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.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Her 2nd Year in Review

I'm surprised that I have kept up on her updates every month. When she was born, I promised myself I would jot things down every month, but was skeptical I would actually continue to do so beyond the first few. 

For me, what helped was starting each month's post on the very first day, and just writing a sentence or two in my free time as the month progressed. That way, it wasn't a looming task at the end. 

24 Months 
23 Months
22 Months
21 Months
20 Months
19 Months
18 Months
17 Months
16 Months
15 Months
14 Months
13 Months

And, for future reference when she goes of to college (grad school, not undergrad...yes, we have discussed this) and I want to reminisce, here's her First Year in Review.

And, for the heck of it, a video of her second birthday party.

Monday, June 26, 2017

24 Months

I wasn't sure I was going to continue the monthly updates on our little Bean. For this month, didn't update as the month progressed, like I usually do, and realized that I missed it. I found myself asking my husband What was that really cute thing she did last week? 

Sometimes my monthly updates on her are the bulk of what I write about. I don't want to stop just because tracking her age with the month no longer really applies. If I hadn't updated this month, I would have missed documenting the first time she said I love you, and some visits from important family members. Besides, she does way more now than she did when she was a helpless little baby, and I still wrote to my heart's content then. I guess I've gotten used to it, and maybe you have too.

I started blogging about the Positive Psychology course I'm taking through the University of Pennsylvania, a topic interesting to me that I thought would interesting to others. I was surprised by the low number of hits the posts had when compared to Baby A's updates. So while not everyone is as interested in my daughter as I am, at least they find her more interesting than the regurgitation of a class I'm taking. 

We started her first month officially being two with the discovery of a splash pad nearby that has been closed for a long time due to the drought: Pioneer Park. We visited the park four times this month alone, and it was never crowded.
Baby A did a lot of art this month and had lots of opportunities to get messy! Auntie Andrea gave her a chalk paint set that she absolutely adores. It looks like paint, but is super easy to clean up since it's really just chalk. It even easily came off of our garage door, which made a very nice canvas for her! 
She has somehow picked up please and thank you, and does it often, without any prompting, as demonstrated in the video below. It's the sweetest thing!

When I pick her up from daycare and give her a snack and her water, she often sings "Tank you Mommy!"

I thought she had been learning this at daycare, but when I asked them, they said that the model the behavior, but weren't specifically teaching it. It still catches me off guard, like when I gave her scrambled eggs at her table this morning and heard Tank you Mommy! in response.

Her friendship with a boy at her daycare really started to bloom. I work with his mom, and so we met up with them at the Santa Ana Zoo on Memorial Day. I think we were both surprised that beyond just recognizing or knowing each other, they truly seem to enjoy each other's company. When we asked them to hold hands for a picture, they walked around for quite awhile holding hands.

We had some very special family visits this month. My husband's brother and his wife were in town from DC for a wedding and stayed with us. We really wish they lived closer. At the same time, Grandpa Swanek was also in town from Oregon.  It was fun to get everyone together for In-n-Out and see the cousins in the hot tub.

Two other special family members were in town that weekend; my husband's cousins Sarah and Linda.

Linda lives in LA, but Sarah is in Salt Lake. We were fortunate to see both of them for Baby A's party a few weeks prior. We have Sarah to thank for having our Baby A. Sarah was the one who found the clinical trial that I enrolled in. If not for this, we would not have been able to do IVF for a lot longer, and she wouldn't have been...well, her! We would have had a different baby. It is so amazing to think about. I will never forget her helping us in this way.

I had egg retrieval surgery and the transfer of our four (!?) embryos followed by bed rest this month, so our outings kind of slowed down. But Bean loves being at home. This was the first time she has really started independent play, and loves her castle, little houses, train and small princess figures.

We ended the month with a beach trip. For the first hour, she enjoyed looking at the waves and wanted me to walk in the water, but was scared to be put down. We went to dog beach and brought Trevi, and she loved watching Trevi run and play with other dogs. 

My arm was hurting from holding her, and said we needed to go. "Noooooooo! Water!" she wailed. I explained that unless she went down, we had to go, because Mommy couldn't hold her anymore. Reluctantly, she wanted down but tightly gripped my hand as we headed back to the water. Within a few minutes, she was charging the mini waves that rose almost to her waist. She would run back to the dry sand, still holding my hand, and then back in the waves again, giggling and squealing the whole time. If you don't know, the water in CA is cold year 'round, but she didn't mind. She would have gone much deeper if I had let her.

After about 30 minutes in the same spot, suddenly there was a rogue wave that was up to my waist. I quickly lifted her up by one arm and brought her to my side, and was reminded of the importance of holding her hand. It would have covered her/knocked her down even though we weren't that far out. Fortunately, she loves holding my hand. I've been holding her a lot less lately and when she want up, will settle for holding Mommy's hand.

Things I don't want to forget about this month:
  • She learned to say I love you! First, it was by me prompting her to say it to Grandpa. But then, after a bout a week or so, she randomly said it to me and then pulled me in for a kiss. Out of nowhere.
  • Waking up from her nap and coming out into the living room with her shoes and socks, or Beauty and the Beast stuffed animals.
  • Saying "Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyy!" and clapping at the end of a show.
  • Coming into our bed in the morning before 6am and falling back asleep with her face touching mine and feeling her breathe.
  • Sitting by her wading pool in the back yard and watching her run off to chase birds.
  • Putting together three words like "Keys, car, go."

Monday, June 19, 2017

PUPO! Transfer of FOUR Embryos!

Pregnant until proven otherwise!

I checked into the clinic at 10:04 and received my wristband, while my husband parked the car. There she is! sung my doctor when she saw me, causing me to breathe a sigh of relief. We must have one or two, or she wouldn't be so chipper, I thought.

I was called back right away and shown to my room before using the restroom and returning. My husband came in moments before our doctor. We were (and both still are) shocked when she said that we had FOUR good embryos! We've never had that many. Here they are:
I've had 3, 2, and 3. Why do I, three years later, have more? I mean, with the round that gave us Baby A, I went from 6 that were mature and fertilized to only 2 on day three! The other 4 had 2 polar bodies and weren't unwinding. I know that correlation does not equal causation...but I have been taking DHEA for the last 2 months, at my clinic's suggestion, and I really think that helped.

Back to the embryos. Still in shock, we didn't know what to do and looked to Dr. Frederick for guidance. She recommended transferring all of them. I was all for it, while my husband was a bit more cautious and concerned. She was patient and took time with us, answering our questions, and reiterating that this would provide us with the best chance of success. She left to get the embryologist and our embryos and we had a few more moments to think. 

If we had not already transferred 3 on day 3 in the past...twice, I would be more hesitant. Remember, these are day 3 embryos not day 5 blastocycts. So even under the most perfect conditions - even if they had formed naturally - about half of these would not/could not ever become a baby. 

They are also not tested, which is another $5,000. And, testing is no guarantee. Our last little girl, who we lost when I was 17 weeks pregnant, was genetically normal. So even if we did test, it would not prevent a loss like that. And, we could put back only genetically tested embryos and they still may not implant.

And so, with a deep breath and ultrasound guidance, Dr. Frederick transferred all four. We are beyond thankful that we had any to transfer at all, let alone enough to slightly worry about the risk of twins, which still is not likely. From my best estimate, it seems I have a 30% chance of this working at all.

Thank you everyone for all your well-wishes. I'm here on bed-rest now and they all mean so much to me. Special shout out to Amanda Brooke Wright who mailed me Menopur, Aunt Cassandra for offering to help while on bed-rest and Traci for mailing me a bunch of pregnancy tests so I can POAS! Hoping and praying for a healthy baby carried to term.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Egg Retrieval Update

When I woke up from surgery yesterday morning, I wasn't worried about our number like I had been in the past. I was showing 9 follicles on Wednesday, one more than the last round of IVF in October. So when the doctor came in to recovery and my husband asked her how many eggs were retrieved, I was surprised and disappointed by the number 5.

(Here are the egg retrieval updates from my first IVF, second IVF and third IVF.)

I went home to rest and wait for the results on how many fertilized. I slept a little and was in some pain, unlike the other 3 retrievals. 

After this many procedures, you would think I would remember that we aren't updated on how many are mature and fertilize until the second day. But for some reason, I thought it was same day and kept checking my email. Finally, right before 5pm I emailed my coordinator, and was reminded results are not until the second day. I didn't sleep well and was prepared for the worst...only 1 or 2 which would likely leave us with none to transfer come Monday. 

With great relief and excitement, I just received an email from Dr. Frederick that we have FOUR! Last time, 8 were retrieved and only 5 were mature and fertilized. I am now hopeful that this will give us one or two to transfer on Monday! 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Last Day of 💉

Today is my last day of injections! I took Centrotide this morning, and 375 IU of Gonal-F and 75 IU of Menopur just now. My  two trigger shots will be in a few hours - at 9:40 p.m. Trigger is given 35 hours before my egg retrieval, which is all set for Friday morning.

My ultrasound this morning shows follicle measurements of:



Above 16mm is considered mature, but 18 and above better. There is still a chance that the 14mm follicle could catch up. So hopefully we will have 6-7 that are mature. From that, we'll be lucky to have 2 on day 3 that are replicating. But we just need one!

Here's the breakdown of my past IVF embryo numbers:

IVF #1: 7 eggs retrieved. 3 embryos on day 3. BFN
IVF #2: 10 eggs retrieved. 2 embryos on day 3. BFP! Baby A born 5/26/2015
IVF #3: 8 eggs retrieved. 3 embryos on day 3. BFP! Miscarriage at 17 weeks

I'll update after retrieval the day after tomorrow. Thank you for your well-wishes, prayers, crossed fingers and/or baby dust!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Prepared for a BFN

“Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.” – Anonymous English Proverb

BFN = Big Fat Negative in IVF lingo, and I'm preparing myself for that result on July 3rd. But a lot will happen between now and then.

This morning, I had blood-work and my second ultrasound to look at how my follicles are growing. I have 9 now, down only 1 from last week's 10. Remember, 3 years ago I had 8 at this point...so things are looking good. Two of them are small, but could still catch up. I added Centrotide injections yesterday morning, and will continue for two more days. Centrotide prevents me from ovulating while the other follicles continue to grow. 

Tonight (6/12), tomorrow (6/13) and the next night (6/14), I will inject 375 IU of Gonal-F and 75 IU of Menopur.

Then, I'll administer my trigger shot (Ovidrel) at 9:40 p.m. on that last night of injections. This has to be given 35 hours prior to my egg retrieval, which is scheduled for Friday the 16th at 8:40 a.m.

6/15 - I begin taking Doxycycline
6/16 - egg retrieval
6/17 - start Crinone, Estrace and medrol dose pack. No more injections, yay!
6/19 - embryo transfer (provided we have any embryos) at 10am.

I'll be on complete bed rest on 6/19, 6/20, 6/21. I am not even supposed to shower, and can sit up only to eat. Since these are weekdays, we will leave Baby A at daycare a little later...probably until 5pm. Because I have never left her beyond my working hours, this will be tough on me. But it minimizes my husband having to keep her occupied and mostly away from me while in the house. Like last time, we'll put the guest mattress on the floor, removing the box spring and frame. This way, she will have easy access to me. But she loves to climb on me and even lay on top of me, which we can't allow her to do. I am not supposed to have any pressure on my abdomen...not even even snug pants! So when I'm spending time with her, my husband will have to be there too.

Bed rest always sounds good in theory and then drives me crazy about 3 hours in. But this time, I'll have the house mostly to myself all day which is nice. Last time, two of the days fell on the weekend and it was hard to hear her playing in the next room or outside and not be able to join in. I have three books to read, a ton of People magazines, a 'Memories for my Child" book to fill out, and am very much looking forward to watching multiple movies - something I never have time for. Honestly, its been years since I watched a movie at home.

After the transfer of embryos (again, if we have any) we have to wait 2 whole weeks for the blood test to find out if it worked, and if an embryo implanted. The dreaded 2 week wait. This will be July 3rd. I am preparing myself mentally for the pregnancy test to come back negative. There is a 90% chance that it will be negative, and only a 10% chance that it will be positive. 

While I desperately want it to work, I am already highlighting the advantages of it being negative, and reminding myself of these points daily:

  1. We will be able to go to Oregon this summer for 3 weeks and see family. If the test is positive, I won't be able to go, and my husband will have to go for less time. I really want to see Uncle Don and possibly Aunt Nancy. Also TJ and Bex are going, and Baby A would get some quality cousin time.
  2. Seeing Bex and TJ in DC next April. I love my husband's brother and his wife, but they're far away. We saw them briefly this weekend, but before that, Baby A was 3 months old when we last got together. If I'm not pregnant, we'll be able to fly and stay with them for a few days, then go to Oglebay where my husband's grandparent's went on several dates. I love the family history and the idea of staying at a nice resort in West Virginia. 
  3. Germany and Austria next summer! Bertchesgarten is a German town in the Bavarian Alps, on the Austrian boarder. Salzberg is only 11 miles away. We're hoping to spend just over a week in both. 
  4. Private high school, at approximately $20,000 per year is feasible with one child, but not likely with two.
  5. Baby A would inherit everything we own, not split it with a sibling. We could hopefully set her up to be able to contribute to a family through rental income equivalent to my salary, so that working would be a choice for her, not a necessity.
  6. Having just one child also allows us to keep a better pace with traveling.
In addition to reminding myself of the advantages, I am also making plans following the test results. If they're negative, I will:
  1. Go for a run. I did this when our first IVF results were negative, and it helped me tremendously. There was a lot more at stake that first time because my Mom was dying of cancer, and we did not already have a child.
  2. Go for another run the next day, and the one after that. Sign up for a half marathon in the fall. 
  3. Camping. Reservations are all set for the same week I get the results.
  4. Bike riding with Baby A on the back of my husband's bike. 
  5. Swim lessons with Baby A.
  6. Possibly adopting another dog. My husband and I are searching for a breed we both like. 
So here's to hoping that I can't do a half marathon this fall, send Baby A to a private high school, spend quality time with family in Oregon this summer or see the Bavarian Alps anytime soon.

Friday, June 9, 2017

IVF #4 Update

I started my injections four days ago. Each night, I inject 375 IU of Gonal F and 75 IU of Menopur. Other than that, I am taking a baby asprin, prenatals, COQ10 and DHEA each day.

This morning, I had my first scan to see how many eggs I have. Before my appointment, I was really nervous. We've never had great numbers, but it's been 3 years since my first IVF, and I was really worried that they would be even lower.

First, she scanned my right side. When she said there were 3 follicles, my heart dropped. But I was so relieved to find out that my left side made up for it with SEVEN, for a total of 10 follicles. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and texted my husband. Only about 1 in 7 of my eggs are normal, so we need this number! I'm especially surprised because for our second IVF (which resulted in Baby A!) I only had 8 follicles on day five! That's two whole more, years later!

Ten follicles on day 5.
I'll stay on the same medication for 6 more nights. On Sunday, I add a Centrotide injection every morning for 4 days to prevent ovulation, and then I'll give myself an Ovridel injection 24 hours before egg retrieval which is set for one week from today!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June Goals

Happy June! I love June. My husband and I work for the same school district and have summers off, but we still work through most of June because our school is on the more traditional calendar. While we work a bit later into the year, we also go back later, which I like. 

I enjoy the anticipation of being off for two months and all of the end-of-year activities for my students, including promotion of the 8th graders into 9th grade.

June is the half-way point of the year, and a good time to set some goals. Why should resolutions only come in the new year? If I did make any for this last new year, by now I don't remember what they were anyway.

Finish one book // I read somewhere that if we spent our time reading books instead of on social media, we could finish something like 5,482 books in one year. Okay, maybe the number wasn't quite that high. But I used to love to read and now find myself using the excuse that I don't have time. That's not true. I have less time, not no time. I read at least 10 books per night to Baby A and want her to value reading as she gets older. But in order for that to continue to be something she values, I need to model that behavior myself. At this age, they copy everything we do. And she has started playing more independently recently, allowing me to pick up the book I started months ago.

Trip to the beach // I work in Costa Mesa, which is just a few minutes from Newport Beach. Yet the last time I took my daughter to the beach was in April! We suffer from that "We never go there because we can anytime" syndrome. And that's going to change this month.

Get messy // Last month, Baby A and I had a lot of fun making Giant Bubbles and using her chalk paint set in the yard. Even when the bubble recipe was a flop the first time, she loved using her hands, and the slippery feel of the soap on them. I want to continue doing an activity like this at least twice this month. Next up is a recipe for cloud dough, and playing in the mud. 

Make camping reservations // I've camped sporadically over my life and loved it every single time. But I can't tell you the last time I went. I want Baby A to grow up with memories of conversations around the campfire, and as she gets older, weekends disconnected from technology. We'll start small and local, at O'Neill Campground, which is heavily wooded with oak and sycamore trees and backs up to the Cleveland National Forest. It's only $20 per night and every site has a fire pit. My goal is to make reservations for July and also for the fall. I added some camping equipment to my wish list, and love that if the weather turns cold, we can always sleep in the back of my Suburban.

Eat healthy // I'm undergoing my 4th IVF this month. Because of this, I am not allowed to run which is very frustrating for me. As much as I don't really like to run (and complain about it any chance I get), I run for the feeling I get when I'm done. And, the calories. Since I don't have any to spare, I'm going to focus on eating healthy to still try and get in some type of shape for summer and also to hopefully help my final IVF have the best chance of success. I'm tapering off caffeine right now, and am replacing that with more water and herbal tea. My goal is to cut out excess sugar, since it is already in so much of what we eat.

Honor Mom // My Mom's birthday is June 28th. The day after the due-date for our baby girl that we lost when I was 17 weeks pregnant. Mom would have been 66 years old. This is my third birthday without her, which is just so hard to believe. We threw her this surprise party on her last birthday, in 2014 when she turned 63:

She was so grateful and happy that day, and you can hear it in her voice when she exclaims "Oh my gosh!" before going around the room and hugging everyone. We told her to dress up a little, because Nathan was going to take her to a nice restaurant for dessert, so she would be prepared to see friends she hadn't seen in awhile. Because no one wants to see all their friends when they're wearing sweats, even when they're undergoing chemo. She cracked me up because she asked "Will it just be Nathan and I?" 

I remember it was well into the evening, and she remained on our back patio sipping a beer and chatting with her friend Tina. Most of the guests had left, and I was tired, even though it was probably not even 9pm. I wanted to hurry things up but refrained, realizing that she was likely drawing the evening out because she knew it was her last birthday. We all did, though it remained unspoken.

June 28th will be hard no matter what. But with the few years that have passed has come some healing. I may be turning a corner on celebrating her, as she would want, rather than just crying all day and wishing so desperately that she were here with us. When you lose someone that significant and start to heal, it is bittersweet, because you kind of miss the sting of the loss. It turns from being so recent and becomes more distant. You become used to them being gone, and that carries with it a new kind of sadness. 

Until my dying day, I want to cultivate a close connection to her instead of "moving on" or "letting go". Not just for me, but for Baby A, who deserves to know what an amazing, kind, patient, loving, sweet and fun person she was. Mom was full of grace; filled to the brim. In her honor, we are going to The Tea House on Los Rios in San Juan Capistrano, a place that I went to with her. Before our reservation, we'll be at Zoomars Petting Zoo. If Mom were here with us, our plans would probably be the same. And I like to think that in a way, she is.