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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

worse or better


I had my local stim check yesterday morning. 
Unfortunately, the nurse that called me from CCRM was not nurse sweet pea nor was she very informative. I had to really draw information out of her and didn't really get much clarity or reassurance regarding my questions. But here's what I know…and it's a bit of a mixed bag.

Worse.
Last cycle, after four days of stims (with 300IU of follistim) my estrodiol level was 80. Yesterday it was 47 after four days of stims (with 450IU of follistim). Ugh. More drugs and less response.

Better.
However, it does look like I'm showing more follicles and consistent growth this time. So that's good. Here's what they saw in the ultrasound.
(1) 8mm, (2) 7mm, (1) 6mm, (4) 5mm, (1) 4mm
4 follies on the right and 5 on the left….so 9 is much better than 7 (follicles last time).

Dr. S's instructions were continue taking the max dose of stim meds and head to Denver for monitoring. So after a long day of traveling, I arrived in Denver this evening to ring in the New Year in the Mile High City. I'm such a party animal that I'm starting my meditation CD and will be asleep by 10pm.

Lowlights of the day
-  Delayed flight and arrival into Denver. To save money, I didn't fly direct and had a pit stop in Portland so it's been a REALLY long day.
-  Giving my injections in the airport in full view of everyone because the bathroom was so dirty, I didn't want to open my suitcase on the floor and put my meds on the counter.

 Highlights of the day
-  A sweet family helping me with my bags and wishing me luck with IVF. The dad said "you're going to be pregnant soon so we might as well start helping you with your bags now."
-  The rental car guy upgrading my vehicle to a brand new Infiniti SUV because they had so many all-wheel drives on the lot. No Ford Focus for me. It still has the new car smell….and leather, heated seats.

Happy almost 2014! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

the last cycle has begun

This is my hail mary cycle. My leap of faith. The one that's gotta do the trick. At the beginning of my cycle, I was pretty relaxed. So much so that I forgot to start my estrace until the following day. Apparently, it wasn't a big deal and all was still okay.

But now, I'm starting to get a little worried and scared. Terrified if I'm being honest. I don't even want to think the "what if this doesn't work" question because…it HAS to work. All I can do is pray and be thankful for all of you angels out there who've supported us over the years.

Yesterday, I had my local monitoring appointment (suppression check) down in sunny San Diego. La Jolla to be exact. A and I were visiting his family for Christmas. It was sunny and 78 in December. Perfect weather. I'm hoping that is a good omen for the start of my cycle. 


At one point during our trip, I had a mini estrogen-induced breakdown. It. was. not. pretty. But I'm so grateful this guy was there to pick me up despite all of the ugliness and move past it. He reminded me that what we've been going through for FIVE very long, exhausting, emotionally-draining years is not easy. True that, A.


Nothing about this journey is easy. In fact, I'm currently engaged in the biggest fight of my life….battling infertility. Trying to stay positive and keep sight of my dream…our baby. The reason I've put myself and my marriage through the ringer. 

Dear God…
please let it all be worth it.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

'tis the season

....for holiday cards.

I love getting Christmas cards in the mail. It lifts my spirit and reminds me of the wonderful friends and family that are thinking of us during the holidays.

This year, I haven't received very many cards. My guess is that people are just behind since we lost a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. I hope my beloved cards are still on their way.

If you haven't ordered your Christmas cards yet, it's not too late to get them out and spread some holiday cheer. My favorite place to order online cards is minted. They have the cutest design templates and free overnight shipping. Here are a few of my fave designs.

wonderful year holiday postcards
aquarelle no.2
white noel holiday ornament cards
reinpet holiday photo cards
If I'm being honest, I haven't sent Christmas cards the last few years. But I used to love creating my cards using beautiful photography and amazing designs. Sitting down with a hot cup of tea and addressing them to the people I love. 

I've gotten away from it because I felt like nothing in our lives changed. It felt like if I didn't have a beautiful baby or little one to feature...my incomplete family wasn't enough. That I was just shining a light on what is missing in my life. 

But I'm done with that. Our family...just us three (including the pup)...we're enough. So gosh darn it. I'm going to send some holiday cards. And you should too!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hi. My name is Jessah...and I am an addict.


I have a drug problem...of the prescription nature.

Human Menopausal Gonadotropin. 
Follicle Stimulating Hormone. 
Antagon. 
Leuprolide. 
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. 
Somatropin.

Otherwise known by their "street" names.
Menopur. 
Follistim. 
Ganirelix. 
Lupron. 
Pregnyl. 
Saizen.

The high that I get from these drugs is like no other. 
Each injection fills me full of hope. Hope that I will someday carry a baby in my womb. Hope that I will bring a child into this world. Hope that I may still be a mother....if it is God's will.

My dealers (la farmacias) are trying to take me to the cleaners. But some very special ladies (who've kicked the habit because they got knocked up), have offered to donate their drugs...on the DL. Y'all know who you are....A BIG FAT THANK YOU! I still don't have all my fixes but this big score will definitely help.

I'll start shooting up...one week from today. 
I'm jonesin' hardcore. 
Ready to do this!


Monday, December 9, 2013

"The Baby Chase" Review + Giveaway


Happy Monday y'all. 
I love to read books. A good book is like a good friend....priceless. 

So when I was given an advance copy of The Baby Chase and asked to do a book review and giveaway, my answer was...heck yeah. Especially because the author, Leslie Morgan Steiner, is an esteemed writer (I'm talking the NY Times bestselling kind). She is also a speaker and domestic abuse survivor. 

I couldn't put this book down. It hit really close to home considering our struggles with infertility and the fact that we are nearing the end of the road. We may be forced to consider some other alternatives or give up our dream to have a baby if this next cycle doesn't work. 

The book follows a couple's journey through international surrogacy. The husband in the book is a firefighter....same as my husband and the wife is a nurse. The characters are very relatable and you'll become quickly engrossed and invested in their story.

Steiner debunks the myth that international surrogacy is exploiting women in third world countries. The characters just want to become parents and find an unconventional way to make their hope of a family become a reality.

The Baby Chase is a great book about a very brave couple and their determination to become parents. It also includes some background on the history of IVF and surrogacy around the world. It shows you what we are fighting for, who we are fighting for, and why. It's definitely a must-read.

The book was released a few weeks ago (I'm a little late on my post). You can purchase a copy of the book a local Barnes and Noble bookstore or online here. Or for a free copy, just leave a comment telling me a great book you've read recently to be entered to win.

Good luck! 


***Congrats to the giveaway winner Stephanie at Icing on Our Cupcake.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

helping others


I've always been really good at helping others.

Hosting a baby shower for a deserving friend.
Building homes for those in need and spreading the word of God.
Adopting a family for the holidays.
Organizing a gift drive for the Children's Receiving Home.

These are all things that I am comfortable with. Making other peoples' lives better or day brighter. 
But I'm not good at accepting help.
It's uncomfortable for me.

But after several friends expressed their helplessness regarding our situation and communicated how much they want to support us and make this journey easier on us, I finally relented. And my best friend set up this page to help ease some of the financial burden of our out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Humankind never ceases to amaze me. Especially at the holidays....such an expensive time of year. It warms my heart that people care enough about us to love on us in this way and keep us in their prayers as we embark on this next round of IVF.

CCRM IVF calendar - 13 days until injections

Some of our friends have offered to share the button above and You Caring link via their blogs or social media which has been a huge blessing. More than anything, I'm happy that our story is being shared to help raise awareness of infertility, the huge strain it places on couples, the great lengths at which we go to have what comes so easily to others and the isolation that many of us feel during the holidays.

If you want to help raise awareness but aren't infertile or don't feel comfortable sharing your own story, please feel free to share our story.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

5 years

five years ago today,
just us two...
we stood barefoot on the beach 
and exchanged the vows we wrote for one another.


neither of us had any idea what the next 1,825 days would bring,
but we knew
 whatever it was...we would face it together.

side by side.
hand in hand.

we've experienced...
laughter 
tears
joy
sorrow
playfulness 
disappointment

but we faced it all
together. 
always together. 


i don't know where i'd be without you. 
likely, a ship lost at sea.
you are my rock.
my anchor.
my best friend.
my light at the end of a dark tunnel.

thank you, A...
for walking this journey through life with me. 
i'm looking forward to seeing what the next five years brings.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

alone


Self-pity has been threatening to pull me down into a deep dark hole. I'm kicking and fighting to break free and this post is an attempt to claw my way out.

Why am I so down?

Because I'm sick.
And I'm alone.
I'm childless.
And it's Thanksgiving.

In the world outside of these four walls, I see pictures of
sleeping babies
turkey trots
delicious food being prepared
gorgeous thanksgiving table settings 
family togetherness
children playing
happiness and laughter
black friday shopping 

I close my iPhone. Listen to the silence in my house. Feel the heat of my fever burning my skin and the pain in my throat when I swallow. Think about the family that I won't see, the turkey trot that I can't run, the food I won't eat, the shopping that I can't afford to do this year and the baby that I still don't have. 

Take tylenol. Cry. Sleep.
Repeat.

But I'm not going to repeat anymore. 
Last week, I received an email from a woman struggling with infertility. She found my blog and given how long I've been at this...she asked me if I had any advice on how to be happy and find joy amidst what we're going through. 

Here's what I told her.
In terms of advice to be happy despite this crappy situation, I'm still learning day by day. And some days are still harder than others. But the main thing is to focus on what you have instead of what you're missing in your life. It sounds so simple but as you know....it's quite hard. 
I already know this and need to take my own advice. The only way out of this slump is to focus on my blessings and give thanks for all that God has given me. I have so much to be grateful for and need to focus my energy on expressing gratitude.

I'm thankful for so much but here are a few specifics.
another year with my grandmother and the hope that she might still meet my baby
my husband who loves me despite all of my many flaws
the love and encouragement of my mother 
my team at work who supports me in growing my family
my best friend who set this up to help ease the financial burden of IVF
And all of you...for taking time out of your busy lives to read this blog and walk on this journey with us

I give thanks for all this. And I will continue to pray for the blessings that are yet to come.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's a Beautiful Day


Today is a "Beautiful Day," in every sense of the word.

That's because November 20th is recognized as "Beautiful Day" Day, a day to look around and appreciate the beauty and world around you.

In honor of Beautiful Day, write a blog post about something "beautiful" -- something that makes you feel happy and share by linking your post up below. If you participated in the Autumn Mug Swap, write about the happiness you received from your beautiful new mug and swap buddy.

I swapped with the lovely Suzanne at Our journey to a baby bump... who I've come to adore over the last year or so. She is a fellow ad gal and CCRM patient who is getting ready for FET in early 2014. Hopefully we'll both become mamas together in the new year.

Suzanne sent me this beautiful handmade mug all the way from Indianapolis. 
Isn't it lovely? Every time I drink out of it, it reminds me how blessed I am to be a part of this wonderful community of bloggers.


Have a beautiful day.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

the dream


The other day, I had a super vivid dream. Some people are really into interpreting dreams and if you're one of those people, I'm interested in hearing your take on it.

So here's the dream as I remember it. Keep in mind that some parts don't make a lot of sense but that's sometimes how dreams are.

I was laying in bed alone (in a house that is not my current home) and heard a scratching noise coming from above. Remembering that I once found a bird in the attic, I went up to check it out. Instead of a bird, I found a beautiful, demure three-year old little girl with long curly blond hair. 


I brought her down and was caring of her for a while. At one point, I asked my mom to watch her while shopping in Target. When I came back, she was gone. My mom said she went to look for me. I was really upset with my mom and telling her "she's a three-year old little girl, you can't let her go by herself".


Then we were back in the house and I was searching each room looking for the little girl and calling to her. Finally, she crawled out from underneath the guest bed and ran into my arms. She held me around the neck so tight and put her head on my shoulder. In that moment, I knew I had to keep her.


But as I began to release her from our embrace, I saw that she had a dog collar around her neck with a phone number. After much contemplation, I decided that if a sweet little girl like this was brave enough to run away from home and wanted to me to care for her....how could I say no. I figured something bad must be happening to her at home so I took the dog collar off of her and threw it in the trash. 

Then I woke up.
When my husband woke up, I recited my dream to him. Being the big brat that he is, this is how he responded.

"Sounds like you woke up right before you got booked in the county jail for kidnapping." 

Really, A?!??!
Then I told him, I wonder if this dream means that we are meant to adopt.
His priceless response...

"Tell you what, if you find a three-year old girl on our roof wearing a dog collar, I'm all for it...let's adopt her."

He is such a sarcastic sh*t!

So what does this dream mean (if anything)? Dream interpretations. 
Go.


Monday, November 11, 2013

change of plans


On day 31 of my cycle (Saturday), I finally ovulated. This cycle will be roughly 45 days long. Sigh. A reminder of how busted my body is. But the delay has given me some time to think. And there has been a change of plans.

This month I was planning to do my uterine biopsy for the beta integrin 3 test. However, I decided to skip it. The test is painful, expensive ($1,000) and in my case would likely be for nothing. If I take the test, it will play out in one of the following three scenarios:

1. Inconclusive. 30% of the tests come back inconclusive. If that happened, Dr. S would treat me with two months of Lupron Depot shots prior to a frozen embryo transfer (FET). This hormone therapy treatment reduces endometriosis lesions and pain. The hope is that the drug will also make my uterus more hospitable for the embryo to attach and give my body the sticky protein that could be missing due to my endo.

2. Negative. If I tested negative, I would do the Lupron Depot as described above. 

3. Positive. If I tested positive for the beta integrin 3, I wouldn't trust the results. My friend had two failed IVF cycles locally before switching to CCRM. Dr. S did a laparoscopy and found that she had stage five endometriosis yet she tested positive for the beta integrin 3 test. She was treated with two months of Lupron Depot prior to transfer and is now pregnant with twins. She attributes her success at least in part to the Lupron Depot shots.

That being said, I already know I have endometriosis and will have very few embryos to transfer. I can't afford to waste any. Keeping with my motto to "follow the path of least regrets", I decided to skip the test and just do the Lupron Depot shots to give myself the best chance of success. 

The only downside to the treatment is that it causes bad hot flashes and a fatty needle to deliver the meds. Since I'll be taking the shots in the winter, I'm not concerned because my body is always freezing. Silver lining is that I've heard that you feel amazing since it suppresses all of the horrible symptoms associated with endometriosis. I feel good about the new plan.

So my baby-making life will probably look something like this....
Early Dec - Start estrogen priming
Late Dec - Start stims
Early Jan - Egg retrieval #2
Feb/Mar/April - Lupron Depot hormone therapy shots
May - Frozen embryo transfer

And here's to wishful thinking...
A positive pregnancy test by my 37th birthday on May 25th, 2014.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

this is for you swappers!


So so sorry ladies.
I'm late, late for a very important date. 
My apologies.

Not everyone left their email address in the comments and I don't want to leave anyone out. So I'm going to match y'all and then ask that you look for your blog/insta partner's email in the comments here. If you don't see them, it's because they signed up via Instagram and you connect with them by viewing comments on the #autumnmugswap hashtag on Instagram. I did my best to match bloggers with bloggers and IGers with IGers. Also, if you signed up and I somehow missed you...please let me know and I'll get your matched. 

Below are the mug swap matches, start shopping and swapping!

(Note: If you are one of the 4 Ashleys, please click through to make sure your blog is linked before you contact your swap buddy to ensure you're looking at the correct match.)

Bloggers/Instagrammers
Aislinn and Lauren Thomas
Meant To Be Mommy and Dog Mom Chasing the Stork
Mrs Green Grass and Aspgriswold
Cheryl and Mary
Jessah and Suzanne
Fourth Grade Something and Amy P.
Sally and The Granberrys
Shay and JoJo
Aubrey and Sarah
Shannon and Sybil 
Stephanie C. and Antonia
Katie Jeanne and Amber
Jamie and Ashley
Em and Amie
Ashley and Ashley
Katie and Sara
Nina and Lauren

Instagrammers (non-bloggers)
Christina @kers_11 and Cairna @mrscolivares
Martha @empty_cradle and MZ @tworldsttc
Teva @cheerslovers and Rudy @teamcoxttc
Meli @IVFWish_BFPDreams and Christina @wishingfor_babylove
Cynthia @cynttc and Jaime @jshell_ttc
Sarah @s_milliman and Jenny @slpmama3
Terri @tessabella76 and Lauren @lauren_gervais
Amy Michele @amymichele81 and Melanie @hopingforbabylevoy
Beth @elizardbreathspeaks and Lucy @ellesee1
Ang @fabmamafitness and B @b_wackyamzgrllife
Marina @marina04118 and @DNAThomsen
Sydnie @mrs_sydnie_w and KC @ttcamiracle13
Jamie @byarsjamie and Hailey @haileyelisehughes
Jessica @jess_douglas and Kyle @kphughes
Waiting4Stork @waiting4stork and Jess @jessika_stepanski
Sophia @sophia_ttc and Stacy @journeytobaby
Jess @jesslacombe and Jessica @jessicamichaela
Meg @megbrink and Tiffany @mrsfrazer_ttc

If you have any trouble at all reaching your match buddy, please feel free to email me using the link in the top right corner (envelope icon). I'll help you get in touch with your swap buddy.

Can't wait to see all the happiness being spread! Don't forget to post your new mug and link up here on November 20th (Beautiful Day) and/or post on Instagram using hashtag #autumnmugswap 

Happy Swapping!

Monday, October 21, 2013

spread some happiness

Life is enriched by many things. 
Making new friends. 
Relishing small moments. 
Receiving an uplifting package in the mail. 
One of my favorite small moments is sipping a steaming cup of hot coffee, tea or cocoa from a cute mug. Over my almond milk latte this weekend, I decided to organize a mug swap to spread some happiness. Join me in meeting new friends and swapping mugs.

How it works.
This swap is open to all bloggers and instagrammers (in the US).
If you'd like to participate, just leave a comment on this post with your blog name or Instagram name AND your email address. The last day to sign up will be Oct 31st.

Swapping.
On Nov 1st, check back to find out who your swap buddy will be. After matches are posted, you will contact the person you're matched with, swap addresses and mail out your mugs.

Shopping. 
You can choose a cute, pretty, inspiring, or fun mug from one of your favorite stores. I've seen super cute mugs lately at Pier One, Anthropologie, Home Goods, Target, Etsy, and Starbucks. The mug must be new and something you'd like to receive. The max price you should spend on the mug is $15 but you can spend less. If you find a mug for less than $15, you can include a card, some treats or other small gifts in the package as well. 

Sharing.
On Nov 20th, I will host a link up where bloggers can share their mugs so we can see all of the happiness that was spread. For Instagrammers, you can post your new mug package images on IG using the hashtag #autumnmugswap

Why November 20th?
According to Bizarre and Unique holidays, it is a Beautiful Day. A day created to share in the beauty all around us. What a perfect day to share the happiness we received from a fellow blogger or instagrammer.

Please feel free to repost the mug swap graphic on your blog or Instagram (and link back here for details) to share this fun swap with your followers. They may want to spread the happiness and join in the fun.


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