Friday, July 26, 2013

Our IVF Experience

Many of you know that Andrew and I tried for awhile to get pregnant.  We began this adventure in May 2011.  After a year of no success, we began looking into fertility.  Our fertility doctor began by running tests on each of us to see if there was a medical reason for our apparent infertility.  All of the tests came back normal, so the doctor diagnosed us as unexplained infertility.  This is such a frustrating diagnosis.  At least if there had been something wrong, we would have known what to do to fix it.  Unexplained infertility, to me, simply meant "you should be able to do this on your must be doing something wrong." 

Our doctor then went over our options.  He talked about Clomid, but didn't recommend it for our situation. IVF and IUI were also suggested, as was a fourth option I don't really remember.  Andrew's and my primary concern was to avoid having multiples.  We both agreed that we really only wanted one baby at a time, so in an effort to avoid that, we decided on IVF.  We made his decision back in October 2012.

Before we could proceed, the doctor first wanted to run a couple of other tests on me just to be certain. One was a dye test to check my fallopian tubes and another was a water test to check my uterus.  Both tests can back normal, which freed us to move ahead with the IVF.  However, we began putting it off.  In my mind, IVF became a back-up option because, in theory, we should be able to do this on our own.  It became a "let's try one more time this month and if it doesn't work, then we can do IVF", only instead of being one month, it turned into several. 

Another problem we had (initially it was only Andrew, but I came around to his way of thinking) was that IVF would mean throwing away fertilized eggs.  Andrew wasn't comfortable with that and it opened up some good conversations between the two of us.  Needless to say, I came around to his way of thinking and we approached our doctor with our concerns.  He was wonderful and extremely understanding and willing to work with us.  He suggested doing a reduced dose of the meds and then only fertilizing 2 eggs.  Assuming the fertilization took, we would then implant both eggs and see what happened.   By this time we had decided that we really only wanted one baby, but if God gave us two we would manage and it would be fine.  The doctor said we could boost our chances by fertilizing 3 eggs, to which we quickly said no.  We said, if God wanted us to have two babies we had enough faith to say ok, but we didn't have enough faith for three!

We waited until after the holidays to begin our IVF adventure.  Andrew went and picked up all of the meds and I started them in February.  Andrew is so wonderful!  I couldn't bring myself to give myself shots, so he administered all of them for me.  Throughout this process, I had to go to the fertility center about once a week in the beginning, and more frequently towards the end, so that they could do ultrasounds and check how the meds were affecting my eggs and follicles and determine when best to administer the final injection before retrieval. 

The egg retrieval was done on March 7, 2013.  It was a Thursday morning.  The procedure didn't take that long once they began, but it required an IV and the nurse had a lot of trouble sticking me.  She tried one arm for a while, but couldn't find a vein.  Another nurse tried my other arm and my hands before going back to my original arm.  Finally, they were able to find a vein and put the IV in.  The procedure was quick because they only retrieved one egg.  Afterward, we went home and relaxed on the couch (me with a heating pad) for the rest of the day.  In the evening, I got up to go pee and realized I couldn't.  After some phone calls and a few trips to the urgent care, they finally gave me a catheter and I had relief.  Later that night (probably around 2am) I was uncomfortable and noticed that the urine in the bag was bloody and I was a bit freaked out, so we went back to the urgent care.  They couldn't do much else for me, so they referred me to the ER and we went.  I spent the night in the ER and basically they finally decided that the procedure must have nicked my bladder, which caused the bloody urine and the meds in the IV probably contributed to my inability to pee.  The catheter was left in through the weekend until the egg transfer on Sunday morning, March 10. So. uncomfortable.

At the egg transfer, they first removed the catheter (thank goodness) and then transferred the egg.  The doctor said it looked really good, it fertilized well, and that basically it was the best it could be at this point.  We even got a picture of the fertilized egg on day three.  After the quick procedure, I had to lay there for about 20 minutes or so.  Then we were free to leave and wait.  We had to wait two weeks to find out if the egg implanted or not.  It was one of the longest two weeks of my life.  Two Fridays later, we went to the fertility center and I had my blood drawn that morning.  Then, I had to wait almost ALL DAY to find out the results.  I babysat that morning to try and keep my mind off of it and make the day go by a little faster.  Around 2:00 that afternoon, the amazing call came in telling me that I was pregnant!  Such an amazing day. 

We are so blessed, especially in these circumstances.  This baby is certainly a gift from God - IVF generally takes a few tries, and we did it on the first try with only one egg.  Baby Jackson was meant to be.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Am I Seriously 30?

On August 14, I turned thirty years old.  It was a little traumatic.  Normally, I don't mind birthdays and I'm fine with getting older...but this particular birthday bothered me.  As it crept closer and closer I became more and more in denial.  How could I possibly have lived 30 years already?  Where did the time go?  Why is my life still seemingly in transition?  Shouldn't I be past that nonsense now?  I always thought by the time I was 30 I would have a house and kids.  I figured I'd be unemployed by choice (to be a stay-at-home mom) and my life would be set.  I thought that by thirty, Andrew and I would be in a forever kind of place.  Clearly, I was mistaken.  It would seem God had a different idea of what thirty would look like for me. career...and still in limbo as far as where we'll settle for (fingers crossed) ever.

But, I still take comfort in the fact that my God is bigger than all of that.  He has a plan for me and my life and it is good.   It might not be in my timing, but it will be made perfect in His.  So, I continue to wait.

And, while I wait, I have a completely awesome husband to wait with who made my thirtieth birthday totally amazing.  Since turning thirty was kinda a big deal, I told him I wanted to go to New York City for the weekend after my birthday.  So, he made it happen.  We went down on Friday night and stayed in the Millennium Hilton at Ground Zero.  We had an amazing view of the reflecting pools and the towers being built.  

On Saturday, we went to Shake Shack for lunch (yum!) and, thanks to Andrew, my brother and my in-laws surprised me!  That afternoon, after getting a cupcake from Sprinkles, we went and saw the 9/11 memorial and then, after a rushed dinner, we went and saw Jersey Boys.  Love.

On Sunday, we went to the Central Park Zoo, S'Mac, and then Ellis Island.

Finally, after dinner, it was time to head back to New Haven and the real world.

It was a really wonderful trip, and I got to see some things in NYC that I hadn't seen before.  Best part was getting to experience some of it with my husband, my brother, and my in-laws.  I have some really great people in my life.  Blessed.

Monday, August 27, 2012

30 Before I'm 30 . . . How Did I Do?

Well...sadly, not a complete success.  However, I did accomplish several things on my list.  I think part of my problem was that I just wasn't that excited to turn thirty, so I didn't have a lot of motivation to accomplish things on my list.  Also, I just ended up being pretty busy.  So, here it is:

1.  Have a Baby.

Hey, it's not in my control!  At some point I'll share more details on this one, but now is not the time. (and for the record, no, I'm not pregnant right now).

2.  Move to a house or be actively looking for a house.

I wish.  I am SO TIRED of living in an apartment.  But we just aren't there yet.  We don't want a house in CT because 1) we could never afford one here and 2) we won't be here forever.  And, since we are still in CT for the time being, we are not actively looking for a house.  When we move away and end up in a forever kind of place, then we will get back to a house as quickly as we possibly can.  I think for the most part we are both done with apartment living.

3.  Pay off 2 credit cards.

I (we) DID THIS ONE!  We paid off 2 cards entirely and paid down significantly several others thanks to financial aid.  I realize this is basically just shuffling money around, but at the end of the day, I'd rather pay back the government with a fixed reasonable interest rate than the credit card companies.  And, we aren't only using financial aid to pay them down.  Of course we make more than the minimum monthly payments too, but we also make very large payments 2x a year using financial aid money.

4.  Lose weight.

I DID THIS ONE TOO!  I am no where near my ultimate goal, but I am fast approaching my summer goal.  Back in April or early May, I saw an infomercial for Jillian Michaels' Body Revolution and checked it out on line.  I decided it looked like a pretty good deal, so Andrew and I ordered it and got started on Memorial Day.  We've got 2 more weeks until we finish the 90 days challenge.  For the 90 days, my goal was to lose 20 lbs, and I am 4 lbs away.  Once the 90 days are over, I plan to start the exercise stuff over again in hopes to maintain if not continue to lose weight.

5.  Visit someplace new.

YEP, I ACCOMPLISHED THIS!  Last September, Andrew and I went to Bar Harbor, Maine for a long weekend for a friend's wedding.  We had a great time.  Bar Harbor is beautiful!  Such a sweet touristy town - very quaint.  Overall, quite lovely in the summer and we'd love to go back.


 6.  Finish wedding scrapbook.

Yeah...nope, not yet.  Honestly, I haven't taken any of my scrapbooking stuff out in about a year.  But, it is close to done.  I am (still) waiting on photos from my rehearsal dinner, and have a few photos left to print at the end of my CD.  I don't think it will take long to finish, I just need to find time and sit down and do it!

7.  Finish honeymoon scrapbook.

See answer to #6.

8.  Travel to a new country.

I'm saying I accomplished this, even though I haven't left North America.  This is my reasoning:  When you go to a new country, a large part of the experience is the food, right?  Well, we couldn't afford to leave North America, and I've been to Canada and Mexico before.  But, living in New Haven, there are many restaurants to choose from for various kinds of foods.  Since living here, I've tried Indian food, Cuban food, Ethiopian food, and possibly others that I cannot recall at this moment.  So, while I didn't get on an airplane and fly over the ocean like I desperately want to (SO much I want to see!), I have sampled cuisine from other countries, and that's at least part of the "experience."

9.  Andrew.

This needs no explanation, other than to say I DID THIS ONE!

10.  Frame TX Certification.

This one is so easy to do, and yet I still haven't done it.  Part of it is there are other things I want to spend my money on right now.  Part of it is also the fact that I don't have a classroom to display it in, which is really the reason I want it framed at all.  So, no frame yet.

11.  Tithe regularly.

While it is not regular, it is more than before.  And, I have a plan to make it regular.  Now, I just need to implement it.

12.  Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

I just don't think I was made to do this one.  I did it a couple of days and essentially lived in the bathroom due to having to pee all the time.  Now, if I drink anything it's water or coffee, and Dr. Pepper on the weekends.  It's not 8 glasses, but most days it's probably at least 4.  

13.  Learn to sew.

I still want to do this one, but all of my sewing friends and family are in TX.  Up here, everyone knits.  I'm not against learning to knit, but it would be more to pass the time than anything else.  And, while someday I'd like a sewing machine, I don't have one yet so even if I could sew, I couldn't!

14.  Accumulate some savings.

I think at various points this one has been done, and then undone when we needed the money.  Right now, it is undone; although, once my financial aid comes through we'll put it back.

15.  Read at least 1 new book a month.

YES!  I've been trying really hard to read new books, and have done a pretty good job!  I've read Heaven is for Real, The Shack, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse, The Lost Symbol, Mini Shopaholic, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Unlocked, Shades of Blue, One Thousand Gifts, Her Mother's Hope, Her Daughter's Dream, Same Kind of Different As Me, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician's Nephew, The Last Battle, American Education, Building Classroom Discipline, and Effective Strategies for Teaching in K-8 Classrooms.  Chances are, there are other new books I've read that I just can't remember right now!  I heart reading!

16.  Get life organized.

Well...this one is difficult to do.  And, some areas of my life are too difficult to attempt organizing right now.  I have organized the medicine cabinet.  I have also organized our DVD collection.  Our closet and our shoes are organized.  My grad school coursework, etc. is organized.  So there.  Some small parts of my life have been organized.  Others remain in chaos for now.  Hoping to get some more things organized sometime soon.

17.  Do a light clean once a week.

Here's the thing.  I HATE TO CLEAN!  I like things to be clean, but I hate to be the one cleaning.  So, all in all, this one was an epic fail.  But, I'm mostly okay with that.  It's not like we don't clean, we just don't clean as regularly as we should.  But, please bear in mind - if you are coming to visit us, we will clean!  I promise.

18.  Do a deep clean once a month.

See #17.

19.  Cook a four course meal.

I haven't done this one yet.  I've found some good recipes to try out though.  Maybe when our diet is over, we'll celebrate with this one.

20.  Have friends over for dinner once a month.

Almost all of our good friends have babies.  This makes it difficult to have them over because they have schedules.  Also, surprisingly enough, not everybody likes Tanner (I know, I don't understand it either).  And, combine Tanner and babies and people get nervous.  Oh well...

21.  Cut Dr. Pepper consumption by half.

I DID THIS ONE!  I probably did more than half.  Generally speaking, I now have Dr. Pepper (or soda, since DP is so hard to come by up here) with lunch on Saturday and Sunday.  If for some reason we eat out more than those 2 meals, I have one then too, but it's rare that that happens.

22.  Do 1 outdoor activity a day in the Fall, Summer, and Spring.

I discovered something - I'M NOT OUTDOORSY GIRL!  (Actually, I already knew this about myself, but hoped I could change it.  Turns out, I don't handle change well.  Oh well...)  I tried to do this one for maybe a month before giving it up.  I'd walk Tanner, or go sit by the pool, or eat lunch outside.  And, I enjoy all of those things, but not every day.

23.  Organize craft stuff.

Most of my craft stuff is either at my parent's house in Waco or packed away in a friend's basement because we don't have room here.  Alas, craft stuff not organized.

24.  Clean out clothes.

I DID THIS ONE!  I have gone through my clothes several times now and gotten rid of things that were too small, or I didn't wear anymore, or that I'd had since high school.

25.  Go through college papers and toss or organize.

Nope.  Most of my stuff is already organized from college classes.   I discovered a lot of the loose leaf papers were actually my husband's.

26.  Do 100 sit-ups/crunches a day.

I started off doing this one and made it for several months.  But, I got out of the habit after my surgery and just never got back into it.  I'm okay with that.

27.  Make a budget and stick to it.

SORTA KINDA DID IT.  We haven't really written down one, but we have limits for groceries and things.  And, we've gotten to where we are able to spend cash (ok, debit card) almost always instead of a credit card.

28.  Resolve gallbladder issues.

DONE!  So thankful to have this one accomplished.  I had surgery to remove my gallbladder trans-vaginally back in March 2011 and have felt great ever since (aside from about a 1 week recovery period...that part was NOT fun).

29.  Start running.

I DID THIS ONE.  However, if you read it very closely, it says "start" and says nothing about continuing.  Last summer, I tried running.  I used the C25K app and did it for about a month.  I found that not only do I hate running, I quickly get side stitches, shin splints, sore ankles, etc.  Not worth it.  I started, and I stopped.

30.  Have a t-shirt quilt made out of college tees.

IN THE PROCESS OF DOING... I picked out all of my tees to use.  I got them all to my mom so she can get a quilt made for a Christmas or birthday present.  It's too expensive for me to pay for, and mom offered, so I of course jumped on that offer!  Love my mom.

So, there you have it.  30 before 30 successes and failures, all of which I'm okay with.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Philly for the Fourth (2012)

Since we've been in Connecticut, we've tried to go various places for the Fourth of July to see the fireworks.  The first year we were here we went to NYC (really really good fireworks), last year we went to Boston (also amazing), and this year we went to Philadelphia (good fireworks, but too short).
Even though the fireworks were less impressive than anticipated, we had an AMAZING time!  Philly is such a great city, and truly an amazing place to be for this particular holiday.  There is SO MUCH history there to take in.  We were only there for two and a half days, so our trip was a bit of a whirlwind, but so worth it.  We were joined by my brother and his girlfriend.  Andrew and I took the train (Amtrak) down to Philly and it was so nice not having to deal with a car there.  We went down on Monday night and were joined by Jamie and Christy Tuesday morning.  We immediately went in pursuit of a Philly Cheesesteak, and successfully found a delicious one at Jim's.

After chowing down, we wandered around the city and did The Constitutional Walking Tour, seeing Benjamin Franklin's grave, Betsy Ross' house, Christ Church, the original foundation of the President's house, the Second Federal Bank, Franklin's Library, and the Quaker Meeting House.  

After the tour, we walked over to Elfreth's Alley, one of the oldest existing inhabited residential streets in the country - built in 1702.

We also saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square, before hiking back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at Hard Rock Cafe.

On the Fourth of July, we got up and went to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

We got to see the chair that George Washington sat in while leading the Continental Congress.  So cool!  Then we bussed it over to the Eastern State Penitentiary.  This was the first penitentiary built in the US.  Originally, the prisoners were kept in solitary confinement and were not allowed to talk or make noise.  This was because the prisoners were supposed to be repenting of their crimes through prayer.  It was also to protect the prisoner's identity so that when they were released, they would not be known as a criminal and unable to find work.  As the prison grew, this idea faded away.  We were able to view much of the prison (crumbling after being abandoned for 20 years before becoming a historical landmark) including Al Capone's cell.  We also got to go into "the hole", where I was able to stand up straight, but Andrew, Jamie, and Christy had to crouch.

After exploring the prison for several hours, we hiked over to the fireworks location, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  We saw (from a distance) the Rocky statue and stairs.  There was a concert we could hear (and occasionally see) featuring The Roots, Queen Latifah, Common, Darryl Hall, Joe Jonas, and a few others to fill the time before the fireworks started at 11:00.  (Not really music either of us listen to...)  The fireworks were pretty, but they only lasted about 10 minutes, which was quite disappointing.

On our last day there (Thursday), we got up and ate at Profi's Creperie in the Reading Terminal Market.  It was DELICIOUS.  I had a nutella and strawberry filled crepe.  YUM!

Jamie and Christy left after breakfast, but Andrew and I weren't catching the train until 5:00, so we had time to walk around and see some more sights.  We wandered around and saw the Declaration House, where Thomas Jefferson rented a room and wrote the Declaration of Independence.  We also saw Carpenter's Hall, where the First Continental Congress met, as well as (the reconstructed) New Hall where the first architecture school was located.  The first class of 40 students paid $1.00 tuition!  We also got to see the Old State House.

All in all, this was SUCH an AMAZING TRIP!  We had a wonderful time and look forward to returning another time because there was so much we missed!  We highly recommend visiting Philly if you haven't before.  Really incredible place and truly the city of brotherly love.