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.

Friday, June 29, 2018

On Your Nana's 67th Birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Third Birthday - Our Beauty, and the Beast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click these links to see her past parties:

First Birthday
Second Birthday

Monday, June 4, 2018

May Update

The month started and ended with our first two Disneyland character dining experiences at Disneyland: On May 2nd at Goofy's kitchen for my birthday, and then at the Plaza Inn on May 26th for her birthday. We had breakfast for my birthday before spending the morning in Carsland, her newest obsession.

Our girl turned three at the end of this month. I moved her big birthday bash to the first weekend so that her grandmother, who was in town from Oregon, could attend. Check out all the details of her Beauty and the Beast themed party here.

The Friday after her party, we met my friend Margie and her two children at Disneyland to go on a few rides and have dinner before the Paint the Night Parade. Baby A loves Makenna and walked around holding her hand without even looking back to see if I was there. Because Margie's kids have seen the parade before, they knew all of the words. Their excitement rubbed off on A, who was much more animated while watching when compared to the electrical parade she watched about a year ago. Plus, she knew a lot more of the princesses and would shout their names and wave. She was most excited to see Mack from Cars.

The next day, we renewed our membership to the Santa Ana zoo and met her BFF Tommy there. They recently opened up the new Ferris wheel and she said "I'm not scared! I'm a big girl!" a few times before we boarded, and while we were slowly spinning. She had me convinced, but I suspect she may have been trying to convince herself.

I used to not like that the zoo was so small and filled mostly with monkeys. But that is the same reason that I love it now. It's manageable without a stroller, and she has a good grasp of the layout. The next day was mother's day and it was nice and low-key, like I wanted. We spent time together as a family, and went to Costco and Babies R Us. Seeing her try out a double stroller, and articulate that she wanted one facing baby "So I can see Chaw-wals" filled my heart. I spent the majority of the day feeling grateful, and managed to make it all the way until 4pm without crying due to missing my Mom. Progress compared to years past. I felt a bit sorry for myself yes, but countered that with the frightening thought of not having my husband, my daughter, and a son on the way.

The following weekend, we drove a little over an hour inland, where I grew up, to spend the day with my best friend since sixth grade. Baby A loves spending time with "Auntie Andrea" and "Cousin Casey" and they recently purchased a new home with a pool which she also loved spending time with! We arrived just after 11am, and stayed until 7pm! She had a blast.

On her actual birthday, we started the morning in Disneyland before they opened. After the character dining at the Plaza Inn, the park had just opened, so we were able to walk right on Finding Nemo, the tea cups and It's a Small World. She saw Belle and Gaston on the way to It's a Small World and gave her a big hug. Then we headed over to Main Street for a shadow portrait of her face before buying her a chocolate ice cream cone and heading out to have Daddy pick us up. As I was pushing her, it was fun watching people's smiling reactions to her chocolate-covered face, hands and dress. I knew she was covered, but asked "She didn't get any on her, did she?"

After a nice, long nap we headed over to Chuck E. Cheese for a little, informal birthday party with two close friends. She had a blast! My favorite part was watching her try to follow along with the instructional dance video they show, and calling Tommy over to her impromptu story time right after she opened a book.

After Chuck E. Cheese came by to sing happy birthday, he was available to take photos with the kids, but she was afraid to go near him. My husband wasn't, but maybe he should have been, as evidenced by the photo to the right.

One of my greatest joys this month has been watching her bond and fall in love with her cats, Bonnie and Clyde. Some mornings, they come into her bed and snuggle with her, purring away. She chats with them, and kisses their noses. "Mom, close the door so they stay!" she says. In the evening, she will run circles around the house with a leash trailing behind her that they chase. She laughs and laughs, the kind of laughter that is contagious.

This month she also broadened her musical tastes, greatly improving my quality of life. She will let us listen to other music on iTunes at home, but for about a year now, car rides have been reserved strictly for soundtracks from Frozen, Beauty and the Beast or, even worse, The Wheels on the Bus. I was going through some of my Mom's things and found her Fleetwood Mac greatest hits CD, and presented it as an option. I never thought it would fly, but she loves it, and asks for it often now!

When we're driving, she also loves asking me to put the back two windows down. Toddlers have so little control over their tiny lives, that being able to make simple demands like this and have them granted brings them a lot of joy! And in doing so, it makes me smile too. Sure, I could refuse to do it because I have the air conditioning on, or because it's noisy. But glancing up in my rear view window to see her hair blowing wildly around and a huge smile on her face is worth it.

The month ended with us toying with the idea of buying a second home priced just above our current home or selling our home and really going big on our dream home. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, and I'm not sure which route we will go, if any. For this reason, we started visiting open houses and touring a lot of homes in the area. She does so well, and has so much fun exploring the homes and picking out what would be her room, and which room would belong to "Chaw-wals." Some of these homes are beautifully staged, and most have pools that are not fenced, but she doesn't need to hold my hand. I think it is because we have allowed her freedoms that she does not need to test the boundaries. We have had fun driving to a lot of these in Daddy's car, with the top down and dreaming of what life would be like there.

Out of the mouths of babes:
  • While waiting in the Del Taco drive through for her mini chocolate shake: "Hurry up, slow poke!" 
  • A concerned whisper during Mass "Mommy...I don't see God anywhere."
  • Randomly singing a song we listen to "Thank you God for the big blue sky!"

Things I don't want to forget about this month:
  • Her obsession with hot wheels cars. They go in the bath with her, in bed at night time because they're cold, to the park and they even pick her up from daycare sometimes, per request. 
  • "You don't say na-na nee-nee, I say na-na nee-nee!"
  • Learning to put her underwear on, backwards.
  • Kissing baby "Chaw-wals" in my tummy, and giving him a hug.
  • Her asking me to talk like Mater
  • "Play don't wuv me!" Fleetwood Mac, Love Me