April 16, 2014

I Don't Even Know What to Title This Post

I've started this post multiple times over the past couple weeks, but haven't been able to finish it. I've also avoided answering comments, and I'm not sure why.

Today though, this post is kind of writing itself.

This morning was a rough morning. I woke up early and despite wanting to go back to sleep, had to get up and go to the bathroom. I also woke up with a bad headache. The house was cold because, despite the fact that it was snowing when we went to bed last night, my husband turned off the heat. I turned it back on, after going to the bathroom, and curled up under a blanket on the couch.

A few short minutes later, I was up and running back to the bathroom to throw up. Feeling shaky after all of that retching on a near empty stomach, I lay on the floor while the dog came over to check on me. As he was snuggling and sniffing me, I noticed a big tick on his neck. I grabbed some tweezers and pulled it off, trying not to throw up, again.

I started to put my pants on, the only pair I have that I can currently button, and noticed that they had dust or something on them. I tried to shake them out, but put them on anyway because, well, because they are my only dress pants that fit and my skirts were in the wash.

I finished my morning routine and headed to work. About ten minutes into my drive, my stomach started to roll again, and I prayed, "Oh, please, Lord, no," while grabbing a plastic bag. I ended up having to pull over and spend a few minutes throwing up again.

My first reaction is to complain. I'm tired of feeling this way. I'm tired of being tired. I'm tired of not feeling like myself. I'm tired of feeling nauseous almost all day, every day. And then I remember why I feel this way. I'm throwing up because I am eight weeks and three days pregnant. I'm tired because I am eight weeks and three days pregnant. My pants don't fit because I am eight weeks and three days pregnant. I AM PREGNANT! And them by heart fills with thankfulness for what the Lord has done for us. Don't get my wrong, I'm still praying for some relief, but I wouldn't give this up for anything.

It hasn't really sunk in to me yet that after five and a half years Steve and I are finally going to have a baby. Maybe that's why the complaining comes easily, because I keep forgetting why. I think maybe it's because for so long I've hoped to be pregnant and imagined symptoms like this that it almost seems like I'm imagining it now.

This morning really was a rough morning. I don't throw up every morning, although it's happening more frequently now that I've hit eight weeks, but I do feel nauseous pretty much all day long, particularly when I'm hungry. I'm extremely tired and unfocused. I pee a lot. I've also been making bathroom trips more often for other reasons (I'm thankful I'm not constipated though). All of this has been going on basically since right before we found out for sure that I'm pregnant, though it has all become more pronounced as time goes on.

video
I'll make another update soon and tell you about what it was like to receive the phone call after my first beta and what our first ultrasound was like, I just didn't want to make you wait any longer. I'll close with this video...you have to turn the sound up all the way to hear it, but it's a video of the baby's heartbeat. The weird sound in the middle is the sound of Steve's phone zooming in, but after that sound you can hear the heartbeat, then the doctor saying, "awesome." I think I make a squeaky noise somewhere in the middle too because I was in awe. There's only one baby, which I'm surprisingly okay with, although Steve was really hoping for twins. I reminded him that we have four more embryos and we can try for twins next time. I'll write more about that another time too.


March 21, 2014

Embryo Transer

I'm sorry it's been so long since I posted. Getting my thoughts about this whole process into words has been more difficult than I anticipated.

I wanted to share a little bit about what the embryo transfer was like, and what I felt like afterward, particularly the first few days.

Leading up to the transfer, I was extremely bloated. For a while, I thought that was part of the side effects from the progesterone (bloating and constipation are some of the top ones on the list), but after talking to my nurse, I learned that it was more likely mild hyper stimulation. This freaked me out. I was so afraid that it would keep me from having the transfer done on time. My nurse recommend drinking more water (I was already chugging it like crazy) and eating smaller meals to help with the bloating. I had never had bloating like that before. No matter how little I ate, I felt afterward like I had just eaten a three course meal and my gut was about to burst. Apparently this is mainly because of the extra fluid filling my abdomen. I think I was also expecting all of the pain from the retrieval to be gone immediately after the retrieval, but it took several days, basically until the day of the transfer, for me to feel like I could wear normal pants again and actually button them.

My transfer was on a Friday, and I took the day off of work. My husband also happened to be on vacation that week, so he didn't have to take the day off, which was awesome! We had received updates on our six embryos throughout the week and were told in advance that we were probably looking at a five day transfer. We didn't know, however, what time our transfer would be until about an hour and half before we needed to be at the doctor's office. We planned around this though. In order to make sure I was nice and relaxed, I asked my friend Adriano, a massage therapist, to come and give me a relaxing massage before the transfer. He had  been giving me therapeutic deep tissue massages for a weeks before hand, but the morning of the transfer he focused on helping me relax.

Steve and I headed to the clinic, quite excited, and quite nervous. I had to drink a lot of water in order to have a full bladder which would make it easier for the doctor to see for the transfer. This was the worst part. I always tend to over-do it when asked to drink water for an ultrasound, and I could barely walk I had to go so badly.

Like with the egg retrieval, I had to dress in a gown and booties and cap. Steve did too because he was coming back with me for the transfer. The nurse had to check and make sure my bladder was full via ultrasound which was also torture. She was super sympathetic and even told me that the doctor had been peed on before, which was a relief because I was so afraid that would happen.

We decided to have two embryos transferred even though, technically, the doctor was only recommending one. He said our embryos were all really healthy, so because of that and my age, we only needed to do one, though there was nothing wrong with two. He actually used the phrase, "You guys make great babies" when telling us how healthy our embryos were.

The procedure itself was uncomfortable, but not terrible. It was mainly uncomfortable because my bladder was so full and adding more down there (a speculum, saline, catheter, etc.) was torture. It was really difficult to relax enough to keep the procedure from being painful, but not so relaxed that I peed on him.

After they transferred the embryos, I had to remain laying down for ten minutes before I could get up to pee. Steve did his best to distract me with conversation, and we also spent a lot of time looking at the pictures we were given of our embryos. It was a really neat time together, even if Steve did pretend that he was going to make me wait fifteen minutes instead of ten (he had the watch). It was also right around this point when Steve told me I was "kind of glowing." I was just so excited to know that my babies were inside me. In all of our trying, as far as I know, we had never been to the point where there was this much potential of life, so I was just ecstatic. My eyes were leaking a bit too.

We went out to Panera before going home and resting. The other nice thing about having the transfer on a Friday was that I could just rest  the next two days without having to worry about work. I spent those two days watching reruns of The Office, eating good food, and praying.

Our four remaining embryos were all healthy and were all frozen by the end of the day of the transfer. I plan to make a post later on my thoughts on what that means for us and the ethical issues that IVF brings up.

Overall, I'm feeling great, and I'll update soon about our progress since the transfer including the dreaded TWO WEEK WAIT.



March 02, 2014

16 Tips for IVF Egg Retrieval

I had my egg retrieval this week. It was pretty simple, but I thought I'd offer some tips and tricks I learned through experience, research, and advice from others.
1. Expect the week leading up to your retrieval to be unpredictable. I had a scheduled appointment on Monday, and because my doctor had cut back on my Follistim in the beginning, I expected to be ready for retrieval then. I was not. They upped my stim. meds, and I had to come back for and ultrasound and blood work on Wednesday and Friday. By Friday I was super nervous. I had used up all of my stim. meds and did not want to spend more on them. My eggs on Wednesday were still too small because their growth had stalled, and I was so afraid that things weren't working right. Steve and I prayed together about it the night before, and right before I went in for that last ultrasound, I texted a few people and asked them to pray specifically for ready eggs. I was so excited to be able text them back fifteen minutes later and tell them I was ready for my trigger shot. Apparently, because I have PCOS, my body produced lots and lots of follicles, but because there were so many, it didn't leave much room for others to grow. 

2. If you're using the Follistim pen, like I was, you may end up having to give yourself multiple injections to get the full dose those last few days. The serum comes in vials with 300 units. If I had been ready when I thought I was going to be, I would have had leftover medication, in five different vials, but because I went several days further, and because my doses were increased, I actually had to stick myself four times the one night with 50 units from the end of one vial, 75 from another, 75 from another, and 25 from another, just to get my full dose of 225. It wasn't fun, and was rather nerve wracking.

3. Do whatever you can to make yourself comfortable for those multiple appointments leading up to the retrieval. I took the advice of Logan from With Great Expectation and wore a skirt whenever possible. The weather here made that a little difficult, but it was heplful when I could. First of all they were stretchy which felt better on my belly which was puffy from the stimulation. Second of all, it made me feel less awkward for those internal ultrasounds because all I had to was drop my underwear instead of strip down to the waste. The nurse and the doctor actually commented on how quickly I was dressed after the ultrasound. 
The other thing that helped me feel more comfortable was to bring a pair of socks with me. I wear dress shoes to work and don't usually wear socks with them. Sometimes that makes my feet a little stinky, and because they were up in the air and near the doctor's face, I felt better slipping on a pair of socks. Weird, but it made me feel better. I also brought my Nook with me to read in the waiting room.

4. If you can get someone else to give you your HCG trigger shot, I recommend it. My mom is a nurse and lives next door, so she gave me my shot in my tush. I was super nervous because it was a longer needle than the ones I had been giving myself, but it barely hurt.

5. Wear comfortable clothes to your retrieval. Your doctor will tell you this, but I liked it because it set the tone for me. I was relaxed and ready to go. I wore yoga pants and a v-neck t-shirt.

6. Don't wear perfume or scented lotions. Your doctor will tell you this too. Apparently they can reduce egg quality. Because it's winter, my skin is really dry, despite all of the water I've been chugging, so I used coconut oil as a moisturizer. No scent, but still moisturizing. I was also really glad that I had switched to an unscented laundry detergent months ago. I had already decided that I didn't want the extra toxins (if I want the scent in the future, I occasionally add essential oil in with my detergent).

7. The IV is the only pain you'll really feel during the procedure. The nurse had a hard time with mine...apparently the skin on my hand is tough. Steve watched the whole thing and was pretty grossed out. It hurt, but wasn't unbearable. She switched to the inside of my elbow, and it was fine then.

8. Try not to be resentful that while your giving up eggs in a surgical procedure, your husband is giving his sperm in a far different way, haha. I'm not really resentful, I just think it's a little unfair. :o)

9. That being said, enjoy the time with your husband. We were waiting for the procedure to begin for a while and it was fun to joke about the booties and ridiculous hair cap I had to wear. It was nice to have someone to tie the back of my gown tightly too. :o) We both actually really enjoyed talking while we waited, though Steve eventually got a little sleepy.

10. When the nurses offer a trip to the bathroom, take it, even if you don't feel like you have to go. I was sure that I didn't need to, but apparently my bladder was full when he began the procedure, and he actually had to put a catheter in to drain it, putting me at risk for a UTI (they can't use the betadine that they usually use to further disinfect the sterile catheter because it would affect egg quality). I was asleep for all of this, but I felt badly about it afterward.

11. Expect to be loopy when you wake up. I apparently said coherent things, but Steve says I said them over and over again. I'm sure the doctor and the nurses expected that, but it frustrated me to know that I sounded silly. I also shivered a lot when I was done, which I expected because the same type of anesthesia made me shake when I had my wisdom teeth pulled. The nurse brought me an extra blanket and that helped.

12. Plan to grab something small to eat on the way home. I was super hungry after not eating since six the night before, so we grabbed a small meal at Panera on the way home.

13. Have dinner made or planned ahead of time. My mom planned to make dinner for us, and I was thankful because all I wanted when I came home was a nap.

14. Expect to be uncomfortable off and on after the retrieval. Nothing worse than menstrual cramps, but uncomfortable. I was also a little gassy too, which I had read might be the case. Some people experience constipation too. Thankfully, I didn't; I think partly because I drank a ton afterward to avoid the constipation and to fend off the risk of a UTI. 

15. Enjoy being done with your injections! If you have progesterone suppositories instead of the progesterone in oil injections like me; you're done!  I am so thankful that I won't be stabbing myself anymore. 

16. Relax. The stressful part is over. Now it's just more waiting, and at this point, you're an expert!


February 23, 2014

IVF and Side Effects

First of all, let me say that if you are not doing IVF, thinking of doing IVF, etc., there is little point in reading this post. Some of it will be TMI, and some of it will be boring. Just a little disclaimer. I'm only sharing because these are the kinds of posts I'm finding really helpful on other people's blogs.

Side effects I'm dealing with during IVF

Hot Flashes- This one I expected because I had similar issues on Clomid. They actually aren't even as bad as they were on the clomid.

Headaches- I've had a headache almost consistently for the past three or four days. Some moments were really bad, most were tolerable. This is a common side effect during IVF. However, tension headaches are pretty normal for me and the weather has been pretty up and down lately, so they could be totally unrelated to my meds.

Thirst- I am so thirsty all the time. Constantly. To the point that while out with my family Friday night, my mom said, "Boy, you really are thirsty all the time." I guess this isn't really a bad side effect to be dealing with except that teaching isn't really conducive to all of the peeing that comes with all of this drinking.

Weight gain- I've gained four pounds since starting the stimulating meds. Some of this is due to the meds and what they do, but I'm sure some is because I've been eating a ton because I'm also dealing with...

Hunger- Because of the steroid I'm also on, I'm hungry. Like, I'm constantly thinking of the next thing I could be eating. Food literally calls to me. I've been trying to be careful with the quality of what I'm eating. For example, last night I was craving dessert, so I made cinnamon rolls with whole wheat flour and sucanat, in an attempt to lower their glycemic index. Sometimes I'm not very good at all, as in eating cupcakes that I keep finding in the teacher's lounge (apparently we're in a big birthday flood right now). I'm still trying to cut out gluten when I can and use as many quality and organic ingredients, but I'm not always succeeding.

Bloating- This isn't severe, at least not sever enough for me to be afraid of hyper stimulation, but it's uncomfortable. Anything I eat makes me feel bloated. For example, Saturday I ate a whole wheat English muffin and a banana for breakfast, and I was bloated as if I had eaten an enormous meal for about four hours afterward. I did use this as an excuse to buy myself two skirts, a gray jersey maxi skirt from Walmart this striped jersey skirt from Target. It's comes a little bit below my knees and is cut kind of like a pencil skirt. The nice thing is, both skirts could easily be used into pregnancy because they're super stretchy and comfy.

Tenderness- This one is probably way too much information, but I have some pretty significant breast tenderness. My belly is also slightly tender from the injections.

Bruising- This one is pretty obvious, but some of the injections leaver bruises on my belly. I've only for a couple, and none of them are major, but  between that and some of the little puncture marks from the needles, my belly looks like like a connect the dots.

Mood Swings- It's very difficult for me to tell you if I've been experiencing these. Earlier this week I was pretty weepy, but I was also super stressed out because of circumstances. Now that things are normal, I'm not feeling any out of the ordinary emotions. If I am experiencing mood swings, they are very mild.


February 20, 2014

Today I'm Feeling...

Today I'm feeling...

Tired. The past couple of days have been super stressful between financial drama regarding the IVF and the snow causing me to be late for doctor's appointments, and battling a severe headache today. Is it spring yet?

Relieved. All of the financial issues were worked out thanks to an amazing husband who jumped to the rescue to the point of leaving work early and driving two and a half hours to pick me up and work things out at the bank, and thanks to God's perfect timing with our income tax return.

Thankful. For my Lord's perfect timing. Between all of the money falling into place at literally the eleventh hour and some other little things that He's done, I'm feeling so thankful. I mean, even, in a weird way, the fact that my sister has been sick and home from work for a few weeks now has been a blessing. Having someone here with me when Steve is stuck at work because of the snow has made this stressful time (and dark winter) bearable. I'm not glad that she's sick, but the timing has been a blessing to me and I'm so thankful for her and how she's helped me. (Pray for her if you think of it. Although she's not really in any real danger, the time until full recovery is indefinite right now.)

Excited. It's all really starting to feel real now. I will most likely be pregnant soon (I'm not going to share the exact timing, partly because I don't know it yet, and partly because I want to be able to keep it to ourselves for at least a day or so after we find out, haha).

Hopefully Expectant. I feel like I have turned a corner with hope and am feeling more expectant than intrepid right now. I feel like I had to take a faith jump this week to prove that. It's a silly thing, but I have to order my bridesmaid dress for my sister-in-law's wedding which is in July. The dress is being discontinued, so I have to order it before I find out that I'm definitely pregnant, but I'm still going to order as if I will be pregnant. Actually, per the David's Bridal consultant suggestion, I will order three sizes bigger instead of the normally suggested two sizes because as she put it, "you're more likely to have twins, so I would go up three sizes." Apparently she is moderately familiar with IVF, haha.

Puffy. I started the FSH stimulating meds this week and my ovaries started to feel puffy and bloated very quickly, like after the second day of these. Because of my PCOS, I'm at risk for hyperstimulation, so this concerned me, but I went in for my bloodwork today to check my estradiol level and the doctor decided to cut the rest of my Follistim doses in half just to be safe. This makes me feel better and safer. Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome is not super common (I think like 5% of women get it or something), but another blogger I follow, who also has PCOS, just went through it, and I'd like to avoid it at all costs.
Because of the puffiness in my abdomen, I've been leaning toward looser clothing like yoga pants, and stretchy skirts and dresses. Unfortunately I can't wear yoga pants to work and have a limited number of dresses and skirts that I can wear (especially with boots which I'm leaning toward because I'm still having to park at the end of my very long driveway and walk down through the snow every morning), so I'm finding myself making a wish list of dresses like this one from Like Twice or this one from Target.

Sore. I'm not a huge fan of the Follistim pen and the menopur injections. They sting for a while afterward even after I ice the injection spot. Keeping busy and distracted after giving them helps. So does putting ice on them afterward, but I'm still not loving it. Giving myself the lupron injections made me feel empowered. These new ones are not my friends though. I did read some tips on handling these from this blog and this one.

Surrounded. By the prayers and encouragement of so many people. It makes me really glad that I'm being open about this process. Although I'm sure others think I'm nuts because I'm being so open, it has made me feel loved and helps to know that so many people are praying. My coworkers and bosses have been particularly amazing and accommodating. My family has also been absolutely amazing.

Well Taken Care Of. I'm so happy with our choice of doctors. We decided to go with Sher Fertility Institue of New Jersey and everyone from the receptionists, to the nurses, to the office manager, and Dr. Peters have all been incredibly helpful and understanding and kind and just generally wonderful. I think it's such a big deal, and unfortunately not common in many doctor's offices, to have kind and helpful office staff. I'm so thankful for it.

Ready.  For spring mainly. I'm ready to not spend an hour plus trying to get my car out of the driveway on the morning of an appointment and work (like this morning). I'm ready to be able to say yes to people who want to come view our still-for-sale house instead of no because of the driveway being a mess (the plow we hired never showed and now it's kind of even too messy for a plow). I'm ready for green and buds and warmer weather (the forty degree days we've had this week have been INCREDIBLE) and all the hope that comes with it.

Overall, I'm keeping scripture like the one above (a verse my mom had me memorize when I was plagued by nightmares as a child) are keeping me focused. I'm so very thankful for this opportunity and so very hopeful that it will end (or rather begin) in parenthood for us.

Thanks for your prayers!


February 15, 2014

Smoothie Saturday: Raspberry Apple Ginger

Ooh, this smoothie was one of my favorites so far!

 Ingredients:

  • 1 Organic Pinata apple (or any apple, but I fell in love with this kind this week)
  • 1 c. organic frozen raspberries
  • A few small pieces of frozen avocado for creaminess
  • 1/2 c. water
  • Spinach (I didn't use much this time because I didn't have much left)
  • Grated frozen ginger



Again, I put it all in the mixing cup and blended with the stick blender. Because of the raspberry seeds and because the apple was fresh, this wasn't quite as smooth as the smoothies I normally make, but the flavor was incredible!

The combination of the sweetness and tartness from the apple and the spiciness of the ginger made this super refreshing!

This smoothie also made just enough for me this time. Katie wasn't home, so I didn't make enough for her.
This is the apple I used. I found them at Wegmans this week. They are a large and beautiful variety from Washington called Pinata (I don't know how to make an ~ on blogger). They are tart and sweet with a hint of tropical flavor.

The sweetness of the apple allowed me to forgo any added sweeteners this time; no honey or sucanat. That's a win in my book!

What are your favorite smoothie in add ins?

February 14, 2014

Gifts and Other New Projects

Here are some more of the projects I've been working on! Most are gifts, but you can expect to see more items like these in the shop in June.
Baby Monster Hat Front. I love his crooket smile. He was made without a pattern.
Back


Side View

Men's/Boy's Knights Helmet Hat. This was made without a pattern. 

The visor can go down for protection from the wind or up.

Front View


This picture is actually from the book where I found the pattern. I don't have a model, so it's difficult to see what my finished product is like.

Sunset Baby Capelet

I hope other people like the colors as much as I do. I think it looks like a sunset.

African Sunset Baby Blanket. This one is for some friends who are planning to add a little one from Ethiopia to their family. Read their story here.




 
This one is my favorite. She represents a great deal of hard work. I did not use a pattern for her, so she is not perfect, but I love her anyway. I call her the Ari Doll. I made  her for the daughter of a friend of mine who recently welcomed a second younger sibling to the family. I know what it's like to be the oldest, and I thought having her own baby to take care of might help with the transition. Unfortunately, I haven't given it to her yer. I planned to give it to her this weekend, but the snow stopped that, so I think I will mail it this week. Mom will probably get a sneak preview of it through here!






She has a scarf to match her hat and pea coat, but I have to find it. It's around here somewhere.
She has summer attire too!





I am EXTREMELY proud of her hair! I love it!



What are some other things you would like to see in the new store in June?
Would you buy a doll like the Ari doll?

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