Friday, January 16, 2015

My beautiful blob

10w2d
Today we had our first appointment with the MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine - AKA high risk doctor).

First up was weight and blood pressure (blood pressure was great. Weight... I won't even go there) and then the big moment, the ultrasound.

The sonographer told me I was far enough along to have an abdominal ultrasound. I was skeptical and was expecting to be told that she'd have to switch to transvaginal.

As I was getting on the table and she was typing in my info, we chatted a bit. I told her my OB had not been able to see much with even the transvaginal ultrasound a couple weeks ago but, that the RE was able to see the baby and heartbeat with it.

She put the thingy on my belly and we saw the baby right away. She said the doctor wasn't able to see the baby with the transvaginal ultrasound because my uterus is waaaay up high.

At only ten weeks she had to do the ultrasound around my belly button, I was surprised by that.

She spent about ten minutes on the ultrasound taking lots of measurements and measuring the heartbeat (measuring 10w4d, HB 181) and we got two good pictures to take home.

Then we were told to sit down and wait to be called for our consultation with the doctor.

We were sitting for about five minutes when the sonographer called us back over again. That worried me and I started to wonder what was wrong.

She explained she hadn't saved our results to the right file or something so needed to do the whole thing again.

For me... bonus!

In that few minutes the baby had already changed position so we got a new view and even 4 more pictures (awesome!).
Not to mention another listen to that beautiful heartbeat.

Finally came the consultation with the doctor. She was young (younger than me) and I didn't realize at first she was the doctor.

We talked for a good hour or even more. We discussed the Lovenox and she said because of the MTHFR mutation and the protein S and protein C deficiency, I'd stay on that until about 36 weeks.

We discuss Nathan and what they'll be doing (along with my OB) to do everything to avoid another stillborn.

Lots more was said about Nathan and what monitoring they'll be doing and what testing we are willing to do.

We'll return in just over two weeks to do the NT scan and the new(ish) MaterniT21 tests they can do these days (that wasn't available when I had Ryan and Nathan) along with other blood work. Then we'll meet with the genetic counselor.

I made it clear that I don't want to know the gender (MaterniT21 will give gender as early as 11 weeks) and she told me to let everyone know we talk to along the way. They'll note the file not to reveal gender.

All in all, it was a great appointment. It's always wonderful to see the baby and see/hear the heartbeat. It's a huge relief every single time.

Introducing Baby Blob

Sunday, January 11, 2015

From embryo to fetus

I'm 9w4d now and I feel mostly the same except for being tired nearly all the time.

I was off work for 11 days over Christmas/New Years and it was a wonderful break. I was able to sleep late and take naps when I needed to.

Getting back to work was a bit of a shock to the system to be honest. Around noon most days I'm ready for a nap.

I don't have much to update on my little energy thief. I don't return to the doctor until this coming Friday.

After a long talk with our new OB, we decided to use him for delivery and he'll see us along the way but, we'll also be seeing the high risk MFM doctor.

We're going to work hard to avoid having me deliver where Ryan and later, Nathan, were born. It's a fine hospital, best in the area in fact but, I had a son die there and I just don't know that I can ever feel comfortable there again.

However, they do have the best NICU in the area so, if there is trouble, I'll be told I have to go there. And, if there were to be trouble, I wouldn't have it any other way of course.

But, it's much too early to have those conversations. I'm not even close to being out of the first trimester.

The good thing about having two doctors at two different practices take care of me is that I'll have ultrasounds every 2-4 weeks depending on how the scheduling works out. Both doctors will do an ultrasound at every visit.

Otherwise, life is normal. I had pretty bad hyperemesis with Ryan and Nathan but, the nausea has been completely bearable in this pregnancy (makes me wonder if it's a girl).

However, 9 weeks is much too early to think about such things. I am really just taking it day by day. I can easily get busy at work and go an hour or more with the fact I'm pregnant not crossing my mind at all.

I guess it's not truly hit me full force yet. Maybe after the next appointment when we've seen the baby again it will really stick with me.

As I stated before, it's hard to not expect things to still go wrong.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Beyond devastated...

Two and a half years ago, as all regular readers know, I gave birth to a stillborn son at 32 weeks.

The thing about making it that far into a pregnancy (as I've written here before) is that you truly believe that nothing will go so wrong that it won't end with your baby in your arms. Maybe premature, maybe needing the NICU but, alive.

But, when they tell you, weeks before you're due to deliver, that your baby has died, your brain doesn't compute this truth. You literally can't make the words fit right in your head.

It's not that I didn't know stillbirths happened. I just didn't think they happened to people like me.
What I mean by that is people who have had great pre-natal care, access to top doctors and top hospitals.

My only comfort after was that when I bit that statistical bullet, it was unlikely that anyone I know would suffer the same fate.

Stillborn babies after viability is reached is quite rare so, I felt like I was offering a blanket of protection to those around me. Sad consolation prize but, there it is.

Then, I learned today, that a woman I work with lost her first baby this weekend at 36 weeks.

I cried for her but, I also cried for me. Why wasn't the death of one baby (my baby) enough to protect those around me?

How many moms in one small office building need to lose a baby late term? Who do I even ask this question to?

I can tell her that I understand what she's going through but, so what? It doesn't bring back her baby.
And the thing is, I don't know how she feels because, I had Ryan. I had a reason to get out of bed even when I thought the grief would swallow me whole.

Why are otherwise perfectly healthy babies still dying in the womb so late in pregnancy?
Where is the outrage? Where is the ribbon for the back of your car? Where is the demand for studies to be done and millions of dollars to be spent? Where are the celebrities asking you to donate your money to make a difference? Where is the ice bucket challenge for all these children?

Sorry for the morose post but, I'm in utter anguish over this.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

The best of 2014

I'm going to take a minute to acknowledge the great things of 2014.
So here they are in no particular order:

  1. My husband. He has somehow managed to stay positive when my head went to very negative and dark places.
  2. My son. His love and energy made sure I couldn't feel sorry for myself for too long.
  3. My Aunt. Even if she's worried, she sticks by me along the way.
  4. New friends like Christy. She has helped so much to keep me sane over the last few weeks. I can't even tell you guys what her online company has meant to me. I wish she were my sister or, at the very least, my next door neighbor. She's not the only blogger I've felt a wonderful connection with. TTC in my 40's has become a good friend. They both could use your positive support so if you haven't already checked out their terrific blogs, head on over. 
  5. My BFF Felicia.  All the great words I know aren't sufficient to describe her.
  6.  All the bloggers on the right hand side of my blog who are writing interesting and supportive blogs and fighting the good fight.
  7. A very special shout out to Stephanie Jackson for her amazing YouTube blog. She makes TTC so funny that it really did make me laugh even on my very worst days.
  8. Whatever stars aligned just right in order for us to conceive the seedling growing in me right now.
  9. Every single person who commented on my blog this year. I've been given wonderful support and great advice. I feel honored with every comment left.
Here's to a wonderful 2015 and my sincerest hope that those ladies still in the trenches will get their BFP this year and go on to have the beautiful babies you all deserve so much. 


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The post I never thought I'd be writing (most recent update at bottom)

November 28th, 2014 - 11 DPO
I am pregnant.
It's the day after Thanksgiving. Once again, for no reason that I can pinpoint, I took a test. A gut feeling. 

It was a FRER and that pink test line was there. So light but, there. My first thought? Another chemical. That line is too light. 

My cousin had spent the night on Thanksgiving so I woke her up and called her in. "You see it, right?". Yes, she saw it.

Well, there is a way to tell if it's a super low beta again, I can take a digital. The two times I've had chemical pregnancies this year, I could never get a digital HPT to show positive.

Just as I thought, "not pregnant". From everything I read, most digitals require at least 50mIU/ml. 

I tell my cousin to not say anything, I know how this ends. I debate with myself whether or not to even tell James. He's at work and I'm at home but, in the end, I text him a picture of the positive test. 

So light that only b&w captures the test line.


November 29th, 2014 - 12 DPO
I take another FRER. I can't really tell if the line is any darker. I don't think it is. Or maybe a little. 
What the hell, let's take another digital.
Huh. Well, that's new.

11DPO v 12DPO

Oh. My. Gawd.



November 30th, 2014 - 13 DPO
I wake up early in the morning with a thought in my head. Haven't I read before that the CBE weeks estimator is actually quite sensitive (seeing as it calculated as early as 1-2 weeks)?

Maybe I should take a regular digital that is supposed to be not at all sensitive. 

Still positive! I'm allowing myself some hope here folks!

Okay, what if I take a different brand? Will a FRER digital still be positive? The answer is YES+ !

Could it be? Could it be?
YES+! YES+! YES+!


December 1st, 2014 - 14 DPO
I wake up confident and don't take a test.  I'm so happy and plan to call my doctor about starting Lovenox and getting a beta done. 

I take a digital and regular cheap test with me to work, just in case I need it to get through the day.

I don't even last the morning before I give in and take the cheap one. I don't like the look of the second line so I panic and worry. My anxiety is super high. 

New plan. 
I'm going to drink a load of water and then take that digital test. My urine will be super diluted and if it's positive after that maybe I can relax a little. 

I sat in the bathroom at work with my eyes closed and fingers crossed. Three minutes later, it's positive. 

In the evening we went to Target and filled the Lovenox prescription. I was petrified of giving myself this shot because I've heard so many horror stories.

My verdict? It wasn't a big deal at all. It did bleed but, wasn't painful at all. A small price to pay for a new life. 

I DO NOT like the look of that line. 
Okay, that's better.

December 2nd, 2014 - 15 DPO
AM POST
Well, I guess the cats out of the bag at work. I just wretched in front of five people and word will spread quickly. No one said anything to me but, if they did, I can hardly say "I think it's a stomach virus" or whatever because then I'll be told I should not be at work putting others at risk.

Today is beta day but, I won't have results until tomorrow. I'm still a bundle of nerves. Last night I took the CBE weeks estimator test again and it didn't move from 1-2 weeks to 2-3 weeks. I suppose I'm right on the cusp so I shouldn't be too worried. I'll take another one in a few days because I just have to see it move up.

I still fear a chemical pregnancy and Dr. Google isn't helping. I know that I should stay away from Dr. Google but, it's so hard.

I know there are many good signs (such as the nausea) but, it's a crap shoot. Pregnancy is so fragile. Early pregnancy in particular.

PM POST
The beta is done and I'll have the results tomorrow. But, in the mean time, I took another CBE weeks estimator. I figured today, or maybe tomorrow, it should flip from 1-2 to 2-3 and it did!

I did a little research on what the beta thresholds are to make it flip from each "category" and found this:

This test reads 1-2 weeks pregnant at a HCG of 10-157, this actually means 3-4 weeks.
A reading of 2-3 is a HCG of 156-2600, this is for women who are 4-5 weeks pregnant.
Finally, a reading of 3+ weeks is any results over 2600 and you would be 5+ weeks.

So, this is mean that when I get my results tomorrow, I can expect it to be at least 156. It will be interesting to see if that's accurate.

Nothing about this means I'm out of the woods. But, I feel like this just might end up okay. My gut is telling me to be excited. I hope my gut is right.

Day 2 of Lovenox was nothing. It didn't even bleed this time. I'm not sure why people make such a big deal out of them. Or maybe I'm an anomaly.

Hoorah!

December 3rd, 2014 - 16 DPO
Beta results were very good but a tad lower than I was expecting at 124 (progesterone 27). I was expecting it to be at least 156 based on the CBE weeks estimator test (see above graph).

Out of curiosity, I decided to take another test today to see if it still showed 2-3 and it did.

I know there is a margin of error and really, mine is quite close. So, I'm not worried. The beta tomorrow is the crucial one, it needs to have doubled.

So, another beta tomorrow (along with progesterone and TSH) then again next Monday and Thursday.

Fingers crossed that the numbers keep moving up!

Still on target

December 4th, 2014 - 17 DPO
AM
Today is round 2 and extremely crucial. I feel like I should be more nervous but, blood draw day doesn't make me all that anxious; it's results day that does that. And, results day won't be until tomorrow.

I admit I've been concerned that I've felt mostly okay so far. A bout of nausea here and there. This morning as soon as I woke up I felt a little bit of that. And, this morning at work, I got on the elevator and whoever was on it before me had marinated in perfume/cologne. I gagged a little but, I might have done that anyway!

(Seriously people, a little goes a long way.)

I want so much to tell you guys all about this but, I think it's best to wait until I get to the 6 weeks mark and see the heartbeat.

I don't know why I'm waiting because, no matter how this ends, I'll be sharing it with you guys.

I think I'm keeping it secret mainly because my blog is not anonymous. My friends & family read it and all my facebook friends have the link.

Two members of my family know (aunt & cousin) but, I'm not ready to have it out there for everyone quite yet.

PM
I did one more FRER just because I wanted to see the nice and dark test line. I am going to try very, very hard to stay away from testing until I get to the 5 weeks mark. At that point I'll take one more CBE weeks estimator to see it move from 2-3 to 3-4. Assuming todays beta results make that a possibility.

Nice and dark

December 5, 2014 18 DPO (Or is it?)
First off, the beta came in and it was great! More than doubled so we're off and running. So far, so good.

I remembered today that I did a manual override on Fertility Friend to make ovulation a day earlier than they had it listed as. I moved it to have ovulation the day of the peak reading on my fertility monitor but Fertility Friend had it the day after.

So, today could be 17 DPO which makes my beta numbers even better. But, since I've already labeled all the pregnancy tests, etc I'm going to stick with 18 DPO even though I could easily be 17 DPO.

I'll repeat the blood test on Monday and it should be about 1084. The doctor said once we get to 1000, we'll schedule an ultrasound to see if the fluttering heartbeat is there.

Fingers and toes both double crossed!
Above average!

December 7th, 2014 20 DPO
Yesterday I felt like things were right. I'm feeling fine. Tired but, fine. No nausea or anything like that. I started to have this deep gut feeling that my beta tomorrow would be bad news.'

Today the nausea returned at Target when I smelled coffee. Okay, this is a good sign and I feel better.

I hate having to wait 24 hours for my HCG results. I hate that Quest isn't like LabCorp where you got the results back the same day. I hate that our new insurance uses Quest instead of LabCorp.

But, this is the insurance that covers 4 IVF's. 4 IVF's I hoped I wouldn't need and now looks like I won't (knock on wood, fingers crossed, toss a pinch of salt over my shoulder).

I even allowed myself to look at strollers at Target today. I glanced at the baby clothes and smiled. I allowed myself to believe that this baby will be born in August and we'll be brining him or her home.

Incidentally, Ryan says it's a girl baby and her name is Sally.

December 9th, 2014 22 DPO
Next set of beta results are in and it went from 271 to 1938 for a doubling time of 33.8 hours.
I won't lie, this is amazing news. I was so nervous all day long.

Progesterone was up to 32.9 so that's still looking great, too.

And, I've graduated to 3+ weeks on the CBE Weeks Estimator HPT.

Ultrasound soon!


The trifecta!

December 14th, 2014 5W4D
No point is using DPO anymore, really.

My last beta was super duper (can't remember the exact number but, it's written down at work).
So, things are looking great.


December 17th, 2014 6W
The ultrasound went very well, the measurement was perfect.
Remember that it's still extremely early and anything can happen but, we're super optimistic.
As my doctor said, we're not out of the woods but, things are looking great.

I started chatting with a woman in the waiting room who has a son a year younger than Ryan and she's had two miscarriages since then, both at 8 weeks.
She was super nervous about her ultrasound today because she's nearly at 8 weeks and I felt her anxiety so much. I told her it would be okay but, those were just empty words.

I wish I would have stayed a little longer to see if her baby was okay. The chances of spontaneously running into her again are low. But, she's on my mind.

December 30th, 2014 7W6D
We have a heartbeat!

We have a wonderful, gorgeous and quite speedy heartbeat (178!). I cried tears of complete and utter joy!

No idea what I'm looking at other than it says the heartbeat is 178.57


________________________________________________________
How did I get here?

Well, the old fashioned way to be honest. However, I think a variety of factors helped. Most importantly (to my mind) was the diet, exercise, increasing my water intake and folic acid. 

That last one might sound strange but, this is how I came to the conclusion: when I was pregnant in October, before we knew it was a chemical, my OB told me to start taking 1600 mcg of folic acid in addition to my pre-natal vitamin. 

I kept with this regime even after I had the miscarriage. 

I started progesterone right after ovulation (will take it until about ten weeks my doctor said). I'm sure the progesterone played it's part, too.

I don't know if the Lovenox is sustaining this pregnancy but, my guess is that its definitely helping.

Monday, December 29, 2014

19 hours to go...

Tomorrow morning I have my next ultrasound. This one is super important because it will determine the viability of our seedling. 

Of course whatever we see, nothing is guaranteed but, if we have a strong heartbeat I feel like I can relax for a while. 

My husband is pretty confident and it helps a lot. In fact, so many people have told me they have a good feeling about this pregnancy. I'm hoping for the best tomorrow. 

I can't even discuss what my gut feeling is because my obstetric history is full of fail. Six pregnancies in five years (well, 4 really because we didn't manage to get pregnant at all in 2013) and one living child to show for it. 

So yes, I guess I just expect to hear the worst. 

I suppose that does sound very negative but, please understand, my history has conditioned me to be negative.

That's not something you can just shake off. 

Wish me luck!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Here goes...

Today I am nearly 7 weeks pregnant.

All I know so far is the pregnancy is definitely in my uterus.
I had an early ultrasound that showed one gestational sac that measured exactly right.

We return on 12/30 (and 12/31) which will be 8 weeks and hope to see everything is great with a nice and strong heartbeat.

As you can imagine, I'm rather nervous. This is the furthest I've made it in a pregnancy since 2012.

I've been so distracted that Christmas has taken a back seat. I still have presents to buy, cards to send and a house to clean. But, I can't do it. I want to, but, my brain isn't interested in anything else at the moment.

Please, please, please send some well wishes, good vibes, prayers (whatever works for you) my way.

For some reason I feel like talking blogging about it is bad luck so, this is likely the last I'll write on it until 30th/31st.

Thank you and Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A bit too soon

For those handful of people who read and commented on my post from yesterday, thank you!

However, I'm just not feeling like the time is right for that post so, I've unpublished it for now.

Nothing is wrong or anything like that. I just am not ready for it to be out there just this moment.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Another personal plea but, this time for my cousin

Dear Readers,

I don't intend to turn my blog into a GoFundMe plea for every cause but, I think we can all agree the one I shared earlier in the week was a worthy cause and I believe the one I'm sharing today is just as worthy.

Last year, in her freshman year of college (and, her 18th birthday to boot), my cousin was raped by a fellow student.

The school suspended him for a semester and he's now back at school.

The DA got back to Fiona last week and said they won't be pursuing charges against her rapist either. I believe they're saying this is a "he said, she said" circumstance and rape can't be proved.

I can tell you without a doubt that Fiona was raped. I know the pain and problems she's had since that day, I've seen it first hand.

So, I'm asking for help again.

And, if you do help, there could be something in it for you.
If you make a comment saying you made a donation (no matter the amount), I'll do a drawing on December 21st for a 2 pack of FRER HPT's.

If you have no need for the pregnancy tests, I'll substitute a pair of super duper lucky socks!
(Thanks Megan for the idea!)



Thank you and Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Don't panic, there's time

I don't really have a lot to say but, I did enjoy Stephanie's latest vlog (that's what a video blog is called, right?).

And, I believe she's right. Time is on your side.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A fucking tragedy

Yes, I said a naughty word.
But, it's called for.

Yesterday when I went out for lunch to run some errands, I heard a story on the radio about a plane crashing into a home in Maryland.

I remember thinking "sheesh, hopefully at that time of day, no one was home".

Someone was home. Someone I know.
She died along with her three year old son and her newborn son.

First let me say I'm not looking for condolences. I didn't know the Gemmel's terribly well. We share a close mutual friend and a love of DC United so were often at social gatherings together. Ken came to the bachelor party I threw for our close mutual friend and they were once sweet enough to let me hold their daughter Arabelle who was just a few months old at the time.

I'm posting this because I'm asking for help for Ken and Arabelle who weren't home at the time.

Money won't bring their family back, I know that. But, it can help pay for grief counseling that they both will need for years to come, no doubt. Not to mention their house was destroyed by the plane so I doubt anything was salvageable.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for Ken and Arabelle. I'm asking my readers to please contribute if you can. No amount is too small.

You'll notice a lot has been contributed already but, please don't let that stop you from adding whatever you can.

Even if they meet the goal of $100k, that's nothing compared to a lifetime of Arabelle not having her mom and brothers and Ken not having his wife and his sons.

Added bonus?
If you make a donation, please comment on this post and I'll do a drawing for a 50 pack of Wondfo ovulation tests.

Not to mention the good Karma.



Friday, December 5, 2014

I want my innocence back!

When I was pregnant with Ryan (a honeymoon baby for real) we were so naive. As far as I knew, being pregnant meant having a baby in nine months (and, that's how it worked out).

We shared the news with our family at something like 6 weeks along. We had the ultrasound picture and showed it off like nothing ever could or ever would go wrong. 

How I miss being that person. 

As mentioned a while back, my friend/co-worker told me she was pregnant. She wasn't very far along at the time, maybe seven weeks I think. 

Having never suffered a loss, she had no reason not to share her good news. She got two lines on that pregnancy test therefore, she was having a baby. For her it was never a question, just a statement of fact. 
(She's still happily pregnant by the way)

For others of us, being pregnant brings just as much anxiety as trying to get pregnant. If you get the two lines, like I did in October, it means waiting on blood results and hoping for good numbers. In my case, I got a very low number that didn't double and we all know where that went from there, even if you didn't read my blog back then. 

Even if you do get a good number, you're anxious about that second number, then the third. We know what those numbers mean, what number we have to see next to lessen the anxiety. 

Even if all that comes together, you hold your breath until ultrasound day when you see that heartbeat.

And, because I've lost a baby at 32 weeks, I don't know if I would ever get the chance to relax until the baby is home and in my arms.

The friend I just mentioned doesn't know if her doctor ever did a HCG beta test and what those numbers even mean, anyway. 

I miss being that person. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

#MicroblogMonday


We've started decorating the house and it's been a long time since I've looked forward to Christmas this much!

It's been great having Ryan involved and his excitement reminds me of how magical Christmas can be when your head is in the right place.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Time for me to be real

WARNING: Stillbirth post. If this is something you can't handle - read no further.


I hold back a lot on this blog for fear of offending a reader. I wish I were one of those people who could write what's in my head & heart and do so unreservedly, not caring about offending others. Not that I attend to say rude things about anyone, that's not what I mean.

In person, I rarely curse but, there are times on this blog I want to throw a word out there. I don't do it because I think of people who read my blog and I don't want superfluous words to turn people off.

Anyway, one of the things I wish I were more open and honest about is my son, Nathan. I don't write much about him because I don't want to scare future or expectant mothers. I don't want people to sit around worrying if it will happen to them (and also because writing about him ALWAYS makes me cry - even now as I write this).

I posted this article on facebook yesterday and it only got 3 likes. I know why and it doesn't upset me. People don't want to talk about stillbirth. Most would rather pretend babies don't die. Or, accept that sometimes early miscarriages happen but, once you get past the 12 weeks, all is fine and dandy so let's not talk about it, okay?

That wasn't my reality though. I gave birth to death. I will never get over it, get past it or let that go. So, don't expect me to. Over time, I've adjusted to the cruelness of it. I will not stop talking about it, though. I won't sweep him under the rug.

If someone thinks I mention his name too much, that's your problem, not mine.

After I made a post about discussions we've had with Ryan about Nathan, a friend asked me a really offensive questions. She didn't mean to be offensive, she had no idea it would be offensive.

She asked why we're talking to Ryan about Nathan (and by extension, death). I hated that question deep in my gut. Nathan is our son and his brother. We do the best we can to explain to him now and as he gets older, he'll understand more and more. But, you better believe that Nathan is our family. He's a son, brother, nephew, cousin and grandson.

I know the only person who could ask such a question is someone who hasn't experienced the deep grief of a stillborn (thank goodness!). So, it's okay. I'm not mad about it but, the question really stuck with me and was on my mind for a while.

My son was born looking like a sleeping baby. A little rough around the edges because of what he'd been through but, he was a baby. A 4lbs 1oz little boy who was wanted and is loved.

This is all a bit deep for the holidays. But, I needed to get it out.

With that being said, I hope every American has a lovely and safe Thanksgiving filled with family and fun. I'm very much looking forward to it myself.

Monday, November 24, 2014

So this is why people hate Mondays

On the way to work this morning our minivan started smoking from underneath the hood and it smelled awful.

When we pulled up at my building, I called AAA and had it towed to a repair shop that is highly recommended by the Lowes Island Neighborhood Watch group.

After stressing all day over how much the problem will cost us, the call finally came and, it was only $350  $650. That's not a scary number at all but, I'm still upset about it. Right before Christmas is not a good time to have to part with $350 $650.

Our minivan is only 4 years old, I didn't think we'd have to have any work done on it for  many years.

Still, it's lovely weather out and I intend to take advantage of it later this afternoon. Today will be a great day for a family walk.

I've been going without them for the last several days and honestly, I've enjoyed the time alone. I like having my music and being able to be alone with my thoughts, too.

On Saturday I even added some distance to my route which felt good. Small steps.

My new favorite app is Breeze by RunKeeper. I love, love, love this app. It counts your steps and gives you a new goal every day. For once, I actually am motivated to reach the goals. I don't know why I'm motivated so much by it, but I am. And, it's working.

I've lost a little more weight and I couldn't be prouder.

I don't think I became pregnant this month but, I feel like if I keep working hard, pregnancy is just around the corner.

Friday, November 21, 2014

3/4 DPO

Still have some dull aching cramps happening off and on.

What is bothering me about this is that they feel so much like menstrual cramps. A quick consult with Dr. Google tells me this is pretty normal but, it's not normal for me.

I'm not reading anything, good or bad, into it. I'm simply curious as to the what/why of it.

Last night when I was near sleep and I started feeling the dull aching I thought to myself  "oh, almost AF time" then I remember thinking "no wait, I only ovulated a few days ago". Then I fell asleep so I didn't get to complete the thought process.

Moving on...
I've noticed my readership is down. It's a funny trend because I realize readers aren't all that interested in the blog unless I'm undergoing treatments.

Reading about motherhood and TTC naturally isn't all that interesting I guess.

The truth is, I understand because there are several blogs I've stopped reading for various reasons. So, I'm okay with that and I expect that when/if I start the IVF process, the readers will return because they're curious about my journey and want to compare it to their own.

I know that most of my regular readers don't have children yet so, it might be hard to relate to someone who is now talking much more about being a mommy and the challenges that go along with that.

I suppose by being on ICLW, I'm "advertising" myself to a group of people whose journey almost exclusively revolves around TTC and most of those people are way past the "lets keep having sex and it will eventually happen" stage.

I am happy to accept that my blog these days is boring to that crowd. And truthfully, I'm still holding out a huge amount of hope that I won't have to do IVF. Especially after reading Patient Subfertility blog post from yesterday. Ouch!

I will have to be dragged to IVF like a kicking screaming child.
But, I will do it the early part of next year if it comes to that.

My first thought was to get started in January but, now I've decided to put it off until March and see what we can accomplish by then.

So, dear readers, expect my blog to continue to be rather boring until then.
And to those that stick by me until that happens, thank you so much. Your comments really do make my days better.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What does it mean, what does it mean?

Can you tell, based on the title of this post, that Ryan has us watching "The Nightmare Before Christmas" on and endless loop?

So, yesterday I was sure that I ovulated on Monday because EWCM was non-existent in the afternoon and, as mentioned, my OPK never did turn positive whereas my fertility monitor did show the peak reading.

However, yesterday I was surprised to see some traces of EWCM later in the day. And, all afternoon up until around bed time, I had serious cramps. They felt like menstrual cramps - very dull aching non-stop.

Hmmm.

I took an OPK again last night just to see if the cramping was an indication of anything. Nope, still negative.

I'm leaving the manual override on fertility friend to show ovulation happening on Monday but, I can't say I'm quite as positive about that as I was yesterday morning.

On a different note, I have a feeling something awful has happened to a facebook friend. Recently his wife tagged him in a post announcing their pregnancy. According to the ultrasound photo posted, they would about ten weeks along.

Yesterday he posted a rather cryptic message on facebook about something bad happening but didn't elaborate. They would be more than 12 weeks along now and I hope my suspicion is wrong.

I told myself maybe he lost his job (still an awful thing to happen when you have a baby on the way and right before Christmas) but then, he'd probably just say "What a horrible thing to happen with a kid on the way, I was laid off today" or something similar.

The fact that he didn't mention what this awful thing was has me wondering. I hope I'm wrong. I really, really, really hope it's something else crappy and not that anything has happened to their precious baby.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's GO time updated

The OPK this morning was still showing negative and I have a theory:
I use the fertility monitor in the morning and it can only be used once a day.

Sunday: High
Monday: Peak

I didn't take the OPK until Monday morning and it was open circle (negative). Monday night it was still negative and this morning still negative.

So, what I believe happened is my surge began Sunday afternoon/night and by Monday morning the super sensitive fertility monitor was still picking up on the trail end of that surge but, for the OPK, Monday morning was already too late.
(Which would match up pretty well with my physical cues of ovulation)

I have really liked the CBE Advanced Digital OPK's but they have the same drawback as the monitor in that you can only use it once a day.

With the OPK though, you can use it morning and evening once it picks up a "high" reading but, not with a "negative" or "peak" reading.

So, I believe it would behoove me to get some of the wondfo's just to be able to have the flexibility of being able to test whenever.

I use Fertility Friend to track my cycles and since I don't temp, I use the OPK/Fertility Monitor setting. When you use that feature, it automatically assume ovulation is the day after your first peak/positive test.

In my case, I'm sure ovulation was yesterday so I'm overriding it this month to reflect that.

I'm not worried though, in the BD department, we got the job done. The timing was perfect so now it's just a matter of riding out the TWW.

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's GO time!

Or, at least, I'm pretty sure it is.

This morning the fertility monitor displayed this:



















Which matched up with EWCM signs.


However, because I like to cross check, the Advanced OPK displayed this:



















So to summarize those picture; the fertility monitor is showing peak ovulation and the advanced OPK is showing negative.

Very weird. But, I'm going with the monitor because A) it's best to assume the most fertile sign to cover your bases and B) like I said, it matches my symptoms.

Because I'm a curious person, I'm planning to take another OPK this evening to see if there is any change.

Fingers crossed for a November BFP!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tough conversations with a 4 year old

Ryan is now at an age where he's observing the world a bit more intensely and he's understanding family relationships and dynamics.

This has brought about some tricky questions that James and I are finding a bit tough to answer. 

For instance, he now has a better understanding that he has a brother. However, the concept of death is too abstract so, he can't quite grasp why his brother isn't with us.

For James and I, that's tough to answer. We're not a religious family so it doesn't feel quite right saying he's with God or Angels or whatever believers say to their own children. However, isn't that a nicer concept for him to picture than to just say "he's not here anymore"?

Sometimes I regret having explained to him he has a brother at so tender an age. However, Nathan is a member of our family and I don't want to pretend otherwise.

But, he's been asking more and more about having a brother (or a sister, depends on the day - he tends to alternate between the two). 

I used to tell him that yes, he will have one but we're not sure when. I no longer feel comfortable answering that way. It feels more and more like a promise I'm not sure we can keep. 

So I decided to use two of his friends as examples of single child families. When he told me Tuesday he wanted a sister I told him that G doesn't have a brother or sister either (and, according to G's mom, never will). I thought maybe that would make him feel a little less alone in a classroom/playground full of friends with siblings. Then I explained his friend P doesn't have a brother or sister either (not sure of their standing on future children) and that not having a sister or brother means he doesn't have to share his toys every day and he gets all our attention to himself. 

This didn't seem to comfort him and it's brought me to tears. Last night as we were eating dinner with my Aunt, who was visiting from out of town, he said again that he wanted his brother (I don't know if that was abstract "a brother" or if he meant Nathan).

I'm ill-equipped to answer these questions. Not just because of how Ryan will take it but, also because of how much it hurts me to have to admit now that Ryan might not have another sibling (something I used to think was a foregone conclusion). 

Ouch.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Two miles won't kill me, right?

My family has been doing a two mile walk everyday. Ryan begrudgingly agreed to sit in the stroller (for a price, of course) so we can go a bit faster. 

The price we pay is having to stop at a playground along the way. We actually pass three playgrounds on this walk but, there is one in particular that Ryan has taken an interest in. So, we stop for about ten minutes so he can play and then, we're back on our way.

So far I've done it happily but, yesterday was not easy. I'm not sure why but, I think it's because I'm not stretching before and my calf muscles are paying the price.

But honestly, who needs to stretch before a simple walk? Me, I guess. 


I have to admit, the walking is making me feel pretty good.

The only real problem I have lately is eating Ryan's Halloween candy of which he's shown very little interest in. Ugh!

I think I might bring the rest to work and be done with it. I clearly have no self control when it comes to miniature snickers.

Today is CD 6 (I've paid so little attention that I had to look it up). That's my entire November TTC update. Pretty boring, huh?

I have been more vigilant about taking supplements so, that's something.

I'm taking:

  • CoQ10 200mg 3x daily
  • DHEA 25mg 3x daily
  • Royal Jelly 300mg 3x daily
  • Folic Acid 800mcg 2x daily
  • Prenatal vitamin
  • Triple Omega
  • Super B Complex
  • Vitamin D3 1000IU
  • Melantonin 5mg
  • Low-dose aspirin 81mg


I saw the CCRM "fertility cocktail" supplements list online ages ago but, forgot to write it down. I just googled it and here it is:

Poor Responder Supplement for Women

  • DHEA - 25mg x3/day
  • Myo Inositol 2gm x2/day
  • Melantonin 3mg (at bedtime)
  • Co Enzyme Q10 - varies from 200 mg x 2/day or 3/day and 400mg x2/day
  • Omega-3 fatty acid 1000mg x1/day (Same thing as Triple Omega)
  • Vitamin C 500mg x1/day
  • Vitamin E 200IU x1/day
  • L-argenine 1000mg x2/day
  • Pycnogenol 100mg x1/day
What's interesting about this list is that I was taking Ovaboost and it has Vitamin E, My-Inositol, CoQ10 & Melatonin in the ingredients. Though it doesn't list how much of each because it's a proprietary blend.

I might go back to Ovaboost and cut out some of the extra pills that Ovaboost seems to cover.

Does anyone have anything to add to the list?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

IVF Clinical Trial (35+)

I thought I'd post this for anyone near the Shady Grove Fertility in Maryland or Pennsylvania.
I know many ladies don't have insurance so maybe you'll find this worthwhile.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I am "Ryan's mom"

Before my TTC friends read further, this entire post will be about being a mother.

I know I'm among the very few that has a child already and my feelings absolutely won't be hurt if you choose not to continue reading.

Just about a year ago we moved to the house we're living in now which is in a neighborhood called Lowes Island (take the time to click on the link, it's a short but amusing Urban Dictionary posting about my neighborhood - and provides some background for the rest of my post).

After you read that link, you might picture me living in a McMansion but, that's not the case. We live in a 4 bedroom townhouse in an older part of Lowes Island.

When Ryan started the new pre-school here, I was concerned about what kind of kids/parents we'd be interacting with. Only because, generally speaking, I don't fit the part of a Lowes Island mom.

Ryan immediately proved popular with the other kids and that somehow "legitimized" me. What I mean by that is it didn't matter that I'm not the mom that gets up an hour early just to do my hair and makeup and I don't utilize the miles and miles and miles of walking/running paths in our area (though, I should!).

Ryan's popularity has made me acceptable with the Lowes Island mommy crowd. Given that these are the kids and parents he'll be interacting with for years to come, this is important to me.

Don't get me wrong, they're not at all snotty women. For the most part, they're normal working mom's, similar to myself, just better dressed with nicer cars (not that the modern minivan we have is junk) whose kids probably don't insist on running around naked once they get home.

I love that Ryan is so well liked. I beam with pride when kids get excited by him walking in the room. To all the kids my name is "Ryan's Mommy" and James is "Ryan's Daddy".

Friday his school did Trunk or Treat. In case you're not familiar with the concept, I'll give a quick synopsis. Parent volunteers lined up cars in the parking lot of the pre-school and opened up our trunks and kids went trick or treating at each car. And, holy cow, did the parents bring their A game!
The trunks were decorated in a way that I doubt Martha Stewart could outdo. This was our first year doing Trunk or Treat so we were woefully under-decorated.

However, my favorite part of Trunk or Treat was meeting a few parents I hadn't yet met and I heard the same thing over and over "my kid talks about Ryan all the time" and "my kid has been asking for a playdate with Ryan for ages". I gave my phone number and email address to a stream of parents who want to get their kids together with Ryan.

And the girls! Ryan is hugged and kissed by the little girls and, it's the sweetest thing ever. I never get my phone out in time to capture these moments, though.

I can live ten lifetimes and become President of the world but, nothing I ever do could bring my as much pride as being Ryan's Mommy.





Friday, October 24, 2014

Runkeeper

Hey guys! I'm looking for more friends on runkeeper.com. I need people to call me out and kick my ass when I'm being lazy.

I'm Jessica Howard (Potomac Falls, VA). I'm not sure you can search by email address (the whole runkeeper friend thing has me confused because, as far as I can see, there is no username that is unique to each person) but, my email address is JessicaCHoward@gmail.com.

I could use all the motivation you have on offer.

I'm very behind on reading ICLW blogs but, plan to catch up this weekend.

There is an update to my Top Secret Blog today, too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Goodbye braces!

My orthodontist removed my braces today - hoorah!
After two years and one month with them on, I forgot what it feels like to just have normal teeth. I've run my tongue over them about ten thousand times. It's so weird!

I'm glad to be done with them. 

I don't really have anything to report with TTC. I'm 1DPO but, so what? When you're not doing treatments you just don't get excited during the TWW. 

That's not to say we didn't put in a valiant effort this cycle. We did what we needed to do to get a positive result but, it's not like I'm looking forward to 14DPO so I can pull out the HPT and wait eagerly for the result. 

Even the naturally occurring "success" of last month isn't making me feel hopeful. It just feels like the odds are greatly stacked against me. Lightening doesn't strike the same place twice type of odds. 

But, we have to try, right?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New password protected post

It's been a while since I've updated my password protected site but, here is an update.

If you've forgotten or lost the password, please email me and I'll give it to you again.

I go into a few more details about Dr. Grim and an update on my weight loss journey, too.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Introducing Dr. Grim

Stephanie has Dr. Babymaker, I have Dr. Grim.

Today we had our first consultation with Shady Grove. Beautiful office & very welcoming staff.

But, the doctor... well, I didn't hit it off with him at all. James didn't feel the same way I did about him but then, he wasn't being told he's old.

After we met with the doctor, we met with the financial coordinator and by that time, I was crying.

But, I pulled myself together long enough for her to start going over insurance information (which was pointless as our insurance is changing in January).

Then the nurse came in to talk about our plan of action.

Which is, nothing. There is no plan until January when the new insurance kicks in. We can't start a cycle now and it's not a good idea to cross over years when we know we'll have new insurance in January.

We know the new insurance will cover IVF but we don't know if it's under the same allowances we have now. We assume it will be the same, just different out-of-pocket expenditures.

But, we don't know for sure and won't know for a while. So, we're back to delaying IVF until January (roughly).

While the doctor made me feel like my ovaries are a time bomb about to go off, there was some good news.

We will not have to pay more than $500 for ICSI even though my insurance won't cover it without abnormal sperm samples. Huge relief, for sure.

I don't know, I just left the doctor feeling hopeless. James says it's an overreaction to what he actually said but, did agree that this doctor didn't have great bed side manners.

He was matter-of-fact and, I guess, a straight shooter. But, you want to hear a little positivity, maybe a silver lining from your doctor, right?

Instead, he made me feel like there was a huge long shot but, yeah sure, we'll give it a try. Why not?

James said it doesn't matter if his bedside manner is crap, if he manages to get us pregnant, we won't care.

Yeah okay, I guess he's right. But still, it left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.


On September 11, I declared that I would get pregnant on my own before January.  Well, I did that but, I guess I forgot to declare that I would get pregnant AND IT WOULD STICK.

So, I'm trying again.

Because I will it so (again), I will get pregnant before January (again) and it will stick. Nine months later I will bring home and happy and healthy baby and never have to utilize Dr. Grim.

Maybe it will work?

Finally, here is the latest from "Does This Baby Make Me Look Fat?"
After all, laughter is the best medicine "they" say.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Finally some good news

We'll have IVF insurance next year.
Needless to say, that is a huge load off our shoulders.

So, we get to stay in the game.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Let's part ways now, okay?

Damn bronchitis. I desperately need this to be over and done with. But, it won't let go of me. For weeks now I have had to use an inhaler to breathe, get only a few hours of sleep at a time, can't walk very far without needing to rest my lungs and have coughing fits that make people around me cringe.

My body aches from the coughing. It's like I have run five miles while having rubber bullets shot at me.

It is better but, not over.

In the past two weeks I've had a miscarriage, suffered with bronchitis and had my in-laws in town during the worst of both, all while still working.

However, I want to say a big congrats to those who have gotten their BFP's while I've been away. It's great news and I'm wishing you a very happy and healthy 9 months. It's going to go beautifully for you!

I know I haven't made comments but I really haven't been on my computer outside of work except to catch up on Downton Abbey.

Despite my whining, I am feeling better. I got out yesterday and took a short walk with James and Ryan. It wasn't easy (I forgot my inhaler) but, it was a small start.

I'm back on track today with recording my food and making a small effort to exercise lightly. Through all this, I've lost weight but that's not surprising given that I spent so much time vomiting and that the coughing alone is likely expending more calories that I eat all day.

My appetite isn't back to normal just yet but, that's improving, too.

My mood is improving a little but, there is still 10,000 thoughts going through my mind, both positive and negative.

We have the appointment on Friday with Shady Grove but, I can't say I'm looking forward to it now. I guess having gotten pregnant on our own makes me feel like we can do it again. But, I'm 39 and we just don't have that kind of time.

So, I suppose I'm just feeling a little resentful at having to start back down that road.

Yes, we could call it a day and I know there are people in my life who feel we should. I know because hints have been dropped.

But, it's our decision. James and I feel like our family isn't complete and we're going to keep trying until I get to the point where I've had enough.

I'm not there yet. My longing for another baby outweighs the dread of starting fertility treatments again.

Which reminds me, James wrote a lovely blog update on our family blog . My husband truly is a wonderful person who loves his family deeply.

Thank you to everyone who has commented in the last two weeks and I apologize for not responding. My heart (and lungs) just haven't been up to the job of blogging much.

But, I appreciate all the support. You guys make the tough times more bearable.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Minor improvements

I seem to be through the worst of the bronchitis, thank goodness. I'm still wheezing but, I have the rescue inhaler and that's helping. The coughing isn't nearly as bad as it was even two days ago.

Ryan is feeling better although he was sent home from school today because he threw up. James says he's playing as if nothing happened so we'll have to watch him to see what that was about.

My pregnancy began it's end on Monday and the worst of it was over in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. It was worse than I was expecting, and definitely worse than the one in April. 

But, it's done now. 

I've been trying to remember the positive thing that came from this; we got pregnant without help. Presumably we caught a bad egg (or the virus killed it before it started - who knows?) but, it DID happen. 

I'm broken-hearted at how brief the excitement was but, there is so much to be joyful about, too. Something I was sure would never happen, happened. Was it a fluke? 

We meet with Shady Grove on 10/17 and I don't know where we'll go from there. The insurance situation is still unclear and probably won't be clear until early November. 

Either way, I'm hoping to do one cycle this year. The new insurance options don't have co-payments but rather some scheme where you pay 20% of the visit or something like that. Higher deductibles of course and new prescription benefits to boot.

We've already met our deductible for the year, only pay a $30 co-payment and the medications are all covered at a very reasonable co-payment. Since, even if the new insurance would cover IVF, it would still end up costing us a whole lot more, I want to try to fit in a cycle this year.

This wasn't the plan I had in mind for starting IVF but, sometimes you have to roll with it. Plans change and so do situations. I'm going to take advantage of what we have while we have it.

I just hope the new RE will agree. 

I'm feeling a little more relaxed and less panicky that I was before. I have little room to control anything so what's the point in stressing out?

And, if all else fails, maybe we'll get another natural conception (preferably one that sticks).