Always, Katie: September 2014


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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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

BarBABYdos, Take 2: Baseline and Lining Check Ultrasounds

Last week I had my baseline ultrasound for our FET.  It went smoothly... no cysts, and my lining showed that I was at the very beginning of my cycle, just like it was supposed to.  

Yesterday was a lining check ultrasound, which was the second of three appointments I had made for ultrasounds.  The third was for this coming Thursday, and was dependent on the results of yesterday's.  Happily, when I told Anna how thick my lining was (10.9 mm), she told me to go ahead and cancel that appointment!  In her words, "It doesn't get any better than this!"  Yippee!!!  I took cookies with me to yesterday's appointment, to thank the office staff for taking such good care of me.  All of the extra orders and prescription-writing I've needed from them has really been above and beyond the call of duty!  So they got Almond Joy Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Six Sisters' Stuff) and Quadruple Chocolate Soft Fudgy Pudding Cookies (from Averie Cooks)! 
I am to keep on Lupron for two more days, then switch to having Ethan give me the dreaded Progesterone in oil shots at night.  These will continue through transfer, and I think through my two-week-wait?  I also start Doxycycline and Bromocriptine (aka Bromokryptonite) on Friday, which will also continue through transfer.  :-) 

I spoke with my maternal-fetal medicine specialist (high risk obstetrician)'s office last week, to see when they wanted to see me.  Typically, an RE follows a patient through the first trimester of her pregnancy, then passes her back to her regular ob/gyn, but since my RE is in another country, I needed a slightly altered plan.  They said to see Dr. Altman, my regular ob/gyn, for my betas and the rest of first trimester (or at least through week 8), and that he'd hand me off when he thought it was time.  So, yay for that much of a plan! 

BFC is very much oriented toward positive thinking, and I find myself feeling generally more positive and optimistic as their patient than I used to feel before finding them.  But every once in a while, I catch myself being absolutely CERTAIN that I will be pregnant in just over a week, and it scares me.  I was fairly certain last time, too... what if it doesn't work this time, either?  I know that if I'm certain, and I'm wrong, the pain will be even worse.... I am terrified of having to pick up pieces of a shattered heart again, and honestly can't picture myself finding strength to do this all again after another disappointment.  Please pray for peace and courage for Ethan and me....
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Home Sweet Home: Make Your Bed Day (and some bedding reviews)

Today was "Make Your Bed Day"... so I actually did.  :-)  

I wanted to share another peek at our bedroom in honor of this most special holiday... we are really pleased with how cozy it is turning out to be, and we only have a few more tiny projects we want to do and purchases we want to make to have it exactly the way we want it :-)  (Check out our secondhand and repurposed nightstands, if you missed it!)  Hopefully we'll get those knocked out soon, and I can show the whole room, but for now, let's talk bedding!

We decided to go all white for our linens, because bleach is amazing.  We're thinking of kids and small dogs who throw up, tinkle, who-knows-what-else in inopportune places... and the idea of throwing everything in a super-hot washer with bunches of bleach, without worrying about fading or spots... priceless!  

We have two sets of sheets - one is microfiber, and we like it in the winter time, because these sheets don't get cool spots in them.  They're warm and cozy as soon as you slip into them, and stay that way no matter where your little toesies wander overnight :-)  I got the microfiber set from NoMoreRack for Ethan for our 4th anniversary (even before we had the bed... or the house... or the job... it was a gift of hope and confidence!).  It even came with 4 pillowcases instead of 2 - YAY!  

The other set is this set from JCPenney - 500tc, and delightfully crisp and cool.  They've been washed and bleached a lot, and have held up beautifully :-)  Clean sheet night (and even better - clean sheet MORNING) in these babies is bliss! 

Then, we have a fluffy microplush blanket that I LOVE!  I had a blanket out of this material on my college bed, and may have a mild addiction to all things microplush and snuggly. :-)  And that blanket from college is still in circulation... currently across my lap :-)  This is ever-so-slightly off-white, but it's pretty close.  And like everything else, it's been washed and bleached a few times, so it'll be white before we know it ;-)  

This is our comforter, which we've covered with this duvet cover.  Both are from Target, like the blanket.  We've been really pleased with all of our Target bedding!!  The comforter is warm without being too heavy... I like to be warm, but too much weight from covers makes me feel a little like I'm smothering.  The duvet cover came with 2 matching shams... I want our bed someday to be almost covered in snuggly blue and white pillows of different shapes and patterns, and these give us a great backdrop for that look.  The blue and white shams came from eBay - pulling the blue and white toile theme onto the bed.  :-)  The bedskirt is from JCP recently... I can't speak much to its quality, since it's so new and hasn't been washed or messed with much yet, but so far... it covers our box spring, so I'm satsified :-)

How about you?  Did you make your bed today?  Or are you like me - actually making the bed calls for pictures and a blog post ;-)
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

SEEN Gathering September Post

I have a new blogging adventure of sorts!  I am proud and excited to be a contributing blogger (and the Pinterest guru - yes, that's the official title... and yes, I chose it!) over at SEEN Gathering.  This is a ministry dreamt up and created by my dear friend Rebecca of Caravan Sonnet for young people with chronic illnesses (we call them "Chronicittles"). I'd love for you to go explore the space - lots of cool stuff already, and even more in the plans - and check out the blog (the blog is hosted at .com, the rest of the awesomeness is at .org!).  Today is my first monthly blog contribution there, and I'm hoping that this outreach helps comfort and encourage the Chronicittles out there! 
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Monday, September 8, 2014

BarBABYdos, Take 2: FET So Far (Lupron and BCPs)

While there isn't a whole lot of exciting stuff to report on the FET front right now, I wanted to pop in and just give y'all an idea of what I've been doing to prepare for the end of the month.  

I'd been back on birth control, since right after my IVF cycle  (until this past Wednesday).  It's not always used with an FET, but it helps prevent cysts, and also lets us plan my dates... which is pretty useful when your embryo transfer will take place a few plane rides away :-)  This round of pills went better than some rounds in the past.  I didn't gain any additional weight on it, but it made me a little crankier than usual and I needed to increase my insulin.  

On August 29, I started taking Lupron.  I'd heard about the infamous Lupron headache, but wasn't all that worried about it.  So I gave myself my shot in the morning, subcutaneously in my thigh, like I was instructed to do.  I've never had great luck giving myself shots in the leg, because my legs are fairly muscular and I can't "pinch an inch" of skin/fat on them (not a problem on any other part of my body, haha).  Almost instantly, I had a big knot in my leg, it was hot and red and burned and throbbed, and I was scared!  I fired off an email to Anna and asked if I could try taking them in my hip or the back of my arms (both places I am quite used to putting sub-q needles), in case that might help with the pain.  Her colleague who was answering her emails suggested my lower abdomen (below my belly button), so I decided I'd try that the next morning. 

Within 20 minutes, the knot had peaked, and it was gone in an hour and a half.  But I got nauseated and woozy and wobbly and felt just generally crummy.  I knew I needed to eat something for blood sugar purposes, so I nibbled on some Ritz crackers.  Almost instantly felt better!!  

So the next morning, I ate a little bit of breakfast before I gave myself the Lupron in my belly.  Problems solved!  Just the tiniest little itchy reaction for about 10 minutes, no nausea.  I did end up with a migraine that night, but just the one.  I've taken the rest of my shots just like that, and I've only had low-grade headaches and some drowsiness.  It's definitely messing with my sleep - I wake up several times a night and don't feel rested in the mornings... I tell myself it's good practice for having a newborn ;-)  It's not pleasant, but it's definitely manageable.  

Tomorrow morning, I decrease my Lupron dose, and go for my baseline ultrasound. I also start Estrace and my low-dose aspirin :-) 
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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Read A Book Day (What I've Read Lately)

In honor of this most important holiday, I thought I'd share some of the books I've read in the last month or so :-)  Since finishing my degree, I've really enjoyed reading for pleasure again!  

Michal and Abigail - these are two of the three books in Jill Eileen Smith's series about the wives of King David.  This genre - Biblical historical romance? - has been a favorite of mine lately.  I'm totally aware that there is a LOT of creative license taken, but I like being able to relate to some of the women in the Bible, especially some that we don't know much about.  The author takes the details we do know, and combines them with research about life in that area and period, and the results are pretty fun to read.  

Wives of the Patriarchs Series (Sarai , Rebekah , Rachel ) - also by Jill Eileen Smith.  These were also a lot of fun to read, even though these are stories we know better, and that have been covered by other fiction authors.  It's interesting how often infertility is a part of these stories - sometimes because it's biblical, other times (like in the King David series) I'm pretty sure it's part of that creative license.  :-)  

Birth Partner Handbook: Everything You Need to Know for a Healthy, Positive Birth Experience - Yes, this is very premature!  But it feels like we're "doing something" when we're reading and preparing.  I thought the description of the labor process was really informative, and a lot of the suggestions seemed pretty good, if a bit "hippy-dippy."  But even those, I think can be adapted to suit us better... like using less cheesy trigger phrases.  So many of the qualities the author says make a great birth partner, Ethan already has.  I think arming ourselves with the information, and with his naturally nurturing and supportive character, we're going to do great :-)  

I'm in the middle of ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income right now, but I'm finding it a little dense, and I'm not sure how applicable it is to me.  Do I really WANT to be a pro blogger as the authors describe them?  Some of the later chapters look more applicable, so I'm hoping to love this book by the end ;-)  
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PS: All of the links above are my Amazon Affiliate links... if you click any of them, and buy anything during that session, I get a tiny bit of the total from Amazon, without costing you anything extra :-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fifteen Years

Fifteen years ago, when I was twelve years old, my family was given some seriously life-altering news.  I've written about it here, in a guest post for a friend's blog.  :-)

Carb counting, insulin, finger sticks, ketones, fear of complications, sick days, and strategizing with specialists have all been part of my life for fifteen years now.

I'm thankful for the technology that makes life with diabetes a little bit easier, and hopefully longer.  I am lucky enough to have a top-of-the-line insulin pump and CGM combo, and am glad that I can anticipate a relatively safe diabetic pregnancy (relative to past generations).  I'm also thankful for the support of my husband (we refer to support people as "type 3" or "type awesome" because they live with it almost as much as we do), and of a few wonderful diabetic friends.   I'm also thankful that the diabetes online community (DOC) is active and awesome, and that they are making real strides in increasing awareness and fighting the stigma of both types of diabetes.  All in all, despite not yet having the cure we've been expecting for YEARS, it's a pretty good time to be a type 1 diabetic. 

I usually acknowledge my dia-versary with an "oh, yeah" moment or a facebook comment, but fifteen feels like a big deal. 

I think I'll make some cupcakes.  With sprinkles.  :-)
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