Sunday, May 26, 2013

IVIG #1...

One under my belt, 11-12 more to go. 
IVIG stands for Intravenous immunoglobulin and is given via IV and is a blood product.  
There is a list of side effects ranging from itching, headache, and soreness at site to being admitted to the hospital for loss of kidney function...ok phew, thankfully my side effects were minimal.  

I had read some horror stories, so I'm happy to report that thankfully, all I had was some soreness in my forearm due to the product being cold, and some minor itchiness.  I also got antsy as we were going on hour 4 of sitting around.  

Want to know how the day went down?  
I got there at 2pm and was told my appointment was at 2:30.  At 2:45 they came to me and told me that had finally received the doctor's orders and that due to the high dose (which would be required every time) it would take 5-6 hours, at least at first, and because it was so late, they couldn't give me the full dose that day.  I was to come back Tuesday...unfortunately it appeared at first that I would have to break up my required dose into 2 days because I don't have any day I can sit for 6 hours.  
As it turns out, the dose was either wrong from the get go, or they decided to lessen it.  
In the end, the final dose will take about 3 hours and can be done in one sitting.  

Now, you're probably wondering why it takes so long?  
The slower the IVIG goes in, the lesser the side effects.  They especially want it to go as slow as possible on the first dose because they don't know how you'll react.  They come around mid-treatment to check temperature and blood pressure and because I wasn't having a reaction, they were able to increase the drip. 
I was also given tylanol and benadryl before hand to prevent headache and itching.  
So, based on how things went, it's possible that I'll be able to be done faster. But at most, it should take about 3 hours for the actual treatment.  Now of course, I still may spend time sitting around if there isn't a chair for me.

Let's discuss the chair...
My mom can tell you how freaked out I am of cancer-I think it's one of my worst nightmares...so imagine my reaction when they told me I would be receiving these treatments in the Cancer center...and when I called to schedule my appointment they answered the phone with, "oncology." 
The treatment is given in a room with people laying out in cubicles receiving their chemo.  It's just entirely too depressing and I spent most of the first treatment barely being able to breathe and on the verge of tears.  
I know I'll become desensitized.  But it's still sad.  

Thankfully my husband was able to join me for the first one, and now that I know what to expect, I'll be fine on my own.  Obviously I would love for him to be there with me, but he can't.  
I'll have to learn how to manage taking my meds one handed, and unplugging my IV and rolling it into the bathroom myself...
By far the worst part of this is putting the IV in and taking it out.  It just hurts a little and feels like a bad bruise after for a day.  

The most humorous part of the day was when I checked in and the receptionist for some reason thought I was much further along (no, she had not actually seen how big I was...she just assumed I was further along.)  She assumed I was 38 weeks....
Yeah, I wish...
I told her no, I'm 27 weeks, you'll be seeing me for awhile...
 Her response: well then you better start smiling!

And on that note-we're officially in the third trimester...the home stretch...these next few weeks will fly by and then I can almost say, "next month we're having a baby..."  

 Photo: Waiting for infusion #1...11 or 12 to go...been waiting for 2 hrs to begin, procedure itself is 3-4 hours....

And how I wish they would fly... 

 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's in the details and a GIVEAWAY!!!!!

I'm all about the details!  The cupcake toppers, the water bottle wrappers, the adorable invitations and thank you notes, the matching sheets with coordinating room decor-they make it or break it in my opinion.  

I'm so thrilled to be announcing a giveaway from Paper Cupcake Designs on Etsy.  Charlotte couldn't be more pleasant to work with!  I get my work instantaneously and she's so incredibly accommodating.  She never ceases to amaze me with her creativity.  I may come to the table with an idea, but she definitely blows it out of the water! Even with minimal direction, she creates the most adorable, precious items.
   
How adorable are these goodie bag tags and center pieces she made for my son's 3rd birthday party?


Check out some more of her awesome creations-water bottle labels, prints for framing, cupcake wrappers and toppers, invitations, stationary, banners, and food labels



 I cannot wait to get my new stationary ordered with her!
Or maybe some printables!
The possibilities are endless with Paper Cupcake Designs!

Here's what's awesomesauce for you...
Charlotte has agreed to give away a $20 credit towards anything printable you'd like!
Want new stationary? Want a new printable?  Have a party coming up and you want a banner or some cupcake toppers? All you have to do is become a follower on my sidebar and comment with what you would use your $20 credit for and you'll be entered into the giveaway.

Piece of cake-with a topper on it!

The giveaway will close on Friday 5/31 at midnight...
Good luck! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The results are in...

Truthfully, I've known them for over a week.  It's not that I didn't want to share, it's just too draining.  
You've probably guessed, the results were definitely not what we expected.  
I'll back up, but let me first give full disclosure-a lot of this does not make sense to me, sometimes it doesn't even make sense to the doctors.  
I'm pretty sure one of my doctors said the Blood Center of Wisconsin (which is where the blood went to) has only seen 3-4 cases of this. 

This post will be a lot of information, not necessarily in a coherent order-because there isn't an order to this, right now we just know what we know and know we want to deliver a healthy baby come August and find out more information then.
It's pretty hard for me to accept that I have to wait until August to have more answers.  And then wait some more....

At my last appointment with the highest of them all, he encouraged us to go through with a genetic testing panel that was not covered by insurance.  There was a testing option where 80% of the cost was covered, but it didn't test for one thing we were looking for.  
When I spoke with Dr. Wonderful, asking him what he thought I should do, because hey, we're talking a lot of money here, his response was that the one missing test might not make a difference statistically to know.  

We went ahead anyway with the test that would look for everything, and guess what-that one rare form of NIAT, that would not be checked in the covered panel, came back positive. 
My husband has an antigen that only 1% of the population has.  Now, it's a problem because I don't have that antigen.

So what do we know?
We know that the baby presented with something atypical that they think was a bleed in the brain.  
We know that based on the blood test my husband's blood and my blood absolutely do not mix.

Based on this information we are going ahead and diagnosing with NIAT.  
Here's the catch 22-you can't actually diagnose NIAT without blood from the baby.  The problem is-getting that blood is done through a risky procedure where they take blood from it's umbilical cord (it's called a cup, but I have yet to find out what that actually stands for). This is risky because if the platelets are low-it will cause another bleed-so it's not worth risking it for the information at this time when the initial treatment options are non-invasive.  

The non-invasive treatment is called IVIG infusions
Again, lots of medical info here-and I'm no doctor, although I do get to pretend and fool people into thinking I'm a doctor because I get to drive around with MD plates on my car.
(for those of you that don't know, in NY, you can register your car for all sorts of things-doctor, nurse, dentist, volunteer ambulatory service, livery service, all sorts!)
The infusions are weekly, and will last at least a couple of hours.  At first, they wanted to admit me every week to keep me overnight for observation, thankfully that will be a last resort.  
My understanding is that this treatment will lower my immune response towards the baby-but I don't know if the baby will just maintain it's platelet count or if this will allow the count to increase...

I will be seeing the highest of the highs once a week or once every other week.  He will be calling the shots on this.  Him, and 3 other high risk doctors, along with Dr. Wonderful are all working together.  We will probably bring on a pediatric hematologist because baby's have their mother's antibodies in them for 3 months, so if this truly is a case where I am attacking the baby, we have to watch for reactions after the baby is born.  

Now-once the baby is born, it will definitely get a platelet count, but I'm not too sure what additional info is needed to make a true diagnosis.  
In addition to that, the question has come up regarding future pregnancies.  
It is known that NIAT gets worse with each pregnancy.  We were very fortunate that this baby presented with only a minor bleed that seems to be healing on it's own. 

So-here are the possible scenarioes:
It's possible that my husband is heterozygous and there is a 50/50 chance of passing this on.  Maybe both, one, or neither of my boys have this antibody that I don't.  
I could have gotten lucky and fallen on the right side of statistics both times previously.  
I could have also fallen on the right side of statistics this time, and these are just coincidences.  
However, even if this is a false positive, we do know what we know about our blood now, and if this isn't what's going on now, it might be an issue in a future pregnancy.  
If my husband presents as heterozygous, then we can do PGD (genetic testing) on our embryos and take it from there.  
It's possible that my husband is homozygous and because of lack of sensitivity, the first pregnancy is a non-issue, the second one is worse, and so on and so forth.  This is a very minor presentation of NIAT, so they're thinking that this is so small, Dovy's could have been even smaller, so small we missed the diagnosis!  
Again, my husband and the baby need to be tested.  We'll have to meet with a genetic counselor to  determine our chances of this happening again.  

This is what we know for sure-if this is a heterozygous case, we'll test our embryos from here on out.  If an embryo presents with the rare antigen, we'll have to eliminate it. 
This is not a place where I will get into religion, or politics on the matter of reduction, discarding embryos, etc.  
Getting pregnant with NIAT could be a life-threatening risk to the baby-so it's out of the question. 
If this is a homozygous case, we'll have to decide: no more biological children, or use a gestational carrier for our remaining embryos.  

The next question is how to deliver?
Because the baby has a risk of bleeding, natural delivery is too traumatic. But, if the baby's platelets are above 100,000 they can allow natural delivery.  However, the procedure is risky, more risky than a c-section.  So that's why it is standard to just do the c-section.  There is talk of admitting me at 38-39 weeks, doing the procedure and either inducing or doing a c-section that day, with constant monitoring to make sure nothing goes awry.  They can't tell me what will be around the time of delivery-it all depends on how things look from a superficial point of view.  

Things seem to be getting better on their own, so the hope is that IVIG will just continue the healing process and we'll get a healthy baby out of all this come August and then we'll be able to get a lot more information.  

Phew...so many unknowns, so many ifs, so many wait and sees.  
The immediate plan is that I will have infusions the next two Fridays and see the highest of the highs June 5th.  This will be the first time we'll be meeting with him since this diagnosis. 

For now, I'm just trying to stay afloat...



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Containers, bins, coupon codes, Oh My....

So last week I put Container Store on my list of things to do.  
See-I had just had it with the detergent falling off of the dryer and spilling onto the floor one too many times!

A few weeks ago I got a Container Store mailing and this was an on-sale feature

Green 4-Tier Slim Rolling Cart 

It is happily residing in my laundry room and fits perfectly...more perfectly than I ever could have imagined!

Now you all know about my obsession with bins/baskets...


Vintage Basket-Low 

That picture is from See Jane Work but the Container Store does sell the line and it is a little cheaper.
We have two end tables with room for bins, so I  have it on the never ending list to re-organize the IKEA expedit unit and I figured some books can be moved into two of these bins.  I also am thinking about getting additional ones to add more storage on top of the unit- we have the 4x4 because we did not have room for the 5x5, so I'll just have to create some additional storage on top!

Did you know that for ever $100 you spend at the Container Store during the month of May you receive a $15 gift card to redeem in June? 
No complaints there!!!

I also received the Land of Nod catalog in the mail recently, and you know what was mentioned on the back cover?!?
Bins and Baskets Sale! Save 20% May 10-27

Some that currently catch my eye
Storage_Paper_Stripe_Cube_Bin
Down to the Wire Storage Collection
Load Bearing Storage Collection 

Do you have any organizational needs this summer?  I can't wait to share all of mine!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Munchies...
Today's recipe isn't a meal, or even a healthy snack for that matter; although I like to tell myself otherwise.  
Cupcakes...yum!
Any excuse for cupcakes.  I use cake mixes whenever I can get away with it, but I prefer to make my own frosting.  My favorite recipe to use because it requires minimal ingredients and nothing too specific is Wilton's Buttercream frosting.  

Wilton's Buttercream Frosting1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
*I use the shortening pre-wrapped sticks because it's easier to use and seems better for long term storage
1/2 cup butter or margarine
*If using margarine, the frosting will not end up white, it will have a yellowish tint to it. If you plan on dying the frosting, this is totally fine!
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*Again, the clear is important
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
*I never sift, and it's fine!
2 tablespoons milk
*If doubling (or more) don't automatically add the extra milk, start slow, you can always add more milk!
**This can be kept in the refrigerator with a damp cloth over it.  Dye accordingly...

Beat the shortening and butter/margarine

Add vanilla, beat

Add confectioners sugar one cup at a time, beat, add liquid until preferred consistency is reached

You could use this to frost a cake, frost cupcakes, frost cookies, or just eat out of the bowl...we do plenty of that around here!

  
To ensure ease of frosting, it's best to use a coupler.  A coupler holds the tip in place because otherwise with the pressure of squeezing out the frosting, the plastic bag can get stretched and out pops the tip (almost like childbirth...TMI). 



 I use the disposable pastry bags

This picture demonstrates how to begin piping the frosting.  After the outer lining is complete, I move inward, slightly overlapping on the outer layer as to get height.  


Here's my finished product.  


What's your go-to special occasion treat?


*The images are either from Google images or are my own...


Friday, May 17, 2013

High 5 for Friday...

It's Friday...it's kind of a stressful day for me-lots to do for preparing for the Sabbath, but I also know I have two days of upcoming "relaxation."  Now relaxation to me is funny to most people-sitting at my desk organizing, writing e-mails, making shopping lists, pinning-those relax me!  
I'm linking up with Lauren Elizabeth to showcase my top 5 faves of the week! 

1.The Container Store® - The Original Storage and Organization Store®   
 I found some true happiness there this week...

2.    
I'm loving the Threshold collection at Target!  So many trendy, on-target (no pun intended) options, yet so affordable!

3.  My Niece's gifts are starting to come in and the final product is going to be beautiful-stay tuned for a giveaway next week for some of my favorite newborn gifts!

4.  Amazon Gift cards rock! Especially when they come from credit card points-it's like the perfect excuse to buy yourself a gift!  I think I'll buy sheets with my credit...

5.  Got some news from my Doctors and we have a plan!  More on that later...

Happy Weekend All!!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ivory 2-in-1

Influenster sent me a complimentary full size sample of the Ivory 2-in-1 Hair and Body Wash in exchange for my honest opinion-so I won't go all car salesman on you...no offense...

Ivory Refreshing 2-In-1 Hair & Body Wash
To sum it up-it's great-for being free!  But I won't be buying this anytime soon.  

Let me explain-
Pros:
Has a nice, gentle scent
Can be used for men and/or women
Has a good lather
Feels so fresh and so clean clean
Contains about 1/3 more product than a regular body wash

Cons:
Does not condition the hair enough-even though it says "with conditioners"
Costs almost $5 a bottle

Ok, so it seems that there are a lot more pros than cons.  
Here's what it is: I'm just not really a fan of 2 in 1s.  
Initially, I kinda assumed my hair should feel conditioned, but then someone pointed out to me that it isn't a 2 in 1 for hair, or a 3 in 1 for that matter, it's a 2 in 1 for the body.

Hmm...good point; I was asking too much for this to make me squeaky clean and leave my hair smooth as a baby's bottom.

Enter in the cost factor.
I buy the cheapo shampoo, the V05, when it's, like super cheap...like .75
I also am not picky on my body wash, so for instance, on www.drugstore.com Suave Naturals Body Wash is 2.49 for 12 oz.  
Add that together and my total for accomplishing the same tasks is 3.28, that's .81 cheaper.  
Oz wise, it comes out to the same.
Now, .81 is not a big deal, but for not considering it a must have product, I can save my .81-hey, that's almost a candy bar!  

Influenster tried to woo me with these couple of ideas:
Great for kids!
Uh, it contains fragrance, I'm not using a product with fragrance on my kids...
Less bottles=More space!
Now, we all know I have a love for organizing and reducing clutter, but honestly, de-cluttering my shower is not something high on my list...

I did receive some coupons, and I have seen some in the paper, but they haven't been worthwhile.  For instance, receive .20 off a bottle, or (I think) $1 off two bottles!  So that's not worth it either to me, in my opinion.  

So, there ya have it, my honest review of the Ivory 2-in-1 Hair and Body Wash!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Munchies...

This recipe is a real winner-it's a true indulgence without the guilt!
All of us, kids included, have been enjoying our "chocolate bread" in the morning.

2 cups (12 oz) shredded, unpeeled zucchini
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup (4 oz) honey
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) canola oil
* I used non-sweetened applesauce
1/2 cup (3 3/4 oz) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
* I did not use this
1/3 cup (1 oz) Dutch-process cocoa powder
* I used Hersheys
1 2/3 cups (7 1/8 oz) all-purpose flour
* I used whole wheat flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used minis)
* I used dark chocolate chips

When I made this recipe the first time, I followed the recipe, as per the astrics, but it turned out a little dry-still delicious.  So I made it a second time, 11/2 the zucchini-and it was much more moist.  

Shred the zucchini and wrap it in a paper towel.
This step is key-and I wish I would have heard about this trick earlier, I have stayed away from making zucchini bread for this reason!  You MUST soak the shredded zucchini in numerous paper towels until you feel the excess moisture has been soaked up.  I probably used 3-5 paper towels for this.


Whisk the eggs, honey, oil, brown sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl until well combined.



Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder, cocoa powder, and flour, and whisk until just combined.


Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.



Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 for 65-75 minutes.  Mine did not take that long, so check earlier.


Do you have any "guilty" treats to share???


Friday, May 10, 2013

Onto the 7th...

On one hand, this pregnancy is flying!  Wasn't it just yesterday I stepped into Dr. Wonderful's office for a dating ultrasound???  And yet on the other hand, still 15 weeks to go, 3 months-that's a long time!  But there's lots to be done before then!





 
Total weight gain/loss: I forgot to weigh myself today, but according to the scale at the appointment last week (they needed to take my vitals before doing the blood work) I am officially up 30 lbs!

Maternity clothes? Mainly stretchy skirts during the day, but also maternity bottoms (I really don't have that many) and all maternity tops.  And honestly-those are getting a little short...I see some Destination Maternity in my future, which I'm so excited about!

Sleep: I have started  getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  It's usually 1-2 hours before my alarm goes off.  Interrupted sleep that close to needing to wake up is no good! 

Best moment this month: So happy to have gotten a good report from the doctor at last week's appointment!

Movement:TONS! And I love it!  Almost every time I start to panic, I feel something. Although I sometimes will feel things and think, what is that?!? And then I laugh, duh, it's the baby...

Exercise:Due to some busy weeks the walking has slowed down, but hopefully it will pick up again soon, although the next couple of weeks are going to be jam packed!  I just need to commit and bust out the DVD already.  I'm afraid it won't happen, but I'm committed to losing the weight, so I know that when the baby comes, I will definitely work and lose it all.  It's just frustrating because I worked so hard to get to where I was with the running, and now I'll have to start over.  And I'm not motivated to start exercising because I feel like I'm too far gone at this point.  Which is silly-it's the negative cycle: I'm upset, so I eat, and then I get upset that I eat, but I don't do anything, so I just eat more because I feel like there's no use in trying to do anything about it at this point.  There have been some really low moments with this, but I think I need to accept what it is, and I will lose it all!
 
Gender: We know but are keeping it a secret, the best we can anyway.  And no, we have not slipped...yet.

Labor Signs: Nope! 

Belly Button in or out? Usually the top sticks out.

What I miss:running and having self-control over my diet...must.get.better! I also would like to stop peeing my pants whenever I sneeze or cough.  But that won't go away any time soon.

What I am looking forward to:OB appointment 5/2 and follow up with the specialist on 6/7.  School is rapidly coming to an end and I recently accepted a summer job which will take me up to the week before I deliver, so it's really going to fly from here!

New Symptoms:  Unfortunately the heartburn has returned...with Moshe I had heartburn from 6 weeks, with Dovy it was early second trimester, so I made it a little further than I have in the past.  I also have some pregnancy carpal tunnel syndrome.  My pinky and ring finger on my left hand have been tingling/somewhat numb for about a week now all the time.  It's ok and doesn't keep me from doing anything, but I hope it doesn't get worse since I am left handed!  

Happy weekend all!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

First it was the chalkboard paint...

And now it's spray paint!!!
Yipee!!!!!

I haven't shared much about our living space; mainly because it's not that much to see.  It's an old house that we're renting that isn't quite up to speed.  But we've been here almost a year, and I'm finally getting some of those smaller, finishing touches done that seem to make all the difference! 


One of those rooms that is slowly coming together is the dining room.  
First it was overtaken with furniture until the garage was cleaned out.
Then the blinds and drapes had to be hung.
Then the extra things for the garage piled up again when we discovered the garage leaked and we had to rearrange that. 
And now-there are a few finishing touches that will actually take some man power.  Hopefully over the summer when my parents come to visit we can paint the amazing Craigslist find.  
The paint in the room is perfect, you'll see eventually!
And of course, it's easy to plan-and hard to put into action.  
It didn't take me long to decide on an accent color.  
It just kinda hit me-I had a gold picture frame that holds a picture of the hubs and I from our first year of marriage, and I have these awesomely ginormous candles in gold stands from my parents' house that I took when we both moved the week after my wedding...
So gold it is!  

Now all I needed was a gold picture frame and a gold decorative bowl for the middle of the table.  
After many trips to Home Goods-which has it's pros and cons-it's almost impossible to walk out of there empty handed, I found that perfect bowl!  
Never quite found the perfect frame-until it dawned on me...

I'll buy a cheap frame and spray paint it!!! 

Spray paint is all over Pinterest and I've been very hesitant to jump on that band wagon because spray painting things just seems too permanent.  
So although I have yet to spray paint as a way to re-purpose, it definitely helps to know that I can just buy any item and make it what I want-hello clearance section!  
Yeehaw!!!  

I bought the Rustoleum Gold Metallic Spray paint-it's around $8 a can.  
I spray painted a picture frame and a correl $6 mini tray for the new and exciting updated bathroom (post to come!!!) to house the mini water cups I have for the boys.



Eyeing any spray painting projects?!?  I'm totally addicted!!!  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Teacher Appreciation...

I know, it was yesterday, but because of my Journey to Parenthood series, I had to push this post off.  
I have been asked a lot recently if I sleep or rest.  Today, when the last 30 minutes of work rolled around, my co-worker turned to me and said, "so you go home and rest right?!?"
Cue the birds chirping...
Muh no...
Not even close!
I then rattled off my list of things I must accomplish before the boys get home, as well as what I have to do into the evening.  
Like grocery shop...

Anyway, I know a lot of what I put on my plate is self-inflicted so to speak.  But I truly love being busy and all of the little things really help add joy to my life...
Have I mentioned I love my shower curtain?  And my baskets? 

Teacher Appreciation Day caught me unprepared...
and I promise I tried really hard to recycle the Thanks a Latte idea...
But I just couldn't...

In comes Pinterest to the rescue...

Donut Teacher Appreciation Day Printable [Free] 

Teacher Appreciation Gift-  Bath and Body Works berry scented soaps etc.  "Thank you for being so BERRY good to me." 
Via 


cookies for Teacher Appreciation Day (I made my own though, sorry Chips Ahoy!) 

I really love adding an aspect of homemadeness because it really shows effort and thought.  Of course I would love to receive a gift card myself, but I just think these cute sayings are absolutely adorable.  

Unfortunately I can't find the pin that inspired my Teacher Appreciation craft, but I am so pleased with how it turned out.  It was a little more pricey than I would have liked, but I figured because they did a class gift for the holidays, I could justify spending a bit on this gift and an end of the year gift.  

Without further ado...


Two of my favorite things: post-it notes and fine tip Sharpies...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Journey to Parenthood...

Ok people, seriously, these are not pregnancy hormones talking-grab a tissue!  Make that tissues...
Today's Journey to Parenthood is about a good friend of mine, Leora and her husband David.  I met Leora, who is a few years older than me, when I was in elementary school when our synagogue hosted a retreat and her family came along with her mother while she catered the event.  That started our family's friendship.  We reconnected in college one afternoon when I wandered into the English tutoring center where Leora worked. 

Fast forward a few years and Leora and I reconnected yet again via the great inter-webs when she posted a link to her blog (which she no longer operates) where she went on to talk about their lack of conception and IVF plans.  I immediately wrote her an e-mail letting her know that due to male factor infertility as well, we had multiple failed cycles, and had been successful with our first IVF attempt!  I was so happy to share some inspiration.  

Fast forward four years later-I am almost 25 weeks pregnant with #3, and Leora and David still have an empty house.  When I found out about my past two pregnancies, she is one of the first people that pop into my head with the question, why?

Why me?
Why not her?
Why me not once, not twice, but almost three times! And her not even once...
Why have my three been so simple, and hers filled with heartbreak and empty arms?

I'll never know and I don't understand.  But through all of this, Leora has been an amazing friend and supporter, even when my dreams are coming true and hers are slipping through her fingers.  

Leora, I hope with all my heart, that some day soon I get to celebrate your rainbow baby with you.

******************************************************************

We got married really young - I had just turned 19 and David was 20. We spent the first 3 years of our marriage doing everything we could to prevent pregnancy.

By the summer of 2008, we had settled down and decided to start trying to have a baby. I had just had my 22nd birthday. We never thought anything could possibly be wrong.

I stopped taking my birth control pills. In August, I went to London with my mother and my sister. I noticed on the calendar that a month or more had gone by with no period. I told my mom and she excitedly ran down to the store to get me a pregnancy test. But it was negative. When I got back home, I went to my gynecologist. He said that a lot of women have anovulatory cycles when they come off the pill. He gave me a round of Provera to jump start my next cycle.

But my next cycle was anovulatory. And the next one. A few monitored cycles later and my gynecologist diagnosed me with anovulatory PCOS. I was told I would need Clomid to conceive. I was so upset. I spent more than a week crying over that diagnosis.

The Clomid was awful, but it worked. I ovulated like a charm on the lowest dose. But I still wasn't pregnant. After 3 rounds of Clomid, my gynecologist suggested a semen analysis. 

When we got the results back, my gynecologist thought it was a fluke, and sent David for another test. But the results were the same. Severe ogliospermia. David's sperm count was so low it was nearly non-existant. IVF with ICSI would be our only option.

Luckily, IVF is covered by the national health care system here in Israel -but they make you jump through a TON of hoops to get approved. We got our male factor infertility diagnosis in January 2009 and we didn't start our first IVF cycle until July 2009 - six months of testing.

We got really lucky with our first IVF cycle though -- boy/girl twins. The perfect instant-family. I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum when I lost more than 30lbs in the first trimester. But other than that, it was a normal pregnancy.

December 25, 2009. We had gone out for ice cream with a bunch of friends. We got home around 11pm and I promptly threw up my ice cream. And my water broke. We went to the hospital, but we were told that at 22 weeks, it was too early to do anything to save the babies. The risk of infection was too high, so we were given no choice but to terminate the pregnancy. I remember sitting in the hospital bed, feeling the babies kick, and discussing burial options. 

I was induced and delivered our tiny son and daughter. We asked to see them and hold them and were told that it's better if we don't. That's what I regret most - not getting to see them and hold them. 

But we were still so desperate to have a baby. The first phone call I made when I got home from the hospital was to the IVF clinic to schedule an appointment. We took three months to do a variety of testing (blood tests, hyseteroscopy, etc) to make sure there wasn't anything wrong with me that caused my water to break so early. We were given a clean bill of health and told that next time everything would be fine.

We had 4 frozen embryos. Over the next six months, we transfered them in a series of Frozen Embryo Transfers (FETs). Big Fat Negative (BFN).

One year after starting our first IVF cycle, we started our second fresh cycle. I got pregnant again. At 6 weeks, we saw a beautiful heartbeat. At 8 weeks, the heartbeat was gone. I waited and waited to miscarry, but gave up at 10 weeks and had a D&C.  Once again, we were told it was a fluke.

Another six months, another FET, another BFN.

In February 2011, we started our third fresh IVF cycle. Although we had been transferring 1 embryo at a time to prevent twinning again, the embryos from this cycle were such poor quality that we transferred two. Surprise! Twins again!

With my second twin pregnancy  I was monitored very carefully. My OB didn't believe that cervical incompetence played a part in my first loss, so he recommended against a cerclage. I had bi-weekly ultrasounds to check that my cervix wasn't changing.

On July 19, 2011 I hit a major milestone - 24 weeks - viability. The only reason we never got to meet our first set of twins. What a big relief. With lots of plans to celebrate later that evening, I woke up feeling "off". I went to the doctor just to get checked out. I had an ultrasound just 4 days earlier that showed everything was fine. The nurses and doctors thought I was crazy, but sent me for an ultrasound just for peace of mind. And our world came falling down again... my cervix had thinned and started to open.

I was immediately sent to the nearest hospital with a level III NICU. When I arrived, the doctor checked and I was fully dilated, with baby A's feet already sticking out. We were given two options: deliver vaginally and not try to rescue the babies, or a C-section and taking the babies to the NICU. We knew we couldn't give up on our babies so I was taken for a C-section.

The first few days after the boys were born were terrifying. We were told the first 3 days were the most critical and Micha & Asaf passed those with flying colors. Of course, they had the usual micro-preemie problems (on and off of a ventilator, jaundice, etc), but they seemed to be strong and doing well.

Sunday morning, day 5, we came to visit. After saying good morning to our babies, we went upstairs so I could have my staples taken out. When we got back to the NICU an hour later, we were locked out. They were working on Micha. After 2 hours of sitting and waiting, the doctors came out with bad news. Micha had a heart attack, which is really rare in preemies, but since he was so small, they weren't able to restart his heart. We went in and held him as they turned off the vent and the monitors. We kissed our little boy good bye.

The next day, we got more bad news. Asaf had stopped urinating, which signaled a problem with his kidneys. There was no blockage, so the problem would either resolve itself or wouldn't. After 4 days of praying for our little boy to pee, his little heart couldn't handle the kidney failure any more  Once again, we held our little boy as the doctors turned of the machines and the monitors. We said good bye to our second little boy.

After a C-section, doctors usually recommend waiting a year or more to get pregnant again, but I knew we couldn't do that. Just 3 months after our boys' births and deaths, we did a FET with the single poor quality embryo we had left from their cycle. We never thought in a million years that it would work, but it did. Unfortunately, my fourth pregnancy turned into one of our biggest nightmares. My beta HCG levels went up and then fell - indicating a miscarriage, But then, the numbers went up again - which is a bad, bad sign. After failing to locate an ectopic pregnancy, my numbers fell and we sighed in relief. But then they went up again. After 4 months of beta hell and panics about ectopic pregnancies, we finally found a tiny piece of residual tissue on the ultrasound. I had a surgical hysteroscopy in February 2012 and finally ended the pregnancy.

All of this was, understandably, incredibly hard on our marriage. We got into huge fights because I wanted to try again immediately and David didn't. We took a few months break and went on a vacation. In May 2012, we decided to try again. 

That cycle was the biggest disappointment. So far, our problem hadn't been the IVF -- in fact, the IVF was working great and I kept getting pregnant. But this cycle, my 4th fresh cycle, only one egg fertilized. We transferred our single embryo but it didn't work. Our doctor was puzzled.

We tried again in June 2012. I got pregnant and we took every precaution we could. At 14 weeks, my cervix was stitched closed with a cerclage to prevent any pre-term dilation. I was taking progesterone injections weekly to prevent pre-term contractions. We were doing everything we could possibly do. But at 18 weeks, I once again got the feeling that something wasn't right. I went to the doctor and asked for an ultrasound. The on-call doctor thought I was being ridiculous, but agreed to send me for a scan. I worried that my cervix was changed despite the stitch. I worried that I would go into preterm labor again. I was never prepared for what we actually found on that ultrasound.

Our perfect little boy had no heartbeat.

We were stunned. 

We went to the hospital and I was admitted for an induction. I had to have my stitch removed and I was induced. 24 hours later, I delivered a tiny little stillborn baby boy. We asked for genetic testing to be done, to hopefully give us answer why we lost him. But the only results we got were that he was a perfect baby boy. We'll never know why his little heart stopped beating.

December 2012 brought another failed fresh IVF cycle.

February 2013 we started yet another cycle (11th for those still counting - 7 fresh and 4 FET). Once again I got pregnant. This time we had yet a different kind of loss - a blighted ovum, a type of first trimester miscarriage where the baby stops developing but my body keeps developing a placenta and a pregnancy sac. 

So here we are. May 2013. Five years of trying, four years of IVF, seven fresh IVF/ICSI cycles, 4 frozen embryo transfers, 6 pregnancies.... still desperate, with empty arms, and hoping to one day bring a baby home.

We started to pursue adoption in November 2010 - after our second loss. Here in Israel, all adoptions go through the government. The wait list for a healthy baby is 7-10 years. We've been "on the list" for 2.5 years.

We've also applied to become foster parents, with the hope of taking in a baby for foster care and eventually being able to adopt. After jumping through all the hoops to be approved as foster parents, we finally were in January 2013. We are now waiting for a match. It could be tomorrow, it could be in 10 years, and we have no way to know. Foster care has many risks, but we are willing to take them to have a chance at raising a child.

I don't know what the future holds for us. I don't know if we'll ever bring a baby home. I don't know if our marriage survives more heartache and disappointment. I wish I had a crystal ball, but I don't. For now, we aren't ready to accept living child-free, so we try again... 

Maybe next time....

Monday, May 6, 2013


Monday Munchies...


Paleo edition!  That's right people, get excited!  Paleo/eating clean makes me feel like a have a little bit more control over my lack of exercise/gaining weight at rapid speed situation.  The least I can do is watch what I put in my mouth, plus-if it's healthy, I don't feel guilty not limited, and if I'm good most of the time, hey-there's room for the delicious, terrible for you, I'm taking advantage of my state, food ;) 
Hey, pregnancy is the only time I don't diet...so don't judge me...

One of my biggest weaknesses this pregnancy has been blueberry muffins.  I would make the mix-only because I couldn't stomach paying such prices for pre-made muffins.  I would also eat a couple a day...so when I searched and found some paleo blueberry muffins I jumped right in.  
I wanted to try something...how would it work to process the almonds I had on hand and use it in place of the required almond flour?
It's ok...I couldn't create a fine consistency-which would probably make the overall texture and taste much similar to the regular blueberry muffins I'm so drooling over right now, but it works.  I will probably buy the almond flour and try again and see what I think then.  I think this texture would work much better in a cookie where fluffy is not a requirement.  

2 1/2 cups almond flour
*I ground my own almonds
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/4 cup coconut oil
*I have not seen liquid coconut oil-I don't know if it exists because at room temperature it's a solid, so I warmed it on the stove top from the oven and even though it was just softened, it mixed in well
1/4 cup maple syrup/honey
*I used honey
1/4 cup canned coconut milk
I did not have coconut milk, after some research, I used vanilla almond milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup frozen blueberries 
Maple sugar for sprinkling on top
*I skipped this

First, I ground my almonds


Then I melted the coconut oil


Combine the almond flour, salt and baking soda


Add in oil, milk, honey, and eggs




Mix in blueberries



Bake in oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes-mine were done after 17.


Enjoy!!!

I also want to add that something very special happened today!  I became an aunt, to a beautiful baby girlie!  My brother in-law and sister in-law are so deserving of this special little girl.  I'll be honest, I didn't know how it would feel to have a niece or nephew.  To me, being an aunt is serious business, and I want to have a special bond with my niece, and all those that follow.  But, I was nervous how I would connect and feel that amount of love to a baby that wasn't mine, but more so when I already have my own kids?  

Not that this can at all compare-but the experience was similar to when my dog was put to sleep.  I thought, that as much as I wanted to feel something-it wasn't going to be there.  I was kind of disconnected, had my own things going on.  But when that moment comes-wow!  It just hits you.  I could never have imagined I would have been so devastated by the loss of my dog, because I thought I was so distanced from it.  And just like that, I had no idea the amount of love, joy and happiness that would wash over me when I found out my niece was born!   

And not that I had any doubts, but if my heart can explode for this baby girl, imagine how much more room there is for another child of mine?  
So for all of you wondering how you'll love another child-this was particularly hard for me going from having only one child to two, believe me-it's instantaneous!  





 

Friday, May 3, 2013

An update on the babes...

This morning, after a one and a half hour wait, we finally got another look at baby #3.  The baby was breech, so the doctor couldn't get all the looks he wanted, but it was quite comical to watch him try to get what he needed.  Although, ideally, an internal ultrasound would be best, images from the belly still give us an idea. However, this baby had other ideas.  He had to chase this baby!  As soon as he would see what he wanted, off baby went...over, and over, and over!  
It was adorbs...

So, the clot got smaller!!!  There is no new bleeding!!!  Everything has continued to develop as normal!!!  Although he couldn't see up close and personal, he thinks everything is just fine.  However, he still wants the Hubs and I to be tested for a genetic disease called Neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (NIAT).  Basically, and excuse me if my medical jargon is wrong, both mother and father produce antigens.  If the ones produced by the father are different from the mother, my body attacks it.  Which then means the platelets of the baby are getting attacked = anemia for the baby.  
We do not think this is what it is, but we committed to the holy expensive testing anyway.  
The doctors do not think this is what the baby has because if the baby was anemic, the bleed most likely would not have gotten smaller, and/or new bleeds would have developed.  However, there is treatment for this disease-particularly invasive treatment-neonatal platelet transfusions, done like an amniocentesis-with the same risk, but still treatment nonetheless, so we figured it would be wrong of us to ignore potentially necessary treatment, as oppose to this just being a general FYI.  

Additionally, the doctor did say that a bleed isn't super common, but it's common enough that we might just have to accept that it just happened because it happened.  

The plan for now is to wait the 1-4 weeks for the genetic testing to come back.  After that we'll obviously have to re-evaluate if this comes back positive.  However, in the meantime, I have a scheduled OB appointment May 20, and I will see the high-risk doctor again on June 7 so he can take additional looks at the baby's brain.  Around 28-30 weeks, the grooves of the brain begin to develop (right now it's a smooth surface), so he wants to just make sure those are developing normally.  
And hopefully this baby will cooperate, and we'll get to do an internal ultrasound...

For now, I'm so thankful for the great news.
I knew the bird pooping on my forehead this week was a good sign :)     
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