Monday, February 1, 2016

A Beautiful Secret

As we approach the arrival of this little dude, something has been weighing heavily on my mind.  I know it's no one's business and I don't need to explain our choices to anyone.  But it's hard to keep this secret.  And... it's kind of a big deal.  I've been telling friends and family when the opportunity presents itself, we just haven't made it officially public yet.

It's funny how things work out.  We never imagined conceiving a second child would be so difficult on our own.  It's no secret that we've struggled with infertility for about 15 years and have undergone multiple attempts at IVF/ICSI.  But after the 3rd try and thousands of dollars down the drain, we gave up.  We felt defeated and broken.  We were leaving Europe and we knew we would never get the opportunity to try again in the US because of the substantial increase in price here.  I was at a loss until I found a support group on FB for couples in our position.  Through that support group I researched different options and found our answer.  I researched clinics in the US, Turkey, Mexico, England, Ireland, Spain and Poland that provided the methods I was interested in.  We initially liked the idea of adopting embryos.  But in the end we chose to use fresh donor eggs and sperm so that we could possibly freeze a few and come back for a genetic sibling.  That's right.  This baby came from a different set of genetics.  He is ours and will always be loved the same way any child conceived through traditional means would be loved.  I want his story to be special.  I don't want it to be a secret that we should be ashamed to share.  Because it is amazing that we can do this!  My body is housing a baby created from another woman's eggs.  How cool is that??? 

I'm having trouble putting my feelings into words about this because there are just so many.  We were given this amazing blessing.  Something we weren't sure would ever happen.  A new life to hold.  I'm excited to meet him and watch him grow.  But I also worry.  I won't list my worries because I am choosing to put those out of my mind for now and cross those bridges when necessary.  But for now, both John and I are in complete bliss.

I've had several private messages asking "what did you do different this time".  So I guess I wanted to share this piece of our journey to help other couples.  Of course it took a long time to realize this was the path for us.  But now, I see that DNA does not make a family... love does.



Friday, October 16, 2015

Month 6!

Starting from where I left off.  I spent 5 extra weeks in Germany.  They were long and challenging.  Being without my husband during such a scary time was hard.  We lost one of the twins at 8 weeks.  We had our hearts set on 2 babies.  I was heartbroken and still think about that little angel that left us too soon.  I know he/she was only 8 weeks, but there was a heart beating inside me that just stopped and that was devastating to me.  I wanted these babies to grow up together.  Aidan being an only child was difficult.  I wanted nothing more than to give him a companion he could share memories with.  At times he would tell me he was lonely and wanted a brother.  I couldn't give that to him and in some ways I feel like I've failed him.  But, I know he will be fine.  It was just a dream I wanted for him.  We still have 4 beautiful embryos frozen in Spain.  So as soon as I'm cleared to carry again, I will go back alone and hope that we can do this one more time.  My body on the other hand hates pregnancy and never wants to do this again!  My morning sickness was horrific and is just now easing up a bit at 23 weeks.  Not to mention all of the other problems we've been having.  I know it will all be worth it in the end though :)

So what has been going on the last 4 months??  My German Dr. finally cleared me to fly at 11 weeks.  So on July 4th, I joined my guy in Pa where he completed one of his courses.  I thought we were in the clear as far as the bleeding was concerned.  She said the hematoma was nearly gone.  But... one evening while waiting to be seated at Red Lobster, I felt something off.  I went to the restroom and sure enough it was happening again.  I was calm this time, but still frightened.  I was over the 12 week mark, so I was sure we were in the safe zone.  At the ER, they did an extensive ultrasound which turned up absolutely NOTHING.  Baby was doing fine and even measuring ahead of schedule.

So off to Disney World we went the following week.  We wanted to celebrate Aidan's Birthday by doing something special this year.  After all, this would be the last time we could travel without a baby crying in the back seat.  He had a great time and the boys pushed me around in a wheel chair the whole time.  2 more visits to the ER while there, but still baby was doing great!  Just your normal, everyday pregnancy bleeding????  So frustrating.  But... it stopped.  August 7th was our last trip to the ER and I'm knocking on wood that it stays that way!

At 17 weeks, we planned our gender reveal!  I scheduled an ultrasound and asked the tech to please place the baby's gender in an envelope so we could find out later that evening.  She had us close our eyes during a lot of it.  I could hear John huffing and puffing beside me.  It was so hard to keep our eyes closed, but we did it.  We knew how we wanted to find out and the rest of the day we spent preparing for our reveal.  We wore white and filled 2 garden sprayers with paint.  Pink and Blue.  We had our photographer open the envelope to find out the sex and hand Aidan the appropriate sprayer.  There was no secret about it... I had been praying for a little girl.  Of course I would be happy with a boy and maybe I can get my girl on the next try.  When we turned around, Aidan sprayed us with BLUE paint.  I knew it was a boy.  I just had a feeling!  So, I guess I get to stay the princess of the house.  I'm not ready to be a queen yet anyways.  And my boys spoil me rotten!

We arrived in El Paso mid August and have been getting used to the area.  It took us a month to get into our new home because the Army has really screwed up our pay.  Hopefully it will all be fixed by October, but it's been a difficult transition.  I met my new doctor at 20 weeks.  He was great!  I really like him and hope he's around when we deliver this little dude.  At 21 weeks we had our anatomy scan.  Baby looked so cute in there with his little cheeks sucking away.  I loved seeing him again.  We did find out that I have Placenta Previa.  Normally the placenta is attached higher up in the uterus.  But mine is attached at the bottom.  It's only marginal though so it's not covering my cervix.  If it were covering the cervix it would mean definite C-section delivery.  But it's only next to the cervix.  So there is still a chance it can move up and we can still have a natural delivery.  But we will have another ultrasound at 30 weeks to see.

That's pretty much all to report for now!  We go in every 2 weeks since we are still considered high risk, but most of the appointments are great.  Really looking forward to meeting this little pumpkin :)

Thankyou to Amanda Bailey in Killeen, TX for the beautiful gender reveal pictures!!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Season Unending By: Aidan Kimball


There once was a Dragon, fast as the wind, impatient as an early human. He couldn’t stand long waits, as he could put a sudden end to any quarrel with his flame, and travel across the world within a day on the current of the wind and the strength of his grand wings. There was also a Forest, who grew slowly, and feared the Dragon’s devastating flame. Then there was the wise, humble, Owl. He was as patient as Father Time himself, and didn’t care for boasting or fighting. The Owl believed that anything that was meant to happen, would happen when it needed to, and that there would always be reason behind, or ahead of it. 

The Dragon and the Forest, had engaged in a war of which would never meet an end, until it’s participants had met theirs. The Owl, being humble as he is, never stated his opinion that they were fools, fighting as fools would. Instead he just lived with the war, and watched it rage, keeping his opinions to himself. The Dragon was growing tired of this war, he seeked to end it soon. The Forest was afraid of the war coming to it’s end, he seeked to prolong it until he was strong enough to overtake the Dragon. The two engaged in a verbal, rather than physical, dispute after some time.


“Greetings, Forest! I wish to have a word with you,” said the Dragon.


“I also need a word with you, Dragon,” replied the Forest.


“I would like to begin by apologizing for my destruction of the southernmost portion of your vast expanse,” stated the Dragon.


“I accept your apology, Dragon. I would like to inform you that I am very grateful that you decided to bring this war to the even playing field of verbal debate.”


“Very well then.” said Dragon. “As you may know, I require your wood to fuel my fire, and my life. A dragon does not produce his own fuel for his fire.”


“Yes, I am very aware of this and our previous arrangement regarding your portion of my vast expanse of trees and wood.”


“This war was waged because you were too slow to provide me with more wood when you could not regrow the agreed upon area of land,” raged the Dragon.


“And I told you that the reason for this is that I am not a forest of evergreens, but one of oaks and birches. The area could not repopulate during the recent winter as the temperature is too cold for the saplings to grow,” the Forest scolded.


“I understand that, but you denied that I have another area in exchange for the lack of growth in the other.”


“The reason why I denied your request is that you demanded a larger portion than the original we had agreed upon. That was entirely unacceptable! Seeing as how you literally burn through your “fuel” as though it were dry wood, you would keep demanding more and more throughout the rest of the winter. This would inevitably render the area barren, and thus, I would cease to exist!”


The Dragon stretched his head to the sky and, with a furious explicit yell in dragon-tongue, let fly a short stream of fire and fury, “This debate has stretched on long enough! The sky grows weary and is closing it’s eyes to rest. It is unwise to continue our conversation, for we too have grown weary, and weariness ebbs patience and reason. We should rest for tomorrow.”



Relieved, the Forest agreed and the two departed from conversation for the day, though neither of them got much sleep that night. They were too busy formulating verbal attacks and claims with evidence to back them up. The Owl had quietly said to himself, “ If only wisdom was a more common trait. The Forest could give Dragon seeds to plant his own personal forest, thus ending this futile war.”


The next day, Owl awoke to screaming, both from his fellow wildlife, and the Forest and Dragon. The wildlife within the Forest evacuated, following the Owl’s lead. They went to the southernmost part of the Forest, just on the border of the “Scorched Land”. There, they found solace in the river and large oaks. Owl found a mate in one of these trees, and they had built a family throughout the following years. They became the leaders of the wildlife, and preserved what had become known as “The Oasis”. All around the Oasis, Dragon and Forest fought both verbally, physically, and psychologically. The Forest stalled the Dragon as much as he could, while waiting for his trees to regrow. The Dragon tried as hard as he could to destroy the Forest quickly, but he kept giving the Forest more offenses to declare during their verbal debates. Throughout the years, Owl and his family prospered in their secluded home. The wildlife blossomed beautifully and steadily, maintaining a reasonable population. The Owl taught each new generation to just accept their reality, and not try to change it unless absolutely necessary. On his deathbed, Owl uttered to his wife a few words, only to be used should she be asked for help by those who’d rather destroy themselves, with minds controlled by greed and fear, over a childish argument.
The coming years brought forth a new Owl, who was essentially the reincarnation of his ancestor. Though, this time, he had a greater purpose. His mother’s last words to him were those of the previous Owl. It was that year, when the Forest was dwindling and the Dragon had grown old, that the war had ended, nearly killing them both. They looked upon the prosperity and liveliness of Oasis’s trees, and asked for a claim of it, so that they may restore the Forest’s expanse of trees and wildlife, which was now a barren wasteland of ash and earth dry as the Sahara.


“Oh wise Owl, Dragon and I wish to ask of you a favor,” began the Forest.


“You may speak,” replied Owl.


“We have destroyed my vast expanse of trees throughout the extent of our war,” stated the Forest. “We have noticed you have very luscious trees in your reclusive habitat, and we ask that you lend us some of the seeds from these trees so that we may replenish our supply of wood.”


    “I am sorry, but I cannot allow that. These trees are unable to sustain themselves in large numbers. They are too resource demanding.”


    “That is very inconvenient,” stated the Forest.
   
    The Dragon impatiently interjected, “Then maybe you may allow us to join your community. We will be peaceful and reserved. We will not bother your community. It would be as though we weren’t even there.”


    The Owl had remembered the words told to him by his mother. Realizing what they meant, as well as his responsibility with them, he fulfilled his purpose to end the war and protect his people.


“Here in my Oasis, we do not believe in war or conflict. Here in my Oasis, we do not let fear control our minds and actions. Here in my Oasis, we are patient and do not force our way to get what we want or need. Here in my Oasis, we do not stall or expedite the inevitable, we allow what was meant to happen, happen when it was meant to. We live with what we have and do not acquire more through force upon others. We are the true masters of fate in this way. The two of you, however, are the opposite of our community. You are fearful, impatient, and always have the need for “more”. I cannot allow you to join our community. I know that a time will come when you want to take over our Oasis and will destroy it through the process of another war. I know this because war, war never changes, because there will always be those who wish to create it, and those who do, will always remain the same.”


The Owl protected the community his father had created. Not long after they were rejected for the Oasis, the Forest and Dragon ceased to fight, for they ceased to exist. The Owl passed away, to be remembered as the saviour of the Oasis, for as long as there remained those who cared to remember. His story was sung by the birds, a story of true nobility, the story of a truly wise and humble creature of nature and of time.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Scary things...

I'm not going to lie... ever since we saw those 2 pink lines, I've been going back and forth with my emotions.  Some days I'm super positive and feel pregnant... others I'm waiting for something bad to happen.  Well, Saturday morning I woke up and one of my biggest fears came to life.  I saw blood.  Just a little, but enough to panic and run off to the ER.  I cried all the way there and while waiting to be seen.  I thought it was most certainly over.  Why is this happening to us.  We've never made it this far and it's already being taken away!  Well, the doctor did a quick scan and saw a nice little sac in there.  She laughed at me and said... you are pregnant, there is nothing to worry about.  I told her that we were pretty certain both embryos implanted, but she didn't even bother looking for a second sac!  It took me a little while to process that we now only had one baby after a whole week of thinking there were 2.  But I was OK.  I was happy that I had one baby at all.  She tested me for RH and it was positive so I do not need the "shot".  I asked her where the bleeding was coming from and she threw her hands up in the air and said "No one knows".  The rest of the evening I spent resting on the awful loaner bed. 

The next morning, we were supposed to visit with our old Landlords, but I was still spotting and not feeling very well.  I'm glad we didn't go because later that evening I began bleeding profusely and clotting!  More crying and panic came along with that.  We decided not to go back to the ER and instead went to the hospital up the road.  They didn't really have an ER, and they called the on call doctor to see me.  He did a scan and again we saw the sac and this time also a yolk.  But right next to that sac, there was another circle that appeared to be a second sac.  I told him our beliefs of both embryos implanting and he said yes... this is possibly the other one.  He said it was a hematoma.  I asked him if that could be caused from the other embryo leaving us.  He said yes.  I cried that I was losing a twin.  But I was relieved that the other sac was still in tact and seemed to be measuring OK.  I went home and researched Vanishing twins and hematomas.  I found a lot of information that led me to believe our second embryo was detaching from the wall and causing a blood clot. 

On Monday, the bleeding slowed down and went back to spotting again.  We finally went for that visit, but I felt a little off and uneasy so we didn't stay long.  John took me home and I went up to bed.  An hour later I felt a gush.  More heavy bleeding and clotting followed by painful cramping.  At one point I was on my knees crying.  I let the cramping continue for 4 hours hoping it would go away but it never let up.  So John finally took me back to the hospital at 11pm.  The sac was still OK but looked "squished".  The hematoma looked weird... almost like it had ruptured or something.  I asked the doctor if it could harm the baby and he said yes it's possible but that they would do what they could.  Which basically meant me staying over night with pain medication.  By 5am the pain was manageable again.  John brought me home and I spent the rest of the week resting as much as possible. 

Tuesday and Wednesday were house cleaning days, but my amazing husband handled everything for me.  I did do a little vacuuming but that was it.   John brought me to the hotel where I could lay in a more comfortable bed.  Time seemed to be slowing down.  I was so bored and all I could do was google about hematomas and vanishing twins.  I hoped that maybe we would find a miracle at the ultrasound, but I didn't want to get my hopes up.  John insisted that both babies were still in there and doing OK. 

Thursday was ultrasound day.  But not until 3:30pm!  It was the longest day of my life... or felt like it anyways.  John was still busy running errands and it was getting late.  So I decided to walk over to the clinic from our hotel.  I was scared.  I almost had a panic attack in the waiting room.  John and Aidan arrived and tried to make me giggle.  Finally at 4pm I was in Dr. N's office waiting for her.  She walked in and said... "So.. you were successful this time".  She knows how hard we've tried to get pregnant and she's seen me before every cycle for some procedure or another (hysteroscopy/laproscopy).  I said "Yes... but...".  She asked me what the "but" was about and I explained what happened over the weekend.  We went right over to the ultrasound machine to take a look.  While scanning around... I saw a couple of blobs that looked like sacs, but they appeared to be empty.  I tried to contain myself until she told me what was going on, but then she said... there is the heartbeat.  WHAT???  I was not expecting to see a heart beat.  I prepared myself that it might still be too early.  A lot of pregnancies don't see heart beats until week 7.  She then asked me how many we put in.  I said 2 and that I wasn't sure the other one was still there.  "Here is the other one... and here is the heartbeat".  TWO heartbeats!!!!  At this point I am crying happy tears.  I asked her if I could take a video.  I asked her if they were both OK.  Several times actually.  She said yes... both have normal heartbeats.  But that it is still very early and we need to be cautious with the hematoma.  It is under the placenta and that is better than being on top.  I told her about our plans to fly home on Saturday and she told me it was not a good idea.  John said I have to stay and take care of the babies.  He will go without me and I can come later.  Tonight I witnessed an amazing circle of support come to my aid.  So many people offered to help me with housing.  I am truly humbled by the generosity of these people.  This is amazing.  This is my miracle. 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Facebook

Well, I caved and posted our news on Facebook yesterday.  It was exactly one week since I tested at home.  We'd already told family and close friends.  I know that it is super duper early and anything can happen, I just needed to feel happy right now.  To celebrate with everyone.  Ever since we got the positive, it's been really hard for me to believe and accept that this is really happening for us.  I keep waiting for it to be taken away.  I'd created scenarios in my head and was teaching myself how to cope with any negative outcomes.  It's not healthy, I know.  But quite honestly... I've already self diagnosed myself with PTSD.  I do plan to talk to someone about this.  We've just had so much heartbreak on this journey.  15 years of trying, 1 ectopic pregnancy and the loss of my tubes, and 4.5 rounds of IVF over a 4 year period.   In any given cycle, at this point, I would be grieving a failure.  So my brain is pre-programmed already to not be happy.  I just needed to share the news and celebrate the moment.  I felt like hiding it was getting my feelings nowhere.  If I can say it out loud... maybe I can believe it too!  So I did!  And the outpouring of comments, hugs, tears even... truly made me feel better.  So... today I will be happy and celebrate this victory.  I still need to see hearts beating, but enjoying the now is good for the soul :)

2ww Symptoms

I know that searching for symptoms became a huge deal during my 2ww.  So I've decided to share mine for anyone else waiting :)

Day 0- Transfer of two grade AA hatching blasts around 1:30pm.  Slight cramping in the evening while resting.  More towards the lower left side.

Day 1- Found a tiny dot of brown cm around 11am.  Went walking in Cordoba.  Lots of steady cramping today.  Hope the walking wasn't too much.

Day 2- Laid around in the hotel today.  Mild cramping and lower back pain only when walking to lunch and dinner.  Felt one sharp stabbing pain in lower right mid afternoon.  Lasted less than a second.  Woke up at 2am feeling very full in the belly.  Couldn't get comfortable to go back to sleep for a while. Tummy soreness... kind of feels like I did a bunch of sit-ups.

Day 3- No cramping at all.  Very tired.  Headache but maybe from allergies.  Another sharp stabbing pain in the lower right in the evening.  Again... less than a second.  John concludes that the back pain is from the bed :P

Day 4- Ovaries are feeling sore or full.  No idea what this could be from.  Bloating is still there but not as bad.  Hungry all day.  Slight nausea.  Tired.  Fell asleep on the couch at 5pm.

Day 5- Little twinges this morning but not really uterus area.  Side stitch pain... still feels like ovaries but I can't pinpoint it.  Hard feeling in middle towards back.  Exhausted.  Took an afternoon nap.  Tiniest speck of brownish cm at 5pm.  Barely noticeable if I weren't paying attention.  Using the restroom a little more frequently.  Small uterine cramps on the left side towards back.  Breasts are feeling a little bit heavier and sensitive this evening.

Day 6- More bloating.  Hurts to button pants.  Peeing a lot!!  5 times before even drinking fluids this morning.  Little dizziness.  Little heartburn but I ate spicy chicken.

Day 7- Up at 4am to pee.  Cramping a bit this morning but eased up after my shower.  Very emotional. Cried over a chicken sandwhich.  POAS mid afternoon.  Solid BFP!!!

Day 8- POAS 4:30am.  Solid BFP!  Blood test at 9am.  HCG- 202!  Definitely pregnant.  Very exhausted today.  Dizzy.  Headache all afternoon and ended up throwing up later in the evening a few times.

Day 9- Very tired but better than previous days.  Breasts seem to be more tender in the evening.

Day 10- Symptoms seem to be vanishing.  Freaking out a little.  POAS again this afternoon and it seemed lighter.  Panicking!!!

Day 11- AF type cramping, ovary pains... what is going on in there???

Day 12- Sharper ovary pains in the evening.  Woke up at 4am with AF type cramping that lasted 2 hours.  Definitely going in for another blood test.

Day 13- Energy is a little better until later in the afternoon.  Then I was exhausted.  Blood test came back at 3412!!!  So still pregnant!  More AF type cramping in the evening.  Why are these worrying me?

Day 14- Spent the day relaxing since the previous day was a little emotional.  Dull achey cramps on and off today.

Blood tests!

Ooops!  I left the blog hanging for a whole week!  So anyways... after my dramatic pee stick incident, I scheduled a blood test for the following morning.  It was nerve wrecking to say the least!  I went up there at 9am.  It took all of 5 minutes and I was sent on my way and told to call back at 11:30.  The morning was stressful wondering what the results would say.  I went to the commissary and ran some errands.  In the middle of my errands I called the clinic but they told me the results weren't ready yet!!!  Ugh!!!  I was then told that someone would call me in 1-2 hours.  I waited THREE hours before panicking and calling them back.  But the phone went straight to a German voice mail!  I quickly found their website and noticed that the office closed at 2pm!  And the following day was a German Holiday. A big one... which probably meant they would be closed throughout the weekend.  I could not wait an entire weekend knowing what that test said so I texted my old doctor and asked him to pull up the results for me.  This felt very awkward.  I hadn't told him what we were doing, so it's kind of like I cheated on him.  But in my defense... I'd already given that clinic two rounds of our hard earned money to get us pregnant and they couldn't do it.  I felt guilty crawling back to them for a blood test, but I couldn't find another clinic nearby that would do it.  

So anyways... I went about my day and showed our house to a couple who was in the market for a new house.  The phone rang at 4pm while I was still showing the house.  It was the clinic!!!  They called to tell me that my blood HCG test came back at 202!  Progesterone 5.  202!!!  This is way higher than I'd expected since I believe a normal range would have been about 70-100 at this point.  I quickly sent an email to my patient coordinator in Spain and she called me right away.  She told me to maybe plan for 2, but I know those numbers don't necessarily mean twins.  But you never know!

Thursday I went in to our post clinic and got myself all set up to see a new obgyn so I could keep up with my prescriptions.  I can't stop taking the estrogen and progesterone until the 12th week and I was running out.  I was able to get in to see her the next day thanks to the nurse, doctor and tricare people.  They whipped out an ASAP referral for me in less than an hour.  It feels so great to finally have Tricare approving something related to my fertility.  All of these years... 40k out of pocket and I finally get to make insurance pay for something!!  

Friday afternoon I had a little meltdown.  I was convinced that this pregnancy wasn't real and I insisted on peeing on another stick.  It was stupid and I will never do it again.  The line came out lighter!!!  I spent the entire weekend torturing myself with google and things that could have gone wrong.  And before you think it... yes I know stress is bad but I honestly just can't control my feelings right now.  I don't know what's real.  The cramps, ovary pains, and other symptoms all worry me.  I wasn't planning on taking another blood test, but by Sunday I decided that I needed to know for sure that something was still growing inside me.  So Monday morning I went back in.  Another quick draw and I was off to worry for the remainder of the day.  It wasn't so bad, I had Denise with me.  It was her last day in Germany and I drove her to finish up her errands.  

Again I was told to call at 11:30, and again I was told to wait longer.  Finally at 12:30, I called again and asked for my results.  The lady said the results were good but she didn't tell me the number.  I asked her to please give me the number and she put me on hold.  Another lady came on the line and told me the results were "positive".  I asked again to please tell me the HCG level and she again put me on hold.  I really don't think these people understand the amount of torture waiting can be when you are in this position.  Finally she came back on and told me the HCG level was 3412!!!  Progesterone 6.  

A quick beta calculation said that the number is doubling every 29 hours.  Normal is 48-72.  Again, not a good predictor of twins... but Wahoooooo... they are rising and that is something to be happy about!  I still can't officially celebrate until I see a heartbeat(s) on the ultrasound next week... but for now I can be calmer and embrace each little step in the right direction :)