Saturday, October 18, 2014

BarBABYdos, Part 2: SUCCESS!

Ethan and I are elated to announce that not only am I pregnant...

I'm pregnant with TWINS!!  

We found out we were expecting about 2 weeks ago, and told our family and some of our closest friends in the following several days.  I baked these positive pregnancy test due date cookies for Ethan to take to his coworkers...

We got to see our babies for the first time yesterday... we saw both tiny heartbeats flickering away.  Unbelievable, beautiful, exciting!!  Baby A is a little smaller than Baby B, and the heartbeat is a little bit slower, so we would appreciate prayers that both babies keep developing and growing!

We've tried explaining to Charley that he will have two more people to love on soon...

...but he just seems overwhelmed with how much we have to learn :-)

Thank you all for the encouragement and prayers through our infertility and IVF journey.  We appreciate you all so much!  Please stick around as we transition from a family of three into a family of five!
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Embryo Transfer Day!

It's a little overwhelming to sit down to write this... so many details that I want to get just right, both for information purposes, and so we'll always remember :-)

On Tuesday (Day 3), we got a call from Natalia at the lab, telling us that we still had 10 growing embryos.  Two of the three that had been behind the day before had caught up, and one of the others was surging ahead. (Ethan and I were really excited about that, but Dr. Skinner told us today that fast, early growth is not as good a sign as it sounded like.)  We each got a massage, then spent a lot of the afternoon on the balcony of our hotel room, talking about baby names and making lists of some names we like.  It's obviously SUPER-early, but it's a lot of fun to dream about! 

Yesterday (Wednesday, Day 4), Natalia called again to tell us that our transfer would be at 1:45 today.  I asked how our embryos were doing, and she explained that there is a lot of changing going on on Day 4, so they don't check on them... leave them alone, let them do their thang :-) We had our favorite cab driver, RC, drive us out to Bathsheba beach.  He gave us a great tour of the island along the way, and we got to see quite a bit that we hadn't managed to see last cycle.  Then we spent a couple of hours on the beach... I hunted sea glass, and actually found quite a bit!  Found my first pieces ever... I'm absolutely hooked on it!  There was this one really pretty piece of white/clear glass, I saw it, and heard a wave rolling in. I reached for it like a flash, just as the wave crashed into my back and washed out the spot where the glass had been.  But it was already safe and sound in my hand... it was such a rush!!  I love it!!!   Finding sea glass gives me an extra little kick of optimism for this cycle, since I have grown attached to the metaphor of the little treasures to our struggle

We went to bed fairly late last night, and were just starting to wake up this morning when Natalia called again.  They had already chosen our embryos, and as soon as they have chosen, they like to get them into their mother as quickly as possible, so they moved my transfer up to 11AM!  We called RC and asked him to pick us up earlier, and got ready quickly.  We got to the clinic at about 9:40, and I had 45 minutes of acupuncture to get the blood flowing to my uterus and to relax me.  And y'all... I was relaxed. Walking straight lines was kind of tough. 

We met with Dr. Skinner in her office, and she showed us our official fertilization reports.  We were THRILLED to see that we had two gorgeous embryos - grades 3AA and 3AB.  These were the two they had decided to transfer :-)  Sadly, four of our embryos had "arrested" or stopped growing.  Apparently, when there is a lot of early growth, that is not uncommon.  The remaining four embryos were a little behind, but they are giving them another day to catch up.  If any of them get to the blastocyst stage tomorrow, they will be frozen for a future transfer.  Ethan and I understood this part differently... he thought she said those four are likely to make it, I thought she said it was unlikely.  I guess we'll find out tomorrow!  

Ethan found this great explanation from Oregon Reproductive Medicine of what happens between Days 3 and 5, and why Day 5 transfers are so preferable.  As sad as we are to have lost our four arrested embryos, we know that these are the ones that would have never matured to the point in me to have even started to implant.  By culturing them out to Day 5, we gave them their best chance, and us the best chance of having a living child or two.  

From there, Dr. Skinner walked with us back to the operating theatre, where we met with Emma - the nurse who took care of me before and after my retrieval.  She instructed us to put on awesome blue booties and hats, and had me put on a hospital gown.  When I was done, we all walked back to the little operating room... I got into the usual position and Ethan sat on a stool near my head. The whole actual transfer took just a couple of minutes... we got to watch via ultrasound as Dr. Skinner slipped a catheter into my uterine cavity, measured it, and chose her spot.  Then the lab handed her our embryos through a little window, and we got to see the little "blip" on the screen as the droplet containing our two precious babies landed in my uterus.  Emma printed the picture right at the point, and circled the drop for us :-)  Then, of course, the historian and blogger had to take pics for the baby book ;-)  

I chilled out on my back while Emma went over my post-transfer meds and instructions, then I got up gingerly - so aware of who I was carrying! - and went upstairs for my post-transfer acupuncture.  As we left the clinic, and hugged everyone for the last time for (hopefully) a few years, I had an overwhelming sense of peace and optimism.  I'm really amazed at how calm I am!  It all just feels very right, and very good. 

We fly home in the morning... we can't wait to love on our furry firstborn, hug his grandparents, and settle into our home and routine to wait out the twelve days until I'm allowed to "POAS" (pee on a stick - crude, but effective infertile shorthand, haha)!!

Thank you all so much for the love and support!  Now, as Dr. Skinner said... "It's all up to them."  I hope these little darlings stick around... we're so in love with them already!! 
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Very Important Announcement About Announcing!

Ethan and I have given a lot of thought to the questions of how and when we are going to announce a pregnancy, and we've come up with a plan we wanted to share now, ahead of transfer.

To our reckoning, this cycle can end one of three ways: 
  1. We can't transfer for some bizarre, unforeseen reason.
  2. We transfer and the embryos don't "stick." Also known in fertility blogging world as a "BFN" - a big fat negative pregnancy test. 
  3. I get pregnant. (That's fun to type!)
In the case of the first outcome, we would want to share right away, so we can document whatever new plans we make and those decision-making processes. In the case of the second outcome, we would be prone to telling people earlier than in the case of a baby on the way, for the support and again, to be able to document our next steps. If I am pregnant, we would want to wait until I was 6-8 weeks along before putting anything on the blog or other social media, so we could share the news with our close friends and family first. 

But this leaves a conundrum for those who've chosen (and been lucky enough) to share a journey like this with so many people. If my two-week-wait has come and gone, and we haven't said anything, the automatic assumption would be that we are expecting, and being coy about it :-) If someone asks before we're ready to tell, and we say something to brush it off or put it off, it would be the same assumption. 

So our plan is to announce outcome 1 if it happens, as soon as it happens, which would be Thursday. We are not anticipating this at ALL, but we also weren't expecting to not transfer last time, either! For outcomes 2 and 3, we will announce on social media on October 18, when I will hopefully be 6 weeks pregnant, after we've called and visited the people we want to know first. 

Making these plans might make me sound a little full of myself - like the world is waiting with baited breath to hear about the occupant/s of my uterus, I know. But I have my reasons! I'm hoping that having a set announcement date will help us handle the questions we'll probably get, but I also want to give fair warning to any infertility friends who may follow me here, on Facebook, or on Instagram. I know ALL TOO WELL how a pregnancy announcement - even one you're sort of expecting - can feel when you're waiting to make a announcement of your own. This way, anyone who wants to guard against a possible "trigger" can follow up through the end of our trip, and have a couple of weeks to do what they need to do to protect your heart. You won't have to worry about a surprise before that day, and you can avoid my social media presence if you're having a "down" day... pop over when you're feeling strong, I'll still be here! 

Thank you all for all of the prayers for our successful trip, and for loving Ethan, me, and our future kids so much! 

BarBABYdos, Part 2: Fertilization Report

We have exciting news on the baby-making front! We asked to only have half of my eggs thawed and fertilized (taking a conservative approach to avoid left over embryos), so on Saturday, 12 eggs were warmed and injected with sperm (intracytoplasmic sperm injection - ICSI).

Yesterday morning, we got a fertilization report for the embryologist, Natalia, at Barbados Fertility Centre, and she told us that ten of those eggs fertilized. This puts us in really good position to have two viable 5-day embryos to transfer, and hopefully have a few more to freeze for later!! We're very encouraged by this number! :-) 

I'm writing this with the Blogger app from the Cincinnati airport. It's the first time I've used this app, so if it looks funny, I apologize - I'll clean it up when I have WiFi again :-)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

No-Bake Cheeseburger Cookies (National Cheeseburger Day)

Happy National Cheeseburger Day!!  Can you tell I'm amused by these national holidays?  :-)

Since I LOVE cheeseburgers like CRAZY, this is one goofy holiday I HAD to celebrate!!  So I'm sharing a recipe (that's almost more like a craft) that we've made in my family for a long time.  I have no idea where it originally came from, and I think each person who makes it makes it her own in some little way :-)

To make your very own tiny cheeseburger cookies, you will need: 

  • Nilla Wafers
  • Grasshoppers (or Thin Mints, if you're lucky enough to have some on hand)
  • White Icing
  • Food colors: Red and Yellow (gel if you have it) and Green (liquid is better... I used gel here)
  • Light Corn Syrup
  • Shredded Coconut (If you hate it, you can leave it off - but it's super-cute!)
  • Sesame Seeds (again, optional, but very cute)
First, separate your icing into two bowls - color one yellow and the other red.  I only used a little less than a quarter tub of icing for each color, and made a dozen cookies.  (Since this is more craft than recipe, my amounts are pretty approximate!)  Place the yellow and red icings into separate zip-top bags, and snip a tiny piece of one corner off each bag. 

Put about half a cup of shredded coconut in a zip-top bag, along with a few drops of green food color.  Zip the bag and shake it up!  If the "lettuce" looks too light, add more food color gradually  If there is extra color floating around, add some more coconut to soak it up.  

Lay out some Nilla wafers, flat side up.  (I work in batches of about a dozen at a time.) Pour a little puddle of corn syrup onto a small dish.

Dab a small amount on the flat side of each Nilla wafer. (Only do one or two at a time, so it doesn't set on you!)  I use a baking-only paint brush.

Press a Grasshopper onto the dollop of corn syrup.  

Now it's time for toppings!  On my real cheeseburgers, I don't want any toppings except possibly bacon and the occasional fried egg... on my cookies cheeseburgers, the more the merrier (and cuter)!  First, I pipe on some of the red icing to look like oozing ketchup.  It always ends up looking like sloppy flowers.  It won't mush out much on its own as you assemble, so you have to pipe it to look that way  :-) 

Next, I do the "lettuce" because I like to have it sandwiched between icings to keep it in place.  Put a big pinch of the green coconut over the "ketchup" and make sure some of it is sticking out the sides...

Pipe some yellow icing over the lettuce, in similar "squish" patterns to the way you did the ketchup.

Pop another Nilla wafer on top of the "mustard" while it's still soft.  It'll hold the cookie on, no need for more corn syrup yet.  

Now, these are pretty stinkin' cute already, but the next two steps just put them over the edge of adorable.  Brush a thin coat of corn syrup on the top of the top "bun" to give it a shiny, toasted-bread look.  Then sprinkle some sesame seeds on top of that.  If you skip the seeds (I do fairly often, because I don't always have them in the house), still go ahead and put the syrup on top.  It really is the perfect realistic touch!

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