All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!


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THIS Moment in Time (#11)

Yeah, we’re living it up this NYE. To my right is B in a comfy chair on his laptop reading Reddit, and laughing his ass off!

And to my left is this:

Happy 2013!

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The Monday Snapshot – Not So Recent, But Hey!

It’s time for another Monday Snapshot, hosted by PAIL.  I went through my camera roll on my phone and could find nothing – NOTHING.  I have been just terrible at taking photos of Matthew lately, mostly because he’s moving so quickly that he won’t sit still long enough for me to take a photo.  AND – the minute he sees the phone pointed at him, he wants to be the one to TAKE the picture, not the one to be IN the picture.  The front-facing camera has allowed me to get some shots, but they’re never very clear:

See - would be super cute if it was more clear!  Look at him posing!

See – would be super cute if it was more clear. Look at him posing!

And then I remembered this photo – that B took with our good camera that I am actually using as the wallpaper on my phone right now.  I switch up my lock-screen photo rather regularly, but I just can’t seem to get myself to replace this one.  So here is my “official” Monday Snapshot photo!

This captures him in all of his mischief, cuteness, and sweetness!

This captures Matthew in all of his mischief, cuteness, and sweetness!


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A Promise

2012 was good to me.  It was good to US.  We started out the year with the plan to start trying for Baby #2 in June.  I figured I’d stop breastfeeding Matthew in May and that my period would return in June.  I delayed ending our BFing relationship, though, out of pure heartbreak – that was by far the hardest decision I made this year.  I finally had Matthew weaned by mid-July and was back at the RE’s office in August planning our work.

I never thought our work would be successful so quickly.  I really didn’t.  After spending 2.25 years of trying to get pregnant with Matthew, and a full 3 years from start to finish before we brought him home, neither of us thought the first FET would work.  Of course we hoped it would, but we didn’t think it would.  We stressed about how much a fresh cycle would cost if/when we got to that point, we discussed how cycling would impact possible vacation schedules, and we talked about not letting myself get so wrapped up in TTC again that Matthew would feel the impact of it.

And then it worked, and all of that stress and all of those unknowns went out the window.

Instantly.

Which is foolish because of course this pregnancy could end tomorrow, but in my heart of hearts, I feel very confident that this pregnancy will work out just fine.  In fact, I don’t even think about it not working out – I just go with it knowing that everything is fine.  This is such a change for me.

So here I am, at the end of 2012, officially in a second trimester that I didn’t expect to happen this year.

I am grateful that it happened.  I am grateful that I will never have to do a full IVF cycle ever again.  I am so happy knowing that if we choose to be done with family building with this second baby – that yes it was hard-earned – but it was much simpler than last time.

I am at the end of my IF journey if I choose to be.

But…

I wear my heart on my sleeve.  2012 was apparently my/our year – but it wasn’t the year for so many others.  And you know who you are.  I hate that 2012 wasn’t the year to make all of the dreams come true of the wonderful men and women I follow daily.  I hate that it worked for me, but that it didn’t work for you.  I hate that one of my dearest old IRL friends just started her first IVF cycle this month as I’m possibly finishing up that chapter in my life.

Thinking about the uncertainties that these men and women are going through at this time makes my heart hurt, and it makes me angry.  I remember all too well what it’s like to spend every waking thought on IF and the fear that it brings into your life.  My life was on hold for years due to our infertility, and I know that no matter how hard you try, it often times is just too hard to stop that vicious cycle of halting and starting your life again as each IF cycle comes to an end and then starts over again.  I cannot sit here and be grateful that we are possibly done with our IF journey without feeling mutliple things for those who are not yet done.

I know that many in the ALI community are hoping beyond hope that 2013 is their year – because 2012 stuck it to them in a major way.  I want all of those men and women to know that I am in your corner.  I will continue to support you.  I will continue to cheer for you.  And I will continue to know in my heart of hearts that this will work for you – whatever “this” is.  We will all get there in some way or another – wherever there is.

Not a day will go by in 2013 that I won’t think of my friends who are still fighting to build the families they want.  That is my promise for 2013.

 

 


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Changing a Classic, for the Better

B loves to play Peter, Paul, and Mary for Matthew.  I am not a fan, to say the least, but I sure do love “Puff the Magic Dragon.”  I’ve never listened too closely to the lyrics – I’ve just always loved the melody and the refrain/chorus.  Because B loves P, P, & M so much, it seemed like a slam dunk to put a copy of the “Puff the Magic Dragon” board book in B’s stocking this year.

B was very excited!

Until he read the book.

It’s very sad.  I mean – it makes me cry at the end.  I can’t read/sing the whole thing to Matthew without breaking down in tears.  The idea of Old Puff fading away into his cave because Jackie Paper grows up and away from him breaks my heart.  The new (2007) board book has beautiful drawings that imply that old Puff sprung back to life and made a new friend, but there are no lyrics to say that.

B asked me to sing the book to Matthew tonight at bedtime and of course I cried, even though we noticed that Puff had a new friend at the end.  It just breaks my heart so much.  After putting Matthew to sleep, I promptly grabbed his book and came out to get to work.  I just could not let this book/song that my son will grow up with end in such sadness.

New, additional lyrics were needed if I was ever going to read/sing this book again.  And it is worth reading and singing to my son!

I looked up the lyrics to make sure that the book wasn’t just condensed and it was not – the song ends just as the book does (but without the implication that old Puff made a new friend and lived happily ever after).

I came up with happy, conclusive lyrics that will tell my child(ren) that old Puff lived happily ever after.

As he should.

Because he’s a wonderful old dragon who brings much joy to us all!

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The One That Stuck

I’ve gone down memory lane to share our first IVF experience and our first FET experience – both failures in their own ways – and I think it’s time to put into writing what our cycle was like when we conceived Matthew.

We’d been through the IF wringer (or so we thought based on our own experiences) – 1 failed IUI, another cancelled IUI, a failed IVF cycle that appeared to be picture perfect, and a failed FET that was described as “textbook” to us.  When it came time to do another fresh IVF cycle, I was just not into it.  I’d poured my hopes and dreams into all the failures before it, and I was done.  I had nothing left to emotionally lend to the cycle.  I was ready to quit and move on with adoption, but B wanted to follow our RE’s instructions and give IVF three full tries.  The idea of a second, and possibly a third, IVF cycle made me crazy.

I should backup.  We still had 5 frozen embryos from our first failed IVF, but when we did our first FET, I negotiated with our RE that we would only do one FET and then move onto another fresh cycle if the FET failed simply because I had no faith in the embryos from that first IVF cycle.  I had had some slight OHSS with that cycle and when they triggered me, a couple/few follicles were much larger than their target for trigger – I truly believe I was a little “over-cooked.”  When we went in for our WTF appointment after that failed IVF cycle, our RE said that we’d do things differently if we needed to stim again.  All of the trauma from the cycle, and the RE changing his game plan for us if we were to stim again, made me give up entirely on those frozen embryos.  I went forward with the one FET out of obligation – I mean – it is not really responsible to do another fresh cycle with 7 embryos in the freezer.  But if that FET failed, I was moving on to a new batch of embryos.

And that’s what happened.

So there we were, in another WTF appointment with the RE after our early miscarriage with the FET, and our RE told me the new plan.  I listened like a student, not like an acting participant.  I was so emotionally removed that I just wanted to know the what’s and when’s (not really the how’s) and get started.  We talked stats, but I already knew them.  We talked protocol, and I wrote it all down.  We would stim more slowly this time, and more steadily.  Sounded just fine to me.

With our first IVF and FET, B did all of my shots – even the easy sub-q ones.  By the time we got to IVF #2, I was feeling the need to take some control so I did all of my sub-q’s by myself unless B offered (I usually did them privately so that I could do them, but if he knew I was doing it, he’d ask if he could do it and I’d let him).  I didn’t stress about it – I simply did them when needed.  I checked things off of my spreadsheet as we progressed through the cycle, but I didn’t get wrapped up in it like I had before.  I didn’t get hopeful.  I didn’t think it would work.

The stimming seemed to take forever – because it DID.  I think it took 3-4 extra days to get my follicles to where they needed to be versus the first IVF cycle.  I was nervous about this, but went with it.  I knew the follicle count was much lower than our first IVF, but our RE explained that we were going for lower numbers, higher quality.  I wasn’t sure what that meant because 11 of the 16 eggs retrieved from IVF #1 were described as great quality.  But again, I went with it and didn’t give it much thought.

When we finally triggered, I was relieved to be getting near the end.  I was a little nervous about OHSS, but I already felt better than I did during IVF #1, so I thought that was a good sign.  I went into the egg retrieval emotionless – I expected very little to go well.  When I woke up from the retrieval, I was told they got 10 eggs and I cried.  TEN.  The first time, we got 16.  How could we only get 10 this time?

Because of the number of eggs retrieved, I decided it was best to remain unattached to the cycle and the possible outcome.  I continued to just go through the motions.  We did my PIO shot that night and waited for the fertilization report the next day.

When the phone rang, I was slightly hopeful.  All hope was stripped from me when I was told that only 5 eggs fertilized.  FIVE.  The time prior, we’d had 11 fertilize.  Five is not a lot to work with.  I was devastated.  I was convinced this cycle would end in failure as well and we’d soon be moving on to the third, and final, hail-Mary IVF cycle before calling it quits.

We heard nothing else until we went in for transfer.  I think those few days were some of my darkest.  I dwelled almost every second on whether or not our embryos were growing and surviving.  I worried about the news I’d get when we went in for transfer.  Would there even be 2 decent blasts to transfer?  What if we had to do this all over again, knowing it was our last attempt?

When transfer day came, I went in with zero emotion.  I just wanted to get it over with so that we could move on with our last IVF attempt.  When we got there, we were told that we had 2 perfect blasts to transfer, and that one was already in the freezer.  Hope started to creep in.

Just a little.

We were told that one embryo had arrested but that the final one was looking good and would like be frozen the next day.

A little more hope.

The transfer was done and we went home.  I took an extra day of bed rest because, well – you know, I could and I wanted to.  I tried not to think about the embryos that were hopefully doing their thing in my uterus, and I was pretty good at ignoring the situation.  In fact, I was great at it.  The first day off bed rest, B’s boss was running his first marathon so we went down to cheer him on.  As we were walking to one of the checkpoints, we heard his wife screaming his name so we knew we were about to miss him – so I sprinted three blocks to catch him.  I forgot that I wasn’t supposed to be running at all (I used to be a big-time recreational runner).  It didn’t dawn on me until long after the event was done, and after I’d sprinted once again with one of the runner’s kids to make it to the finish line to hug his dad, that I had forgotten that I was PUPO.

My body didn’t let me forget for too long that things were supposed to be happening in my uterus.  At 5dp5dt, I had what I thought was implantation bleeding.  I was so positive of it because there was no reason to bleed because I’d taken all the medications that would suppress a period – especially one this early.  Right?  WRONG.  As I thought through this, I realized I hadn’t started my estrogen patches.  I hadn’t consulted my spreadsheet in days.  I quickly pulled it up and realized that I was FOUR days late starting estrogen.  I quickly slapped on my patches and called the nurse and cried and cried my eyes out about my huge failure.  I told her the truth – that I simply forgot that I needed to be taking all my meds.

How does someone in the midst of an IVF cycle forget to start a critical medication?

The nurse assured me it was fine as long as I was taking my PIO shots (I was because who could forget those?) and didn’t even order a blood draw to test my estrogen.  I told her about my spotting and she said that that would not be a period or from not taking estrogen, and that her hope was that it was a good sign.

Three days later, I P’dOAS and I got a faint positive.  We’d been there before so I didn’t get too excited.  But every day, the line got darker and I was feeling pretty positive that this was our sticky baby.

More hope crept in.

The beta was done at 10d5dt (2 days early for our clinic) because the embryologist didn’t want me to have to wait over the weekend – she said I’d been through enough with our first two failed cycles.  At 10d5dt, I was most definitely pregnant with a beta of 561.

Cue even MORE hope!

Three days later, the beta was 1695.

Two days later, the beta was 3224.

This was it!

But how many were there?

We went for our ultrasound at 6w4d pregnant and there was one little baby with a beautiful strong heartbeat – and there was one sad, little deflated sac that had tried but didn’t make it.  I was sad for the baby that didn’t make it, but so happy about the one that did!  Later that night, I did an internet search on “twin pregnancy” images and decided I was relieved to not be having twins after seeing photos of women in their third trimesters with twins.  It did not look comfortable.

At 6w4d pregnant, I finally embraced this cycle!  I finally became emotionally involved.  I finally became excited!

And that’s the one that stuck!


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In the Books

Christmas 2012 is in the books.  It’s over.  It’s done.

We I learned a lot.

Back in November when PAIL had their monthly theme post on Traditions, I skipped it.  I skipped it because I had no idea what I wanted our traditions to be.  I knew what I didn’t want them to be for the holidays, but I had no idea what my plans were for the traditions we would establish for our family.

What I knew (and still know) we won’t do:

  1. Christmas morning will never be spent away from home unless we are traveling somewhere special (this does not include my or B’s parents’ homes – I mean real vacations)
  2. We are not religious and we will not pretend to be during the holidays, like many families do  😉
  3. We will not exclude Santa from our traditions, but will try to keep ourselves in control when it comes to gift-giving
  4. We will not spend the holidays with both families – we will alternate between the two families every year so that we can honor #1 above

 

B and I have talked a bit about what each of our families did for the holidays, but until this year, those conversations were in passing and we didn’t really dwell on anything because we had no idea what we wanted our traditions to be.  This year, we did discuss what each of our families did and we incorporated aspects of each into our own holidays with Matthew.

These conversations were rather short – because B’s family had two traditions besides gift-giving.  They decorated the tree together, and B’s dad opened each ornament and gave it to the child who it belonged to and let him/her put it on the tree wherever they wanted it to be.  And they woke up to the smell of blueberry muffins on Christmas morning.  They ate muffins (and crescent rolls) and opened presents.  Sure, they went to Grandma’s the night before and their aunt and uncle’s every-other year for the holidays, but as far as their immediate family’s traditions go, tree decorating and blueberry muffins were it.

Easy!

My family’s holidays were a bit more complicated (but fun).  We spent tons of time making Christmas cookies together – all sorts!  Our favorites were the sugar cookies but we also enjoyed the Spritzes my mom would make (they are awesome in milk).  We would spend time as a family wrapping presents together, in disguised boxes so that no one knew what we were wrapping.  We decorated the house together (this was not fun – too much micro-managing from our parents every.single.year) and listened to Christmas music all season long.  We opened presents the weekend before Christmas so that we were free to travel and spend time with extended family on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  Santa came to our house (he was a wonderful Santa and he came from the time I was 2 until I was 13) the Saturday before Christmas and brought us a very special gift at that time.  Our grandparents would come over and we’d get all dressed up (ugh), have a huge Christmas dinner, welcome Santa, and then open presents.  It was quite fun and memorable, aside from getting dressed up  😉

On Christmas Eve, we went to my dad’s folks’ house and had a great time with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  This was yet another formal affair (ugh) but it was super fun, nonetheless.  My sister would play the organ and we would sing Christmas carols together.  We had another huge, formal meal, opened presents, and played games together with the sound of traditional Christmas music playing in the background.  My best Christmas memories are of this time, without a doubt.  We would go to Christmas service (not mass) as an immediate family at midnight (my dad’s family went to mass) and we loved that because all we did was sing Christmas carrols and the church had a fabulous choir!  We would come home, snuggle into bed, and then wake up Christmas morning to stuffed stockings (we knew that they were filled by Mom and Dad because Santa had already come to see us the weekend before) before loading up the car to head to my mom’s family’s home 3.5 hours away.  Once there, we spent the next day and night with cousins, cousins, and more cousins!  Even more fun memories there!

So – when you strip out the extended family events, my family had many traditions.  Some worth keeping (cookies, Christmas music) and some worth scrapping (making the decorating of the house a miserable affair).

So, without further delay, here is what we did, and what will continue to be traditions for our family:

  1. We will most definitely listen to Christmas music in the house (and in the car) from Thanksgiving through Christmas – all sorts of Christmas music as long as it’s peppy
  2. The house will be decorated by the family but it will be fun, dammit!  Any aspect of it that is not fun will be handled by me, myself, and I as to spare everyone the agony of my control issues
  3. We will always have Christmas lights in front of our house, and they will be the type that make our children happy (colored lights, lighted lawn ornaments) – not the ones that make me happy (white lights)
  4. We will go on several drives each week to look at Christmas lights
  5. The year that we spend Christmas with B’s family (they live close by), we will have a Christmas Eve dinner with our closest couple friends and their child(ren).  We did this two years ago and again this year, and it was the best part of Christmas for us both!
  6. Sugar cookies will be made sometime during the holidays.  I made the cookies the day before Christmas Eve and we frosted them Christmas night.  That was not my plan, but Matthew’s sickness made things hard on Christmas day.  Next year, I hope to have them done by the night of Christmas Eve *
  7. Christmas Eve will be spent with extended family before coming home for dinner with our friends
  8. Christmas morning will be greeted with homemade raspberry and/or strawberry muffins and boxed blueberry muffins (for B!)
  9. Christmas morning will always be spent at home unless we are on a fun trip
  10. B and I will wrap the kids’ gifts together – we did that this year and had a great time together!
  11. Christmas day will be loosely scheduled – up in the air.  It was nice being home but we also missed being with family this year.  We will definitely spend time on Christmas day with B’s family the year that we’re spending with them, but it won’t be as much time as we’ve spent in the past
  12. We will ALWAYS have backup food ready to cook on Christmas day in case we get snowed/sicked in.  HA!

 

So there you go – that’s my plan for our holiday traditions going forward.  I couldn’t have come up with all of that without going through the motions of a holiday season with a real, bona-fide toddler  🙂

Now, much of this won’t apply for next year because my dad has already Bogart-ed all of Christmas (24th – 27th) with a family trip to Colorado, but I’m willing to take one for the team (my family) next year so that I never have to do it again .  This will allow us to re-establish our traditions going forward from there.  Sometimes, you have to give your controlling parents what they want, so that you can ultimately end up with what you want in the end  😉

* B has ALWAYS asked me to make sugar cookies with red hots.  I have never done it.  I’ve never had the desire, until this year.  It made me really happy to do this for him  🙂


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Merry Christmas?

Matthew woke up at 1:36 on Christmas morning with an awful fever (104). I was up with him until 3:45 and then again from 4:50 until 7:30. I didn’t sleep much while I was with him – he was just too uncomfortable and shifty for me to rest.  It was a hard night for all of us.  B knew to get rest because he knew I’d be exhausted once we got up and that he’d have to be the primary care-giver until I got a nap in.

We had to call B’s family to let them know that we wouldn’t be making it to their family celebration and they totally understood.  I knew it was the right decision, but I hated missing it because it was at his aunt and uncle’s family farm this year (where B’s dad grew up) and we always have a good time out there and enjoy the big, country Christmas dinner.  We alternate Christmas every year between B’s family and mine, and I hate that we missed B’s family’s Christmas this year.  We did see them all the night before at B’s grandma’s house, but it wasn’t the same and I feel like they got the shaft.

I had intentions of making home-made raspberry muffins before anyone woke up, but that didn’t happen for obvious reasons.  I finally got them made around 8:45 or so before we opened gifts.  Matthew is still too young to understand presents and was feeling awful, so there were tears here and there because he just wanted to be held and fall asleep.  It was quite sad.  B and I did not discuss Matthew’s gifts this year and we both ended up getting him a lot of things – more than either or us would have planned had we discussed.   Needless to say, there were a lot of presents to open for a sick little boy.  By the end, we were rushing things.

Matthew got 10 or 11 new books (we seem to have misplaced one already) and as we were opening them, he kept wanting us to read him his OLD books.  So funny!  We stopped a couple of times to read his two favorite “old” books.

Matthew’s nap was short – he just felt terrible.  I don’t think he even slept 2 hours.  I napped for about 45 minutes before getting him up.  We spent the bulk of the afternoon in bed together, as a family, watching CG.  Matthew snuggled with us both and laid still for many, many episodes.

One of the biggest problem we had yesterday was that we had no food in the house.  We were planning on having a huge meal at B’s family’s and then just eating muffins later on.  Not a single grocery store was open (which is how it should be) nor were any restaurants, so we swung by a gas station that makes pizza and had taco pizza for Christmas dinner.  It was actually good – right up my alley!  Matthew wouldn’t touch his food and we assumed it was because he was so sick, but it turns out he was majorly constipated.  B’s grandma fed Matthew a TON of cream pie on Christmas Eve.  I only witnessed 2 bites but B and his brother said she gave him 10 or so when B was with him.  We think the introduction of gluten and refined sugar messed him up – which makes sense.  We learned a valuable lesson – we are the parents and next time, we will put a stop to it.  We let it happen because (at the time) we thought the joy she was getting was way more important than the damage it could be doing.  WRONG.

Matthew finally did his business after eating a pouch of prunes and much agony.  After that, he was in a good enough mood to snuggle on the sofa, eat some oranges, and read his new books.  We read all of Matthew’s new books to him and that was nice and cozy.  He was in no mood for a bath so we put him to bed at 8:00.  My poor boy literally woke up every 20 minutes after going to bed and would cry and cry for a few minutes each time.  I could not let him go through that any longer.  B and I finished up frosting sugar cookies, cleaned up quickly, and prepped for a roommate for the night.

At 10:45, Matthew joined us in bed.

I was up every hour or so helping Matthew settle himself, but that was better than him crying and being miserable alone every 20 minutes.  Matthew slept pretty well for the circumstances and B and I both enjoyed seeing him sleeping next to us.  There’s something very peaceful about having your baby sleeping beside you!

Today is better.  Matthew’s not feeling great and still has a fever, but he’s better and that’s what matters.  He went down for his nap with no problem and is still sleeping almost 2 hours later, which is better than yesterday!

Not the Christmas I imagined, but are they ever?  HA!

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