Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Path to Parenthood Continues & A Little Word of Encouragement

And so the preparation for sticky hands and a new chapter of life continues. I mentioned before that we were cleaning out closets, selling stuff at garage sales, etc. Well, the trend has continued. For the past two weeks now we've been wheeling and dealing stuff on craigslist like there's no tomorrow. I get the biggest thrill out of selling stuff on there. Raise your hand if you LOVE craigslist!!! I'm guessing it's got to be some sort of disorder similar to that of people who like hoarding stuff. However, it's opposite for me. Freeing up open space is so therapeutic!

We even sold some art that we absolutely loved.  I'll pay a brief homage here for anyone who appreciates good photography to the phenomenal Peter Lik, who created the pieces we sold. We no longer have a giant 90 inch tall cavern in our foyer or a beautiful peaceful tree above our dining room table, but we enjoyed them while they were in our lives...

"SHINE" by Peter Lik
"INNER PEACE" by Peter Lik

Yes, we were admittedly smitten with these materialistic objects. However, it's funny how your priorities and tastes change as you transition through life. When we sprang for art, kids certainly weren't on the brain. We were simply looking for an investment into home decor. Fast forward a few years, and we find ourselves discussing the more pressing need to start truly planning for retirement, paying off hubby's MBA, maybe building a pool for our family, and saving for our kid's college education...even though the child is not even here yet.  Somehow, having nice art just got knocked waaaay down on the totem pole. Do I miss it? Nope. Not really. I still appreciate the talent, but there are bigger fish to fry here in this thing called life.

Speaking of planning, I'm trying to be good about going through the month-by-month checklist given to us by our OB. Apparently, now is the time to register for childbirth/parenting classes and to choose a pediatrician. Wow, talk about a reality check! This parenting thing is really happening!

I've made an executive decision on our behalf as a couple to go totally rogue and NOT take childbirth classes. For one, the classes are sooooo long and at really inconvenient times clear on the other side of the city. We aren't lazy people of course. We'd put forth the effort if we felt it would really alter Preston's life. However, after talking to many women who've already given birth, it's quite clear that much of the information they teach goes in one ear and out the other.

It's also clear that no matter how much you think you know how to do Lamaze breathing or have your birth plan all spelled out, there is no telling what will go down in that delivery room. Feel free to talk me into it if you've taken childbirth classes and felt they were some sort of lifesaver, but my gut tells me we'll be perfectly fine just winging it.

As I've said before, I'm more concerned about learning how to best care for Preston once he arrives. Hubby and I are instead enrolled in a much shorter Baby Care Basics class that teaches newborn childcare, and we'll be taking the short Breastfeeding class, as well as hiring a lactation consultant to help give pointers on that. We will also be doing a tour of the maternity ward at our hospital. Outside of that, no plans for any other classes. Being selective is all part of the master plan to conserve energy and brain power for the things that matter most. Let's hope I don't kick myself later for being clueless on certain topics!

Happy to report that I met with Preston's pediatrician yesterday, and I LOVE HER! She came recommended through our neighborhood message board, and I can see why. She answered all of my questions and concerns about vaccines, newborn protocols, and gave me a calendar of appointments to expect for the first few years of life. Nowadays babies are typically given a Hepatitis B vaccine before even leaving the hospital, unless you elect otherwise.

I wanted to make an informed choice on vaccines BEFORE being faced with decisions in a hospital bed. As you may know, there's a lot of vacccine controversy hooplah. After speaking with the pediatrician though, any concerns I might have had are now alleviated. We will be doing ALL of the recommended vaccines, including the series of 3 Hep B shots beginning immediately after birth. The ped was a great listener, overwhelmingly sensitive and caring, and she even hugged me before I left and seemed genuinely excited to meet Preston soon. Um, that was a first to get hugged by a doctor, but I'll take it!

Yesterday was also another apt. with our perinatologist at 21w5d.  The u/s tech did a very thorough u/s checking size & function of all organs again too...pretty much another full anatomy scan really. Hearing things are on schedule or ahead is such music to our ears. It seems Preston is averaging more with each passing month. He's now measuring a full week ahead (@ 22w5d) and weighs about 2-3 oz. more than average (1.3 lbs currently).

I have a theory that Jason's Deli must be a contributing factor to this fabulous growth pattern. I cannot get enough of their spinach salads & chicken pot pie soup these days. The habit has now grown into one of take-out, after discovering you can pack roughly 2 lbs. of salad into one container. Ha! I just had it for lunch, and I want it again for dinner. Luckily, I've gained a normal amount of weight myself (15 lbs.) despite the trucker sized appetite.

Can't get enough Jason's Deli salad bar. I must be stopped!

Back to the apt...According to the doc, my "cervix is a mile long" (@40mm) which is good, because there are no signs of incompetent cervix, a cause of pre-term labor. With every positive report comes another sigh of relief and another rush of emotion and tears....tears of happiness.

And if seeing two doctors yesterday wasn't enough, I also ran into my RE for the first time since we first learned we were pregnant.  I was dropping off some old half-used meds to my IVF nurse to use for demos, and there he was. I looked at Dr. Vaughn, opened my sweater, pointed down at my 22 week tummy, and just smiled really big and started crying all at the same time. I was about to fall apart into a million pieces but thanked him as graciously as I could and just excused myself saying, "I've gotta get out of here before I break down like a crazy person!" Of course, he was totally put together and said how very happy he was for us. He is such a calming force I swear. I REALLY need to write him a letter, because Lord knows I can't keep it together in person.

I knew the moment we met this man that he was placed in our lives for a reason. I felt in my heart of hearts that he was THE ONE here on earth to help us. (Remember, he was the 2nd RE we sought help from.)  Maybe it was the figurine on his desk that read, "Babies are a gift from God." Maybe it was how well we just clicked from the first meeting and how well we communicated every step of the way. He didn't talk to me like a lay person and we understood each other without question. Yet he also just made everything so simplified in a way that both hubby and I really needed. It takes a special kind of doctor to be the perfect combination of technical yet simple.

I doubted if I was in the right place at times whenever a cycle failed or when I found myself butting heads with him on certain aspects of any given protocol; The never ending quest of the infertile woman for ANSWERS! Anytime I searched for answers elsewhere I would use the information to advocate for what I thought was worth exploring, but was always led back to him to help us implement it. I really felt in my heart that he was given a gift to help others and wasn't just some egotistical asshole in this profession for the money or because of some God complex. It's like there was an angel on my shoulder telling me to stay put and keep trying with his help, even admidst the doubts that crept in. It was a textbook "gut feeling." I trusted him. I respected him. I knew he had our best interests at heart.

And when it didn't work, we'd just try again....and again...and again. I really and truly believe that for MANY women out there trying to conceive with an extreme amount of difficulty, you want to give up the most right before you're about to actually succeed. I have been there. I know what that feels like.

I want to tell you that if you're still struggling to create a family, your life will not be ruled by infertility forever.
The journey will come to an end, and there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. It might be a longer journey than you would have wished, and it may take turns you didn't plan for, but you will survive and come out of this a stronger human being. This time last year, we'd just experienced our first IVF failure, and it wouldn't be the last.

To think... we began fertility treatments in 2011. It took Clomid, Femara, Chinese medicine, IUI's,  4 IVF cycles (3 FET's), 2 surgeries, and 4 pregnancy losses before finally reaching this point.....not to mention a ton of 'Come to Jesus' moments on my hands and knees. Yet here we are, in the unfathomable remarkable place of being 22 weeks along, signing up for parenting classes, and making way for a whole new life with a beautiful healthy baby. It's a daily reminder to never ever give up on something you want more than anything else in the world. I can safely say I've learned that lesson in a way I never expected to learn it.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Just the Two of Us @ 20 Weeks

Lately, I've been stopping to smell the roses as "just the two of us." There have been so many days when I am so utterly tired of being just two. The worst reminder has always been dining out..."Table for two please. Sure, place us right in the middle of 10 tables of families while you're at it!"

You'd think by now I would have mastered the art of cooking for two, but for some reason I never did. I am so stinking sick of leftovers. I know, starving kids in China, but you know what I mean. Countless times I've thought about how I'd love to have a "real family" instead of a refrigerator full of glass containers.

Don't even get me started on the stick figure families which adorn pretty much every vehicle in the continental US. There is simply no avoiding this abhorrent stamp of self-proclaimed procreative ability. Ok, maybe I'm being a tad dramatic on that one, but I seriously detest those stickers for the reminder of just two they provide at each traffic light.

Up until recently, being just two was something I've taken for granted at times. Now, I fully realize that some people are hoping and praying just to meet Mr. Right in much the same way we have been longing for a child. Believe me, I've ALWAYS been extremely grateful to have such an amazing spouse to spend my life with. It's just that in those times of struggle to create a family, it was easy to lose sight. This dark ominous cloud of what we still wanted but didn't have, seemed to creep in randomly to overshadow all the other sunshine.

However, Friday was a pretty meaningful day for us as we reached 20 weeks. This means we're half-way through this pregnancy, which brings a huge sense of relief, perhaps even more so than passing the 12 week mark or receiving a perfect anatomy scan result. I finally let the cat out of the bag on facebook, with what I hope was a tactful and humble post with a 20 week bump shot. Up until now I hadn't really said anything publicly in that type of forum.

It was like I had a Halftime Hallelujah that day! I could not stop crying, not only because of the amazing comments and support, but also because there are just so many deep thoughts & emotions swirling in my brain:

-Happiness for making it this far.
-Confidence that everything is going to be OK from here on out.

-Realization that although the journey suuuuucked to get here, the timing is good now and we'll be better parents for having gone through it. 
-Gratefulness that our prayers were finally answered.
-Sheer terror at the thought of raising another human being! ha!

Times are a changin. Shit's about to get very real. We probably won't be wading our feet in the pool leisurely at the Delano in South Beach for quite a while...

Ah, those were the days!

If I'm being frank, just two is now being embraced again in a way that it hadn't been for a very long time. I'm relishing walking up to a hostess stand requesting a table for two or squeezing into a spot at the bar for a quick slice of impromptu cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory. In fact, this is how we spent our Sunday, visiting the place where we had our first date...

Match made in Heaven: White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut &
Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake cheesecake. Oh YES we did!

How about the quiet solitude of moseying around Home Depot's nursery and finding a new plant to pot on a sunny day without interruption? The lovely croton made it's way onto our front driveway last week...

I'm enjoying the little things in life with a renewed spirit of just two. Not to say we'll never travel or go out for cheesecake on a whim or work in the yard of course. I'm just very aware that once this baby arrives things will never quite be the same. The sound level and volume of drool are about to increase exponentially in a few short months. I want to relish every last bit of freedom and time we have together NOW.

However, I'm also eager to open the door to a whole new set of life experiences with this little whipper snapper that will surely change our lives for the better. We had an OB apt. on Friday and were treated to an unexpected 3D ultrasound while we waited for the doc...

Still measuring ahead and weighs about 14 oz.
Heartbeat @ 160 bpm

Preston is such a mover and shaker that it's really hard to get any pics completely in focus, but you can see his basic facial structure here and the cute little set of cheekbones he's sporting. He was literally doing jiu jitsu moves with hands square at eye level. So funny!

I love that he's already so interesting and providing entertainment for everyone!  I'm feeling the kicks and jabs more and more each day and am even picking up on his habits at certain times of day and during certain activities. Again, another thing I'm enjoying now as they are still light kicks and not the super sharp into the ribcage type of kicks quite yet.

We've been doing a lot of organizing around here too.
Like any good parent, I went through any old blackmail worthy photos and shredded them to pieces. Aint nobody got time for that! hehe We've cleaned out closets to make room for baby stuff and the nursery-to-be is completely empty now. We had a garage sale this past weekend and liquidated anything collecting dust and donated things to charity. It totally kicked our butts, but we won't have time to do this stuff once baby is here, so chipping away at it while we can.

And now, I feel the fun is "allowed to begin" perhaps in ways that I wasn't prepared emotionally to let it before. I ordered the crib, crib bedding, and a wall decal today...a ritual I didn't take lightly and was saving for the 20 week mark. In the next couple of weeks, we may actually have a semblance of a nursery. Still so much more left to do, but we're taking it one very slow day at a time....just the two of us.