Always, Katie: March 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

BarBABYdos: Scrapbooking IVF

I am planning on making our own baby book with scrapbook supplies.  One of the major reasons (*salute* "Maj. Reasons"... yay pop culture!) for this is so I can customize it to our child and our family... and maybe avoid some of those empty pages!  :-)

Also, not a lot of baby books come with "Conceiving Baby" sections (for obvious reasons, I guess), and I feel like that is going to be a HUGE part of our baby's story, and one that we want him or her to know.  Several months ago, I pinned an item on etsy that was a baby book/pregnancy book for "alternative" families, including those using fertility treatments and/or adoption to build their families.  It was neat, it was customizable, and I wanted it... but that seller has totally disappeared from etsy.  And the whole rest of the internet.  Dagnabbit.  So, back to making my own, which is shaping up to be a funny hybrid of vacation scrapbook and diary of medical procedures :-) 

So, help me out here, wise IVF veterans... what are some things I need to plan on photographing/journaling?  What are the things about this process that we will truly want to remember and want our children to know?  So far, I can think of:
  • Pictures of us the clinic staff
  • Snapshots of ultrasound screens during monitoring/whenever else one of us can reach our iPhone camera ;-)
  • Microscope picture of embryo/s pre-transfer, if possible
  • Pictures of meds - unused shipment, injecting myself/Ethan injecting me, full sharps container, any gnarly bruises ;-)
  • Maybe some pics of the rooms we do our massage/acupuncture/etc in?
  • Obviously, vacation stuff like pics in the airports, flight info, save our boarding passes... hotel, beach, any outings we feel up to taking...
  • Daily journaling (blogging should help with that!)
Am I forgetting anything?  Where we haven't been through a cycle yet, I'm paranoid that I'm not going to think to photograph/journal/save something that I'll regret down the road!
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PS:  Our phone consult with Dr. Skinner is tomorrow morning!  Please pray it goes as well as we expect it will :-)  

PPS:  My glass class was this afternoon, and I am SO HOOKED!!  I made three beads, but I can't pick them up for a week... but here's a picture of me, a bead in progress, and a 3000 degree flame :-)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lampwork Beads Pinspiration

I started the second placement of my internship on Monday, at my old high school :-)  It is so fun to be back there, and I feel like I'm learning a lot already.  I am also so glad that it is spring break now!!  

I have some exciting plans for spring break... I've been saving some Christmas money to go to the spa, planning on using it during IVF to relax a little :-) But since I won't be in reach of my favorite spa during IVF, I'm going to get a massage and a haircut one day over spring break!  Another day, we have our phone consult with Dr. Skinner at Barbados Fertility Center!  And on Monday, I'm checking an item off my bucket list - learning to make lampwork glass beads :-)  I've wanted to take a class and maybe rent some studio time to see if I like it and have a knack for it before I invest in a kiln and torch.  One of my goals for this year is to make at least one donation to Beads of Courage, which is a super-cool organization that gives special beads to kids with chronic serious illnesses to help them tell their stories. 

Ethan gave me a groupon for this class for Christmas, and ever since, I've been pinning some of my favorite lampwork beads on Pinterest for inspiration.  The talent behind most of these beads is INSANE, and I know it will be a while if I'm ever this good, but I just love looking at these!  So I thought I'd share, because who can't use some happy pretty colorful pinspiration!?! :-)

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PS: Please see my pinboard for information on these beads, their designers and where to purchase some of them :-)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Outfit Post: Happy Spring!

I'm just popping in for a quick outfit post today :-) 

I had to run a quick little errand today, and since it's the first day of spring, I wanted to go "springy!"  I still have a lot of spring clothes to unpack (and de-apartment-stenchify), but I picked this cardigan up at the outlets a couple of months ago, thinking it would be a good all-year piece... yeah, it's definitely a spring sweater!  So I broke it out gleefully today, paired it with a spring-green cami and tossed on one of my most colorful, vibrant necklaces :-)  

Khaki Pants: JCP brand from JCPenney.  I cuffed them; they're actually ankle-length.
Green Cami: This thing is so old I can't read the tag anymore!!!
Blue Cardi: LOFT outlet.
Sandals: Maripé (Rack Room, I think)
Necklace: Always, Katie (see this post)
Toe Nail Polish: L'Oreal Paris, Wishful Pinking

It was still a LITTLE bit chilly out, and I've seen people use the "S" word (rhymes with NO!) regarding Tuesday, but for today, I just reveled in winter being officially, technically over :-)  Happy Spring, y'all!
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Grilled Peanut Butter Treat

I went to college to learn things, and I learned a LOT of really cool things.  

One of those really cool things was this little secret:

Melty. Peanut butter. Is.  AMAZING!

During finals week, our RAs tried to help us keep grounded and relaxed, and one year, my RA brought her griddle to the commons room and made us all grilled PB&J.  This isn't so much as recipe post as it is a "Hey, if you haven't tried this... try this!" post, but I got a craving for this yesterday and thought how tragic it would be if someone out there had never tasted this heavenly little snack, so I thought I'd share it :-)  

The concept is super-simple... make yourself a peanut butter and jelly (or just peanut butter, or peanut butter and apple butter, or peanut butter and honey...) sandwich, butter the outsides of each piece of bread, and grill it up over medium heat on the stove.  Make sure the outsides of the bread get that nice, golden crispyness! Then, I used my brand-spankin'-new powdered sugar shaker from Pampered Chef to sprinkle a little extra sweetness on top, too :-)  It's totally decadent and not at all low-cal, but I figure the protein in the peanut butter has to count for something, right?

Next time you're in need of some comfort food, give this a try! It's quick, easy, and fun... and melty peanut butter is seriously the yummiest thing in the world :-)  If you need a shaker like mine (a million different uses!), pop over and visit my wonderful Pampered Chef consultant, Bethany!
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Saturday, March 15, 2014

IVF Adventure: A Change in Plans

This week brought a huge and surprising - even to us! - change in our IVF plans!  

We have had a lot of problems with our fertility clinic lately - to put it mildly! When I blogged on Monday, I said that we were waiting to hear back from them to schedule my baseline ultrasound. They called shortly after my second blog post went live, and told me that they were pushing our cycle back a month, due to problems coordinating both of our doctors and the lab. We wouldn't be able to do retrieval until early May. I spent a lot of Tuesday on the phone with both of our doctors, explaining why (a) my diabetes and my weight couldn't tolerate an additional month on birth control, and (b) that this was at least the third time we'd been put off for non-medical reasons, and why that was unacceptable.

Ethan's doctor suggested another route, in which we retrieve my eggs and vitrify (freeze) them immediately, then they would coordinate the actual fertilization and transfer when he and the lab could be coordinated. It would be slightly later than we had planned, but not May, and I could be done with the birth control almost immediately.

MY doctor shot that plan to pieces when they told me that after my retrieval, I would have to go RIGHT back on the birth control to get my lining synced up to the embryos for transfer. And be on them until June. Remember when we were going to do retrieval in early March? Then mid-March? Then the first week of April?! Then early May!?! And now we're talking JUNE and SEVERAL more weeks on birth control?!?!?

So we started doing some research on something I had read about - in passing - on other fertility blogs and message boards.  It had intrigued me years ago, but I assumed we weren't the "kind of people" who did this kind of thing, so I mentioned it briefly to Ethan as an "isn't this interesting" kind of thing, then we dropped it and proceeded to make plans in SC.  After the drama with Kettering Reproductive Medicine, we started researching "medical tourism."

Courtesy of:

The place that kept coming up in our searches as legitimate, highly-accredited and universally well-recommended was Barbados Fertility Centre.  Seriously, we spent the better part of two days (which I took off from work) researching their accreditations, media coverage, and personal testimonials of patients - both on their website and on independent message boards, and did not find any red flags.  Not even any dark pink flags. Not even any flags that used to be white and went through the laundry with a red sock. Their reputation is pristine!

Once we were reassured of their safety, legitimacy and commitment to staying on the cutting edge of fertility technology and innovation, we allowed ourselves to start thinking of Barbados Fertility Centre as a real possibility for us.  We fell in love with their relaxation-focused approach to fertility treatment, especially as we were in the middle of a hugely stressful interaction with KRM at the time.  I know how stress affects my diabetes, and I have read a lot of research about the effects of stress on the outcomes of fertility treatment, so an approach that emphasizes stress reduction seems like a smart one.  Their success rates support this - for my age group with the procedures we will need, their success rate is 77%!  For comparison, KRM's rate is only 56%, and most of the other clinics in Ohio are between 35-50%.

So I spoke with the IVF coordinator and co-founder, Anna, by phone on Tuesday.  She assured me that our assortment of conditions will be something that they can work with, gave me some general info, and scheduled a phone consultation with the doctor, Dr. Skinner.  Anna was wonderful to talk to, very calming and reassuring.  She and I have emailed several times this week, coordinating the release and gathering of our medical records (from way too many doctors) and getting other information the doctor needs to review before we talk on April 1.  We even set a target date range for our trip, July 1 - 15!

Assuming all goes well with the phone consultation (and there is no good reason I know of to believe it won't!), I will go back on birth control in May (oh, did I mention I got to quit it this week?!?!)... have a baseline ultrasound with my general gynecologist here, start some of the injections here, then fly to (what we are now referring to as) BarBABYdos for monitoring, retrieval, fertilization and transfer.  Then, we'll recover on the white sand, and fly home to wait to take a pregnancy test.  During our two weeks there, we will both be able to get massages, reflexology and acupuncture as part of their Healthy Mind and Body Programme, and the clinic has staff who will help us arrange transportation and accomodations.  They truly work to make the experience as low-stress as fertility treatment can possibly be :-)

Courtesy of: tourist-destinations
I know it probably seems strange to put treatment off until July, when I was so upset about being put off until May.  But, Barbados was able to give us a date, a couple of months out, that we will actually land there and begin treatment.  That reassurance is huge!  If all goes well with the phone consultation, we WILL be in Barbados on July 1, we WILL have an egg retrieval (and hopefully an embryo transfer) before July 15, and we WILL know if we're going to be parents by the end of July. KRM couldn't even tell me that much with supposedly only a few weeks' notice.  Barbados will go out of their way to help us relax, KRM was making me pull my hair out and ugly-cry.  Barbados has white sandy beaches, KRM is in Ohio ;-)  Oh, AND treatment in Barbados, including medications and the extras like the Healthy Mind and Body Programme, plus airfare and accomodations, will cost about $1000 less than just treatment/meds here! And we'll get to spend our 5th anniversary on a second honeymoon at the same time :-)

We're very excited about our decision!  If anybody has been to Barbados and has any recommendations of great places to stay or eat, or places we have to go while we're there, we'd love it if you'd share :-)  If you're praying people, please pray for our phone consultation on April 1 to go well, and that all of the travel details will work out perfectly!

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Monday, March 10, 2014

The Pain Olympics

I have long been a believer in emotional relativism.  That is to say, the worst thing you've ever been through is the worst thing you've ever been through, and you experience it as if it is the worst thing to have ever happened.  Your feelings are completely valid.  Your goldfish of two months is the closest living thing to you to have ever died?  Grieve that little fish, friend! 

There's a phenomenon that happens in bloggy world - and the "real" world, too - that I like to call "The Pain Olympics."  I'm pretty sure I didn't make that up, it may have been Ethan, it may have been another blogger... sorry.  

But the idea is that we have a tendency to compare our pain, and sometimes get a little bit competitive and judgmental about it.  I try very hard to avoid this, because I have been shown grace and love by other bloggers more times than I probably know.  

I am sure there are bloggers out there who have been through several IUIs and several IVF cycles and are still childless who see where I am - 5 rounds of Clomid, no IUI, and still prepping for my first round of IVF - and believe that they have been through so much more pain than I have.  That doesn't make our journey less painful or our pain less valid!

Comparing ourselves to others and finding our stories more painful does a disservice to the others by denying the validity and reality of their pain.  But it goes the other way, too.  

One of my best friends blogs about recurrent pregnancy loss (and diabetes, and parenting her beautiful miracle baby).  I play the Pain Olympics when I read her blog sometimes, because I cannot fathom the pain of seeing a positive pregnancy test and an ultrasound, then losing that baby... again and again.  It makes all of my trouble conceiving seem a little bit trivial when she is losing real lives, instead of the hypothetical ones I mourn with the start of every month's period.  But being the amazing person and friend that she is, she acknowledges and supports my heartache.  

When we compare stories and find that ours seem less dire by comparison, I think we run the risk of doing ourselves that disservice by denying that we have a right to experience the worst thing that has ever happened to us as the worse thing that has ever happened to us.  

I'm having a rough day today.  I read a pregnancy announcement that really upset me for a variety of reasons, and threw me into a bitter round of Pain Olympics.  She is pregnant with her second child, and again mentioned her "struggles" to conceive.  When she announced her first pregnancy, she disclosed that they had tried for several months and she was diagnosed with a couple of hormonal imbalances.  But right before she was about to start a fertility drug, they were surprised with a positive pregnancy test.  She also wrote some rather insulting lines about not wanting to be an  infertility blogger (as if that's a dirty word!), so I was aggravated back then. Today, when I read the second announcement (in less than 2 years, mind you), and she mentioned struggling again and linked to her previous post about "struggling," I was pretty livid.  In my mind, if you haven't taken a single pill, haven't lost a baby, and already have one child under 2, you haven't struggled, and it is insulting to those of us who have to keep saying that you have.  But I have to stop and remind myself not to engage in these Pain Olympics games... 

If that extra couple of months they had to wait was the worst pain they've known, maybe it really is comparable to our four years.

Maybe trying to wrap her brain around the idea of needing a fertility pill really is comparable to knowing that I will have to inject myself with high-powered hormones, have my eggs sucked out with a long needle in my ovaries and fertilized in a lab, then pray that that results in at least one embryo that can be transferred back into my drugged up uterus.

Maybe wondering for a year and a half if she will ever have a second baby really is comparable to wondering if I will ever hold a child of my own.

Maybe.  Or maybe I shouldn't be SO down on the Pain Olympics.  Maybe an occasional trip to the Games is what keeps people from saying hurtful things on the internet.  Maybe she should walk a mile in another pain olympian's stirrups.
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Funding IVF: Fundraiser and IVF Update

Sorry this post is so late :-)  Life really got away from me last week!  

Our online silent auction raised $85 for our IVF fund!  We're pretty thrilled.  It may not seem like a huge amount in the face of the astronomical bills we'll be facing, but, seriously, ANY help is greatly appreciated :-)  Our friend Bethany ran a Pampered Chef fundraiser show for us online last week, and she is donating her commission from the party to our IVF fund, which is about $40.  That combined with the $85 from our auction should cover my hCG trigger shot before our retrieval!  So yay!  Every little bit TRULY does help!

Our YouCaring fundraiser is going to run until our first big payment is due, which will be the day of my baseline ultrasound.  Hopefully, my RE's office will be calling with that date (and the rest of our specific calendar, as close as can be predicted ahead of time) later today or tomorrow.  We're on pins and needles!  Pun not intended, but also not regretted ;-) 

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