Our miracle RAINBOW BABY BOY is on the way! Due 8/2018

1st IVF = BFN
2nd IVF = Baby A, born May 2015
3rd IVF = Miscarriage at 14 weeks
4th IVF = BFN
After we paid for 5th IVF, positive pregnancy w/o IVF!

Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Monday, September 3, 2018

August Update - Baby C's First Month!

We welcomed Baby C home a few days earlier than planned. He was scheduled to be born via c-section on Monday, August 6th. But Daddy booked a flight for all of us to Detroit for spring break to see his grandfather's old stomping grounds, and it was as if his new namesake new. At 4am, my water broke and knowing he would be big, all I was worried about was getting to the hospital in time to still have a c-section, and not a natural delivery.

Aunt Cassandra came over to watch A, and we sped off, early enough to miss the usual morning traffic. I was in a prep room as the sun came up over the mountains to my right. Before we knew it, I had an IV in and the anesthesiologist was going over consent with me, in more detail than I needed.

After meeting with my doctor, I was taken in and prepped for surgery. I had a little trouble breathing, a side effect of the spinal block that goes halfway up my chest, probably put into my head when the anesthesiologist mentioned it as a possible side effect. Feeling this effect caused me to well, feel more like I was having trouble breathing and I started shaking because I was so cold. "Let's bring the husband in," someone said, and he was by my side before I knew it, taking me to my happy place by asking me to talk about the Halloween housewarming party that I plan to throw.

There was a lot more pulling and tugging this time around like they were really having trouble getting him out. The table I was on moved and the whole process was taking much longer than when I had my daughter. Both of us were concerned, but neither of us said anything. Then, we heard a bit of a cry, followed by silence. In reality, probably only 15 seconds passed until the next cry, but it felt like minutes. When we heard his cries again, they were reassuringly much stronger. Someone called him a hunk and they said he was perfect and tears of joy and relief started flowing. Underneath my husband's mask, a few tears escaped, and we each breathed a huge sigh of relief.

We were in recovery for a little while, before being taken up to my room where I would spend the next four days. That day, my friend Ann-Marie picked my daughter up and took her to daycare, stopping first to get her a doughnut. She sent me some pictures of her smiling, and I felt good knowing she likes daycare and that it's a part of her routine. An absolute highlight of that day, other than meeting our little man, was seeing her meet her little brother. It was a moment I had long dreamed of, but wasn't sure I would ever see.

On his second day of life, just as with A, I was amazed to discover that he has a dimple - on the same side as her! Newborns don't smile unless they have gas, and so it was only by chance that I happened to catch his dimple on video, and then took a screenshot. I was/am so overjoyed that they share this trait! What are the chances?

My time in the hospital flew by. I purchased a new book that I was excited to read and saved up 3 weeks of People magazine but didn't read a page. Each day, Daddy would bring Baby A to visit and then I had other visitors: My Dad and brother, Carey, Ann-Marie and Andrea. Andrea even took Baby A to Disneyland one day, which helped assuage my guilt of not being home with her (My first night in the hospital was our first night ever apart). And Carey had A over for playdates with her best friend Tommy, even though she also had a newborn at home. This helped tremendously because Daddy was busy trying to pack up the rest of our home!
First night
When I came home, nearly everything was packed up to move. We spent the first night in our new home just two days after I arrived home! Forget nesting, I was happy enough to be able to find his diapers and formula. And here I sit, one month later and we have made progress, but so much is still in boxes. Because I was so pregnant and we didn't know for sure that we were moving until the last minute (our home had other offers on it), I did not do a lot of packing and decluttering on the front end. My husband did the majority of the moving himself, and toward the end, just ended up throwing things in boxes. 

Six days old - first doctor's appointment
From the beginning, A has been an amazing big sister. On the first morning home, she woke up and I was feeding him. Since day one, I have breastfed him, followed by supplementing with 2 ounces from a bottle. When she came into the room, he was ready for his bottle. Not wanting her to feel left out, I quickly said: "Let me give him to Daddy to feed so I can spend time with you." She wasn't having it! "No, I want to spend time with my baby brother!" Almost daily, she will come in for a cuddle and say "Aww! He's adorable!" or " He's gorgeous!" When she asks to hold him, she's ready to give him back after less than a minute, but never seems to mind me holding him or doting on him. With the new brother happening at the same time as the move, I expected something, but no bad behaviors came until the day of our very important newborn photo shoot. She acted more afraid of the studio and photographer than she would at a doctor's appointment, wouldn't listen to her directives, cried a lot. Because of this, I braced myself for the onslaught of more of these behaviors, but they never came. The photoshoot lasted nearly two hours, and sadly I now realize she was most likely really hungry! 

Just like with A, he is an amazingly easy baby. He wakes every 2-4 hours to feed but is otherwise asleep all of the time! Nights were rough until we were in our new home for about a week and my husband took over the night feedings. No doubt this long stretch of sleep each night compromised my milk supply, but I just cannot pass up 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep! 

...and prayed and prayed.
It's been a crazy, whirlwind month. But in between unpacking boxes, we managed to have some family and friends over for BBQs, start going on daily walks, sit out by the fire pit and roast marshmallows, explore the trail out our backyard gate, and watch her go in the spa with Daddy almost every night. As we settle into our new home and adjust to being a family of four, I just feel so blessed. Baby C is the icing on the cake and completes and balances out our family. There was a time when I feared that we may not have any children, and now we have two! 

Things I don't want to forget about this month:

  • Her saying "Please I can ....(watch princesses, watch TV)" instead of "Please can I..."
  • Holding him when he was less than a week old, in the new house. He was looking at the floor and I started singing to him. He slowly turned his head upwards and locked eyes with me.
  • Daddy singing "You Are My Sunshine" to him and Baby A joining in.
  • His nickname, baby Chomper

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

July Update

We started a new tradition this July: Going to Orange County Mining Company for a late dinner on the third to watch the fireworks at a local high school. Baby A found it very exciting that we were going up the "big mountain" to see fireworks. We had reservations for 8:15, and the fireworks started about an hour later, as we were having dessert. We also bought fireworks from a local stand and let some of them off that night, although she was a bit uncertain and tentative.

On the morning of the 4th, we walked in a local neighborhood parade, something that is becoming increasingly difficult for me this far in my pregnancy. We saw family for lunch, and then after nap, Makenna and Michael came over for ice cream cake and fireworks in the street. Because Michael and Makenna were so into it, she was much more enthused, jumping up and down and squealing with excitement. 
After setting off the fireworks, we drove in the convertible and parked to watch more at a different local high school. She had such a great time that she didn't want the night to end, and asked for fireworks for the next week or two. I realized that the 4th of July has never been so much fun for me. She breathes new life and excitement into all holidays and it just doesn't compare to before having children!

This month, she was officially, effortlessly potty trained! She had been going "number 1" in the potty since Christmas-time, but had yet to attempt number two. Luckily for us, she would at least announce "I have to go poops!" and ask for a diaper with plenty of time to spare, so she wore underwear. When she would announce this, I would periodically ask if she wanted to try her potty and she would say "No, I go poops in my diaper" and I dropped it. I never forced the issue, remembering what my Mom would say: Don't worry, they won't be doing (FILL IN ANY BEHAVIOR HERE) on their first day of college.

But with our baby boy arriving next month, I wanted potty training complete! I bought a few toys to bribe her with at the .99 Only store. The next time she asked for a diaper, I told her she would get a toy if she used her potty. "No thank you!" she quipped. But then I showed her the toy. "Oh! Okay!" she said and ran in to use her potty! It's been almost a month since then, and she hasn't used her diaper since or had one accident. She has been sleeping with a Pull-Up, but has only needed it twice.

This month, things were a bit chaotic at home because we started packing to move! Just weeks before our baby boy arrives, we have sold our home and purchased a new one about 8 miles away. Starting last month, our weekends were consumed with open houses and tours of homes. We had listed ours but were doubtful we would find another worth selling for. My husband's plan has always been to rent ours out and purchase another. But with this plan, we would be buying a slightly nicer yet similar home, not "buying up" by much.

We must have looked at over 30 homes, many beyond our budget when we found the perfect one. Two stories and almost 3,000 square feet, the style of this home was one we both loved, especially when compared to all of the cheaply done flips we toured (read: all grey and white). It wowed us with a lot of upgrades throughout (like an aromatic steam shower, media closets, and built-in surround-sound) and features in the gourmet kitchen that I've never heard of, such as a warming tray and pot filler. At just over 10,000 square feet, the lot size was decent but what really sold us was the fact that it is at the end of a cul-de-sac and backs up to wilderness: a creek connected to a regional park. There is a gate from our backyard out to a network of trails! Even though a half-mile walk around the block is almost too much for me at this stage in my pregnancy, I cannot WAIT to get out there before sunrise and go on a run! We offered $25,000 over the list price and then countered with $5,000 over that and waited to see what happened.

Up until our offer was accepted, I told myself that I was "good either way." But all that changed when our offer beat out the others. Suddenly, I saw the kids' rooms set-up, future Christmases, and her coming down the stairs to leave for prom. It was touch and go for a few different reasons, and when finally official (we signed all the paperwork yesterday!), I was elated! But that left us with only a few weeks to pack up our whole house, which I am slowly working on now, with the majority of help from my husband. If all goes according to plan, we will close on the day of my scheduled c-section: August 6th!

Baby A completed 4 weeks of daily swim lessons. She learned to kick on the kick-board, then the less-supportive noodles and went under a few times. There were days she didn't want to do what her teacher was asking and would cry a bit, but she still listened and followed directives, exiting the pool with a few tears. On the days that she did well, we took her to the Dollar Tree to pick out a toy. On the days that she went under, Dad would split a chocolate shake with her. We have a salt-water hot tub level with the ground at our new home and although small compared to a pool, water safety is very important. Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death among children ages 1-4.

Amidst all of this chaos, we worked in a lot of fun summer activities despite my waning energy level. Multiple trips to the splash pad, Marina Park, a summer concert at the local (small) zoo and a trip around the block on her bike almost daily. She also loved when I would sit in the backyard and "Make it rain" with the hose, so she could run through. She especially loved this in the trampoline, and was often "Naked as a jaybird."

At the beginning of the month, she was going around the block on her tricycle. By the end of the month, we were both surprised how well she was doing on her "big girl bike" that Beast gave her! After about 30 minutes of practice out front,

she surprised us both by going around the block without help, something we now do daily after nap. Although she had the bike for a few months and hadn't used it, it was just like potty training; one day she made up her mind to do it and never looked back.

We finished the month with a week of vacation Bible school (VBS) at Calvary church. The theme was Shipwrecked with the message that when you are sad, lonely or scared, Jesus rescues. I volunteered in her small class from 9-12:30 every day, and loved watching her interact with the other kids. Surprisingly, she did her own thing most of the time, only sometimes looking over her shoulder to see if I was there. She came home excited most days to show her Dad the craft she made, or repeat the Bible verse. One day, he asked her what she learned and I was blown away to hear her say "Jesus died on the cross for our sins." And just yesterday, we were driving to fetal monitoring and I was talking to her about what it would be like with me in the hospital for four days, and how she would visit me. I was trying to prepare her, but she felt the need to reassure me and said "Don't be scared. God will help you."

I have historically struggled with my faith, (and stories like the Tower of Bable in her children's Bible make no sense to me and don't help!) but in teaching her, she is teaching me. Nothing compares to the sweet, trusting mind of a child and it is a reminder to me that I need to be more child-like in my faith. Seeing these small seeds that were planted last week grow in her has made me more determined to continue her religious education, and we are bringing God into more conversations each day.

Things I don't want to forget about this month:
  • Singing The itsy bitsy spider climbed down Autumn's back. It went to her bum-bum to get a little snack! (pinch).
  • How she pronounces "Your" as "Or"
  • Pretending to be a baby and just saying "Na-na" until she needs something, and then using a really high-pitched baby voice. I hug her and say "Oh! It's my baby!" and she says "na-na." 
  • "You be A, I be Mommy, Okay? A, what you want to do today?"
  • Saying "I wuv you too!"
  • Tell me a story about...Ariel, Belle going to Gaston's house, etc.

Friday, July 6, 2018

June Update


Baby A has entered her "why?" phase, but her word of choice at first was "because?" We heard this word a hundred times this month, but it did not get old. It's a little window into how her mind works, and all that she wants to know. An answer to one "because?" invariably leads to her asking it again, and me sometimes running out of explanations. What did our parents do when they couldn't Google 'why is the sky is blue?'

The month started with us listing our house for sale, somewhat suddenly, although we had been toying with the idea for awhile. As a result, we finally accomplished some much-needed de-cluttering and visited a ton of homes during their open houses. This was a lot of fun for baby A, who would flit about from room to room, deciding which one belonged to her, and which one was for Chaw-wals. Our original plan all along was to keep our home and rent it out in a few years and purchase one slightly above the cost of ours. But we were lured into possibly selling when we found our dream home and wanted to take a shot at it. It was off the marked about as quick as we could list, but we accepted an offer on ours and entered into escrow toward the end of the month. The problem is, we can't find another home that we love. There's limited inventory right now, and we want a home with a large yard and a pool. This is proving nearly impossible to find here in Orange County, even though we're willing to pay over a million. Almost every property we look at has one or the other. Two homes we put offers on had multiple offers, all over the listing price.
Amid the house-hunt, life continued on and we attended a local church carnival, where she will start school next fall.  I love planning things like this with her, but the spontaneous days are often the best. We came home one day to a "waderpillar" invasion, with 6 big guys crossing our lawn and headed to our door. I went into her closet and retrieved the bug holder from last season. She was so excited to see that by the very next day, they had formed cocoons. They transformed and hatched almost two weeks later, and she set them free in the backyard, waving bye to them.

The following week, I got together with the girls and she came along. She was able to sit the whole time without relying on any technology. She played with her cars that she brought instead. I used to run with these girls on a regular basis, and look forward to getting back to that that once our baby boy is. Because my time with them is limited now, I cherish it that much more.

This month, we tried out a new "classical" dance studio, which she loved. She had a huge smile on her face the whole time, and it is so exciting for me to watch her learn to do even simple things, like point her toes:
After one of her classes, she was given a blue cookie, and it was the greatest thing in the world to her! Just like when she finds "muddy puddles," a stick, or gives her cats a kiss. When she's not in one of her toddler moods (they all have them), she is just such a joy to be around, and it is contagious.
A muddy puddle on the first day of summer!
My last day of work was a few days after both she and her Daddy were done for the year, so he started her in her month-long daily swim lessons. It was hard for me not to be there with her, but I looked forward to the updates. It was such a good time for them to bond, and I noticed how much closer they were by the end of the week.

Last year, we did one session of mommy-and-me swim, and she mostly just held on to me. It has been exciting to see her progress and go off alone with her teacher.

At the very end of the month, my sister-in-law threw me a sprinkle for our baby boy. Celebrating with my friends and family helped it all seem more real and, exciting! We still don't know what's happening with our home, but his clothes are washed and my hospital bag is packed! If we do move, it will be right around the time he is born. Which is pretty convenient for me, since I won't really be able to do much except point and direct where I want things to go.

I'm off work now until January, and she will be with me the entire time. It is so nice to have this amount of time together stretching before us.

Friday, June 29, 2018

On Your Nana's 67th Birthday

Dear A,
I was dreading my Mom's birthday on June 28th. This is my fourth one without her, and I usually cry on and off all day. But this year was different, thanks to you. 

We had a busy morning getting our house ready for inspection. Yes, six weeks before your baby brother arrives, we're in Escrow. We haven't found another house we like, so we probably will not move. Thankfully, that is written into the contract.

We dashed out of the house as the home inspector was poking around the exterior and our potential buyers sat in their car out front. Daddy took you to swim as he's been doing all week, and I went to HOAG for fetal monitoring. At monitoring, I posted this picture of my Mom along with the caption Happy Birthday to my sweet Mama. The world and our lives would be a lot better with her in them. I was focused on the void she left, and as I usually do on her birthday, feeling a bit sorry for both of us because we don't have her here on this earth. 
You can see in this picture just how much she loved children. Looking at the love in her expression, I imagined just how much she would love you loves you from above. Right about the time I started to get sad, it was time for the next appointment.

You and your Dad met me for an ultrasound, the first you've been to. You were in such a cute, chatty mood and so clearly bonded with Dad that I couldn't feel sad. Instead, I started to be filled with gratitude for having both of you in my life. You had a blast in the waiting room, and then we were called back to the room.
The lights were dim, and you asked why. When Daddy gave you an answer, you asked why again and I couldn't help but smile. As images of your baby brother were up on the screen, your Daddy pointed out baby's face, legs, even hair on his head. 

The fact that I'm pregnant at all right now still feels like such miracle, and the assuring sound of his heartbeat and news that he's 6 pounds, 3 ounces swept over me. Looking over at you and your Dad, I just felt so blessed to be on this journey with you both; to give him a son and to make you a big sister. To welcome another life. Daddy made us both laugh several times (as well as the sonogram technician) and I applauded myself for picking out the very best Daddy that my children could have. It is because Mom loved me so much that I was discerning and waited until I found the very best husband. She made sure I was loved, knew my value and didn't settle, just like I hope to do for you. I thank God that I have him in my life. I briefly imagined what Mom's birthday would be like had I not met him, and it made me shudder. 

When we got home, it was time for nap and I laid down next to you until you fell asleep, as I always do. Then, I set about preparing a garden tea party for us, to honor your Nana. I brought out your bear that she made for you before we knew she was sick and well before I was pregnant with you. I used her lace, and a tea set that her good friend Jeri bought for you when you were born, saying "If Paula were alive, she would buy this for her." Jeri is your Aunti Andrea's Mom.
I was afraid if I had some down time I would start to cry, but this activity kept me busy, and then you were up. We cuddled for a bit on the couch with Bonnie and Clyde, and then I told you it was time to get ready for the tea party. Excitedly, you put on your dress. When you walked out into the backyard and saw the table set up in front of your playhouse and next to our garden, you said It's gorgeous for the first time, something my Mom would say. You set about re-arranging your friends and adding in some new ones, before sitting down and quite skilfully pouring us both several cups of cold mint tea. 

As we sat there, I told you about Nana and that she loved tea parties. I love tea parties too! you responded. I explained that she is now up in heaven, watching down and protecting you. From wolves? you asked. Yes, from wolves and anything else that's bad I said. I sat back and watched your imagination at work, as you talked to Beast and Belle, poured them cups of tea and instructed me: You be A, I'll be Mommy, okay? Your Daddy was still napping, and I expected the sadness to come, but it never did. Instead, I could not stop smiling. I felt a contented peace wash over me that is hard to explain. Even when the "It's not fair" voice had me imagine Mom being there with us both and all the fun things we would do together this summer were she still around, the gratitude still remained and was stronger. 

We let the chickens roam, and you had such a blast running back and forth from your swingset toward me with the widest smile I've ever seen. Lost in my thoughts as you played, I realized that this is the love that Mom had for me. I never fully realized how much I was loved by her until I had you. It's a powerful, all-consuming love that just cannot be described. The realization that I made her feel this way and gave her bucolic days just like these...just like you, in turn, are giving to me made my heart swell.

Instead of asking Why did God have to take her from me? I sat in our backyard just feeling so blessed and thankful. Because He had to call her home, how amazing is it that first He made sure that I had your Daddy and you to love and be loved by? Remember, I was six weeks pregnant with you when she took her last breath, and in those days, months and years that followed, you were absolutely my sunshine, as you still are, and always will be for her. 

But the sunshine that you provide me with only grows brighter as I see your personality develop and have actual conversations with you. When I can make you laugh, and laugh in response to things that you do. I never thought I could love you more than I did on the day you were born, and yet I do. And now your brother is coming too, and we have countless days like this one stretching before us, together as a family.

Your Daddy woke up from his nap and we sat out in the backyard watching you, beaming. Whether we move or stay here, it doesn't really matter to me. I am happy either way, whatever life decides to throw our way because we have our family.
I always want, and ask for signs that there is something after this world. From Mom, from God, from anyone that will give them to me. Sometimes, I ask for them without even realizing that I did. Sitting there in our backyard yesterday, I asked without realizing, and I didn't get a clear sign like I wanted. But reflecting and sitting here at the computer now, I realize that I most certainly did. I'm not sure that God or my Mom could give me a clearer sign, or a more contented and thankful peace in my heart.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Third Birthday - Our Beauty, and the Beast

I picked out the theme to our girl's 3rd birthday right after her second birthday; clear evidence that I have a problem. But it's a fun problem to have, because I love planning and looking forward to it all year. Planning ahead also helps spread out the cost. Today, her party was featured on Catch My Party, so I figured it was finally time to get some photos and details up on the blog.
The morning started with a planned electrical outage on our street and then cars being diverted off a busy, main road. They were zooming down our normally quiet street and I just told myself it would all be over long before the party started, and continued working on setting up and the favor bags. I think I was doing a good job keeping calm, as Aunt Cassandra helped by being on call and running out to pick up a few extra favors (Beauty and the Beast books). Until the honking started.
I made the centerpieces using a glass dome from Ikea,
rose from Hobby Lobby and a dab of hot glue.
Naps are important on any ordinary day, but crucial on the day of her party. As I was getting ready to take a break and put her down for nap, almost every car that was speeding down our street started honking. More than a honk, most drivers were laying on the horn, one right after another. I really hadn't been too stressed up until this point, but we all have our limits. Looking out the window, I thought maybe my party planner was blocking traffic, but didn't see anything amiss until I noticed our across the street neighbors with a huge, wooden sign reading: YOU HONK, WE DRINK. And I realized it was Cinco de Mayo. I walked across the street, barefoot and pregnant and explained the party and nap dilemma. Fortunately, they were very understanding and took it down right away. I was able to get her down at her normal time, the air came back on, and my stress dissipated.

I used the same party planner as last year, Lesly Marquez with Glam Spot Events. She was amazing as always, and came the day prior to set up the large tent, tables and chairs. While the birthday girl was sleeping, Lesly arrived and started decorating. She also jumped in to help with balloons because I found out the day before that my balloon girl was in the hospital with a stroke. She made the beautiful balloon garland around the dessert bar, free of charge. When the birthday girl woke up, she was so excited, and we had time before her guests started arriving to get dressed, and snap a few photos.

We had been talking about her party for at least a month prior. For weeks leading up to the day, she would randomly say "Beast coming to my house!" Sometimes, she would get nervous and revoke his invitation. So it was no surprise that when they finally did arrive, she would not go near him! She gave Belle a hug, and seemed to enjoy watching from a distance. I was still very glad that we hired Pic Me Entertainment because they were great at leading the kids in games, handing out prizes, playing music and parachute play. We will definitely use them again.  She still watches the video that they sent her.

A huge hit of the day was when A's teacher from daycare, Ms. Anke, arrived. I already knew that I loved the daycare I selected, but having her teacher take the time to show up only reaffirmed that I picked a place that really cares. When we were laying down for bed that night, she told me "I told you Ms. Anke coming to my party!" Here she is below, holding A's hand.

It was very special that her grandma from Oregon was able to attend the party. I moved the date up to the beginning of May because she was planning to be here for the birth of A's cousin. 
After some games and food (taco cart), it was time to sing happy birthday, cut the cake, and have the Beast present her with our large gift, a bike!

A special gift that she received was from my Dad and brother: A gold cross just like my Mom used to wear. It is a gift that we both will treasure for years to come.
She had fun well into the evening, running around and playing on her swing set, in her room, and in the tent. Although most guests left after the dessert bar was opened and we cut the cake, a few stayed until close to 9pm. 

I told myself that I would not throw another elaborate party for her next year, because we will have our boy's first birthday just two months after her's. And I'm totally sticking to that. Even if I had the money to throw two that close together, friends wouldn't want to come to come to parties that close together. 

So instead, I am not dreaming of and planning a Christmas party, complete with 5,000 pounds of snow to be made in our front yard, and a little sled run. I think the Frozen theme fits nicely, and may have already picked up some Anna and Elsa paper plates at the Dollar Tree. 

Click these links to see her past parties:

First Birthday
Second Birthday