Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Can See the Light...

at the end of this God forsaken ectopic pregnancy tunnel! Friday's beta came back nice and early in the day, so I wasn't stuck waiting all day long. Not only that, it came with good news that hCG was down to a 7. First thing out of my mouth was a really loud, "PRAISE GOD!" followed by the very important question, "Does this mean I can have a glass of wine?"  My wish for a glass of wine was granted by the endocrinology fairy (a.k.a. Cathy the nurse) and I was told they will need to test once more next Friday 1/4,  just to confirm hCG made it's way all the way down to zero.

Believe it or not, even when hCG numbers get this low they can really eek themselves out in the end. I have heard stories of women who's hCG got all the way down to 5, only to stagnate or go back up! They need to make sure it truly gets down to zero in order to verify everything. Whatever. One more needle won't kill me. I have realized, however, that the vein in my right arm is accumulating quite a bit of scar tissue from being stuck in the same place so many times. Just as I was getting so brave at giving blood, now it's starting to hurt more since the needle has to go through scar tissue, and I've regressed back into being a big fat baby about it. I've been trying to alternate arms as much as possible along the way, but I guess I was using the right one more. Boooo. I'm switching to my left arm solely for a while, but it's only a matter of time before that arm has an equal amount of scar tissue. I wonder if there is any way to get rid of scar tissue in your veins? The women at the lab tell me no, that you're stuck with it (no pun intended) for life once you have it in a certain vein. If anyone out there knows a remedy feel free to share!

Indeed we did celebrate with a nice glass of red wine and homemade lentils on Friday night and it was Mmm Mmm GOOD. It feels like forever since we've been able to just sit and enjoy a glass of wine together. I'm not some sort of alcoholic. It's just a very different thing to abstain from wine because you are pregnant with a nice healthy baby vs. not being able to drink because you are on meds to end a nonviable pregnancy. I personally think we deserved a whole bottle or two as long as it's been, but we were good and kept it to a glass.

Saturday we spent all day taking down Christmas decorations, cleaning the house top to bottom, and I started chipping away at tax return stuff. I normally HATE gathering tax info, so I was determined to get a head start this year. I sat down, printed out all of our bank statements and started going through them with a fine toothed comb. A few hours later, I marveled at my beautiful excel spreadsheet outlining $13,400 in medical expenses, $22,000 in education expenses, and a $2,600 loss on our rental property. Booyah!  I knew we had quite a few medical expenses but wasn't sure if we would have enough to surpass 7.5% of our adjusted gross income (required to write off anything medical). Alas, we did for once.

If you are reading this and think you have some hefty medical expenses, take it from me...sit down and add them up, because you may have enough to write off. Don't leave anything out! You can claim mileage (23 cents/mi.) to and from doctor appointments and pharmacy trips, as well as tolls taken driving there. You might be shocked at how fast the mileage adds up! You can even claim acupuncture and non-traditional medical treatments. If you are a little bit short of 7.5%, you still have one more day to pay for medical expenses too. If you are interested in writing off your medical expenses but have never done it before, you can view the tax rules HERE and also some great FAQ's HERE.  I have a brief chit chat with our accountant tonight, but I think most of my work is done. I can't believe I am saying this in December!

All of our hard work yesterday was rewarded today, as we used a Travelzoo voucher we had for facials and massages. How a tiny Asian man weighing no more than a buck ten can be so strong simply defies all logic, but I won't question a good thing when it happens. I can't tell you how amazing that massage felt today.  I am finally feeling like I can breathe a little bit more. 

Looking back at 2012, no doubt it was full of obstacles, most of which I'd love to just forget. Let's just pretend like none of that ever happened! Wouldn't that be nice.  However, we made it out relatively unscathed. It looks like I will be avoiding surgery most thankfully. Our goal of entering 2013 with zero credit card debt was reached. We are in a good place to start anew. I'm trying my best not to look back at what we've been through, but rather look at the new year as a fresh new start.

We have a consult with a genetic counselor on 1/3 this week and then we're attending a group IVF orientation with Dr. Vaughn on 1/8 to learn more about the IVF process. We aren't running as fast as we can towards IVF but rather taking it one slow step at a time. We will get there... praying every single day that this will be our answer to having a healthy take home baby.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas...Now GO AWAY!

If that isn't a bah-hum-bug of a blog title I don't know what is. I am trying not to let today get the best of me and stay cheery for the sake of my wonderful husband...failing miserably already at 9:30 AM I'm afraid. Blahhhhh!

I haven't had any bleeding or spotting for a couple days (YAY!) and with my hCG down to 108 as of last Friday, I thought I'd use my last HPT to see if by any chance it would come back negative. Isn't it crazy how much we let those darn pregnancy tests rule our moods? Normally I'd be overjoyed to see that second line. However, in this instance I just want that second line to GO AWAY ALREADY!

9 weeks today & hCG still present. Just want it to end already!

It seems like it is taking FOREVER for us to close this chapter. I have known since 5.5 weeks that this wasn't a viable pregnancy, and here I am at 9 weeks, basically walking around with a dead baby stuck in my fallopian tube. I know that sounds gross and dramatic, but let's not sugarcoat it. It is what it is. I just want it to be over.

Nothing has changed really, other than the fact that I was having some weird "twinges" in my left pelvic area yesterday right as we sat down at the movie "This is 40." Laugh out loud hilarious movie by the way...two thumbs up! I really needed that couple hours of intense laughter, let me tell you! I wouldn't describe the feelings I was having as painful, but I definitely felt something on and off sporadically all afternoon and evening....kind of like strong ovulation twinges.  To be honest, it scared me a little, mostly because of the timing of it being Christmas.

I kept thinking that the last thing I want is to be in some emergency room on Christmas Eve or Christmas day with some surgeon I don't know operating on a burst fallopian tube and sucking out blood from my insides. I even plugged my iPad into it's charger before heading off to bed, just in case I had to fly out of the house at 2AM and needed some entertainment in an emergency room waiting room. Ugh! I hate feeling like I am walking on a tightrope and that I could fall off at any moment without warning.  I was as far from relaxed as one could be, so to all the sugar plum fairies out are welcome for having the night off!

Well, we made it through the movie and made it through the night, and no weird movement so far today. Still no bleeding or other telltale signs of a burst fallopian tube. If I can just make it through until Friday and get more good news of dropping hCG with my 11th beta test I will be SO relieved. I thought an early miscarriage sucked, but I've got to say that ectopic pregnancy is worse. Believe me, I know there are much worse things out there. It's just that we can't start our final chapter....the one with the HAPPY ENDING until we can close this one. Please pray for patience for us both and an uneventful end to this pregnancy, hopefully soon.

Merry Christmas and good riddance to 2012. I am ready for a bigger and better 2013! Bring it!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Forever in our Hearts

Where oh where do I begin? So much has happened since my last post 9 days ago, and in all honesty it's just plain exhausting to think about. Shortly after my last blog I received a double whammy of bad news. Last Friday morning I received an early morning call, one of those abnormally early calls from the friend who normally sleeps know, the kind of call no one likes to get. I knew the minute I answered it, the news I would hear on the other end would not be good, and it wasn't.

We were informed that one of our best friends had been killed in a tragic auto accident. I will never forget getting that call, how my heart sank, how I rushed home from the gym to yank my husband out of bed frantically, shaking and crying that Dave was gone. I still cannot believe it. I've lost 4 friends thus far in life, but never have we lost a friend that we cared about as much as we did for Dave. This time we lost a brother. He and my husband were extremely close. In fact, if it weren't for Dave buying me and my girlfriend a drink at a bar in my hometown of Orlando, FL ten years ago, my husband and I wouldn't even be married today. He had just come to stay at our house for a whole week for the SXSW Music Festival this year, and we were constantly calling and texting each other. He was one of those people who wasn't scared to tell us, "I love you guys" and he said it every single time we spoke.

Dave would be the first to admit he was imperfect at times, but as a friend, I have never met a person so generous, honest, loving, forgiving, and kind hearted. He was open and honest about his struggles, even producing a movie called "Renee" about addiction and depression that will be released later this year. A portion of his experiences are depicted in the movie, and that story also inspired an entire movement and non-profit organization called TWLOHA (To Write Love on Her Arms). Dave was an extraordinary person who shared openly at all times, especially if it would help others You can see his story of addiction and recovery in his own words here....

I think anyone would be hard pressed to listen to his words and not be moved as he talks about putting Christ first place in his life. It is so very sad for me to watch this video knowing all of the amazing potential he still had left. We flew to Orlando to attend his funeral, cried for 3 days straight but even being home now, it still doesn't seem quite real. Our dear friend and brother Dave McKenna, we will never ever forget you and you will live forever in our hearts.

Sigh...In addition, I was waiting anxiously for my follow-up hCG test result that same day we found out about Dave, hoping that it would drop to show the methotrexate was working to absolve the ectopic pregnancy. Well, my hCG went UP instead of down... from 207 to 223. Frack! Back to the RE I went for two more shots of chemotherapy in my ass. I am racking my brain trying to think of a body part my OB & RE haven't seen yet, but I'm not sure there is one. I was going to say the bottom of my feet, but nope they've seen those too. Stirrups, hello! I was reassured that the 2nd set of shots should really do the trick by my nurse who also said, "I've never seen the second shot not work, so you should be fine once we give you this one." Haha! I have to laugh anytime I'm told "this rarely happens" or "that never happens" because Lord knows my body likes to defy odds. Hubby and I went on our merry way.

At this point on such a horrible day, it was ironically hard to even become upset about anything having to do with us. We could only imagine what Dave's family and girlfriend of 3 years must have been feeling. Losing someone you love is the biggest reality check you can ever get that is for sure. It kind of makes everything else pale in comparison, and no way was I about to feel sorry for myself because of an ectopic pregnancy and all of the crap that isn't going right. I know, I know....I deserve to experience feelings of anger and sadness over my own situation too, but honestly, I really haven't been lately. I just keep thinking of Dave and his family, and my problems just seem so small in comparison.

I had more blood testing done while in Orlando, which showed a drop of hCG from 223 to 147. I went again today and saw yet another drop in hCG from 147 to 108. Halle-freaking-lujah! I think it's finally dropping like it's supposed to be.  You can see all 10 hCG tests so far over on the right hand side of this page under "Timeline" if you're interested. I'm updating everything there >>>>

I'm 8.5 weeks pregnant today and have been dealing with this rollercoaster of hCG for 3 solid weeks so far....well really almost 5 weeks if you count my stress from the very first hCG, which was low right off the bat. I'm just really ready to close this chapter, and hoping that this could be the light at the end of the tunnel for the ectopic pregnancy to finally be ending soon! I am scheduled for another hCG test one week from today. Just hoping and praying that hCG will be down to 0 by then, because if I don't have a glass of wine soon, I may end up doing something we'll all regret!

More updates to come on all of our recurrent miscarriage panel testing and chromosome testing. This is post is getting long, and I'm tired of talking about myself, but I'll update on those things soon.  Please if you can all do me a favor, and tell those you love how much you love them this week, especially if you haven't in a while. Even if you are going through a hard time, try to be thankful for your spouse or your pets or anything you DO have. If I have nothing else in life, at least I have a husband who loves me, and not everyone can say that. We ALL have so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

hCG Dropping Slowly... Along with my Blood Supply

I saw Dr. Youman on Monday, as suggested by my RE to discuss possible reasons for miscarriage and to order further testing. He asked me plenty of questions, and as usual right off the bat says, "You have quite a few things here that concern me." I could have predicted that one! Anytime you tell a dr. that your dad died at age 47 from cancer, your mom at 52 from cancer, and also your grandmother from cancer, they don't take a liking to that. However, I was not here to talk about cancer necessarily. I was here to uncover any unknown reasons that could cause miscarriage in the future. You see, outside of being an oncologist, Dr.Youman is supposedly the man when it comes to hematology and knows about all things blood related. My RE often refers to him for more in depth testing of clotting disorders and autoimmune stuff for women who have lost more than once pregnancy.

Upon first meeting this guy, I wouldn't have known what to think of him had I not already known he'd helped Lance Armstrong beat cancer. There are pics of Lance all over his office, and I couldn't help but get a little choked up thinking of all that cancer patients go through battling this horrific disease. By the way... If you haven't read It's Not About the Bike, I highly recommend it. It's one of my favorite books of all time. If you really want some inspiration and a reason to put on your big girl panties, that is the book for you! I linked the whole first chapter above for your reading pleasure.

Seriously though, Dr. Youman is extremely old school, scribbling everything illegibly on a half sheet of torn computer paper, and that is "your file."  haha!  He agreed that because I already tested positive for cardiolipin antibody, that I should do further testing for other related clotting disorders and autoimmune diseases. Off I went to their in-house lab to give 15 MORE VIALS OF BLOOD. Gasp! As of Friday, I will have given 24 vials of blood in one week, but who's counting? Honestly, I'm happy keep giving blood until I'm blue if it gives me answers on things I can keep an eye on going forward. If I have risk factors, I want to know about them so I can take precautionary measures to prevent any miscarriages in the future. I go back next week on Monday to meet with Dr. Youman and discuss the findings of the additional testing.

My first hCG results following the MTX shot came back yesterday. hCG went down to 196 from 207. This is progress, but the 2nd test done post-MTX shot (two days from now) will be kind of crucial. They want to see a 15% decrease in the next result to show enough progress to avoid having a second dose of MTX. It needs to drop about 30 points to be considered enough progress. I had quite a bit of pain and bleeding on Monday and a huge mass of tissue that passed (sorry TMI), a little bit of bleeding on Tuesday, and now just back to spotting with no cramps at all, so I'm hoping what they call "tissue separation" has already occurred and that hCG levels will continue to plummet fast! I do NOT want that second shot, nor do I want surgery, so please pray for me that these levels drop faster than a hoochie mama in a Fifty Cent video! 

Speaking of politically incorrect things, I found something I would like for Christmas and figured you all might appreciate it. What a spectacular stocking stuffer...

How funny is that?! I may become a target of hate crimes or at minimum toilet papering if I put that on my vehicle in my small town family friendly Texas neighborhood. I'm almost willing to take the chance though, I like it so much. Seriously, this is a pretty hard time of year with all the family holiday cheer going on. Forgive me if I need to find a way to laugh amidst my own debacle of trying to start a family. I've got to find a way to keep it light, and if a chainsaw chasing the annoyingly perfect family and stroller won't do that, then I don't know what will!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's Ectopic...Slight Change of Plans

Nothing like a shot of chemo in your ass to start the weekend off right! Really, can this week take any more turns?  I better not say that out loud and test fate, because Lord knows it will the moment I even mutter the words.

A week ago I found out my hCG levels were dropping and that this was turning out to be a non-viable pregnancy. We met with our RE, talked about a plan going forward, and felt that although things were not ideal, at least we had a plan.  I became a toilet paper detective and just kept waiting for the miscarriage to take it course.

Well fast forward to a few days later, and upon another follow-up hCG blood draw, they realized that my hCG was increasing, and not in a good way.  It went back up to 205 from 185. It's supposed to be dropping! When this happens, it's an indication that the pregnancy is not taking care of itself naturally on it's own. I did a repeat test the next day and it was 207. They asked me to come in for an ultrasound to see if they could locate the embryo in my uterus, and they could not. The reason they could not see an embryo in the uterus could be one of two reasons...

1) My hCG never reached 1000, which is when you can usually see an embryo via ultrasound.
2) The embryo had implanted inside of the fallopian tube, rather than the uterus, where it's supposed to.

With the recent findings that my hCG is being wacky, I've been spotting for over a week now, and there is no embryo detectable in the uterus, it was determined that this is very likely an ectopic pregnancy. I was not shocked to be honest. All week I have been worried that something wasn't going as planned. I've had an early miscarriage before, and something here was very different. There was no real cramping, bleeding, and it had been a week already since receiving word I should be expecting to miscarry any day. I just knew something was off, and call me psychic, but I had a feeling they were going to say that the hCG wasn't dropping. I had even told my husband every day of the week, something is not right here!  I think he finally believes me now.

Apparently only 1% of the population has 2 or more miscarriages and only 2% of pregnancies are ectopic. I feel like I have won some sort of twisted lottery.  Ectopic pregnancy can be VERY dangerous, so I'm glad I was being monitored so closely and realized this somewhat early. What I'm not as thrilled about is that this means there was something that caused the embryo to implant there. By something, I mean disease, damage or blockages in my fallopian tube(s). That is really the only reason an embryo would implant in the tube versus traveling into the uterus to implant correctly.  I had an HSG (hysterosalpingogram) in Sept. 2011, which showed the dye used in the procedure traveled through both tubes into the uterus. However, it's still possible that I could have endometriosis inside the tubes not quite detectable via the HSG and/or there has been new damage that could have formed over the past 1yr+.  Really the only way to truly know what the inside of your fallopian tubes look like is to do laparoscopic surgery, something I haven't done because we've felt the risks outweighed the benefits thus far.

Finding another piece to this puzzle is a major game changer. Why? Well, it explains a lot. It could explain why we've been trying so long without a successful pregnancy. In fact, my RE said that my first miscarriage could have even been ectopic, but that we were lucky and it took care of itself naturally that time. It could have also just been a genetic defect. There is no way to ever know now if that was the case with #1, but it's certainly plausible given the recent development with this pregnancy. It's also a game changer, because it totally changes our RE's recommendations for treatment going forward.

Our initial plan was to hope that hCG dropped to zero on it's own and proceed with another Femara/IUI cycle....pretty easy right. However, since it didn't, I was given two shots of a chemotherapy drug called methotrexate to make sure the embryonic cells stop diving, and that the embryo doesn't continue growing. If we did nothing, the pregnancy could continue to linger, possibly grow a little more inside of the fallopian tube, and could cause tubal rupture and could be life threatening. The only other option to end the pregnancy would be to do surgery to physically go in and remove it. No way I am going to choose surgery over a simple shot, especially when surgery has it's own risks. Hubby and I asked A LOT of questions about the methotrexate, and all parties determined this is the easiest and best option for us to make this end as quickly and safely as possible. It's pretty standard protocol for ectopic pregnancies actually.

The other big game changer is finding out that obviously something is obstructing at least one of my tubes that we know of at this point. People who experience ectopic pregnancy have more trouble getting pregnant AND are more likely to have another ectopic pregnancy in the future. Because of that, our doctor's recommendations going forward have also changed. Yep, you guessed it....IVF. I never thought we'd get to this point, and I really hoped we wouldn't, but now it is looking like the smartest course of action.

In Vitro Fertilization was actually invented as a sole treatment for people with blocked fallopian tubes, but it's now used for many more infertility related diagnoses including:

-sperm production, number, or function
-pelvic adhesions
-tubal blockage
-diminished ovarian reserve
-abnormalities involving the uterine cavity or cervix
-ovulation disorders
-unexplained infertility
-recurrent miscarriage

Obviously, we have been trying everything we possibly can to avoid doing IVF. It's invasive, difficult emotionally and physically, and as we all know COSTLY! However, looking at everything we have been through over the past 18 months (and really starting in 2008 when I became anovulatory for 2.5 yrs straight) I think it's safe to say I fit the description for someone who may need IVF if I ever want to have a family. Out of the list above I have been diagnosed by a reproductive endocrinologist with 6 out of 9 of those listed diagnoses above, 7 if you count the possible endometriosis my RE suspects is in my tubes. I think I had an "aha!" moment reading that list yesterday, realizing that IVF is likely our best option considering the circumstances.

Sure, plenty of women might choose to give it one more shot with IUI, but if I do that and do become pregnant, I'm still more likely to have another ectopic. I honestly don't know I would be able to endure another pregnancy loss, and it doesn't seem smart to continue putting myself at risk when we know the possiblity is pretty high that could happen. I could choose to have laparosopic surgery to go in and definitively diagnose and remove endometriosis or whatever is blocking my tube(s), but anytime surgery is done on the female reproductive system, there is high risk of scarring, which would just end up causing more blockages in the future. Surgery would also require quite a bit of recovery before even being able to try again, and then who knows how long it would take to become pregnant again. Even with injectables and IUI (my best case scenario outside of IVF) we'd only have about a 20% chance at conception each month we tried. Furthermore, if it's endometriosis blocking my tubes, and we remove it via laparoscopy, it can just return again rather quickly within months. Laparoscopy is many times more of a bandaid than it is a permanent solution. We are really analzying our options from all angles, and continuing to discuss things, but as of now it's really looking like we may proceed onto using IVF.

I am still continuing to do recurrent miscarriage testing in the meantime. My RE did a few tests, and I tested positive for cardiolipin antibody. This antibody is found in those with antiphospholipid syndrome, and can also be a cause for miscarriage (usually late term miscarriage). We don't think this could have caused any of my issues, but it's good we are testing for things across the board. In light of finding that I carry this anti-body, I will most likely begin taking a prescription blood thinner when I become pregnant again. This will help reduce any risk of a later miscarriage ever occurring.

I'm also being referred to a top notch hematologist/oncologist, Dr. Dudley Youman, for further testing. He was actually Lance Armstrong's oncologist, so I think I will be in good hands. I will call Monday to make an appointment for a consult and complete blood work-up. Even though he's not a fertility specialist, my RE has worked with him for years and is referring me to Dr. Youman because he is simply the best when it comes to hematology. We want to make sure I am uncovering any auto-immune or blood disorders that could cause issues that we haven't thought of. I love that my RE is so thorough and entertains every last concern I have....I am one of those people who asks a bazillion questions, and he makes sure they are ALL answered to my satisfaction. I am happy to make the visit to Dr. Youman if it means dotting more i's and crossing more t's. We want to make sure that if and when we choose to do IVF, that we are not missing any other pieces to the puzzle first.

Over the next couple of weeks, we'll continue to monitor my hCG and pray that the methotrexate works accordingly. I've been given a list of things I can't eat or drink while on this drug, and unfortunately alcohol is one of them. Kick me while I'm down why dontcha?! In spite of all the ups and downs this past week, we are still thankful for a lot. I don't know if I am truly becoming numb to it all at this point, but I haven't cried in a couple days. I am really just thankful that I didn't have a tubal rupture. I'm thankful that I have an amazing husband, and that he is healthy. I am thankful I have a specialist I completely trust who can guide us. We are thankful for more things than I can even write here, and it's those things that are keeping us going.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fairweather Friends? WWYD?

I need to vent and ask your opinions please.  There is something weighing very heavy on my heart and today is the second day I've woken up at 3 AM completely upset about it and unable to sleep...

As you may know, I was pretty torn apart Friday evening, finding out I was going to lose this pregnancy. I blogged about it and posted about it on facebook. I felt like I was going to explode if I didn't get the heartache out of my system and connect with others who have gone through something similar.  I got tons of great support from you all here on my blog and on facebook, with many nice comments and private messages from women who have gone through it.

I was extremely hurt this weekend, when right after I posted my heartfelt post about miscarrying, that someone I thought was a "good friend" posted a bunch of joyous gender reveal pics on facebook, knowing I would see it and knowing exactly what we were going through. Her husband had actually texted my husband the day we found out, and we had already relayed the bad news. Not to mention, this girl posted a comment saying "We're crushed that you are going through this" on my page. Then, literally 24 hours later posted all of her wonderful announcements complete with balloons and smiles, and tons of congratulatory comments. I knew that she was finding out the sex of their baby the same day we found out we were miscarrying, so it was poor timing, but to have her post her gender reveal front and center the very same weekend of my horrible news CRUSHED ME to say the least.

Surely a true friend wouldn't do that. Why did I think she was that close of a friend anyways? Maybe because when she was first diagnosed with cancer years ago, I cried myself and made sure I took time to send her a care package of resources from LIVESTRONG, where I volunteer, to help her navigate through the health care system and help her feel she wasn't so alone and had support. Maybe because I always made sure to offer words of encouragement from the time she was diagnosed until the time she beat it. Maybe because she and her husband were the only people we mailed a Christmas package to outside of our own family last year, the ONLY ones! Maybe because my husband and I opened our home to them and they stayed with us to celebrate my husband's entire birthday weekend recently. Maybe because when she reached out to me several months ago frantic about her ability to conceive after seeing a doctor and being told her chances were slim, I spent an hour on the phone providing advice to calm her down and giving her a whole list of books to read....which she did and became pregnant right away using what she learned with no medical intervention necessary. Maybe because I squashed my own pain from the struggle I was still experiencing when I found out she was pregnant and sent her a card AND reached out to congratulate her personally via phone.

Now I don't expect people to put their lives on hold according to what Emily and Matt might be experiencing that week, and I even told her on the phone when I called to congratulate her on her pregnancy "don't feel like you need to censor yourself just because we are struggling". However, that was when there were no real changes going on for us at that time. I just feel like the game kind of changes and some extra tact should be used when someone loses a pregnancy suddenly. And to give them credit, this couple had been thoughtful enough to let us know about their pregnancy before they announced it to the world, but all of a sudden now it seemed like all regard for our feelings had gone completely out the window! I logged into facebook, saw her joyous gender reveal smack at the top of my newsfeed and I could instantly feel steam coming from my ears and rivers streaming down my cheeks. I didn't know whether to be hurt or extremely pissed off, or both. I have just never felt so worthless as a friend in all of my life.

I realize I told her "not to censor herself" previously, but my God this was so soon after such crushing news on our end! I kept asking myself if I would do the same thing if the tables were turned. What if it were me who was just trying to enjoy my pregnancy? What if I had never experienced a pregnancy loss and just couldn't really relate 100% to how that must feel? What if it were me who had gone through cancer years before and was just happy to be alive and now bearing life?

I am open and honest enough with myself enough to ask these questions, but the only answer I come up with was HELL NO I still wouldn't be so inconsiderate. I would have waited at least a few days for the dust to settle. I wouldn't have cared what I'd been through to get there or how excited I was, I still wouldn't do that in the face of someone who had just experienced a loss. It's just plain selfish. Period.

Then I asked myself if any of my other true friends would have behaved in the same manner? Would Tammy ever do such a thing? Or Michelle? Or anyone else who's close to me. Still again, the answer I came up with was NO WAY would they EVER do such a thing knowing what I must be going through at the same exact time.

For the past couple of days my heart has just been aching over this, because it just feels like a friendship I put effort into was one sided all along. Not like we're best friends, but more like longtime friends and were becoming even closer the past year through phonecalls and visits more regularly. I mean looking back, I guess I have probably gone out of my way for this person more than she has for me, so why should I be surprised really? I am definitely not the type of person to do things for others and expect something back in return either. I don't keep tabs or feel like people owe me, ever. I do things because I want to and because I'm a caring and good and loyal friend. However, I do expect just a little compassion and selflessness in return, even if it means a little sacrifice on the other friend's part from time to time. Believe me, I'll be overjoyed when I do get pregnant and find out the sex of my baby, but if a friend of mine reveals they are miscarrying the same exact day I find out, I'll probably use my better judgement and contain myself for just a little bit longer until the dust settles. That's just me though. Maybe I'm crazy.

I have gone ahead and removed she and her husband from my newsfeed on facebook. It just hurts too badly to see their posts now.  I figure if they are going to do a public gender reveal while they know I'm miscarrying, I shouldn't have any interest in continuing to make emotional deposits into a friendship which has left me feeling so brushed aside at this point. I'm torn in how I feel about them at all anymore, because I know that deep down they are good people, but this just caught me so off guard in a way I never imagined would happen. I thought about approaching them directly and telling them how much their actions hurt me, but what's the point really? How is my telling them going to make the experience go away? It won't, and as much as I'd like to, it's not something I'll forget very easily.

I would really love some honest feedback though. Am I overreacting? What would you do?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Why I Miscarried & Our Next Steps

We were able to get an apt. with the RE today to discuss his thoughts on my recurring miscarriages. As always, Dr. Vaughn did not disappoint. Did I mention I love this man?  He keeps it simple, while also being very thorough and caring. I already knew he wouldn't be able to give a diagnosis of the situation with 100% certainty. Miscarriage has many gray areas.

Basically, he says that with miscarriage lost so early in a pregnancy, it is most times due to a genetic abnormality from either the egg or the sperm. Progesterone deficiency also happens to be a cause of early miscarriage, but since I was taking Prometrium during my luteal phase and during the pregnancy and levels measured fine, this is ruled out as a cause for the miscarriage. So chances are it was a genetic abnormality. Finding out which person the abnormality came from is somewhat impossible at this point, because the sperm and egg have already come and gone. The only real way someone can make sure they are getting pregnant (before even getting pregnant) with a sperm and egg that have NO genetic defects whatsoever, is to do IVF along with something called PGD or Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosing. This is where they test the genetic make-up of the embryo before inserting it back into the woman's uterus.

For most people who have gotten pregnant and miscarried even more than once, IVF with PGD still isn't the next step, because it's just so crazy expensive and invasive, and the chances are favorable that miscarriage won't happen again. Yeah, tell that to people who have miscarried 3 or more times! Nevertheless, we are definitely not considering IVF with PGD yet, especially considering it costs $18,000 to go that route.  Dr. Vaughn certainly wasn't suggesting we do that, but was just explaining how genetic abnormalities happen and the ways in which they can be avoided.

So, what are the odds that this happened 2 out of 2 pregnancies with me? Well it isn't shocking due to the fact that my age is creeping up, my eggs are getting older, and the amount of eggs I have left is falling as well. I mean, I'm still just under the 35 year old mark for Advanced Maternal Age, but I'm not a 24 year old either. AMH or Anti-Mullerian Hormone is the hormone used to test for ovarian reserve, and although I knew mine was low (0.88) I never knew that I actually had the diagnosis of DOR or Diminished Ovarian Reserve. However, apparently I am considered DOR. You've got to be kidding me! Hmmm, that's a pretty important piece of information for my previous RE to leave out ya think?!

I'm not a huge expert on DOR. It is a fairly complex diagnosis, but from what I do know, it basically means that I have a lower than normal number of eggs left in my basket. Lowered egg quantity sometimes (not always) lends to a lowered egg quality, and thus another reason why it's more likely for older women with less ovarian reserve to produce eggs with genetic abnormalities. You following me here? Bear with me!  The only real way to assess the quality of each individual egg is by retrieving the eggs from your body, as is done in IVF.  And again, we are not there yet.

There are plenty of other reasons for miscarriage including chromosomal abnormalities in the parents themselves, autoimmune issues, clotting disorders, etc. Even still, my RE thinks it is unlikely that these would cause such early miscarriage, and still thinks that mine are due to genetic issues. However, just to be on the safe side, both hubby and I are having a complete chromosomal blood panel done. I will do an extra "recurring miscarriage panel" which will test for the autoimmune issues and clotting disorders. Should be interesting to see if our insurance covers this, as it is VERY expensive. I made sure it was coded for "recurring miscarriage" and nothing fertility related, but insurance companies like to fight people on getting these tests done, so we shall see! No matter what, it is worth it to us to have a definitive answer whether any of these things could be causing our issues, and we are happy to have it done.

As long as the blood tests come back normal and I'm able to have this miscarriage naturally with my hCG dropping to zero sometime soon, we should be on track to TTC again. We will be testing down my hCG to make sure it goes to zero, making sure there is no chance it was an ectopic pregnancy before proceeding with any further treatments. We will be able to begin again with Femara/IUI once the miscarriage actually happens, hCG returns to zero, and a new cycle starts...hopefully in January. The chromosomal testing and recurrent miscarriage workup takes about 3 weeks to get results anyways, so I feel we have a really good timeline in place to follow.

All in all we are happy that we are having further testing done to check for possible causes, but also happy to know that we still have a shot continuing with Femara and IUI. I do think it could just be a matter of a better egg and sperm hooking up. If at first you don't succeed try and try again! If only I could host a little party with free cocktails to coerce all the studly sperms and miss priss eggs to finally unite with their perfect healthy mates!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


for an inevitable miscarriage to occur is like waiting for someone with a terminal illness to take their last breath. This isn't the ending that you would have hoped for, but you realize there's just no turning it around and want the whole thing to just be over already. While there haven't been chemo treatments or radiation for months or years on end, there have been plenty of other invasive procedures, needles, and what now are clearly turning out to be unanswered prayers. The feeling in my heart right now I can only compare to how I felt when I sat at my mother's bedside and told her, more like encouraged her, that it was time to go be with the Lord. It's a grieving process like any other I suppose, except that it's happening to me instead of watching it happen to someone else.

Plus, there are the questions of how it will happen. Will it be like last time? I assume it will be, since I'm exactly the same amount of time along in the pregnancy. It basically felt like someone was stabbing me with a huge knife to the uterus before the longer bouts of excruciating cramping and bleeding began. I have no idea how experts can say that many people may have had early miscarriage and not even known about it, just thinking it was a late period or something. In my experience it feels nothing like a period when it first begins. It was very difficult for me to even get out of bed for about 2 days the last time this happened and then it continued on and off for a week. I've blocked some of it out mentally, but I'm sure some of that was also due to the intense depression that set in, perhaps from the sudden drop in hormones. It really puts your mind and body through the ringer.

Where will I be....getting my hair done on Tuesday night? Will I be able to act normal and not break down in public crying if and when it happens?  Please Lord give me the strength to hold it together.

How long will it last?  Will I see the sac holding the embryo? Should I save it and have it tested for chromosomal abnormalities to figure out what could have happened? Would it give me any real answers anyway or would it just come back inconclusive? Can I even bare to look in the toilet? How could I not?? Ugh, I just want it to start so it can be over!

People have been amazing the past couple days, including those of you reading and commenting. I can't tell you how much a small note of encouragement helps. I never announced my pregnancy on facebook, but I did announce it's ending. Honestly, I did it because I just know there are other women out there who have gone through similar things, and it drives me absolutely nuts that no one talks about this stuff. It really bothers me that it's such a hush hush thing, and I wish people were more educated on infertility and loss. I also wish other women felt more comfortable about going through it themselves and realize that it's ok to cry out publicly and seek encouragement from those around you. Of course, I am the type of person that if I don't talk about it and get it out of my system I will implode. I have to talk about things. It's just who I am. 

Hubby and I also had a great talk last night. He is just SO amazing. I think he should write a book for men, because he has a phenomenal gift for always saying the right thing at the right time. If there is only one thing in life I can find to be grateful for in light of the circumstances, it's him! We talked about where to go from here, and we both agreed we will let Dr. Vaughn guide us in what the next steps are. We will have our own questions for him of course, but we truly feel like we are in the best hands possible, and we completely trust his advice on what to do as far as testing if needed and our next steps in trying to conceive.

We feel like we have found what works in trying to conceive, since obviously the Femara, IUI, Prometrium cycle worked the second time around. For some reason though, my body is not holding onto pregnancies, and so there are a lot of unanswered questions. We're really interested to see what Dr. Vaughn's thoughts are. I don't even know when that will be, but I may request that his nurse have him call us to chat or set up an appointment for us to come sit down and discuss our next steps. I think we just have too many questions to be going back and forth with the nurse, who is more just the messenger than the decision maker.

We're not looking forward to being back to square one, but we have come to terms with it and are trying our best to stay grateful for the fact that I CAN get pregnant. We'll hopefully have more answers soon, or at least the ability to try again.

"I declare nothing I face will be too much for me. I will overcome every obstacle, outlast every challenge, and come through every difficulty better off than I was before."- Joel Osteen's book I Declare

So no, we're not giving up!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Heartbreaking News....Miscarriage #2

As if I didn't wake up with an emptiness in my heart already today... It would have been my mom's 59th birthday today. If there was a ever a day I wish I could just pick up the phone and call her, it would be today. It's just not fair!!!  I have never felt so angry and cheated in all of my life. My heart is literally broken into a million pieces right now.

Yesterday, I noticed a tiny bit of spotting and called my nurse about it. This is a very common symptom in early pregnancy. It went away completely, but just to "give us all peace of mind over the weekend" she suggested doing another beta test today rather than waiting until Monday as originally planned. I wanted to believe with all of my heart that this was normal, especially since I was starting to have much stronger pregnancy symptoms....sore boobs, nausea all day long, bloating, etc.  However, last night when I went to bed I felt something wasn't right deep down in my heart. I couldn't sleep all night and tossed and turned like never before. As a woman, sometimes I think you just know when something is off.  I tried to tell myself that I am just worrying because I've miscarried before. After all, I had made a self promise that anytime I started to worry, I would instead be grateful.

I felt extremely nauseated all day today. Could it just be from the anxiety of waiting for these damn test results all the time? Or could it be a side effect of pregnancy? I kept telling myself that I didn't care which was causing it as long as I got good news today. I would take this horrible knot in my stomach every day for the rest of my life happily if it means that I'll finally realize my dream of taking home a happy healthy baby and starting a family.

Well no such luck. Did I really expect that this would turn out ok? I knew my numbers seemed low at my first beta test but everyone kept reassuring me that as long as they are increasing and doubling that's all that matters. But damnit, I just had a feeling from the beginning that this was going to end in heartache.

Sure enough, the nurse called with my results and informed my hubby and I that she had bad hCG is now dropping. For once, I didn't even write the number down, but I know it was cut in less than was 136 or something like that. These phonecalls are the worst, because you just sit there trying to think of something intelligent to ask or say, but instead the intense pain you are feeling just barely allows you to mutter a painfully high pitched "Whyyyyyy?"And of course, they can never give you a reason on WHY this is happening.

Who was I kidding? Apparently, God doesn't think I deserve a family like the rest of society. Apparently I haven't done enough good things in this world for others, or maybe I'm just not smoking enough crack or going out drinking enough? Lord knows that plenty of people are out doing shit they're not supposed to be doing and have no problems getting knocked up. Here I am doing everything RIGHT; praying and being faithful every single day, being grateful for the things I have, committed to my marriage, living in a safe neighborhood in a clean loving home, taking care of my body like it's the freaking Taj Majal,  spending a fortune on Eastern AND Western medical treatments, sacrificing my career and basically my whole life to make my body baby ready...and THIS is what I get?

What now? Do we get to try again for another full year, only have another pregnancy end in miscarriage? That sounds like a blast! I honestly don't know how much more of this I can take. All I know is that my heart is broken into a million teeny tiny misshaped pieces right now....the kind that you can never glue back together no matter how hard you try. It just won't ever be the same. How can it possibly be?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Beauty Scavenger Hunt

I have been on somewhat of a beauty product scavenger hunt for over a year now, and I think I've finally cracked the code! While TTC I started eliminating all parabens, phthalates, etc. from my beauty and household products. Easier said than done I tell you! If you've done this yourself then you know how difficult it can be to switch ALL of your mainstream products to all natural ones, but it's just SO important. All that garbage can disrupt the endocrine system in a big way. There have been oodles of studies proving it.

Now that pregnancy is also a factor, I've begun looking even more closely at ingredient labels on beauty products. Turns out that just because a product is organic and doesn't contain chemicals it could contain things that are still contraindicated during pregnancy, like arnica. Arnica has been used for centuries for it's healing properties and there are a ton of amazing things it does. However, it can also cause uterine contractions. No bueno for anyone who's pregnant or those who are TTC and hoping they'll have an embryo implanting during the luteal phase of their cycle.  The last thing any of us need is our uterus contracting when we're trying to get a little bean to implant and stick around for 9 months.

Yesterday, I realized after getting all the way home from shopping, that the organic facial toner I'd just purchased contained arnica, and I was right back returning it today. I honestly wouldn't even know that arnica is contraindicated, but I probably spend more time than the average person researching this stuff. I'm sure plenty of mom's out there would roll their eyes at my attention to so much detail. I can hear all of the baby boomer moms now, "We smoked cigarettes and drank coffee and did LSD and all of our kids came out just fine!" lol

Yeah, well I'm one of those scaredy cat first time mom's and I'm proud of it. Really, it's just not worth it to me to be putting chemicals or some contraindicated plant ingredient in my body when there is any risk. Clearly I need to also start carrying my reading glasses with me to the beauty isle though, because my old ass can't read the small print on a 0.5 oz. bottle! I also don't have much time to keep returning products, seeing as how I am breaking out worse than a 15 year old right now. I needed help stat! Salicylic acid & benzoyl peroxide aren't allowed either, so I was at a loss. Someone save me from this never ending face saving expedition please!

Frustrated, I went online to vent to the ladies in one of my online forums, "There has got to be a better way!" Now, this is why I LOVE online forums...because low and behold another woman told me about a fantastic line of products formulated especially for pregnant women. Apparently the CEO used to be an exec at Clinique and was married to an OB/GYN. She realized that there were no complete product lines that were specially formulated for pregnant women, so she created her own. Genius!

Every ingredient has been tested and is pregnancy approved, so no need to research every individual ingredient on your own. And of course, it's free of any endocrine disruptors or teratogens (birth defect agents), which is why I think these products are awesome for women who are pregnant or TTC. It's called Belli, and I already love it after using it for only one day....

Someone was smart! Yay for the woman who created this product line!

What is good for pregnancy is also good for conceiving....I believe that. Had I known how easy this all could have been before yesterday I would've been using these products for the last year and half. Better late than never I suppose. I used the face wash and spot treatment last night and my face had already improved by morning. I just hear so many women complain about breaking out from being hormonal, so I figured some of you might really like this. Kind of nice that it takes all the guesswork out of the equation and you never have to wonder if what you're using is safe. You can buy it online or find it at a store near you with their store locator.

Some of you might have seen this before, but I also learned about this really cool search tool provided by EWG's Skin Deep where you can see the toxicity score and detailed information on many cosmetic and household goods. You just type any product into the search box like "Revlon bronzer" and see how various products score. That is a horribly toxic product by the way. Try it, and you might be really shocked at what is really in the stuff you are using. Even some things I thought were good like my favorite Mrs. Meyers liquid hand soap, really aren't so great. I'm trying to stick with products that score a 1 or 2 as a general rule. Of course not everything in my whole house will meet this standard, but I'm making an effort. This website is pretty eye opening to say the least! 

Anyway, just a really great tool that's easy to use if you're into this sort of thing. Would love to know if you have found any favorite products or helpful resources for keeping your body and home free from toxins. Feel free to share them here...especially if you have found an all natural anti-perspirant that actually keeps you dry and doesn't make your armpit stick to the side of your arm like a wet slug. It's so gross! Someone REALLY needs to get on that one sometime this century. Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Me & Beta #3

This morning I woke up excited and also kind of nervous about what today would bring. For one, it is my 7 year wedding anniversary today. My husband had posted a sweet pic with a shout out to me on facebook, which made me smile as soon as I saw it....

11/26/05- St. James Islington (London), United Kingdom

That is one of my favorite pics from our wedding, because you can just see how much we love each other and how much fun we always have together. Then I realized that facebook wasn't even around back in 2005 and that we never shared our wedding photos with many of our friends. It inspired me to dig out the CD of photos from the big day and upload some in honor of our anniversary. Here is another favorite, because I just fell in love with this church. It was SO beautiful!...

Inside St. James' Islington- built 1875

Reminiscing about the day we exchanged our vows brought tears to my eyes. I have never forgotten how lucky I am, but seeing those pictures just made me think of all we've been through, and more importantly that my husband has been my absolute rock through it all. From looking at the pics, no one would even know that my mom had just passed away 3 months prior and that my step-dad had passed away 9 months prior both from ugly battles with cancer. Why? Because HE was by my side, and my face absolutely lights up when he's near me. I always know things will be OK as long as we are together.

It was really good for me to look at those pictures, because it made me realize that no matter how my Beta results came back today, I would be ok. I knew no matter what, we always survive the tough times, because we have each other. Honestly, thinking of that is what got me through the day without totally chewing off my own fingers from nervousness.

And then the call from the RE came. Well, the results didn't bring the much larger number I had conjured up in my head, but the nurse said the doctor is very content with my progression. She said, "Dr. Vaughn thinks this looks very promising, especially when you look at the whole picture of the progesterone continuing to rise along with the hCG." So here are the numbers as they stand at this point...

11/19- hCG= 22
           progesterone= 19.1

11/21- hCG= 85
           progesterone= 28

11/26- hCG= 396

           progesterone= 36

I have a really bad habit of being a perfectionist and being hard on myself.  I, of course, whipped out my calculator and did the math and the hCG is not quite reaching a doubling rate every 48 hours, but then again....technically it's supposed to double every 48-72 hrs. Since the latest hCG level didn't exactly measure up to the dream number I had in my mind (1,000+ would have been really nice!),  I totally grilled the nurse on the rate at which things were progressing. I just really want them to know they can be straight with me. I do not want anything being sugar coated! She basically told me I needed to STOP looking at various hCG charts online and that they are happy with how things are progressing. haha! Ok, ok, I'll stop.

It's just really weird when there is such a wide range of what is "normal" and you hear other women who are less than 5 weeks along with hCG in the thousands and mine is short of 400 you know? Nevertheless, I'm letting go of the worry and handing it over to God....yet again. I keep telling myself that it's not about the actual number so much as what is happening to the number, and it's RISING! The nurse also said that they want me to re-test everything one week from today and she scheduled a sonogram for 12/13 (about 7 weeks along). She made sure to tell me if they were concerned, they wouldn't be waiting a full week to re-test either. Alright, so that does make sense. They seem to have faith in me, so I am choosing to have faith too.

I know I have done everything I can to make sure this pregnancy sticks and will continue on just as I already have been. Besides that, I have some pretty important people in my husband and my God. Take that self doubt! I know I am in the very best hands possible, and I will try my best to remember that every single day I wake up and every single night when my head hits the pillow. Anytime I start to worry, I will find something to be grateful for instead....that's my plan and I'm sticking to it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Beta #2 Has Arrived

First off, thank you to all of my awesome cyber buddies for being so supportive during an exciting yet understandably anxious time since my last post. Your comments were exactly what I needed, and they really got me through the past couple days. I am just amazed at all the generosity and caring going on. Believe me,  I know when you are TTC yourself it just plain SUCKS to hear about others seeing those two pink lines. Sure you are happy for the person, but you also just want to see those friggin lines your damn self! I can't tell you how many times I wanted to know when would it be my turn?? I have felt the same way more months than I care to think about, and I think it takes a lot of selflessness and a big heart for anyone still TTC to reach out and show support in routing on others who have received the good news....even if it IS somewhat easier knowing the person receiving news actually "tried" to get pregnant.

The past 48 hours I've been a little on edge after my low initial Beta hCG reading of 22...who wouldn't be with that number?  However, I just received word of some positive developments regarding those numbers. We are obviously not out of the woods yet, and truthfully probably won't be until I see a human baby appear from my loins (I hope I used that word right....I really don't even know what a loin is really, but it sounded right).

Here are the updated blood results...
11/19/12: Beta #1- hCG = 22
                progesterone = 19

11/21/12: Beta #2 hCG = 85
                progesterone = 28

We are feeling cautiously optimistic about the hCG almost quadrupling in 48 hrs. time. I've been instructed to continue taking Prometrium (progesterone) 200 mg nightly and will take another bloodtest on Monday 11/26...which also happens to be our 7th wedding anniversary.  Yep, lots of anniversaries this month. 7 is my lucky number, and at this point I am confident God probably doesn't want to ruin my wedding anniversaries for the rest of my life either. Praying hard still for more good news to come on 11/26!

As a side note, I also do wonder if I could be a day or two earlier along than we think. I could have easily ovulated one day later than we think (meaning the day AFTER my IUI). Unfortunately, my chart is pretty inaccurate as far as temps....definitely not your picture perfect pregnancy chart. lol

Guess I won't be joining the "Pretty BFP Chart Club" anytime soon.

My temps were running unusually high pre-ovulation, and so I didn't get a very huge spike to confirm ovulation. Just a bad month for temping for me. Even though my chart temps pinpoint ovulation on CD17, I had a tiny bit of EWCM on CD18. I never see EWCM after ovulation, so makes me wonder if I ovulated one day later than my chart says. Again, I don't trust those temps. My sleep has been very sporadic. I could be only 4 weeks today instead of 4 weeks 1's possible I suppose. BTW, for anyone who's into seeing what babydancing schedules worked for other people, I wanted to add that in addition to the IUI at 10 AM, we also BD'ed that same night. There is just no way to designate doing both IUI and BD on the same day with Fertility Friend. In total 4 times during the likely fertile window: 4 days before ovulation, 2 days before ovulation, IUI day of ovulation, BD again the evening of ovulation.

No matter, just happy the way things are going at the moment and trying my best to continue thinking positive thoughts. Please continue to pray for us if you have a moment in your day. I really do believe that when more than one person prays it can be a very powerful thing! It's working so far!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Little Egg That Could

The whole weekend I was pretty much resolved that I wasn't pregnant following our second Femara/IUI cycle, but I was going to have a good time anyways. We saw the movie Lincoln on Saturday and went ziplining on Lake Travis on Sunday. Weather was picture perfect, and we had an absolute blast!  You can't really go the lake (yes that is actually a lake, albeit one that is 51 feet below average fill) without having some sort of bar grub and a beer aftewards. We stopped off to do just that on the way home. Cheeseburger, fries, and about half of a nice cold beer. I think it's been at least a year since I've had that combo, and after all I wasn't pregnant, so may as well seal the deal on this lake day experience!

Ziplining on Lake Travis, Austin, TX

My RE's nurse said it would be ok to take my bloodtest a day early. It's really quite tortuous waiting to take these damn tests,  especially when you think you already know the outcome, so I decided I would get it done a day early. Now, I'm not a pee-on-a-stick-aholic or anything, but I still had a few HPT's laying around, and my pee cups were already stacked on the toilet just waiting to be used, so I went ahead and did a test. I'd done a test the day prior and it was completely stark white negative.  I usually don't test multiple times and just wait for the blood results, but something inside of me made me want to test.

Low and behold, it looked like there was a second pink line starting to form, albeit a faint one. I brought hubby in to show him, and he didn't say much. I have never EVER seen a pink line accidentally or gotten a false positive, but I really was not believing there was one there. So of course, I stuck in another Wondfo test strip in the same urine sample; Same result....faint pink line.  I continued to tell myself that maybe there could be a mistake. I was using cheapie test strips, and I did have one First Response Early Result HPT (basically the gold standard in early pregnancy tests) in a drawer somewhere. I dipped it too, and sure enough it was also showing a very faint line. I showed hubby my completed science experiment but he seemed a little unimpressed with my miniature HPT assembly line. He said he just wanted to see the blood test, because he doesn't want to be on some  emotional roller coaster. Just 24 hours prior I was adamant that I was NOT pregnant and now I was thinking maybe I was!  I know it's been a roller coaster, and I don't blame the guy one bit.

Off to the lab I went. I then proceeded to wait ALL day LONG for the result call to come finally at about 5 pm.  "Congratulations! You are indeed pregnant!" I started crying and shaking with happiness for about 3 seconds and then immediately grabbed a pen and asked "Can I please have my hCG and progesterone levels?" I learned from my last pregnancy and early miscarriage that if you don't ask, they won't tell you the actual levels and will chalk it up to everything's normal (even if they think things looks risky). Then you'll spend the next week being overjoyed when really it was a pregnancy doomed for failure from the get go. I know that is depressing, but it's the truth. They don't tell you unless you ask. They just say "It's normal, but we want you to re-test in 48 hours." As the nurse read my results my joy and excitement came to a stand still rather abruptly...

hCG= 22
progesterone= 19.1

I know enough about hCG to know that this number is on the low side of what is "normal" for an early beta test. Here are some guidelines from the American Pregnancy Association that made me feel a little better...

Now, I realize my initial test was taken at only 3 weeks and 6 days pregnant and possibly even 3 weeks 5 days, but it sure would have been nice to get a stronger result. From what my nurse told me,  they really like to see an hCG of 25+ in very early pregnancy and once it turns to 4 weeks even (as it does today) they prefer that number to be 50-100. More important than the initial number is what happens to that number. The key is that it doubles each 48-72 hrs. Let's just hope my hCG is going to double, because if it doesn't I could be looking at another early miscarriage. I hate to be thinking like Debbie Downer here, but I'm also not buying onsies yet when I know my initial test is that low. 

Hubby was not amused with my excitement turning so quickly to worry when I gave him the good news.  "Can we celebrate anything without worrying?" he says. Believe me, I'm tired of worrying too, but there IS reason to be guarded in this case. I would be doing us both an injustice if I got all celebratory, acting like everything was just gravy, only to be sad in a couple days if bad news comes our way. That would just put us on an even bigger roller coaster. I need to look at this realistically right now! I really wish I could be one of those women who find cute ways to surprise their hubby with the news. Maybe some custom printed m&m's with the word "daddy" would have been better? Oh well. He was already in the room when I got the call anyway, and there's really no time for that right now. The next 48 hours will be crucial. I took another Wondfo test today hoping to see the test line getting darker, but it looks exactly the same.

Wondfo's @ 12,13 & 14 days past ovulation & FRER @ 13dpo

I am of course, going crazy with anxiety and worry, but as of today, I am 4 weeks PUPO...Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise. I just pray with all of my heart that I have a little egg that is going to prove all of my doubting to be completely unfounded.  C'mon little egg! Repeat after me....I THINK I CAN. I THINK I CAN. I KNOW I CAN! I KNOW I CAN!

My progesterone looks fine, and the RE wants me to continue the 200mg of progesterone each night as I have been doing since 3dpo. Then I re-test on Wednesday 11/21 (the same day I miscarried last year). How ironic huh? God wouldn't be so cruel to give me bad news on the same day two years in a row would He?  Please Lord, show me how compassionate and merciful you are. Let this be a healthy pregnancy. I don't know what lessons I could possibly have left to learn through this difficult journey. We are ready to be parents. I beg of you. I am on my hands and knees...PLEASE let everything be ok!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jinglebells or Jinglehell?

The jinglebells have been brought! A couple weeks ago hubby made a comment of "Almost time to put up the Christmas tree..." I could tell he was excited about it, and why shouldn't he be? We LOVE Christmas time in our house. My 91 year old grandma would be ashamed if she knew how early we start playing Christmas tunes and put up our decorations. Gasp! What is it with older people and their strong opinions about exactly when stores should start carrying Christmas items and when you are allowed to start getting in the spirit? Maybe it's just my Grandma, but she'd make hanging up lights before Thanksgiving illegal if she could. Cracks me up! Listen granny, if I am doing the work of putting up the decor, I am going to enjoy it as long as possible!

I must confess though, that this year I was NOT looking forward to dragging the trees down from the attic. As soon as the suggestion was made, my mind jumped right to last year when we put up the tree. I will never forget it; I was SO incredibly happy. I'd just found out that I was pregnant, and all I could think of was that we'd soon have a little one celebrating the holidays with us. It brought back memories of my own childhood, and I don't think I had ever felt more excited in my entire life. I was already dreaming up the types of traditions we could have as a family...opening one gift on Christmas Eve, serving HoneyBaked Ham for dinner, and attending church as a family.  I had all the classic signs:  metal taste in my mouth, extremely tired, and already having nausea. While that might sound like a drag, to me it was not. I found out that I was pregnant really early at 4 weeks (exactly 2 weeks after conception), and all the symptoms somehow made it more real and lended to my excitement even more. It was just so wonderful "feeling pregnant".

Only a couple short weeks later, I received news from my RE that she expected me to miscarry, based on blood work showing low progesterone and later decreasing hCG levels. Even with progesterone supplementation the pregnancy went downhill fast. It completely blindsided me. I guess I was just naive. I honestly thought the hard part for me would be getting pregnant and that as long as I did, there was no reason to worry about miscarriage. At the time I didn't realize how common miscarriage is, perhaps because a lot of people don't talk about it.   Come to find out later that about 50% of pregnancies in my age group end in miscarriage. Um, hello? No one sent me the memo that is for sure! Needless to say I spent the next month in the worst emotional pain I'd felt since my mom passing.

There were some days I didn't even want to get out of bed, but other days I was just forced to power through. I was actually right in the middle of my miscarriage when I was stuck on the set of a commercial acting for 14 hours straight. That same day we were also entertaining out of town company, and I was slated to make Thanksgiving dinner for 7 the following day. Yeah, fun stuff. Want to be really uncomfortable? Have out of town company while you miscarry and have them not make any comment or give you any condolences it's a big pretend game that it's not even happening, even though you all know it is.  I did have one person, hubby's uncle, approach me on Thanksgiving Day and tell me how sorry he was to hear what I was going through. It was only about a 10 second conversation, but I will never forget how much I appreciated just that simple little statement and hug he gave me. Just FYI, if you ever have a friend or family member who goes through this sort of thing, please don't clam up for fear of saying the wrong thing. They will only feel like you don't really care or would rather not make yourself uncomfortable by bringing it up. Here is what you say to them...

"I am so sorry you are going through this. I know there's nothing I can say to make the hurt you must be feeling go away, but I just want you to know I am here for you. Anything you need or anything I can do, please just say the word. I love you."

Simple right? Actually, you'll notice that quote works well for ALL types of tough situations. And if you can't remember all of that, then try writing it in a card and hand it to the person. Take a chance and let someone know you care, even if it makes you uncomfortable. I guarantee your hesitations are a drop in the bucket compared with the feelings the person miscarrying has, and they will appreciate the effort. And while I'm giving advice here, whatever you do, do NOT make up a bunch of craptastic excuses about how it "wasn't meant to be" or that is "happened for a reason." That will only get you a black eye.

I am pretty damn proud of myself for not breaking down in front of anyone once.  Anyway, the point is just that I have some really crappy memories from that time period, and now it's become hard for me to think about the holidays without also thinking of how great it felt to be pregnant....yet how quickly my wonderful new future was ripped away.  I know this sounds dramatic, but unless you've gone through it, please don't judge. On top of this, it would have been my mom's 60th birthday this month, and I don't think I have to tell you how much I could use my mom these days. I know, I know....whoas me.

As much as I would have liked to skip the holiday excitement altogether this year, I decided it would not be fun nor fair to sit around the next two months with no decorations and me moping about what could have been. I love my husband way too much to put him through Jinglehell, so suck it up and decorate I did...

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Of course my mind went where I didn't want it to a couple times, but I just turned up Michael Buble' Christmas even louder and that seemed to drown out any negative thoughts.  I love that album! Seriously, it's a guaranteed mood lifter. By the time I was done I was SO HAPPY and felt like I had a completely renewed holiday spirit. There is just something about sparkly lights and ornaments that is bound to make you smile....kinda similar to holding an ice cream cone. :)

Pregnancy test is scheduled for next week on 11/20 (the day before I started miscarrying last year) so I'm just really trying to stay positive in the meantime and hoping for some good news. No matter what happens, I'm not going to let it ruin the holidays. I'm just not.  I have to remind myself that every moment wasted being unhappy about the past or even my current situation could have been a moment spent making a happy new memory with the person I love most in life.  Life goes on and so will I....and I will be joyful doing it if I can help it!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Twin follies ready to dance! Let's do this!

Just as predicted by the RE, it looks like I'll ovulate tomorrow, CD17. I don't think it would take a rocket scientist to figure out knowing how my body responded last cycle, but it was a pretty good estimation on his part since we've been working together such a short time. He nailed it.

I was even getting impatient myself second guessing and thinking it was going to run later, but low and behold I got two +OPK's today, including a smiley on the CBE digital at noon. We went in for an ultrasound at 4 pm to see what we are dealing with exactly, and we were all very pleased with the results.

Right off the bat I noticed two follies on the left ovary that looked identical, almost like they were an exact mirror of each other. Sure enough they both measured exactly 21 mm. Nothing at all going on in the right ovary, but that doesn't surprise me... I seem to be a lefty most months. The cherry on top was seeing another 9 mm lining this cycle, which makes me over the moon happy!!! This is the second cycle in a row it's measured 9 mm. It must be the Femara tricking my body to produce extra estrogen...or the warm castor oil packs I do religiously....or the acupuncture I've done for the last several months...or the baby aspirin I'm taking daily. Who knows, but something is working! Maybe it's all been helping in it's own way a little bit.

Our IUI is scheduled for 10:15 am tomorrow, and we are praying that the second time is the charm. Of course, I can't help but immediately think of those two little follies as twin follies since they were so identical and nestled right next to each other. Oh, how I would LOVE to have twins and be done with it. Yep, a mini Matt & a mini Em is all we'd need to seal the deal on this family thing. I know what I will be dreaming about tonight. :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Screw chicken soup....I need a bubble bath and chemical peel for my soul!

Sometimes the very best therapy (other than telling the whole world what you REALLY think) is to do nice things for yourself. I think we can all agree I was in a major funk during my last post. Sorry, I can't be Pollyanna all the time as much as I would love to be. Nevertheless, I've spent enough time doing nice things for myself this past week to practically make it a part time job, and it's helped in a BIG way.

There's simply no excuse to have a bathtub as big and inviting as mine and to not use it. I think I'd taken a bubble bath maybe twice in the almost 4 years we've lived in our house?  Time to break out the 3 C's: Candles, Calgon, and Colbie Caillat.  I had forgotten how much I love a good bubble bath. I really should do this more often...

Calgon, take me away!

I'm not sure if I have mentioned this before, but most all of my aunts and uncles are complete looney tunes. True of my uncles is a professional Santa Clause. He has actually attended Santa Clause school, grows his white beard down to his chest year round, and carries business cards advertising his special ability to be merry. Now there is nothing wrong with being lighthearted and cheery especially around Christmas, but in his case, he takes it a little too far. In fact, he has been known to walk into public places like restaurants and give a boisterous "Ho, Ho, Ho!" out of the freaking blue while people are eating their dinner....right in the middle of summer.  I mean come on!  Who does that?! I only have one normal uncle, Uncle Bob, and for him I am grateful. My cousins and I are still trying to figure out how my very normal and endearing grandparents gave birth to so many wackadoos.

Hubby's extended family on the other hand, is so normal compared to mine! It's no wonder I jump at the chance to attend his aunt & uncle's annual Halloween bash. They live about 3 hours from us in Houston, but it is so worth the drive. Not only are they our only relatives within 1000 miles, but they are also super cool, and I would totally ask them to adopt me if I could. Hubby and I always dress up together, and this year we went as Mile High Flight Crew. We like to throw in a little risque flavor at Halloween. No, we aren't really members of the Mile High Club, but we can pretend!

Mile High Captain Mimi Later & Mile High Pilot Hugh Jorgan...get it? hehe

I know what you are thinking and yes, I am one lucky girl. ;) Here is one of us being silly...

Halloween Photobooth Fun

We were in bed by 1 am, but I still needed the rest of the day to recover after that one. Phew! Man, it is just really good to see family, especially when you don't have to worry about them doing crazy ass stuff to embarrass you. LOL  I can't wait for us to create our own little family and start lots of fun traditions and memories of our own.  I'm sure I have mentioned that before though, right?

We were home for the actual day of Halloween, but chose not to hand out candy. Honestly, I'm not trying to be anti-social. I'm sure that would have been a fabulous way to meet people in the neighborhood, but I just didn't feel like spending $50 on candy when I'm spending $5000 on fertility treatments, capish?! Remember, this week was all about doing stuff for MEEEEE.

I've opted to skip acupuncture this cycle and use that $ for a little preventative maintenance on the ole face as well. I haven't used any of my normal anti-aging regimens in a year and a half, because most things are contraindicated while TTC or pregnant. The effects of topical treatments like hydroquinone (bleaching cream) and Retin-A (anti-wrinkle cream) aren't really known but aren't recommended either. Growing up in FL has predisposed me to sun damage, which I will probably battle forever. With most sun damage and hyperpigmentation, even when you successfully get rid of it, it just pops back up eventually. Since I don't feel comfortable slathering chemicals on my face every night nowadays, I figured I'd do something that was a "one shot" type of thing and get a fairly mild/moderate PCA Peel prior to ovulation, when there is no possible way I am pregnant. Sure it feels like your face is burning off as they apply the solution during the treatment, but it's all worth it when a couple days later, you can literally see brown spots on your skin peel away, leaving fresh new soft & even skin revealed. It's pretty exciting stuff!

Today is CD14 and still no signs of ovulation in sight. Most "normal" people would be ovulating today, but not me. Even with Femara it comes late, but I am testing twice daily with OPK's. We have an ultrasound with Dr. Vaughn scheduled for Monday CD16, which is predicted to be the day before ovulation. At this time, we'll be able to see how my follicles and lining are progressing. If I ovulate 10 days after the last pill of Femara was taken (like last cycle) then this will be the best day to assess my response to the meds. We used the same 5 mg dosage as last cycle, so I'm hoping to respond just as well. If I do happen to get a +OPK before CD16, I'll just call to schedule an IUI in lieu of the ultrasound. I really don't think I'll get a +OPK this weekend though. I'm just not seeing any evidence of a test line showing up on the Wondfo OPK sticks right now....think I'm still a few days away from ovulating. We are babydancing leading up to ovulation of course, and I'm listening to my Circle + Bloom CD's religiously, trying to stay positive and visualizing all of the amazing things that are taking place in my body right now in preparation for a strong ovulation...just really hoping this IUI cycle will be our magic cycle.

November of last year was when I found out I was pregnant, and then miscarried later that same month. This month has the potential to end really well or really poorly. It's our 7 year wedding anniversary and Thanksgiving, but also the anniversary of some not so fun miscarriage memories.  We would really LOVE to get some exciting news this month. After 17 months of trying "by the book", I think we've put in our fair share of effort and deserve to become parents. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers if you are the praying type!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Psychics, Preachers, Preggos and Cakeballs

This week has been a doozy. I've been fighting like hell to keep my head above water amidst a flash flood of "whoas me" and "it's not fair." Every cycle when Aunt Flo arrives, I make it a point to do something nice for myself or ourselves in an effort to lessen the blow. One time on CD1, I actually jumped out of an airplane over the island of Kauai, because it was something I knew I couldn't do if I was pregnant. Plus, I just wanted to be as close to God as possible, so he could see my BIG FAT middle finger! Ok not really, but that is how I truly felt that day. Of course I felt much better after I had the amazing experience of skydiving over Kauai.

This new cycle started off no differently. I was actually pretty proud of myself at how well I was handling our failed IUI immediately following the news. Maybe it's because we went out to eat at a favorite restaurant, drank 3 bottles of Moet with friends afterwards, and had full body massages pre-scheduled for the following day. By the way, I highly recommend scheduling this routine strategically, in that order, on any given pregnancy test date...just in case it's negative and you need a good escape. WARNING: When the numbing from the champagne wears off and the lady with the accent and magic hands is no longer at your beckon call 48 hours later, reality actually hits and you are forced to deal with the fact that you'll be back in the dr.'s office in another 24 hrs.

My husband also relayed some exciting news from some friends who are expecting. Now, I know most people reading this blog (not all, but most) are those who are actively TTC, and many of whom are having a fair amount of difficulty doing so. I know you don't require an explanation on how it feels to hear pregnancy announcements from every last friend and family member you have, one after the next, after the next. I don't have to tell you how it feels to log into facebook and see an endless stream of congratulations, pregnancy ultrasounds, updates of babies kicking, and to bite your tongue as people actually complain about their oh-so horribly draining children. Let me need a glass of wine to deal with the mean lady in the car line at your kid's school again. What's new? We get it!

Now let me be crystal clear... The friends I am talking about in this particular case are very VERY dear to us, and by no means do I compare them with some acquaintance from HS I haven't seen in more than a decade. These are people we genuinely love and respect and want to have in our lives forever if we can help it. AND they actually had the courtesy and forethought to call my husband first before they send out their public announcement, because they know what we've been through. I can't tell you how much that is appreciated by couples struggling to conceive. It still hurts to hear, but we really do appreciate that kind of extra effort. We are beyond excited for them, because they deserve to be happy and to have a family. We definitely don't expect everyone else in the world to put their plans on hold and tiptoe around our own baby making plans, in order to make sure it doesn't hurt our feelings. It's just that every time we get the news, it stings a little more each time, at least for me it does. It's gotten to the point now, where it's becoming really hard to recover from pregnancy announcements. This time around, my tears spanned two days. Even a public airport and flight out of town couldn't stop them from spurting forth. People in public must think I am bat shit crazy or am flying to a funeral. I should really try to get us a bereavement discount next time!

What an f'ing mess I am. My husband takes it much better than me, but I'm's just really really hard to hear this type of news right now. It's even harder to come to terms with when you want so desperately to call the happy couple up and start discussing all the cute nursery possibilities, but just can't bring yourself to have that conversation, because you know how bad it hurts your own heart and that you'll end up crying. However, even if I can't bring myself to do that just yet, they are so amazingly special to us I had to do something. I gave myself no other choice than to put on my big girl panties, buy them the best congratulations card I could find in Target and send it off Priority Mail. I absolutely HATE feeling like there is so much turmoil in my heart pulling my emotions in intensely different directions. I AM a good person. I want to celebrate in other people's happiness genuinely and fully. I feel guilty for worrying so much about my own situation, when I should be busy celebrating everyone else's success. It's just really fucking hard sometimes!

The first month we started actively TTC and it didn't work, the pregnancy announcements felt like a mosquito bite...annoying and bothersome, but the pain went away pretty quickly. After my miscarriage, those same bites felt like they came from something bigger, like a wasp. As the year mark passed, and still no sign of a baby, the hurt I felt each time I heard the "good news" from someone else, started feeling like someone had punched me in the face and left me with a broken nose. Now that we're entering 17 months, it's just compounding even more. The milestones around the corner are not ones I want to year since miscarrying, another Christmas with possibly no baby in sight, turning 35 this coming year and having risks of advanced maternal age with pregnancy, etc.  I don't pretend to understand what it must feel like for someone TTC 5 years or who's undergone multiple miscarriages. I also don't pretend to know what it feels like to go through chemotherapy or radiation. Because even though I know many people who have dealt with these things, and I have watched them do it first hand, it's just different when it's actually YOU going through it. So, please don't judge me for being honest about my feelings. My feelings are the product of many months of thinking, praying, wondering, researching, analyzing, sacrificing, and dealing with some stupid people to boot.

Just to give you an idea of the types of things that start to bug someone TTC'ing such as myself on a daily basis, and how it can compound over time, I'll give you a small yet ridiculous example: 

This past year, I had to endure probably the most annoying pregnant facebook poster of the century, and it about killed me. I was lucky enough to have an acquaintance become pregnant on the exact same day as I did in October 2011. Ha! Shortly after I announced that I was pregnant and later announced that I miscarried, she then announced her pregnancy on facebook, and had the exact same due date I was supposed to have: 7/7/12. Fantastic, this should be a blast to hear about the next 7 months! It would not have been so bad, except that this girl posted EVERY freaking hiccup and hemorrhoid imaginable. When it got to the end and she was complaining about being overdue, I finally could not take it anymore and figured out how to block seeing her posts. Barely a day went by, and I get a private message from her all of a sudden. Really?? Apparently, she had taken an interest in the fact I had posted something about using acupuncture, and felt because I had mentioned it on facebook, that I was now some world renowned expert on the subject of ALL things fertility and acupuncture related. She then proceeds to ask me if she should use acupuncture to help induce labor, because she "just can't take this anymore." Keep in mind, that this girl knew exactly how far along I was when she congratulated me to begin with and at minimum had to know we were VERY close with our expected due dates, but that I had miscarried. Reading her email felt like someone was pouring salt into an already painful wound. I was extremely offended at her lack of sensitivity to anyone other than herself. I cried my eyes out and replied with what I'd describe as a logical and honest response to such an assinine question in light of what I considered to be obvious circumstances. This was my response...

"Yes, both acupuncture and acupressure can be used to induce labor, although I can't comment much on that aspect seeing as how I've obviously never used it for that. I'm sure if you do a google search for an acupuncturist in your area, you'd find many who can answer your shortage of them in CA.

P.S. I know you don't mean any harm, and I hope I don't sound too harsh, but a question on how to induce labor for your unborn baby is probably not the very best thing to ask someone who became pregnant the same time as you, but who will unfortunately not be delivering a healthy happy baby in the coming days. I am truly happy for you, and I wish you nothing but the best. That one just stung a little. Ouch."

This is only 1 out of probably 50 instances of idiocracy I've endured in the past year and a half, but I'm sure you can understand how little stuff like this compounds over time and leaves a woman who is struggling with infertility feeling a little defeated. I don't think it's too much to ask for a teensy bit more sensitivity from people when it comes to this stuff. The aforementioned couple got it right...this girl clearly did not.

It's not that we're not happy for everyone else. Having a baby is an absolute miracle, and I understand that more now than ever. It's just that some of us go to bed every night, praying to God, wondering when or IF it will ever be our turn? I'm really working on letting go of the control regarding this baby making stuff, and to stop worrying about other people and know that it will happen for us, but it's one of the hardest lessons I have ever struggled with.

One of the best things I can do is to stay positive and do things that make me happy, so that's what I've been doing. We finished our morning daily devotionals from Joel Osteen this week. Hubby and I have been listening to his "I Declare" series each morning on the way home from the gym together. I can't hear Joel Osteen and not feel obligated to smile, because I know he is as he's preaching.  His messages remind me to put God in control, which is good, because I forget pretty much every single day.

Joel Osteen's "I Declare" 31 Daily Devotionals. I love Joel!

Hubby also surprised me a while ago with VIP tickets to go to a group reading with Theresa Caputo a.k.a. the Long Island Medium. If you aren't a believer in psychic mediums or understand what it's all about, I'm not about to explain it all here. You can watch her show on TLC every Sunday night yourself. I also don't have any interest in defending that fact that I'm a Christian, but also believe there are ways to communicate with spirits of people that have passed on. That's just what I believe, so take it or leave it. The group reading was absolutely amazing, and I am SO glad we went. It was a really good reminder to me of how precious life is. I was hoping that my parents would come through with a message for me, but even though they didn't, I felt happier just wearing my mom's jewelry to the event, which I never do for fear I will lose it! The reading actually prompted me to rekindle a relationship with my sister the next day. We hadn't spoken in 6 weeks, but it seemed like 6 years. Life is too short to be mad at your loved ones, and I was reminded of that in a big way at this event.

Theresa Caputo, Hubby and Me

When we got back, I immediately got to baking. I love baking and then giving it all away to other people. I was dying to try my hand at cake balls for Halloween. I'd never made them before, and it was pretty daunting at first. I almost gave up, but kept at it, and they came out pretty well once I got the hang of them. 

Red Velvet Eyeballs
Dark Chocolate Sprinkle Cakeballs

This morning, I hit the gym and just took it all out on the weights while blasting some new Nelly Furtado. I am under orders not to exercise too intensely, so nothing even close to my old workouts, but it just felt good to throw some 45 lb. plates on the end of a squat bar and drop it like it's hot. I've always said my attitude is directly tied to my booty...both of which needed some lifting. I then dropped some baked goods off at hubby's office and brought another huge batch to LIVESTRONG HQ, where I have volunteered every week for the last three years. Helping people affected by cancer always makes me feel better! Mission accomplished, for today at least. Now it's your turn. Press play and turn it up!!!


This is totally going to be my theme song this month. I will be the first to admit, this has been a rough week, and I know there are more rough days ahead.  It may not be pretty at times. I may do things I never thought I would and break down in ways that are embarrassing. I WILL try my best to keep the poor reactions to a minimum and keep pressing forward. I am going to handle what lies ahead with the most dignity and grace I can possibly muster.  I know that having each other and being healthy is a HUGE blessing in and of itself. There are many harder mountains to climb out there; This is just our thing we've been given to deal with. We still have a lot to be thankful for, and I haven't forgotten that.  I know in my heart that this journey will take a turn in the right direction soon and land us on the road to happily ever after.