Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Beautiful Sight!

I was a ridiculous bundle of nerves all day.  I tried to sleep most of our four hour car ride home, but the butterflies that had invaded my tummy made that a near impossibility.  By the time we made it to the clinic, my hands were shaking.  I felt like I was either going to be sick or hyperventilate as I changed and assumed the position.  (As it turned out, that "going to be sick" feeling has been with me the whole day, so I have a feeling it's a bit more related to "morning" sickness than nerves!)

Once the RE joined us in the u/s room, it was right down to business.  In hardly no time at all, we saw my uterus.  Shortly thereafter we saw the yolk sac.  For a second, all the awful thoughts raced through my head again.  But, a few clicks and a zoom or two later, and I heard the RE say that there was a healthy heartbeat there.  She asked if we could see it, but it took me a few seconds to both comprehend what she was saying and find a gap in between thre stream of tears! 

Beaker's little heartbeat was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.  At 6wks1day it was 114 beats per minute.  The RE says that's a great number for our timeline!  We saw both the black and gray flicker and the blood flow "map" of red and blue colors.  Just beautiful!  We're in total awe of the little life growing inside me.  It feels simultaneously all the more real and surreal! 

Our next appointment with the RE is in two weeks (at 8wks) and then we'll get released to my OB.  We had the option of going straight to the OB, but I had a feeling that we'd miss a chance to see Beaker if we did, so we opted to do the one last appointment with the RE before moving on. 

I know that we're by no means out of the woods yet.  That point was made all too painfully today when one of my online friends went in for her 8 week ultrasound after seeing a healthy heartbeat at 6 weeks only to find that the baby had stopped growing.  High risk factors or not, it doesn't change the sadness or the sense of caution.  And yet, I have such a sense of relief that we've past this first huge hurdle.  Beaker has a strong, healthy heartbeat.  One day at a time...but, for today, all is well and beautiful in our world!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finally Here!

In less than 24hrs we'll be at the clinic for our first u/s!  I had begun to think I'd never be able to say that it was finally here!  We've had a wonderful time in Arkansas with the fam, but I'm ready to go home.  Well, it's not so much that I'm ready to go home...I'd stay longer if it weren't for the u/s.  But, I'm so very ready for the u/s!

I've run both scenarios through my head all day...the happy, healthy heartbeat...or the emptiness.  I made a comment to my mom that if she got a call from me, it was good news.  But, if it was a call from Hubby, that probably meant bad news.  Hubby shushed me before I could even get the sentence out.  I just haven't been able to not think about the bad news scenario today.  I guess I felt like I had to think it through just long enough to be prepared.  Sillly, really, because there's no level of preparedness for news like that.

So, we head home in the morning.  There's some snow in the forecast for here and some icy mix in the forecast for TX.  We're leaving with plenty of time to spare, but it could be a slightly interesting trip home.  My grandparents called yesterday, all concerned after watching the weather, suggesting that we change our plans.  We lived in Minnesota for five years.  A dusting of ice and snow in Arkansas and Texas doesn't compare.  Needless to say, no changing of plans happened.  We will be extra careful, though, of course.

This time tomorrow, we'll have seen Beaker for the first time!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post-Christmas Catch-Up

I'm behind again...behind with posting and commenting.  Will be trying to catch up on ICLW comments today!

First of all, a belated Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to everyone!  I drove home from Arkansas to Missouri on Christmas Eve.  Snow to my North, West and South; rain in between.  Luckily, I seemed to be just behind or ahead of the worst of everything and managed to only have to drive through what amounted to a heavy sprinkle most of the way.  This was really my first solo roadtrip and I was pretty proud of myself for having handled it all so well.  I was also really grateful to be done with all the driving, since Hubby will be driving us back to Dallas on Wednesday!  For those of you that were wondering about when I got any downtime-- no worries.  I really never got out of my PJs the one full day I was in Missouri and since I got to Arkansas, I've slept in late and taken plenty of naps.  I was extremely tired after all that driving, but I'm doing my best to get caught up!

It's family tradition here to spend Christmas Eve with my grandparents.  This year was no exception.  And, we'd also been waiting for this occassion to share the news of their first great grandchild.  We put this picture in a pretty "baby" picture frame for them to open:


They were ecstatic.  A few tears; lots of congratulations and plenty of stories of when my dad and uncle were born.  My granparents also showed us where they had saved all of the Golden and other books from when my dad, brother and I were kids.  Our baby will start off with a very nice classic book collection!

Next up, was Christmas morning.  Hubby totally blew me away with a beautiful Mother & Child pendant...and I know that may seem a bit odd, but it's totally in keeping with how we're choosing to celebrate each day with Beaker; no matter what happens, we are parents now.  In fact, Hubby polled a few of our close friends and family on if this gift was a good idea.  The reaction was 50/50, but I'm glad Hubby went with his gut on this one...he knows me so well! 

Since then, there has been plenty of rest and relaxation, with a fair amount of worry mixed in for good measure.  My symptoms have been progressing, though still no morning sickness.  The boobs are terribly sore and that uber sense of smell thing has been taken to extremes!  Audrey happened to step just right on my tummy this morning resulting in a bit of pain.  That freaked me out a bit, but my mom reminded me that the uterus is built much stronger than that.  I know she's right, but I'd rather do without the stuff that amps up my worry meter!  In fact, I went to the book store to buy one of those "pregncy day-by-day" books and left the store empty handed, because a brief scan through the pages just gave me more to worry about than I thought I really needed.

We're just a few short days from our first u/s now, though!  Today is 5 weeks and 5 days.  I believe, despite the intermittent--sometimes stronger than others--worry, that Beaker is doing just fine.  We're looking forward to seeing that flickering little heartbeat by this time Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winding Road

Last night I drove about four hours from Dallas to Arkansas to drop the pups off at my parents house for Christmas week and spend the night.  This morning, I drove the remaining four hours to Missouri to be with BFF and her adorable eight-day old daughter, AJ.  This trip, though on the agenda for most of the year, was on again, off again recently due to the somewhat strained nature of our relationship. 

I'm so glad that we worked through all of that in time for me to be here this week.  Actually, I'm not sure how much of it we actually worked through versus how much of it our recent BFP supposedly all made miraculously disappear.  Still, it is amazing how everything feels almost "back to normal" for the first time in nine months!  It's true that there are many things that BFF said along way that I understand a bit more now (not in relation to our IF, but with regard to pregnancy things she worried about).  There are other things that I understand even less now, though.  Regardless, I'm grateful that my dear, sweet friend has returned and that most of the walls that had been formed between us seem to have fallen.

BFF has alwasy been more like family than friend.  Even the strongest families go through their tough times.  I'm just grateful that I'm able to be here to help them when they needed it since their families on both sides haven't been able to be there to support them as much as they'd hoped.  Little AJ is like family now, too...she's quite a show stopper!!  Steals your heart with just a glance! 

I'll be here until Christmas Eve.  Then, it's back home to Arkansas to meet Hubby (who flies tomorrow) and start the family Christmas festivities! 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mind Over Matter (and ICLW)

****Pregnancy Mentioned****
What a month!  So much has changed since the last time we met for ICLW!  When I registered for ICLW a month ago, I would never have imagined that I'd be pregnant now!  I had come to believe that I could be writing from this perspective in March or April after our first cycle of IVF, but a miracle BFP the very same month the RE gave us less than 1% odds of a natural pregnancy?  Never! 

Given that when I registered for December ICLW, I had no idea what was in store, I want to be sure that I put it out there now so that my readers can choose whether they are able to follow this month or not.  I completely understand, either way.  I've had to make that choice to click away in the past, too.

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If you decided to stick around, you can catch up on our IF journey here and here and our out-of-nowhere BFP story here.
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I had already been writing this post in my head even before we went to church yesterday morning.  After church, though, it kind of wrote itself.  You see, I had already decided that getting through the next nine days without driving both myself and everyone around me crazy was going to require some serious "mind over matter" thinking. 

I am choosing to believe that Beaker is fine, growing healthy and strong, and that we WILL see a heartbeat next week.  There's no halfway on this for me.  I guess I just don't do indifferent, or at least not when it comes to Beaker.  Indifferent is too close to fear.  Trying to live in that indifferent space just pushes me into the fear spiral that you all found me in last Friday morning.  It feels better to believe that this amazing, miracle of a path God laid before us will continue to unfold in a positive way.  If there's anything I've learned this Christmas season, it's to trust His plan.

I'll admit that we haven't always been as good about getting ourselves to Mass recently as we should have been.  But, there was no doubt that we would be there yesterday.  Sometimes the homily is wonderful, but I know that I'm not necessarily the one it was written for that week.  Then, there are other days when the homily so perfectly fits where I am at the moment that it brings me to tears (and not just because my hormones are all over the place these days!).  Yesterday was one of those days.

The homily was all about trust and faith...trusting that things are moving forward in the way their meant to move forward, even if we can't see the progress.  If that wasn't the message I needed to hear right now, I don't know what was!  Sometimes my resolve is tested and I find myself more filled with fear than hope, but that's only natural.  Most of the time over the past few days, though, I've been able to enjoy these moments and be hopeful.  And, when fear takes over, I remind myself of these concrete facts:
-  Hubby's DNA Fragmentation came back way better than average.
-  My uterus looked perfect in my hysteroscopy last month.
-  New symptoms continue to appear (newest: gassy and increased sense of smell).

And, when all that fails.  I remind myself that I believe in the miracles that got us this far and trust that our miracle is only just beginning.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Breathe

Thanks, ladies, for all the support and stories.  I heard similar stories from IRL ladies this morning.  And, called the clinic and heard the same.  Spotting on the TP is perfectly normal.  Call if it gets any worse, but not to worry at small amounts of red or pink.  So, now I breathe...

I always wondered why, in the 2ww, why does AF have to feel so much like possible pregnancy symptoms.  Now, I wonder the same, in reverse.  Why on earth do perfectly normal pregnancy symptoms feel so much like AF?!  It's madddening!  We're so conditioned that blood=bad, AF=bad, cramping+blood=AF.  And, now I'm supposed to just trust that cramping+blood=perfectly normal pregnancy?  Pretty much.  But, I'm not the first and I won't be the last, so I just have to breathe!

In twelve days, we'll see Beaker's heartbeat.  And, I just have to believe that is exactly how this is going to turn out.  I don't want to live these next twelve days in fear, as difficult as that may be to avoid.  I wouldn't mind a symptom or two, other than the scary bleeding, to help me feel a bit more secure in that belief!  But, for now, I'm just going to breathe, say my prayers and think positive thoughts for Beaker!

That Worry Thing

My last post, on Monday, was all about how I wasn't going to worry.  I was just going to celebrate each day that we were pregnant.  That lasted until about Tuesday before the worries started creeping in.  And, then Thursday I had a little spotting.  Not much.  Not enough to need a panty liner.  But, enough to scare the crap out of me.  I'm feeling more AF-ish type cramping than the previous days, too.

I know that many woman spot in early pregnancy.  I also know this is how miscarriages start.  Maybe I've read one too many blog posts or spent too much time on iV.  I don't know.  How many women who have spotting at 4 weeks, 3 days really make it to a healthy baby in the end?  Thinking positive just doesn't seem possible anymore.  I feel like we're losing Beaker...and I just can't process it. 

I haven't called the clinic.  Three dots of redness seems like a bit too little to call in a panic.  But, more than that, I also know that there's nothing they can do.  They'll either tell me to wait it out.  Or, they'll have me come in for more betas.  And, I'm not sure I want the results.  I don't want to take that call.

At the same time, I know that I'm supposed to be leaving for Missouri on Monday night to go be with BFF and her new baby (born Monday via c-section).  If this is headed in the direction it feels like it is, I can't bear to go through that there, without Hubby.  At least, if I got the bad beta results, I'd know to stay home.

I hope I'm overreacting.  I hope that this is all a part of the process and the spotting was perfectly explainable and the AF-ish cramps are a normal thing to feel at this point.  I feel less pregnant than I did yesterday.  Things don't seem to be moving in the right direction.  Not sure what to do or how to feel.  I'm just in a daze.

Monday, December 14, 2009

168!!

Got the second beta results back today. We needed 100, we got 168!!  We're ecstatic!  It feels much more real now that I know that everything is moving along just as it should. 

Interestingly, Hubby and I have done a bit of a role reversal in the last couple days.  Those of you who have read my blog for awhile will know that I'm a bit of a worrier.  Pregnancy, however, has brought out a slightly different side of me.  I've decided that I want to enjoy this pregnancy day-by-day...take each day as it comes because every new day we're pregnant is better than the last.  I don't want to be an obsessed and worrying all the time.  What happens during this pregnancy is already according to plan.  And, whatever happens, I am still a mommy.  In this moment, I am a mommy!  I want to celebrate it today, not wait 9 months to celebrate!  It's a very new way of looking at things for me.  That "one day at a time" thing is very tough for me!

My dear, sweet Hubby, on the other hand, has completed our total role reversal by taking it upon himself to run the many non-happy ending scenarios through his head to figure out what we would do and how he would support me if it were to happen.  He has become the Type-A worrier!  How did that happen?  On the one hand, I find it sweet...in a macho, protector sort of way.  But, there are two issues with his line of thinking.  First, it is keeping him from living in the moment and enjoying "Little Beaker" (a play on petri dishes and Muppets).  Second, Hubby's depression already fills his brain with enough dark thoughts.  It makes me sad that our happiest of occassions is giving him reason to fill it with more.  I hope that his half of our role-reversal is short-lived.

Our first ultrasound is scheduled for 12/31...what a great way to ring in the New Year!  It seems like four weeks is pretty early to see a heartbeat, but the nurse told me that we should be able to discern gestational sac(s) AND see a heartbeat.  I hope she's right!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ummmmm....

I got up yesterday and decided to test.  My department holiday party (an open bar extravaganza) was last night and I just wanted to be sure before taking part in all that.  I never early test.  A year ago, I bought a pack of 25 OPKs and 10 internet cheapie HPTs.  I've been conditioned, as I'm sure you all can relate, to expecting (and then seeing, on the rare occassion that I test) a negative).  What else would you expect when the RE told you a mere two weeks before that your chance of successful IUI was 3-8% and successful natural pregnancy less than 1%? 

As of Saturday morning, I had 8 HPTs from that purchase a year ago!  Now I have 5.

I tested the first time, fully expecting a negative with every fiber of my being.  I'm a worrier and needed to see the stark white line before partaking at the party.  I went ahead with my morning rituals (teeth brushed, face washed, etc) without even a hopeful glance in the direction of the test.  When 3-minutes was up, I walked back over to the test, and to my amazement, there was a second line!!

So, I took another...still a line....and another...still a line.  But wait, there's a problem!  I realized my internet cheapies were expired!  Figures, right?  So, I ran to the store to get a digi.  Sure enough, Pregnant popped up in three seconds flat!  Shortly thereafter I was racing to the clinic for a blood test....which confirmed the other 5 tests with a beta of 52.3!  Second beta on Monday.

We are ecstatic, thirlled and beside ourselves with joy!  We're also shocked, awed and humbled!  I was going to the clinic tomorrow to sign the clinical trial paperwork for us to start IVF next month.  In the end, BFF and I were pregnant at the same time for exactly two weeks; I was able to give Hubby the ultimate 30th birthday gift; and the money we had saved and/or been given for IVF can now be used for all things baby.  The timing leaves me speechless. 

A few days ago, I wrote about trusting the path God had made for us.  The path turned out far different than I imagined then, but I hear the message loud and clear.  And, it leaves me speechless.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Community PSA-- Creme, Haikus and LFCA

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you the following ALI Blogroll Public Service Announcement...

There are some big things going on in the ALI Blogosphere this week, so I wanted to take a moment to point them out in case you've missed them, but would like to take part.  In fact, I sincerely hope that you all will take part, if you haven't already!

Creme de la Creme
The deadline for submissions to Creme de le Creme is Monday (December 14).  Basically, the wonderful premise of this (another of Mel's fabulous ideas, as are the other two to follow) is that everyone has a best post.  We all do.  I've seen amazing posts on my followers' blogs (and other blogs I read, but may not necessarily be official followers of my blog).  I know that you all have a best post from 2009.  I urge you to submit your favorite/best post via this form.  As long as you submit your post by December 14th, Mel will write a wonderful summary blurb and have your post up on January 1st, with the long list of other wonderful posts, and we'll all kick off 2010 by celebrating each other's best!  (For full disclosure, I'll add that you can continue to submit your best 2009 posts well after 12/14, but I hope you'll do it by Monday so that you can join us on the New Year's Day list!)  I look forward to reading everyone's creme de la creme in January! 

The Golden Haiku
The Golden Haiku is a lot like Creme de la Creme with one big exception.  While the Creme is open to only those in the IF world, The Golden Haiku is available to anyone with a blog.  I'm sure that you have often felt what I often feel...that the rest of the world isn't always as supportive as we'd like on this IF journey.  Educating the world about how it feels to be on this road is a huge step in gaining support and understanding.  The Golden Haiku is one way for us to (hopefully) make headway there.  It's also a brilliant way to meet new bloggers and make connections we may not otherwise have a chance to find.  You can submit the same post you submitted for Creme, or something new.  These posts will go up on January 15th.  The rules for submission are a bit different (you won't your own summary haiku (hence the name), for example), so please check out the link above before heading over to the form to submit your favorite ambassadorial post.

LFCA
Lastly, but certainly not least, LFCA reached it's monumental 500th post this week!  If you're not sure what LFCA is, it stands for Lost and Found and Connections Abound.  It's a literal one-stop-shop for finding out the biggest happenings (projects, questions, losses and joyful announcements) in the ALI Blogosphere on any given day.  But, more than that, it's a way for our community to come together to support each other.  If LFCA is already near and dear to you heart, I encourage you to leave a comment on the Reflections post.  I doubt I'll ever forget the day one of my dear readers submitted my news to LFCA or the day I first submitted someone else's.  I know it sounds incredibly sappy, but it really is like a giant hug when you need it most!  The support offered and received is immeasurable.  I will continue to submit your news to LFCA and I hope you'll do the same for me and others!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming...

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's (Almost) Really Happening!

This is really beginning to feel real...that we might actually be starting IVF #1 this time next month.  Next month...January!  Seriously!  Thanks to my "I can't even begin to describe how wonderful they are" in-laws, our remaining financial concerns surrounding the IVF prepayment have been solved.  I seriously can't even begin to describe how blessed and loved I feel right now...that Hubby's parents feel so strongly about us being able to start our family that they're willing to support it in such a generous way; that these people who I'm not related to by blood have always treated me as if I was born to be a part of their family.  I never feel like the "daughter-in-law" the way I hear so many other people describe it. 

There is no stigma attached to "mother-in-law" or "father-in-law" in our family either.  I use the labels to help others understand the relationships, but I don't say it with disdain and I correct people when they assume the worst.  In fact, so many people seem amazed (or aghast) when they hear that Hubby's dad is living with us for while the ILs are mid-relocation.  Truth be told, though, I'll be sad to see him go.  He goes out of his way to make our lives easier.  And, I know that we're lucky to be able to share this extra time with him.  His relationship with Hubby is stronger than ever and I know we also have this transition time to thank.  I'm fully aware that this kind of in-law relationship is a rarity, and I plan to never take it for granted!

Of course, now that we know for sure that we can actually pay for IVF #1, the one remaining obstacle falls squarely on me...me and my remaining 3.5 pounds, that is!  I hit a bit of a plateau the first half of this week.  FIL, who also used to be a personal trainer, quizzed about what I had been eating and my exercise program.  As it turned out, he thought I needed to mix it up a bit more, so I started doing some Ji.llian Mich.chaels workouts (of Big.gest L.oser fame).  OMG!  Seriously, they're killer...but WOW do they work.  I started those workouts on Wednesday and, after sitting still on the scales for three days, I dropped another 2.5 pounds as of today.  So, only 3.5 to go!  That seems totally doable by next week.

Next week!?  Next week, I will hopefully be signing the trial consent form for our first IVF cycle!  I'm struggling a bit with how I should feel about this, because, truthfully, I mostly feel excited.  But, I'm also completely aware of the fact (and keep reminding Hubby) that IVF #1 may not work for us.  I don't want either of us to look at it as a sure thing.  But, I do want us to fill ourselves with the belief that it could happen.  And, not only that it could, but that there are strong odds in our favor. 

I haven't figured out how to temper my excitement at the chance, the first real chance, IVF #1 provides us with nervousness I feel about the negative "what ifs."  I'm by no means seeing it as a sure thing.  My excitement doesn't come from that place.  It comes from the fact that I want a shot at this.  I want a shot at starting our family and this clinical trial is our best shot. 

I'm also still in a bit of shock and disbelief at how the saying "everything happens for a reason" is coming true in our lives.  That we would have gotten the answers we needed when we did and ended up receiving the IVF recommendation right on the tail end of this trial, but still with enough time to take part, is amazing in and of itself.  That we waited as long as we did (until after our move South) to start TTC and ended up being here, with access to the trial, when we need it most is equally amazing.  Then, there's the fact that the trial was supposed to end in October but has been extended, for unknown reasons, just long enough for us to take part.  Or last, but certainly not least, that those we love (and who love us) were so supportive that they were willing to help us make the last pieces of the puzzle together.  None of this is lost on me. 

For years, I was ready to TTC and Hubby wasn't.  He had good reasons and I understood them...I just didn't necessarily like them.  Looking back, though, it all makes sense.  I feel confident that this was the path that was always meant for us.  I fought it for much too long, because I struggle so much with the unknown.  Perhaps our TTC/IF journey is God's way of finally teaching me to trust His path.  That's a message I've been hearing for awhile, but I've struggled to learn.  Now I get it.  And so, I trust that the trial will not close before I can lose this last 3.5 pounds or before my cycle starts mid-January.  And, I will continue to believe that, no matter the results, there's a reason for the journey (though that may be the most difficult part if the results aren't what we hope for).

Sorry for the long and rambling post (and I'm aware that many of my posts are long, they're just not usually this all over the place...at least I hope they're not!).  My thoughts are definitely a bit jumbled right now.  Excitement and nerves all bundled up in my brain looking for a place to escape!  And, I guess my blog was it!  I'm admittedly not sure how I should feel, because right now I continue to feel like Christmas has come a bit early this year.  I suspect that the true weight of this may hit me when we sign the consent, and even more so when I've got protocol in hand.  But, excitement at the chance seems an appropriate feeling in this moment, so I'm going to keep riding the positive energy as long as I can!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Show & Tell: Deck the Halls

It's time again for Mel's Show & Tell.  When you get done here, please go check out what the rest of the class is sharing.  We'd love for you to share, too!

We decorated for Christmas the week of Thanksgiving.  Last year, we were technically in the house by Christmas, but all of our stuff didn't arrive from MN until a few days later.  So, this was the first year that we were able to decorate for Christmas in the new house.   I was so pleased with how it turned out!  It's amazing what a difference a roaring fire, stockings and a tree can make to your entire mental state.  It was also so wonderful to have Andy's family spend Thanksmas with us.  Their stockings, and two for our dogs, Audrey and Gracie, helped to make the mantle feel full this year!  The house just feels warmer, and I don't think it's the fire! :-)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm Not Positive

The following post is brought to you by a guest blogger courtesy of Cross-Pollination Day!  Keep reading to learn more!

Please excuse me for being a terrible blogger. At first, I don't post because I'm trying to be all Zen in my 2ww's and it takes too much energy to be Zen and post at the same time. Then, I don't want to post about all my possible symptoms (again) and about the resulting negative (again) and about how I'm devastated (again).

In my life, I have been a pretty glass-is-half-full kind of person. Despite the lifelong struggle with depression, I come off as and actually have been a positive person to be around, someone with a good outlook on life and uplifting thoughts for the future.

I think I'm losing that. I think I'm losing me. I hate this and everything IF has done and is doing to me. I just keep crying out, "Why?" Why is this happening? There cannot be a purpose to this pain.

I didn't need IF to love my kids. I'm certain that I'd love my children with all my heart and soul, no matter how easy their conceptions, pregnancies, and births.

I didn't need IF to love my husband. We were already tasked with going through hell. We've come out the other side and didn't need IF to know that we have a strong bond.

I didn't need IF to know my own strength. I already knew how strong I was; that I could get through anything life throws at me.

I didn't need IF to know that I have many blessings. I was and am immensely grateful for the many good thing in my life.

What IF gives me is:
LONELINESS
ANGER
JEALOUSY
GRIEF
RESENTMENT
SADNESS
RAGE

I don't hate pregnant women or women with children.

I hate IF.

I hate that I'm the last of my local IF friends to be "sans".

I hate that I have to put up with a SIL who told me that I'll be a terrible parent because I'm doing fertility treatments.

I hate that I'll never be able to tell my parents, my in-laws, and my family and friends that I'm pregnant for the first time and actually have a baby out of it.

I hate that I've been "lapped" by many IF bloggers that I read and love, never mind all those fertiles.

I hate that a possible "cure" for someone else's IF is for me to start reading their blog.

I hate that I'm thinking of taking over one of the stalls in the bathroom at work since I spend so much time there, what with OPKs and Prometrium and its aftereffects.

I hate that years are passing me by while I try to build my family.

I hate that this hasn't worked yet.

I hate this.

I hate IF.
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This was written just after I received the negative beta on our fourth ART cycle. I chose to use it for Cross-Poll, because I think we can all relate to the whirlwind of emotions surrounding IF.

Notes from Lin:
Have you guessed who the guest blogger is yet?  Go to the Great Blog Cross-Pollination Page and check the list of sans bloggers.  Today's guest blogger is in there somewhere. 

Got your guess?  Great!  Then, add a comment in the comments section of this post to let everyone know who your guess is. 

After you've posted with your guess, check HERE to see if you're right.  Please go check out her blog!  And, you can read my post for today on her blog, as well!

Hope you enjoyed today's switcharoo!  Thanks to Jendeis for being my Cross-Poll buddy!  Regular Programming will resume soon!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Limbo

Nothing much new here, except that limbo-land is about to drive me crazy. And, this is where Hubby would get his "short drive" sarcastic jab in. We always joke that "it takes one to know one." His family's sarcastic sense of humor was so foreign to me when I first met them. Sarcasm was just not very prevalent in my family growing up. Now, I've gotten pretty good at the sarcastic responses, though. I think I learned from the best! :-)

Anyway, so...limbo-land.....
Waiting on these last five pounds (which is proving to be a bit more difficult this week).
Waiting in the 2ww.
Waiting on the IVF financing discussions.
Waiting on BFF to be induced on 12/14...Hubby's birthday, no less.
Waiting on AF which is also due on 12/14.

I'll be writing about that last one a bit more later this week, I think, because I can't seem to shake it. Back in March, the likelihood of their baby being born on Hubby's birthday was brought up as a happy occurrence. Now, it somehow just seems like an ironic, cruel reminder. And now that AF is also due on 12/14...we'll that just takes the cake!

The relationship with BFF remains strained. And, though I feel that I've done all I can and am comfortable with where we are (seasons, as it were), the pain remains, to some extent, because she is apparently much less comfortable with where we are. It's a frustrating place we find ourselves in. I don't think that we can "fix" it, though, no matter how hard we try. I think it requires time and space. I just realized that last week, though, and I don't think she's there yet. Her whole life changes next week and I think (hope) that all of this will seem a bit less serious to her after that.

So, we're just waiting here...lots of waiting. I'm not very good at waiting...or perhaps it's just the "patiently" waiting part that I'm not so good at!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Halfway There!

Pounds Lost: 5
Pounds to Go: 5
(Wait a minute...You're probably thinking, "Didn't she only have 7 pounds to lose?"  So I thought!  But, I called the clinic to get an update on the status of the trial and now they want me to lose 10-11.  So be it...I can do it!)
Amount of water per day: 4 liters (at least)
Exercise per day: 45min-1hr
Exercise equipment of choice: Stationary bike
Food plan staples: Fullbars, Sl.im-Fast (or store brands now that there's a recall), Deli turkey, Soup, and FRUIT (instead of sweets)!
Challenges this week: Christmas parties (!!) and Hubby's birthday (we usually go to The Melting Pot!!)

So, I'm halfway there and feeling good about the progress!  I'm nervous about the upcoming Christmas parties, though.  I'd rather have the weight gone and have to worry about maintaining or losing a errant pound then worry about losing the original weight plus an extra pound or two.  I'll have to be on my very best behavior this week...and I may see if Hubby minds if we move his Melting Pot celebration to the weekend following his birthday in hopes that I can get to the clinic to sign the paperwork (and do the requisite weigh-in) next week.  We'll see.  This is one week I'm definitely grateful for strong incentives to help my willpower!

Hubby and I worked out some of the financial numbers last night and have a plan for the financing.  We're hoping that gets confirmed by the end of the week.  The sooner, the better as far as my psyche goes...I'm on pins and needles.  However, we're both really beginning to feel like this IS actually happening.  Hubby even said yesterday that "it was beginning to feel real" to him.  We're nervous about the same things (the money, the emotional and physical toll, the chance that it doesn't work), but hope for our family trumps those things.

We spent Saturday celebrating the first birthday of friends' twin boys.  I met this friend and another who was also at the party via iV message boards.  In many ways they share similar stories to our own.  One dealt with MFI and required ICSI.  The other battled low ovarian reserve and required IVF.  Despite having only known these ladies in real-life for a relatively short time, we felt that we already knew each other so well.  And, it's amazing how supportive women who've already been down this path can be.  I'm grateful for their insight (and yours)!  And, for the hope that they give us.  It's hard to not look at those handsome twin boys and not be filled with hope!

We had a wonderful weekend in almost every way!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Believing

Feeling much better today...more hopeful.  I'm much more able to believe that this is really happening today than I was yesterday.  After our October appointment, I felt hope at first, but then quickly started to feel like we couldn't really make it happen.  Since then, we've realized that this opportunity has been placed before us for a reason and we need to make the most of it.  The "what ifs" if we don't at least try to work out the financial aspects, so that we can take place in the study, will likely eat us alive.  At least if we try all the avenues and hit dead-ends, we will know that there is another path on the horizon that is meant for us.

I wrote a few days ago about my necklace.  Even before yesterday's appointment, it was a great source of hope and support for me.  Now, it is even more so.  It's a constant reminder to believe...believe it's real, believe it can happen, believe in our family feeling whole again. 

So, my new mission is to 1) lose the last few pounds, and 2) BELIEVE!  There is wonder in positive thinking.  I'm determined to harness it.  I've been researching sample IVF calendars today.  I found this online IVF cycle calculator that says that we may be looking at an egg retrieval as early as 3/5/10.  Three months from today, we could be a few short days from our very first BFP!  And, nine months away from having the ultimate gift to give thanks for...our Thanksgiving baby(ies)! 

My brain struggles to imagine what the feelings that accompany those events might feel like, and yet I can see them in my minds-eye, too.  I can imagine a highchair or two at our Thanksgiving table next year...a stocking or two extra on the mantle at Christmastime.  As scary as it is to let go of this distance I've put between myself and those wonderful imaginings, I feel like believing that they are truly possible is of paramount importance right now.

I'm still feeling overwhelmed, nervous, even a bit scared.  But, I am hopeful, and the hope is building.  We are prepared to walk down this path and now it is my job to believe that it can happen...believe that the many pieces yet to fall into place will do so.  Right now, believing is my biggest role to play. 

My first mission is to lose 7 more pounds (annoyingly, I called the clinic today and they want me to lose a total of 10 pounds versus the 7 or 8 they said last time).  Believing that we really can make this happen, and that it really can result in a baby at the end, is a key component in making that weight loss happen in the short timeframe it needs to occur.

For me, today, belief and hope win out!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Close, but Not Quite

So, we have a plan...sort of.  The plan is basically what it was before we went to the appointment today.  IVF is our best option.  He said that he's not concerned with my AMH enough that he would be against 3 months of Clomid IUIs, but he wouldn't recommend injectable IUI for us.  If we do 3 months of clomid IUIs at a 3-8% chance (new ballpark based on recent SAs) without a BFP, we'd then do IVF, but the clinical trial wouldn't be available to us then.  And, it turns out that the savings from the trial is more than we officially heard.  Kind of becomes a no-brainer at that point, I guess.

The big frustration is that they can't tell us how much it will cost until after January 1 (when my new insurance takes affect).  We're 99.9% sure that we can make this work, but it's hard to know for sure until we really know the cost.  So, we almost have a plan...but not quite.

I'd like to try to get a general understanding of how much the meds will cost.  They told us to ballpark $3-4k without insurance.  With my insurance, we're looking at closer to $1,500, but I can't make the math work out to $3k to begin with based on the Freedom Pharmacy phamphlet they gave us.  What am I missing? (I should say that I don't have any actual protocol yet, so I'm just trying to get a better understanding of the meds and general costs.)

All in all, I'm excited and I do feel much closer now that I've calmed down a bit from the initial frustration.  But, I'm still feeling monumentally overwhelmed by the financial pieces, especially since we can't get answers on that for another 30 days or so.

Today is "Plan Day!!"

Well, hopefully it is, anyway...

We go back to the RE today after our month of diagnostics.  In my mind this day is "Plan Day," the day we walk out of the RE's office knowing what treatment(s) lay before us.  My brain needs this plan so that it can obsess about only one path.  However, I think that my soul is already prepared and aware of the path we're meant to take.

It is my hope that we've done enough research, educated ourselves enough and talked about this enough that when Dr. K gives us his opinion on our best odds, we're ready to take it.  I feel that the appointment could go one of a few ways:
1) Dr. K comes up with more tests for us to do that spill over into December.  This only equals more waiting.  This is bad (for my psyche, anyway).

2) Dr. K sees something in the results that isn't inherently obvious to us (after all, the SA results from early November were not in the IUI range he discussed with us in October...and he cancelled the second SA later in the month) and encourages us to start with IUI.  Theoretically, we could leave the office with an IUI on the books for January.  But, this would take quite a good sales pitch for Hubby to go for it.  He's pretty anti-IUI at this point; wants to put our effort, money and emotion where we'll have the highest odds of success.

3a)  Dr. K confirms what we've suspected for awhile now, IVF w/ ICSI is our best chance.  By some miracle (seriously, because based on my scale I have another 3 pounds to go), I've dropped the remaining few pounds I need to qualify for the IBSA clinical trial and we officially enroll for IVF #1 in January or February.

3b)  Dr. K confirms IVF as the best route.  I'm still a few pounds away from the IBSA requirement, so I keep chugging Slim-Fast, eating sensible meals and exercising like crazy.  We have more time to talk this out...more time for me to obsess about the money...and more time for me to drive Hubby crazy.  Sometime next week, I go in for the "official weigh-in" and the IVF ball starts rolling.

Of these choices, I'd say that I think that 3a or 3b are most likely.  So, given that we feel pretty strongly right now about moving on to IVF and focusing our efforts on best case chances, I've been struggling a bit with perception.

I know that there are many (some that I've talked about here before) that might say that we're moving too fast....that we should start with IUI or just be more patient.  Often these are the people who have never experienced this island, but it doesn't seem to hurt any less when they say it.  We have thought (actually, I have probably obsessed) about starting with IUI just to check that box and say we did it...just to be sure that it wouldn't be all we need.  We've also thought about the emotional toll of thinking that we had a real shot, when it really wasn't much more of one (Dr. K told us last time that he gave us less than 7% odds of a Clomid IUI working for us...and an injectable IUI seems risky with my AMH numbers if we're going to end up at IVF soon anyway).  And, then there's the fact that we'd be spending the money we're saving for IVF on an IUI with much lower odds. 

We're also in the extremely fortunate position to have access to the clinical trial (which includes a discount), health insurance (which covers 50%) and Hubby's HRA (which covers the rest).  In the end, we will owe very little...the problem, of course, is with fronting the large sum at the beginning, but that's where all the blessings of last week come in.  The availability of the reimbursements, and lack of debt at the end, is quite a blessing in itself. 

Since we were "lucky" enough to have known long before we were TTC that there would likely be a problem...And, "luckier" still to have known from 5 months in that there really was, in fact, a big problem, we've both had awhile to come to terms with the need for ART.  Likewise, we've had enough doctors tell us that the odds of us needing IVF were high, that we've had time to accept that likelihood.

I took a stroll through the Stirrup Queen's blogroll yesterday...the MFI room, in particular.  Have you ever noticed how many of the MFI bloggers now currently pregnant or parenting got there through ICSI?  Or, how many of the still TTC'ers are currently doing or nearly pursuing ICSI?  When we got the first SA results back, I took a stroll through the blogroll and remember being grief-stricken at how many ICSI's I saw (though, hope-filled by the number of ICSI BFPs).  I still held onto the notion of natural conception back then.  I've since let that go (not the hurt at the loss of it, yet, but the idea).  We go through the motions every month because miracles happen...but, my soul seems to know that our baby will join our family through a slightly different path.  And, I also believe that amazing opportunities and blessings find you when they're meant to find you.

So, here we sit at this crossroads today where we finally begin to walk down that path.  Diagnostic poking and prodding moved aside, we embark on whatever plan has always been laid out in front of us.  It took us time to find it, but it was always there.  And, in our heart and soul, we both always knew this was the path meant for us.  I think that's why, despite the fact that our journey is sometimes comparatively short, we are comfortable...scared and overwhelmed by the process, the money, the possibility of more BFNs, but nonetheless sure that it is the path we're meant to be on. 

I hope that after today, the specifics of that path become much more clear.  I also hope that there is understanding, from those that (secretly or not so secretly) hold those views, that the path we're on is the path we were always meant to be on.  And finally, but definitely not least, I hope that I can learn to care less about what these "other" people think!

I will update this afternoon...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Show & Tell: Wishes

It's been awhile since I've stepped to the head of the class to share.  This week, though, I had a tough time choosing between things to share, so I'm set for at least a couple weeks!  Glad to be back and looking forward to sharing and reading with all of you.  Please, don't be shy...surely you can find something to share with the class over at Mel's, too! 
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I've always known that I had wonderful in-laws.  Long before I was truly family, they treated me like the daughter they never had (Hubby's side seems to have a genetic predisposition for boys!).  I've spent almost every Thanksgiving with Hubby's family since we started dating.  This year was no exception, though it was the first time I hosted the festivities.  At the end of the long holiday weekend, my mother-in-law surprised me with a gift (as if they hadn't already given enough!)...she said it was a gift for being such a wonderful hostess on my first Thanksgiving "running the show."  I opened the beautiful golden box to find this, as MIL hugged me and said that they'd be wishing everyday, too:


This beautiful little necklace says so much.."the more you believe, the closer you'll be...peace and trust." 

You all know what my wish is.  Peace on the journey, trust in the path, hope that our wishes for a baby will come true...these are the things I'm reminded of each time I put this necklace on.  There's one more thing that the necklace brings me each day...a reminder that we're not the only ones wishing.  I have taken comfort in these sentiments every morning since and will continue to do so until our wish becomes a reality.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Moments of Clarity

Many of you who have been following my blog for awhile know that I've been struggling with my relationship with my oldest and dearest friend, BFF, who also happens to be nine months pregnant. I've always considered her to be the sister I never had...one of the few friends I've known that transcended the term.  Over the course of the last nine months, though, I've come to realize many things about our relationship, in particular, and the dicey nature of pregnant and IF relationships, in general.

Up until this week, my realization has been that both IF and pregnancy are rather all consuming. Sometimes people can't appreciate anything outside the particular bubble that their in. That’s often the case with the friendships between those who have moved on to motherhood and those that remain left behind on the IF island.

It sort of feels like boats leaving for the mainland sometimes, as more and more IRL friends move off the island and on to "the rest" of whatever is next. I'll admit that it's a hard feeling for me to process. And, that the things I have spoken over the last nine months have not always been perfect. Likewise, I imagine it's particularly difficult for those on the boats, especially those who never had to stay a day on the IF island, to relate. I get that and it explains it all, to a point.

Looking back, though, I realize that BFF has never done a particular good job of walking in other people shoes. It's just her nature, I suppose. It's a personality flaw that she struggles with, just as we all do our own. That's not to say that she hasn't been an awesome, amazing friend over these many years. God put her in my life for other reasons (and moments) and I'm grateful for her. She will always be my oldest and dearest friend. And, when this storm passes, I'm sure we'll seek out a new "normal" and move on to make new, more friendly (and less painful) memories.

However, my moment of clarity this week has been the realization that I've been avoiding the obvious. That old saying "God puts the right people in our lives at just the right times” feels particularly poignant this week. I finally understand it thanks to the contrast of BFF and our other very dear friends A & K.

A & K spent Thanksgiving Day with us. It was amazing to me, yet again, how spending time with these friends came more effortlessly than with BFF. Perhaps it was because they had spent quite awhile on the IF island having suffered many miscarriages before E was born. Somehow they understood what we were feeling without us even saying a word. When K realized that I had recently taken to calling the room I had always called the nursery "the purple room" instead, she just nodded and said ”We've been there, too," in a quiet, reassuring way.  They've been there, found a way to the other side, and are now beginning to cotemplate a second trip to the island.  Not only that, but they're willing to do all they can to help us get off the island, too.

These are the kind of things that I could beat my head against a wall for days trying to get BFF to understand. She still wouldn't, and would likely end up just silently rolling her eyes or thinking through her own nursery plans in her head. She would likely be worried about me...that I was obsessing again. Why couldn't I just be patient and wait for it to just "all work out?" As if it were that easy...but, it didn't matter how many times I said that to BFF. Her ship had long ago sailed off the island and she had no concept of what it might be like to still be there.

Not only does God put the right people in our lives at just the right time, he puts them there for just the right moments, too. I now realize that I was probably never meant to help BFF understand even an inkling of what this IF world is like. She's not the one who God put in our life to share this particular journey. I've fought against that reality for nine months. It's a hard thing for me to accept. I don't know how to disconnect from her in bits and pieces like that. It's recently felt sort of all or nothing because I just don't know how to leave the IF part out…I guess because it’s such an all consuming part of where I am at the moment.

But, now I realize that God put other wonderful friends in our lives long ago so that they could be our beacons now. No one person can be all things to another. And, that's ok. I've struggled just as much with the idea that I couldn't be the friend BFF needed me to be as that she wasn't being the one I needed. Now I see that I'm not that person for her right now either. That's an equally difficult struggle, but I just have to trust that when Hubby and I make it to the other side it will become clearer.

In the meantime, I see both that relationship and the others in my life (A & K, supportive coworkers, iV friends, and bloggie friends) in an entirely different light. I normally have a small, tight-knit group of close friends. At this moment, however, I have an extremely large, supportive group of friends at various levels of closeness. Some of the people that I once held close, I now hold a bit further back. And, others are closer than I ever imagined. It's a bit of a departure for me, but one that I welcome and appreciate so much right now. More than that, though, I am learning (slow but sure) to trust that it's all according to plan

Monday, November 30, 2009

Beyond

Thanksgiving Day began like any other, with a flurry of cooking and conversation.  Around noon, we found a break in the action between the turkey baking and the sweet potato marshmallows browning to exchange gifts since we wouldn't see Hubby's family over Christmas.  It was here that things took a turn toward all things "beyond."

Hubby and I had chosen smaller-than-usual, but meaningful gifts for each of them.  I've been known to go a bit overboard with Christmas gifts in the past, but I'm determined to stick to the budget this year as we prepare for whatever next year brings us.  Luckily, both families understand.  And, of course, sometimes the thought that went into the gift makes the difference anyway.  Other times, both the thought, and the gift itself, blow you away.  That was how we felt when we opened the ILs gift to us...a check that will cover a good chunk of the differential where my and our HRA leave off.  We were beyond grateful.

A little while after the gift exchange, our dear friends and their three-year-old daughter, E, joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. They are very much like family to us, and proving to be even more so all the time! So much so, that we've wholeheartedly and humbly agreed to raise E as our own if something were ever to happen to them. They are wonderful, genuine and generous.  They also have been down the IF road before and just "get it."  Sometimes, often actually, we don't even have to say what we're feeling for them to understand.  In fact, it almost feels more like a brother (to Hubby) and SIL relationship than "just" friends.  "Friends" just isn't descriptive enough.  They have always and continue to go beyond that.

As is usual when they come to visit, Hubby and A stepped out to the patio to smoke a cigar (or two).  During that conversation, A asked how things were going on the fertility front.  Hubby gave him the update that we're heading towards IUI or IVF early next year and that all signs point to IVF.  He said that we were just trying to get a few more of our "financial ducks in a row" before we moved on to IVF. 

It was next statement that left us beyond words for the second time that day.  They offered to loan us the difference where the insurance and HRA left off.  There was no sales pitch, no "ask" from us.  It was entirely unsolicited.  It's one thing to ask parents, another altogether to ask friends.  Likewise, that minor detail makes the offer that much more amazing and humbling.  I'm still shocked, amazed, humbled, just truly beyond words at the generosity of our friends and family.  If their offer never comes to fruition...if it turns out to be too good to be true, or if we turn out not even to need and/or take it, that's okay.  In this case, the offer speaks volumes and that generosity will never be forgotten. 

By Thanksgiving night, we were once again heading towards the IVF clinical trial, that we had previously written off for not being financially feasible quite yet, and hopeful that this time next year there might be another little somebody at the Thanksgiving table, albeit in utero.  It is for the shared hope that the gifts represent, more than the gifts themselves, that I remain beyond thankful....thankful for the hope, the friends, the family, the blessing, and beyond.

Nutshell Thanksgiving

I'm not even sure where to start with recapping our Thanksgiving week.  It was amazing in so many ways!  We actually did Christmas with Hubby's family last week, too, so we took to calling it Thanksmas.  We decorated the house for Christmas a bit early this year to surprise MIL.  Despite the early date, the Christmas Spirit was alive and well at our house, and it wasn't just because of the decorations (though, I'm getting ahead of myself now).

Our pre-Thanksgiving festivities on Wednesday included excellent results from our DNA Fragmentation testing!  What a wonderful way to start the holiday!

The rest of the week was filled with wonderful family, amazing friends, great food and some good shopping.  I came out of the week with renewed hope and a full heart.  I'm going to stop now because the big news of the week deserves its own post or two. 

I will say this, though...God has blessed us with amazing friends and family.  I am awed by them and Him.  What seemed far a few days ago now seems very near.  I am thankful...actually, thankful doesn't even begin to cover it...for those we love and who love us.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SA #5 (Updated!)

Update:  The DNA Fragmentation came back at 12%!  That's apparently "exceptional" according to both the RE and the resources many of your provided (thanks for those, by the way!).  Yay for something about the swimmers being a-ok!  So, that's the good news.  The bad news is that they ended up not running counts, motility or morphology, much to my dismay.  We had even specifically requested it after the confusion at the lab that morning.  They still decided not to run them.  Not too happy about that miscommunication/misunderstanding.  But, very pleased about the DNA Fragmentation results.  RE f/u in 4 days!

I hate SA days.  Hate is a strong word, but I think it fits.  DH prefers to do his "collection" at home rather than at "the room."  And, he prefers to do it without help.  Only once have we had "technical difficulties" that required a reschedule.  Nonetheless, I head off to work on the morning of SAs full of anxiety about misjudged distances and the like.  Then, there's the waiting for results...

I'm happy to say that there were not any technical difficulties.  The sample is safely at the RE's office this morning.  I expected for Hubby to call with count and motility numbers like last time (the DNA fragmentation and morphology will take longer).  No dice.  They didn't give him the numbers and it was Hubby's understanding that they were really just focusing on the morphology and DNA fragmentation.  The sample intake form clearly states that we're paying for DNA fragmentation with full sperm analysis.  We had to pay $25 extra for the morphology.  Though I don't understand what part of "full sperm analysis" doesn't include morphology, I'm fine with the extra $25.  It's worth it to know if we're sticking near 2%, or if 2% was a fluke.  Hubby made a good decision there.

Then, the RE's office called back to say that we already had morphology done, so we didn't need another one.  WTF?  Thankfully, Hubby made another good decision by saying that we'd like to go ahead and have it run anyway.  Whew!  Point for the Hubby; Fumble for the RE!  Seriously...

So, I'm not sure if we'll be getting count and motility later in the day when they call with the DNA fragmentation results...or not.  And, I'm not sure if morphology will come then or seven days later, like last time.  I'm confused.  And, I don't like being confused on SA days (or in general, really); they're crappy enough as it is.  Yep, I still hate SA days!

Request: Can anyone point me in the direction of good information on this DNA fragmentation test?  I want to have an idea of what to expect when they call with the results.  Thanks!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Recipe Swap!


It's that time of year...friends and family gathered around a table sharing memories and breaking bread together.  Oh, and we mustn't forget the copious amounts of Thanksgiving staples piled high on that table.  So, the SassyIF Lady and Stirrup Queens' posts this week got me thinking...what are your Thanksging staples?  And, what recipes would you like to share?

Here's what will be on theThanksgiving table at my house this week:

Appetizers: (Feel free to share your quick and easy recipes here...I need a couple more!)
White Bean Dip with Pita Chips and Veggies (I add lots of lemon to this recipe)

Main Course:
Roasted Turkey with Citrus Rosemary Salt
Brown Sugar Spiral-Sliced Ham (the result of a family dispute...silly boys!)

Sides:
Mashed Potatoes with Carmelized Onions
Sweet Potatoes with crispy marshmallow crust
Cranberry Jell-o Mold with fresh fruit
Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole
Rolls

Desserts:
Spicy Pumpkin Pie
Ooey Gooey Chocolate Butter Cake
Cranberry Chiffon Pie

And, while this one isn't for our Thanksgiving table, it certainly could be!  I made it for my coworkers today and it was a big hit.
Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

See anything were missing?  See a recipe you'd like?

Now, here's my entry for the recipe swap...my MIL's Spicy Pumpkin Pie.  It's no ordinary pumpkin pie.  It's got that perfect combination of sweet cinnamon and spicy ginger, allspice, cloves and nutmeg.  I'm a pumpkin pie fanatic this time of year and this recipe has become the tried-and-true, "classic with a touch of spice" pie that everyone requests at our Thanksgiving table.  Enjoy!

MIL's Spicy Pumpkin Pie
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

1 16-ounce can pumpkin
1 13-ounce can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. sugar
1-1/2 tsps. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat pumpkin with remaining ingredients until well mixed. Place pie plate on oven rack. Pour pumpkin mixture into pie crust; bake 15 minutes; turn oven to 350 degrees and bake 35 minutes more or until filling is set (knife inserted in middle comes out clean. (I always cover the crust with foil during baking because it usually gets too brown. If you are doing this without crust, no problemo!) Cool and serve topped with Cool Whip or whipped cream.

Share your special, must-have recipes (be they traditional, or not) either here, or on your blog!

Monday, November 23, 2009

No Vacancy

There’s apparently no room left in my “emotional spaces” for much else other than IF. My brain is constantly worrying about the “what if’s” and “what next’s;” my heart aches at the sight I wasn't aware of just how much space that "stuff" was taking up until last week. And, even more troubling, I don't exactly know what the "stuff" is.

For example, take last week's job application/interview experience. I had that overwhelming dread about another "guaranteed" no. Another example from last week...on Sunday night, before the job craziness started, I got an e-mail from BFF. For her birthday in September, Hubby and I had given her a giftcard from a local photographer for maternity pictures. Her Sunday night e-mail contained a link to 232 maternity pictures and a request that I look through them and let her know which ones I liked.

Even before the stress of last week unfolded, I knew that I needed to be at a certain emotional place to look through 232 maternity pictures...especially considering the somewhat precarious nature of our relationship at the moment. I thought I'd be able to find that special mental place at some point on Monday. I didn't really want to end the weekend on a sour note if I wasn’t able to keep it together. Of course, that plan was short-lived because on Monday the job craziness ensued. And, after that, I knew I didn't have the emotional space left over to be reminded of our IF while clicking through 232 screenshots.

I mentioned this to my mom and another trusted friend. My mom suggested that I take all the time I needed, 232 was a lot and it was a tough situation to be in. Trusted Friend said that I should get my mom to tell me her favorites and pass those along to BFF saving myself the emotion of looking through them at all. It wasn't a terrible idea. Not terrible, that is, except for the fact that I want to look at them. I want to be there in that joyful moment...to be able to put my "IF" stuff on the shelf and just be a "good friend."

I still haven't looked at the pictures, even though the stress from last week has lifted and there should be more emotional space available. I just can't bring myself to look. I sent her a note last week saying that I hadn't forgotten with a brief synopsis of the week's craziness. And, I said that what was really important to me was that she was happy. Which ones were her favorites? I never heard back.

So, what is this "stuff" that fills my emotional spaces to the point that they can no longer deal so well with the normal (or somewhat abnormal) stress of daily life? It frustrates me that I know that this IF "stuff" takes so much room, but I don't even know what it really is. I want to name it, categorize it, process it and put it away in the emotional archives. There's nothing to archive yet, though. It's too raw, too in the moment.

And, the truth, I guess, is that it's no one thing. No singular feeling or fear that can simply be named and put away. It's some mix of sadness, frustration, jealously, anger, fear and so many other emotions, on so many different levels, all rolled up into a giant ball so big that it leaves so little room for anything else.

The result is that I feel more emotionally fragile now than I have at any other point in my memory, despite the fact that some of the other moments that would make the top 10 list were much easier to categorize. Perhaps it's that unclassifiable nature that's the issue. IF seems to grow and spread like a virus...literally taking over any unaffected emotional spaces until all that's left in my heart, soul and mind is that IF "stuff." It's no wonder that there's seemingly no room left for any extra stress. IF has put up its very own "No Vacancy" sign so that it can infiltrate without interruption.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Giving Thanks for the Weekend (and ICLW)!

Well, thankfully, the weekend finally game...and, even better, I SURVIVED!  This was one of the toughest weeks I've had in awhile.  And, while the vast majority of the stressful things this week were non-IF related, I was stunned at how much IF crept it's way in.

The biggest stressor of this week was the whole job interview craziness.  Besides the fact that everyone already knew who would get the job, it really was a great opportunity for me to get some face time with the VP and just all around good experience.  I knew that from the beginning.  When I really dug deep to figure out why I was so opposed to applying for the exposure and good experience, despite knowin ghow it would end, it came down to IF, in a roundabout sort of way.

In our TTC/IF world, we're almost guaranteed a "no" every month.  That roller coaster of emotions is taxing enough, even when you know how it's going to end.  So, here I was in a similar, yet entirely different situation, and I didn't know if I could sign up for yet another guaranteed "no".  I just didn't know if there was enough emotional space leftover where the IF left off. 

In the end, I'm glad I applied and went through the charade.  It was a worthwhile experience, even though I still have no doubt that M will get the job.  I'm ok with it.  And, I even ended up decide to go see Twilight on Thursday night after all!  Adrenaline kept me going all day until after the interview.  It was a win-win, in the end.

Should find out, officially, which of us got the job early next week.  Not that it will be a surprise, but at least I won't have to wonder, even a little bit, over the Thanksgiving holiday.  As much as last week was awful with all the stress and drama, at least it was ultimately short-lived!
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So, this week, I'm thankful for this weekend to regroup and the Thanksgiving weekend to reconnect with family!  I'm also thankful for all of you, my ICLW friends.  How lucky we are that ICLW falls on Thanksgiving week!  Very fitting, if you ask me!

The first half of this post has a very good intro on our story.  And, here's the quick recap on what's happened since then.  We've seen slight improvements in Hubby's morphology (from 0% to 2%), but the overall, everything is still pretty low.  All of our bloodwork is done, including my AMH results that show borderline normal ovarian reserve.  I had a hysteroscopy that revealed a uterus that would (hopefully) accept an ET wonderfully.  Next up, and the last (hopefully) of the diagnostics is Hubby's 5th SA which will include DNA fragmentation testing on 11/25.  Last time it took seven (!) days to get morphology results back from the lab.  I'm really hoping it doesn't take that long this time, but just in case, I scheduled our follow-up consultation at the RE for 12/3. 

My hope is that we'll have an official treatment plan as of a week from Thanksgiving!  I'll be giving thanks for that, as well!  I'm beyond ready to finally feel like we have a shot at this.  We're planning on starting with some IUI cycles, despite the odds, while we save up for an IVF clinical trial that will hopefully be happening at our clinic later in 2010. 

So, that's our story.  Thank you for stopping by!  I truly am thankful for all of you and I'm looking forward to reading all of your stories over the next few days!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not that Show

You know that show on VH1 "Best Week Ever?"  My week does not qualify!  I'll forewarn you that this is a rather ranting/raging post, so feel free to just speed read to the end...or even ignore, that would befit my week!

Remember how last week I found out that my position was being realigned?  Well, my department was hiring a manager for that new team I will be on.  And, the job was only posted internal to my department.  The manager job is so "me."  It's everything I've been aspiring to...a very exciting opportunity.  A few minor details, however.  1)  The VP had already started giving many of the parts of the new job to another manager in the department (while still preaching that everyone has an equal shot). 2) Privately, I can't help but wonder if it's not really six months to a year to early for me, experience-wise, anyway.

So, I had decided that I was not going to apply.  I would just be a happy player on New Manager's bench until the next great opportunity came along, but then I would be ready.  Easy enough.  Made great sense.  And then, yet another person (about the fourth) asked me if I was going to apply. And, my director said that they had made a special exception on the 1-year at the company rule so that I could apply.  Then, my family really started encouraging me to apply.  All the while, I knew the score.  I was applying for a losing battle.  Nonetheless, I was stupid brave enough to apply.

And, every day since I applied and the position closed on Monday has been more and more reminders of why I have no chance.  The VP has continued to give her new tasks that our on the New Manager's list of tasks.  How can I possibly compete with someone who is already doing the job?  And, why on earth do the act like everyone has a fair shot at it when clearly we/I don't?  I feel like the employee relations fall girl...the "check the box," we had two people apply so that it didn't just look like we were giving the to a specific person.  Oh, and the best part is that part of New Manager's role is to be the spokesperson for the department.  The other candidate, the one they've all but promised it to, is the most negative, close-minded, cynical person in the whole department.  Perfect for a spokeswoman, don't you think?

So, I'm busy working away on a strategic plan for the new department, that I won't be leading, for the interview tomorrow.  I'll likely still be working on that tonight before the interview tomorrow.  Two months ago, a friend and I bought tickets to see Twilight tonight.  Looks like no more Twilight for me...

And, to top it all off...the cherry on top of this ridiculously awful week?  BFF posted this to FB today:

Shout out to all the new mommies around me! Dianne, Bryn, Katie and Jennie! And those to come! Michelle, Leann, Josie and Sasha! Looking forward to some great memories :-)

Maybe it's just the incredibly foul mood I'm in (think the fact that I'm on CD4 might have something to do with that), but that post strikes me as ridiculous.  Or maybe it's just that I can't relate to what it must be like to be pregnant and surrounded by wonderfully happy pregnant and/or new moms.

Is this week over yet?  I think I'm about to start waving the white flag on this week...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Call Me Crazy...

...but, does anyone else see what I see:

My grandma called over the weekend to see what we wanted for Christmas.  We could really use a new set of flatware, because the spoons in our current set have gone to war with the garbage disposal (and lost) one too many times.  So, I was looking online at flatware sets just to get an idea of what the options were.  Then, I came across this set.  It's called "Twirl."  I was literally LOL and ROFL and LMAO at the sight of them.  Clearly I spend too much time thinking about the swimmers...sheesh! 

Not quite with me yet?  Does this help?

Sorry in advance to anyone reading this post who may own that flatware set!!

Photos courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond and krishnaivf.com

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hoping vs. Waiting

Part of my pre-op bloodwork on Thursday was an HCG because I was on CD25 and 10DPO.  Right before the hysteroscopy last Friday, the nurse made a point to say that my HCG had come back negative.  I just laughed.  It wasn't a surprise.  Still, it sucks to know that already, as I sit around waiting for AF to come in the next few days with no hope of a BFP.  This is exactly why I don't early test. 

Even though the 2WW can drive me crazy, it's also still the most hopeful part of every cycle for me.  Despite the odds, for two weeks out of every month, I could be pregnant.  I don't early test because seeing AF for the 209th time in my life is a lot easier than seeing the stark white HPT staring back at me.  I've gotten used to AF's arrival month after month for 17 years (granted, for 16 of those I didn't much mind).  I don't ever want to get used to seeing bright white HPTs.  I'd rather just wait...and hope against the odds.

This cycle, though, there's no more hoping...only waiting.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Elephants

I went to a jewelry party one of the girls from last week's party was hosting.  I had some concerns, but ultimately I enjoyed hanging out with these women, so I decided that I wasn't going to let the IF issues get in the way of making new friends.  I don't regret going, but the wall that IF seemingly causes between us and everyone else only became more clear after tonight.

For starters, this house was decorated to the nines.  It looked like a house you'd see on tv.  It was absolutely beautiful!  And, this couple was about our age.  I try to decorate, but there are two problems.  First of all, I'm indecisive when it comes to decorative accents.  Second, and more importantly, decorating is low on the list of priorities right now.  It used to be that we weren't decorating because we were buying furniture.  Now, we're waiting to decorate because I'd much rather save money for potential IUIs or IVF than buy a picture for the wall.  Don't get me wrong...I love our house, but decorating-wise, it's a little bare bones.  Meanwhile, this couple had managed to decorate to the hilt and have a five-month-old.

But, it wasn't just her.  In fact, most of the women at the party were my age.  Of them, I was the only one who either wasn't pregnant or didn't have a baby already (many at the party also had babies in tow).  I found myself struggling to relate to these women even though I also felt like we should be fast friends. 

I ended up not buying anything at the jewelry party because I just couldn't justify paying $30 on a pair of earrings I might only wear a few times while the money and IF situations are what they are.  But, I also felt guilty for not buying...I wanted to clear the air, to explain that we were saving for IVF...to explain that we were having trouble conceiving as a way to excuse any not-quite-right reactions to babies and/or moms that I might have unknowingly made.  Most of all, I wanted to explain  away the white elephant in the room...except, of course, that I was the only one who had even the faintest idea that he was there.

Up until now, my experiences with the IF wall have been with singular relationships (namely BFF, or preggo boss).  This was one of the first times that I experienced it in a large group and really felt like the odd woman out.  It was the strangest feeling, like I could feel the bricks going up one-at-a-time between us.  I looked around and saw all these women my age, some younger, in this beautiful house and I felt that fast forward feeling again.  I'm now acutely aware that we're being left behind, despite the fact that I also know that this is the path we're supposed to be on.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Perfect Uterus!

...now we just have to figure out how to get a baby or two in there!!!

Cross the hysteroscopy off the list.  We're one step closer to whatever treatments are coming our way.  Dr. K said that my uterus looked perfect and, if we go that route, he should have no problem doing the transfer.

The RE has a surgery center right at the clinic.  And, the surgery staff really did renew my faith in the entire RE's office.  They were absolutely wonderful! 

On that note, I told Hubby about my concerns with the office, but between him talking me into staying and the surgery experience today, we're going to hang on a bit longer.  Hubby reminded me that, while it's a little further from home (though he showed me a shortcut on that today, too), it's closer to work which will be hand for lunchtime monitoring appointments.  He's also resistent to switching because he doesn't want to get the "we need an SA from our own lab" speech again, especially if we're just going to switch back in a few months time.  So, for now, the RE's office should consider themselves on warning, but we're not going anywhere.

I was feeling really good in the recovery area, like suprisingly good!  About the time we were getting home, though, I definitely started to feel the anesthesia after effects.  Four hours later, I woke up and am feeling pretty much fine now!  This was so much easier than the recovery after my laparoscopy in March!

Sorry this post was a bit all over the place...we'll blame that on the anesthesia, too! ;-)  Here's a pic and a chuckle to end this post...my colorful toe socks were a big hit at the surgery center today!  They said bring warm socks and these were the warmest I had.  Plus, they make me (and apparently everyone else) smile!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mostly Uneventful Pre-Op

Just got back from my pre-op for tomorrow's hysteroscopy.  It was uneventful, except that they took more blood.  I'm beginning to realize this is just part of going to the RE...if they can draw your blood, they probably will!  I think I'll be a pro at this by the time we're done!  In fact, after I got back from my first RE appointment where they had taken 8 large vials, I was talking to my preggo boss about it and she said, "Oh, just wait until you get pregnant, you'll be a pin cushion."  I laughed and assured her that I'd likely be a pin cushion long before that!

I know that my body doesn't like anesthesia very much, so I expect to be pretty groggy and weak for until at least sometime Saturday.  Should be a relaxing, recuperating weekend and then back to the grind on Monday.  Next up is the 11/25 SA followed by a yet to be scheduled follow-up, "finally get the plan" appointment, which should be sometime in early December.

Meanwhile, I'm contemplating changing REs.  Yes, I'm ridiculous, but here's why.  The only reason we picked this clinic was because of the clinical trial(s).  We're passing up the current  trial and the next trial isn't slated to start until second quarter, at the earliest.  I think I've probably said before that I'm willing to cut this clinic a lot of slack because I know that, if we can do a trial, it will be so much cheaper.  That said, if we know we're not doing the trial now, we can find a good RE closer to home who's IUIs are a bit cheaper. 

More than that, though, I just don't know that I'm pleased with the "feel" of this clinic.  The nurses are wonderful, for the most part, and Dr. K is very knowledgeable with an "ok to good" bedside manner...but, everyone else is sort of non-responsive.  In the beginning, I had to reschedule my initial consult, so I called the new patient coordinator and left a message asking her to call me back.  After waiting four days, I finally asked the front desk if they could reschedule it instead.  Luckily, they did.  At the initial consult, there were some things that left me less than pleased after our discussion with the billing specialist (unanswered questions after repeated attempts to get them answered).  More recently, I realized that I didn't know what time my hysteroscopy was scheduled for, so I called the surgery coordinator and left her a message.  Never heard back. 

Those kinds of things are unacceptable to me.  The nurses and doctor are great, but if the team isn't strong, the patient experience isn't either.  So, I'm just wondering...if we change to a smaller clinic, closer to home until the next trial starts if it will be worth it.  Or, more trouble than it's worth for just 6 months or so.

My brain is always contemplating something...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thankful

You might notice that there are some format changes happening here today.  I've been wanting to switch over to a three-column format for awhile because I was accumulating more and more buttons for the sidebar. I couldn't ever find easy enough to understand instructions, though (on that note, I highly recommend Three Column Blogger for help with the transition).  What finally pushed me over the edge?

Well, for starters, I've noticed that the tone of my posts lately have been a little bleak.  The tone here definitely ties to my real-life tone and I could use a bit of an attitude adjustment, I think.  In the spirit of Veteran's Day and with Thanksgiving nearly upon us, I wanted to add a sidebar gadget about "What I'm thankful for today..."  I think that by thinking about that everyday (and writing it here), I'll be more inclined to see the good all around me, rather than just the not-so-good IF stuff.

So, check out the top right sidebar gadget each day to see "what I'm thankful for today."  And, feel free to join in, either in the comments, or with your own sidebar gadget.

Reality Sets In

I'm pretty sure we've been living in a dream world. Or, I have anyay...and Hubby? Well, he's been living in a "don't won't to hurt her feelings, just want her to be happy...at any cost" world.

I think it's a symptom of Hubby's depression; he often spends money and/or avoids dealing with money situations when he's feeling particularly bad. In reality, I've known that for awhile, but I trusted that he could handle it. That was my dream world. I should have been more involved from the beginning. And, even though, we often talk about a more team approach, we relatively quickly end up retreating to our comfortable roles instead. Now, I even wonder if we should abandon the team approach to our finances and just have me be the point person (and idea rhat really scares me).

We should be older and wiser by now. We should have figured all of this out before now. We've been at the brink before and managed to survive, but I can't say we came out unscathed. However, the sad part is that apparently we never learned the right lessons. So, sure we were trying to sell our house for 17 months and did a massive cross-country move last year. I guess, some financial unrest would be understandable. And, if it had all started there, it would be one thing. But, the problems are old...and we don't appear to be any wiser. I guess the first part of our path to wisdom is admitting that there's a problem. But, beyond that, we're definitely not any wiser yet.

How does this all relate to IF? As you might imagine, despite Hubby's glowing reassurances that we'd find a way to pay for the IVF trial if it was what I wanted to do (and don't even get me started on that choice of words), the truth is that we can't. Or, that we'd be crazy to, to be more accurate. I'm not against a natural IUI in January/February (thanks to my new treatment insurance for next year), but anything beyond that seems ill-advised at the moment (and even that seems less than wise, except for the emotional gain of feeling like we've got a few more percentage points chance that month).

We've got to figure out how to dig out of this whole we've created for ourselves first. When it comes our finances, I'm generally over-pessimistic, but Hubby is WAY over-optimistic. The fact is that despite his reassurances, I don't see a light at the end of this tunnel, at least not any time soon. Hopefully it's not really as bad as all that, but we certainly are way overdue for learning some valuable spending and budgeting lessons.

So, I'm not sure where this really leaves us treatment-wise. We're moving ahead with my hysteroscopy on Friday. I suspect that the 5th SA and follow-up with the RE are all still on, as well. But, beyond that (and maybe some natural IUIs), we may have to hold off for a bit. I'm just not sure if "a bit" is a month or two...or more.  And, I really dislike that unknown.

It's a precarious balance..."all the ducks in a row before the babymaking begins."  Or, "start the family and the rest will follow."  I'm just not sure what that balance looks like for us anymore.
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