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.

Friday, September 30, 2016

And Then There Were 11

On Monday, my ultrasound showed 11 follicles. ELEVEN! That is about the same number I had in 2014 when we did IVF twice. Since my AMH number is half of what it was then, I was prepared for only 4 or 5. For the IVF that resulted in Baby A, 10 eggs were retrieved, only 8 were and fertilized and from that, 2 were developing normally and transferred. The time before, only 7 were retrieved. All we need is one. One good, healthy egg. I left happy and hopeful. My coordinator emailed later in the day to say that my medication was to remain the same.

On Wednesday, I was a bit disappointed to learn that the number of follicles had dropped to 9. I wasn't sure if I had lost two, if they didn't grow, or if it was just a different technician. 


Here were their dimensions:

Left:
16.4mm
14.5mm
10.5mm
18.2mm

Right:
12.1mm
10.1mm
9.7mm
12.9mm
14.6mm

I was told my blood work looked great, and was to continue on the same protocol, with the addition of Cetrotide every morning for the next 4 days to prevent the larger follicles from ovulating, while the other ones continue to grow. 

And grow they did! Here are my measurements from today's scan (not in same order as Wednesday).

Left:
22mm
15mm
15mm
12mm
12mm
9mm

Right:
21mm
19mm
17mm
17mm
15mm

I counted and counted again and was so surprised to see that the number was once again back up to 11. They are mature and ready for the trigger shot when over 20mm, so I'm hoping that the smaller ones will continue to grow. My next appointment will be in two days, on Monday, and I will know at that time when I will give myself the trigger shot, and when I'll go under anesthesia for egg retrieval. Right now, it looks like that will be Tuesday. I'm going into the weekend excited and hopeful.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

15 Months

The day she turned 15 months, she did a 2 hour stint at daycare because the following Monday she was to return full time. She did so much better than we were expecting, and only cried when it was time to go home.
With our matching bracelets from Prague!
We went to the Zoo with grandpa and Glen at the very beginning of the month. In the photo above, her Daddy captured a new, bigger smile that is starting to emerge. I already knew she was a happy baby, but she is turning out to be an exuberant toddler. Don't get me wrong, like all toddlers she is still learning to regulate her emotions and can still be insistent when she wants something, but is easily distracted and moves on.

She started back to daycare full time and when we both arrived to pick her up at 3pm, she was running around with a wide-brimmed hat on. When she saw me, she switched direction and came running toward me, arms outstretched with an "Ahhhhhhh!" But just as soon as she ran to me, she was off and going in a different direction, thoroughly enjoying herself and having divertito. She did cry briefly at drop off all week, but also cried when I picked her up and asked her to say bye to her friends before we left. Her first full week back was "western week" and they brought in a pony! She enjoyed watching from afar, but did not want to get on.
 The next day, they had a balloon artist and she seemed quite proud to show me her balloon rose when I picked her up.

One thing I love about her daycare being right across the street is that if I have to work late, I can go get her! On the Friday before the first day of school, I had to work until 6:30pm. But, I picked her up at 2:30 and she was with me the whole time.

Grandpa and Uncle Glen came out again for a visit from Yucaipa and we went to Pretend City. The last time she was there was a few days after her birthday so she wasn't walking, just scooting. Now, she was able to run off when she saw something interesting to her. We went a bit later than expected, and it was crowded around their water/fishing table with hardly any room for her to fit. But I was surprised to see her wiggle right in between bigger kids and find a fish. This was the first time that she started leading Uncle Glen around by his finger, and she hugged and kissed both of them before they left.

If you don't know already, I have a bit of a craigslist addiction to Little Tikes yard toys. That weekend, I was able to find an 8 foot x 8 foot jumper for her, and sold her small slide/swing for the same price I purchased it for when she was 6 months old.

I visited her twice during my lunch on her first week back to daycare. While it was so comforting and reassuring to be able to observe her happily playing outside when she didn't know I was there, she did cry after I left. The last thing I want to do is make it hard on her, and hard on them so I resolved to not visit for the rest of the month.

We woke up early on the second Saturday of the month and met my friend Stella and her two girls at Pretend City. It was so fun to watch baby A just charge off in a direction when she saw something interesting. After nap-time, Grandpa and Uncle Glen came for another visit. She is starting to really know them, and will take their hand and lead them toward something she wants, like the drinking fountain button pushed. My Dad is very busy with school full time and also radiation treatments for several hours every day. The fact that he makes the 3+ hour drive (round trip) to see her means a lot to me. He very much wants to be a part of her life and growing up. On our way to the park he said that "Grandpa visits are good, but they don't compare to Grandma visits." He quickly apologized for bringing Mom up, but there was no need, as this is something on my mind all the time. Mom would have adored her.

Sunday found us up and out of the house early again, while Daddy slept. He does stay up later than me, and one of the things he always does that I really appreciate is all of the dishes and bottle prep, which these days is just 5 ounces of water, and a bottle for after breakfast. In return, we let him sleep in. We headed out the door for a 3 mile run which is tough when I'm pushing close to 50 pounds with her and the stroller. At the half-way point, I let her our to feed the goats. Goats will eat just about anything, including clothing and cans, so I bet the grapes we brought were a real treat. I let her walk a bit on the trail before putting her back in to finish the run. Our neighbor Ann was out front with her dog and we stopped in for a visit. I love the sense of community we're building on our street.

After her nap, we headed to Disneyland for her first trip! She went on Pirates of the Caribbean, The Jungle Cruise, and had some Dole whip on our way over to Fantasyland. While there, we rode Dumbo together and Dad snapped some photos of us and then we all went on the tea cups.


Exiting Dumbo, I became a bit emotional remembering the picture of Mom and I on the ride when I was two. Disneyland really does score high on the nostalgia factor, and I'm already imagining her taking her children there someday. Ending with the tea cups was perfect because you can't be sad spinning in circles in tea cups.
A few days later, baby and I were both sick with a cough and returned for another visit to Disneyland for just a few hours. One of the things I love most about having a pass is the freedom to go for just a few hours without the pressure to stay all day and "get our money's worth." I can't believe how quickly and frequently she gets sick when back at daycare. She was not sick all summer, and then is already sick her second week back.

I ended that third week of September with the last of my diagnostic procedures before starting our third round of IVF. We had a 7th birthday at Chuck-E-Cheese's in Foothill Ranch and would actually go there again. A previous visit to at a different location had us swearing them all of for...well, forever. But this one was much cleaner and nicer. 

This was supposed to be followed by picking up a "free" playhouse that I found on Craigslist and a visit from my Dad, but getting this playhouse turned out to be a lot more time and labor intensive, and we had to reschedule her Grandpa and Uncle Glen visit. We had to rent a Uhaul, and it must weigh 600 pounds. It stayed in our driveway for a week until we figured out how to get it to our backyard. It is finally back there, thanks to the help of a small army of men we paid. Already, her "free" playhouse has set us back $300. 

She has been enjoying and somehow knows that it is for her. I have fun putting toys of hers in there when she's not looking and watching her discover them. I also love when she takes me by the hand to sit in it, and imagining all of the ways I want to fix it up: adding a light, doorbell, fresh coat of paint, flower boxes, furniture and a mailbox.

The last weekend in September was officially fall, and also unseasonably hot; near 100 degrees in Orange County. Grandpa and Glen came for a visit, and we headed down to a playground on the peninsula in Newport. She was not at all interested in the playground since there was perfect wading water, with a safe, sheltered view of the bay. At first she was tentative, but soon was splashing and stomping her feet, leading Uncle Glen and I into the water with her by tugging on our finger. She has a pretty good grip! The water was crystal clear, and schools of fish just a few feet off were viable. We'll definitely be back.

Things I do not want to forget about this month:
  • Bringing me my shoes (or Dad's shoes) for no reason in particular.
  • How she strokes my eyelashes as she's falling asleep next to me with her bottle, or rubs my arm.
  • How she dances by either alternating between raising her left and right arm (elbows bent), by slowly doing squats, or by turning in a circle.
  • I hid her new Frozen scooter in her playhouse, for her to discover. But, it was dark so when I told her to look in her house and there was a shadowy figure, she was scared and raised her arms to me.
  • She has made an association between the sink in our master bath and washing her hands. We are not sure how this happened, since we use different sinks to wash her hands! She will go in there, open the cupboard below, and then rub her hands together.
  • She now carries her babies with her from room to room , pushes them in their stroller and puts them to bed. She will also pat their backs.
  • Our first trip to Disneyland, all set up for Autumn.
  • Learning to say "no" at our prompting, and getting close to "Hawaii"
  • Faking Daddy out with a kiss at John's place on 9/25, the first day she learned how to pucker.
  • Words she says: Dog, eye, hi, bye, mama, dada, baba.

Friday, September 23, 2016

IVF #3 Underway!

Today is the day! I start my Menopur injections tonight! 



I had an appointment at HRC Fertility in Newport Beach last week for a Sonohysterogram. This was to make sure that when/if we have embryos, that they are going to a good home. I'm not trying to brag or anything, but my uterus "looks great" and I was given the all clear. This was the last test needed, and also hopefully the last unexpected cost. This imaging, which took about 15 minutes, set us back $640. Because it is considered diagnostic, it was not included in the IVF package price.

Although both the procedure and the price were uncomfortable, I left the appointment feeling hopeful. The nurse said it is hard to tell for sure (because the follicles are small and suppressed right now), but it looks like I have 3-4 eggs on each side. This was encouraging to me because for my second IVF egg retrieval two years ago (which resulted in Baby A!) I had 10 retrieved, 8 of which were mature. So if I really do have 8 this time around, we're not that far from where we were, in spite of my AMH level now being .2 instead of the .4 that is was in 2014. For those of you not familiar with IVF or what the medications do, they help each egg think they are the dominant "main" one, so that they each grow large enough to be fertilized. There are no medications, unfortunately, that grow additional eggs. The meds just help utilize what we have.

The following day, I went in for a baseline ultrasound and blood-work to check my estradiol level. Again, everything looked great. I took my last birth control pill on Monday and start my injections tonight! My dosing is 525 IU of Menopur, which I will remain on for six days. I am supposed to inject the medication at the same time every evening. I chose 8:30pm, since she is always asleep before 8pm.

I have three appointments next week to monitor the growth and progress of the follicles: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all at 7:30am. Fingers crossed! I'll update you in a week.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

IVF #3

We're all set for our third round of IVF, and officially made our first payment the other day. In preparation, I am currently taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D, calcium, DHEA, CoQ10, prenatals with DHA, and the birth control pill. I will start my stimulation medication - the highest dosing I've been on - in just over two weeks. We brought back 3,000 IU of Menopur from Prague, which we will be using, but it really doesn't save us on medication costs compared to our first two attempts because we still need quite a lot more. I'm going to be on two main drugs:

PM Drug Menopur 525IU x 6 days (9/23-9/28/2016)

PM Drug Gonal-F 525IU x 4 days (9/29-10/2/2016)

I jokingly say that the key to happiness is low expectations. But, like with most jokes, there is some truth to it. I have already begun preparing myself for our final IVF attempt to not work. Why? Because statistically speaking, it will not. Due to my age and my low AMH level of 0.2, SART success rates from clinics around the country are only 10-20%.

It is hard for me to believe that we're shelling out ten thousand dollars for something that has about a 20% chance of working.

But the clinic we have chosen, HRC Newport Beach, reports a 50% success rate for my group. I'm not buying it and just don't understand how it really could be 30% higher. Maybe it really is, but the more I prepare myself for a negative result, the less disappointed I will be. That's the plan anyway. Baby A is an HRC baby, from their Encino location, so I can't help but hold out some hope.

However, if we are lucky enough to receive a BFP (big, fat, positive) I will still need to temper that excitement because we are not paying the extra money (upwards of $4,000) to have genetic testing done. Imagine that: We could receive a positive result, only to find out that it does not have the genetic makeup to even survive the pregnancy.


But oh, what if it works. Although that picture of the woman in labor embracing her one and only child that went viral does pull at my heartstrings, I know our Baby A would make the very best sibling.

While we would love to give her a sibling, if it doesn't happen we will rest secure in the knowledge that we gave it a good try. If this last round of IVF doesn't work, I will not regret it, for that reason. While it can be easy (and, fun!) to imagine all of the things that could have been purchased for the same amount, the hope of another child is worth more.

Here is my current protocol and calendar, for those of you who may be interested: Protocol.