Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pregnancy Update: 17 Weeks

When I was expecting Henry, I did monthly pregnancy updates. I like having those to look back on, so I remember how I was feeling. The first one I did was when I was 17 weeks pregnant with Henry. Today, I am 17 weeks pregnant with this little girl.

























Pregnancy Statistics:

Weeks Pregnant: 17 weeks exactly. I will go for my  next growth ultrasound in Mid-May.
Weight: (From starting weight) +7 pounds. It's hard to keep your weight down when you're taking multiple intramuscular injections of progesterone (as well as estrogen) every day for over three months. I was very happy to have that very last shot a few weeks ago.
Exercise: Since recovering from influenza over my spring break, I've been meeting my goal of walking a minimum of 10,000 steps every day, at least 6 days per week. If it wasn't for the plantar faciitis, I'd probably try to walk even more than that.
Cravings: Baked Potatoes, hamburgers, steak, and all kinds of desserts. I've been indulging in small portions.
Sleep: I was doing better with sleep until my podiatrist said I should sleep with this splint on (see below). It helps a little bit but is terribly uncomfortable.
Mood: I've had a lot of anxiety with this pregnancy. After all I've been through with IVF, I'm very nervous at every little twinge.

My night splint. I only wear it on one leg at a time.

























Here's a sideways view of my bump.

























If you're interested in my IVF story, I'm going to tell it here. I know when I was starting out with a fertility doctor, I read the stories of as many real women as I could find. Here is my story.

I think this is likely the most medically-involved pregnancy imaginable this time around. I've known since my early 20s that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which can cause infertility and increase the likelihood of miscarriages and chemical pregnancies (both of which I had right before getting pregnant with Henry). Nick was sheer luck--I became pregnant with him literally the first cycle I could ever have gotten pregnant in my life. Henry, who is now almost six, was born with the help of Clomid, which is a pill that often helps with fertility.

When Greg and I decided to try for a third child back in 2014, we tried Clomid for an entire year, in slowly increasing dosages. It never worked. I decided to see an infertility specialist in January of 2015. He recommended IVF, since I could have genetic testing done that could cut the rate of miscarriages significantly. In 2015, when I was 36 and 37 years old, I went through four egg retrieval cycles. Greg and I ended up with 48 embryos, 7 of which made it to the blastocyst stage (5-days). We tested all 7, and only two of them were genetically normal. Both were female. The doctor had been right. If we had opted for IUI or if we hadn't tested the embryos, I likely would've had multiple miscarriages. Now, even though I'll be 39 when I have this baby, the embryo is from my 36 year old self, which I found out does make a difference.

In March of 2016, I went through an implantation cycle. This is where the progesterone and estrogen come in, and while I had plenty of shots during egg retrieval, these shots were intramuscular and far more unpleasant. That embryo failed to implant, and we were disappointed, to say the least. My IVF doctor wanted to try to find out what had gone wrong before trying the other embryo, so I went through what they call a trial cycle. This means you do all of the medications (and yes, all the shots) for an implantation cycle, but instead of putting an embryo in, they take some of your uterine lining on what would've been implantation day and send it to a lab. This test (which was pricey, to say the least), told us that I needed more progesterone and that they should implant a day later than they had the first time.

Another hypothesis my doctor had is that I could have endometriosis. Basically, this is when uterine tissue that usually grows inside the uterus grows outside the uterus and in the abdominal cavity. It can cause a great deal of pain as well as infertility. However, the only way to know if you have endometriosis is to sign up for exploratory surgery. It was a big risk, signing on and basically telling the doctor, "Yes, cut me open and root around in there to see if anything might be wrong." That doctor was right, though. One of my Fallopian tubes was kinked (which he fixed), and I had plenty of endometriosis that he was able to remove.

That was last summer. I was originally supposed to have an implantation cycle in October, but it was postponed when I came up anemic in a blood test. In 2003, I had RNY Gastric Bypass Surgery (more about that experience here), and one of the side effects is an inability to absorb iron. I had anemia in both pregnancies, and it caused growth restriction with Nick. When I was expecting Henry, they actually hooked me up to an IV once a week and just gave me the iron that way.

My doctor had me go to a bariatric surgery center and get evaluated. I saw a surgeon, a nutritionist, an exercise physiologist, and a surgical nurse. I had B12 shots, went to a hematologist, had IV infusions of iron, and was finally cleared in December. That's when I started up on all the shots again. My implantation date was on January 16th. They even gave me a picture of the embryo before they implanted it.

Earliest picture---5 day blastocyst



















I was shocked when I found out I was pregnant, just a little over a week later. I had been mentally preparing myself for another failure. Besides the utter exhaustion that comes with early pregnancy (and the anxiety, of course), I generally felt okay. I have never suffered from morning sickness, though I've had some taste aversions and general nausea after eating.

After I made it through the first trimester, I've allowed myself to get just a little bit excited. I haven't bought anything yet, though. Not until summertime, at least. I'll have to go a little crazy in August, though, because all of my baby stuff is from 2008 and for a little boy. Good thing I enjoy shopping.

Greg is thrilled to be having a little girl. He is looking forward to a calm, quiet little girl. Let's not destroy his illusions about little girls-he'll find out in time.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Special Cupcakes With News for Big Brothers

Recently, we brought home some special cupcakes for Nick and Henry. Check out their reaction.



We waited quite awhile to tell the boys, and this was the most fun way I could find. I called up Smallcakes in Naperville, and even on short notice, they were able to custom-make these cupcakes for the boys. Nick's cupcake says "Big Brother Again," and Henry's says "Big Brother." Each one really did have pink cream inside. Henry still had the flu in this video, so you can probably tell from his eyes that he wasn't in tip top shape.




















Yes, it's true. I am 14 weeks pregnant today. Now that I've hit the second trimester, I feel a little more comfortable letting people know. Greg and I are expecting a little girl this fall. After three years of fertility treatments, IVF, surgeries, and countless injections, we are very excited. She is healthy and exactly the right size so far, and all of the genetic tests came up normal. Because we did IVF with PGD testing, we knew the sex of the embryo before it was ever implanted, and the blood tests confirmed the gender.

Later this week, I will do a pregnancy update with more of the details. When I was pregnant with Henry, I did monthly pregnancy updates. These may or may not be of interest to anyone else, but I sure find them helpful to remember an important time in my life.

Nick is absolutely thrilled to be having a sister, and he greets my belly every morning with a pat and a, "Hi, Sister!" Henry isn't quite sure what to think yet. I think the reality hasn't set in yet. He asked me the other day, "Are you sure there's a sister in there?"

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spring Break? Well, Kind of. . .

This year our spring break has not been quite as fun as in years past. Last week, all of us were felled by influenza, and this is pretty much how we've been spending our time. My Fitbit gently warned me today that my activity level has been much lower than is typical. Unfortunately, there is no Fitbit mode for "flu," so mine just thinks I'm being particularly indolent.

If Henry had a Fitbit, it would be admonishing him as well.























Poor Henry had the worst of it. He had a full seven days of fevers, some as high as 103.8, and missed the last three days of school before spring break. Henry spent most of the last week sleeping, and couldn't stay awake for more than an hour at a time. Greg and I both got a pretty bad case of influenza, too, though he recovered faster than I did.

Nick drew a bunny, in case you couldn't tell.
























Nick coughed for a few days, but overall has had a much lighter case than the rest of us. He ditched us to go play outside for most of the time, at least when it wasn't raining.

Henry drew an ice cream cone.























The boys spent a ton of time watching how-to-draw videos on YouTube. This doesn't require a ton of energy, and when you get a coughing fit you can just pause the video. Today was the first day we felt well enough to venture out of the house (for a longer trip than to the Walgreens or the doctor's office). Henry had his last fever on Tuesday, so no one is contagious anymore, though the doctor said the cough could last for weeks.



















I decided to take the boys out to the movies, since it was pouring rain. I do believe nearly every other parent in the area had the same idea; I've never seen the $4 movie theatre so full!  Lego Batman was exactly what you would expect from a movie with that particular title. Henry said he was tired and kept acting like he was going to fall asleep, and then something exciting would happen onscreen and he would be riveted.
























After our movie adventure, Nick had to go to drum practice, so Henry and I headed to the library for a rousing game of Uno and some block-building.























While we did get some basement organizing done, frankly, this has been one of the least fun spring breaks that I can remember. I can't even say it has been relaxing; it's hard to relax when you can't stop coughing, even if the Fitbit says you slept over 10 hours cumulatively. I refuse to take the darned thing off, though. Hey, this week can be a baseline, and no matter what, I'll look like a superstar next week.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Pinewood Derby 2017

Henry and Nick joined the Cub Scouts last fall, and one of the things they've been looking forward to is the Pinewood Derby.
























Making the cars wasn't easy (ask Greg), but I think they look great, especially for their first Pinewood Derby. Can you tell that Henry and Nick both painted their cars themselves? Henry really, really wanted a little Lego guy in his car, and he's even got a steering wheel.























These are what the cars looked like before we added all the weights.























For Pinewood Derby, the kids get a kit that's basically four nails, four wheels, and a block of wood. They have to pick out a design and (with parental help) shape their car and sand and paint it.

Nick's car was #14 and Henry's was #15. 



















The cars had to race down a really long track, two at a time. A computer recorded all the results and calculated winners for each age group and overall.


















Here's the one race where Nick and Henry raced each other.

video


Due to the luck of small numbers, each boy ended up with a trophy. Henry is the only Lion Scout in the group, so he won the first prize trophy. Nick was one of two Wolf Scouts competing, and he won the second prize trophy.























After we got home, Nick and Henry spent at least an hour reenacting the races with their cars across our hardwood floors. I think they'll be pretty motivated to work on their cars next year.  :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Nick's Rock Concert

On Sunday Nick played the drums in a concert with his band. They've named themselves the "Smooth Criminals" for this concert--his second with Rock 101 at School of Rock in Plainfield.


















Nick got all dressed up in his "rock star" clothes. He had a shirt with a guitar on it and a leather jacket. Oh, and his "Nick's Sticks" personalized drumsticks, of course. Henry wore his leather jacket, too, though the only sticks he had were the pretzel sticks he was munching on.























The crowd was as enthused as any group of parents cheering for their kids would be, and the kids have improved since their last concert, at least IMHO.























This is Nick on the mini-kit playing "Twist and Shout." I love that I can hear his drum in particular playing.  :)



Here he is on the big drums playing "Judy is a Punk," by the Ramones.




For "Bad Moon Rising," Nick got to play the tambourine. Yes, they are playing CCR.


Nick doesn't limit himself to drumsticks. . . Oh, no. He can rock bongo drums as well.



He has been practicing SO hard lately. Nick actually broke a drum head about a week ago. His drum instructor said he had the beats down for the concert songs, so he's been teaching him more and more stuff each week. I'm just happy that I can now recognize the beats coming from our basement.


















I can't wait to hear what they'll play next time! They even had a concert poster!























Rock on, Nick!



Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

We kicked off 2017 with a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. They still have their Christmas Trees up, and the decorations were remarkably festive for January.

























Henry was so excited to be at the MSI that he did a "map dance" when he got his map.

video


The boys got to roam in Maurice Sendak's forest.











































We made some time to visit the airplane. We've never taken the boys on an actual plane, so for them this is as good as it gets.


















































Henry and Nick both absolutely loved the Brick by Brick Lego Exhibit.










































Seeing the Lego Creations was awesome, but building their own was way more fun.

























Henry wanted to try out the astronaut suit. Nick? He preferred to check out the gift shop. I can't blame him. It was a pretty cool gift shop.

























Henry loved the lights in this room. He kept turning the different colors on and off and then on again.



















Not too shabby for the first day of the year. Many of us (except Greg, who was driving) fell asleep on the way home.

























Happy New Year!



Saturday, December 10, 2016

Cookie Day 2016

Yes, today was indeed Cookie Day 2016. Each year I take the boys to my mom's house to bake, decorate, and eat lots and lots of cookies. In honor of this special occasion, Nick and Henry wore their new gingerbread man shirts. They read: Ninja-Bread Warrior.



















In the prelude to cookie day, I spent hours and hours arguing with (and, admittedly, yelling at) my cookie press as I made butter cookies. Some cookies are made with love, but I'm afraid my butter cookies were made with anger. Sweet, delicious anger.

Does this snowman show evidence of his maker's fury?




















The butter cookies were still yummy, though. Also, since I didn't get angry enough to actually throw the cookie press out the window, and I eventually made two full batches, I'd call it a win.



























There was far less anger and more fun when Nick and Henry made gingerbread cookies with my mom. They loved rolling out and cutting the cookies. 


























They made some, ahem, interesting cookie shapes. Notice Henry's custom-made cookie. 


























It's a Target cookie, as in the store. Yup. I know what it looks like. Henry loves the Target because I let him pick something out from the dollar spot.

Anyway, the boys made awesome gingerbread houses as well. 


They worked so hard on them--with a little help from G.G. As for Nick, he hardly asked for help at all, and he did an excellent job with roof construction, especially considering he was using white chocolate for cement. He did, however, sneak one piece of candy in his mouth for every piece he added to his gingerbread house!



















They really loved making the gingerbread houses--I haven't done this with real gingerbread (the kind you'd want to eat) since I was a little girl. I hope we can do this every year.



















Here's Henry showing off his masterpiece.

























We concluded cookie day 2016 with a thrilling ride through some pretty nasty traffic as the snowstorm started. It took us over an hour and a half to get home. The gingerbread houses made it safely, though!