Sunday, June 4, 2017

Nick's Summerfest Concert at Settler's Park

Today was Nick's summer concert, and he got to perform at an outdoor amphitheater here in Plainfield. He plays the drums, and today he got to play on the "big kit," the "mini-kit," and the "base." I'm calling the different drums what he calls the drums, because my knowledge of musical instruments is seriously limited.

Nick and his daddy, in front of the amphitheater. 

The weather was warm and sunny, and I ended up with some definite sunburn. Like all the other parents, we sat and took photos and videos of our kids. We were kind of like kid band groupies.

I'm always impressed when I hear the kids performing these songs, all by themselves. This first song was Nick's favorite. It's "When I Come Around," by Green Day.

These kids have been practicing their songs for months. Nick has been taking drum lessons at School of Rock in Plainfield. Their band met every Thursday for an hour and a half, and Nick took drum lessons privately once a week for 45 minutes. For this concert, they decided to call themselves: RIP, Rock In Peace. This is Nick's special "Artist Pass" that he had to wear because he was a performer.

Greg had to take video of this one from the side of the stage, since Nick was on the big kit. He's fairly short, so the kid standing in front of him blocked the view. You can see him really well from this angle, though. They're singing "Sweet Home Chicago."

Here's the six to twelve-year-old  cover version of "Louie, Louie."

And last, but not least. . . Here they are performing "Blue Suede Shoes."

After Nick's performance, we got some BBQ from a nearby food truck and watched the other bands. Nothing like BBQ and sunshine after a rock concert.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pregnancy Update: 22 Weeks

Well, I've made it to the stage where there's no denying I'm pregnant. I've made it more than halfway through this pregnancy!.Walking up to the cash register in the liquor store the other day, buying two 1.5 liter bottles of wine (for my husband, of course), I certainly got some wide-eyed looks. 

Pregnancy Statistics:

Weeks Pregnant: 22 weeks. Baby is the size of a banana, approximately.  Here's a post from when I was 20 weeks pregnant with Henry.

Weight: (From starting weight) +13 pounds. Lucky 13, I guess. 

Exercise: I have met my goal of walking at least 10,000 steps for 6/7 days of every week. My Fitbit says my average is around 12,000 steps a day. On Monday I got 16,907!  :)  My feet still hurt quite a bit, but for some reason they hurt a lot less when I can wear wedge flip flops every day. Thank goodness for summer weather!

Cravings: Meat in all of its forms. Henry was messing around with my phone the other day and commented, "Mommy, why do you have two different hamburger apps on your phone?" He's right, too. The doctors say I'm starting to get anemic, and I'll bet that's why meat has been calling my name. 

Sleep: I tend to get 6-7 hours of sleep per night, which isn't enough for me. I'm looking forward to summertime, when I can sleep in most days. The night splint makes me sleep more lightly, and my Dexcom alarm goes off some nights, waking me up. When I do wake up, no matter what the reason is, it's much harder to fall asleep for some reason.

Also, three times in the last week I've woken up ravenous a few hours after falling asleep. It's the weirdest feeling to be sleeping one second and then bolt upright in bed, and know that you just have to eat immediately. I'm becoming an expert at midnight snacks. 

Mood: Even though my 20 week ultrasound came up normal, I still worry a lot. I have a 24 week ultrasound coming up to check the baby's heart, and that makes me nervous. Also, I don't feel her move very much. Just like when I was pregnant with Henry, I have an anterior placenta. It's right up in front and she is behind it, making it very difficult to feel her moving around. 

Here are some pictures from my 20 week ultrasound:

She's measuring right where she should be for her gestational age.

Can you see her little arm waving?

There she is, full-length.

Medical: I'm now seeing an obstetrician, a fetal medicine specialist, an endocrinologist, a bariatric surgeon, a hematologist, and a podiatrist. Something tells me I'll hit my out-of-pocket max on my health insurance well before this baby is born.  ;)

Because of the reactive hypoglycemia I'm prone to, my endocrinologist had me start wearing a DexCom 5 continuous blood sugar monitor. It has a tiny filament that sits under my skin and sends signals to my iPhone, continuously keeping track of my blood sugar. You'd think it would hurt, but it doesn't. In fact, I don't really feel it at all. It only requires two finger-sticks a day, to calibrate, and that is way better than what I was doing before. 

It's been very helpful to know what's happening, and to have the warning alarms when I start to get low. The Dexcom warned me a few times that I was having low blood sugar overnight, and the doctor started me up again on one Metformin every evening with dinner. That seemed to help with the overnight lows. However, I've also noticed high readings lately, so now I'm also watching for that. I'm really hoping I don't end up with gestational diabetes. 

Nesting: In other news, Greg and I took out a loan to finish our basement. We have a small, two-bedroom duplex, and we're starting to feel rather cramped. Our goal is to finish the basement and have the boys move down there. Then we will have room for a nursery upstairs. The boys will have their own little apartment downstairs, so they'll have much more room, too. It will be our summer project--like nesting on steroids!

We've been working on cleaning out the basement. To be honest, neither one of us is particularly handy, so we have a contractor coming in to do the work. We bought our home in 2006, right when prices peaked, so we're underwater and can't sell. I'm really glad we bought a house big enough to renovate, so that we can make the house we have work for us. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cub Scout Camping Trip

I must be insane!, I thought to myself as I wandered the aisles, my cart full of roasting sticks, emergency compass/whistles, flashlights and sleeping bags guaranteed to keep you warm even if the temperature hits 40 degrees. I'm pregnant, I'm asthmatic, and I hate the cold, and yet I'm packing for a camping trip when there's a frost warning. 

Saturday was Nick and Henry's first Cub Scout camping trip, and we were going to spend the night tent-camping at the Jellystone Campground in Millbrook, IL. I've taken the boys camping before, but that was in a cabin with heat, air-conditioning, and a refrigerator. This was a whole different ball game, and I kept questioning the wisdom of the trip. I am nothing if not stubborn, however, so I pushed on with my extremely full cart. I opted for an air-mattress, figuring I wouldn't be able to get off the ground in the morning if I slept without one.

I have been camping many times before. In fact, I was an Explorer Boy Scout in a co-ed troop when I was in high school. (Explorer Scouts investigate careers, and our group was all teens interested in becoming teachers.) From what I can remember of those days, though, any camp outs we had consisted mostly of the guys showing off their manly skills while I clapped appreciatively, gingerly perched on a log.

Henry continually lost his shoes on this trip after going in and out of tents. 

I haven't slept in a tent, though, since college. That wasn't true camping, either. Instead, it was more a case of wanting to take a trip but being too broke to afford hotel rooms along the way. I have vague memories of setting up a tent in the dark and collapsing inside of it, exhausted. My nineteen-year-old self had handled sleeping on the ground without too many repercussions. How would my thirty-eight-year-old body deal with getting back to nature? That remained to be seen.

I love having my boys in scouting. It's outdoors, it's active, and running around poking each other with sticks is what Nick and Henry do best. Really. It's a true talent with these two.

These guys found firewood for our fire!

Speaking of sticks, Henry did an especially good job of gathering them. Long after the other kids had given up and gone to play, Henry was still bringing us piles of kindling.

One thing that I love about camping is the food. We had hamburgers and hot dogs, and they were delicious. I should add, however, that Henry and Nick both refused to eat the hot dogs they cooked over the fire. There were "brown spots" on them, you see. Sigh.

We borrowed a tent, and the boys were super-excited to get to sleep in it. They kept wanting to go in and out of everyone's tents.

Henry, however, was devastated when we told him there wasn't room on the air-mattress for him. Little did we know that Henry would indeed spend more than half the night sleeping in my sleeping bag on top of the air mattress. . .

While the campfire was cool, Henry and Nick really liked the night hike. Here they are with their buddies. I was very glad they were not hike buddies with one another--they fight too much.

Our troubles didn't start until bedtime. The boys were up past their normal 8 p.m. bedtime, and we didn't even get into the tent until around ten. It was definitely cold, but in the sleeping bags I'd bought definitely helped, so we were not too chilly. My anxiety kicked in around 2 a.m., when I woke up gasping for breath since I'd had the blanket over my head. I started worrying about what would happen if the boys had blankets over their heads, and then I grabbed a flashlight to check them out. I pulled the blanket off of Nick's head, and checked out Henry. Not only did he not have the blanket over his head, he was only half in his sleeping bag, and somehow he had taken off his shirt. (!?!) How was he sleeping so deeply in this freezing weather? At this point it was in the low 30s, temperature-wise. I could see my breath with every exhale, and a light coating of frost covered the part of my pillow where my head did not rest.

I pulled both boys onto the air mattress with us, made Henry put on a shirt and climb into my sleeping bag with me, and tried to go back to sleep. The rest of the night consisted of Greg and I shivering and trying to get comfortable with four of us on a supposedly queen-sized mattress that was more like a full. Greg actually spent about an hour in the car warming up. The kids fell back to sleep within an hour, but I didn't fall asleep again until after 4 a.m.

Greg went on a Starbucks-finding mission as soon as he woke up. To be honest, he'd mapped out where the nearest Starbucks soon after arriving at the campsite on Saturday. I was just grateful for the caffeine he brought. When I got out of the tent, there was actual frost on my shoes.

This morning it was Nick helping to find firewood. Henry? He found me something very special. A rock shaped like a heart. "For you, Mommy," he said. My heart melted.

Well, we survived. To be honest, the kids had such an awesome time that I won't be able to deny them future camping trips. Overall, the trip was definitely worth it. I will, however, get a heated cabin if the temperatures are predicted to be below about 55 degrees. I don't want to miss out on the memories, but I do not want to risk frostbite again.

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.


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.  :)