

But we did find out that the results for the first blood test had come back. They were "slightly abnormal." What does this mean? It could mean she has full blown VLCAD, is a carrier for it, or doesn't have it. So it doesn't tell us anything, really, other than cause me to worry. And while we tried to get more urine from Sammy in the pedi office, she ended up peeing all over the table instead of into the bag. That level of frustration nearly sent me over the edge into tears (Zoloft isn't quite working dependably yet.)  The pedi decided to call the geneticist to see if this urine test even mattered, and it turns out it doesn't much so we were able to skip it. The true diagnosis really hinges on that final genetic test that will say whether she has two copies (full blown VLCAD) one copy (a carrier) or none (neither.) So I'm really not sure why we even did the other tests, but we did and that's all in the past now.

But almost directly after we left the appointment, I got a call from the pediatrician saying the newborn screen test actually had come in and it came back normal. This is the same test that flagged us into this situation to begin with. I seem to think I have read somewhere that false negatives are possible the later out in an infant's life it is taken, but I took it as a small glimmer of hope anyway. So long story short, we have some test results in but are still left to wonder until this genetic screen is back in two weeks. More information, but not much we can do with it.

It's going to be a whole other kind of two week wait. I hope we survive with our sanity in tact.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Surviving

We're still here, surviving the past couple of days.

Despite my optimistic post a few days ago, I'm still incredibly anxious about this possibility of VLCAD. Who am I kidding? There's no question I was already suffering from a low level of postpartum anxiety, but having the possibility of this life-threatening and rare disease looming overhead has taken me to a nearly unbearable level of worry. I'm always watching Sammy for signs of metabolic distress. Was that jerky movement a seizure? Is she sleeping too much? Is that the lethargy I'm supposed to watch for? Has she eaten enough? If not, is there a phone nearby to call 911?

I mean, it's just maddening, really.

I realized after a good cry the other morning while holding her and pleading with God to please let her be healthy that it was time for me to take a Zoloft that my OB prescribed in the hopes to take the edge off of the anxiety. I know it can take a few days, but the first day it did seem to help a decent amount. Placebo effect? Maybe, but I'll take it. But now I"m noticing a few side effects. I'm having a harder time sleeping, muscle twitches, and yesterday morning I blacked out for a brief moment while laying in bed. I think the blackout was a combination of sleep deprivation, not eating well myself (it's been so hard to figure out when to eat a midst everything and trying to catch up on sleep) and my blood pressure meds. Apparently Zoloft taken with my type of BP med can increase the impact on my BP. After the mini blackout, I took my BP and it was indeed low. Kevin kept an eye on me and I'm hoping today is a better day!

But anyway, I'm not ashamed to say that I'm suffering from postpartum anxiety that has been immensely fueled by this newborn screening result. And I'm not afraid to say I need some help for it. I'm just hoping this help will help soon, and these side effects decrease ASAP. I just want life to normalize - to whatever degree it will be. I just want the dust to settle already.

We've done the DNA test to find out which embryo batch Sammy came from and are awaiting the results. I have no idea which day those will come back but once the genetic families know the results, I'll post them here too.

Sammy is just a joy beyond comprehension. I love holding her, watching her make her little faces, seeing her smile in her sleep. She even laughs in her sleep, and I know I'm not imagining things because it's happened multiple times and in front of others too. Just a joy and I love her more than anything! Kevin has been calling her chubby-cheeks-cheddar-burger which cracks me up. But it's fitting. :)

I just wish I could enjoy being a new mom to it's fullest without the cloud of uncertainty that is looming with these tests. I appreciate the continued prayers for peace, and for all of these tests to come back as a-ok and we can put all of this behind us.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Newborn photos

In general, it's best to get newborn photos done early on in life when the babies are sleepy and let you pose them into all kinds of positions. Unfortunately, due to the hectic life we've been living lately going back and forth to the doctor and pediatrician (on top of regular life as new parents) we didn't get to the photos until yesterday. And unfortunately, I think it was too late for many of those typical sleepy poses. But I got a few decent shots nonetheless that I'm excited about and wanted to share.









We just love this little girl!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Things are looking up

As you probably recognized from yesterday's post, things were bad yesterday. I even ended up calling my OB nurse because I felt like my health was also suffering after we got the news. My BP was very high and I was dealing with serious, serious anxiety. They put me back on the BP meds I was on during pregnancy which also helps with anxiety and also prescribed me Zoloft. I'm already feeling a little more in control today just from the BP meds alone but glad I have the Zoloft if I need it.

Yesterday morning, I tried to make an appointment with the specific geneticist we were referred to, but I found out the earliest that he could see us was October. I just about lost my mind. I felt like I was in no mans land - just enough information to scare the life out of us but no one could help us get answers. I ended up calling the pediatrician's office and asked if they could get ahold of the geneticist and make something happen sooner.

As we waited for the call back, we took our precious little Sammy girl into the children's hospital to have her blood drawn. I was running on no sleep, and watching them pin her down, tourniquet her tiny little arms until they were white and poke her while she shrieked, was a little piece of hell for me. I know parents watch their kids go through far, far worse things and that this is nothing. But to me, I was just sickened and it was awful.

Our sweet, little Sammy sleeping at home after the blood draws earlier in the day.
When we got back, the pediatrician called. He said he couldn't get us in sooner, but that he had talked to the geneticist about the situation. The geneticist didn't think our situation was even remotely an emergency! And in fact had said, and I quote, that "95% of these state mandated screens come back as false positives"! I knew that there was a chance this could be a false positive but knowing an expert in this field was saying this gave me a huge, huge rush of relief. I still worry about being in the 5% but those odds are incredibly promising. I could sense in the pedi's voice that his urgency had declined after talking to the geneticist.

We also got some answers as far as timelines and tests go. Sammy had a urine collection done on Monday and her blood draw yesterday. The geneticist recommended a third test, which would require a blood draw to check for some enzyme or something (I think?) Because we had just returned from the lab, we will have to go back on Friday to have poor Sammy poked again for more blood. But that should be the end of it, I hope.

We should have the urine and first blood test back within 10 days or so and those results should be pretty telling about where we stand with this disorder being legitimate or a false positive. And the final blood test will take a month but will seal the deal either way. I pray that these initial tests are so blaringly clear that we won't have to worry for that last test and it's just final confirmation that this truly is nothing.

Anyway, there's my update on her health and I am so, so grateful for the kind words, prayers, and encouragement from my blog readers. I know that this is what being a parent is all about - being worried because you love your baby so very much.  But I had no idea we'd be going from the typical new-parent kind of worrying about things like colic, weight gain, sleeping etc to being thrust into knowing which signs to watch for in the event of a seizure, or that we must take her to a particular children's ER in the event of an emergency from the VLCAP situation.

And on the breastfeeding front, I hired a lactation consultant to come over last night. Ever since the news of the genetic test results, Sammy hasn't been latching. I figured she could sense my stress. She roots really well, hops on, but then gives up after a few seconds after attempting to latch. We've been frustrated and have been supplementing with formula while I pump. Despite that, my supply has been growing and the LC was pleased with where I was at with it. And as far as the newly developed latch issue, it turns out that we just have to entice her with a little milk on me first before she latches and she will get going on it! The LC said that once we introduced bottles, she got used to immediate reward with the milk coming out. On the breast, she has to work for it and has gotten impatient so gives up when nothing comes out in a suck or two. Why work for something when it comes out so easily from the bottle?  T his baby girl is just too smart for her own good. :) I had no idea how intelligent such a tiny little baby could be, but I'm learning every day!

We weighed her and she's finally gaining weight and her jaundice has all but disappeared. We also have clear guidelines on how much she should be eating every day - something we've been clueless about. We've also rented the LC's very sensitive scale that can tell how much she's consuming. I feel in control of breastfeeding again and it's a really wonderful feeling. I have no problem supplementing or using formula if we need to go there, and still need to top her off from time to time, but I am so glad we are back on track with it.

I'm well rested today, on my BP meds and feeling better, and I hope to finally tackle her newborn pictures to share with you all.

Again, thank you for all of the support and prayers, and please continue to pray that we aren't in the 5% of these screens that are not false positive after all. I still do worry.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why does God keep testing us? WHY?

I write this as I sob uncontrollably after a horrible, horrible night.

Yesterday started like any other day. We had our first pediatrician well check, and all that was on our minds was Sammy's mild jaundice and moderate weight loss. I've also struggled with breastfeeding, I feel clueless.

We left, came home, went about the day when the phone rang. It was the pediatrician. He told us that one of Sammy's state genetic screens had come back "out of range" and needed us to come into the office right away. Nothing in my life has been so terrifying. He didn't answer many of my questions over the phone.

The genetic problem is called VLCAD. I guess it's a problem where babies can't process fats properly, something about lacking an enzyme. But if they go without eating for long periods of time (beyond 3 hours or so) they could go into metabolic distress and need hospitalization, or could even die. It's something that is treatable but terrifying because without strict management could cause serious, serious issues.

No mom wants to get news like this. No dad wants news like this. I hung up the phone and cried and cried.

We rushed Sammy into the pedi and I felt like we left with more questions than answers. We were referred to a geneticist at the local Dell Children's hospital here in Austin. They collected urine and will be getting blood this morning. I'm just sick of the thought of these tests alone, let alone the outcome. Like I said, having left the pedi with more questions than answers, I've been left to look it up online. I guess another confirmation test is to do a skin biopsy on her leg.

Do you all realize how tiny this little girl is? The idea of them doing these tests sickens me. She looks up at me and smiles with her big cheeks, she doesn't understand. I don't understand why this is happening.

With my stress levels high, I've been unable to breastfeed. She's not latching. I'm waking up every 2 hours to feed her formula and then follow with pumping. Even if this screening turns out to be nothing, we probably won't know for a very long time - months even. I have no idea since I still have so many questions lingering. My blood pressure was sky high yesterday after returning from the peditrician. I already felt like I had a level of post-partum anxiety due to how much I feared something hapening to our little girl, then I get news like this. I don't have words to describe how sick I am over it. I'm terrified for our future. I'm horrified by the thought of watching her go down this testing path. I just wanted to spend these first few weeks like a normal family, with our beautiful baby girl.

Why does God keep testing us?

Please pray that this screening turns out to be a false positive. Please pray we get the results quickly. Please pray for our mental health in the meantime. We are not doing okay.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

We're home! And some pictures...

I'll also be making this post short, as I'm sure you'll all understand because there's a little girl who will undoubtedly be calling my name any minute. A quick update - yesterday, we went home with our beautiful snowflake girl and I cried like a baby as I looked at her in the backseat of our car. I just can't believe our "take home baby" is home with us now. I kept thinking "is this really real? IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?" I can't begin to tell you how there were many days I never ever thought this day would come. But it did. Oh boy, I'm crying again just typing that.

We made it through our first night. Kevin and I are taking shifts the best we can while I pretty much nurse her around the clock. I have some minor issues with breastfeeding but am pushing through them with the support and help of friends and taking naps every opportunity I can.

I'll try to type up a birth story in the next few days while our little angel sleeps (wish us luck) with lots and lots of pictures.

And like many of you said, I couldn't be prepared for the amount of love I'd feel for this little girl - you were right and then some. I love her so much my heart just aches, in a good way. Like it's going to explode all over the place. I can't wait to get to know her and love her and see her grow. I don't want anything to happen to her and would do anything for her. Kevin feels the same way.

Here are a few pictures to share in the meantime until I can write more. I also hope to do a newborn photo session with her tomorrow and capture her in all her sleepy sweetness while I can. Lots more pictures will come your way, I assure you all!

Kevin having a heart-to-heart with his brand new little girl
Hi, world! Here's a picture of Sammy as she officially turned one day old. :) I could eat those cheeks up!

Cracking a smile for daddy. (Or probably gas, but we can always pretend because she's too cute not to share!)

More smiles (gas lol)
One of the happiest moments of our lives. Strapping this beautiful girl into her carseat and heading home with her. She's ours!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

She's here!

I'm posting from my phone because my other arm is holding the most incredible bundle of love we've ever laid eyes upon.

Meet Sammy, our much prayed for snowflake.

She arrived at 7:39am CST weighing in at 7lb1oz.

Despite having a planned c section, my water broke one hour before we were leaving for the hospital anyway!

Goes to show this was meant to be her birthday all along.
All of the tears, years, and heartache - it was all worth it.
It was all for this little girl, meant to be ours all along.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tomorrow is the day

She's coming tomorrow.

I just got a call from the OB nurse and I'm scheduled for the c-section at 7am CST.
I'm beside myself with emotion right now. I'm in disbelief that we finally get to meet this long awaited baby girl. All of the years, the tears, we're finally looking at the finish line. This will be the moment it was all leading up to. I can't even think straight. I can't even type straight. It's hard to type with the tears in my eyes.

Please say a special prayer for us tomorrow for a safe arrival and smooth recovery. My next post should be from the hospital with pictures.

July 22, 2014: Our snowflake's birthday.

We're just hours away.
<3 <3 <3

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I did end up at the hospital. But...

I did end up at the hospital yesterday, but they discharged me after spending five hours in L&D. Sammy is still an inside baby and I'm resting at home. Whew.

I had been fighting a horrific headache since Friday around 5pm. I had a BP reading around that time of 152/88 which wasn't quite at the threshold my MFM had set, but was flirting with it. So I just laid down and kept an eye on it every 30 minutes or so. It stayed in the 130s/80s. But throughout the night the left side of my head and face started to hurt really bad - my eyebrow, my scalp, my cheekbone. And it didn't just hurt internally, it hurt to the touch! The weirdest part was the roof of my mouth on the left side hurt really bad and was swollen.

I "woke up" Saturday morning (which isn't really true seeing how I barely slept because of the pain) and spent a while laying on the couch. I sucked on some ice chips to try to help the swelling go down in my mouth because I had hoped it was just related to hot food I ate on Friday afternoon.

But finally around 2pm, my BP was at 138/90 laying down which was the threshold my OB gave me for calling them. And the clincher was when I thought I saw sparkly confetti falling down in front of me. When it happened, it didn't even register that this confetti wasn't real, and I even waved my arms around to try to get it away from me. It freaked me out. But then I realized that it might be visual light disturbances from pre-e and decided it was time to call my on-call nurse. I hated the thought that I'd be in hospital bed rest but knew it was what had to happen.

Sure enough, the nurse sent me to into L&D. They were so, so busy yesterday. Their triage rooms were full so I was put in the pre-op room which ended up being full as well.

They monitored Sammy who looked great the whole time. And of course, while I was there, my BP was nice and normal, although my pulse was crazy high! Having normal BP at the hospital irritated me so bad because I felt like I was looked at for crying wolf and felt embarrassed. They didn't make me feel that way, it was just my own crazy, sleepless insecurity. But my headache, facial and mouth pain persisted. Because of that, they wouldn't let me eat or drink in the event that I would need to actually deliver Sammy on the spot. They started an IV in preparation and ran some blood work to make the determination.

Well, sure enough, a few hours later the blood work all came back normal. That was the biggest relief of the day. They were still concerned about the monster headache and facial pain so they asked if I would be willing to take a Norco as a test. If the headache responded, then they believed it wasn't related to pre-e. But if it didn't, they were planning to admit me for observation and hospital rest.

I took the Norco, and thankfully it did help the headache, even though the facial pain persisted. What a relief! The L&D OB felt like the headache was maybe a virus or something which was also causing my mouth swelling and facial pain. I guess most pre-e headaches are in the temples and are on both sides. My pain was all on my left side only.

I went home, had a good night sleep for the first time in a long, long time, and woke up this morning with even more mouth swelling and that same persistent headache, but I feel reassured knowing my blood work looked good. I'm happy to be home in my own bed and knowing Sammy will still be coming this week regardless. I'm really anxious to see what my OB wants to do when tomorrow rolls around. I'm still guessing they will make the decision that Tuesday will be the big day! I'll keep everyone posted!

Oh and last thing to mention...

While waiting the many hours in triage I overheard many conversations from other patients. I happened to overhear an angry man asking the nurse if his pregnant wife/girlfriend could go outside and have a smoke. He was arguing with the nurse about it! And I heard the nurse say "We think that her smoking is what caused her first loss."

I just shake my head.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The suspense

Yesterday I had my growth scan and BPP appointment with my MFM. Sammy weighs approximately 6lb 12 oz and measured at exactly 37w1d, which was how far along I was. Just perfect. She passed the BPP with flying colors, and I couldn't be more proud of her.

In talking to the MFM, he said that due to the pre-eclampsia, Sammy must be delivered this week. He even said to cancel my next appointment with him that was scheduled for next Friday because this little girl should be an outside baby by then.

Whoa.

So both of my doctors have said it. This little girl will be born no later than next Friday. That's just crazy to wrap my head around! I don't think it's quite registered yet.

So with my MFM being even more insistent than my OB, I called my OB yesterday to see when he wanted to schedule it for. Unfortunately, he wasn't in, nor were the schedulers who could schedule the actual c-section. But I do know that my OB considers Tuesday his surgery day. If I had to make an educated guess, I would guess the c-section will be Tuesday for that reason. But it's the weekend now and we won't know until Monday. The suspense! Right? I could find out on Monday that Sammy is coming on Tuesday morning!

I'm still desperately trying to keep my blood pressure down, yet it's still going up. My MFM said if my BP goes over 160/100 at any point (sitting, standing, laying, whatever) it's time to go to the hospital. And if I do, they just might deliver same day. I know my OB wants me to to try to make it through the weekend so I'm not sure if being admitted would mean hospital bedrest until Monday/Tuesday or a weekend delivery, but I've got a close eye on it. My BP landed at 154/92 yesterday evening so I'm definitely flirting with the possibility of being admitted this weekend. I'm hoping and praying I can wait it out at home.

I haven't been sleeping well at all. I don't know if it's physiological from the pre-eclampsia itself or because there is so much running through my mind. But I feel really run down physically and I'm sure lack of sleep has to do with it.

Also, since yesterday I've been dealing with a headache on the left side of my head only. And the top left side of the roof of my mouth is swollen and tender. But I'm pretty sure I burned my mouth yesterday with some hot food which likely explains that. But still being smart, I'm keeping an eye on it and if it doesn't get better, I'll be calling and heading in. Again, I think there's a decent chance of hospital time this weekend.

I'll leave you with a picture of my hospital bag(s) (okay, its more of a pile right now.) I think I only have four last-minute items to add to it as we actually go out the door. I've had some anxiety about leaving for the hospital bedrest in not feeling prepared so having these bags done has helped me feel better about it.


I have my camera bag with professional camera  and lenses because I want to be able to get some really good shots of Sammy and Kevin during our first few days together. I know I may or not be with it mentally and physically but I think I'll be able to get a few good shots to share. I've got a duffel bag full of essentials like comfy clothes, nursing stuff, toiletries, etc. I'm bringing my brest friend, laptop (so I can update my blog, of couse!) and Sammy's diaper bag with her going home outfit and other baby essentials.

Please continue to pray that everything turns out okay and that this preeclampsia stays at bay until next week when my OB can deliver! Or if she has to come this weekend, that we are safe and sound. Thanks for all of your support!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Crap just got real.

First off, the happy news....

I'm 37 weeks today! THIRTY SEVEN WEEKS which is..... *drum roll* full term! Yes, it's early full term but still full freakin' term! I figured that if I were ever so lucky to sustain a pregnancy, I'd definitely not make it to full term. But yet here I am staring full term right in the face, shaking it's hand and introducing myself. I have a full term baby named Sammy, ladies and gentlemen. It's just unreal.

Now onto the bad news.

We confirmed I have pre-eclampsia. Ugh. It's really mild right now but I am spilling protein into my urine and my BP is continuing to rise.

What does this mean? It means we are going to wait it out carefully over the weekend and it's highly, highly likely Sammy will be coming next week instead of the following as planned. Yes, you read that correctly. Next week we will likely have this little girl in our arms.

I'm excited and scared crapless all at the same time.

I'm supposed to take it easy from here on out and call the after-hours number if my BP goes over 140/90 while laying down. If that happens, they will probably admit me to the hospital for bed rest and deliver early next week. I have tried to be a 'go with the flow' type person about all this, but if there is one request I could make to the universe it is that my OB himself gets to deliver Sammy and not just some random OB on-call. He's such a caring person, an amazing doctor, and it would mean a lot to me that it's him and no one else. He's optimistic we can ride this out and nothing major will happen between now and next week, but if you could offer your prayers up that I can continue to stay stable until at least next week for all of the obvious reasons, but also that my OB will be the delivery man, I'd appreciate it. I have an appointment with the MFM tomorrow for what sounds like will be my final growth scan and BPP.

And today we have hired a team of house cleaners to come by and clean every square inch of this house. It's in desperate need of it. It's my version of nesting....from the couch as I watch. :)

Stay tuned, things just got really real.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Yup, I'm benched. But it's okay.

As mentioned in my previous post, my SI joint dysfunction pain has increased so much that I can't walk even from the parking lot at work to my desk. BUT the good news is that although I was skeptical that I'd be able to work out a telecommuting arrangement with my work, on Friday, I did! YAY! I'm officially telecommuting from here on out instead of going on early disability. This means I will likely work until Sammy arrives and will get to spend more time with her on the tail end!

Also on Friday, I mentioned my blood pressure readings to my OB nurse because my BP had passed the threshold I was given (above 140.) She put me on bed rest over the weekend, which I did. And luckily, my BP stayed nice and low while I was laying around. I'm also not spilling any protein which is another sign of pre-e. I just might avoid it after all, we shall see. Over the weekend, Kevin and I watched movies and lots of TV and laying around significantly helped my SI pain as well. I think even minimal walking is what has been exacerbating it. It's much more bearable at home after long stretches on the couch. 

Laying around has me daydreaming a lot about the moment I will finally meet this beloved baby girl. I picture the room we will be in, the doctor and what he will say, the sounds, and the moment I finally get to lay my eyes on our Samantha for the very first time. I imagine her hair, her eyes, and her lips. I picture seeing Kevin hold her for the first time. I imagine her first cries. I've done all of this kind of day dreaming before but it's become so much more real and I can't describe the overwhelming feeling I feel when I think of it now. I wonder if because of infertility and loss, there was still a part of me that wondered if this was all just a dream and was afraid to really let myself believe this little girl's arrival was going to become a reality. And I think finally now it's starting to hit me that it is. This really IS happening. I'm sure the feeling I imagine about her grand entrance is going to be pale in comparison to the real thing. I can't wait.

So that's my happy update for today. I get to telecommute and work until delivery AND my BP and SI pain seems to improve as long as I'm not moving around. I'm seriously on the home stretch and will be considered full term on Thursday. Three short days!

14 days, 22 hours, 52 min, and 20 seconds until our little snowflake arrives.
Or less.... ;-)


Friday, July 11, 2014

I think I'm about to be benched

I'm 36w1d and I can tell my body is starting to give me big signs that it's time to slow way, way down.

I'm thinking I'm going to end up on disability early. In fact, I would bet money it will be as early as next week. Or I could even deliver before July 29 to potential pre-eclampsia creeping in. But guess what? Sammy is doing WONDERFULLY, and to me that's the most important thing. She passed yesterday's biophysical profile with flying colors in four minutes. She's an overachiever!

Please don't read the next few paragraphs and think I'm complaining. I'm not. I'm just reporting what is going on with my body because it's part of how pregnancy works. I could not be more grateful that I've made it this far and can even write about these inevitable ailments that come with third trimester pregnancy.

Despite physical therapy, my SI joint pain has become so intense I can't even do the most basic things anymore like cook dinner, clean the house, or get ready for work without being in excruciating pain with every single step. Kevin is doing everything around the house, and I am so, so grateful. Because even the walk from the couch to the restroom is putting me in tears. It feels like a knife going into my back/hip when weight is put on my leg, and then again when the weight is removed. The only relief is to lay down on my side. At first, the SI pain was only on the left side and was mild. But as my belly has grown and my joints continue to give out, the pain level is much more intense and it is also on my right side. I can no longer favor one side and limp around. I just plain can't walk anymore.

Even though I work a desk job, walking from the car to the office or from my desk to the bathroom is beyond-comprehension painful. I'm hoping to figure out a telecommuting arrangement with work between now and delivery (which I'm skeptical will happen due to our new company policies) or I'll be forced on disability earlier than planned. Leaving for LOA early will mean returning to work early. I don't like that, so I'm really trying to tough it out as long as I can. I obviously want to spend the LOA time off with Sammy, not alone on the couch debilitated before her arrival. But I'm at the point where I think I don't have a choice anymore. I see it coming soon and I'm bracing myself for that reality. It's okay. I'll deal with it.

And as for pre-e, my blood pressure is slowly but surely going up over the past couple of days. Until now, I've been shocked that my BP has been relatively low/normal during my entire pregnancy. And so has my MFM! I have pretty much every risk factor out there for pre-eclampsia and using donor embryos is one of them. So I suppose it is inevitable. It's not super high yet, but since it's steadily going up up up, we think that it is just a matter of time until it's high enough to be a problem. My MFM says that if I show even signs of mild pre-e after 37 weeks, that's an indication to deliver. I'm keeping a close eye on it but I'm happy I'm so close to being full term that it shouldn't even be a big deal if it happens.

Infertility has taught me a lot. But probably one of the most profound lessons is to just roll with the punches. If I try to plan and work around MY plans, that's when disappointment and heartache enters. I'm going to just follow doctor's orders, try to tough out this SI pain until it's clear I'm forced to throw in the towel, and then leave it up to God and the universe as to what will happen next. The most important thing is that Sammy makes it here safe and sound. And she's dancing around in my belly as I type this so I have a smile on my face no matter what else is going on with my body.

Anyway, I'll leave you with my 36w bump picture!
Sporting my new, shorter mommy haircut!



Sunday, July 6, 2014

It's always fun when...

It's always fun when I meet someone in real life who has had experience with embryo adoption. It rarely happens since it's such a rare and unknown thing to most people.

Yesterday I was at the nail salon getting a pedicure with a dear friend of mine who had spent the last week house hunting in Oklahoma. (She's moving away, wahhhh.....) We spent the time in our pedicure chairs catching up and inevitably we started talking about Sammy and my pregnancy. I was telling her about the 3d ultrasound we had just had earlier in the day (which I'll get to in a moment) and somehow ended up on the topic about how I had read a frustrating, ignorant anti-embryo adoption article a couple days prior. As I mentioned the article to my friend, a nice woman sitting next to my friend spoke up and said "don't let anyone tell you anything negative about your baby!" She went on to explain her very close friend had struggled with infertility and found success with embryo adoption.  Her friends friend had remaining embryos which she didn't want destroyed and gave them to her friend. She adopted them and had beautiful miracle twin boys. She even showed me a photo of her friend's miracle boys!

I could tell that while although this stranger at the nail salon perhaps had not endured the pain of infertility herself, she had been touched by the struggle of her close friend and had become an advocate for embryo adoption herself. It was such an exciting thing to talk to someone who knew of it, thought fondly of it, and lived right in the same town as me. I gave her my information and hope she and her friend contact me. Our embryo adoption community continues to grow!

Even without having someone overhear me talk about embryo adoption, I have my elevator speech about embryo adoption ready whenever I feel it's appropriate to share. Usually, someone will ask me a question about my pregnancy or due date. And quickly as the conversation progresses (provided we have enough time) I'll slip in something like "We waited a very long time for her. She was actually adopted as an embryo!" Usually that peaks curiosity and I'm able to answer questions about it for whoever I am talking to. Everyone has seemed interested to hear more and I love talking about our journey. I hope that they keep it in the back of their minds to share, and perhaps someone who has remaining embryos to donate will consider donation, or a couple struggling might consider pursuing this path just because I got the word out. I really hope I'm making a difference, even for one person as cliche as that sounds.

Last, I'll share with you our ultrasound from yesterday. Sammy hasn't cooperated too well for the 3d ultrasounds so far so they sent us back for one final try. We figured if she didn't cooperate yesterday, we'd just give up and wait for her arrival in just a few short weeks.

While it was hard to get a really clear shot at her due to her face being so close to the uterine wall, we were able to get this picture which gave us a glimpse at her gigantic lips! I don't care what she looks like, but it's so much fun to get these puzzle pieces for what she will be like and imagine them all together.

These lips are for lots of kisses!

That's it for today. I'm 35w3d and my MFM says that if she were to come now, he wouldn't be worried at all. In fact, she probably wouldn't even need NICU time. I still can't believe I'm a mama to this beautiful girl. I can't believe a real life human being is growing in my tummy, from a snowflake that was frozen for so long. It's just amazing.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A snowflake's baby shower

Saturday was out much anticipated baby shower. And of course, it was snowflake themed. Would you expect anything else? :)



My friend, Candace, flew in last Wednesday and we had a great time planning and prepping for the big day. I'm surprised we were able to find so much snowflake themed stuff in late June, but we did. And the stuff we couldn't find was made by friends and family. They really went all out to make it nice. I can't thank Candace enough. On top of tending to her 7 week old baby, cooking and prepping, she also took the beautiful photos above. Super woman, right?

It was so perfect and amazing and much more than I could have ever dreamed. I honestly never thought I'd have a baby shower. After the years of infertility, I figured I'd never even be a mom. But even if I did, who would even care enough to go celebrate a shower or throw one for us? My mom had passed away amidst it all and I had distanced myself from many of my friends who "didn't understand." Infertility is a cruel beast and as many of you know, can rob us of more than just a chance at parenthood. But my true friends stuck it out and my dream of a baby shower came true. It was a celebration I'll never forget. Lots of happy tears were shed. I still can't believe we are celebrating a baby that is growing inside of me. It's surreal. There really are no words to describe how happy I feel.

And to my very special blog-reader-turned-friend who made the long drive down to celebrate with us, thank you. Having you join us was one of the best parts. You know who you are. :)

We got so many beautiful and thoughtful gifts. Everyone at the shower knew of our struggle and of the incredible way that this baby came to be. I still think about it and cry.

Everything is now put away and I am realizing it was the last major milestone on the countdown to Sammy's arrival. There's nothing left but to wait. CPR classes? check. Nursery finished? check. Hospital tour? check. Baby shower - check! I just can't believe that in 25 days, or less, this little girl will be an outside baby and in our arms. I'm 35 weeks today and in just two short weeks, I'll be full term. Un-freakin'-real. If this is a dream, I don't want to ever wake up.

Just incredible. I could not be more thankful and in awe.

Monday, June 30, 2014

34w4d quick update

I'll make this post short but wanted to just post a little about what has been going on! Holy moly it's been busy around here.

I had a good friend of mine, Candace, fly in from Maryland on Wednesday to throw our baby shower. We have spent most of her visit shopping and prepping for the shower. And of course, the shower itself happened on Saturday.

It was a dream come true. I couldn't imagine anything better.

I'll post a separate post all about the shower because it was so beautiful and so amazing, something I never thought I'd ever experience. My friend is a professional photographer and will be sending me the photos. Once I get them, I'll post all about it.

Kevin and I felt so loved by all of the people who joined us to celebrate little Sammy and I just can't say enough about how grateful and happy I was (and still am) that we have made it this far! I even had an amazing blog-reader-turned-friend drive all the way from Dallas to celebrate with us. I could not feel more blessed. Truly.

Candace is visiting us with her 7 week old baby girl and she is just such a sweet, good baby. It's been a treat not only having Candace here, but also her little baby girl. Candace has given me lots of great parenting, breastfeeding, and photography tips and I wish she could stay longer! And of course it's been lots of fun having the sweet smell of a baby girl around with her smiles, giggles, and even cries. All of our pets have done great with her and it's been fun having a glimpse into our not-so-distanced future.

Last week I had a biophysical profile with my MFM and Sammy passed 100%. She weighed approximately 4lb 15oz, so I'm sure she's beyond 5lb now. My MFM says that in a few days, if she were to be born, she likely wouldn't even need NICU time. Can you believe that? This amazing little girl could actually come home with us! The MFM had nothing negative to say during our appointment and even praised me for taking such good care of my gestational diabetes. Sammy shows no signs of the effects of it which makes this mama very happy.

The OB is also beyond ecstatic and my appointments these days are nothing but positive.

We had a 3d ultrasound, but Sammy didn't really cooperate so they had to reschedule us for a final one this Saturday. Here she is facepalming because we poked her too much. ;-)

Quit poking me, mom!

I ordered the DNA test we will be using to swab Sammy's cheek and Vicky's little boy to determine genetic relationships after birth. It arrived Friday and seems simple enough, It's now packed in the hospital bag.

Hmm what else? Oh, I scheduled a house cleaner to deep clean our entire house in mid-July. I'm starting to slow way down physically but still have that need to nest, you know? So we have treated ourselves to someone professionally coming in to take care of it and I'm really excited for a clean house. It's getting a little neglected these days.

So much more, but I'll leave it at that for now.

TWENTY EIGHT DAYS (or less) LEFT!

Some pink and white puffs hand-made with love by some of my friends

Thursday, June 19, 2014

33 weeks and lots going on!

I'm 33 weeks today. Woo hoo!

It has been a really busy week so I'll catch you up. Starting Monday afternoon, I started feeling some abdominal pressure and didn't think much of it. I figured it was Sammy's position and it seemed to come and go depending on how I laid or walked. But Tuesday morning, I had some severe cramping that lasted about 20 minutes. It worried me, but went away after I laid down for a bit. I called my OB nurse and left a voicemail as a heads up but didn't think much of it after that since I felt much better. I still had pressure, but no pain. I went about my day, which included my first physical therapy session for my hip and back pain. On that note, it turns out I have sacroiliac joint dysfunction, in case anyone is familiar. I am hopeful that doing PT will help with all of it because it's starting to get debilitating for walking, bending, and even laying down.

After PT was over, I went into work and around 2pm got a call back from my nurse. She asked me about the pressure and cramps and said I needed to come in right away to be checked out. Yikes! I quickly left work in a hurry and they did a pelvic exam and an FFN swab test. The FFN test can tell if you are approaching labor in the next two weeks or so. They sent my results to the lab but in office found that my cervix was closed and firm, a good sign. They sent me home to rest until Friday. Luckily the FFN test came back negative and we are confident the pressure is either Sammy's position or possibly even an UTI. I should know about the UTI sometime today.

I also had my weekly MFM appointment this morning. I am getting biophysical profiles every week, not growth scans like I once thought. Sammy looked perfect, fluid looked perfect, and all is well with her. My GD is well controlled, but my dinner numbers have been going up. We added a short-acting insulin with my dinner and that should take care of that! We didn't get any pictures today but I got to see her cute little tooshie on top of her chunky little baby thighs, and her sweet little fingers moving around. She passed the BPP 100%. Next week is growth scan, so I am excited to see how big they think she is! I'm guessing over 5 pounds already?

Last night, Kevin and I went to a newborn care class at the hospital. My OB cleared me to go, despite this short-lived bedrest I am told to follow. It was really informative and I'm glad we went. Each couple got a practice baby. I'm glad ours had a smile on it's face because the couple next to us...well, their baby didn't.

Our baby is on the left, the couple sitting next to us had the baby on the right. LOL!

All in all, I'm glad things are looking stable once again and I'm taking the time to relax at home on my short-lived bedrest. Our air conditioning somehow broke yesterday (nice timing, right?) so we have an a/c guy coming out at noon to take a look. Not sure how I can survive in this house without AC. I just might melt!

And to shake things up even more, both of our cats are in for dental surgery today so I'm a little anxious about that since both of them have complicated health issues. Fingers crossed everything turns out okay.

We have our final elective 3d scan on Saturday and our breastfeeding class too. Talk about jam-packed June, right?

And I've started packing my hospital bag! Can you believe it? I swear I'm talking about someone else.

I decided to take a bump photo today since I haven't posted one in a while. Please excuse the scrubby outfit, I'm not dressed up for work today since I'm resting. And nothing like a dog photo-bomb to start the day.





So that's the excitement around here these days!

Only 39 days left. THIRTY NINE! OH MY GOSH!