Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmas 2018 & Georgia's 22 Month Update

Gosh my blogging habits lately are embarrassing!  I haven't updated in a while and I apologize for that!  I used to be so set on posting 1-3 times a week now I'm lucky if I get a post a month in.  Time has been flying and the season was incredibly busy.  We did lots of fun things like breakfast with Santa at the Peru Fire Department and at one of our favorite restaurants Joy & Ed's.  We also drove through the Celebration of Lights and tried to do as much Christmas stuff as we possibly could over the last few weeks.  

Christmas came very quickly this year, but not before Georgia ended up being diagnosed with RSV!  Merry Christmas to us!  She was sick with a "chest cold" type sickness the first week of December.  She seemed to be better the following week and then all of a sudden last week seemed to be hit with the same thing again just 10x worse!  I ended up staying home with her Thursday and taking her to her doctor.  They immediately ordered us to the hospital for labs and a chest x-ray.  She was tested for influenza, strep, and RSV and unfortunately tested positive for the RSV.  RSV is a virus so there is nothing to do but let it run it's course.  We did get an antibiotic, however they do not treat viruses.  We got lucky though that by Sunday she was feeling much better.  
On Saturday our sweet girl turned 22 months!  I can't believe that we are winding down to her 2nd birthday already!  She has quite the personality and is seriously just a little ball of fire.  She has so much energy and spunk.  She loves to talk, just like mama I guess, although she doesn't know a ton of words she's got a little arsenal of the ones that we can understand such as hat, shoe, water (waddi as she calls it), food (duh), open door (her ultimate favorite thing to say for ANYTHING that has to be opened) wash, bath, potty, kitty, Frank, mama, daddy, and so many more.  

The last few weeks have been an absolute nightmare as far as sleep is concerned and I think it started from her being sick.  She was protesting bed time and not going down until 9-9:30.  We were spending 2-3 hours trying to get her down, she was absolutely fighting it tooth and nail.  We tried Hyland's Calming Tablets, Zarbee's Melatonin, letting her play til she was exhausted, warm milk, getting her full, giving her a lavender bath, diffusing lavender in her room, I mean you name it, we tried it.  We switched nap times earlier, we switched them later, we tried (and failed) and taking away her nap entirely.  The girl just really didn't want to go to bed.  We are thinking at this point it was a phase of some sort that I believe she is finally starting to get over!

She is absolutely loving bath time, she loves to "wash" her hands as well.  She mentions the "potty" pretty often and we are hoping that potty training is on the horizon.  She loves Baby Shark and any of the Cocomelon videos (she calls them "baby") as well as Shrek and Despicable Me 3.  She is currently in clothing anywhere from 18-24months to 2T. She weighs 29 pounds and I'm not sure how tall she is right now.  

For Christmas she was feeling much better!  We started out with our annual stay at Starved Rock State Park where we swam in the pool, had dinner, played games, and opened gifts.  It's one of my favorite Christmas festivities.  We always stay on December 23rd so it's a fun way to kick of Christmas.  She did great this year and had so much fun in the pool.  Christmas Eve we spent most of the day relaxing before we headed to Joe's moms for early dinner at 4.  His mom and siblings & their families headed off to church and we headed over to my uncles house for Christmas Eve with some of my moms family.  We then head back over to Joe's moms for our annual Christmas PJ tradition where we read a couple stories, drink our glass bottle Coke's, and open gifts.  It's one of my favorite traditions.

We didn't get much at all for Georgia this year as she still doesn't understand Christmas and we don't welcome tons of toys and junk into our home that she won't play with.  We did get her the kids Dyson along with some play make-up, some chalk and a chalk pad book, and some flashcards.  That's it!  She got lots of other clothes and a few toys from other family members so she fared well.  She really had no interest in her gifts in fact when we woke up she sat at the kitchen counter with her waffles watching her "baby" videos for a good half hour before I made her come over to open presents.  I know that as the years progress she'll become more interested but this year she just wasn't into it and that is OK!  
Joe's mom, sister, and her husband came over for a quick visit and then my parents came over and we had breakfast and opened more gifts.  It was a very low key morning spent in PJ's relaxing and playing with all the stuff we got.  We were supposed to go to my aunts at 12:30 but Georgia had just fallen asleep at that time so we didn't get there til almost 2.  We stayed for a quick meal and a couple drinks and then headed back home to relax.  It was such a whirlwind few days and we were all exhausted!  

As quickly as Christmas came, it's already over!  I am ready to get my house back in order but I sure do love my tree this year and will be sad to see it go.  Unfortunately I am back to work for the rest of the week and NYE.  We have dinner reservations with my aunt and uncle to ring in the new year this year which should be mostly low-key and quiet.  I am so ready close the door on this year.  It was relatively tough for us these last 5 months as we suffered 2 pregnancy losses of 3 potential babies.  I am terrified to go into another transfer and experience failure again, but I know that I want to at least give it a try.  We aren't sure yet when that will be but I will hopefully have an update soon.  

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and has a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Post D&C

Just looking at my list of posts and seeing one say "Baby Ridley Number 2 Coming June 2019" followed by the next one titled "No Heartbeat" is absolutely heartbreaking.  I don't know why but I am still in this fog of disbelief about what has unfolded over the last 2 weeks.  What went from our first time seeing our baby and hearing it's heartbeat changed for the worst in an instant, and now it's all officially over physically.  All I can think about is how unfair this is and wondering how I will ever get myself to the point of going through this again.  I am SO fearful of another failed cycle, I can't even imagine having this not work for a 3rd time (or a 10th time really) and losing another one of our precious embryos.  

I am trying so hard to get passed this, although I've experienced loss in the past, this one has been the worst, probably because things seemed to be going so well, because we actually made it to an ultrasound before realizing it was over.  It was the farthest along loss I've had and having to have a D&C seemed to make it 10 times worse.  All I can think about is how I am supposed to be pregnant right now.  How our baby shared it's due date with my husband's birthday, how everything seemed to be meant to be and aligned so perfectly, yet it was taken away so quickly.  I've been crying all week at work and I am still just so unbelievably sad about it. 

The hardest part to me was having to carry for 2 weeks before they were able to do surgery.  I know this is nothing compared to mama's who have to carry their babies stillborn until delivery, I know that a D&C at six weeks is common, and that things could've been much much worse and that others have had it much much worse, but that doesn't mean that it hurt any less.  Sitting in the hospital Friday thinking I should be 9 weeks pregnant, yet here I am getting my baby scraped out of my uterus as I waited for a surgery which ran over 2 hours late was absolute torture.  Every nurse, phlebotomist, and staff I encountered who knew what I was there offered their condolences which was sweet but also made it an even tougher day. 

The D&C itself took about 15 minutes, however the surgery is about an hour total.  I got checked in around 9:30 and then headed to the lab where I did a blood draw and a pregnancy test.  I told them I would definitely be getting a positive result since I was there for a D&C, they said they weren't sure why the test was ordered, but I had to do it.  I then headed up to day surgery where I got changed, had an IV placed, spoke to my OB, the anesthesiologist, and had to wait very patiently for them to take me back.  It was a very long morning and unfortunately they got backed up so my surgery that was supposed to be at 10:30 didn't happen until after 12:30.  

They finally took me back, had me move onto the operating table, gave me a sedative via IV, then put the breathing mask on me.  I took one deep breath and I was out.  I woke up in recovery a short while later and felt fine.  They gave me a heavy dose of anti-nausea meds before I went in so I had no motion sickness after which I was thankful for.  They finally let me go back to my room where Joe was waiting and gave me a blueberry muffin and a turkey sandwich.  My OB told Joe all went well.  They took some final vitals on me, let me get dressed, and then we were basically out the door heading home.  We stopped for my prescriptions at CVS and grabbed a Little Caesar's hot & ready to bring home.  

Georgia slept over at grandmas that evening so I was able to go home and hop on the couch and relax for the rest of the evening.  I was instructed to take 600mg of Motrin every 6 hours, she said to keep up on it because not only does it help with pain but it also helps the bleeding.  I've had very minimal bleeding luckily.  She said no tampons for 2 weeks.  She also gave me 2 Norco's for any breakthrough pain I would have, but I didn't need it.  I have had zero pain at all which I am thankful for.  It sounded like I would have some pretty severe cramping but I have had none.  I'm really thankful that this physical part has gone so smooth.  At my follow up appointment on Tuesday afternoon my OB said that I lost a lot of blood which she would expect because of the 2 gestational sacs.  She said it wasn't enough to need a transfusion, but that I definitely will be feeling the effects of the loss of blood.  I've been tired and have had some severe headaches which she said is normal for how much blood I lost.  On top of my RPL, she also ordered a CBC to check my blood.  She wants me to go on iron supplements which she said will take 2 weeks to take effect but which should help regenerate my blood quicker.  She said it will take about 3 months total for my level to return to normal.  

We did opt to have the POC (products of conception) tested which my OB said is typically covered by insurance.  After this D&C my deducible has been met so the testing should be covered as well as any further betas or other bloodwork I might have done before the year is over.  I also had a new RPL (recurrent pregnancy loss) panel done to make sure that my levels are where they need to be.  I had one done in 2015 and everything came back normal, however I know something like an elevated prolactin level can cause miscarriage and since I did breastfeed for over a year that could be an issue.  I definitely want to check off everything I can before proceeding with another transfer.  

Lots of people have asked what we plan to do next.  At this point for the rest of the year, nothing.  The only thing we will do this year is testing.  We will not have another transfer this year.  I will definitely need to have at least one or two normal periods before which from what I've learned from others who have had D&C's can sometimes take a couple months to have a regular period.  I need to let me body rest again as it's gone through lots of hormonal changes since July.  We also need to get our finances in order and save up around $5000 before we can proceed.  My guess is within the first few months of 2019 we will get scheduled for another transfer, but as of right now that is just a guess.  

We should have the results of the RPL in the next week or so and the POC results in within 3 to 4 weeks.  My physical recovery overall has been surprisingly easy, the emotional recovery on the other hand has been one of the hardest I've ever experienced.  I want so much to be able to just focus on the holiday's and make sure to soak in every minute of it in happiness and joy.  I have been crying at work both Monday and Tuesday and seeing pregnancy updates have triggered me for the first time in years.  I know that Georgia will be a welcomed distraction to everything that is going on.  This year with her will be so fun, I can't wait to see her open up some gifts herself.  I am forever grateful for her and the love and light she brings into our lives, no matter what happens in the future, we will always have her shining little soul to brighten our lives.  I am doing the best I can to focus on her and the upcoming holiday's as I continue to recover from this.  

Thursday, November 08, 2018

No Heartbeat

This is not the post I was hoping to be writing.  I was hoping after our first ultrasound Monday at 7w2d I'd be updating with a happy post about a baby with a strong heartbeat and excellent measurements, unfortunately, although there were 2 gestational sacs present, one was empty (blighted ovum) and the other the baby was clearly there but had stopped growing around 6w and had no heartbeat.  During pregnancy it seems there's always the lingering thought in the back of your mind that something might go wrong.  It's just the nature of the game with pregnancy, especially that first ultrasound, but with our high betas, I was feeling very confident that things were progressing as they should.  At our appointment she tried to do a belly scan but because of my retroverted uterus she had to do a vaginal.  It was the shortest appointment I think I've ever had and the worst.  

I could clearly see worry on her face, when I saw her measure the baby I saw that it was only measuring 6w1d and I wasn't seeing a flicker, then within a split second of me noticing these things, she told us that the baby appeared to have stopped growing about a week ago and there was no heartbeat.  She turned the sound on and it was just a hollow uterus, no sounds of life pulsating on the screen like we had hoped for.  She asked if I wanted a picture and I blurted out "no" through a steady stream of tears and that was it, it was over.  I don't even know if I was comprehending what she was saying.  She continued to say she was sorry as she left the room.  I honestly think it would've been an easier blow if this cycle just failed from the beginning rather than having to go through this.  

My clinic got back to me saying that I needed to schedule a D&C with karotyping to see if the baby was normal or abnormal.  At this point I'm really hoping for an abnormal result as much as I hate to say that.  Two sacs would also indicate that the embryo split.  We really don't know at this point.  All we know is that things came crashing down pretty quickly and I know I am still in shock over all of it.  All I could think as I was laying there being told what was happening was that I just can't imagine going through this again.  I know that at some point we will, but thinking about the fact that this could happen again makes me want to give up at this point because why would anyone in their right mind purposely put themselves through this heartbreak again?  

We are blessed in so many ways with our situation.  Our amazing egg donor, the open relationship we have, the true gift that was given to us; however it's a logistical and financial nightmare to fathom all over again.  Days off work, travel costs, coming up with the money to finance all of it yet again is just too much to think about right now.  I'm certain that we will begin selling off our belongings and putting money at the top of our Christmas lists that we will all hope will end up in a successful outcome.  Joe will continue to work 7 days a week spreading himself too thin to help fund another cycle.  We put ourselves through so much all for something that comes with no guarantee whatsoever. 

At this point we now have 3 embryos left, they are not PGS tested, all are very high quality, but that is not indicative of anything.  Two of the three we have transferred so far have now ended in losses and I'm fearful of the outcome of our 3 remaining.  I've had a Recurrent Pregnancy Loss panel done in the past and the results were all negative for any issues, however if the results from the baby come back as "normal" I will be requesting a repeat of that test.  I am so fearful that something is wrong with me, something that maybe with Georgia we got lucky and it didn't effect.  I am so fearful to continue attempting transfers of these embryos only to have them end in loss.  These are our LAST embryos.  You can see I have so many thoughts racing through my mind right now, all exacerbated by hormones from a pregnancy that has ended yet I am still carrying.  It's cruel and unfair and all I want to do is curl into a ball in my bed and close my eyes and wake up to it not being true.  

Unfortunately I will now be spending the upcoming holidays constantly thinking about the baby I should be carrying, surrounded by other family and friends who are also pregnant, I know it's bound to be a very hard couple of months.  Do I sound like I am pitying myself, yeah I do, maybe I am a little bit I don't really know.  I just know right now I am caught up in a whirlwind of emotions and hormones and I know that with the passing days things will get better and we will move forward.  This has just proven to be the hardest of our losses so far and learning how to handle it is something I'm new at.  

My D&C is officially scheduled for next Friday, aka. not soon enough.  My OB wanted my records from my IVF cycle and my ultrasound before making a decision on whether or not to perform the surgery.  I was able to give a verbal consent to send my records over immediately yesterday so luckily that was taken care of quickly.  They also need to me to d a confirmation ultrasound and a pre-op appointment so next Thursday at 1:30 I will be doing both of those.  I'm hoping the days go by quickly so I can get this over with.  As always, the outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming and we certainly are so lucky to have such an awesome group of people who continue to cheer us on from the side-lines as we go through all of these things, both the good and the bad. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Baby Ridley Number 2 Coming June 2019

Well, it's official!  My beta at 11dpt was 909!!  This was almost as high as my 1st beta with Georgia at 11dpt which was 967.  As some of you may know, I never POAS because for me I'd rather just enjoy being pregnant as long as possible.  I think I'm one of the only ones in our vast community that does not test early.  For most people the wait just kills them & they need to know as soon as possible, but for me it's better for me to wait until beta.

My first test was scheduled for Monday the 15th.  I always go really early to the lab at our local hospital right before work so I can make sure I get my results same day.  I emailed my clinic and told my IVF coordinator that I had gone for bloodwork.  A few hours later she responded saying she'd be on the lookout for them.  My clinic is an hour ahead of us here in Illinois and their office closes for lunch around 11am our time.  The last several betas I had done I was getting back right around 11 so I was highly anticipating to get them at the same time.  I heard nothing so I tried to relax a little bit because I knew their office was closing for an entire hour and I wouldn't be hearing back any time soon.  12:30pm our time rolled around & still nothing so I emailed her again, no response.  My donor had texted asking for an update & she suggested calling the lab to see if they had even processed the labs yet.  I called & they said the HCG had been completed, however the progesterone & estrogen had to be sent out to another lab which is fine because those aren't as important as that BETA!  I emailed my nurse again around 2:30pm, still NOTHING.  I was sooo anxious and nervous and stressed out. 

I got off work at 3:30 and still hadn't heard from them so I headed to Target where I needed diapers and bought a HPT to take right there in the Target bathroom.  There was no way I could wait til I got home because I still had to pick up Georgia from my parents & then drive home, I needed to know NOW.  I went in the bathroom with a practically empty bladder and got probably less than the required 5 second stream needed onto the test.  It was a 1 minute result test.  I cleaned up the packaging that I had literally thrown on the floor and looked up at the test and saw that my test line was 10x darker than the control line!  It looked JUST like the first test I had taken with Georgia.  I knew instantly that my beta was going to be high.  2 of my close friends just happened to be shopping at Target & I ran into them as I was running through Target to grab tests.  They saw me before the test & I told them I had to leave.  Once I got my result I messaged them and told them to come to the bathroom ASAP.  I also sent out a few text messages to Joe, my family members, & our donor who were anxiously awaiting our first results.  I decided right away that I didn't want to share our test dates with more than our close family because of how our tests went last time.  It was confusing, stressful, and frustrating to tell people that I was pregnant just to have to turn around a week later and tell them it was a loss.  

The next morning I figured I would have an email bright & early from my clinic but I didn't so I started blowing up their phones in both Augusta and in Atlanta.  Neither clinic answered and I left a message, gave them about an hour, then called back.  The receptionist told me that the lab hadn't sent the results, but I'm not sure if that actually happened or not.  She put me through to the nurses line right away where the nurse delivered the news!  I also had her change me from the awful vaginal progesterone Endometrin to an oral version since I have to take it for about 8 more weeks.  I also continue with PIO til 12 weeks and baby aspirin until 18 weeks.

My clinic actually requires 3 beta's total if you're getting positives so I went back Wednesday at 13dpt and my beta came back more than double at 2044.  They wanted me to have one more but they wanted me to wait an entire WEEK so I knew my beta needed to be roughly over 10,000.  I went in again early Wednesday morning & by lunch time I had received my email.  Our 3rd beta came back at 32,103!  I seriously couldn't believe how close these numbers were to Georgia's betas, she was 3215 at 13dpt and 40,344 at 21dpt.  It was so amazing and relieving to hear how good my rises were.  I was able to schedule an ultrasound for Monday 11/5, I will be 7w2d so we should definitely be able to see everything we need to and also hear a heartbeat.

We are so very excited that we have made such amazing progress so far.  The next big step will be our scan.  As always, we appreciate everyone's love, support, prayers, and good vibes that were sent our way as we continue to journey down this path of growing our family.  

Monday, October 15, 2018

October - Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

October is a month dedicated to remembering pregnancies and babies gone too soon.  It's a month when you'll see an increase in people sharing their stories of loss.  October 15th is the Wave of Light Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day; it can be a very tough time for people who have experienced a loss.  

Earlier this month I came across a post on Instagram shared by Infertility Illustrated and I felt compelled to share it in my stories because it really resonated with me.  This drawing with the words "well of course that was only a chemical pregnancy".  I explained along with the photo that for a long time I minimized my losses.  I experienced my first "chemical pregnancy" in January 2014 after an IUI, another in December 2015, and most recently this past July.  From what I've always understood a "chemical pregnancy" to be versus a "miscarriage" is that a chemical pregnancy is one that begins to implant, secretes HCG, but no gestational sac ever forms, whereas with a miscarriage, a sac and yoke are most likely present at the time of the loss. 

There were many times over the course of the years that I didn't feel as though our losses were worthy to be be considered a pregnancy loss.  I would minimize it and say to myself, well my beta was only a 50, or a 20, or an 8, so technically I shouldn't consider it to be an actual pregnancy.  When I shared these sentiments along with the illustration, I got over a dozen+ messages from women who felt or were still feeling the exact same way about their chemical pregnancies. 

What it took for me to realize that my losses DID matter and that they were valid and that my feelings along with those losses were warranted was the birth of my daughter.  I know not everyone who has experienced a chemical pregnancy has yet to or ever will get to this point in their journey, but for me, once I was finally able to see the life that was created, I realized that each one of those "chemical pregnancies" could've been a potential child just as amazing as the one I was finally holding in my arms.  With each message that I received telling me that they felt shameful of their loss, or that their loss didn't matter, I told them their loss DID matter, that every loss does.  

There are so many complicated emotions that accompany the loss of a baby at any time.  I think it's important that we break the silence around pregnancy loss and not worry so much about the definitions and terms as much as we do and focus on the fact that every pregnancy no matter how far along (even embryos in my eyes) could have resulted in a life, and that matters!  I don't think its fair to say that because someone was say in their second trimester vs. their first that their loss matters more or is worse than someone who lost their pregnancy earlier.  Along with the stigma around miscarriage and loss I believe there is also a stigma around how we refer to them; we should not be minimizing ANY loss!  

For me, I'd even like to see it be taken one step further to consider that every embryo transferred that fails be considered a loss.  I'm not sure that someone who hasn't experienced an embryo transfer or infertility would agree, but the 1 in 8 of us who have experienced infertility would probably agree.  Every single one of those was a fertilized egg, meaning that life was being created, the first step & several of the other steps necessary for an embryo to progress to the point of being transferred had taken place, to me that should count for something!  Just because an embryo didn't implant doesn't mean that it too wasn't a potential life, just as one that had implanted.  

I may be rambling and taking my thoughts too far, but after the outpouring of messages that I received after sharing this illustration, my mind started spinning as I realized the number of women who have experienced this and have felt the need to minimize their feelings and their grief.  If you've experienced any kind of pregnancy loss, please know that it matters and that you are allowed to be sad about it, you're allowed to be mad, and grieve over it for as long or as little as it takes.  Regardless if infertility was a factor in your journey to get pregnant, a chemical pregnancy, a miscarriage, a stillborn, or the loss of any child at any point in their life is extremely devastating and it's something that no parent should ever have to experience.  Unfortunately, just like infertility, loss does not discriminate.  It can happen to anyone and often times there is nothing that can be done to prevent it.  

What I do see, especially during the month of October are women and couples who gather the strength to share about the loss they've experienced.  Sometimes it's the only they're willing to speak about it, while other share often.  There is no right or wrong way, the memory of those babies live on through their parents, siblings, and family no matter how often their story is shared and their mothers and fathers are constantly thinking about them.  If you've experienced the loss of a pregnancy or a child, please know that you are not alone & that no matter when that loss took place, no matter how brief that life was, it does matter. 

Friday, October 05, 2018

FET #2

You guys I have been such a bad blogger lately!  I had a draft waiting to be published with the details of my FET and for some reason never got around to actually posting it.  Life has been so crazy with a toddler lately that it's very hard to find time to commit to writing a post.  I'm actually writing this at 7pm on a Friday night.  We just returned earlier today from our trip to Georgia for our second frozen transfer and it's been an exhausting day to say the least!  

So let me back up and recap a little bit.  After our first FET in July resulted in a chemical pregnancy we were eager to jump into another cycle quickly.  I had to wait for my beta to go down and our doctor was going to be out of the country at the end of August which was likely when our cycle would take place so we had to postpone til September which we were fine with because it gave us some time to save up some extra money and give my body a little recovery time.  I expected my period to come Labor Day weekend.   My cycles are always very regular and usually about 25-26 days long.  Labor Day weekend came and went and I was so disappointed AF hadn't shown because that's all we were waiting for before we could get the party started with FET #2.  I was getting very frustrated and talked to my office about starting provera but I knew that eventually it would come on it's own, it was just going to be making a veryyyy late appearance, and sure enough 15 days later than it was supposed to, it came with vengeance.  It was so late I even took a pregnancy test which was of course, negative, but I just couldn't figure out what the deal was.  Luckily it finally did come and we were able to get our transfer scheduled.

I do not use BCP or Lupron in my protocol so it's basically get a period then start building up that lining with Estrace and Delestrogen injections.  I started with 2 Estrace a day and 1ml Delestrogen every 3rd day, a total of 4 injections.  I had my baseline on September 19th followed by my mid-cycle monitoring on the 27th and my lining was a fluffy 13.6mm in thickness.  My transfer was scheduled for Thursday October 4th.  On the 27th I also started progesterone in oil injections and increased my Estrace to 3x a day + added the Endometrin vaginal progesterone.  Needless to say I'm pumped full of hormones!  

We flew from Chicago to Atlanta on Wednesday the 3rd and hopped in a rental vehicle and made the 2 hour drive to Augusta to our donors house.  It was her birthday that day so her mom watched all 4 kiddos while her and her husband and Joe and I got to have a parents night out downtown Augusta.  We went to a place called Sole for sushi and cocktails and dinner.  I enjoyed my last few glasses of wine for hopefully the next 10 months!  The food was delicious and as always, it was so nice to catch up with Amy and Allen and have some time without the kiddos!  

Thursday morning we decided to take the kids to The Play House in Augusta to let them burn some energy.  Georgia was whiny and cranky pretty much all day, more than likely due to lack of sleep, but they all had a great time running around for a few hours.  Amy took the kids back to her house and Joe and I headed to the clinic for our transfer!  Everything went really smooth.  It was the most painless transfer I've ever had.  My retroverted uterus caused them to have issues seeing the embryo on the ultrasound but I am confident that everything went as it should.   We went back to Amy's house where all the kids were pretty much exhausted and cranky.  We decided it would be best to order pizza and go to bed early since we had to be up at 4am to head back home.

Friday we got up and headed back to Atlanta for our flight back to Chicago.  We spent less than 48 hours in Georgia and was an absolutely exhausting whirlwind of 2 days.  We are so glad we got to see our donor and her family again so soon.  We hope that next time they get to come stay with us and hopeful that this transfer will work.  The embryologist said that the embryo was expanding just as it should and everything looked really good.  This is our last 4AA, we have 3 other embryos on ice still in Georgia, two 4A-A, and 3.5AA.  

On our way home I decided to figure out when my due date will be and it just so happens to fall on Joe's birthday, June 22nd.  He's certain that "Joe JR" will make his appearance on that day and they will share birthdays!  I seriously cannot believe that we just did another transfer.  It all happened so quickly after waiting for what seemed like an eternity for my period to come.  Our quick trip seemed like an absolute haze.  Traveling with a toddler proved to be more challenging than ever this time around.  I'm hoping to get some good rest and hoping the days before beta go by quickly! 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Georgia June - 18 Months

Wow, I have a 1.5 year old child.  I cannot put into words how mind boggling it is to say that; how incredibly sad it makes me that so much time has passed already, how I can't help but scroll back through my photos taken over the last 1.5 years and wish so badly that time would slow down.  I know it's impossible, but I never ever understood the concept about how quickly time moves until I became a mother.  We now have an 18 month old daughter, we have been married for almost 7 years (9/24), we have been together for over a decade! 

Georgia's 18 month birthday happened to fall on the FIRST EVER Rainbow Baby Day which I thought was pretty special.  As most of you know, we suffered 2 chemical pregnancies, one in 2014 & one in 2015 before we got pregnant with Georgia.  We are so thankful for her every day; she certainly is the rainbow after the storm in our lives.

Speaking of storms, that word would be a good way to describe Georgia's current personality.  A little storm.  Or maybe a hellion, or a sour patch kid??  Georgia has 100% become a toddler.  She is VERY strong willed, very stubborn, and very independent.  She is not shy and has no fears whatsoever.  I know one day that these personality traits will help her become a powerful, strong woman who holds her own and takes on the world, but right now, she's campaigning for mama to be the mayor of Crazytown. 

Her likes include food, food, and more food--seriously this girl is a bottomless pit like her dad and eats constantly!  It's insane the amount of food she eats & she likes it ALL.  She loves her kitty and her puppy, she loves to play outside, she loves bath time, she loves to explore everywhere we go, and she loooovvvess her daddy most.  I'm very thankful to Joe for being super involved and helpful with her, especially right now when she is awful to me.  Joe gets Georgia dressed in the mornings so that I can get ready which is super helpful, he also takes her in the evenings down to the basement and they listen to old records on our record player and watch music videos on YouTube which gives me time to cook dinner & take care of the house.  She absolutely loves the time she gets with daddy which is so wonderful for us ALL.

Georgia is really starting to try to communicate which is so cute but also I think frustrating for us all too sometimes.  She can say lots of words such as kitty, potty, frank, open door, close door, hi, bye, shoes, banana, pouch, milk, bath, blankie, mama, daddy, & more.  She has lots and lots of her own words which she will say constantly but we never know what she's saying.  The girl never shuts up sometimes but we honestly have no clue what she's talking about. 

She's started to climb ALLLL the furniture, literally climbing onto the wooden trunk I have behind our couch and throwing herself over the back of the couch  (insert face palm emoji here), she can open doors, and she can run & move fast.  We definitely have to tag team when we take her out to eat because sitting in a highchair at a restaurant does not  interest her at all unless there is food in front of her. 

Overall I think we are dealing with totally normal toddler behavior.  Despite all the challenges she presents to us regularly, she is also such a sweet and smiley little girl who makes us laugh constantly.  I'm guessing she is about 25 pounds now and probably about 31-32" tall.  She is just now making her way into 18m clothing, but she can still fit into 12m especially in bottoms.  She is in a size 4 diaper.  She's still wearing about a size 4-4/5 shoe, her feet are so tiny.  She had her first hair cut on August 9th & she did great once we gave her a sucker! 

Lately we have been dealing with what we believe to be eczema and have worked on treating it but not much is helping.  We have tried Eczema Honey Co, Cetaphil, and Aveeno, nothing seems to be working real well, but it's not as bad as it was before we started to treat it.  We are also working on cutting out dairy or at least cutting back.  We have switched her off of as much dairy as possible, but girl loves cheese!  We have an appointment with her pediatrician soon so hopefully we can get some answers then. 

Lots going on inside that tiny little body and it's truly amazing to watch.  Although she has been a little harder these last couple of days, I try to remind myself that she just doesn't know how to communicate & express herself yet.  I know she's getting angry and frustrated and doesn't know how to deal with those emotions yet.  For anyone else who might feel at a loss or that they're really struggling with how to deal with their toddler, a good friend of mine recommended this book The Whole Brain Child which I haven't started yet, but definitely need.  I've never parented a toddler before, this is my first go-around, so I'm just pretty much winging it right now and trying not to mess up my kid too much.  If anyone else has anything they recommend, please leave it in the comments below too so that I can try it out and also share it with others!

Happy 18 months to our sweet peach!  We love you to the moon & back!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Donor/Recipient Relationships

Recently, a fellow DEIVF sister reached out me with some concerns she had about the way I referred to our egg donor in a recent post that I had written for Chelsea's "What it's Like Series".  It sparked a little debate between us and I really felt compelled to write about it because I do understand that others may feel similar to the way that she feels.

I will say that this girl and I have been connected for several years, we've both used donor eggs successfully and I value her input, her opinion, and her friendship.  She was an amazing support to me when I started through the donor process always answering questions and helping me feel like I wasn't alone.  There is nothing wrong with respectfully disagreeing with someone, it's one of the beauties of free thinking.  I'm glad that she reached out to me instead of taking offense to what I said and not speaking up about it. 

In my post I wrote this:
What I love about our open donor relationship is the ability for Georgia to really know her roots and her history, to know that she has biological half siblings and a mother that she can one day meet.

What bothered her about this statement is that I referred to our donor as her "mother."  (I should have referred to her & her children as "genetic siblings and mother", but I feel like the words "biology" and "genetics" are often looked at as having similar meanings.)  I can certainly understand her reasoning behind why this bothered her.  I agreed with a lot of her points and the things that she said, however, I also stated in my original post for Chelsea that Using a donor, whether it be an egg or sperm donor, or even a donated embryo is a very unique situation.  There are so many different scenarios and so many different relationships between donors and recipients that there will certainly be a difference in how we define those relationships in each situation.  For example, someone who used an anonymous donor may never want to know anything about the donor other than what they can obtain from their clinic.  They may never want their child to even know they came from a donor (not recommended), then there's the other side of the coin, those of us who have a strong relationship with our donors (say a friend, a sister, etc.) and our hopes are that our children do know their donor on a more intimate level.  There are even more sides to this coin, but for time-sake I'm not going to elaborate any further.

As mothers of donor egg babies we are considered biological, but not genetic parents.  Our donors have no legal obligation at all to the offspring of their donation, they aren't responsible if we decided to drop them on their doorstep one day, and my choice to have a friendship with our donor and refer to her as Georgia's "mother" is my choice.  That doesn't mean that I consider myself to be any LESS of her mother, it just means that I consider another strong, beautiful, selfless, gracious, influential woman in her life as one of her "mothers".  I may refer to some of her aunts and my friends also as her mama's, I know a lot of us who have our "second moms" and we have them because they have done something great for us, or they love us, or they helped raise us, or we looked up to them.  This is my hope for Georgia and Amy.  I hope that Georgia can love and appreciate what Amy did for us and maybe be inspired by her to one day become a nurse or do something selfless for another couple, and I really don't think there is anything wrong with referring to her as one of her "mothers" for that reason. 

Like with many other choices in the world of infertility, this is a deeply personal choice and because light was brought to what I said, I am taking it as a learning opportunity to maybe share more about my relationship with our donor.  Not everyone may agree with it and that is totally fine.  I feel like we are very lucky to have this open relationship between donor and recipient.  I love Amy and her family and I know that she feels the same about us, we have had the conversation before and I know that our situation is unique and most people don't have the opportunity or even the desire to have an open donation that is totally fine too!   I respect that and that was once my thinking as well!  That was actually our plan before we received Amy's selfless gift.  Anonymous donation was going to be the path we took and then the Universe decided to place something else in front of us and I am thankful for it every single day and would not change it for anything. 

I hope you can all understand and respect my thinking here.  There was a time when I never considered the fact that I'd be writing a post like this, there was a time I never thought I'd be writing an egg donor post, and a time I never thought I'd be writing an IVF post or a miscarriage post, or the fact that I couldn't get pregnant naturally.  Now here I am, still blogging 6 years later and writing about some pretty heavy stuff.  Again, I felt like this was an amazing learning opportunity for my readers and for anyone who may not understand our donor/recipient relationship.  If anyone ever has any questions or concerns about my writing, I'd urge you to reach out to me, I am always happy to answer questions, even the tough ones.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Final Beta

Unfortunately I am not here to share good news.  I had another beta yesterday and my number was 63 so it has already began to drop pretty quickly since Monday.  Honestly, I wish that it would've just been negative right out the gate than to have to wallow around in agony waiting to know what way it would go.  Although I had heard many stories of betas that didn't go up at all or beta's that slowly went up like mine were, I didn't expect it to be the case for us and it wasn't.

We are saddened by this news.  I don't really have much else to say about it but that.  Although everything looks perfect, it doesn't always mean things will work out and more than likely that embryo had some sort of abnormality that the embryologists aren't able to identify without further (and extremely expensive) testing that isn't typically done on donor embryos.  Luckily, we still have 4 embryos in storage in Georgia and we are planning to head back down once my body has rid itself of this pregnancy.  I need to have a period and my level needs to drop to zero before we can proceed again.  We also need to make sure we can financially commit to another cycle being that it costs us around $5000 all out of pocket now that we lost our infertility insurance coverage.

We are so thankful to everyone who has continued to support us and cheer us on at the sidelines.  Between our amazing friends, family, and all of our loyal and generous followers we have felt so much love and compassion, not just now, but over the last several years sharing our journey.  We also take this time to remember that we do have so much already and that we ultimately have Georgia who is our grand prize that we were always fighting for.  She is the apple of our eye and more than we could've ever hoped for or dreamed of when we started trying for babies. 

Again, I wish I was sharing better news with you all, but unfortunately this pregnancy is over about as quickly as it began.  We will not let this stop or slow us down and we will continue on our pursuit of growing our family.  We cannot thank everyone enough for all of the messages, comments, love, support, vibes, thoughts, prayers, gifted meds, care packages, and monetary donations towards our next cycle that we have received in the last few days.  It is all sooo greatly appreciated.  I will hopefully have an update soon with our plans for our next cycle!

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

A Timeless Accessory with Jord Wood Watches

You guys know I'm not really a fashion blogger of any kind, so when I do post about fashion related items, you know it's got to be good!  Don't get me wrong, I totally LOVE clothes, purses, shoes, and accessories and I have packed closet to prove it, but I've never considered myself an "expert" in the field.  Sometimes though, a product comes along that you just can't help but share with everyone.  I'm going to give you a quick breakdown of why I absolutely love Jord (pronounced Yoad, like Toad, but with a Y) Watches.

They're Classic. 
Simply put, watches are timeless.  People have always worn and continue to wear watches every day.  Some people use them more as an accessory than an actual time piece, but no matter why you're wearing a watch, they will always be a classic staple that everyone should have least one of!

They're perfect for any season.
When I look at my Jord, I start thinking, this is a perfect fall transition accessory.  It's got those warm, chocolate, wood tones with that seriously stunning rose gold face and it makes me think of all things fall!  But at the same time, this watch (and any from their collection) are perfect for wearing all year round! Maybe that warm wood and rose gold remind you of a summer sunset.  Any way you look at these watches, they're appropriate year round, however I could definitely find one to coordinate with all the seasons! Here are a couple of my favorites  Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter.
They're quality made down to every detail.
These watches are all hand-crafted from multiple types of wood including bamboo, ebony, koa, maple, walnut, zebrawood, sandalwood, and more!  The sapphire glass they use is considered definitive in the industry.  Each watch comes with a cleaning oil to specifically care for your wood watch along with a cleaning cloth.  You also have the ability to customize your watch size and also have it engraved.  Some watches have beautiful Swarovski crystal markers, while others have a unique glimpse into the mechanics of the watch.  Plus, each watch is automatic meaning, no finicky battery required.

They can be engraved.
There's really nothing I like more than being able to add a personal touch to something such as a watch.  These watches will be my go-to for anyone who is in the market or anyone who is looking for a special gift for a friend or family member.  Including a personalized engraved message makes it even more of a unique piece.  How special would an engraved watch be as a gift to a groom from his bride on his wedding day or an amazing Mother's Day gift for mom with a special message from her children?
They're packaged perfectly.
I am a sucker for packaging and Jord's packaging is flawless. There are so many creative ways to package something these days with fun envelopes and fillers, I was so impressed with how my watch was sent to me.  It came packaged in a black box which I opened only to find a beautiful wooden box which contained my watch.  Inside were my cleaning cloth, wood oil, watch, and extra links.  It's definitely something you could order and have directly shipped to your recipient without stressing over how it would be delivered.  
I am beyond impressed with my Jord watch and I am excited to announce I will be giving away a $100 credit towards a watch of your own!  You can enter now by clicking below.  The giveaway will end on September 2nd at 11:59pm.  All entrants of the giveaway will receive a 10% off discount coupon code so everyone is a winner in this contest! 

Watch c/o Jord - Photo Credit Capture by Lauren

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Sibling Cycle Update - Beta Hell

Just wanted to give you guys a quick update as I know so many of you have been patiently waiting for us to share our news.  If you remember our transfer of one 4AA embryo was Monday July 16th.  The following week on Thursday we had our first beta at 10dpt and it came in at 77.  The clinic said anything over 30 is what they wanted to see so we were very optimistic about this number, however I had a lingering worry because our first beta with Georgia was abnormally high (967) and I felt like this number was a little lower than I would've liked to see although certainly still positive!

They wanted me back Monday (7/30) for beta number two so all weekend I took home pregnancy tests so that I could make sure that the line was progressing because I wasn't 100% confident in the number.  I went in early for my blood draw on Monday and didn't find out until after lunch that my number, although had risen, only went up to 96 in a 72 hour window.  It didn't even come close to doubling which, if you're not familiar, is what they are looking for with HCG levels.  85-90% of "normal" pregnancies have an HCG level that doubles every 48-72 hours. 

The clinic doesn't want me to go back until next Monday, however I only have enough progesterone in oil and progesterone suppositories to get me through this weekend so I will be requesting a Friday blood draw so we can at least see where we are at.  If the number has dropped then we know I can stop meds, if it's increased at all, then I can order more meds and continue to wait to see what happens.

I know that there can be exceptions to the "rule"--we are basically hoping for the best and preparing for the worst at this point and trying to remain positive that this pregnancy decides to stick around.  I'm trying hard not to compare it with my pregnancy with Georgia, but has been a challenge not to.  At this point this is all we know and all we can say.  It's not the announcement we were hoping for at all, but this is just a part of infertility that I feel is important to share. 

A friend reminded me that there are many people who have been in similar situations with their beta number and have still had a resulting live birth and another girl reminded me that if this was a natural pregnancy and I was just taking HPTs then my tests would be indicating I was pregnant and I wouldn't have any idea what my beta levels were.  Again, trying to remain hopeful but also preparing for the worst.  We are so thankful to everyone for their continued thoughts and prayers and vibes.  I will continue to update here and more often on my Instagram if you're interested in following along.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Embryo Transfer & Trip to Georgia

Guys  I have been such a bad blogger!! I have 3 drafts I haven't hit publish on and it's been close to a month since my last post.  Life has been so hectic and crazy lately, I'm really looking forward to a couple weekends with minimal commitments so we can relax and enjoy some free-time before the month is out!

So I am officially PUPO with baby #2!  My transfer was Monday, and all went well.  When we got to the office the embryologist came out and said the embryo was just like Georgia's and had thawed perfectly and was expanding just as she had wanted it to.  Our doctor was also very confident about the embryo and the transfer went smooth and only took a few minutes.  I wanted to get that part of this update out to you all first because I know some of you only see updates here.  We are very hopeful and optimistic but I will tell you rollercoaster of emotions came to the surface pretty quickly and there are always doubts that seem to creep in despite our hardest attempts to keep them at bay.  With everyone's love and support and the enthusiasm of our doctor & the embryologist, we are staying very excited and hopeful!

Ok so now that that part is out of the way, lets get to the recap of our amazing trip to GA!  I felt like I blinked and it was time to get up and get ready to leave for this trip.  Friday night I was still scrambling to get things in order, but I was able to get everything ready, Georgia down by 7:30, and myself asleep by around 8pm because the 3:30am alarm was going to go off quick.  We were out of the house by about 3:50 and on the road to the airport which took an hour.  We decided to fly out of Bloomington-Normal rather than head towards Chicago which saved me SO much stress and anxiety.  I seriously despise traveling and paying a little more to travel out of a much smaller airport was worth every penny.  We paid about $100 more per ticket, but since we didn't have a hotel stay we figured it was worth it and it was. 

Our flight was at 6am so we got through the deserted airport really quickly and got on the plane within just a few minutes after we got to the gate.  We decided to bring Georgia's car seat with us on the plane and hoped it would help keep her calm, I was 100% wrong on that.  Poor Joe dragged it in this bag which we liked but we would highly recommend something with wheels in the future!  Car seats are ridiculously heavy and although it was nice to have a bag for it, it was a lot to carry through the airport, especially in ATL.  I put Georgia in the seat as soon as we boarded which was probably a mistake.  She was out of it and in my arms before we even took off and she didn't sit still for hardly any of the flight but we kept her occupied with snacks and the ipad.  Luckily the flight was only about an hour and 10 minutes.

We landed and picked up our rental car and headed 2 hours to Augusta and were there by about 1pm.  We were tired but we had a parents night out scheduled with Amy and Allen so we freshened up and saw First Purge before heading to Bonefish for dinner.  It was soo great to see them and catch up with them.  It's been 2 years since we've been so we had a lot to catch up on!  Their amazing babysitter took great care of Georgia and Hadley which was really nice. 

We were hopeful for a long night of sleep from Georgia but she was up by about 5am on Sunday so mom and dad were forced to get up too.  We had a nice bedroom in their upstairs that was pretty private so we were able to watch TV and play and not wake anyone up.  That day we headed to some of Allen's family for a kids birthday party at a place called The Fun Factory for a few hours.  It was fun but soo hot!  That night we cooked out on the grill and I enjoyed my last few cocktails for hopefully the next 9 months! 

Monday morning we got a much better and longer night of sleep from G.  She slept til about 8 which was really nice for everyone.  We spent the morning playing with the kids & headed out for our transfer around 12:30.  My appointment was at 1:45 and we were back to Amy's house by 3 so it was pretty fast.  That night the girls (me, Amy, and Amy's daughter Stella) were heading to Melting Pot for dinner while the guys stayed back and ordered pizza and watched the little ones.  If you've never been to a Melting Pot I highly suggest finding one right now and going to it.  It's fondu and it's amazing!  So many courses and sooo much food!  It was great to have a girls night.  It was about an hour drive to Columbia so we had more time to chat and catch up. 

On Tuesday we spent most of the day in our jammies playing with the kiddos inside.  Amy had an appointment and Allen was working so Joe and I were in charge of the 4 kiddos for a few hours.  Stella was really helpful and I think we did pretty well!  Hadley wasn't feeling 100% herself so she just wanted to be held by me (she wasn't a fan of Joe for some reason that day) so Joe and Stella kept Max and Georgia wrangled and Stella introduced us to some of her favorite YouTube vloggers like Sav & Cole and Shot of The Yeagers.  Joe decided that we need to start a YouTube channel and become vloggers so maybe that will be our next venture...(insert eye roll here).  Once Amy was home we hit the pool with the kids for about an hour, it was a lot of work getting 4 kids ready for the pool and trying to watch them.  I wasn't able to get into the water (was told that by a previous RE not to swim after a transfer so I just went by those rules), but we survived enough for everyone to have a little fun.  That night we cooked out steaks and had another amazing dinner.  We hit bed a little earlier that night since we had to be up around 4 to head home.

We got up and were out the door by around 5 & got to the airport by 7.  Our rental return, check in, and TSA went insanely smooth and I was certain something would go wrong during our travels but it didn't.  Our flight wasn't boarding until about 9:30 so Joe spent most of the time chasing Georgia around the terminal while she made friends with everyone!  We decided to check the car seat this time, but still boarded early so we could get settled before everyone got on the plane.  I sat Georgia in her own seat with her blankie and my phone and about 10 minutes later she was reaching for me and ready to close her eyes.  She was asleep before takeoff & slept the entire flight which was amazing!

Our trip was so fun and amazing!  We are so thankful to our donor (I seriously owe this girl my LIFE) for her hospitality and for arranging a babysitter for us and for watching Georgia while we went to our appointment, and for all the food, and everything they did for us!  We had so much fun and we can't wait to see them again.  We are hoping they can come see us sometime in Illinois but we will definitely head back to Georgia in the future as well. 
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