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.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Why I Decided to Get the Vaccine

When the COVID vaccine was first released, people were literally lining up for it. Well, only some people were; the ones who were given priority and allowed to get the vaccine. Here in California, it started with essential health care workers and the elderly. At this time, I told myself that I would get it after awhile, once they worked out the kinks, probably in the fall. I just don't want to be first in line, I said. 

Early on, around January or February, I went to the CDC website and read the FAQ. At this time, I was on the fence, and not really for or against the vaccine. I stopped about half-way down the CDC's page, closed my computer and said "That's it, I'm not getting it...this is misleading." The question that caused me to shut down and not be open to getting the vaccine was something along these lines:

Q: Is the COVID vaccine safe for me to get while I'm pregnant?

A: Yes. There are no known negative side effects to mother or baby from taking the COVID vaccine at anytime during the pregnancy.

While that answer was indeed true, it felt dishonest and manipulative to me because how could there be any negative effects to any pregnancy when it was day four or five of the vaccine even being offered and far too early for any data to even be collected? In trying to find that same post just now, I have learned that the CDC is being a bit more honest and saying that they do not know, and asking for data through a registry. The CDC is asking women who are pregnant and have taken the vaccine to be studied, here.

Fast forward a few months and everyone who wanted the vaccine had it, there was a surplus, and the incentives started. There was a lottery system, free tickets or gift-cards and even freeway signs urging me on my drive home to GET VACCINATED. The harder they pushed, the less inclined to get it I became, telling myself that if they had a good product, it would sell itself. As opposed to the vaccine as I was for myself, I did coax/insist/urge my father to get it, because of his age and history of smoking. 

Although I insisted my Dad get it, I didn't need it or want it. I knew someone who was 80, with cancer, who had COVID and recovered quickly, with no need to be hospitalized, so I would be fine. And I started to look for things that reaffirmed and confirmed my line of thought, known of course as confirmation bias. In the news articles I read (thanks in part to the evil algorithms) there was a whole lotta this going on: Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one's prior beliefs or values. People display this bias when they select information that supports their views, ignoring contrary information, or when they interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing attitudes. 

Then came the mandates. Companies began requiring the vaccine of their employees under threat of termination and suddenly, the same people who were all about their individual freedoms and liberties surrounding their ability to use drugs or have abortions, were cheering. The same people who demand personal freedoms for abortions and drug use were quick to support the removal or rights for other in regard to the vaccine.

"I'll get the vaccine, unless my work requires it" was my reaction to the mandates. And this was when I realized that my reluctance to get vaccinated was more about my disdain for the encroaching, overreach of government control and our loss of freedoms than it was about actually being against the vaccine.

Throughout this time, there was one friend who works in the health care field that I would randomly text my objections to, and she would nicely, yet firmly, counter all of them. She would also sometimes send me articles highlighting why I should get the vaccine, or minimizing the negative effects of the vaccine. I didn't read most of these but I trust and respect her, and she had conviction. She was unwavering in her urging of me to get it, no matter what I sent her. And her reasoning made sense, sometimes helping me reframe things, though I wouldn't let on.

Finally, what tipped the scales was a friend's friend's husband, younger and healthier than me, who was recently in the ICU for two weeks and almost intubated because of COVID. I tried to remind myself that even pre-vaccine, the risk of hospitalization was under 4% and the death rate even lower than that. While of course true, if I found myself in one of those few percentage points, wouldn't I want something that mitigated against the damage? Yes, I would. 

So for me, I chose to get the vaccine today because while I do feel there are risks with either route (and the vaccine risks are likely underreported), I feel that the risks for the unvaccinated are higher than the risks for those who are vaccinated. And being a mother, my health is not something that I want to play the odds on.

I'll update this blog in a month when I have the second Moderna vaccine but so far, I'm 8-9 hours in and have no side-effects. I had the flu shot as well, and that shot hurt much more, and that arm is more sore.

Updated to add what a different friend sent me: This is the statistics from my hospital a few days ago. The data really is showing that the vaccine works to prevent severe symptoms. I’m really happy to see you get it and I hope that more people see the benefits vs risk.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

July, 2021

Cha started a weekly soccer skills camp through the city and did really well! He listens well to directives, tried, and picked up the concepts fairly quickly. Sissy was the best cheerleader, and they were both rewarded with playtime at the park after each weekly session. We left the first meeting with Aut asking how many days until we could come again.

At the start of this month, she was involved in a long list of weekly activities. 

  • Voice lessons
  • Gymnastics
  • Volleyball
  • Swim
  • Horseback riding
  • Ice skating
  • VBS

As we head into the new school year, we will be cutting out some of these activities, and adding AWANAS back in, because regular faith-formation was something I committed to when we pulled her from the Catholic school. We stack swim and ice skating on Saturday mornings, so it is not as hectic as it seems.

There were two major accomplishments for our girl this month: learning to ride a new 20" bike on her own, and being thrown into a volleyball league half-way through their summer season. Without any practice, she jumped into a game on day one, without any practice at all. Way to go, Mom! I actually brought her in a unicorn print shirt and lace socks! But, a few weeks in and she was looking like a real member of the team, even scoring some points when it was her turn to serve! The youngest on the team by far, she joined a club for 7-9 year olds, having just turned six! This came about because a friend recommended them, and I emailed an inquiry which went something like this: 

Would my daughter be able to join the summer program still?--
Sent from my iPhone

The one that is going on now?  How old is she and are you requesting a friend?  Let us know asap.

Yes/the one now!! She just turned 6 in May.

We have a division that is 7-9 years of age.  How advanced athletically is she?  

She has never played volleyball before. She is TALL for her age- 4 feet, 4 inches! She is in swim and gymnastics but I have no idea about her hand-eye coordination or athletic ability related to volleyball. It’s just a sport I have interest in for her because of her height. 

You can bring her next Sunday and check it out. 

So, by "bring her and check it out" I had no idea she would actually be playing...in a game...with other team members who know what they are doing! We found the large, new high school and walked into the gigantic gym, filled with six different teams actively playing each other on three different courts. I felt intimidated as an adult and can't imagine what was going through her mind as I scanned the room to ask for person I had been emailing. He was so nice, and gave her a league t-shirt to change into, which I did on the sidelines and then she was out there. And as she was playing, I had no idea if she would be allowed to come back. I mean, she did not even know the rotation of the six team-members (nor did I!) and the coach had to tell her each time where to move. She was so out of her element, that it was hard to watch because I felt so bad about what must be a very uncomfortable situation for her. But bless her heart! Not only did she stick with it, but she wanted to go back the following week! And so the next day, as I was getting in some summer days at work, Daddy took her to buy her first volleyball! Prior to her game the following weekend, we picked up her uniform and she looked official. Joining this summer league was in no way me pushing her because if she had expressed any hesitancy, I would have decided to wait until she was the appropriate age; the age of all the others on her team. But after the second week, she was talking about volleyball to her friends and saying it was her favorite sport! And so, we continued, and she improved rapidly, even scoring a point (or two!) when she served.

Time has a way of escaping us, and so the beginning of summer found Aut still riding a 16" Frozen bike with training wheels that she was too tall for, so much so that it was hard for her to even pedal. We went to REI one night after much discussion and Dad decided to buy us both mountain bikes, to utilize the beautiful trails behind our home. We bought her a 24" bike that was too big for her to ride safely, in a color that Cha could someday use. To bridge the gap, I found a nice 20" purple and teal Schwinn for her, and Dad set out to teach her how to ride without training wheels. It took all of about 15 minutes, and left me with tears in my eyes, in light of the obvious sign that she is indeed, growing up. To see here going on her own, check about two minutes in:

Only twenty minutes later, you can see how much more confident she is:

There were also two accomplishments for big man this month as well, as he nearly became potty trained in the span of only a week with little effort on our part, and also tackled the big waterslide at Great wolf lodge! This was also the month that his soon-to-be-famous booty shake first made it's appearance! We had a wolf den suite at the Great Wolf Lodge, and went to their dance party one evening. Surprisingly, he got out there on the dance floor and debuted the cutest, fast booty-shake west of the Mississippi! This new skill has been highly reinforced, with him usually giving me a booty-shake when I ask for it, and sometimes even when I don't! He's acquiring quite the sense of humor, and one day looked at his booty, which was shaking, and told it "Stop shaking, booty!" as he ran away from is screaming "Agghhhh...." 


Monday, August 9, 2021

June, 2021

The first half of the month was exciting, with the end of the school year for my husband and I, kindergarten promotion for our little girl, and the very last day for Cha at "my big house." I thought I might make it through her kinder promotion without crying, but as soon as she started singing God Bless America with her class, tears filled my eyes. 
Our daughter has not worn a mask all year, due to her medical waiver. It was so nice to be able to see her face at her promotion and I was surprised that she was the only one not wearing one. 
The next day, I was so filled with pride that such a song would be sung in a public school setting, and excitedly told my friend "If more schools were like hers, our country would be a better place." I wasn't referring to the political ideation shared by parents or the academic rigor, but the unity that I feel the school's patriotism brings. At a time when our country feels so divided, remembering (or learning) why our country was founded helps bring cohesion rather than division. I am beyond thankful for her school, which surrounds us with a community that makes living in California a bit more tolerable. 

Cha's last day at daycare was bittersweet. Because it was a daycare that she also attended, it signaled the end of an era. Due to COVID restrictions, I never saw his teacher, whom I knew from before, until that final day. Every day that he attended, I would call to have him brought outside the gate at pick-up time, following COVID protocol. Sporadically, there would be a note telling me about his day, but I was so disconnected compared to my experience at the same place with her. So it was very sweet when his teacher came out and filled me in on how much she will miss him. She said he has such a sweet, gentle spirit and is so helpful that he even picks up toys daily that he didn't play with! She confided that she rewarded him with gummy bears, which I love, and I told him that he would need to start doing this at home more, now that I knew he was so capable.
One of these things is not like the others...

On her last day of school, we worked in a Knott's Berry Farm trip with my brother. There was time for more swimming lessons, ice skating and a playdate with their cousins before flying to Oregon for the last two weeks of June. Being in Oregon is such a break from my  normal routine because when I have time off at my own home, there is always something to do. Aut played for hours on end again with the neighbor  girl  Charlotte and the renter's granddaughter AJ, while I weeded the driveway, went for my runs and watched Cha ride the gator up and down the driveway endlessly. There was a lot of lake swimming (I even went in!), late nights, sprinkler running, conversations around the dinner table, slip 'n slide, salamander catching and baby swan watching going on.
Like compounding interest, every visit to Oregon holds more and more meaning to me because of the memories of previous visits that have been deposited. And of all the past visits, this was my favorite, for no reason in particular. Maybe it was all of the previous memories that added up. Or maybe it was the fact that we celebrated my in-laws' 50th wedding anniversary while we were there, with a semi-surprise part out on one of the docks. They knew we were planning a dinner, but did not know that my husband had booked their favorite harpist. I am so happy that the children were able to be a part of such an important event, and they had a blast being in on the secret. Marriages that have this type of longevity are a rarity, it seems, in a time when fewer people are even deciding to get married. It sends a message to Aut and Cha that although things are not always easy, you stick together and honor your commitment. Both sets of their grandparents remained married until the end.
"I love watermelon, it's my fay-yet."

When was the last time you had a casual conversation with someone who quoted scripture just as a natural part of the conversation? It doesn't happen very much (at all?) where we live. But in Oregon, I went for a run the day after the anniversary celebration and stopped to talk to the neighbor down the road and his wife, who was loading mare into her horse trailer. This is a family I talk to maybe twice a year, and usually chat with them as a welcome break from my run. I had started out on my run a bit wistful and contemplative of the passage of time. My mother-in-law had Ben go get a picture of her husband in his youth to show us at the dinner, and it immediately brought tears to my eyes. It was not so much the touching sentiment as it was the passage of time, which is my Achille's heal. I started the run a bit wistful, thinking of how that would be my husband and I someday, surrounded by our kids, lamenting the passage of time. But I ended my run renewed and hopeful, even though he spoke about his father's recent death on the property from a tractor accident, and how he blinked and now his youngest is getting married. "Enjoy it. It goes by in the blink of an eye. Our time here is limited, and we could die tomorrow...but are we living like that is the case?" he asked. Somehow this conversation made me feel better, not worse. It was as if God knew what was on my heart and found a way to have someone speak to me about it. I returned from my run excited about the day with the kids, and resolved to spend more time with God's word, downloading a daily Bible app since I'm on my phone daily.

The primary purpose of my blog is not readership, but to serve as a virtual scrapbook for the kids and I (as well as future generations?) to look back on, as a piece of family history containing memories of Mom and how remarkable she was, and any history I have from prior generations. I have already found myself reminiscing over my posting on our first international trip with Aut and know I'll do the same when they are grown and out of the home. So, dear future self: You really did strive each and every day to appreciate and enjoy all of the moments of each stage with them. Even (especially?) the ones that can seem trying at the time but are really so fleeting in the grand scheme of things. The ones that you miss as soon as they pass, like when they don't want to be put down or let you out of their sight.