Friday, December 28, 2012

reflecting on 2012

With just a few short days left in 2012, I've been reflecting on our life over this past year. It has been a very eventful twelve months...filled with many changes, challenges and accomplishments.
Here are a few of the highlights.

To sum up the year in one was all about strength
Throughout this year, we've been tested in many ways. I've learned so much about myself...and about my marriage.

I've learned that I'm stronger than I think.
I've learned that my marriage must always come first.
I've learned that I do deserve to be a mother but if I'm not...I'll still be happy.
I've learned that it pays to take risks and that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. 
I've learned what I am willing to endure to become a mother...which takes away any doubt about how bad I want it.

As a couple, we learned to break down the barriers in our communication to enjoy a more meaningful connection. We've learned that our marriage can survive even the toughest of challenges. That our love, commitment and communication are the key ingredients needed to endure during life's hardest times. But most of all, we have learned to choose joy and happiness even when it is not so easy. 

I'm looking forward to 2013. A new year. A fresh start. A new beginning. 
I believe it will be the year that we finally meet our treasured baby.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

on fire (literally)

Last night, my body was ON FIRE. Between my fever which finally broke and the Lupron coarsing through my body, it was a hot one. I had no idea what to expect with the Lupron so I did a little digging. I found out this drug puts your ovaries in a state of rest, a temporary "menopausal" state. 
Side effects: irritability, hot flashes, depression. Ah-ha...the heat makes sense now.

But let me back up. 
I'd be remiss if I didn't share the ridiculousness that trying to give myself that first injection. I'm sitting on the edge of the bed, pants down, drug prepped with the syringe in hand. All I have to do is stick it in. For over 30 minutes, I keep saying to myself "one, two, three". "Okay seriously Jess, you have to do it this time." This internal dialogue keeps going on and on. Meanwhile, I'm sweating profusely because of the anxiety of the whole thing. I kept trying to picture my baby's face in my mind and saying "you can do this" and "do it for your baby". Pretty soon, I just started laughing hysterically at the fact that I had been sitting there for so long and still couldn't stick myself. 

I must've wore myself down because finally at some point I did it. And you know what? It wasn't too bad. I hardly felt it and the drug didn't sting like I thought it would. Hopefully this means tonight will be much easier.

I can't believe it is finally happening.
The countdown is on.
9 days til stims
20 days til retrieval
25 days til transfer 
35 days til our first BFP

I wasn't sure how much I'd want to share on this blog about my IVF cycle but I'm going to be very candid in sharing this adventure. I want to remember the details of everything we went through to bring this baby into being. 

I feel good. Not sad or depressed at all.
Sick. Tired. Rundown. But these are all due to the flu.
Ready to take on this adventure.
Greatest challenge...
Getting rid of this flu bug.
Biggest success...
Giving myself the first Lupron injection. 
My drugs...
BCP. Lupron. 
In love with...
the idea that this process will bring my long awaited baby into this world.


Sending prayers to a fellow blogger Chelsea who cycled very recently and just found out that she is having a miscarriage. If you're a blogger, please stop by and show her some support. 
She is heartbroken.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

off the grid and on drugs

Hope y'all had a great Christmas. 
Unfortunately, mine did not end well. I woke up this morning with a horribly sore, swollen throat, body aches, fever and runny nose. I'm hurting at the moment but can't really take anything. It is such a bummer to start my IVF cycle with a compromised immune system. But not much can be done about it.

My drugs arrived last week and I'll be taking my first Lupron shot tonight (um, actually in 30 minutes). Eeek. Hubby is at work so I'm on my own for injecting. I'm nervous but since I feel so crappy with this flu (or whatever I have)....I haven't been thinking about it too much.

And I'm also pretty much off the grid. Gone fishin'. Hiding out. Hibernating. Out of commission. Whatever you want to call it. 

It is really hard for me to say no. To work requests. To social gatherings. To anything, really. I'm a yes girl and try to do everything all the time. Although I have a lot of fun and usually feel accomplished, sometimes all of my activities and commitments leave me feeling tired and rundown. And I feel like I never have enough time to get everything done.

Someone once told me that even "good" stress is still stress. And that is the last thing I need during this cycle. So I'm reining myself in and going MIA. It has been going on for a few weeks now. It feels weird to come home and just be. I am always resisting the urge to get back on my computer and work in the evenings. Or I see my friends on Facebook at events that I would normally be at and get the urge to "go" and "do". This is different for me.

But I'm proud of myself. If there were ever a time to take care of myself, it is now. And that is what I intend to do. So what am I doing with all my free time?

Watching chick flicks and comedies. Reading. Walking. Meditating. Okay, not on a regular basis yet but I bought the Anji CDs and listened once so far. I liked it and will be listening more. I'm also reading books about positive thinking like The Traveler's Gift (which my friend Janna recommended). 
Getting weekly acupuncture treatments...which is supposed to improve IVF success by 17-25% depending on which article or study you refer to. If you're considering it, here is a list of some great articles about the benefits of acupuncture with fertility. I highly recommend it. 

And I've been doing a lot of cuddling with this guy. He always relaxes me.

What do you do to relax? 
Anything else I should add to my arsenal of relaxation techniques?

Friday, December 21, 2012

what this season is all about

 Giving back.... 
especially to those in the greatest need
is what the holiday season is really all about.

In 2010, my friend Layna asked me if I'd sponsor a child at Christmas. A and I, of course, said yes...give us two. But then this amazing thing happened. I put it on Facebook and I was inundated with responses from generous friends and family who wanted to help as well. In addition to sponsoring, I found myself organizing another list of children. Thanks to people's huge hearts, I was able to deliver 72 unwrapped gifts to children of all ages (17 years and under) who were living at the Sacramento Children's Receiving Home due to abuse, neglect or behavioral issues. 

Last year, I asked my bunco group to join me in adopting a family through my church. 
Of course, the other 11 ladies were more than willing and thought it was a great idea.
Instead of putting $10 in the pot for bunco, we used that money to purchase gifts. We received a family with two small children, Viviana and Kevin. My friend Jenn and I shopped, wrapped and delivered the gifts to these very grateful children.

Gifts for Viviana and Kevin
Viviana and Kevin with their gifts

This year, I wasn't in town to organize my bunco group or a bigger effort for the Children's Home. And with my IVF cycle starting the day after Christmas, I didn't think I'd really do anything. But I started thinking about how blessed we are and how important it is to use your blessings to help others who have a need. So despite the pharmacy bill for $3,500 and the clinic bill for $12,550 sitting on my desk waiting to be paid, A and I decided to adopt-a-family on our own this year. 

Here's how it works. 
Our church matches you will the size family that you select. These families are referred from other organizations. For instance, my family was referred by an adoption agency called Lilliput. You can choose to deliver the gifts directly to the family or take them to the church for delivery. 

The family's current situation is listed on the letter as well the children's wish list (including sizes). Items like shoes, jackets, socks, blankets, clothes and toys. This year my child included the following on his list: basketball, soccer ball, used Nintendo DS games (sports), shoes, socks, track pants, and t-shirts. Clearly, we've been matched with an aspiring athlete. 

fulfilling the wish list 
As I sit here wrapping presents for Gene, the 7-year-old boy that we are sponsoring, I can't help but think about his unfortunate circumstances. This boy will have no mother or father waiting for him with hot cocoa on Christmas morning. No siblings to share in the excitement of leaving cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve. And the only presents under the tree (if he has a tree at all) may be the ones I am wrapping now.

He has so little compared to many.
He has only his grandmother. That's it.
And his grandmother has health issues.

When he loses her, he will go back to Lilliput into the adoption system.
This little boy and so many others just like him deserve so much more.
More than A and I can possibly provide right now.
But we are making a difference in his life in this small way. 
Putting a smile on his face. Brightening his Christmas morning. Even just for one day.

The holidays can get so crazy and busy. 
shopping. baking. cooking. decorating. family. 
I get it. But don't forget what this season is really about.  If you have the ability and see an opportunity to serve or give back, please take it. Whether it is a small donation in the Salvation Army bucket or adopting an entire family, all the good that we do (regardless of how insignificant it may seem), makes a difference. It really does. 

Gene's gifts
The money that we spent is nothing compared to the joy these gifts will bring Gene on Christmas morning.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Secret Santa + ICLW

It is reveal day for Janna, Kelly and Tabitha's Secret Santa Gift Swap. 
First of all, I think I might've botched it up which doesn't surprise me at all.
I was secret santa to the lovely Kym at Travel Babbles. But I told her so in the package I sent...not realizing that I was supposed to wait until now to reveal. Oops! If you don't follow Kym, you should. She's a great writer and shares her adventures moving from city to city with her hockey-playing hubby. Drop by to see the gifts that I picked out for her.

My secret santa package just arrived yesterday in the knick of time for this link-up. 

Boy, did I get lucky! My santa was extremely good to me. Baking cookies is the best! I'm in love with my cute, new spatula and cookie cutters. Darling. Even though my santa didn't exactly tell me who she is, I applied my detective skills and figured it out.

My secret santa is the gorgeous Holly at Running in Stilettos. Thanks so much girl. I love my holiday cookie making kit, journal and Christmas tags. Despite the fact that you are hot not fat, your hair is brown not white and Grady, Kilah and Moxyn would make pretty rotten reindeer (although I would like to see them dressed up with antlers) still rock as Santa!

On anther note, tomorrow is the start of the December ICLW. If y'all are visiting from ICLW, thanks so much for stopping by. Here are some sections you might be interested in reading while you're deciding if you're just passing through or want to stick around for a while.

Hope you decide to follow my journey. Lord knows I need the support during my 1st IVF and I'd love to offer my support to you. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

this is starting to feel very real.

It could be the bills that have arrived.

Or the genetic consultation with Natera regarding PGD. 

Or the egg class we attended on Monday with the embryologist at our clinic. She basically went over the protocol for how everything is handled in the lab, what you can expect in terms of timing during an IVF cycle and the safety measures they have in place to minimize human error when handling your eggs, sperm and embryos.

Maybe it's the $3,500 in drugs I ordered from Freedom Pharmacy this morning. Or the injection training we had with our nurse coordinator this week. She ran through my entire drug schedule for this cycle and showed me how to mix and administer each of the injections.

Likely, it is all of the above. 
But this is definitely starting to feel very real.
We are doing this. And it is going to be okay.

I know it will be overwhelming when that box of drugs and needles arrive.
I know I will likely pass out (or close to it) trying to give myself that first shot.
I know my hormones will rage and my body will be punctured, bruised and achy. 
But every injection will get us one step closer to the baby I've dreamed of for so long. 
If I remember that, I will get through this.

I start my Lupron shots the day after Christmas. Stims around the 5th of Jan.
Tentative retrieval date is the 16th. Transfer 7 days later. And we should have our second beta on the 31st. So I will know by the end of January if I am finally pregnant.

48 months,
38 cycles, 
3 failed IUI's
 and almost 4 years of TTC
(all resulting in a BFN),
I'm finally hopeful again.
IVF is going to work.
It just has to.

Monday, December 17, 2012

all good things must come to an end.

One of my favorite shots - no filter
Sunday morning was the rainiest of our days in Manhattan. 
Thankfully it was our shortest day as our driver picked us up to head to the airport at 4pm.
But not before we hit up a few more sites. 

After breakfast, we took the subway to Brooklyn to see Coney Island. 
I knew the area got pretty trashed in in the hurricane. But I really wanted to see it for myself.
The boardwalk was shut down. The pier was missing boards.
It was sad. lonely. deserted. broken.

To perk ourselves after that slightly depressing trek, we headed back to Chelsea to take a walk on the High Line. Since it's an elevated park on old railroad tracks, it offered some pretty cool views of the city.

And with our last few hours, we had lunch and explored the Chelsea Market. It is a cool retail concourse with more than 30 high-quality shops, restaurants, bakeries and much more. Chelsea Market is a full-block collection of 17 buildings that once housed production facilities for Nabisco.

And that was it. 
Ready or not, our mini-vacay had come to a close. Stanley picked us up and carted us back to the airport. I fell asleep on the drive to JFK. If you didn't know, those Lincoln Town Cars are wicked comfortable.

A and I are so grateful we had the opportunity to share these few days together in New York. Hopefully it will be our last getaway before I am pregnant. 

P.S. I'll be posting an update on the status of our IVF on Weds so stop by and say hello.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

a magical evening

And on Day 3, we slept in. I think A might've had a hangover from his three drinks (he's such a lightweight). Once we got moving, we needed a big breakfast, stat. Just up the street in Chelsea, we found a little cafe called Grey Dog. The minute we walked in...I was smitten. It was quaint, bohemian, granola...just my kinda place. It reminded me of someplace you'd find in Santa Cruz.

After a ridiculous breakfast including an egg quesadilla, oatmeal with berries, almond milk lattes and morning glory muffins, we took the subway to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or as the locals say, the Met). Neither of us are really into museums but wanted to see at least one while we were in NYC.
It was pretty amazing and filled with so much history. You could spend several days and still never see everything. We really enjoyed it.

This was the day of amazing food. After the Met, we found a world renowned organic, vegan restaurant called Candle 79. Seriously, some of the best food either of us have ever eaten. They have a cookbook that I've already purchased on Amazon which I highly recommend. 
Below are some of the entrees, beet salad, falafel sandwich with quinoa, red pepper hummus with roasted garlic and olives and the most amazing kale salad EVER. 

After our huge meal, we went to Wollman Ice Skating Rink in Central Park to burn some calories. I've always wanted to skate on this rink during the holidays with all of the lights shining down and the cityscape in the background. Ice skating, hand in hand with A on this brisk December evening under the stars, was by far my favorite moment of our trip. The night was magical. Literally.

Illegal shot. A almost got kicked off the rink as you aren't allowed to have cameras on the ice. And the boys from Brooklyn who work at the rink DO NOT mess around when it comes to breaking this rule.

On our walk back to the hotel after ice skating, we were lucky enough to stumble upon the Union Square Holiday Market. Red and white checkered tents featuring 150 art, gift, jewelry, and clothing vendors as well as crafts and food. We enjoyed walking around looking at all of the holiday treats and crafts the most.  

I bought this ornament at the market to commemorate our trip.

Since A hadn't seen Times Square at night (only in the morning), we took a stroll on our way back to our hotel. It was super crowded and was kind of a check it off the list kinda activity.

Do you ever have those magical evenings? 
The ones when you are exactly where you are supposed to be, with the person you are supposed to be with...just soaking in every sensation, every moment.
That was how this evening was for me.

(last NYC post will be up tomorrow)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

big lights will inspire you...

On Day 2 of our trip, we woke up to light rain. 
So we decided to redeem our sightseeing bus tickets that I purchased online. We walked to the Times Square Visitor's Center where we caught the Downtown Gray Line bus tour

Although the bus tour was a little overrated because we had already seen a lot of the city, it gave us a different perspective being higher up (it was a double decker bus). A didn't like it because we got stuck in traffic and he prefers walking. Being part of the sights, sounds and smells rather than experiencing it through a glass window.

The bus dropped us off in Soho where we had lunch at an unnamed deli. Although the food sucked, we felt like real New Yorkers instead of tourists. We walked all the way down Broadway to the Financial District checking out all of the buildings and stores along the way. Got a feel for the vibe on Wall Street. NYSE. The 9/11 Memorial.

New York Stock Exchange
Battery Park was a bit of a mess due to Hurricane Sandy. Apparently downtown was hit the hardest in the storm. Liberty and Ellis islands were still closed. But we did stand at the tip of Manhattan to take in the view of Lady Liberty.

All this walking was making me crave a sweet treat. So we hopped back on the bus at Battery Park and rode it to Greenwich Village to try the famous Magnolia Bakery cupcakes. The shop was so much smaller and cramped than I imagined. I was hoping for a small table to enjoy my hot tea and coconut cupcake. No such luck. There were literally no tables. In California, we sometimes take the wide open space for granted. In Manhattan, there is none. I saw an outdoor board that said "if you have a lot of space in NYC, you're either really rich or really small". 

The meringue, sweet goodness gave me the energy I needed for the walk back to home base to freshen up for the evening. We decided to try the restaurant in our hotel for dinner. Although I haven't been drinking in preparation for IVF, I decided to have a few libations with the hubs. Mind you, this was an extremely rare instance that I get the opportunity to drink with A. In the past 8 years, I've only seen him drunk twice. He doesn't drink. But he was in the mood so I was down.

We had a fun dinner laughing and enjoying each other's company. A actually had 3 drinks and half of mine. He's pretty funny when he is drunk because he acts silly which I love.  In hindsight, he might've been preparing himself for the next part of the evening. Z100's Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden. Seeing a show at The Garden, the most famous arena in the world, was pretty exciting. But the downside...we were surrounded by screaming 13 year old girls. 
Poor A. 

not a male in the house
There were tons of different artists that played in the show. A's fave was B.O.B representing from the dirty south, ATL. Taylor Swift and Jason Mraz were also pretty good. But I really enjoyed Ne-Yo and Justin Bieber the most. Probably because I love dance and can really appreciate artists who can put on a good performance in addition to just singing. 

One Direction
The Biebs with no shirt

I can see why all the little girlies swoon. He's got swag for a sweet, blonde Canadian boy.
What was the best concert that you've ever seen?
(NYC Day 3 coming soon)

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