Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Postponing...again

Well, we decided yet again to delay our next embryo transfer that was scheduled to happen basically now.  If you guys recall I had a slight delay because of my body breaking through the suppression hormones where the Lupron that I was on that shut down my hormones wasn't able to stop by body from producing a follicle which in turn caused my lining to thicken when we actually wanted it to thin down to about 5mm.  After it thinned down I would start estrogen pills daily to build the lining back up, but unfortunately that follicle was found to be our culprit. 

Basically what I decided to do was to stop the Lupron, wait for a period to start & then start over again.  I was in the midst of this on the verge of my period when Georgia and I hit a very large buck in my car on Friday October 18th & my car ended up being totaled.  Luckily we were both OK, but it was at 6am, in the pitch black out in the country out by our house.  Both my air bag and the side curtain airbags deployed which was extremely scary.  Georgia is still recanting the story over and over each day so it clearly somewhat traumatized her.  The next day I was extremely sore and of course my period started.  It was in that moment that Joe and I had a hard talk about the necessity of the transfer at this point in time.  Although it took everything in me to get myself to the point of being ready to finally transfer after almost a year, we both felt in our hearts and guts that it was best to just wait.  We weren't stopping mid-cycle or anything like that so the timing was perfect but we did have to make a decision pretty quickly but we both felt it was for the best.  

I texted my doctor that weekend and explained and she was extremely understanding of our feelings which was so helpful.  We feel like we should get through the holidays and then transfer early next year, I'm hopeful for January.  Part of me wishes that we had still moved forward but my gut told me it was best.  Not only was this cycle not going smooth, but Georgia had been battling a UTI for two weeks + a fever, she had been at the doctor twice, there was a lot of stress around our drywall business, and then I hit the deer.  Things just seemed to be piling up and we were both so unbelievably stressed.  I didn't want to go into the transfer being as stressed as I was.  

At this point the storm has seemed to calm; Georgia is feeling better and for now is healthy, I got a new car, and the stress of running our own business isn't as bad at the moment.  Sometimes when I think about it I think to myself, such is life--there will never be a perfect time with no stress and nothing going on, I realize that, but there will be a better time, a time when things are a little more settled & I think right after the holidays, first of the year will be exponentially better for us.  We are so excited for Christmas this year & all of the festivities that we will get to enjoy with Georgia.  It will be soo magical.  She's been talking about Santa and presents, and cutting down a tree for a month now so when the season begins (which isn't allowed in our house til after Thanksgiving) I know she's going to be soo excited and fun!

These decisions are never easy, but from years of being infertile, we've made harder ones for sure.  I'm not sure why it has taken us so long to do this transfer--life, being a parent, healing, work, starting our own business, etc. I'm sure are some of the big reasons why but also fear of it not working again too.  As always we have gotten so much support for every decision we have made on this journey from our family, friends, and family and we appreciate it so much!

Monday, November 04, 2019

Daily Dental Routine with Smile Brilliant


If you guys recall a few months back I did a collaboration with Smile Brilliant using their teeth whitening system.  I couldn't believe how white my teeth got and how professional their whitening kit was.  I'm excited to continue working with Smile Brilliant, this time with their cariPRO Ultrasonic electric toothbrush.

I'll be completely honest here—dental care is not my strong point.  I've never been a big fan of having to brush my teeth, it just feels more like a chore to me.  I hate the dentist so you'd think I'd do a better job of it to try and avoid anything more than just a cleaning but that isn't the case.  I've had issues since I was a kid, I'm prone to cavities, and have several fillings.  I also had braces and spacers at a very young age, and overall just haven't done a great job of caring for my teeth.  This brush is super helpful if you have a lot of plaque buildup which is also something I struggle with because of how terrible I am when it comes to brushing my teeth.  

I hadn't used an electric toothbrush in at least a decade and because I have a lot of room for improvement in this area of my personal care, I figured I'd give this one a shot.  You guys, the last time I used an electric toothbrush it had one mode, on or off; with the cariPRO there are FIVE brush modes—Clean, White, Massage, Gum Care, and Sensitive.  It also has a 30 day battery life, an auto-interval timer, and a wireless charging doc.  I can't believe how much cleaner I am able to get my teeth after using this toothbrush.  I'm notorious for not getting my back teeth very well but with this brush I am able to thanks to the 40,000 vibrations/minute cleaning action.  The Massage and Gum Care modes are two that I have been using daily.

My preferred setting for now is the sensitive.  It does take a little bit of time to get used to the feeling of an electric toothbrush vs. a manual so the although the regular "clean" mode is really effective, I had to start off with the "sensitive" mode for a few days.  I am totally sold on the cleaning power of the cariPRO brush vs. a manual brush.  Also being a wine and coffee drinker, using this system helps to keep my teeth white. 

I'm so excited to offer my readers a 20% discount with code 20babyridleybump at checkout on all the cariPRO Ultrasonic electric toothbrush packages.  This would make a great Christmas gift for a spouse or even a gift to yourself or better yet, the couples package  which would be $150 with my discount!  Joe was pretty jealous when I received mine in the mail so maybe he'll get one as a Christmas gift this year!

Not only do I have the discount, I am also GIVING AWAY a cariPRO electronic toothbrush with an additional brush head & charger to one lucky reader valued at $119!  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

electric toothbrush

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

ERA Results & FET Delay

On September 16th & 18th I had the biopsies taken for the ERA test.  If you guys recall we moved clinics and decided to proceed with the Endometrial Receptivity Assessment (ERA) before we proceeded with any further transfers.  We had our embryos moved up here to Chicago from Georgia and decided on a September ERA with an October transfer.  Along with the ERA I also had a hysteroscopy at the same time on the 18th and all was good and clear.  My new doctor, Dr. Jeelani wanted to get a clear picture of what my uterus was looking like more in depth.  She wanted to check for polyps and other possible issues but luckily I had none!  Sometimes results like that can actually be a little disappointing because you're secretly hopeful that something is wrong and there's a reason as to why things aren't working out.

On 9/27 I had a follow up with Dr. Jeelani and we discussed my results of the hysteroscopy which she said were perfect.  We also discussed transferring 1 or 2 embryos and we decided on just 1 as we always have.  Dr. Jeelani said I could expect my ERA results on Monday.  When my results were uploaded into my patient portal I quickly logged in to see that they were "receptive" -- basically meaning that the progesterone protocol that we used for the ERA/mock cycle was sufficient for an embryo to be received.  Honestly, I was a little disappointed.  I was hoping that maybe there was an issue with my window of receptivity and the answer to why previous FETs had resulted in miscarriage, but unfortunately that wasn't the case.  I know the results aren't the end of the world and some people may welcome these results but ultimately for us it causes more questions than answers.  

At my follow up on 9/27 we did a baseline but found that my lining was 11mm so they were unable to consider that a "baseline" as my period had not quite started yet (it started the next day) and they wanted my lining to be around 5mm before starting estrogen to rebuild my lining for transfer.  My period started the next day so I scheduled a second baseline for 10/1.  I went in but my lining was still too thick, it was around 7/8mm so Dr. Jeelani told me to go back again.  I went back on Thursday 10/3 to find my lining had only decreased to 6mm.  My doctor knew I  was getting frustrated but reminded me of the importance of a "clean slate" to start rebuilding on.  I scheduled a 4th baseline for Monday 10/7 and kept my fingers crossed that by that time it would go back down.

In the midst of my mock cycle we started to potty train Georgia which went extremely well this time around compared to when we tried the first time back in January.  She did so well and really seemed to grasp the concept this time around which was very rewarding for us.  I noticed that Georgia was beginning to protest going to the bathroom, sometimes for hours upon hours so on Friday 10/4 I had my mom take her to urgent care where they took a sample of her urine.  They told us that it looked like she had elevated white blood cells but wouldn't know til the lab tested the culture so we were to push fluids over the weekend and wait for a follow up call Monday.

Monday rolled around and I had spent Sunday night deathly ill with a fever and vomiting.  I went to work because I basically had to but luckily was feeling well enough to go into work at least for a few hours before I would head to my baseline.  The doctors office called to say that Georgia's results came back consistent with a UTI so when I left work for my baseline I headed to the pharmacy to pick up her antibiotic.  I made the 1.5 hour drive down to Peoria for my baseline where the tech measured my lining at .87cm or almost 9mm, my lining had actually thickened!  I texted my doctor (I do my monitoring in Peoria which is closer for me than my doctor in Chicago) and she was baffled.  She told me that I was somehow getting estrogen through the Lupron which happens in less than 10% of patients.  She told me she'd review the images and results of my bloodwork from baseline & call me back.  I spent the drive home crying and feeling like absolute death.  I couldn't wait to get home & was so discouraged.

A few hours later I received a call from her saying she had found the culprit. A follicle had been growing and producing estrogen which was causing my lining to thicken, exactly as it should be if I wasn't taking Lupron.  My body broke through the Lupron suppression which is extremely rare, but can happen.  She gave me two options--continue with the lining that we had or stop meds, induce a period, and start back over.  I knew what the right and best decision was and that of course was to delay and start fresh giving my embryo the best chance for implantation.  My doctor agreed and said that is what she believes is best even though it's not what we expected.  My coordinator called me shortly after and told me to stop the 10 units of Lupron I had been taking and begin Estrace that night.  Then on Friday I will begin taking 20 units of Lupron this time along with 200mg of Prometrium (progesterone) for 7 days.  Once I stop those on 10/17 I should have a bleed a few days later and hopefully be ready for a successful baseline with a lining at 5mm.  

It's been an exhausting and frustrating process so far at the fault of no one but my uncooperative body.  Everything that has been going on with this cycle plus being sick and dealing with Georgia's UTI and growth spurt she seems to be going through have made for a rough few days.  I know that getting myself and Georgia health and getting my lining where it needs to be is the most important thing right now and I'm at peace with that now.  I really appreciate everyones outpouring of love and encouragement with the news of this delay.  It certainly isn't the end of the world by any means but another hurdle that just seems to accompany every round of IVF that we have gone through.  We are no stranger to bumps in the road and this one isn't the worst we've ever dealt with.  As of right now we don't have a new transfer date but I will do my best to keep this space up to date for those who still come by to read!


Sunday, September 29, 2019

How to Know What You Want From Life

This is a collaborated post.



If you are a regular reader of the words we post, you will be familiar with perseverance, the ability to never give up on your dreams and to try and become the best person you can by building the best life for you. However, all of this is predicated on the idea that you know what you want, and are happy to work to achieve it.

Unfortunately, not all people have this as a given. Life is confusing, and it can be very easy to become eternally disoriented. Some do not truly understand what they want from life until they are sixty years old, while some seem to know from the first moment they begin walking. Learning what you want from life is one of the most important things you could ever try and figure out, as it can not only help you direct all of your meaningful action towards it, but it can also help you avoid things that you are certainly not keen on doing. This is important when it comes to the most important themes of our entire website - love and commitment.

With the following advice, you’ll become a little bit more comfortable in finding your direction:

Experiment

We often think that if we do not find the best career of our lives immediately, we have somehow wasted that time. But this is not true. Trying things helps you learn. It’s why many creative university courses will try to train you on each specialism before having you make a choice regarding what you would like to follow. Experimenting is an important thing in life. Sure, you could have children and marry at 18 and work towards a mortgage, and many do this. But for many others, finding out their tastes and interests and living a little is important.

However you choose to progress, remember, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting. Not all of us know who we are until we reach a certain age or go through a certain experience before we find it. Some might not find true love until after their second divorce. Life is odd that way. But remember - to make it through well, you need to be patient with yourself and life in general.

You Needn’t Feel Forced To A Format

One of the biggest mistakes people can make is throwing out all the values of tradition simply because they think it’s stupid. That tradition is here for a reason. It can help provide a backdrop for life, such as starting a family, or securing a lovely home, or staying comforted, relaxed and often stable in this chaotic world where we find ourselves. Those who simply consider these ideas to be the playground of fools can often overstate their intelligence.

That being said - perhaps this actually isn’t right for you. You should never feel as though you should be forced to a format. If you’d rather be childfree with family planning and focus on your career that is going from height to height, that is perfectly fine too. Tradition is worthwhile only when it is tolerant and not authoritarian.

In fact often, subverting tradition to begin with can help you figure out what is most important to you. This means that if you hope to do the white picket fence and 2.5 children route, you will know that this is actually something you desire and not just something you felt you should do based on the advice of a parent. We hope that these insights can help you feel as though you should never feel ashamed for choosing something you desire - because why should you?

Do Not Be Afraid To Take Risks

Being afraid to take risks is something that is completely redundant the moment it comes into being. We can fret and fret about a decision we have to make or the willingness to move forward towards our goals - but remember, this risk you are taking is likely no worse than anything else. It might seem as though you’re risking it all following a new career, but you would be risking it all driving to said location in the first place, as the roads are not safe. Starting a family is a risk, not starting a family is a risk too. Taking a place of employment may help you avoid another career of misery, or it might completely prevent you from following your dreams that you would have succeeded in otherwise.

This can all seem like too much of a ‘what if’ scenario, and to some extent that is true. However, if you find that the idea of taking a risk is enough to completely stop you from taking that route, it might be that a few realizations are in order. None of us know how life is going to pan out, as there are infinitely more variables than we can track. Tomorrow morning you may find out that you have an inheritance totalling in the millions from a hidden relative, or you may also find  that your company is laying off hundreds of jobs and you are part of that number.

In other words, risks are associated with everything. This can help sooth you when trying to find out exactly what you want from life, and it can also help you focus on making the things that give you more substance, to form order from chaos out of your life.

Communicate It

If you do not talk about what you want from life, you’re never going to get it. Think of the famous scene of someone leaving at the airport to their new life, while the person driving them there is in hopeless love without them. Without them expressing their feelings and failing to communicate, that branch of potential is nullified for some time. Speaking can bring things into the world, and so allowing yourself to speak your truth may just help you unveil your hidden desires and wants. This cannot be a harmful thing to experience by any measure at all.

With this advice, you’re much more likely to know and pursue what you may want from life, marching to the beat of your own drum.

Monday, August 19, 2019

ERA & Embryo Transfer Update


After two failed transfers last year I knew that I wanted to have some further testing done before wasting any more money or embryos.  When I spoke at the Infertile AF summit this spring in Rosemont I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Roohi Jeelani talk about her clinic Vios Fertility and immediately decided that I was going to reach out to her when the time came.  She and I had been Instagram friends for a few months and I got to meet her in person at the summit.  She is so sweet and I just felt right then and there like she could help us.

Fast forward to now—I decided to reach out to her about an ERA.  For those of you who aren't familiar, it's one of the few tests we haven't done yet and it stands for Endometrial Receptivity Assessment or Assay.  Basically what it boils down to is a mock cycle and instead of transferring the embryo, a biopsy of the lining is taken to see if it's either "pre-receptive", "receptive", or "post-receptive".  This past Thursday we had our consultation with Dr. Jeelani and she explained that embryos can implant on day 5, 6, or 7; when you have a natural pregnancy, your body is triggered to start creating enough progesterone to support the embryo no matter what day it implants, but when you're artificially creating a pregnancy, progesterone has to be taken and this test will determine if enough progesterone is given at the right time.  I may need progesterone sooner for instance, if I am pre-receptive.  The biopsy will take place on day 5 and then a potential for a follow up biopsy on day 7 could be possible if the lab performing the tests requires extra specimen.  I may end up having a hysteroscopy at that time as well to check that my uterus is looking ok.

Something else that we would do differently going forward is an antihistamine protocol which adds Claritin and Pepcid into the mix along with Lupron, estrogen patches & pills, and progesterone in oil form, oral form, and vaginal form!  Dr. Jeelani said that immunity issues can be treated with the antihistamine even if we aren't certain there are issues.  I can have my NK cells tested, but it's not necessary.  So for my upcoming ERA I will do the exact protocol that I would do with my next transfer.  Typically the transfer should follow the month after the ERA as well.  The ERA is really best for people who have had multiple implantation failure or like in my case had a chromosomally normal tested baby miscarry—she said this indicates that something is probably wrong inside.  Most of this kind of testing (ERA, immunity, etc.) is very out of the box and has very little research to back it, but I know that the ERA is gaining popularity and it seems to have been a big piece of the puzzle for  a lot of people in the community that I've spoken to about it. 

Dr. Jeelani said she'd be happy to work with our clinic in Georgia as long as they were willing to change up my protocol.  I spoke to my IVF coordinator there & they were willing to adjust as necessary, but a part of me was telling me that we probably needed to consider relocating our embryos closer to home.  Our donor has since moved from Augusta back to her hometown in South Carolina so we wouldn't get to spend as much time with them as we have in the past.  It was a hard decision but I think in our hearts we knew it what was best so we have decided to transport our embryos from Augusta up here to Chicago so that logistically things are less chaotic.  The thought of having 2 different clinics plus a monitoring clinic for 1 cycle really just seemed overwhelming.

Things are moving pretty quickly.  They drew my blood at our appointment Thursday and said as long as I had ovulated already (which I had) I could start Lupron asap.  I was able to track down someone in my tiny home town of 3,000 that actually had some to give and started 10cc on Saturday night.  I will continue with the Lupron until my period starts and then I can call and schedule my baseline and get my protocol.  I've been sooo blessed again by our community with donated meds and appreciate all that everyone has done to help me track down what we need.  I was able to get quite a few estrogen patches and PIO as well but I am still on the hunt for another Lupron kit if anyone has any available.  It's truly unfortunate that we lost our coverage last year.  We were so lucky to have it for a few years and I will never take for granted the fact that we did 3 full fresh retrievals and so many transfers that were all covered.  Now I am feeling the effects of what most people are and that is the financial burden that comes along with this journey.  I priced a Lupron kit with my pharmacy and its $987 for just a two week kit.  It's very much appreciated that this community is so open to sharing! 

So the plan looks like this: Lurpon now, period, baseline, start estrogen, start progesterone, ERA/biopsy, wait for results, and then can begin meds for an October transfer.  Like I said, things are moving VERY quickly but I am excited to see what this new chapter of our journey brings.  It will take about a week for Cryostork to make the arrangements with the clinics once they receive the paperwork from me.  They have 2 levels, Basic and Premium and then they also offer 2 levels of insurance.  We have decided on the Basic package which is slower shipping time (cost is $750) and the level 1 insurance which covers a max of $25,000 for lost or damaged items.  Since we aren't in a huge rush to get them here and have over a month we thought that would be the best option for our pockets. 

Again, just want to thank everyone who continues to ride this roller coaster with us.  It's been over 5 years of blogging about infertility and so many of you have been around from the beginning and continue to support us and be our cheerleaders and it's truly amazing.  If anyone has questions about Vios Fertility Institute or Cryostork or the ERA please email me at babyridleybump@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Next Steps Towards Expanding Our Family


It took me a lot longer to type this post than I ever expected.  After our two losses last year, one in July and the other in November, I for sure thought we'd have another transfer under our belts come March of this year.  Life kind of threw us (or at least me) for a loop.  Joe decided to start his own drywall business the day after we found out we lost our baby in November.  It was a long time coming but I was definitely surprised.  Then in February Georgia turned 2 and life got a little hectic.  We attempted potty training, we were learning how to run a business of our own, and we had a spirited little toddler in our house that was keeping us on our toes every day.

Eventually I decided to just wait.  I wanted to enjoy our summer season as much as possible with Georgia.  We got her a play set and I knew that we were going to be taking some little trips and just adventuring and exploring as much as possible as a family and I didn't want to take anything away from her and those experiences for a few months.  So I decided that we would just put everything on hold until this fall. 

Fall is truly just around the corner.   For the first time ever in my treatment, I am hesitant to move forward.  I've never ever wanted to wait for anything on this journey.  I always pushed hard to progress quickly through every cycle and every procedure.  Even with our two FET's last year I did them both back to back very quickly, but now that I've taken a break and enjoyed these last several months, I find myself often questioning if one child is all that we really need.  We are so blessed to have her.  There were many times that I doubted if we would ever become parents, but then our donor came into our lives and everything changed.  That is what also reminded me of how important it is to give the other 3 remaining embryos a chance.  We are SOOO lucky to have them and I have to make sure they all get a chance because of the chances we were given by our donor for them to be our children. 

Before we move forward with any transfers I wanted to make sure we covered all of our bases.  After a chemical pregnancy last July and 7w miscarriage in November of a chromosomally normal embryo I wanted some answers.  I know that not all embryos are viable which is what I chalk up our chemical pregnancy to, but our miscarriage was another story.  That embryo actually split in two and maybe that's why it didn't work out, but the test results came back normal so I just felt like we needed to pursue further answers.  I had a second RPL (recurrent pregnancy loss) panel of bloodwork done after our D&C last year which came back normal as I expected it would.  One of the only other tests I could think of that would benefit us that we hadn't done over our years of treatment was an ERA.  An ERA is an Endometrial Receptivity Analysis, it basically evaluates the the endometrial receptivity to prevent implantation failure.  It's often used for people who have had multiple implantation failure or someone like me with a miscarriage of a normal embryo. 

I spoke to my clinic in Georgia and unfortunately they don't do the ERA testing at their clinic.  I decided to reach out to Dr. Roohi Jeelani at Vios Fertility in Chicago, its a relatively newer clinic and I'm only about 2 hours from their offices.  I listened to Dr. Jeelani speak at the Infertile AF Summit in April and she does an amazing job on Instagram of educating her followers as she herself also suffers from infertility.  We spoke through some DM's on Instagram and she helped me get set up at her clinic.  She is amazing and beyond compassionate and I cannot wait to start treatment with her.  

For now the only step we are taking is the ERA.  I've considered moving my embryos back here to Illinois and Dr. Jeelani's clinic will take them, but transfers are a lot cheaper in Georgia and it always gives us and opportunity to see our donor and her family.  I want Georgia to know them and develop a relationship with them as she gets older so it's important to me that we stay close and connected so I'm not sure if we will move them yet.  If we were to move them it would cost us about the same amount (roughly 5k) whether we do the transfer here or in Augusta.  Although the transfer is cheaper at our current clinic ($3025) the cost of travel/accommodations brings it closer to about 5k so it's a decision we will have to think about soon, but at this point in time I'm not quite ready.  I'm definitely taking my time this time around & excited to be checking things off the list little by little and hopefully getting some answers!  We meet with Dr. Jeelani on August 15th for our first consultation! 

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Are You Summer Ready?

This is a collaborated post.

The summer vacation is one of the most enjoyable and stressful and wonderful, and loooong holidays on the children's school calendar. There is so much to love about such a long break. It gives you the chance to connect with your children again because those hours they spend at school 5 days a week is a pretty sizeable chunk of their lives. 

You can feel out of the loop sometimes, and the summer break gives you the chance to soak up all the fun stuff - but just for a short time. 

In order to make the most of your summer vacation though, you can prep earlier in the year - so when the time rolls around a great time will be had all around. 

Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash

Swimming

Firstly, suddenly in summer all of the swimming pools and garden pools of all depth come out. But that doesn’t mean that all of the children are actually able to swim. Booking winter swim lessons for kids will mean that come the summertime, you won’t have to worry about them when it comes to being safe in the water. Of course, you will still need to be in the water with them when they are little, but knowing they have that skill will help you relax. 

Secondly, swimming is a skill for life, and in most cases, people who can’t swim are held back in a lot of fun activities and holidays as they get older. 

Booking

When it comes to going on holiday, it is better to choose and pick as early as possible. This allows for two things, plenty of preparation when it comes to packing and booking time off work, and the other thing is that you can pay it off in instalments - or save up to pay it off in one go. 

Once you have taken care of the location, you can then start booking activities and other things to do in the area that will fill up your time. Let’s face it though, when you book in the summer holidays the prices are seriously steep, so the more you can save by booking early the better. 

Meal Preparation

You’ve probably seen the meme that compares a child's school day eating routine to a day in the holidays, and the difference is pretty funny. Grocery bills can get exceedingly high when all of the children are home and are eating approximately every 3 minutes. You can help yourself by batch cooking and freezing a lot of meals in the months that precede the summer break. 

Activities

Although a lot of planning can sometimes be for nothing, it's nice to have a rough idea of how you will spend the time together. There are likely going to be a few rainy days over those few weeks, so make sure you have some big scrap paper boxes and some paints ready to create some art. Having a few Friday night movie nights booked in where everyone can stay up a little longer, enjoy some snacks and maybe even some hot chocolate. 

Summer ready isn’t just about glam bodies and swimsuits,  it is about planning a few things in to maximize the time you get with your children - even if they do make you a little crazy sometimes. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Life Update




Hello to all my blog readers!  It has been entirely too long since I've written anything for this space.  Time (as usual) has been flying and we've been so busy this summer!  My last post was all about sleep training which went really well for the first 3-4 weeks and then unfortunately fell apart and has not gotten much better.  We fight and struggle A LOT about bed still and it's very frustrating.  I feel like I've followed the plan provided by our consultant and been consistent (my life thrives on routine too) with everything and we have made very little progress back to where we were.  We've done it all; weighted blanket, earlier bed time, later bed time, bed rails, bath time before bed, a full belly, diffused oils, white noise, black out blinds, black out curtains, melatonin, CIO, gentle CIO, no CIO… you name it we have tried it.  If anyone has any other tips I'd appreciate it.  I've been really focusing on the plan that we did in the beginning which worked really well—it was basically dinner, bath, brush teeth, book, bed.  However, now Georgia has also developed a hate for bath time too.  SEND HELP!

Since my last post we have done quite a bit this summer so far!  Joe and I got on the bike and took a ride out of town for Memorial Day.  It’s the first time I've been on the bike since right before I got pregnant with Georgia.  It was a great time and the weather was beautiful!  A couple weekends later we celebrated my 33rd birthday.  We have a TON of June birthday's in the family and we had some out of town family home so we had a big party at our house and celebrated.  Two of my best friends also added new babies to our list of June birthdays so I've been soaking up all the newborn snuggles I can as has Georgia.  She loves the babies too.  It's been fun to watch her interact with them.




We also took a trip to the Dells at the end of June, we celebrated Joe's birthday while we were there and had a great time with some friends of ours and their kids.  We stayed at the Wilderness on the Lake (we've stayed there twice now) in a 2 bedroom condo which is perfect for families.  It has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchenette, a living room, and a lanai with a TV, fireplace, and hot tub.  This is our second time going with our friends, they have 2 boys and it works out really well.  My MIL came both times and stayed over on Friday night and watched the kids for us so we could do dinner and get some adult time too. 


This year we only saw fireworks once but it's one of Georgia's new favorite words.  She loved them.  We've been doing a ton of swimming now that it's finally warmed up, we seriously did not get warm summer weather until July and it came in HOTTT.  We also got Georgia a wood play set back in the spring and Joe got that put together for her and she's been loving it.  We are also working on our back patio, it's been a very slow work in progress, in part due to the terrible weather we had for most of the beginning of summer, I cannot wait til it's done.  It's going to be perfect for drinking a glass of wine on while watching G play. 



Speaking of G, she has been growing like a weed.  She is about 34lbs and lost most of her baby fat and is now a skinnier toddler.  We recently switched her car seat to forward facing!  She talks CONSTANTLY, like the girl never shuts up.  She knows sooo many words and it's truly amazing to listen to her.  She will go on and on with some words she knows and some you have no idea what the hell she's saying but it's so fun to listen to her.  Her favorites are "ice cream truck", "garbage truck", "bike", "swimming", "quacky", "baby shark", "ice cream cone", "ketchup", "water tower" (don’t ask lol), oh and "mommy" of course.  We had to take her for her first blood draw last week for a lead screening she was supposed to have done when she was between 12-18 mos. (doctors office dropped the ball) and it was pretty horrific since the phlebotomist accidentally pulled the butterfly out of Georgia's arm before she was done drawing for both vials.  She had to restick her in the other arm and it was awful.  A couple days later Georgia got bit in the face by a dog.  She stepped on the dogs tail accidentally and the dog nipped her and cut her cheek and bridge of her nose.  They are both fine.  It was a dog that we love and trust and the dog felt terrible and was scared after it happened.  Georgia was fine and over it in about 5 minutes but it was a stressful week that is for sure!




Our drywall business has been doing well.  It's been stressful at times but overall we are figuring things out as we go.  I had a post drafted about our decision to start the business but I never hit publish on it.  If you didn't know, last year right after our miscarriage in November Joe decided to finally quit his job and start his own drywall business.  He had done drywall for several years in the past with both his dad and his uncle before getting into the laborers union where he did field tiling for close to 10 years.  He had tossed around the idea for about a year to start his own business doing drywall and he finally bit the bullet and went for it.  Owning a business is a ton of work and a ton of commitment and money, but overall it gives him some freedoms he hasn't had in a long time and it's going well so far!

As far as expanding our family, we are still on hold for that at this point.  It's been on my heart a lot lately but there are two new babies in our tribe that have probably just put me in my feelings about another baby for us.  I really want to have the ERA done but my clinic in Georgia doesn't do them.  I've been talking a lot with an RE that I connected with on Instagram who is located in Chicago and she says that based on my history I'm the perfect candidate for the procedure.  The ERA is endometrial receptivity assay and you basically go through a mock cycle and they do a biopsy of your endometrium to determine if you're getting the right amount of progesterone at the right time for implantation to occur.  The cost is about $2000.  We have 3 frozen embryos left in Georgia.  I've even looked into possibly relocating them back to Chicago which would cost about $750 to get them moved but we would have less travel costs for future transfers.  The hardest part of all of that is that we wouldn't get to see our donor nearly as often.  Having our embryos in Georgia allows us all time to get together and visit with each other and allows Georgia an opportunity to be with her genetic siblings and family.  I’m not quite ready to make any decisions about it yet, I still want to get through the summer and through a few other big financial things (property taxes) before we make any decisions.

Taking a break from treatments has been hard but necessary.  Honestly I thought by now we'd definitely have another transfer under our belts.  Hell, I thought I'd have another baby in my arms too but that just isn't the case.  The thought of the finances alone frustrates me so much, I am so bitter about losing our infertility treatment insurance coverage last year.  But when I think about how much fun we have had this summer and how challenging some of the days have been with Georgia I know we made the right decision in waiting.  She is such a free-spirited, free-thinking, independent little person.  Her emotions are BIG right now and she is extremely defiant.  She marches to the beat of her own drum and in the long run I know this quality will be really important to who she becomes in the future but right now it is exhausting and frustrating some days.  Constant no's from her, sass, not listening, and fighting me on so many things.  I've got a wild child that's all I can say.

I hope everyone who reads this is doing well.  I have to continue to turn off commenting because I get an influx of spam comments and I don't know how to stop them.  If you have any ideas or have a comment or question for me please feel free to email me at babyridleybump@gmail.com

Friday, June 21, 2019

Want the Best for Your Babies? Here's how to do it.

This is a collaborated post.


Whether you’re a new parent or you’ve been at it a while, you’ll find that you always want the best for your children. It’s just the natural instinct that comes with being a parent. And so, you may find that you’re always quite cautious and you’re looking to protect your kids at all times. However, this may not be the best way for you to raise happy and healthy kids. It helps to care and be responsible, but you needn’t be too overprotective. Instead, there are different things you can do to ensure that you raise your kids in the best way. Let’s take a look at things you can do when you want the best for your children.

Provide A Loving Household

First of all, one of the most important things that you’ll ever be able to do for your children is to ensure that you are raising them in a positive home. Because when you’re looking to develop happy and healthy children, their environment is crucial. And for this to happen, you have to be loving of course, but you also need to ensure that they are happy and home, content, and that you’re not always yelling or angry. That will go on to affect their happiness in the future.

Take An Interest

It’s great to be able to give your kids space. They are their own person, and so you’ll not want to overcrowd them or control them too much. However, there is also the issue of too much freedom to be concerned with too. It’ll mean that they have no direction. And so, it’s really helpful if you can be interested in them, in their interests, and what they’re doing or the things they life. It helps to develop a healthy relationship between you.


Focus On Their Future

Another thing that can really help you is for you to make sure that you’re focusing on their futures. It’s important for you to ensure that they’re set up for whatever kind of future they want – whether that’s academically or interest wise! For this, you could look into great programs like the Connecticut STEAM summer camp or get them tutoring. Just make sure that you are observing their schooling and interests, to help them grow and develop.

Make Nutrition A Priority

Of course, you also want them to be healthy too. And it’s easy to give them junk- but it’s not good for them. And so instead, you’ll want to make sure that they do eat some healthy meals, just to ensure that their nutrition is covered.

Enjoy Family Time Together

Finally, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re able to enjoy family time together. Providing a positive and loving household is just the start. You’ll also want to make sure that you raise emotionally healthy kids by enjoying life together as a family. The more supported and loved they feel, the healthier they will be. And this all does go on to support their happiness in the future.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Sleep Training Progress & Success


I want to give a little disclaimer with this as I usually do with these types of post topics.  I am referring to this as "sleep training" however I know that term typically gets associated with the cry it out (CIO) method and this simply is NOT any form of CIO.  We do not leave Georgia unattended to cry for lengthy periods of time.  The longest we let her cry was 2 minute intervals and I was right next to her when we did this.  This is just our personal preference.

In my last post I discussed how our sleep struggles started; what our habits and routine were since we brought her home, and how she became dependent on me being next to her in order to go to sleep.  Overall it has caused a lot of stress and unnecessary frustration because bed time success relied heavily on me and could sometimes take up to an hour so I finally decided to get help from a pediatric sleep consultant.

A few weeks ago Carla and I spoke and she gave us our 17 page plan.  It came full of details about what her sleep space should be like, what her naps and day should look like, how to deal with crying at bed time, and what her routine would be going forward.  She also gave me suggestions (with Amazon links) for certain products that might help the process be easier!  The routine she presented wasn't much different than what we were already doing, but we needed to stay committed and consistent with what she was telling us in order for this to be successful.

We began on Saturday May 4th.  Carla and I had our consult that morning and afterwards I dropped Georgia off at my parents and explained the new routine to them.  No more would they be allowed to put her in the car and drive her around til she fell asleep.  I told them that they would have to lay her down in her bed with the lights off, curtains drawn, and leave her by herself.  I explained that they could be in the room with her but the overall goal was for her to go to sleep on her own without anyone in the room.  I left them to be the first ones to start our new routine and she went right to sleep with just a couple minutes of fuss.  That evening also went surprisingly well too!  

We made a few adjustments and our new routine now looks like this in the evenings: 6:00pm dinner, 6:30pm bath, brush teeth, pjs, light reading or playing with no screen time, 7:00pm bed.  It's not much different than what we were doing before, however we did adjust bedtime to be a little earlier and have really tried to stick to the exact times each night to stay consistent.  Joe has been working really late nights so it's been her and I which can sometimes be a little challenging but overall we got it down pretty well.

Every day we have had success.  We are just about a month in and I cannot believe how well it has gone since day 1.  Georgia is now comfortable laying down in her bed with her blanket and binky without me.  I usually give her a kiss and a hug when she lays down.  I started off by sitting at the side of her bed for a few nights, then to her rocker, then at the doorway, and now I just lay her down and walk out.  I started to tell her I was going to put Frank (our pug) in his bed (which is in our bed, he can't jump up into it) and leave the room for a few minutes.  That was how I began getting myself out of the room before she was asleep.  If she started calling for me or crying I'd stand in the door and make my presence known but never get in or near her bed.  For the first few days I sat right next to her bed, I'd hold her hand, rub her back, tell her I was there but I couldn't get in bed with her.  She'd pat the pillow next to her and say "mama come-me" and I'd tell her I couldn't but I was right there.  It was hard, and it still is some times because I love to snuggle her but it's better for ALL of us.  After a couple days right at her bed side I moved back to the end of her bed, and then a few days later into her rocker, then to the door.  I spent a few days in each spot until I eventually was able to leave her.  

Don't get me wrong there have been some tough nights.  There were some nights she went to sleep in literal minutes and then there were some nights that took 30-60 minutes.  The first night I had to use the timer for the 2 minute intervals of crying, that was the only time I had to do that.  There were a few other nights of some pretty good cries, there were some nights of her asking "where'd mommy go" over and over and over; it was not easy but I was 100% committed.  The going to sleep part for her she got really good at.  She is doing very well with just being laid down in her bed with her blankie & binky, giving a hug and kiss, and turning the lights out.  It's truly amazing.  

The bigger struggle is sleeping through the night.  She was notorious for waking up in the middle of the night and coming into our room.  I'd pick her up and put her in our bed and she'd sleep soundly til morning.  We didn't mind.  We bed shared with her for so long and still love having her in our bed, but it was a habit I had to change and it was hard for both of us.  Every time she wakes in the middle of the night and comes into our room I pick her up and put her back in her bed.  It's tough sometimes getting woken up from a dead sleep and having to get my ass out of bed to put her back but she's been getting better with this too and being able to get herself back to sleep on her own rather than getting out of bed.  We also recently added a bed rail which seems to help keep her in her bed.

For naps she's also doing really well.  At grandma and grandpas (my parents) she now goes to sleep on her twin size floor bed, they have black out curtains as well and have been successful at putting her in bed and letting her put herself to sleep.  At daycare the other two days she has never had any issues going down on her own as that is what she has almost always done since I started taking her there at two months.

For the first two weeks, Carla checks in every morning and she gives some general tips or praise which is really nice.  It was great that she touched base daily and reminded me on some of the harder days that what we are doing is normal and fine.  One Friday morning I had a moment of weakness and let her back in our bed around 4:30am after about 2 hours of her being awake.  She came into our room a few times and I tried to put her back into her bed but she got herself worked up and upset about having to lay down.  Eventually I ended up asleep (or trying to sleep) in the rocker but she never did go back to sleep and continued to try to get out of her bed.  I was exhausted and tired from fighting her so I brought her into our room and she fell right to sleep.  Carla explained that they do sometimes experience a regression and that she is starting to figure out the change and possibly trying to fight it.  It all made a lot of sense and I was really glad that she reassured me that what I did was not the end of the world.  The key to all of this working is consistency so allowing her into our bed was not the best choice, but mama also needed her sleep too. 

Transitioning kids is hard.  Whether it’s a big thing or a little thing, they sure do like and prefer routine (at least my kid does) so making big changes like this all at once seemed pretty daunting to me.  I knew she could do it but I also felt bad putting too much on her at once.  Changing bed time around and taking the binky away for the majority of her day seemed like a lot for her to handle but she's done really really well.  Kids are so resilient, it's amazing.  I know our next big one after we master this bedtime thing will be potty training which we failed at earlier this year. 

I can't even being to tell you guys how much this has changed our lives for the better.  I know it sounds corny and kind of extreme but you if you've struggled at bed time (which I know so many parents have) then you know what I mean when I talk about being frustrated and angry at bed time.  I absolutely HATED going to bed in a bad mood all the time, annoyed and irritated and exhausted from laying in a dark room on a bed with black out curtains, sleepy oils, and white noise.  I felt like the little time I could get for me at the end of the day I was so tired all I wanted to do was just crawl in bed.  Now I am able to sit here and blog for awhile, I started watching a new series (not one that I have watched over and over again) because I actually have time to sit down and enjoy a little adult TV.  It's amazing and overall I feel a huge relief and weight off my shoulders in the evenings.  

What I love about Carla is that she understands that sometimes life happens & that it's not the end of the world if things don't go exactly as planned but she also really tries to reinforce how much commitment it takes on the part of the parents.  Consistency is key and for the first two weeks you may have to adjust some things, say no to certain things, cut things short, etc. in order to make it work but I will say it is SOOO worth it.  I seriously never thought that we would be able to get out of the habits we were in.  I didn't know where to start, I felt I was trapped in that situation and that I would just have to wait for Georgia to grow out of it which she probably wouldn't have done for a few years honestly.  Once again social media proved its worth to me with this random chance encounter I had with Carla.  

If you are at all struggling, even in the slightest bit, reach out to Carla and give yourself and your family some peace.  It is well worth it.  She offers a free 15 minute consultation where you can chat with her and get some initial overall ideas of what she offers and what she suggests.  I know a few of my followers have reached out to her already and have began their own new sleep routines. 

Here's some great info shared by Carla herself regarding sleep:

HOW MUCH SLEEP DOES MY BABY NEED?

I often get asked how much sleep a baby needs, but there is no clear cut
answer. Just as adults need different amounts of sleep to function well,
babies and toddlers need different amounts as well. However, we can use
guidelines based on age to help regulate their sleep needs and make sure
no one is over tired or under tired.
For example, a 6 month old baby needs about 10 hours of sleep overnight.
It is important that naps are taken regularly during the day, and should
account for up to 4 - 5 additional hours of sleep.
Cat naps are not considered naps; babies and toddlers need their naps for
healthy growth and development. If your baby doesn’t nap regularly, it is
important to teach him/her how to connect sleep cycles so sleep is not
interrupted. If a baby does not know how to connect sleep cycles, or uses a
sleep prop, they will wake often during the night, might wake too early in
the morning, and naps will not be consistent.
Another important factor to teach your baby and toddler healthy sleep
habits is to set up a safe sleep environment for all sleep. If you use the
same place for each nap and overnight sleep, your baby and toddler will
start to associate this space for sleep and it will be a happy place for them.
This will also help to alleviate bedtime struggles. Your family will start to
look at bedtime as night’s beginning, rather than day’s end. This will make
bedtime a fun experience to look forward to, rather than dread.
Toddler’s sleep needs are different from a baby’s sleep needs. At 2 years
old, toddlers still need a solid nap of 2 - 3 hours in the middle of the day so
they can recharge their energy. Their overnight sleep should be around 11
or 12 hours, depending on how long their nap is.
By 3 to 4 years old, toddlers will drop their daytime nap, so a consistent
bedtime routine and appropriate bedtime is very important. No one wants
an overtired toddler running around until all hours of the night!
Establishing a healthy bedtime routine and safe sleep space, for naps as
well as night time sleep, teaches babies how to fall asleep independently
and stay asleep. Studies have shown that proper amounts of sleep help
with learning and brain development. Healthy sleep habits and routines will
teach them independence and restful sleep which they will carry into
adulthood. In return, you will have peace of mind while your child is
sleeping and get some well deserved rest, too.
If you have any questions about your baby’s or toddler’s sleep habits and
routines, or have any sleep challenges, I am happy to discuss them with
you. I am confident we can get everyone on a healthy sleep routine.

Sweet Dreams!
-Carla

carla@slumberlandsolutions.com

 
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