Friday, November 8, 2013

Third trimester rants and ramblings

Some random updates about the beginning of my third trimester:

- VERY happy to be "finished" with the nursery! Of course after the shower (in just two weeks, wow) we'll have to organize and sort everything (I know I'm not going to have enough storage!)... but it's a good feeling to have it ready to go!

- We had a 4-D ultrasound (two sessions, he wasn't cooperating the first time) and got some pretty decent shots of our little man! It was SO surreal to "see" his face and get a better idea of his features. He has his dads nose, no question!

Love those chubby cheeks and tiny feet!

- I officially dislike bending over to pick anything up. Haha. And not only because of my stomach, but my lower back has been killing me more than usual. (You know you're in your third trimester when...)

- I've had this weird black spot floating around my vision in my right eye. Went to the eye doc this morning and he said it's "normal", especially with pregnancy  hormones, and everything is still a-ok with my eyes. That's a relief!

- This is the best pregnancy/parenthood-related article I've read yet: Ten True Things about the First Year of Parenthood.

- I ordered myself a custom hospital gown on Etsy! I got it with a navy sash and ordered an extra hot pink one just in case I can't decide. :-) (I figured blue was appropriate because I'm having a boy, but pink is my favorite color... soooo...)

Maternity Hospital Delivery Gown in Gray Chevron --  ModMum shop on Etsy

- We took an all-day birth class last Saturday and I felt like we learned a lot! It wasn't too overwhelming, like I thought it would be, so that was a relief. I feel pretty confident in the whole process, especially knowing that I plan to get an epidural before I'm in too much pain.

I thought it was ironic that the end of the whole agenda it said in big letters "GOOD LUCK!!!!" :-P

- Oh yeah, I PASSED MY GLUCOSE TEST (with flying colors, I might add)!!!! I was so relieved. My iron level was just a bit low (34.9) so I'm starting to take an iron supplement once a day. I feel like this explains my constant craving for red meat during this pregnancy, and my lack of energy recently. I think the iron supplement is helping my energy already.

- We have interviews with two different potential nannies tomorrow. I'm a little nervous, but excited. I've been using and have gotten some interest, and I have it narrowed down to these two for now. They are both older ladies which I'm most comfortable with. I have my fingers crossed, printed out a suggested list of questions, and hope that I stick to my gut feeling instead of my tendency to "check something off" the to-do list.

- I've officially been a grumpster the past two days. This is so unusual for me, so I'm struggling to keep it together. I think it has to do with Eric going back to his regular 12-hour (and unpredictable to say the least) shift after being in 9AM-5PM K-9 training for several months (and off every weekend... spoiled). His day shift schedule is supposed to be 6AM-6PM, but last night he didn't get home until 10:30PM, and then left again this morning at 4AM for training. Gonna have to adjust. Sigh.

This was my grumpy face from last night :) haha.
- And to end on a more positive note, I'm really REALLY excited that I'll be at 30 weeks this Sunday! I've been waiting and waiting to see that "3" in front of the number because now it's only a matter of a handful of weeks until we're soooo close to meeting our little man!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Worries and fears: the crazy-mom pregnancy version.

Lately I've found myself worrying/thinking/obsessing about issues related to being pregnant and/or when our little man arrives. I don't think I'm a worried person by nature - I'm more of a "planner" - but feeling "out of control" of so many aspects of life right now is probably triggering all of this.

First, I worry that I'm gaining too much weight, combined with not eating healthy enough. Everyone tells me "you look great!" ALLLL the time, but I know what I look like under these cute maternity jeans and tops. :-P My thighs are expanding, my boobs are HUGE, my back/chest breakout sometimes, and my tight "runners butt" is just not what it used to be. I feel guilty most days for not eating vegetables (anyone who knows me, knows I don't eat them, and never have) and indulging in cravings too often. Besides the fact that I'm likely actually right on track with gaining weight and shouldn't worry, I do worry because I have 2 1/2 months left to go, and in my head I tell myself I can only gain X amount and still be within the "healthy" range suggested by the doctor. Mind you, I haven't been told this by my own doctor, this is just in my own head.

That brings me to the next issue, sort of related, of gestational diabetes. My glucose tolerance test is next Tuesday and I'm so stressed out about it. I'm psyching myself out that I won't pass. Not only did I have PCOS before getting pregnant - which is a glucose issue I took meds for - but I eat sweets a lot more since being pregnant (those darn cravings). I know, I just need to wait until I see what happens, but it's hard. I'm such a picky eater, that if I have to drastically change my diet I will not do very well.

I'm trying to not put the cart before the horse, but ... sigh. Easier said than done.

Moving on to baby-related fears, at the top of my list is figuring out child care when I go back to work after he's born. I don't have anyone I know of, who lives here, that can watch him full-time. Three years ago, different story... I had lots of Air Force wife friends that didn't work, who would've been perfect for it! But now they've all either moved away or have their own babies. What to do, what to do. This is such a HUGE decision in my mind, I just want to cry thinking about how important it is, as well as the fact that we have to make such an important decision for someone else's life.

I'm a psychology major and have done enough research to know how important early-childhood is in the context of a lifetime. It's major. And the child care/primary care giver relationship is just so, so, critical to a child, it really overwhelms me to the max.

Sure, the best option would be for me to be able to stay home and watch him. But that's not happening, at least not for several years. So is the next-best option day care or hiring a nanny to be at home three days a week? I've thought long and hard about each one, and at the moment, I'm leaning towards a nanny, even though paying one for 3 days a week is the same amount as 5 days a week of daycare. But maybe it's worth it, to keep him home longer. I think when he's older (a year +), day care will be a great choice for his development and socialization, that's not an issue. My issue is sending a 2 month old to a cold, loud, day care?? My heart hurts just thinking about it.

Oh my goodness, I can't imagine where this will go if I don't get my worries and fears under control. I know what I need to do, but it's a constant battle to reign my mind in before it snowballs outta control. I'm not looking for advice necessarily, just a forum for voicing how I feel. I know, that when I think ahead to a few years from now, this will all be a blip on the radar and our son will be a happy, healthy and well-adjusted human being. :-)

I know I'm not going to ruin him if I eat a piece of cake or send him to day care earlier than other kids. I know this is gonna be harder on me than it is on him. I know all he needs is loving parents who try their best, and who take care of themselves so that they can take care of him. I know everything will be ok. But for now, I'm worried, and I think that's ok too.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Whoah, baby.

It amazes me the things the human body is capable of doing. This pregnancy was a miracle from the beginning, and now the way my body is changing seems miraculous. Haha! I am well aware of the three + months remaining and the stretching that is yet to come. It just blows my mind.

Here's a little visual of the past few months:

Weeks 15, 18, 21, 25
I am really excited to be headed into the third trimester soon. Speaking of... I've read different dates on when that starts, so what's the final word on the third tri? My baby book moves to the third tri on week 25, and some places online it says 27 or 28. Confusing!!

  • A few weeks ago we had a little scare and spent a few hours in the hospital (at the end of week 21). I was just sitting on the couch and my belly started to hurt, and over about 15 minutes it kept progressing until I was in tears and couldn't hardly move, talk, or breathe. It was higher, the upper half of my belly, not low, so it didn't feel like round ligament pain. It felt like a Charlie horse in my stomach that lasted about 30 minutes. I had Eric call his mom (a midwife) and she asked me some questions and I attempted to answer them... she eventually suggested we just go to the hospital. So my poor husband got a trial run in a high-speed race to the hospital way too early! We were both scared, but of course as soon as I got admitted to my room the pain had stopped. We got some peace of mind with a heart rate monitor and ultrasound. Everything was FINE with our little man, thank God. Super weird, and I hope it never happens again. My OB said it was probably the uterus contracting or gas (??).
  • Lots of normal RLP in the past few weeks, definitely low and comes and goes.
  • I had a horrible sinus infection/chest cold a couple of weeks ago. Everything is exaggerated 100x when pregnant. I got some antibiotics which helped, but I am still dealing with the sinus/stuffiness now, two weeks later.
  • Boobs are officially DD and I had to buy new bras to accommodate those suckers. Not very comfy but I anticipate them only getting bigger!
  • It's not easy to love my expanding body parts, but it's super easy to love the little man inside.
  • I scheduled a 3D/4D ultrasound for October 31st! I'm a little nervous, but have been dying to see what he looks like, so I'm also really excited! I think it's cool that we'll get a DVD of the whole thing too.
  • We have pretty much finished the nursery, except for one wall I need to get some frames for! I made one of those yarn-wrapped big letters for his first name (Pinterest inspired!) for the center and will put some random frames around it, collage-style.

SUPER comfy nursery chair!

Coming soon: Headed to Indiana next weekend to visit my parents and nephew (yay!), 3D ultrasound, glucose test (nervous!), and the baby shower!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The big gender reveal

Without further delay ... the big reveal!

We've already bought boy clothes, painted the nursery, and registered within the past week since finding out. We're EXHAUSTED but thrilled and cannot wait to meet our little man in January!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Almost halfway!"

Baby Strodtman hanging out with mom at work
We're at week 18! I keep saying "almost halfway!" and can hardly believe it. There's no way I've been pregnant for almost 5 months. While it seems to be flying by at times, sometimes it crawls, and then most times I'm just anxious to meet our miracle baby! I try to imagine that moment when we see him/her for the first time and I really can't. It's going to be awesome, that's all I know.

I had my monthly OB appointment yesterday, and besides waiting an hour and a half to see the doctor for 10 whole minutes, it was good. Eric couldn't come (first one he's missed) but it was probably ok because he HATES waiting more than I do. He would not have been a happy camper. :) I recorded the Doppler/heartbeat for him instead. I posted on my Instagram (my first video!) so if you want, follow me and hear it and all it's 160 bpm glory @mrsstrodtman.

Are you Team Pink or Team Blue?!??!
We find out the sex on MONDAY. I'm totally dying. I can NOT wait. My prediction is on girl. I've felt that from the very beginning. At first I questioned if I was just wanting a girl so I was making up the feeling, but I don't think so anymore. Of course I will be very happy (and surprised!) if it's a boy, but basically I just want to find out! Eric thinks boy. He's in the minority, haha.

Speaking of Eric, I have been thinking about him and the relationship he has with the baby a lot lately. From the moment we learned the baby could "hear" things, he talks to my belly all the time. It's usually, "Hi baby, I hope you're doing good in there! Can't wait to meet you!" sort of stuff.

Totally cute. I don't know how my heart will handle seeing him with the baby once it's born.

He always wants me to stand sideways so he can see the (growing) belly. Sometimes it makes me self conscious, because I feel like I'm getting BIG (found out how much weight I gained yesterday... sigh). But he just loves it, and despite my initial hesitation, deep down I just love how much he loves it. There's no way to wipe the grin off his face. Yesterday when I sent him the Doppler video he said he showed it to his friends at work. I really feel lucky to have him with me in all of this.

I am well aware this post is coming from an emotional pregnant woman, haha! Feeling more emotional by the minute, I tell ya. We have been blessed, there is no doubt. Not a day goes by where I don't remember that, and express my gratitude to the giver of all good gifts.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Highlights - Weeks 14-15

Some highlights  of the past few weeks --
  • Officially bought maternity pants and one maternity shirt over the weekend. I tried on my favorite "one size too big" regular skinnies and they won't close anymore! The belly band really works for me though, and I'm so glad I have it.
  • Maternity pants REALLY make you look pregnant. Everything hangs out! People are starting to comment on my "bump". It makes me happy to look pregnant for real. :)
  • I still haven't felt the baby move, which makes me a little bit sad. I hope it happens soon! My app said that the baby could start hearing things this week, so maybe I need to play the music louder and he/she will start dancing? :)
  • I can't believe this Sunday I'll be 16 weeks/4 MONTHS pregnant! Just a few more weeks until we find out the sex (August 26)!
  • We've been trying to sell our office desk for a couple of weeks on Craigslist and no one is interested. I've gotten two spam emails/texts but nothing legit, and I've already lowered the price once. We NEED to sell it so I can move the bed and some other things out of the nursery ASAP! Any suggestions?
  • My husband works the night shift so when I go to bed, he usually stays up all night on the days he's off. So last night he was off, and I went to bed with the dogs, and he said goodnight to all of us. He was walking out and I said, "Umm you forgot someone!" Haha. He came back and said goodnight and "I love you" to Baby Strodtman too. Aww.
  • We cleaned out every closet in the house two weekends ago, and threw away a carload of crap. I'm normally a "throw it all away" type of person, but being pregnant has made me 100x worse! I literally could have tossed everything into the trash and never given it a second thought.
  • The thought has crossed my mind to hire a handyman because my husband can't keep up with all of the projects I want done RIGHT NOW. Haha.
  • Because of all these said projects, my lower back really was killing/crippling me. Also I've been having some sciatic pain on my left side. I mentioned it to my doctor and he referred me to a physical therapist. It really is too early to be having these issues! The PT said one leg was longer than the other, my right hip was higher, and my pelvic bone was out of alignment. Gotta love pregnancy hormones for loosening everything up and making it move out of place! So now I'm going to PT 2x a week AND the chiropractor 2x a week. The co-pays are killing me-- but I feel SO MUCH BETTER.
  • Who can believe that tomorrow is already AUGUST 1ST?!??

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Always remember where you came from

Since getting pregnant, I have felt extra sensitive towards everyone I met or currently know who is struggling with infertility. I can remember the many, many times I struggled through pregnancy announcements from friends and family members, and I desperately did not want to be the cause of anyone else's pain when making our announcement. It still felt all too familiar.

I struggled with infertility for 2 1/2 years, and have only been pregnant for 3 months. Sometimes, it still feels surreal and bizarre that this is now my reality.

Some people reading this will not understand. This is the happiest time of my life... why should I still focus on the negative, dark struggles of my past?

Let me tell you something. Infertility is not just something you forget once you get pregnant, and you certainly can never be the same person after experiencing it. I said so many times that it changes you, permanently. It feels hopeless, it makes you angry, and best of all... it gives you a new appreciation for the blessings in your life.

Looking back, I am so grateful for that journey. It made me who I am today. It makes you realize how powerless you are over your life, and therefore that much more grateful when God chooses to bless you with your heart's desires. I was speechless and terrified when I found out I was pregnant (I wrote about "the day I found out" here). I was ecstatic and hopeful. I was dumbfounded and amazed.

I thought about the past 2 1/2 years and how hard we had tried to make our dreams come true. We learned so many lessons, met some amazing people, and our faith was tested to the limit. The overriding theme I take away from those years is that everyone's story is unique. My story is not your story. Just because you got pregnant when you "stopped trying" or ate 5 pineapple cores doesn't mean that it will work for me.

Because of that experience, I am finally confident that my story is my own. I take great comfort in that now. When I first got pregnant I was terrified that something would happen, that I would miscarry. I saw it happen all around me, with at least 3 other women I personally knew. It happens to more people than we probably even know. My husband was especially afraid, and while it lingered in my mind, I couldn't help but think... but this is our story.

This is our story. The past 2 1/2 years have been our story. This pregnancy is our miracle. God is still writing our story. There is no reason to compare it to anyone else. God is faithful. I worked through my doubts and fears throughout our years of infertility and finally put them in His hands. Now that I'm pregnant, I have to do the very same thing. And sometimes those fears for my unborn child feel exactly like the fears I had in the past of never having a child. Loss of control. Uncertainty.

So maybe now some can better understand when I say that those feelings never go away. Those lessons were learned the hard way. They must be implemented daily, just in a different situation. This is why I say I'm grateful for those years. They made me who I am today.

If I had any advice to give my friends struggling with their own journey, whether it's infertility, the loss of a child, or something else, it would be this.

Embrace your story.

It's ok to be happy and sad at the same time.

Find your peace. 

And never, ever, ever give up.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Belly pop and bullet points

I was very happy to reach the 12-week milestone this week! We had another ultrasound with a specialist who measured everything possible and it all checked out perfect. I am always so relieved after every ultrasound, and I think I hold my breath until I hear that miraculous heartbeat. It was 154 again this time, and 90% of the bets from family and friends are on girl. We find out for sure the end of August at our anatomy scan! WOO!

Another reason people think girl is because I seem to be carrying really high --

But I suppose no one really knows yet for sure! :) We have just over a month left wait... and then my checking account will be hurting fo sho.
More bullet points to remember:
  • Definitely POPPED this past week... I think it's time to go shopping!
  • Yesterday was my birthday, and while I worked (at home), it was such a good day. I didn't even mind not having a celebratory drink (though that pomegranate margarita sounded divine) because of the best birthday gift I've ever been given is in my belly.
  • I made a list of "Things to do in the next 6 months" and "Things to buy for baby". It's quite overwhelming, but we'll hopefully take it one weekend at a time.
  • I have been putting Bio Oil on every day... here's to hoping it works.
  • I was kinda annoyed that they don't allow any photos or videos of the ultrasound at the specialist. At my regular doctor, she wouldn't let us film the whole thing but we got some of it. At this office - there are signs EVERYWHERE saying not to. It makes me want to go pay and get an ultrasound they will record for us and just look at the baby, no measuring or monitoring! I could stare at that baby for hours!
  • I have some company coming this weekend, so yesterday I vacuumed and other stuff around the house... and omg, my back HURT so much the rest of the day and kept getting worse. I took two Tylenol and went to bed, but woke up at 12:30 to pee and could barely walk! I heated up a hot/cold thing I have and put that on my back and fell back asleep. It seemed to do the trick, and I feel back to normal today. Whew. Just a foreshadowing of things to come, I'm sure!
  • So I think it's crazy that I'm learning more about pregnant body stuff from my formerly pregnant girlfriends than my doctor. I didn't know what "round ligament pain" was until my friend Tiffani explained it. I'm pretty sure I started to feel that during week 12.
  • What I'm MOST looking forward in the second trimester: my belly getting bigger, feeling the baby move soon, and finding out the sex.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

10-weeks and counting

I'm 10 weeks already! Time seems to drag on a daily basis, but looking back it seems to be flying (like everyone said it would). I can't wait to complete the first trimester, for several reasons, but mostly because everyone says the second tri is the best!

I have no desire, interest, or time to do weekly update ("bumpdates") but here's a bullet point list of some random stuff:

  • I am starting to show a little bit. Still wearing normal clothes, but I admit I snooped around the maternity section at Target this weekend.
  • I've been walking 3-4 times a week as my form of exercise.
  • I eat cereal almost every morning for breakfast (and sometimes for dinner).
  • I'm beginning to have less food aversions and have actually started cooking dinner again, maybe once or twice a week.
  • I fell in love with club soda as my drink of choice when eating out.
  • I miss deli meat and eating sandwiches.
  • I will have about six months left in school after I have the baby -- interested to see how that works out. I can't wait to be done though (until grad school... ugh)!
  • I've been getting acupuncture once a week through the first trimester, and will probably do it once a month or so after that.
  • Thank GOD this is my last week of progesterone (pending the results of my blood work). It makes me super cranky and irritable.
  • I have not been sick at all (very grateful), and was VERY tired for the first couple of months. Like, dragging-myself-out-to-just-go-for-a-walk kind of tired. Just starting to get my energy back, woohoo!
  • My sense of smell has been off the chain. I feel like a bloodhound. I could smell Eric's champagne so strongly when he was sitting on the couch this weekend... it's super weird.  
  • I have yet to take a real belly picture. I think I need to start soon, but have just been waiting until I look pregnant instead of like I ate too much cheesecake. I'm not going to post them online (maybe I'll post a few, when I'm really preggo-looking), but keep them for myself and my belly book. Don't worry you'll get plenty of pictures of the baby, once it's OUT of my belly. ;)

For now, here's a picture of the little bean at just over 9 weeks. Heart rate was 174 this time! I loved seeing that tiny outline of a face instead of a blob. Such a miracle.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The day I found out

Friday, May 10, 2013.

I will never forget that day. The day our lives were destined to change forever.

The day I found out I was pregnant.

After three years of heartache and struggling with infertility -- well-documented here in this blog -- I truly couldn't believe my eyes. That faint, second line. My eyes must be playing tricks on me!

I did what you're probably not "supposed" to do when you take a pregnancy test -- I watched the fluid creep up the little window until it was all the way, and strained to see the results. It only took about 30 seconds until that second line started to show. And about 5 seconds after that for my heart to start racing.

I jumped up, didn't bother to pull my underwear back up, and ran to show Eric. This was about 9AM, and he had just gotten home at 7AM after working a 12-hour shift. I just kept saying "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god." He was half asleep as I shoved the test in his face and said, "Babe! Look at this! Oh my god!"

Definitely not the way I had all planned out in my head to tell my husband I'm pregnant. But don't we know by now how well planning works out for me? Yes. See exhibit Z on how well planning has worked for Stephanie in the past. I mean let's be real.

At first, Eric only saw one line. I grabbed his glasses and told him to look closer. When he saw the faint second line, he said just that. "But it's so faint." But OHHHH NO. I proceeded to tell him how many tests I've examined over the years, and how much I KNOW THAT IS A REAL LINE. There is no question. The only question was if the test was flawed. But I didn't have anymore tests to try!

So, Eric apparently GOES BACK TO BED because he was just not convinced it was real. I mean, this is really how I felt too, if I'm honest. Disbelief. Shock. I texted the picture to a few girlfriends, a couple who had been pregnant, just to be sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. They all freaked out.

I just knew.

After a few minutes, I jumped in the shower so I could get ready and head out to buy more tests. Eric walks in and just starts talking -- stuff we both we're thinking -- "Is this for real?" "Are you sure?" "Oh my god, I can't believe it." "I'm googling it." "Babe, you're pregnant!"

Then, he couldn't go back to sleep. For the next hour or so we just laid in bed and talked about it. I can't even explain that time. He would tear up. I would stare at him and say "Eek!" He was silently praying to God, begging for this to be the real thing.

Once again, this is not really how I imagined my reaction to be if I ever found out I was pregnant. I imagined myself bawling, falling to my knees, thanking God. That's not what I did. I honestly was in shock. It was truly an out-of-body experience. I kept thinking, there is no way this journey is over. That this is it. This is how it ends? No IVF? No shots? No more waiting? IS THIS REALLY IT?!?!?

I honestly hadn't cried yet. It was still sinking in. I'd also hardly had a moment to myself from that test on Friday morning until late Sunday afternoon. I rushed off to the doctor in Orlando that day to get blood work done, which we repeated again on Sunday. Mother's Day. We told Eric's mom that day. We had face-timed with my parents the day before and told them.

The first blood test from Friday came back definitely positive. Anything above a 5 is positive for pregnancy, and mine was at 58. Then, the test from Sunday showed the level had risen to 142. This was real. The nurse said "congratulations" and scheduled me for a 7-week ultrasound with my doctor. What do you know, but that 7-week mark would be the date of our 5th wedding anniversary.

I mean really.

Could God have planned this any better? I get a positive test literally just days before we were supposed to start IVF, two days before Mother's Day, and our first ultrasound is on our anniversary. This isn't an accident.

This is a miracle.

So Sunday afternoon, driving home by myself after telling Eric's family and getting the call from the nurse, I think it sank in. I was listening to "Even If" by Kutless and "I Need a Miracle" by Third Day. Two songs I'd listened to repeatedly during hard times.  I remembered all of those feelings I had, sometimes after driving back from a doctors appointment, like I was then. But this time, I had a different feeling. A feeling that is unexplainable. Complete humility. Gratefulness. Unworthiness.

Finally, the tears came. In a wave, rushing through me, my heart nearly bursting.

The only thing I could manage to say in prayer was thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you, God, for this gift. Thank you for your timing. Thank you for this journey. Thank you for always being with me, even when I was angry. Thank you for renewing my faith in miracles.

Thank you.

Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That could never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn't come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn't come 

Lord we know your ways are not our ways
So we set our faith in who You are
Even though You reign high above us
You tenderly love us
We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are

You're still the Great and Mighty One
We trust You always
You're working all things for our good
We'll sing your praise

You are God and we will bless You
As the Good and Faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn't come
Even if the healing doesn't come

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Welcome, tiny miracle.

After years of waiting, God has surprised and blessed us with a perfect, tiny baby!
Baby Strodtman will be arriving in January 2014! ❤
More details coming soon, including "the day I found out" story!
P.S. We never did IVF! This miracle happened on it's own.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The present.

It was time to sip some wine and write. I could feel it.

It's been over a month since I've even logged into this blog. Life happens. And time is flying at a rapid pace.

Nothing major has happened, just work, school, a bedroom re-design, and taking the necessary steps to get ready for IVF starting sometime in the next month or so. Oh, and one thing that sticks out in my mind: It's all paid for. We're officially enrolled IVF patients. We're gonna do this thing.


I am still in shock that we are here. That within two months, I could be pregnant. That I just shelled out more money than I ever have in my life, second only to our cars and our house, for this. It is just surreal. And exciting. And terrifying.

When I think back on everything over the past 2 1/2 years that brought us to this point, I stop and pause. It's hard to believe this journey started years ago, when I finally got the courage to get off birth control because I was "finally ready" to get pregnant. I was an idiot.

I distinctly remember sitting with Jen at lunch discussing my plan. I was off birth control in September, we were going to get pregnant before the end of the year. I was going to roll over all of my PTO to the next year so I would have enough time in 9 months to take off 2 months for maternity leave. Man, I had a great plan.

I'm so glad it didn't work out.

Before we got married, we said we would start trying after two years of marriage. This June will be five years. My, how things change. For the better, I might add.

Pain has a way of changing you, refining you... questioning your resolve. Over the past two years I've been angry, afraid, broken, hopeful, depressed, sad, excited, empty, tired, and confused. I wondered how God could let this happen to me. I've felt like a bad wife. I questioned if God even cared. I've begged Him to take this away from me. I've cried. I'm screamed. I've promised to change. I've tried a lot of things, thinking each time this was "it", this is what I needed to do in order to move past this.

Finally, I resigned.

Finally, I found peace. I finally understood that I could still experience all of those emotions and still trust in God's plan for this...for my life. I stopped blaming and looking for answers, and just said, "ok". This is where life has us. This isn't a punishment or even a phase, but it just IS where we are. Tomorrow everything could change.

Be in the present moment. Don't regret yesterday, or be anxious for tomorrow.

Just, be.

So now we enter into a completely new journey, one filled with hope, and at the same time a gigantic risk. I promise to take one day at a time. I am so blessed to even be able to go down this path, as so many are not able to. I sort of feel like this is it, that I haven't even thought past this point (what if this doesn't work). I refuse to. I'm going to remain present, to cross that bridge when we come to it to cross. We're here. We've made it this far, we might as well enjoy it.

I'm gonna make the most of it.

And if you think about it, please pray for us. This is gonna take everything I've got. I'm ready.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

The plan.

I'm partially doing this post for my own sanity, so I can just WRITE OUT everything and get it out of my system. Ok who am I kidding, it will never get out of my system -- but I'm so excited to share!

Ever since we decided to jump head first into pursuing IVF, I have been beside myself. I'm terribly excited, nervous, anxious, and mostly, have a MILLION questions. Since I follow so many lovely ladies on Instagram who are involved in IVF or TTC in some way, it seems like everyone has a different story, process, and outcome. From the payment method (some had insurance coverage, some pay out of pocket, like us), the preliminary steps necessary to start, to the medications they take, everyone's experience varied greatly.

Needless to say, I wanted to know what our process would be, specifically. I felt like I had more questions than answers, so I set out to get answers!

I had already done the background work of getting approved for the multi-cycle discount program through Attain, figuring out how we would pay for it (making arrangements to sell Eric's car, opening a new savings account, etc), and getting approved for a partial loan. I felt ready to start tomorrow, but I knew there was a process involved. One piece of advice I've learned is don't rush, and to trust the process. Easier said than done, but good advice nonetheless.

My main questions revolved around the timeline of events, and what I needed to do now to get ready for it. Because of finances needing to be in place first (we have to pay in full for the program before we start), we can't start fully until May. Also in May, we have a 7-day cruise planned, so I wondered if that would get in the way.

I emailed my nurse on Monday, and she responded yesterday. I was so impatient to hear back. Her response email made my whole day! Right after I got it I had a lunch date with Eric so I told him all about it.

So - here we go. THE PLAN.

1) Eric and I must attend the "IVF Seminar" -- scheduled for next Wednesday at 7PM.

2) Eric and I must both have infectious disease labs drawn. -- The nurse emailed me the labs we'll need to get those done, which we'll do next week.

3) On day CD1 in April, I will call the doc to let them know, and get bloodwork done on day 2 or 3 for Estradiol, LH, and FSH (already have the lab paperwork needed for that).

4) In May, I will start birth control on CD 3 (possibly while we're on the cruise, based on my calendar, so I'll fill the prescription before we leave) and call to schedule a hysteroscopy.

5) Once the hysteroscopy is done (sometime during CD5-10), the final IVF consult will be scheduled for a week later. Continue to take BC until the consult.

6) At the final IVF consult (will be first part of June), my doctor will review my protocol, the nurses will go over injection instructions, tell me when to take the last BC pill and when to start IVF meds!!

Even though I don't have exact dates because everything revolves around when my cycle starts in May, I feel so much better knowing what we're doing. It calms my anxious, planner-by-nature heart ever so slightly. :-) When you're in a position like this, any sense of control or any semblance of a plan is truly a lifesaver.

I know IVF is not a guarantee, and that it sometimes fails the first time around. That is why I feel confident with paying for the multi-cycle program, because we'll have some more "tries" if we need them. If we don't, great! But it increases the chance of success to do so, so I'm glad we are going that route.

Even though we still have a couple months to go, I see the "end in sight", so to speak. I'm confident in our clinic, in this process, and in my ability to overcome any obstacles that arise. OH - a little cool side note! The other day Eric responded to a call at an OBGYN office in his area. He and the doctor were talking (about kids, what else!) and Eric told the doc that we were doing IVF. The doctor asked where we were going, so Eric told him the Center for Repoductive Medicine in Orlando. This doctor said that clinic is known as one of the BEST in the NATION. He said their Embryologist is the best there is around. Just more great news (also gave my hubs a boost of confidence in this process!)!!

Thanks for the prayers, positive thoughts, and words of advice! We are not planning to try another cycle if this month is negative, because I want to give my body some time off (also save some money) and eat healthy, work out, and just get ready for THE BIG EVENT! :-)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

the three-letter word

Do you ever feel guilty for spending money when you know you have a big expense coming up? Like you should be saving every penny, but you're stressed so you want to go away for the weekend or go shopping?

I'm there. I took today and tomorrow off a while ago when we planned to travel to North Carolina to visit our friends. But then, I had to start my cycle on just the wrong right day, and now I have a doctor appointment Sunday morning that I can't miss. It's my CD12 follicle scan, hopefully with good news and lots of follicles.

Besides the fact that I'm not pregnant and still don't know what we're doing this weekend (I'm still determined to do something, even if we stay at home, and relax for a couple of days with Eric), I have had a great week. I got some really exciting news!

Nowadays, I tell my husband that we're just paying for our kid before they're even conceived... because we're getting ready for... the big three-letter word... IVF!!!

(I know In Vitro Fertilization is more than three letters, but you get the point :)

On Tuesday we were approved for a IVF multi-cycle discount  program through Attain Fertility. What that means is basically, you meet certain medical criteria, and they approve you for one of two discount programs. We chose the multi-cycle program which includes two fresh and two frozen cycles for a set fee, which is about 35% less than if you did them individually. The only thing the program cost doesn't include is medications, which my doctor says will cost about $3,000 more. Statistics show that most women do need more than one IVF cycle to get pregnant, and by planning ahead for two cycles you save yourself the stress of deciding what to do if the first try doesn't work (not to mention much less money).

I'm sooooo so so excited! I feel like this is the light at the end of a (very long) tunnel. It's been a long road. Just last year I was very opposed to IVF and swore I'd never do it. I wasn't opposed to it for any ethical reasons or whatever (I think that is just ridiculous), but rather I didn't want to put my body through the stress and risk spending THOUSANDS with possibly nothing to show for it.

But recently, in the past few months, I've befriended some girls on Instagram and through my blog who are going through IVF and who have either gotten pregnant or are in the midst of treatment right now. I was able to ask them questions, to see the process first-hand, and to really understand what it's all about. I realized that while it is serious and definitely can be difficult, it is also exciting and it almost always works. While I'm still jealous of those who live in the 15 states whose insurance covers IVF treatment (I wish), I am happy to say we have a plan to pay for it and it is FINALLY a REALITY. In addition to that, I've felt like we've just been spinning our wheels and not getting anywhere with our current treatment plan. While it has the potential to work and certainly does for some, it hasn't worked for us in over two years, so I'm moving on. Let's do this!

The plan is to have it paid for (plus arranging financing for a small part of it) in about two months, at which time we have to sign the contract with Attain. We will hopefully start injections in May or June! I'm really hoping the timing works out for us to start at the end of May when we get back from our cruise, and not have to wait until June. But either way, it is just a few short months away, and ... my god... we could be pregnant by my birthday in July! I tell ya what... that would hands-down be the best.birthday.present.ever!!

So right now we're in the middle of another Letrozole/FSH/Dexamethasone/Ovidrel cycle because that was the plan. The doctor increased my FHS from 75mg to 100mg so I'm hoping I get more than one follicle this time. :-) The only thing we haven't decided yet is if we're going to keep doing this for the next month before we get ready for IVF or take a break until then. I think we should take a break before IVF (could save $500) but I think we're going to play it by ear. Wait and see.

I covet prayers and positive thoughts as we prepare for this adventure. I'm really excited, and really nervous. Taking it one day at a time and not getting caugh up in "what if"sceniaros... keeps me sane.

I'm off to lunch with my girlfriend and then yoga class... another sanity saver!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The wait.

I don't normally blog during the "waiting" period, but I felt inspired today. One week down, one to go. I test on Monday the 18th. Lest any of you think this is easy ... IT'S NOT! :-) I've been here many, many times before, but this time is a bit different.

I have to admit, during past 2WW (two-week-wait) times I didn't really do anything different. I'd go running a lot, workout like normal, drink wine, and try not to think about it. About halfway through, I'd start doubting the process and get discouraged. I mean, yes, I never did get a positive test. Reading back over my old blog posts is sort of discouraging, because there have been so many tries and no wins. I wonder every day when it is going to be the "right" time for us. Sometimes, though, that was sort of my fault, because I wasn't mentally in the game. I was more... uh, along for the ride, maybe.

This time, though, things are different. I'm acting like I actually might be pregnant. *gasp* I'm changing up a few things, just in case. I think I've had like 2 glasses of wine total. I'd like to be able to say I had NONE, but a girl has needs. LOL. I'm doing acupuncture, and man, I feel so much more balanced. I am thinking about being pregnant, dreaming about being pregnant (I definitely had a dream last week where I was getting an ultrasound and found out I was pregnant, and started bawling - in my dream ;), eating better, and trying to take it easy in other areas. Mostly of all, I'm striving for emotional balance and mental health - eliminating negative thoughts and inviting positive thoughts. And prayer.

I've said this before, but during the 2WW I start to try and interpret every little feeling, craving, and mood-swing. Does it indicate more towards + or -? And, how should I know because I've never had a +??? I'm craving sweets, so that could mean something... or it could mean the other thing. To me, the symptoms are so similar. So this time, I've tried to NOT do the symptom-analyzing as much, because it's never worked in the past and it just causes stress!

I will say, taking this progesterone supplement turned me into a super b*tch for a few days. I didn't understand where my terrible mood came from, but finally figured it out. I feel like my body is adjusting now, which is a relief!

Either way, whatever the outcome is on Monday, I feel prepared. I am still hopeful. I feel that ever since the husband and I agreed to start IVF in May/June if we are not pregnant by then, I finally have a "wow, this actually will happen eventually" instead of a "this is never going to happen" attitude. Of course, I'm crossing my fingers that we won't have to do IVF (due to the cost and physical toll) BUT it gives me hope to have that option. I am so excited for this year.

I will keep you posted. :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Thirteen millimeters

We are well underway our first attempt of the year! Things have been quite the roller coaster already, so I'm here to give you a little status report. :)

My husband and I met with our RE on January 18th (my parents were in town so my mom got to sit in and listen too!). It was a good meeting, he ultimately supports whatever we want to do, which I sort of what I figured. We talked about IVF, the mandatory class we have to attend that tells you all the bad things about it, my desire to not do any IUIs, and a flexible time frame on how much longer I'd wait until we start IVF.

We decided to do several months of medication + acupuncture only and see how it goes. My tentative deadline for this approach is the May/June cycle, at which time if we aren't pregnant, we will hopefully begin IVF.

So - for January/February cycle, my medication cocktail entailed:
   - Metformin, 2000 mg daily
   - Dethamexasone, .05 mg every night before bed
   - Letrozole, days 3-7
   - FSH (Gonadotropin) shots, days 6, 8, 10, 12
   - hCG (Ovidrel) trigger shot, TBD (turns out it was day 13)
   - Progesterone, beginning on day 16
   - Acupuncture once a week

In addition to this, I had an ultrasound on days 11 and 13.

I went in for my day-11 scheduled ultrasound on Friday to measure my follicles and do my E2 bloodwork. That was a hard day. After all that work and money, the biggest follicle I had was 11mm.

And there was only one.

Mature follicles are at least 18mm. Most doctors like them bigger than that, up to 24mm. Finally, the nurse called back after the doctor reviewed the scan to confirm I had been taking the right dose of medication - like he was surprised I didn't respond like I should have. I started to have that sinking feeling. She then said that since I wasn't responding well, I needed to do my last FSH shot (day 12) on Saturday night, and come back for another ultrasound Sunday morning. If, at that point, it still wasn't the right size, we would have two options - to purchase another round of FSH (approximately $300) or cancel this cycle and wait for next month. She told me to come in Sunday prepared to give them an answer of what my decision would be.

I was devastated. I didn't want to think about spending even more money this month and creating a hardship on our budget, but also didn't want to "waste" everything we'd already done. Luckily, I was in the car driving home with my husband, so I just started crying. He was so sweet and, after a few minutes, asked what I was thinking.

I managed to stammer out, "I... just... hate... my body."

That described everything I was feeling in that moment. How unfair this is. Why do we have to go through this? Helpless that my body seemingly is working against me. There is nothing I can do. Why, why, WHY?

He lovingly reminded me that this shouldn't be a step backwards for us, for me, in my thinking. I need to just continue on the positive path that we have been and keep making progress. This isn't the end. It is just a (potential) setback. We talked about the options, but I honestly didn't know what I wanted to do. Neither option #1 or #2 were very encouraging.

However, there was also the third option. On Sunday this damn follicle could actually turn out to be the right size, by any miracle. That was my secret hope. I was afraid to even voice it, for fear of setting ourselves up for disappointment.

In an effort to distract myself I started googling "follicle size" on my phone to see what I could expect over the next two days. I found that 18mm is the smallest it could be to be considered "mature", but 20-24mm is even better. I also read that follicles grow only 1 to 2mm per day, and I did the math. If I had an 11mm follicle Friday, when I went back on Sunday the biggest it "should" be is 15mm if it grew at the maximum each day.

I just decided to wait and see. And pray.

Saturday night I started to feel super nauseous. I took some Nexium because I thought it was my stomach, as well as my final FSH shot. I felt a little better during a dinner out with friends, but on the way home I started feeling sick again. I went to bed as soon as we got home. I woke up early Sunday morning to head to the doctor, and still felt sick. I was super worried that something was wrong. With all the talk about the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and all these other potential complications, I didn't know what to expect.

I got to the doctor expecting bad news. There was only one nurse doing ultrasounds so I had to wait for a while. That pit in my stomach combined with feeling nauseous was super fun, let me tell you.

Finally, I was on the table during the ultrasound. The poor nurse said to me that everything had been going wrong that morning, so she really hoped I would be her first "normal" patient.

..."I hope so too", was all I could manage to say.

Moments before she had the ultrasound going, I told her I had been feeling super nauseous. I expected a concerned look or comment, but instead she excitedly said, "Oh really?!? Well maybe there is a big fat follicle growing in there!"

Wait, what?

Apparently, (and I wish someone would have told me this!) nausea is a good thing. Very good. The first ovary she looked at she exclaimed, "WOW!" and proceeded to measure a 24mm follicle, along with a smaller, 14mm follicle next to it. There were only tiny ones in my other ovary, so she only measured the biggest one, which was way too small to count.

But seriously. My miracle had happened. My little, struggling follicle had grown THIRTEEN MILLIMETERS in two days. That's more than it had grown in the past two weeks.

I don't know why, I don't know how. But I don't really care. It happened - to me - and I am grateful. My faltering faith and hope was revived. I am grateful for science. Grateful for miracles.

The nurse was so excited, and kept thanking me for giving her good news and being her first easy patient. I don't think she understood or appreciated just how or why, but in reality, SHE had just given me the best news of the month. I was beside myself.

This is where I can't seem to find the words to describe how I feel about this little miracle. Silence and awe seem the only appropriate response. No, this isn't a positive pregnancy test, but it was close. I needed that miracle, that small dose of hope and optimism to keep me going. It really just made me stop and think ... God does care. He cares all the time, I know. But this was so special, so personal.

Now we enter the two week wait. I am aware that we may not get pregnant this month, even with all of this good news. Of course I hope we do, but I'm also ok with the alternative. Because I want what God wants... I want to follow that plan. I trust the doctors, I am determined to keep a positive attitude (acupuncture is helping!) and most of all, I believe this is exactly where we are supposed to be.

Because He is good.

He heard my prayers.

He cares about the millimeters.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

do more of what you love.

I know my blog has gotten pretty boring as of late. But for me that equates to a busy couple of months at work, as well as a much-needed break from fertility treatments. I'm so happy it's a fresh, new year. I love what the idea of a new year brings -- a clean slate, a new plan of action, and fresh opportunities.

You know those people who have a kid and suddenly --bam-- their blog turns into a BABY blog? I get it. I get that what is going on in your life at the moment, what is important to you, is what you write about.  For me, that's our struggle with infertility and trying to get pregnant. I don't make any apologies for it, and I'm grateful for those who support me in this period of life. Often, it's the only thing I feel like writing about. It's a great form of therapy for me! :-)

For the first couple of months off, I didn't think about anything. I didn't track my period, I didn't know what "day" of my cycle I was on, didn't plan ovulation, sex, or take any pills except my metformin for blood sugar. It was pretty awesome.

Then, in the last month, I started getting nervous. I could see the end in sight, I knew I would have to start making hard decisions very soon. I was so conflicted. I put these unreasonable timelines and expectations on MYSELF - no one else is doing it to me - it is completely self-imposed. Now, I know my husband is chomping at the bit for a baby of our own, but he's not pressuring me to do anything. Sometimes I like to blame him for the pressure I FEEL, but if I'm honest, its pressure I'm putting on myself.

There's a lot I started thinking about in the past month, all revolving around "What is our plan? What is the next step?"

I knew I needed to start doing a few things I'd been talking about doing for a while. So, I decided to just do them and stop thinking about it. Sometimes I get caught up in feeling like I shouldn't have to do these things... why is this SO HARD for me and so EASY for others? It doesn't feel fair, and sometimes I drag my feet, pouting. But I'm trying to change that, knowing that regardless of what I have to go through that others don't, it is for a reason, and I'm keeping my eye on the prize.

First - I scheduled a consult with our RE for next Friday. I'm nervous. We plan to talk to him about a plan, the possibility of IVF later this year, and what to do in the meantime. The only reason I'm nervous is because I sort of know what I want to do, but I'm afraid he'll try to convince me of something else. Also, Eric likes to follow "doctors orders" more strictly than I do, so I'm afraid we'll disagree.

Eric and I sort of agreed on a plan a few weeks ago. We said we would talk to the doctor, and start slow, with maybe just some medication, shots, and IUIs before moving onto IVF. However, I don't really want to waste money on IUIs now. I would rather just take some meds, do acupuncture, and do a few minor things. No IUIs. I feel like those are a waste of money, if nothing is physically wrong with me, which there isn't. I've done one and it didn't work. We'll see what happens. I might agree to try ONE more IUI, but that's it. I'm not against taking letrozole/clomid, FSH shots, and the Ovidrel trigger shot, just to increase the quality of my follicles/eggs/hormone levels.

Along those lines, I'm coming to terms with the fact that our course of action as far as treatment is 70-80% MY decision. Eric is supportive and does offer input, but I've finally realized (with the help of some dear friends) that because it's my body, my emotions, and my time, I have to decide. Eric is along for the ride, but he can't decide for me (as much as I wish he could). That was a hard realization for me, but I think I've finally come to terms with it.

Second - I made an appointment for acupuncture. My first one was today! It went great. I'm so optimistic about this. I have another appointment for next week. It's the first thing I've felt good about in a while. There is so much research on how it increases the chance of pregnancy (especially for people with PCOS, which is what I have) when combined with other Western medicines and treatments. Some info is here. If the only benefit I get from it is reduced stress, I will count it as a success.

Third - I made an appointment with a psychologist. I'm going on Friday for my first appointment. I feel it is important for me to start taking care of my mental health as well as physical health. I'm looking for more of a mind-body approach. Infertility is stressful, no doubt. Having someone to talk to about my fears, concerns, and irrational thoughts will more than likely do a lot of good.

My theme for 2013 is "do more of what you love". For me this means taking the dogs for a walk after work. Sleeping in on Sunday (no problems there!). Having a "cheat" diet day. Getting a pedicure. Taking care of ME, and not feeling guilty about it. Not putting pressure or timelines on myself. Stop beating myself up for how I feel, for how hard this is, for having a bad day. This is my journey... I might as well make the most of it.

Also, being kind to myself. I heard a therapist recently say that if we wouldn't say something to a friend, we shouldn't say it to ourselves. We are SO much harder on ourselves than others. I would never say to a friend going through this, "You're ridiculous. You need to make a decision. If this doesn't work there is no hope." What would I say to a friend? I would say that this is a journey, that you need to take care of yourself, to take one day at a time. Maybe I should take my own advice, eh?

Notice I didn't say that "doing what I love" means drinking an entire bottle of wine after work. ;-) I am desperately trying to cut back on alcohol, as one of my attempts to eliminate all possibilities of something holding us back from getting pregnant. Sure, it doesn't affect other people -- many people get pregnant on a drunken night of fun. But maybe not me. I'm gonna give it a shot. Of course I'm still going to have wine, but hopefully much less than before (except for the week after a period... that week doesn't count ;-).

Also, I decided not to sign up for any half marathons this year. Normally I do two a year - spring and fall - but I want to give it a rest this year. There are several reasons for this, but mostly 1) I don't want the pressure of training for a race, 2) I don't want to be afraid that I might be pregnant after having trained months for a race, and 3) it's just one more thing that might hold me back from getting pregnant. I've been told by my doctor that running shouldn't be a problem, but most people trying to get pregnant aren't training for half marathons either (atleast I haven't met any). I still go running, but only betwen 3 and 5 miles, on average. (I enjoy that distance more too!)

Finally, I've cut processed carbs from my diet by 90%. Seeing that my main diet used to consist of pasta, pasta, pasta, it has been a challenge to come up with new meal ideas. I still eat them occasionally, but in moderation, mostly on the weekend. I'm loving how I feel eating mostly Paleo. I even found some Paleo bread, wraps, and pasta (made with almond/coconut flour)! I have more energy during the day, feel less bloated, have lost weight, and I know this will help with my fertility issues as well.

Cheers to 2013!

P.S. Call me crazy, but I already feel more "relaxed" and "open" - almost like floating - after my first acupuncture treatment today! Placebo affect? Maybe. But I'll take what I can get! ;-)