Monday, January 28, 2013

dream + paint + wine = painted.

A few months ago, while we were training for our half marathon, my friend Jenn told me that she and her husband were going to start their own business. The plan was to open a paint bar. I had never heard of a paint bar. She explained that it's essentially a place where people can take a paint class, drink wine and create a masterpiece on canvas. Apparently the concept is quite big in Denver but there aren't too many in California.
So many people say that they are going to do things and never do. I knew this wouldn't be the case with Jenn. And she did it! Her paint bar opened this weekend. On Friday night, they had a private party for friends and family. Unfortunately, A was working so I brought my girlfriend Melissa as my date.

We had so much fun! Painting a nice picture was easier than I thought it would be. Despite the fact that I have zero artistic ability. I'm serious. I can't even draw a stick figure. But yet I managed to produce this beautiful painting that I'm very proud of.

If you have a paint bar in your area, I highly recommend going. It makes a great date night or girl's night out. I think I found my new hang out! 

Did you try anything new this weekend?

P.S. Are y'all on vine yet? If you're an instagramaholic like me, you'll love it. It is a new social media app (released last week from Twitter) that allows you to create short, beautiful looping videos and share them with friends. Just up on there and see what all the fuss is about. You can follow me at user name Jessah. 

P.S.S If you overspent this weekend and giveaways are your thing, check out this blog post to enter to win $100 cash! Only 3 more days to enter.

Friday, January 25, 2013

where my heart resides

Pismo Beach is a magical place for A and I.
Someday we hope to buy property and retire there. 

We got married on that beach.
Celebrated our 1st anniversary. 
Ran my first half marathon.
It will always hold a special place in our hearts.

view from our balcony at the Shore Cliffs Lodge

my morning visitor on our balcony
Below are a few no filters images so you can get a sense of the true beauty of this place.

I'm trying to find some time for a brief escape...a long weekend or something as a part of my rejuvenation plan. Hope you enjoy a weekend filled with beauty and inspiration. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

my head and heart are not in the game

I'm tired. I'm really tired.
Four years is too long. 
A pointed out that we've been struggling to have a child for more than 10% of our lives.
That is way too long for anyone to feel the constant disappointment of infertility...month after month.

Sometimes I just wonder if I should let it go. 
Accept our fate.

The thought of never having a child is so painful.
But so is continuing on like this. 

Tears stream down my face as I type this and I'm so thankful that my husband is at work.
It breaks my heart for him to see me hurting because he can't fix this.
I know tomorrow I'll be fine, but today...not so much.

On Monday, I got my blood drawn for the AMH test. A waited in the truck.
When I came out, I just started crying and said "I'm so sick of this."
I try so hard to be strong because I need to be...but sometimes I just can't do it anymore.

I can't go through with IVF again. Not right now.
I'm not ready. It's not even the shots anymore... I can handle that. It is having all of those drugs in my body and risking the hugest disappointment of my lifetime if this doesn't work. 

When we started IVF in December, I was ready. Excited for the possibilities. Hopeful for the baby that this process could bring. But I don't feel that way right now. I feel a little lost and a lot discouraged. 
Just not ready.

And so we are on another break.
I called my IVF nurse coordinator to tell her that we will not be moving forward this cycle. I'm not taking any more of the birth control pills after today. That's it.
I told her I'll call her when we are ready to start again.

In the meantime. 
I pull myself together and get ready.
Besides giving my body a rest from all the drugs, I need to get my heart and mind in the right place.
The best way for me to do that is through prayer and exercise.

This morning I went for a three mile run before work. I didn't know if I could even make it 3 miles since I haven't ran at all in the last three months. But I did. My rear end was a little more jiggly than I remember but I did it. I felt good. It provided me time to reflect and gain some perspective. For some reason, I get clarity on things that I'm struggling with when I run. It became clear that I need to give myself permission to take a step back before moving forward again on this journey.

And something else I need to do for myself....get back on the horse. Literally. 
Horseback riding is so therapeutic for me. 
So I'll be starting back up this weekend.
It is time to take care of myself and get back to a place where I feel good, strong and positive.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

happy, welcome and sharing

HAPPY AND WELCOME: Happy Monday! Happy Martin Luther King Day! And a warm welcome to ICLW visitors. When I signed on for ICLW in January, I expected to be writing a post telling you that I'm having a beautiful healthy embryo transferred today and I'm entering into my 2WW. Unfortunately, I can't share that good news because my cycle was cancelled which you can read more about here.

Instead our only news on the baby making front is that AF showed up on Friday, I'll be starting BCP this week and getting my AMH blood test completed. I've been thinking a lot about what it means if the test comes back and says that I have DOR. I'm really unsure about the implications of this diagnosis. If anyone has DOR and would like to share their thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

SHARING: I did get some good news this week. A publicist informed me that my blog was selected by her company to be included in their Top Infertility Blogs of 2012. For some reason, I can't access their website on my mac but it comes up fine on every other device - iPhone, ipad and PC. It is a great list of IF blogs and I'm honored to be included. 

MORE SHARING: Every once in while, I'm struck by something I read and feel compelled to share. A few days ago, a fellow blogger Julia at Finding a Way Out of IF, wrote this post called Dear Newly Diagnosed Self. The post was inspired by a piece written by a childless pregnant person about what she would tell her pregnant self in hindsight after the baby was born. Julia's post is a beautifully written and filled with advice that her 5 year IF veteran self would give her newly diagnosed self. It's a must read if you are in the early stages of infertility. If you've been at this for a while, there are some good reminders.

AND LOTS MORE SHARING: The lovely Emily at Its History In The Making nominated me for a Liebster award. Thanks girl!  While appreciate the love, I've already accepted this honor last March in this post. But I'd love to answer Em's questions so that y'all can get to know me better and I'd love to have you answer some of these through comments so that I can get to know you.

1. What is your favorite quote?
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, 
but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

2. Where would you love to live and why?
Besides owning my own tropical island somewhere so I can bask in the sun on the regular,

3. What is your must have accessory right now?
My Michael Kors rose gold watch.

4. What is your favorite book?
The Great Gatsby. I can't wait for the movie to come out in May.

5. What are you addicted to right now?
Pomegranates. It that time of year. Healthy and delicious snack.

6. Favorite moment of 2012
Ice Skating with my hubby in Central Park.

7. Favorite recipe
I love food so much. This is really hard. Right now, I'm hooked on this Chicken Taco Chili.

8. What would be your perfect day?
Lounging on the beach with a good book, an icy cocktail and my man.

9. What talent do you wish to learn?
I'd like to be able to sing without glass shattering.

10. What is one of your New Year's resolutions?
I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. You must resolve to be the best that you can be everyday of the year. Not just on December 31st.

11. What are two of the most important things in your life?

Hope y'all have a great week!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

alpaca love

In this post, I told you all about my love of animals and my dream of becoming a farmer. It was written with a lot of humor but in many ways...I was dead serious. And I never realize how serious I am until I find myself in wide open spaces with lots of furry creatures.

A few month's ago, my mom's hubby had a book signing at the Enchanted April Inn. Me and little guy headed out to show our support and meet up with my family. I ended up falling in love with the property and the animals. Since then I've found myself daydreaming about a simpler life. Breathing in the fresh air. Growing my own produce. Tending to the animals. I swear, this is how I'm meant to spend my retirement. 

mom and grandmother on the rockers
mom and fur baby

When I discovered these guys, my excitement for the Inn grew even more. If you don't already know, I love horses and have an unhealthy obsession with alpacas. They have the sweetest faces and are such peaceful creatures.

I feel like singing the Green Acres theme song right now. Better start my horseback riding lessons back up so I can get my fresh air and animal fix.

What is your favorite animal?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It all started...

...a year ago today. 
I created this space (with the help of my friend Tracy) and sat down to write my first blog post.
Back then, I had no idea how much of a time investment blogging would be. It's a really big commitment to keep this space up to date. But I also didn't realize how fulfilling it would be to share my life with others and how much I'd fall in love with blogging.

I've learned so much from all of the wonderful women out there in the blogosphere. 
It's truly been a blessing to "meet" so many wonderful, caring, creative people through this space.
The connections and friendships that I've made are priceless.

To all my readers, I say thank you...for caring what I have to say, for supporting me over this past year. For helping me grow and look at the world a little bit differently because of your comments and perspectives.

What I'd like to do to celebrate my one year blogiversary is give back to my readers with a little project called Pay It Forward 2013. Besides writing, my other passion is reading. The quote from Stephen King really says it best "books are uniquely portable magic." Sitting on the couch by the fire with a warm cup of hot tea and a good book are some of my best moments. Transcending this world and immersing myself in another world - a world created in the mind of the author. And learning. I read a lot of self-help books to improve myself and grow in different areas of my life. Some books literally have the power to transform your life and thinking. That is a pretty powerful gift.

So, the first 5 people to comment with their email and blog address will receive from a book from me in the mail. However, I would ask one thing of you. To pay it forward. For you five lucky people to make the same offer on your blog. To post the button and pass along a beloved book (new or used) to five of your readers. It could be a favorite book or a book you think could really help the receiver based on what's going on in their life (i.e. fertility or pregnancy book, photography, cooking, diet, etc.) Blog stalking would be required. If you send the book media mail, the cost is under $3. It is a very inexpensive way to give something meaningful to someone else without expecting anything in return. 

Even if you are not one of the first 5 commenters, you can still participate in Pay It Forward 2013 on your blog. Just write a post, add the button (grab code from side bar), make the offer and send the books. Simple.

Here's to another year of blogging and to paying it forward!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

we're thankful for you

I truly believe this quote. Going through infertility treatments is certainly a labor of love. It is a struggle. Years filled with hope and disappointments. But none of us would do it if the hope wasn't always greater than the disappointment. 

We're are still hopeful. 
We've been knocked down.
But we are back up again.

Thank you to everyone who left comments, sent messages and prayers.
One of the biggest blessings in our struggle to conceive has been the support we've received from all of you. A and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of your kind words of encouragement. 

My foundation has been shaken but I still have faith in this process and trust in my doctor. We just have  more struggles to face and more obstacles to overcome. In the end, it will make us stronger and hopefully we'll be better parents because of it.

Our baby is still on the way. 
It just isn't the right time yet.
So I have dried my tears and we're ready to trudge forward.
Again, we are so very thankful to have your friendship, love and support with us on this journey.

Friday, January 11, 2013

sucker punched in the gut

I was not expecting that. At all.
It feels like I've been sucker punched in the stomach.
My IVF nurse coordinator called me with the results of my blood test. 
It was beyond bad.

My E2 level (estrogen) came back really low.
She began asking me, am I sure that I've been taking my injections? Am I sure that we are doing it right? A is a paramedic. We are doing it right.

My estradiol level tested at 37.6. 
Normal levels are between 250-700 after 5 days of stim meds.
They said if it were in the thousands, they'd back off my drugs.
Baseline levels at the start of your cycle are between 25-75.
Mine is 37.6.

How is it possible that the drugs have not been working AT ALL?
Dr. M wanted me to come in for an ultrasound to see what my follicles look like.
I hardly slept last night as I grieved our October baby that I'd become attached to in my mind. 
I just knew there had been no mistake in the lab which is the best that I could've hoped for.

This morning, Dr. M took a look at my lazy ovaries.
I had (2) 10mm follicles and (3) 6mm on the right and (1) 6mm on the left.
He recommended canceling the cycle. 

Just like that...done.
28 shots for nothing.
$3,500 in drugs wasted.
And it's back to the drawing board.

This morning, I woke up laughing (like a crazy person) because of the irony that I was worried about getting OHSS when A gave me too much Gonal-F. How silly of me to think that I would overstimulate. For some reason, I was more prepared that we might not end up in our desired destination (with baby in arms) than I was to not even be able to leave the station. Last night was rough. A and I are sad and super disappointed but there is nothing to be done but to move forward.

A and I talked a lot with Dr. M about why I'm not responding to the drugs.
He said that some people have a hyper-sensitivity to the Lupron which suppresses the ovaries. He thinks that might be the case with me. He'd like to start over and try a different protocol.

Provera for 7 days to induce my period
28 days of a lower dose BCP
Swap Gonal-F for Follistim
Max dose of stims - 225IU Follistim and 225IU Menopur 
Ganirelix instead of Lupron

I asked him if the BCP could also be making my ovaries lazy. He said it was possible and he is willing to try a protocol without BCP if that is what I want. But the BCP are used to stabilize all of the follicles and make sure they are the same size at the start. If they are growing at different rates, I could only end up with only a few eggs that are the right maturity. He prefers the plan above. 

We talked about Diminished Ovarian Reserve. I wanted to know if that could be responsible for my ovaries not responding to the drugs. He said it is possible. My FSH was normal last time they tested but that was almost two years ago. So we are testing my AMH level as soon as my period starts to try to get some more information. 

Since I won't be using Gonal-F on my next cycle, I don't need the extra drugs that I have and can't sell it because it has been opened. If anyone would like it, please let me know. I have about 300IU (100IU left in the bottom of 3 pens) and I have 750IU left out of a 900IU pen.

To lift my spirits, I'll be indulging in all of the things that I've been denying myself. A and I are going to have sushi for dinner this weekend and I'll be having a glass of wine and a bath tonight. Hopefully these small things will help to take a little of the sting out of the fact that there will be no baby for us in 2013. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"oops, I'm sorry babe."

It started out bad last night. When I get home from work every night, I lay out all of my drugs, needles and other paraphernalia because I get a enjoyment out of seeing my heap of medical supplies dwindle. Then I do the easiest shots first. I give myself the Lupron injection in my upper outer thigh and then A comes in and gives me the Gonal-F and then Menopur injections in the stomach.

my daily drug stuff
Usually the Lupron injections don't hurt. It's a small needle and the injection site bleeds very little (if at all). Unless I hit a blood vessel. This happened a week and a half ago. It was a bleeder and I have still a bruise. So last night, I hit another one. Ouch.
right: last night's damage | left: almost two week old bruise
But that wasn't the worst of it. The first two nights I was getting 300IU of Gonal-F. This drug comes in pens. And each of the first two nights, we used one 300IU pen per night...easy. But then my dosage dropped down to 225IU each night. So we are supposed to use the 900IU pen for four doses. It is a multi-use pen where you select the amount of the drug and inject. We used the pen Monday night for my 225IU dose. Then last night I got out the same pen, checked my dosage and told A that I needed 225IU. He gave me the injection. While I was waiting for him to mix the Menopur, I notice the pen didn't look like it had enough drug for two more injections. Then I saw that the dose line was set at 450IU. 

I started to panic and burst into tears. Telling A "you gave me too much. You gave me the max dose. Why did you give me 450IU? I told you 225IU." A explained that he thought we had to add the amounts together (225IU + 225IU = 450IU). I told him there is no adding. You just set to desired dose and inject. He was over thinking it and said "I'm so sorry babe." 

It was an honest mistake. But we were both freaking out a little bit as we didn't know how much damage this little mistake would cause. To me. To our eggs. To the IVF cycle in general. We held off on Menopur while we had the clinic's answering service page Dr. M. It took him 30 minutes to call us back. {Random fact: The last time we paged Dr. M after hours was exactly a year ago regarding post-surgery complications from my laparoscopy.}

We sat on the bed and waited. Those 30 minutes dragged on forever. Both of us were worried. Me...with images of being hauled off in an ambulance Giuliana Rancic style due to Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Him...feeling really bad and beating himself up about the mistake. Then we decided to consult Dr. Google (I know, I know. A fellow IVFer, K just warned me not to do this). We found fertility forums with discussions about people experiencing poor egg quality with too much Gonal-F. Finally, I had to close the iPad because we are getting stressed out. 

When Dr. M called, he was not too concerned. He said too little of the drug is much worse than too much. After reviewing my drug protocol, he told us to hold off on giving the Menopur and then adjusted our Gonal-F down to 150IU tonight to compensate for giving too much last night. Whew! Thank goodness it was not a big deal. But it was scary, none the less. A and I agreed to triple check each other against the drug calendar moving forward to avoid any more mistakes. 

And below is my status update...

7 days til retrieval
12 days til transfer 
22 days til our first BFP

A few moments of irritability and crankiness.
Tired. Stomach is a little more swollen.
My mind is overly active lately causing mild insomnia.
Greatest challenge...
Trying not to worry that anything negative will come from our Gonal-F dosage mishap.
Biggest success...
Learning to laugh and let things go when they are out of my control.
My drugs...
75 IU Menopur. 225 IU Gonal-F. 5 IU Lupron. .5 mg Dexamethasone.
In love with...
My acupuncture which has been keeping me relaxed.
Current distractions...
The Bachelor Season 17. Ted. Gone Girl.

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