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.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

23 Months

She started her 23rd month in the daycare room with the 2-3 year olds. We were over watching her cousins one night when she asked "Potty? Potty?" Her Daddy said "Do you want to use the bathroom?" and she said "Yea" and touched her diaper. "What do I do?" he asked me. "I dunno...let her try" I responded. She took her diaper off with some help, and sat there for awhile. She didn't actually go potty, but we celebrated like she did, impressed that she initiated this on her own for the very first time!

The first weekend of her 23rd month, we woke up and it was unusually windy. Shoot, I wanted to get some good photos of her, and I can't now because it's so windy. The wind will mess up her hair I thought. Wait, did you just hear yourself?! I questioned myself. She had a blast, and they instantly became my most recent favorite photos of her. (I have new favorites every month).


"Kiss the joy as it flies."
After our impromptu photo shoot that almost wasn't, we attended a "celebration of life" for a teacher who taught at our school for over 30 years. Although it sounds more cheerful than "memorial service" I still sat there an cried throughout the entire presentation, because there were so many parallels between Cheri and my Mom. The photos of her with her family really got to me, and she was heavy on my heart the rest of the day. Late that afternoon and into the evening, we were all out on the patio bbq-ing and we put on some of Cheri's favorite songs that were played that morning, including the one in the video below. 
Capturing them dancing like this had me in tears all over again. The "soak this up, for your time is fleeting too" kind. The kind that helps you hone in on, and appreciate, what's really important in life; joy with family.
"Not until my whole life is done, will I ever leave you."

On Sunday, we went for our mother's day photos and then out for breakfast. She continues to be such an affectionate baby - spontaneously hugging and kissing me all the time.

We went to Disneyland after work for my birthday. We started with dinner at the Blue Bayou, a place that we went to when we were dating. Disneyland is increasingly fun with every visit because she is becoming more aware. We had a table up front and while we were waiting for our food, she loved leaning on the railing and looking at the boats. "We're going on those boats when we're done!" we told her. "Boat!" came her excited reply. I'm walking without a walker now, but still in pain and cannot do any distance at all, so my husband pushed me in a wheelchair, and she was on my lap. It was perfect. 

Although Disneyland stopped allowing people in wheelchairs to go to the front of the line back in 2013, they do have a fast-pass type arrangement. You scan your pass and come back after what the current wait time is. We scanned at Pirates, and then went over to the Haunted Mansion, where they let me go right on! She was a bit uncertain in the beginning, but did fine once we were on the actual ride. Then we scanned at Alice in Wonderland, and went to 'Toon Town where she could run around and explore. It was the perfect way to celebrate and we were home and had her in bed by 8pm.
My Dad and brother came out the next day and each gave me a gift that will be passed on to Baby A. My brother gave me a hand-blown glass paperweight with a tiny world of flowers inside, some of them made of real gold. This was meaningful because he gave it to our Mom years ago, and she was so touched by it back then. "I want you to have it" he said. It was adorable to see Baby A look at it, then pull it in to her face for a closer study.

And then, Dad's gift. It left me speechless, then brought a tear to my eyes. He picked out an emerald months ago. Then, he took it to a jeweler to create a necklace. But when he got it back, weeks later, he didn't like it because it was too simple. So he took it to Emerson and Farrar who created an art deco surround. Emerald is my birthstone and also Baby A's. And the pearl? Mom's.

That Saturday, we went to Pretend City with my Dad and Glen and arrived just a few minutes before they opened. I love their member's only hour from 9-10am because it's not crowded. We headed home at 10:30am so that I could get my windows (including windshield!) tinted for mother's day. On Sunday, we went to Mass.

She continues to do really well in the room with the 2-3 year old toddlers. When I picked her up one day though, she had actual bite marks (upper and lower) on her right forearm. It didn't break the skin. What was tough for me as a Mom, was that they said it was unprovoked. "She was sitting at the table, playing when he bit her." Even more tough: Being told "Oh, we can't give you his name" when I casually asked which boy it was. It's not like I'm going to fight the Mom in the parking lot, sheesh! I mean, maybe I would give her a dirty look or mad-dog her kid (kidding - sort of) but that's it! Okay...I can see why they don't give out names.

On the drive home, I thought I could get it out of her, knowing in my mind the likely culprit. Our conversation went like this:

Me:           Baby A, do you know the name of the kid who bit you?
Baby A:    Yea
Me:           Was it a boy? (Of course it was a boy - it's always a boy!)
Baby A:    Yea (I knew it!)
Me:           Was it HENDRIX? I bet it's Hendrix
Baby A:    Yea Of course it was him! Oh, wait.....
Me:           Was it a girl?
Baby A:    Yea
Me:           Was it Melanie? (There is no Melanie in her class)
Baby A:     Yea

So much for that! But a bite mark wasn't all she brought home. Around the middle of the month, manners appeared. One morning, as she was in her high chair, I placed her scrambled egg with cheese on her tray like I always do and heard a "Thank you Mommy!" She did it again two more times, when I gave her fruit and toast. It was the cutest thing ever! We do teacher her to say thank you when Daddy gives her the bottle, for instance, but it was the first time she did it unprompted, and the first time she directed it towards me.

She has also started saying "sorry" a lot. Picking her up from daycare, I handed her my keys. As we were walking to the car, she accidentally dropped them and responded with a chipper, happy "Sorry Mommy!" Excuse  me is another favorite. I was getting ready and she wanted to investigate the drawers under the bathroom sink. "'Scuse me Mommy! 'Scuse me!" 

For mother's day weekend, we mostly stayed at home. Other than a Saturday morning trip to Disneyland and a walk on Sunday for breakfast with Daddy, we didn't go anywhere.


It was the last weekend before her second birthday party and I had crafting, de-cluttering and some cleaning to do. But we managed to have fun while doing it. Baby A's big thing lately is helping. Other than the occasional independent play (which usually consists of playing with her castle or putting blankets over her baby's faces so they go night-night), she wants to be by my side, doing what I'm doing. So I always find a role for her and a way to help.

Sunday was mother's day and low-key like I wanted. We walked to a local breakfast place and I came back and opened gifts that I wasn't expecting, since I had my windows tinted the weekend before, for mother's day. I was given a beautiful black dress and a garnet necklace to match our bracelets. I didn't cry all day which is huge progress compared to the other two I have had without Mom. Instead, I whispered "I miss you Mom" a few times, when no one was listening, or talked to her about how I now understand just how much she loved me.

For the week leading up to her party, we went to Disneyland again on a Tuesday but then stayed home the rest of the days. I baked her cake and was just so excited for her big day, which you can read about here. 

She loves going to daycare, and wants down right when we walk in the room, or walks in on her own. She will usually wave and say "Bye Mommy" before I have even signed her in. Sometimes, this is followed by her blowing me a kiss.

Her actual birthday was Friday, May 26th. I baked cupcakes for her class of 12 and took them to her as soon as I was off work. Then, we went to the park/playground down the street from my work. We celebrated that evening at Chuck-e-Cheese, and she had a blast. 

These past two years have been the best two years of my life. We're gearing up for IVF number 4, but if it doesn't work out, it only serves to highlight just what a miracle she is. Every day, I feel beyond blessed that she made me a mom.

Things I do not want to forget about this month:
  • "Nooooooooo waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy!"
  • She loves spotting buses when I'm driving. Often before I even notice it she will exclaim "Bus!"
  • Ever more aware of her surroundings, she will now say "Animals!" when we pass by the farm on the way to school. I take her twice a month now.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sixteen More Summers With You

Your first summer in 2015 didn't seem like a summer at all because you slept almost 23 hours a day, and we spent most of our time indoors, with the a/c cranked, avoiding the sun. You were such a precious, helpless little bean. You were only a month or two old, and you couldn't hold your head up. I was still recovering from my c-section, and adjusting to the new wonderful world of being your Mom. Sometimes, we would lay in the shade on a blanket. You know, the round rainbow one.

That first summer, at the very end of August, you visited Oregon for the first time. I napped when you did, read you board books and sang to you probably more than you wanted me to. When your eyes were open, I was staring into them, imagining what your voice would sound like or what you would be interested in. We talked to you about Oregon, explaining how many times you would return over the years, and how part of it would be yours someday.

In 2016, we ambitiously took on Europe: 4 cities in less than three weeks, most by train. Prague, Vienna, Budapest and back to Prague again. Thirteen months old and new to the world of walking, you strutted around on cobblestones with more coordination than that guy who fell off the Segway in the rain, remember? Although you perpetually looked like you were going to do a face-plant (like him), you rarely fell. I'll never forget that brilliant watermelon swimsuit of yours, or the folds in your squishy thighs. You smiled with your mouth wide-open, and that was my favorite. Something tells me it always will be. I'll still do anything to see you smile, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. 

When we returned from Europe, we took you to Oregon and then also, Morro Bay.  You were an amazing, easy-going traveler and we vowed to keep up the pace.

But by circumstance, this summer will be a lot more low-key. 

That fall, IVF came along and stole a bit from the travel pot. And then it greedily dipped its hand in again, for my 4th IVF, which starts in less than two weeks. And then there's my doctor, who has issued a travel ban for me. The same doctor whose only caution with Italy over Christmas was "Don't eat too much pasta" has now told me that he doesn't even want me going to Oregon. 
Me: "But what if I'm driven?" 
Dr.: "No. You need to stay home."
We'll know on July 3rd if we get to fly up to Oregon and spend three weeks there, but of course I'm hoping we can't. As much as I cherish our time up there and time spent with family, I would love a little brother or sister for you to cover completely with a towel, pat vigorously on the back and say "Nigh-nigh" to. I don't know if that is in the cards for us, but we sure want to try. Though it is financially draining and the equivalent of 3 additional European vacations, you can't put a price on a sibling. 

Whether we just do Oregon or stay in California all summer, I cannot wait for all of the uninterrupted, unstructured time I will have with you. Because when you think about it, we don't have many summers left until you're an adult. Sixteen, to be exact. And if the past two are any indication, they will fly by. So here's my promise to you, little bean. 

1.) Get fully submerged. 
We'll do lots of water activities together. On my list to check out are some local splash pads and pop up fountains at local parks. I'll wear my suit even though I'm not at my goal weight, and won't care what the other moms think. I won't wear make-up on purpose, so my face can get wet too, and I'll run in the water with you. I'll get in your small, often a tad too cold pool with you. But I'll also be fully submerged in your world. Where we are, you and I, I will be fully present and right by your side, just like I know you want. "Stay here" or "Mommy, sit" you'll say, and I'll oblige. 

2.) Uncover something new.
We'll make the messy craft, go on a nature walk and take home flowers or rocks, and turn over a rock to uncover bugs hiding. We'll be spontaneous and turn the music up and dance. We'll point at any flying insect and say "Oooh! Bee!" and laugh. We'll eat ice cream for dinner and stay up late enough to watch a sunset. Come to think of it, I don't think you've seen one yet. You'll like them, trust me.

3.) More photos together. 
Dad doesn't like taking pictures nearly as much I do. Okay, actually he dislikes taking photos. But even if he enjoyed it, when we're just bumming around the house, I don't like having my picture taken anyway. But when you're older, you won't search for the posed mother's day photos of us with all my make-up on and better-than-usual posture. You'll search for the candid, natural ones where we're caught in the moment and don't even know the picture is being taken. I want you to look back on our summers and see me right there by your side, enjoying my motherhood just as much as you are enjoying your childhood. I want you to see us.

4.) Enjoy the simple moments.
I'll make plans for us, but more frequently; no plans. We'll stay a few nights at the Great Wolf Lodge, go to Disneyland and Pretend City, and visit the Irvine Spectrum and Irvine Park. We'll meet up with friends for play dates. But we'll also enjoy the slow and simple moments too. The days when we have nothing on our calendar, and stay in our pajamas until after noon. I know the messes you make won't be for long, the bruises and scrapes will heal, and your hair doesn't always need to be in a bow. I'll try out things I see on pinterest, like giant bubble or cloud dough recipes, and some of them will flop. But we'll have fun doing it anyway. We'll walk around the block and to the little library for a new-to-us book, and leave one behind.

For before we know it, you'll be gone. We will have used up all of the summers when you were solely ours. You'll set off on your own, and may even move away from us. You'll meet a husband and may have children of your own. Sure, you'll return, and maybe we'll even be able to talk you into a trip abroad like that first one when you were just learning to walk. But the time will be yours, not ours, to structure, and you'll have a say. "Sorry Mom, I have my internship starting" or "We're visiting his family this summer."

And so I'll soak up the enjoyment of watching you go back and forth with your bubble mower, and let your popsicle get your hands all sticky and drip down your face without wiping it. We'll create all sorts of the these amazing, ordinary memories now, to sustain us. Because life-long memories don't just happen in fancy European cities. Mostly, they happen in our own back yard.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Party Fit for a Princess

I know, I know...my daughter is not actually a princess. But she's my princess.
 
When I was planning her 1st birthday party, I justified it by telling my husband "Don't worry, she won't have another party until she's like, five." I wasn't intentionally lying to him, because I actually believed it myself. 

I enjoyed planning her first birthday so much that when I started to think about her only having a few big parties left (age 5, 10, 13...16, 18) it made me really sad! Okay, I'll do a puppy party, but just a small one I thought. Again, I was lying and again, I believed myself.

Much to my surprise and delight, I discovered that there are party planners for children's birthdays. When I saw Lesly Marquez's amazing work with Glam Spot Events, there was no turning back. But how were we going to afford it? After all, we're both on a teacher's salary. 


I saved my allowance every month since November to cover the cost of the planner. Edit: My husband would prefer that I call it my "mad money" so that he seems like less of a male chauvinist and more like a man about the 21st century. My husband parceling out money may seem antiquated to some, especially since we make the same...but trust me, it's for the best. He does all of the finances in our household because if it were up to me, I would spend our money on...well, things like this! Now, this doesn't mean that I wasn't able to sneak in an amazon order here and there, but it did mean no pedicures or new clothing for me. I know, I know quite the sacrifice. If the hash-tag 'first world problems' had not already been invented, this would be a great time to do it.

Because I told my husband I was "taking care of the planner" which included the tent and draping, centerpieces, dessert bar, some dog props, tables, chair and linens, he somehow thought that meant he was off the hook for costs the day of. "Oh, no - I have the planner covered, but you need to get the taco cart, balloons, and the puppies." He raised an eyebrow but mostly remained silent and if I could read his thoughts, they would have been This better be worth it...


But it was worth every penny. And Baby A had an absolute blast, playing with the real doggies, and balloon floaters and her friends. Usually close by my side, she had fun wandering around the party without me even keeping track of where she was.

And at the end of the evening, when all our guests had left, our conversation went like this: 
Hubby: Everything was perfect. It reminded me of the Christmas parties my Mom used to throw. You know, I was thinking. If you're going with a Beauty and the Beast theme for her 3rd, we should project a movie outside for the kids who want to stay later. And if we're going to have a movie, we're going to need fresh popcorn...
Me: You're speaking my language. There's a vendor for that, and they can also spin cotton candy...or, we could have hot dogs!
Hubby: Book the planner, so we have the date set.

Vendor credits:
Styling by Glam Spot Events
Dessert by Sweets by Gigi
Puppies by http://pupsandreps.com/puppy-parties/
Photography by Ellie Marie
Food by My Taco Guy
Balloons by www.balloonsville.com 



How to Stop Being an Angry Mom?

Recently on Pinterest, this article on stopping anger toward your children by wearing hair ties came up in my 'picked for you' pins I might like.

Who on earth is angry toward their children, and why would Pinterest think I'm interested in that?! I was insulted. I mean, frustrated or tired sometimes sure - but actual anger? Anger that I would feel the need to curb by reading an article about using hair ties as a visual reminder to not berate my little girl...what the heck? You mean people actually feel this way toward their children? I was intrigued. 



With a little digging, I learned that the article came up as suggested because someone I know had pinned it. An overall, generally angry and unhappy person who happens to also be very rigid and controlling. Someone who doesn't smile as much as they used to. So that made sense, but still, it had 33 thousand shares!

I'm not sure if I was drawn to psychology because I am fascinated by the whys behind human behavior, or if studying psychology brought the interest out in me. I guess it's probably a combination of both, but this article got me thinking. How and why am I not an "angry Mom" and why are there people who are? What is the difference between us? Beyond just trying to curb or not express anger toward Baby A, I have never actually felt it - not ever, not once. Not when she took every bottle out of the spice drawer, dug in my plants and put dirt on her baby's face or ...? I cannot even think of another scenario that could even sound like something anyone would become angry with. I actually cannot imagine feeling that way toward her.

This is not to say that I will not at some point. But for me, there has to be intent behind something for it to upset me. And babies and toddlers exploring their world is to be expected, though messy it may be. But if she's in junior high and tells me she's going somewhere and intentionally goes somewhere else, well then you may find me with some hair ties around my wrists. I'll get back to you on that one.

Does the fact that I have not yet been angry toward her make me better than the 33 thousand moms who pinned this article? No, it just makes me different. And it lead me to examine the why behind that difference.

While I would like to think that I'm not ever angry toward my little girl because I regularly exercise (haven't in well over a month), eat well (more fast food than I care to admit lately), meditate (I did that once in my 20's) or love where I live (my dream is to move out of California), none of these things are factors. It isn't anything I'm trying to do or trying not to do, it just is.

But what is it that causes someone to routinely get mad at their child? The article is not about how to curb anger because they dumped nail polish on your new rug...but rather, routinely being angry over many different things. I would only be guessing at what causes that, but do recognize that there can be valid reasons such as postpartum depression or displacement of anger (ie actually mad at someone else that they cannot express it toward, like their husband or boss). All I can speak to, and reflect on, is why I am not. 

I do know that the fix cannot be something as simple as wearing hair ties on one arm and then moving them over to your other arm when you have violated your no-anger policy and lashed out at your child, as the article promises. 

How we treat our children is much more fundamental. It is much more ingrained in who we are, the life we lead, our perspective on children and, most importantly, how we ourselves were mothered. It is a beautiful mixture between nature and nurture that is so intertwined that the two cannot be separated.

Recognizing and shifting our perspective can be the key to doing things differently, if we want to. You cannot change something that you do not identify as needing to be changed. 

The life we lead. If we are generally happy and grateful for what we have, we are less angry. This doesn't mean that we need to have a lot to be grateful or have a fabulous, stress-free career, if such a thing even exists. It just means that we need to be thankful for what we have, and where we are. I have known people who have so much, yet it is not enough. Or, people who are very poor, but rich in spirit and in love. This was my Mom. For me, happiness also comes from being an authentic person. I show my true feelings and thoughts, and wear my heart on my sleeve. You know where you stand with me, and I'm not ever hiding anything. To me, its more work to hide how I feel anyway.

Our perspective on children. I remember my parents saying, on multiple occasions, that it is sad how people talk to their children in a way they wouldn't speak to their neighbors. I still remember their example too. "If you wanted your neighbor to help take out your trash, you wouldn't yell at them and tell them to do it. You would ask nicely." Children are to be valued and respected. Being treated with respect shouldn't start when the arbitrary age of 18 is reached and you can vote. They may be tiny humans, but they're human. Also, enduring all of the infertility treatments that we have had serves as a constant reminder to me what a miracle our Baby A is. And how lucky we are that she chose us, and we are her parents.

How we were mothered. My Mom was the most patient, sweet, selfless and loving person I have ever known. Even during my teen years, my mom and I remained unwaveringly close. She loved unconditionally, and never held a grudge or seemed mad at me. If she didn't agree with something, I knew it, but she moved on and was never cold or distant. She fully entered my world and knew my friends, interests and music. She was my Mom first, but also my best friend. To this day, when something amazing or heartbreaking happens, she is the first one that I want to share it with.

I didn't know what type of Mom I would be until I became one. I am relieved and a bit surprised as I sit here reflecting on these past two years that I am more like her than I ever hoped I could be. It wasn't until I saw this article that I even thought about it. Were this not the case, I would be pinning stuff like this too. Women who are raised one way and actively work to change it are to be applauded. Without realizing it, I am just doing what comes naturally to me. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

GIANT Bubble Recipe

My daughter absolutely loves bubbles! But because she is almost 2, she is no longer satisfied with me blowing bubbles for her to chase. She wants to blow the bubbles herself, which usually results in two things; no bubbles, and then bubble solution spilled or dumped in the back yard. The wands are small and hard for her tiny hands to handle. 

Plus, because we had been using 'cheap' bubbles given to us or purchased at the dollar store, it was hard for me to even produce bubbles, and they certainly weren't anything to write home about.

There had to be a better way.

I found the best recipe, which we tried after school last week. While we were able to produce a few huge bubbles, they certainly didn't remain in the air very long or float into other yards, like the original posting described. I was disappointed and re-read the recipe, trying to figure out what I did wrong.




Stir the remaining ingredients, being very careful not to create a lot of froth. Whoops! That was my mistake, because I actually shook the mixture! I made it again today, stirring instead, and it worked like a charm!

It made the biggest difference. Not only did she have a blast making gigantic bubbles herself, but she loved mixing up the solution and being involved in the whole process. She also likes the feel of it and exclaiming "bubbles!" Be sure to create own wand with two straws and some yarn. I poured the mixture into a metal baking pan that I usually use for enchiladas and it was the perfect size, with at least half of the solution left-over to use the next day or re-fill her bubble containers.

For the original posting and more details, head over to Happy Hooligans.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 cups water (distilled is best but tap water is fine)
  • 1/2 cup blue Dawn dish detergent I used “ultra concentrated”. Dawn original is even better.
  • 1/2 cup corn starch (corn flour in the UK)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder (not baking soda)
  • 1 tbsp Glycerine (or if ya got it, personal lubricant)

MAKING YOUR HOMEMADE GIANT BUBBLE RECIPE:

  1. Dissolve cornstarch in the water, stirring really well.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients being very careful not to create a lot of froth. 
  3. Allow your mixture to sit for at least an hour, stirring occasionally when you see the cornstarch settling to the bottom.
Some of the cornstarch won’t dissolve completely, and may even settle to the bottom when you’re using your bubble mixture, but it won’t affect the quality of your bubbles.

THE MORE BUBBLES YOU MAKE, THE BETTER THE MIXTURE GETS! 

FYI: The first several bubbles popped immediately, and I was feeling deflated (no pun intended). We soon discovered however, that more we played with the bubble formula, the silkier it became.
Before we knew it, we were making huge bubbles.  When they broke free of our wand, they jiggled and wobbled through the air, gaining altitude until they floated up over the housetops and out of sight.
It was crazy-cool!

Monday, May 8, 2017

IVF #4

I am gearing up for our 4th and final IVF. All IVF cycles have been fresh transfers. We have never had any embryos left over to freeze, although I really wish we did! The cost of a frozen transfer is less than $1,000, while a new complete round runs about $15,000 (with medication). 

Our last IVF was supposed to be our last, but when we found out her little heart had stopped beating, all I could think about was trying again. If I had been able to transfer an embryo the very next day, I would have. While another round is a huge set-back financially, we do not want to wish that we had five years from now.

We were hoping to do this in May, but the proposed embryo transfer (if we are blessed enough to even have any to transfer) would have been the day before her 2nd birthday party, and I am supposed to be on bed-rest. So, we pushed it back one month, and here it is! Today I started birth control pills, and I will start my first stimulation medication in less than a month! I'm really excited and fortunate to have another opportunity to try.

Here is my timeline and protocol:

CETROTIDE STIMULATION INSTRUCTIONS
Megan Swanek
IVF/ICSI/AH
Please contact me to schedule the financial consult with Vanessa.  
The payment for IVF is due by 5/31/17.


  • Start birth control pills on day 3 of May period. Take one pill daily at the same time. Do not take Placeboes. Start new pack if needed. Email me on day 1.
  • Last day of Birth control: 5/31/17.


  • Office visit for Ultrasound and lab 5/31/17. Please bring in the signed consent.
Please review medication teaching online before your appointment at www.freedommedteach.com
  • Please stay on Vitamins
  • Take 1 baby aspirin daily starting 6/6


  • Start stimulation Medications.  _6/5/17     Inject the following stimulation drug(s) daily


PM Drug Gonal-F          375 IU x 10 days
PM Drug Menopur 75IU x 10 days


  • Office Visit for Ultrasound and lab on 6/9/17.


  • Please start Cetrotide in the morning of  6/11/17 (4 days only).


  • Office Visit for Ultrasound and lab on 6/12/17.


  • Office Visit for Ultrasound and lab on 6/14/17.


    • Take Ovidrel injection and start Doxycycline as directed.


  • Anticipated Egg Retrieval on: __6/16/17.   We need your partner’s sample on this day. You will start Crinone, Estrace and Medrol day after the procedure.


  • Anticipated Embryo transfer on Day 5: 6/21/2017.


  • Bed rest for 3 days after Transfer


  • Pregnancy blood test is on    7/3/17

Sunday, May 7, 2017

#SuperSimone

This is a special kind of heartache, known only to Moms who struggle with infertility. The longing for a child, and the fear that one will never be conceived. The continual disappointment each month when the test only has one line. 

But then, there is an entirely different kind of heartache know only to Moms who lose a child to cancer. A different type of heartache that I cannot even begin to imagine. Meet Simone: 


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
#SuperSimone
Simone was born in 2013 and left this earth for heaven in 2015, a few months after her second birthday. She was just a few months older than my daughter is now. In her eyes I see the same light that my daughter has; when she smiles, her whole face lights up.

I never met Simone, but I did have the privilege of meeting her Mom this week, and now I know who Simone got her strength from.

Jennifer (name changed) and I met on facebook in March, thorough an IVF abroad group. We were corresponding about the same clinic in Prague that I tried to go to this summer. She recently had an embryo transfer, and received a BFN (big, fat negative). I noticed her profile picture had a little girl with no hair, and was obviously battling cancer. But as I continued to look at her profile photos, I saw this:


Tears immediately began flowing and I messaged her, asking if she lost her daughter. Yes, she was diagnosed with leukemia at 11 months and we lost her at 26 months. I'm shattered without her. This was her first message to me. What do you say? What can you say? I mustered what I could.

Me: I cannot imagine. I just cannot. When did you lose her? What can I do to help you or honor her?
J: Finally got the courage to try IVF because I do want another. Struggled feeling like I'd be replacing her and finally got okay with it after praying and believed she would send me a message that I should go on and have a baby and nothing but a big failure...

She had done IVF at a clinic in Prague very recently and had just received a BFN (big, fat, negative). She questioned doing IVF again, and wondered how much more heartache she could take. Her first two daughters were conceived naturally. Now she was searching for IVF, in case her or her husband's genes contributed to her daughter's leukemia. She seemed to feel better when I explained that for my first IVF we transferred 3 embryos and none of them took. And for my second, two. 

Just because one embryo didn't implant, didn't mean that the next would fail. I urged her to try again. I suggested trying my doctor, but never imagined that she would actually consider making the 2,000 mile trek out here. 

She wanted an over-the-phone consultation, and my doctor was able to get her in that very next week! And much to my surprise, she decided to come out here and transfer one AA grade embryo with PGS testing and assisted hatching. I was so surprised to get this message from her the day after her consult:

I can't believe the randomness of you and I connecting on FB and you reaching out about your clinic and doc and literally like 2 months later I'll be transferring there!!

Neither can I! I want so much for her embryo transfer to take. I feel partially responsible for her coming here and spending $9,000 instead of just a few thousand in Prague (plus travel expenses). If it does not work I will feel horrible but if it does work, I will definitely know in my heart that us meeting was not random.

I offered for her to stay at our place, but she had a family member here in the area. After work earlier this week, I picked her up and we went for dinner and talked for hours. Like a good date, I didn't want the night to end! She told me about how her daughter was first diagnosed, and how she did not spend a night at home for the next 83 days. I didn't realize that when newly diagnosed, children literally live at the hospital.

Over our conversation, I made a commitment to do some volunteering with children who have cancer in the future. Not just to honor Simone and her Mom, but because my Mom never felt sorry for herself when she had cancer. Why? I still remember verbatim what she said: "I've had a good life. But there are children who have cancer. Children."

Childhood cancer is seriously underfunded compared to many other types of cancers, and yet finding a cure and better treatments for innocent children should be a top priority. 

My new and dear friend transferred her embryo this week and is back home now in the dreaded two-week-wait. She will likely test early, and I'll update here with a comment when we know. I feel a bit privileged to be one of the few people who knows that she did IVF. Even her family member that she stayed with while out here in California does not know, and neither do most of her friends. She does not want them knowing in case it doesn't work. I'm praying that it does.

Visit Super Simone's facebook page.

Click here to order Simone's signature Blue "boo" Angel nailpolish and bring awareness to childhood cancer. Item is currently out of stock, but more are on order.
Traci

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

22 Months

One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ 
~J.M. Barrie

How can it be that my little baby is almost two years old? Before I had children, I would read or hear mothers lamenting the passing of time. When I had her, countless people advised me to enjoy her being a baby, and warned that it would pass far too quickly. I sit here today, with the realization that they were right. I feared they would be, and enjoyed the heck out of each baby-phase as much as I could, but it passed right by anyway, replacing my baby with a full-blown toddler. And still, I am powerless to stop it. 

But how could I trade this tiny person who runs and chases me, gives spontaneous kisses, says a sincere, tiny "Oh no!" when watching Beauty and the Beast and speaks full sentences to me, of which I cannot understand a single word, for that helpless baby that she once was? Her personality and sense of humor are shining through and I am loving every minute of it.

The awareness of the passing of time does serve to help me savor it. For example, when I get home from work, sometimes the last thing I want to do is be dragged by the hand and commanded to fit myself into a very small space in the farthest corner of our yard. "Mommy, house!" she orders. Would I rather change my clothes or sit and look through the mail? Sometimes, yes. But the "Not now, A - I have things to do" response is rarely uttered. Instead, I remind myself that she will not be like this forever, and that there may even come a time when she doesn't want me right by her side.

The first weekend of her 22nd month found us at Irvine Park Railroad for her first real Easter Egg hunt. I was surprised how well she did! About 5 minutes before Auntie Andrea, Casey, Bill, my Dad and brother arrived, she threw up all over me. She obviously was not feeling well, yet still hunted eggs with the best of 'em, acquiring more than her 8 egg limit. I tossed some back when she wasn't looking, so she could gather more. 

Her Dad put her down for a nap, and Andrea and I went to see Beauty and the Beast. Can you believe I escaped my childhood without seeing or even knowing the plotline? I fell in love with the story, and it instantly became my favorite Disney movie. I love the message it sends girls; to be smart, a little different, and acquire a voracious appetite for books. I love that Belle is discerning and does not blindly accept the first marriage proposal or, worse yet, give up her voice for a man she doesn't even know. 

I went home and put the Disney movie in my Amazon cart, as well as the soundtrack, which we have listened to non-stop all month. A sure sign that I've changed as a Mom: My new Depeche Mode cd remains in it's case even when she's not in the car. I knew my indoctrination was working the moment she applauded after one of the songs and asked for "More? More?" She also started exclaiming "Beast! Beast!" randomly, and sometimes following that with a growl. On 4/4, we were driving to school and she actually sung just the 'beast' portion of the title track. My heart melted. Of course I have already switched the theme for her 3rd birthday from Alice in Wonderland to Beauty. Good thing it's over a year away...

She continues to be affectionate, one day giving me 5 kisses before we were even out of bed to start the day! She will routinely kiss Trevi, her dolls, Daddy and Granka and Uncle Glen. Once we're out of the car and I'm carrying her into daycare, I am sure to get a very tight squeeze around my neck when I ask for a hug. One of the most adorable moments was at the end of Beauty and the Beast, when the two main characters are locked in a passionate kiss. She turned to me and kissed me!

She is loving the spa, and we have been in there almost every day after work! At the beginning of the month she was starting to go under water just a bit, and practicing floating with support, on on us.

For spring break, we flew to Oregon to stay with my in-laws. For over a week, I had been practicing "Dupa" with baby A, and she was getting pretty good at saying it. My husband told me that Dupa was Polish for grandfather, and I thought it would be good for her to have two different names for her grandfathers, to avoid confusion, and her expectation that my Dad would be up in Oregon. It was almost 11pm when we arrived at the house from the airport. Autumn's Grandma who picked us up was still in the car, but Baby A and I hurried in so that I could get her upstairs and into bed.
Best-dressed baby in the airport!

Patiently waiting at the kitchen table to greet us was my father-in-law, who I hadn't seen since November. "Look Baby A, it's your Dupa! Look, can you say Dupa?? Hi Dupa!" I proudly exclaimed, demonstrating my knowledge of his heritage and culture. He looked at me, a bit puzzled, as my husband said "Tell my Dad why you're calling him that." 

"Well, because that's what you called your grandfather. It's Polish for Grandpa." I replied. Shaking his head and looking down, he said "Nooooooooo!" and my husband started laughing. "Tell her what it means, Dad!" he prompted. "It means bottom. But the not so nice version." 

I love that my husband can still pull something like this off. Even though we know each other so well, I had no idea that he was tricking me!

We had not been there since our visit at Thanksgiving. At that time, she was afraid of pony, and cried when we placed her on top, even briefly for a photo. But this time, not only was not afraid of pony, but she was excited! After a moment on Butterscotch's back, she wanted to sit on the bigger horses; all of the bigger horses! This made me so happy. She enjoyed being by pony, and was comfortable brushing her and petting her. As I spent more time with Butterscotch, my comfort level increased as well. I went riding one day while she napped, and we took Butterscotch for a walk around the property with her. 

Baby A loved tackling the stairs at her grandparents' house. I was surprised and impressed by this, because I know other kids who are much older that still cannot navigate stairs. In fact, her Dupa, er...Grandpa, thought that she must be about to turn 3 instead of 2, because of how well she independently goes up and down the stairs, all by herself. I started out by spotting her, but after a day ow two she went up (or down) all by herself, without me even watching. 

She also loved riding in the larger gator with us, and the mini Power-Wheels version. She does not yet have any concept of steering, and didn't flinch when she narrowly missed the garage by an inch or two, as she sat back, still munching on her piece of bread.

Uncle Ben loves holidays as much as I do!
I love the rain up there in April, and letting her splash in puddles. We did have several days of sunshine, and some rainbows, too. Other than a night out at the symphony with my in-laws, we stayed at home which was really relaxing. She had some good quality time with her grandparents and also Uncle Ben, who helped her with an indoor egg-hunt, and gave her a special Thumper rabbit. 
Playing with Grandma in her room.
Bye Grandpa!
The day after we returned, it was Easter and we had her cousins over. She enjoyed spending time with them. It was only the second time she had seen them this year, but the following Sunday they came over again, and it was so neat to see her level of comfort, fun and familiarity increase. She seemed excited beforehand when we told her "Your cousins are coming over" and she even learned to say "John-Paul." A few days later, she randomly asked for him which was quite endearing. 

Around the middle of the month, I had wide excisions surrounding some atypical moles. One of the moles was on the bottom of my foot, and so the surgery left me with limited mobility. For well over a week, I was not able to even put pressure on my foot, and had to use a walker. I used it as an opportunity to get down on her level, literally. We sat in the backyard and she had popsicles (two!) while I pulled weeds and watered. We colored on the floor, and I read up to 20 books in one sitting. Hearing her say "More book" is music to my ears.

It would have been easier to put on Peppa Pig or Beauty and the Beast, but when I realized that we had made it through Saturday with no TV, it became a goal for Sunday as well. Instead, we just played and played. The day seemed longer, which I liked.

At the very end of her 22nd month, she transitioned into the next classroom at daycare, with the 2-3 year old kids. Originally, they were talking about Sebastian and Isabelle moving over, but Baby A did so well on the trial days that they decided to move her instead of Sebastian. When Sebastian saw myself or my husband he asked for her by name or "where she?"

The ratio of kids to teachers is much higher (up to 12 children per teacher, for a total of 24 kids and 2 teachers) but they only have 8 per group right now, for a total of 16 with the two teachers. 

We were excited because the move up means a savings of $300 every month!

Things I do not want to forget about this month:
  • Night-time snuggles. Getting her to bed is still one of my favorite times of the day.
  • Saying "Thank you" when she hands me her empty bottle and "Excuse me" when she needs to get by.
  • Some new words and phrases: "Mommy coming, Daddy baba, Trevi house." Too many words to list now, almost one a day. I love that any flying insect is a bee, and snails are "Mommy's friends."
  • Leaving daycare one day, it was really windy and she started belly laughing, so I started laughing too, which caused her to laugh even more.
  • How she will wrap her arms around Daddy's neck and pull him in close for a kiss.
  • We stopped using her baby monitor. When she wakes up, she knows where to find me! The only child-proofing we have (ever done) is one monkey lock on the hall door. She usually sleeps through the night in her own bed, but sometimes still wakes up in the middle of the night and we snuggle. I'm still a bit sad when she sleeps straight through.
  • Our evenings in the hot tub, and jumping off her special seat.
  • Running around chasing me, or being chased.
  • When her friend Olivia stops by and knocks on the door. She lives down the street, and when her parents take her on a walk now, she asks to go to our house which I love. Earlier this week, the girls started learning to play tag, and ran around holding their Daddy's hands while I sat on the bench and watched.