Our miracle RAINBOW BABY BOY arrived 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 without 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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

20 Months

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.”  – Charles Brower

As a child, I remember "discovering" what I was certain was a new species. It was really just a millipede, but because I had never seen one before, in real-life or print, to me it was a brand-new discovery that I was certain to become famous for. I could barely contain my excitement as I rushed into the kitchen to my Mom, screen door slamming shut behind me. I can't remember if it was my idea or hers, but somehow I ended up calling our local library to tell them of my discovery, and to gather more information. What stays with me today is what she didn't do: laugh or say don't be ridiculous. Mom always supported, fostered and encouraged my ideas and imagination. 

This is how I aspire to be with Baby A. I do my best to encourage her exploration and curiosity, even if especially if it means getting messy in the garden or with art. Or, if her idea is for me to go in her house with her for the 20th time, I oblige. She can't articulate most of her ideas with words just yet, but they're there just the same, and my job is to encourage them.

This is my most lengthy monthly update yet. It seems like she is growing and changing faster than ever before. Her language acquisition is through the roof, with a new word every few days. This is the first month that I have had a hard time keeping up on documenting her updates. 

The loss of my pregnancy was a harsh reminder of how lucky and blessed we are to have her. She truly is a miracle unfolding, and it is a privilege and honor to be her Mom. She's trying more than ever to communicate with me, although sometimes, I have no idea what she's saying. She will look me right in the eye and say a whole sentence containing no recognizable words. So, I'll smile and nod, or ask her to take me and show me. 
The first weekend of her 20th month we stayed busy, to keep my mind off of things. So right after breakfast, before her dance class, it was craft time! 
Although I do let her watch TV or a movie a few times a week, I don't want it to become routine. Later in the month she started leading me by the hand to the couch and asking for "TV?" ...a sure sign that she needs less of it! On the flip side, she will also bring over a book and say "book!" which is her was of promoting me to read it to her.

After craft time, it was time to get ready for her dance class. I loved seeing her perfect little ballet slippers on those perfect little feet! The new class (still run through the city, but a different instructor) was still a lot more structured than I would like. She's great at collecting or returning items such as the princess wand or bean bags, but is unable to do certain things, like walking across the room on her tip-toes or skipping.

After class, I let her wander around a grassy area/park. I had no idea the class was right next to the free Adventure Playground, and she enjoyed this so much that the next week during dance, she kept pointing to the door. I was blown away by everything it featured, and how large it was! 
  • Tree House
  • Sensory garden
  • Climbing poles and stumps
  • Slides
  • Art wall
  • Kids fort zone
  • Meadows and natural play areas

The playground proved to be more of a draw over the next few classes and we proudly became dance-class dropouts. Saturday mornings are meant for fun, and she wasn't having much of it in this class.

On Sunday morning, "Granka" and Uncle Glen visited just before 9am and she had a blast with them, just in our back yard. My Dad relates to her so well, and acts like a big kid with her - chasing her and getting on her level, which she loves. He never can seem to catch her, though.
My husband and I kept busy the rest of the day, finally getting to cleaning out the garage to regain our workout space, and donating a bunch of stuff while she napped. We walked 3 miles with her in the stroller when she woke up, and did some gardening. 

Every night, she falls asleep in her bed with me snuggling beside her. I sneak out once she's fast asleep. She has never been put down on her own, and I like it this way because of the security and closeness it brings. She has been sleeping straight through the night since she was two months old, but recently has been waking up once between 1 and 5 a.m., I think due to her cough. That Monday morning found her awake at 5:15 a.m. But before you feel sorry for me, I have to admit that I sort of enjoy it because we get special cuddle time, and I'm usually able to fall back asleep. 

I knew that was going to be a tough week with a new semester starting and my caseload of 700, on top of the recent loss. As she was laying beside me that morning, I asked "Do you want to lay on Mommy?" and she quickly scooted herself on top of me like a starfish. Then I asked if I could have a hug and she gave me a hug with her whole body - including her legs. It was all I needed to get me through the day. I felt like I could live on that alone. No food or water needed; that would be enough to sustain me.

Exercise has been key to helping regulate my emotions and hormones, and I started forcing myself to run 3 miles almost daily. I try to run on my 30 minute lunch break, but wasn't able to squeeze one in that day. After work, we went on a run to some local goats (Lyle and Larry) that are, conveniently, 1.5 miles away. Running in general is tough for me right now and pushing 50 pounds (she weighs about 25, and so does the stroller) makes it even harder. My pace was slow and we stopped when I saw wildflowers so she could pick one and I as I said the color. I was amazed and surprised when she repeated "yellow" back to me!

Her new word reminded me of the Coldplay song by the same name, and so we started listening to it in the mornings. We had an impromptu dance party that next morning as I was cooking breakfast for her. Right now, her dancing is bending her knees followed by turning around in a circle. And it's just about the cutest thing ever. 

She had her second big meltdown outside of Marshall's that week (first was on a flight to Oregon) when I abruptly took away a ball she put in her mouth that suddenly seemed like it could be a choking hazard. To her, I seemed like a big bully taking away something she was so clearly enjoying and her frustration came with not being able to explain this (or, get me to give it back). In response, she ended up wailing, on the ground. When I picked her up to walk to the car, she used her body weight and threw herself backwards. By the time she was strapped in her car seat she had settled down, but of course all of this had to happen in front of my friend Christian, whose little baby boy was being being quite angelic by comparison. Fortunately, these incidents are super rare, and usually blamed on an interrupted nap at daycare. Thankfully, they're also quite normal, and blow past faster than a summer storm.

We walk to El Torrito most Wednesdays for their all-you-can-eat enchiladas. That first week, we met our friends/neighbors there. They have a girl a few months older than Baby A. After our meal, it was so cute to see them throwing coins in the fountain, and giving each other a hug goodbye. She asked Daddy for more change, but we were all out, so he said That's it...we don't throw money away. Without thinking, I quickly responded with Unless it's on IVF. Being able to make this joke, we both realized that I was starting to feel better and more like myself. 

I say this every month, but once again, this is my favorite age. She is understanding so much more and interacting. I never want to forget reading her Peter Rabbit and how very into the story and concerned she became when she realized Mr. McGregor was after Peter. She furrowed her brow, and turned the page back, wanting more of an explanation. Over animated, I explained that he was very angry because Peter was eating his cabbages and made the eating motion with my hands and mouth. "Eat?" she asked, putting her hand to her mouth and seemed satisfied with this response.

That weekend, she was very excited when grandpa and Uncle Glen arrived. I had been telling her since the night before that they were visiting. So when I said "Grandpa is here" she let out two squeals and a danced around in a circle.

On February 6th she said 'one, two, three' on her own for the first time, and she wasn't even repeating after me. We were getting ready for bed, and I asked her to count the lady bugs. I was so surprised when she did! The next day, I found out they were learning to count at daycare.
On Valentine's day, we had plans to have prime rib at Gulliver's, where we went for our
 first Valentine's in 2012. But little girl was really sick and so after extended care, we had prime rib picked up from at Coco's instead. Rather than being disappointed, we were both keenly aware of how lucky and blessed we were to have the "problem" of cancelling our reservations because of our sick child. Instead, what if we had no child? I gave my husband an avocado tree and he surprised me with an amazing ring that already looks like it's an heirloom piece. We talk about what he gives me being hers someday, and it brings me a level of comfort knowing that my jewelry will someday belong to her. I have so few pieces that belonged to Mom and I treasure them, especially when I have photos of her wearing them.


My Dad's 72nd birthday fell after Valentine's and so she was able to get in an extra visit that week with Granka. I love to see how much they're bonding, and that she will now rush into his arms, and also Uncle Glen's. She also gives them kisses when asked. We had the week of February 20th off. Usually a time of travel, we stayed home and recovered from our colds. We had our daily walks, lots of art time and squeezed in a trip to Disneyland. We watched their Frozen play, and I was surprised that it held her attention for the whole hour. She sat calmly on my lap and really seemed to enjoy it. 

We have never left her with a sitter before, ever. When some people find this out, they tell us that we need to. But I never feel like I need a break from her and really never want to do anything that doesn't include her. On the rare occasions that I do, I just miss the heck out of her. As for alone time, my husband and I are able to have time without her a few hours almost any night we want, since she is usually asleep by 7:30. We were never big on going out pre-parenthood, and watching a series we're following while snuggled on the couch sounds even more appealing than a noisy bar these days.

We were going to leave her for the first time this month, to visit my friends in LA, but she was recovering from a cold and so Dad elected to stay home with her instead. It was nice to catch up with friends my uninterrupted, without needing to keep her in my peripheral vision and dart off mid-conversation. 

We kept up on our outdoor activities and gardening time, with TV used sparingly. One of my favorite activities this month was the sweet-pea teepee that we planted. I can't wait for them to grow, and plan to plant them much earlier next time! I love how much she loves her little houses, and how once we're inside, she will yell "Trevi dog!" and clap her hands until Trevi comes running, like she's doing in this photo.

This has been quite a month. While it was a tough start, it ended well and left me with a new perspective on our little miracle unfolding, and just how amazing it is to be her Mom.

Things I do not want to forget about this month:
  • Still rubbing my chin for comfort.
  • Her reaction on 1/9 when I picked her up from daycare. She squealed like I would if you told me I had won the lottery, then turned to the kids in the class and exclaimed "Mommy!!" before running over to me and hugging me tightly around my neck.
  • Asking for frozen yogurt "Cream? Cream?"
  • New words: Yellow, purple, one, two, three, yea, please, sorry, red, boo(blue), Granka, feet, her name, thank you, nose, some,  bike, ball, bubbles, TV, cream. Previous words: Ciao, boat, plane, Mommydada (one word), shoe, meow, Trevi, apple, yummy, pay (while handing Daddy's credit card), Sunshine, cool, ouchie, book, cold, rawr, baa, animal, Dory, bow, bee, house, car, Dada, cat, tea (and some letters of the alphabet), fish, eye, cheese, no, mommy, more, mooo, ruff, baby, my, Nana, uh-oh, MoMo, baba, hi, bye, dog).
  • Saying "some" and then pointing to my cough drops, then her mouth.
  • Leading my by the hand places, like into her house. 
  • Cooking food for me in her kitchen
  • Running down the hallway after bath-time to Dad, and back again
  • Asking "TV?" and her uncontrollable giggles when I pretend-yelled "No TV!"
  • Exploring the side yard and finding the bamboo sticks.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Advice Following Miscarriage

In my career as a school counselor, one of the main things I don't do is give advice. People generally don't follow advice that another person gives, plus we should never put ourselves in a position of presuming to know what is best for another person. 

But I have some advice to share if you or someone you know suffers a miscarriage. Just a few things that have helped me since that awful day almost a month ago, when I learned at a routine appointment that she had no heartbeat. Be sure to check out the article I wrote for Fertility Authority here.

 1.) Know that you can keep her remains. Whether you have a D&C or a D&E like I had, keeping her remains is an option. I've mentioned this to a few people, who have said they didn't realize they could request this at such an early stage (I was 17 weeks). The doctor told us "People don't usually do this." Know that you can and if you choose not to, that is fine too, but you have the choice. The funeral home that took care of Mom coordinated with the hospital. All we had to do was make the call. We had her cremated, and her ashes are in a tiny urn, placed in a teddy bear. The plan is to have her buried with me.

2.) Put it in perspective. Going to Bible study helped, but not because of what I learned. It was a story that a woman at my table, in her 70's, told. Many years ago, she lost her only child to SIDS, at 7 weeks. She held her little girl, Angelica Elizabeth, in her arms until the police came and took her away. She divorced shortly after, and never had any more children. Tears welling up in my eyes, I said "I am so sorry...I cannot imagine." Her response? "But I am so thankful that for those 7 weeks, because I got to be her Mom." I marveled at what she said, imagining how much worse it has to be to lose a child who has been born. And how much worse it has to be when you don't have another. She said that it took her many years to come to that perspective. Remember, as heart-wrenching as it feels, it can always be worse. 

3.) Stop the 'what-ifs.' You can seriously drive yourself crazy questioning everything you did, or didn't do, in the weeks leading up to the loss. I shouldn't have had that second cup of coffee, or we shouldn't have flown to Italy were on loop in my mind until I countered them with: Remember that a healthy pregnancy will survive anything, even drug addiction. Sometimes, I had to say it out loud. Reminding myself of babies born addicted to hard drugs helped me realize that no, a second cup of coffee, which I had sometimes while pregnant with Baby A, did not cause her tiny heart to stop beating. Miscarriage happens because something is wrong with the baby. It does not happen because you played 'No more monkeys jumping on the bed' with your toddler. Read more here.

4.) Get some hormone replacement gel STAT! My husband is especially thankful I found this. Your hormones crash when you are no longer pregnant, but usually, you have a new life to celebrate. The fluctuating hormones, coupled with the sudden loss, had me crying every evening for two weeks. While this is to be expected following a loss, when I couldn't put my finger on why I was crying, I knew I needed some help. At my 2 week check-up, my doctor gave me Divigel 0.1% (estradiol gel) to rub on my arm. That evening we walked to El Torrito and I was laughing and joking with my husband without realizing that the gel was helping tremendously. It's not that I can't or don't get sad, but I finally felt in control.

5.) Exercise. Nothing beats endorphins for helping your mood. Nothing. Since that awful appointment on January 17th, I've logged over 30 miles, most of them on my lunch break. As always, I don't usually want to get out there, but I am always glad that I did. Swim, bike, hike, run or do an exercise video. Just get moving.

6.) Garner support. Not everyone is as open as I am. Because everyone at work knew what happened, I returned to a desk filled with flowers, an orchid and tulips along with heartfelt cards and "I've been there" talks. But I also, quite unexpectedly, received two of the most meaningful gifts from women I have never met, and only "know" through instagram. Nowadays, you can get support anonymously on-line, which is a resource our mothers never had. If you're a more private person, explore this route. Miscarriage is, unfortunately, very common. Knowing that you are not alone helps. Don't suffer in silence.

7.) Look to the future. It could be a trip, a weekend away, or just a good meal. For me, I've been focusing on her second birthday in May and planning and crafting for that, which I love. Just before this posting, I ordered her invites. I'm also excited about our next round of IVF and the consultation in 10 days. This was supposed to be our third and final round. But we have decided that we are going to try once more because this pregnancy helped us realize how much we do want a sibling for her. While the possibility of another pregnancy is exciting, I temper it with the statistics that it likely will not work. But, there is still hope there.

These are just a few things that worked for me. If you have anything that helped you, please leave it in the comments below so that anyone reading this can see it. It is a nightmare to go through and it changes you, some of which is for the better. I am reminded how much of a miracle our Baby A is. This loss has only served to intensify my love for her and solidify our bond.