Monday, December 31, 2012

Google Images

I hope this year is a year full of  family memories, inner peace and tranquility, hope and love, and most importantly- to remember to enjoy each day as it comes!  I am convincing myself happy to leave the dirty dishes in the sink, the floor unswept, and an untouched To Do list tonight as I'll be in bed with my three loves as we watch a family friendly movie and ring in the new year all snuggled together.  This year is all about staying in the moment, and I have learned that regardless, what needs to get done, will get done-somehow, someway.

Stay safe and try to spend some time reflecting on all the good that has happened this past year.
See you in 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

DIY Chalkboard

So, I'm finally jumping on the  chalkboard paint bandwagon, and let me tell you-it was a blast!!!  

I decided that I wanted to make my own chalkboard after I had been turned onto the idea of these chalkboard markers from Megan  at Honey We're Home.  After searching Pintrest, I decided that my best bet would be to use a frame.  I saw options using the cardboard or the glass from the frame, but I decided to use the glass because I thought it would give me a smoother look.  I anticipated a trip to Michaels for some great frames (hoping to find some on sale!!!), but when I went digging in my frames box in my garage, I remembered I had a couple of leftover antiqued white frames from old progression pictures of my oldest (now 3) that we aren't using in our new house.  Score!  Not only did I not need to buy any new frames, the frames I wanted to use were also a good color, so no extra painting!  


I found my way to my closest Home Depot and I purchased the Rust-oleum ChalkBoard writeable-erasable latex paint in the original color.  I was surprised to find out that they also sell a tintable version of the  chalkboard paint.  But, I settled on the original color because I didn't know how the color would ultimately turn out, and I didn't want to have to worry about matching markers to my chalkboard color.  Plus, I have a couple more DIY Chalkboard ideas I plan on working on in the near future and I'm all about keeping it cheap!!!  

They make a regular paint and a spray paint.  I chose the regular paint because I cannot do this project outside due to weather, and the last thing I need is to spray paint my freshly painted walls, furniture or floors. That would make for one very unhappy husband!  Because I used regular paint, I had to purchase a small roller brush; I opted to not get the roller pan because I didn't want to have any wasted paint!  

Supplies
2 frames-free
Chalkboard paint-under $10   
Brush-under $4
Chalk: TBD
Total: about $15



Because my surface was not unfinished wood, no priming was required-another score!!!

I began by separating the pieces of my frame.  I placed the glass on an empty pizza box waiting to be recycled (the one benefit of not having recycling in almost 3 weeks due to holidays).  










I opened my paint and dipped my brush in and began rolling!  It took me a few strokes to get acclimated but I figured it out quickly and in no time coat #1 was on and drying.  








You can see there were some streaks and some lighter areas so I decided to do another coat a few days later.  It's not required, but I thought it would be good to just smooth it out, plus I had touched it and left some fingerprints-whoops!  So literally, no joke-5 minutes later, while my kids were happily playing with their new tool set, coat #2 went on and began drying.


I now have to wait three days before using chalk, and seven days before I can wipe it clean.  So, my chalk markers are on their way here via UPS, but in the meantime, I've added chalk to my grocery list for tomorrow!  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012





Our Christmas


I don't celebrate Christmas, so it isn't really a day I think about in advance.  It sneaks up on me, and I get all ferklempt (Yiddish for overwhelmed) when I realize that my babysitter won't be in, there's no school, and most things to do/places to go-are closed.  Honestly, I don't even remember what we did last year.  Growing up, we got together with family and ate Chinese (stereotypical much?!?) But this year, I actually threw something together, and we had our own celebration with friends who are like family, on Christmas.  I have to admit, this was so last minute that I definitely did not bring my A-game.  No presentation, burnt food, but: good company :)
For the sake of not having to stay up all night, the menu was as followed:

  • Fritata-brought by guest
  • Iced coffee-brought by guest
  • Morning bake-moi
  • Pancakes with strawberry topping-moi
  • Coffee cake-moi
  • Juice-moi

Brunch is not a genre of food I cook often; I'm usually cooking for Shabbos (Sabbath) of yom tov (Holiday) and we eat meat for those meals.  So when I can create a dairy meal, I'm all over it. But, like I said, I didn't want to stay up all night cooking, and it was just 7 of us.  Of course I had pinned countless mouth-watering recipes that I couldn't wait to attempt, and I figured this gave me the perfect excuse!  But when push came to shove, I couldn't do it!  Why you ask?  Because I love to reminisce.  Just ask my BFF, we've been friends since first grade, and I'm known for squealing out, "Remember remember???" and a long story entails about way back to who knows when!

This brunch was the perfect opportunity to reminisce about a childhood favorite: Grammy's coffee cake.   Whenever we went to visit, this was it, well that and Entenmann's chocolate frosted donuts! When we first arrived to her house in Indiana, we were always greeted with, "want some coffee cake?"  When we first woke up in the morning, "want some coffee cake?"  And throughout the day, we would nosh on the coffee cake-always trying to time your piece just right-so you got the bigger slice of the bundt :) 


Grammy's Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon 


Cake Mix
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
Mix the cinnamon sugar topping ingredients together in a small bowl
*I thought I would double this so there would be more sugar topping on the top-BAD IDEA!  A lot of the sugar was unable to penetrate into the cake, so it just burned.



In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar. 











 Add in the eggs, flour, sour cream, baking soda and baking powder. 





 Add in the vanilla.



Finished (unbaked) product:






Spray a bundt pan and layer as follows:

1/3 cinnamon sugar topping on bottom, 1/2 batter on top of topping, 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar topping ontop of the batter, put the last 1/2 of the batter on top of the cinnamon sugar topping, and finally, top with the last 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar topping.  



Bake at 350 for 40-60 minutes.  Mine was done around 45 minutes.  


Notice the burnt top :( so...


A water + powdered sugar glaze prettied it a bit.

What a wonderful day spent with close friends and yummy food!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Family Pictures.....


Those who know me, know I love photography.  I'm known to spend  A LOT of money on a quality photo shoot.  My motto is: people will never say, 'oh those pictures are stupid, what a waste of money.'  And it's true-we've never regretted the picture we've gotten and the money spent to achieve them!  

I find it incredibly challenging to come up with family coordinated outfits.  We've done the denim bottoms and black tops over and over. Then, a light bulb went on in my head that the matching plaid shirts bought on sale at Children's Place would match with the shirt I got from The Gap (I think).  The hunt was on for a matching shirt for Abba (Hebrew for daddy), and I was astonished that I just happened to stumble upon it at Target during one of my frivolous child-free trips :)  Sweet Success!!!  I knew I wanted a grey sweater to go over it, and was thrilled when I found one in my closet that had been gifted to me from a friend whose friend was getting rid of it!  One (wo)man's trash is another (wo)man's treasure!

Our 2012 Family picture

MyRoseAmongThorns

But hold on, it's not that easy...the boys had to have their own coordinated pictures.  During one of my many Pintrest browsing sessions during lunch all the way almost last year, I came across these pictures



For those of us with boys, you know there isn't much accessorizing-ties on everything, maybe a cute hat, that's about it.  No sparkly shoes, no fancy jewelry or matching tights...I wasn't willing to fork over the money to buy one, so, my mom and I DIO (that's Did It Ourselves ;)

I have made many a tie bibs and onesies before; I frequently use this tie tutorial.   

Step 1: gather your shirts.  
Any brand of onesie is fine, but it is rather difficult to find simple, plain, colored shirts or onesies.  I love these Rabbit Skins t-shirt and onesies.  They are exactly what  you'll need, with a ton of color options, and they are at a great price.
Step 2: purchase your double sided "wonder under"  as I've heard it called...make sure it is double sided so you can make an applique

Step 3: purchase the fabric you would like your pattern to be.  I love Tonic Living for great fabric options.  I have been thoroughly disappointed with Joann Fabrics every time I've gone in, and I do not know of any other local fabric store.

Step 4: this is how I do it, it just is easier to me, only having to cut once.  Glue a section that you know will be big enough for a cut out of your pattern, or however many cutouts you need.  Fuse the back side of the fabric to one side of the wonder under, iron to fuse.

Step 4: trace the pattern onto the back side (it will still have removable paper attached) of the wonder under, cut it out

Step 5: remove the paper, and then iron onto your shirt.

My experience has been that the wonder under will come undone.  I have my mom sew on my appliques (remember, it was a DI0) project :)

Final product:

MyRoseAmongThorns

MyRoseAmongThorns
You might hate the time you spend creating these costumes, but you definitely won't regret the final product!  I can't wait to hang these on my wall!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's that time of year...

If you're a Type A planner/organizer like me, you've been trying to put 2013 events into your calender for months.  Unfortunately, the calenders stop at December 2012.  Searching, personalizing and purchasing a new calender are one of my yearly tasks I so look forward to!  Here are some great options I've come across...


momAgenda was the first "specialty" calender I purchased for myself almost 3 years ago.  I don't remember where I saw it advertised, but I loved that they had a mom version.  



Just because you're juggling the world doesn’t mean you need to fill that world with circus-like prints. The momAgenda Desktop Day Planner helps busy moms manage multiple calendars with colors that remind us of breezy summer days. It features all the helpful weekly and daily planning areas that made our momAgenda such a must-have, sanity-saving tool, including the favorite websites section; space for notes on books, movies, fashion, and music; vacation planning and party prep pages. Plus the accompanying momEssentials pamphlet lets you keep your family’s medical information, birthdays, websites and passwords organized all in one handy place. With the momAgenda Desktop organizer, you’ll find it’s infinitely easier to keep your act together..
 Besides the mom version of the momAgenda, there is the myAgenda, mini versions of each, and you can choose if you want your calender hard back bound, or like a spiral notebook.  Each page is a day, leaving plenty of room to not only add in the necessary scheduled obligations you have, but also the extras: the shopping list, the 'to dos', and if you run out of space like I do frequently, it's big enough that the larger sized post-it notes fit!  What's totally awesome about these is you can choose from a variety of colors; there's even snakeskin and cheetah!  Besides calenders, momAgenda also has journals, notepads, and free printables!  Who doesn't love free printables?!?  
*momAgenda currently has 30% off and free shipping over $30! Love free shipping!!! Makes the deal that much sweeter :)





"..a PAPER planner? ....but can't you just keep track of schedules and to-dos from your phone?" Yes, some people thought I was nuts when i created the first edition of the Life planner in 2007. I consider myself quite tech savvy, but I still find that I am more organized and prepared when I create handwritten schedules, lists and goals in an old school planner.  I also found that the more stylish and personalized the planner, the more likely someone is to carry it with them and use it to simplify busy schedules and better plan for successful living.

The popularity of this Life Planner has grown so much over the years, and I am so proud to say that each year it gets better & better. How will YOU use it? As a nutrition/exercise log? Newborn sleep & peep record? Work meetings & appointments? Academic & social planner? The possibilities are endless, but I do know that if we are able to manage our time better, we ultimately have more time for the people and experiences that are most important.  I like to say, "plan well and party often!"

This new edition includes the following:
- laminated, heavy duty 10mL cover for protection from daily wear and tear
- sturdy aluminum coil that will not bend & allows your planner to lay flat
- perpetual calendar for birthdays and anniversaries
- choose the start month of your Life Planner!
- TWO-page monthly spreads
- weekly spreads divided into morning, day & night
- LAMINATED tabs for extra durability
- snap-in page holder that doubles as a ruler
- goals and to-do lists for every week and month
- 20 pages of lined and designer blank pages for notes and sketches
- 1 page for important numbers, with a backside to keep addresses handy
- 240 colorful stickers to highlight birthdays, special events and reminders
- "keep it together" folder to wrangle receipts, stamps, and other paper
- bound-in zip lock pocket with 12 gift labels and "let's get together" cards
- inspirational quotes throughout

I loved my momAgenda, but when I found Erin Condren, I knew it was time to move on. I just knew I had to have a life planner.  I wanted it so badly, I was willing to gift the momAgenda with a gorgeous teal cover I had just purchased to my mom, even before the new year started!  What sold me on the life planner was that it could be personalized! You would think I was from the south with my obsession of all things personalized!  It's display of bright colors, fancy fonts and inspirational sayings just screamed PERFECT PLANNER to me.   From different views of the month and year, to multiple varieties of blank and lined papers, stickers labeled for special occasions as well as blank stickers left to be customized by you,  I thought this would be the perfect calender for me.  It was just so hands on.  I loved this calender because it was adorbs, but I felt like it's daily layout did not allow me to write in it the way I would like.  I needed to carry an additional notebook around in order to write my 'to do' list out.  But, it is super cute, I get TONS of compliments on it, and I would definitely order it again.  They have made many improvements based on customer reviews.  Erin Condren is known to frequently post pictures on Facebook showing people crafting the ordered items by hand.  One thing is for sure, these life planners are top quality. And you know what rocks too? Their customer service is beyond outstanding.  Besides the lifeplanner, Erin Condren is known for being a very modern, funky and bright alternative to what appears to be an everyday item.  Her return address labels make any envelope bright, even if it contains a check to pay a bill, her phone cases are stellar (I get compliments on mine all the time), and she is just full of spunk!  













Keep track of your calendar, contacts, family, work and LIFE in the Simplified Planner. The Signature Binder features a thick 11 x 11.5 inch cover with gold foil accents and protective gold corners. Choose from a warm pink, turquoise or tan linen Signature Binder. Each includes a D ring and one inch spine to hold our accessory pages or any notes and papers you need to keep track of.
Each Starter Kit includes
  • 1 Signature Binder
  • 1 Journal Set
  • 1 Monthly Calendar Set (18 undated months)
  • 1 Set of 6 Dividers

Another potential calender purchase could  be Emily Ley.  The two biggest reasons I would jump on board with this is because of how simple, clean, but totally classy this is.  The yearly calender is a hardback binder. The other thing that is so genius of Emily Ley, is that you can either purchase the simplified planner starter kit which has the essentials (i.e. the calender aspect), or you can choose from a slew of options that can be added to your calender.  She has pages for tasks, for meal planning, for budgeting, for recipes, for grocery lists, for projects to do, and for different views of the week and month.  I would love to try this one day, but I'm afraid I would feel the need to purchase all the options for the calender, and that would make for one expensive calender!  










This 17 month agenda is packed full of fun tidbits and patterns to make your year all about Jonathan Adler. Complete with weekly and monthly calendar pages, this planner for 2013 has dates to remember, contacts and notes. Perfect as an academic planner, or everyday planning.
• august 2012 through december 2013
• interior pocket
• elastic band closure







One last calender option I've come across is the  Jonathan Adler agenda.  I am seriously considering this option as my 2013 calender.  I feel like it encompasses all the aspects of the calenders above that make them "specialty" yet, it's more than half the price! And these days, money talks!!!  It is vibrant, has inspirational quotes, extra pages for those specific extras, and it even has an elastic closure band!  Hello awesomeness.  It seems thin and light, and I think it would look awesome in my bag!  



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Spreading Holiday Cheer!!!

Ideally, I see this blog being a lifestyle blog.  At this point, it's impossible for me to talk only about infertility.  I work, I exercise, I have kids, I pin things on pintrest....so I want to incorporate my life into this blog.  
Tomorrow is the last day before winter break in the schools.  The students are bouncing off the walls, the teachers wish they could bounce off the walls with them!  Anyway, thanks to Pintrest for the money pit DIY projects, I found some cute holiday gift ideas.  I had such a hard time deciding where I would draw the line for gift giving; if money was not an issue-I would have bought for all the staff members!  I work in a room with 3 paraprofessionals in charge of discipline and 3 special ed teachers. Besides them, I figured I would give to the 1 principle and 2 assistant principles as well as the pay roll secretary and my mentor because they have been phenomenal and have volunteered to help me with countless tasks around the building.  This is my first year, so there was a lot to figure out upfront (i.e. insurance, pay, tax form, etc).  

These are the two pins from Pintrest that inspired me.
*I just want to say that I am not sure exactly how to credit Pintrest.   The picture I pinned isn't necessarily the original and I don't feel like it is my place to be publishing someone's name or blog on my blog without their permission...if you search for: thanks a latte and/or for your mistle toes, these WILL come up!
 
 











Thanks a latte:  I was not interested in the printable, it just seemed to "fluffy" for me to be giving out to co-workers.  So I just went with the cupholder and the gift card.

Please forgive my pictures!  One day I hope to replace my regular camera with a fancier version :)

I made sure to ask for some cupholders with the purchase of my gift cards, thoroughly confusing the baristas. 

 

Then, I hot glued the bottom closed.  Simple...the tutorial I had read glued the top so the opening was "secure" for the gift card.  However, I put the gift card in and pushed it down and it seemed snug enough that I didn't do any additional hot gluing.
That was after I shoved the gift card in....it was pretty snug, so I wasn't worried...


Then I used an Elmers Painters in metallic, ultra fine to write my message: Happy Holidays!  Thanks a latte...Aaryn 

For your mistle toes:  I ordered the Essie mini collection off of Amazon; really nice colors, I almost kept them for myself and ordered a second to give...why is it that every season new colors come out that are so similar you can't tell them apart from the color in your drawer from last year, but you order the new color anyway?  The tutorial I read, the lady had a special stamper, which I don't have. So I figured I would just type out the message and print in color.  I also bought the scissors that cut with a boarder from Michaels.  I didn't have any ribbon, so I figued I would just hot glue on the nail polish. 

Anyone notice my tiny big blunder?  Piggy Toes?  Not sure what happened there....what's worse is I handed them out today like it was no big deal and it wasn't until I went to do this post that  I saw my original and realized I printed the wrong message!!!  But it still looks cute, and was a big hit amongst my female office mates :)  

I really loved these  projects because the materials themselves were very cheap, and the prep time was extremely minimal, even I'm surprised.  But most importantly, the wow factor was off the charts! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Formal Welcome...
 
Yesterday I "outed" myself on Facebook.  I have always been vocal about infertility, but I don't frequently update my statuses on Facebook, and I rarely use Facebook as a soapboxAs of now, I don't even plan on linking to Facebook for my regular postings.  
So, I appreciate all the awesome views yesterday!  I hope they continue...

At the beginning, my battle with infertility was somewhat public.  I was in undergrad and given the nature of things-scheduled classes and scheduled doctors appointments, I knew people would figure out that something was up. And obviously, I'm pretty good in the TMI department, or I wouldn't have started this blog!  I decided I would be honest with my teachers and friends because I'm not a good fibber.  Plus, I would be missing class time and I didn't want to ask for notes and have the other person think I was just skipping class.  When it came time for the pregnancy test with the first IVF, I realized I didn't really have a way of keeping it a secret. If it worked, I would be a regular in class again; if it didn't-well, I would continue to skip (I mean miss) class.  So, when the call came in, I sent out a mass text telling people that I was pregnant, but that it was extremely early.  
 
My second pregnancy progressed rather quickly and there was no prep, no missing of classes, and no reason for anyone other than close friends to know we were going to be doing a transfer.  So, close friends new pretty early, family members slowly found out later (actually, my mother and grandmother guessed I was pregnant and confronted me before I was ready to share the news-only because I was being "formal" and wanted to wait until I was out of the "danger" zone), and I outed myself on Facebook at exactly 12 weeks.  
 
Over the past few years I have tossed around the idea of blogging; always shying away from it thinking I wasn't a good enough writer.  As time has gone on, I've also become more interested in spreading the word about infertility awareness, education and overall sensitivity.  So, I decided I wanted to start this blog as a stepping stone for what will hopefully morph into an overall place of infertility awareness and education.  When I knew we were embarking on a new journey, I decided that if I was going to choose this as my soapbox, I needed to be honest, screw formality-no hiding until 20 weeks of pregnancy...
 
So there ya go, I plan on keepin' it real up in here!  Hope you'll stick around!   

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

And so it begins...

Today was my first appointment in preparation for transfer #2, for baby #3...
Blood work was taken, ultra sound was performed, prescription was filled...I will receive a call tomorrow with instructions on when/how to begin the provera.  Provera is instead of birth control-it will bring on "a flow."  I am to take it for 10 days, stop, and with 3-4 days I will begin a period.  I will go immediately in for monitoring so I can be fit into the January schedule.  Transfer is tentatively scheduled for the second week of January.  

I think one of my doctor's employees (she happens to run insurance) wants to send me for a psych consult!  I just happen to be a "glass half empty" kinda gal...and add last night on top of that?  I must admit, I do wonder if they ever refuse to treat patients, recommend taking time off, or if they are secretly analyzing me: how I talk about the cycle, how I talk about my home life, etc.  I wonder what my doctor thought when he ran into me with the kids-he poked his head into my car!!!  That should tell you something right there!  

When it comes to this cycle, as my previous cycle, I do not want to let myself get too attached.  I will say this-once you have a child(ren) it is much easier to tell yourself you're not getting emotionally attached.  Just going through the motions (which apparently is cause for concern...I was asked if I was sure I wanted to do this?) is not a good approach. Yes, I'm sure I want to do this.  It's the unknowns-how much money will this ultimately cost us, will it work, what if it doesn't?  The list is endless...I'm anxious just thinking about it. If this doesn't work-I'll be down to 3 embryos...living in denial is nicer-I have 4 frozen embryos...

The ultrasound report was decent.  I seem to have built up a lining which was a stark contrast from my last visit 6 months ago.  That probably explains all the weird movements and pains.  However, my ovaries have aged my friends.  They do not appear to be producing like they used to...I knew this was a cause for concern long before I even began fertility treatment.  At my initial consult my dr. warned me that PCOS ovaries age quicker.  "Have your children young."  Which is another reason I am adamant that I move ahead.  What if we run through these embryos?  I would rather do a fresh cycle in my twenties than thirties.  Which is why we tossed around the idea of doing another fresh cycle; as a way to get young embryos. 

I may run through these embryos in a few months, I may not; the embryos may run out in a number of years.  We might want to do more cycles, but need to do another retrieval.  What would a retrieval done at 30+ look like?  But what if all these 4 embryos become live babies-I think it's safe to say 6 children will be enough for us.  So if I did another fresh cycle, and ended up with, let's say 6+ embryos, I may not want to use all of them!  Then what?!?  Hence why we chose to work with what we have at this time.


And so it begins; tomorrow will be day 1!  

Monday, December 17, 2012

A New Season...


 It goes without saying that the recent tragedy in Connecticut has brought about a new, humble appreciation for everyday life.  The stress, the messy house, the overflowing dishes and laundry basket-what a blessing.  The mourners should find comfort, and Baruch Dayan HaEmet (Blessed is the True Judgement).

To everything (turn turn turn)
There is a season (turn turn turn)
And a time to every purpose under Heaven 

I find this song by the Byrd's so incredibly reflective.    Life is full of stressors; being a young mom, I have had to readjust to "a new normal" multiple times throughout my short 5 years of marriage.  I graduated undergrad, had a baby, began and completed graduate school, moved out of our medical school housing after having been there for four years-since day 1 of our marriage, had another baby, left the next apartment and moved into the next.  Named my children after deceased loved ones, saw my love multiply, grow indefinitely stronger...

To everything (turn turn turn)
There is a season (turn turn turn)
And a time to every purpose under Heaven 
 
I nursed my baby for the last time this morning.  I didn't know it would be the last time...it was a middle of the night feed; I was annoyed he woke up during the wee hours like usual, close enough to the time of my alarm that I didn't really fall back to sleep.  I'm beginning treatment tomorrow; a day sooner than expected, as a way to save me from missing work-I'll go in the afternoon, the day before the results are required.  That means I can no longer nurse my precious 16 month old.  

To everything (turn turn turn)
There is a season (turn turn turn)
And a time to every purpose under Heaven 

Another confession-my baby hasn't slept a night in the crib. That's right-I let him lead  the way, and from day one we've co-slept.  It has been a love hate relationship, but I wouldn't change it for the world.  My oldest was independent from the get-go.  Did not want to co-sleep, and at 3 months it was obvious he no longer wanted to sleep in our room.  He would sleep for hours in the swing, and would entertain himself.  Not so much this time around.  Dovy is a mama's boy...I wouldn't change it for anything, but truth be told-I was in denial.  December 19 was coming, and it has been marked off in my calender for weeks...but Dovy continued to sleep in my bed and nurse at his leisure.  Honestly, I thought something would click and he would wean and sleep on his own...no such luck.  He has been screaming in his crib for almost 45 minutes.  

To everything (turn turn turn)
There is a season (turn turn turn)
And a time to every purpose under Heaven 
 
We went out for icecream tonight to celebrate Moshe being brave and strong at his 3 year well check  today which resulted with 1 shot and 1 nasal flu spray.  On our way, I was talking to my husband about how strange it is to commit to fertility treatment.  When you are using treatment for your first, it's a no brainer.  You're dying for a child, you'd do anything.  Eight days after Moshe was born, I knew I wanted another baby.  Like clockwork, close to Moshe's first birthday, we did a consult and that Monday of Thanksgiving week, we transfered 1 embryo.  That Saturday, I knew I was pregnant.  

To everything (turn turn turn)
There is a season (turn turn turn)
And a time to every purpose under Heaven 
 
I have two of the most precious, absolutely adorable, gorgeous (as Moshe called himself tonight ;) sons in the whole wide world!!! Why am I going to rock the boat?  Things are finally settled...my husband and I are both finally out of school, we finally are living in a place we hope will last us for the next number of years...We know we want more children, but as I'm committing to tomorrow's appointment, the doubt is beginning to creep back in...
 
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weap 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Crossing Over

It's funny, once you have a baby/child, most people think you're no longer infertile.  There's no gentle way around this-I have a child, I have been successful, but the reality of the situation is, I'm still infertile. 

It's not pretty, but most pregnancy announcements make me angry.  I almost burst into tears when someone close to me told me they were pregnant-and I was holding a 3 month old!!!  How much worse do I look when I tell you that 3 month old was my second child?  

I'm not proud of it by any means; I wish I could instantly be happy for those who achieve their dreams so easily.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, my biggest issue is that those who are so fortunate, they don't know to know.  

I know someone who announced on Facebook their pregnancy the day they got a positive pee stick.  I know someone who went to the first ultrasound alone.  Because a positive pregnancy test= a live baby at the end right?  Not so much...but most people don't experience such things to even think about the negative. If you don't know anyone who went through infertility you don't have somewhat first hand knowledge to even begin to think about how your situation could have turned out differently.  If you don't know anyone who experienced a loss, you don't know how thankful to truly be when you reach 27 weeks gestation.  If you think having twins is cute because you can dress up TWO babies-you've never met anyone who has lost two sets of twins in the second trimester.  The list is endless and this can be applied to so many different situations.  But the bottom line is, you don't think like an infertile unless you are one. And having children does not change the status of my uterus or my husband's sperm.

Most likely I will never get pregnant on my own. It will require heavy intervention, drugs, needles, blood tests, and lots of money.  Don't get me wrong, I would not change my situation for anything,   but as I'm currently in the time of my life where I plan on continuing at attempting (and Please G-d I should be successful many more times) to grow my family, I still reflect on the status of my uterus on a pretty frequent basis.  

So instead of initially being over the moon when someone announces their pregnancy-I think, will I ever get to announce another pregnancy?  When?  How long will it take for me to get pregnant next time?  How much money will it cost?  Will we go through all our remaining embryos?  Will our next IVF cycle be drastically different since I'll be much older?  Will I have any losses? Complications? I think the list is endless...

I know I have two kids, believe me-I know how lucky I am, I think about it everyday.  Not a day goes by that I don't thank G-d and thank my doctor for the amazing things that have been brought my way.  But I wonder what's next?  It really isn't a consolation to know that I have two kids when really, I want more.  So when I'm angry, stop telling me, "you have two beautiful children." I don't think it's selfish to say that I will always be happy with my two, but it isn't my dream to have only two children.  If, by the time I'm 40, and I only have two children, I'll throw in the towel.  But until then, I'll keep dreaming for more.  Maybe my wish of more children will come true.  Only time will tell....    

Friday, December 14, 2012

History and Emotions Part 2

I previously discussed how I felt upon receiving my diagnosis, and how I felt pre-fertility treatment.  But what about during?  Initially, I didn't give it much thought, because, silly me, I was going to get pregnant during my first cycle!!!!  

Our first cycle was in May of 2008.  We were going to spend some time with my parents out of town, so we weren't available for all of the recommended observations. I missed some pre-ovulatory ultrasounds, I missed the post coital test (where they check the sperm and your vaginal mucous after s.e.x to see how the sperm are surviving in it), and in fact, I didn't see the doctor until I scheduled my own follow up appointment.    

When we decided we were ready to jump on the fertility bandwagon, we were allowed to begin with clomid (as recommended per my diagnosis), however my husband had not undergone his part of the testing.  So, we were given the option of clomid or going back on *metformin to hopefully induce ovulation within six months.  I chose clomid, as I did not want to waste anymore time.  I purchased a fancy ovulation kid (that only came with about 6 days worth of testing), a prescription for clomid, and I was on my merry way.  Well, before our trip, I had gone through all the days of ovulatory testing with still no positive indication of ovulation.  I eventually bought the  Answer 1 month supply kit of ovulation tests.  Uhttp://www.littlegreenduckling.com/Answer-Daily-Ovulation-Tracker-20-ea/A/B001KYS1UG.htm#.UMtyPm9X3dU
It was cheap, had enough tests for the whole month, the only downside was you had to reuse the same pee cup!  Oh well, fine with me!  

During the rest of the month I never got a completely positive, double line, indication that I was ovulating!   Again, I thought for sure I was pregnant based on my mood swings and how late I was.  

When we returned home, we met with the doctor who gave us the shocking news that my husband had a low sperm count-about 1/3 less than it should be!  So he recommended that we move straight onto intrauterine insemination (IUI).  We took the injections class (my husband even had to practice giving me the HCG shot in the butt! [with saline of course]).  I completed one cycle with clomid and injectables.  Big Fat Negative (BFN).  We did another IUI with only injectables-BFN, and our last IUI resulted with 8 follicles and was almost cancelled.  That was one heck of an afternoon between deciding to cancel, do a rescue IVF or trigger with Lupron under the promise I would reduce if I got pregnant with multiples.  I remember crying in the school bathroom, and walking about 3 miles all over the city trying to find Lupron! (Lupron was used as the trigger as a way to hopefully prevent all 8 follicles from releasing.)  So, 8 follicles-I was going to get pregnant!  How could I not?!? Nope, BFN.  With that we moved onto IVF.

I remember it so distinctly.  Until this point I was going through the motions, I never gave much thought into things not working out-because why wouldn't they?

It was around this time that summer break ended and I began my junior year of undergrad.  I went to a religiously affiliated school, so it was no surprise when a few people in my classes arrived for the new year with bumps.  I'm not quite sure how to describe my feelings-I wasn't angry or mad, I was selfish-I was selfish because I didn't want to have to be around them in their state...I didn't want to see pregnant bellies all day, every day.  And, I absolutely didn't want them to know what was going on with me  because I didn't want to make them uncomfortable, because after all, it wasn't their fault I couldn't get pregnant.    

But it was after the IUIs that I noticed a shift in emotion.  I starting having the 'what if' thoughts...the night after our initial IVF consult, I cried the whole night.  But as I have stated multiple times, with every new cycle, hope creeps in, and once the cycle began, I was hopeful.  

Now, when the IVF started,  I still did not have friends to talk to, and I wasn't so active in the blogging community, so I was extremely naive.  I have since learned through others all the terrible things that can come along with IVF.  It isn't all sunshine and rainbows like I was fortunate to experience.  I stimmed well, no complications what.so.ever, and just like that, I was pregnant!  And it was a relatively smooth ride.  

My pregnancy was almost complication free, and we had 14 months of bliss before we jumped back in the infertility saddle.  One thing I knew for sure, we weren't going to get so lucky the second time around. I just did not think it was possible.  

When Moshe was 10 months old I started bleeding again, birth control had nothing on it! So when I had my initial consult, I had fresh lining (as oppose to currently, I haven't bled since Dovy was born, 16 months ago today!!!)  so we were given the go ahead to move into a transfer without the typical birth control and lupron phase.  About 2 weeks later, I was pregnant and had an eerily similar pregnancy, labor and delivery experience.  

For better or worse, I know what's out there.  I'm so appreciative of how my journey has worked out, but because I know what others experience, I am currently fearing for the worst when we begin our journey to #3!

*One possible symptom of PCOS is insulin resistance, which is helped by metformin.  The insulin resistance could possibly impact ovulation, so the theory is that by helping the insulin resistance, you'll also help your ovulation regulate.  In my case, I did not have significant enough insulin resistance to need metformin, but it was a possible treatment option to induce ovulation-we initially opted to not go that route due to the time frame required to "wait and see," however once my husband's sperm results came back low, we knew it was not a sole treatment option.  We did end up using it conjunction with the cycles during our journey to #1 as a way to "help," but it was not used at all during our journey to #2.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Laws of Family Purity


So I mentioned in my last post that I had irregular, frequent, bleeding. Emphasis on the frequent.  This may turn into a series of posts, hard to say how long it will take to explain such a complex idea/practice.  It's a way of life for Orthodox Jews, it's incredibly complex-so complex that you often times become BFFs with your Rabbi because you need questions answered.  

Let me back up a bit-in Judaism, there is an idea that your Rabbi is there to help answer your questions.  We are taught to ask questions.  Better to have the correct answer than to guess on your own.  Now, what does correct mean?  It's not so simple....rabbis can have varying opinions, many things are up for interpretation, many things are interpreted differently for different people depending on their "place" in life.  Judaism never aims to make life purposefully complicated, but for those who are much more in touch spiritually, it is easier for them to submit to a stricter lifestyle.  That does NOT make them any better, they are just on a different level. All levels are seen as equal, we do not judge our peeps.  I could go on and on with the technicalities, but I won't.  I want to get into Taharas Mishpacha-literal translation: purity of the family.  

I will first say that when I realized this whole concept existed (I did not grow up with this in my house btw), I was appalled and I distinctly remember saying to friends, "I want to marry someone who doesn't believe it that...I can't imagine myself ever______."  So there ya go, if you find what I'm about to tell you strange, don't worry, it's a very overwhelming commitment, but one that many people will agree helps strengthen the core foundation of a relationship (specifically a marriage...that could turn into a whole other conversation...anyway....).  

I will try to sum this up as best as I can, my resource is The Secret of Jewish Feminity by Tehilla Abramov.  I had non Jewish friends read this and they have a lot more knowledge regarding the subject, so this is an easy and quick read for those of you who are interested in reading more.  

Ok, so I just tried to use that book as a way to help myself organize a way to write this, and it is just.too.complicated to post a general post.  I will sum this up in my own words, with facts, and if there are questions regarding the practical application, or if you would like to hear about other people's experiences keeping the Laws of Family Purity I can arrange that as well.

  1. Once a woman has a flow (of blood-now, question 1-what's a flow?  answer-it's complicated...if you can feel blood, if you can see it flowing from you, if you fill a panty liner, or if you spot a certain sizeable amount of blood on youself).  Once you recognize blood, and it's to be considered a flow, you announce yourself a niddah.  I can't find a literal translation of niddah...
  2.   Someone who is considered a niddah has multiple restrictions.  Practically for this situation, you must separate from your husband.  Question 2-what does separate mean? Answser 2-no physical contact. So the obvious, no sleeping together (that is why every couple has two beds.  Some people keep their beds always separate as a way to keep their niddah status private at all times, others only separate their beds when they are in niddah, or even sleep together in one bed when they are not in niddah).  Not only do you not engage in physical contact, you must practice ways that keep the enticement low.  You put an object between yourself and your spouse at the dinner table as a reminder of your niddah status, don't wear perfume, don't change in front of your spouse...the list really goes on and on.   
     3.  Once you are clean, you can return to normal physical contact.  Question 3-what makes one clean?
  • Answer 3-once you are deemed "in niddah" you must count AT LEAST 5 days...some people bleed more, some bleed less, but it must be 5 days regardless.  
  • After those 5 days, you must count 7 clean days- no blood.  Question 4-how do you know there's no blood?  Answer 4-you find out you're clean through an internal exam with a specific kind of cloth called a bedikah (translation: search) cloth.  It really isn't as painful as it sounds.
    4.  Once you achieve "clean" status, you go to the mikvah. Question 5-what's a mikvah?  Answer 5-a    mikvah is a ritual bath.    I have come across many people who have heard of this "bath" we go to.  
  • There is a process of how one prepares for the bath.  It is a very spiritual, emotional time for the woman.  It is a time for prayer.  
    5.  Go swim!
  • Not really-you don't swim, you dunk 3 times (or 2 or 4 depending on what you were taught, re: rabbinical opinions above ;) 
  • You go in completely naked, with nothing obstructing anything in or on your body that way the water can penetrate every part of your body.
  • You say a special prayer while in the water.
    6.  After, you  go back to your room, change, and go home.  At this time, you are required to have s.e.x. with your husband.  Question 6-why do I have to do "it?"
  • Answer 6-that's the beauty of this whole thing!  See, in an ideal, "normal" cycle, you bleed for days 1-5, you get "clean" from days 6-12 (that window could vary depending on if you bleed for 5 or more days), but see-you go to the mikvah around the day of ovulation.  Natural family planning at it's finest-no guess work, no options, your body just leads the way.  BUT-what if you're infertile?  What if you ovulate early?  Those are all issues that arise and there are complicated answers to those questions.  
Based on the above information, now you can understand why frequent bleeding was really a problem.  I knew I would never go for long enough periods of time to be considered "clean."  How would I ever get pregnant if I was always being restricted from physical contact with my husband?  Although now we know-s.e.x doesn't always makes babies!  So that is why I knew birth control was not a good treatment option for me because I knew what would happen once I went off of it!  But then I found out it was the only treatment recommended and that to get pregnant I would need fertility treatment-which makes sense! 

Again, this is a very complex process, this is not meant to serve as rabbinical advice.  However, if you have thoughts about the laws of family purity, or want to know more, please let me know!  My views on this subject have really transformed and I truly appreciate the intimacy it creates.  Although for many infertiles, it is a very sad, vulnerable, bitter time because it is a slap in the face, a brutal reminder of their infertilness.  But as I mentioned in an earlier post, it is almost impossible to enter into a new cycle without even the tiniest bit of hope, regardless of the past failures.  So, every time you enter into a new nidddah cycle, hope and excitement await you!

Monday, December 10, 2012

History

I was told my font was kind of hard to read...thoughts?  
So, I was recently asked about my feelings during the early days.  Now, I must admit that those days are long behind me, and selfishly, I am just tired and cranky from a lack of sleep, puking kids, endless laundry, dishes, cleaning...you get the point.  And then I'm driving in the car, alone, and then One Republic, Good Life comes on



and I take a deep breath, and I almost burst into tears when I realize just how fortunate I am.  Not a day goes by that I'm not reminded of where I came from and how appreciative I must be to be where I am.  

When I was in high school I went on birth control as a "fad" thing.  I would get my period at an expected date-no guessing, and maybe it would help my acne.   When I got to college, in December of freshman year, I started bleeding through.  I immediately called my GYN because no such thing had ever happened to me. They told me it was normal to call back if the problem persisted.  And so it persisted....until the summer; I was bleeding for a week at a time, 2-3 times a month.  With only days in between bleeding episodes.

During my summer vacation, I paid a visit to my GYN. She did an internal exam and took some blood.  Later that week  I got a call from her nurse telling me that my levels were too high and they referred me to an endocrinologist.   The endocrinologist chose to do no additional testing.  I had requested to be treated without birth control.  I knew that I wanted a true diagnosis and a treatment plan that did not involve birth control to control the bleeding, because how would I conceive when the time came?  

The endocrinologist put me on Metformin.  I did not receive any medical reasoning as to why that was the desired treatment plan.  I began Metformin in July, and upon returning to school in late August, I had lost about 20 lbs.  Not only did my bleeding continue, it worsened.  I was instructed that as long as my bleeding was continuing, I should up my dose of the metformin, until I reach the maximum dosage.  Well, the one and only day I took the prescribed amount, I ran back to my dorm from class to puke.  I knew then and there something was not right with my treatment plan.  

I was taking a philosophy class that semester, a requirement of the school, when  I was up one night studying (err...I mean drinking coffee and socializing with a classmate) and I do what I always do-I share TMI...I told her all about my bleeding problems and she told me that her father was a reproductive endocrinologist-a who?  Yeah, I had never heard of such a thing. 
         
Reproductive Endocrinology is a fellowship out of OB/GYN.  OB/GYNs do not receive  training in treating infertility to the degree of a reproductive endocrinologist.  Hence the reproductive endocrinology fellowship-which is extremely competitive btw.

Anyway...I got a special call one night while I was back home for vacation.  I told him everything that had happened which was when he told me, "I think I know what's wrong."  He informally diagnosed me with polycistic ovarian syndrome.  Of course I was to go into his clinic as soon as I made my way back from vacation and undergo more extensive testing.  Oh yeah, during that phone call he told me that my treatment was birth control and that when it came time for pregnancy, I would need clomid.  I had been dating my husband for a few months and we were already talking engagement-and now I'm labeled infertile?  The dr. didn't think it would be a big deal, "just a little pill."  But I wondered why my boyfriend would want to enter into a relationship knowing such an important part of his future was questionable.  I cried the whole night and ignored all his phone calls.  When I finally did answer, he asked what the dr. said.  And bless his heart (btw, he turns 28 tomorrow!), his answer was, "it sounds like the dr. thinks it's fine, so it's ok, it's not a big deal." Now, don't get all up in arms that we would abort our relationship due to known hardships ahead. But let's be realistic-why would you knowingly enter into a very financially, emotionally, and stressful situation when you can just walk away?  Some people do; I have seen friends get their hearts broken because their guy couldn't handle the potential outlook.  Those friends are now happily married and awaiting their miracle :)  I did go for additional testing and I did have polycistic ovaries, but upon the results of the 3-hour glucose tolerance test, it was determined that Metformin was not necessary, nor the way to successfully treat my frequent bleeding.
My husband and I were married in August of that year and in May of the following year we decided we were ready to start out family.  Up until this point, I really did not give my infertility any thought.  I knew that I needed to be on birth control to control my bleeding (I will do an additional post on the Laws of Family Purity, which is a strict law in Judais for guiding/regulating  marital relations based on the woman's cycle. This which will lend you a better understanding as to why properly addressing and treating my bleeding were crucial) but it was kind of an out of site out of mind.  I couldn't pay much thought to it because I wasn't actively trying.  I had not read any blogs, I did not know any friends who had gone through infertility, I had no one to talk to.  I was so naive and really anxious to actually have our first baby.  I thought it would be so simple..."just a little pill."

I will do a post on our actual cycling history next....

 
 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Chanukah

If there's something you should know about me, it's that I'm a compulsive list maker and planner.  Unfortunately, I also plan on making myself stressed with unnecessary projects.  Whether it be for birthday parties, holidays, or just to be nice, I over book myself.  But, it's those things that make life special right?  I mean, my job is a job-what kind of pleasure would I have if all I had time for were, you know, the necessities. Of course those are important, I just choose frivolous tasks vs. sleep :)
I only did holiday cards once-when I was a freshman in college and missing my people back home.  So I mailed out a standard holiday card from Hallmark. I still have a few left over in my drawer....anyway, that was a one and done kinda thing.  But when I saw this handprint menorah, I knew it was the perfect solution to sending out Chanukah cards to our close friends and family.  I was extremely nervous to work with paint since I hate mess!  Both Moshe and Dovy were extremely cooperative during the entire 2 day process.  First, I did the handprints and let them dry over night.  Then, a finger/thumb is used to make the flame. The next night I used scrapbook  glue (because that was all I could find) and I glittered it, because let's be honest-glitter makes things 10x better!  

I think they turned out super cute, and they were mailed out to our family and friends this past Thursday.  So far, I have heard word from one recipient and she loved it! 
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