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Our Journey

2002 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #1

2003 1st consult with an RE, you know, just in case

2003 Got Married (at 37 (me) & 34 (DH) years old)

2003/2004 Naturally conceived pregnancies BFPs #1, #2, & #3 and miscarriages #1, #2, #3

2005 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #2

2005 IVF #1, BFN #1

2005 IUIs #1 and #2, just because, BFN #2 & #3

2005 FET from IVF #1, BFN #4

2006 Exploratory surgery to remove scar tissue from fibroid sugery #2

2006 IVF #2 (w PGD), BFP #4

2006 Emergency cerclage for IC @ 16w6d (5 months + 1 week of complete bed rest at home ensues)

2007 Our son is born @ 38w by scheduled c-section

2007 IVF #3 for baby #2, BFN #5

2007 IVF #4, BFP #5, miscarriage #4

2008 IVF #5, BFP #6, miscarriage #5

2008 IVF #6, BFP #7, miscarriage #6

2008 DE IVF #7, BFN #6

2009 DEFET #8, cancelled, embryos don't thaw

2010 Decide to adopt domestically

12.17.10 Profile is live with our agency

November 2011 Consult with RE re: donated embryo cycle

Early January 2012 Cleared to proceed with deFET

January 2012 Freeze our profile

1.20.12 deFET begins
2.12.12 eSET of one compacted morula
2.22.12 BFN

3.23.12 deFET #2 begins
4.14.12 transfer 3 embryos (1-8 cell, 1-5 cell, 1-4 cell)
4.22.12 + HPT
4.24.12 Beta #1 = 48.4
4.26.12 Beta #2 = 125.7
4.30.12 Beta #3 = 777.8
5.11.12 1st U/S - Singleton!
7.12.12 It's a Boy!
12.26.12 C-section: Baby G is born, 9#5oz, 20.5"

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On Parenting Two

Here I am, finally, the holy grail of my motherhood dream, parenting two children. This is what we struggled for so long and hard for, come to fruition. Is it what I thought it would be? Is it what I wanted? And where do I put my infertility now that I am here?

Yes, this is what I wanted and what I thought it would be. Truth be told, I would do it again, and again. If we didn’t live in this expensive state. If public school was an option. If I weren’t fast approaching 50, I would do it all over again and have three or four children. I ask myself why all the time, especially now that we are hitting our new normal since G turned two. Quite simply, I love motherhood. It comes naturally to me, it is rewarding, and I’m fulfilled by it. I am no Pinterest or Etsy mom nor am I a home-schooling mom. The monotony of playing Candyland and Go Fish! grate on me. But, my heart is made happy at being called ‘momma’ and ‘mommy’. It has given my life a depth of meaning and purpose like nothing else. Even though I was a successful executive in my pre-children life, who thrived on the business of business and who was the most competitive person in my role, I have found my calling in being a mother.

The thing I dislike the most? The endless bending over to pick stuff up. It is relentless even though I have fairly well trained children (both pick up after themselves or at least help clean-up when asked). Be that as it may, thank gawd for the elasticity of my lower back as I am bending over dozens upon dozens of times a day to pick someone or something up or to clean up a mess or a spill. True, I feel more relaxed in a a clean home and granted I bring some of it on myself as a result, but the near constant picking up about does me in.

Now that G is two, there is a bit of cross-over in what the boys like doing. And, because sharing is a new concept to a 2 year old, it requires a fair amount of refereeing. Mostly, I try to leave it to them to sort out; a 5y9m age difference allows for that, but, even still, there is a lot of “mooooooooooom, I had it first” or “mooooooooom, he won’t let me have a turn”. And, frankly, I love it. What a high class problem to have! To see them together, playing together is everything I wanted and more. There is a rightness about their brotherhood.

I also feel lucky that even though I won’t get to parent a girl, my boys are completely different from each other in temperament, personality, and behavior. Where my older son is Type A, strong-willed, stubborn, whiny and bossy, the baby is easy going, easily distracted, amiable, laid back, totally chill. I feel like I won the motherhood lottery in getting to parent such different kids and it has stretched me in rewarding ways.

We do our fair share of dividing and conquering, given their age difference. G is still napping once/day, smack dab in the middle of the day, so it limits all day family activities. My husband and I each spend alone time with both boys, we do as many family events as we can, but, there are just some things (like going to a kids movie, or taking our older son to golf lessons, or taking G to speech therapy) that we do separately. I know it won’t always be this way and I sort of cherish this time now. I find myself needing a fair amount of alone time (and I’m not sure why that is, but it’s true) and doing some things separately allows for that.

As for where to put my infertility…it is part of who I am and a tribe I identify with. I counsel many friends who are trying to have their first child and it is hugely gratifying. I counsel younger friends on freezing their eggs to give them options well into their future or on how to get pregnant naturally (it is surprising how little even educated women know about trying to conceive having spent most of their adult lives trying not to). Even though I am no longer as active on fertility boards, as a veteran, I do feel a sense of responsibility to remain connected, see others through. I am called to it even more fiercely than I am called to adoptee rights, even though that is something I also feel at least tangentially involved in. I feel like an advocate for both, and I guess I am.

Mostly, I feel like I carry the torch for those newly diagnosed or suffering secondary infertility. I remember being there. It was a full quarter of my life trying to start and complete our family. My heart hurts for those who are waiting for a BFP that sticks, a live birth, a surrogate or birth mother match, an egg donor, the finances to travel abroad or start or continue ART, or whatever it is that is preventing them from becoming a parent right this very moment. It is a sisterhood unlike anything I have ever known and I feel loyal to and protective of it.

Reflecting

Is it only a dream?

Plague of 2015, a 50b50 Fail, Birth Parent News

I am taking my 50 before 50 seriously and wanted to get this posted by last Friday in order to fulfill my #30 entry of posting at least once/wk. At the point I hit publish on my last post, the virus must have already been working its way through my system as by a week ago Saturday, I was expelling the entire contents of my stomach into the toilet. And, by Sunday morning, it was literally coming out of both ends at once and required a lot of maneuvering on my part to NOT make a complete disaster of our bathroom. My first real meal was 3 days ago. I finally feel recovered even if that means that this post is overdue, but that just means two posts this week to catch up. I can do that. Right?

I do have news to share regarding the search for my husband’s birth father (you can read about my finding his birth mother here, here, and here and the search for his birth father here and here). Because I’m tenacious and a bit annoyed at those who don’t want to be found denying who they are or omitting information they have, I decided to send Christmas cards to: my birth mother, my first adoptive father (my mom’s first husband and my deceased brother’s father), my husband’s birth mother, my husband’s younger half-brother, and my husband’s suspected birth father). Our card was a photo card and on the back I more or less wrote that during the holiday season we were thinking of extended family (and to those for whom hearing from us was a first, I included our relationship to them).

A few days ago, I received an anonymous letter (anonymous in that it had no return address and was signed first name only) from a long-time friend of my husband’s birth father. The gist of the letter was to provide confirmation that he was who we thought he was, share pertinent medical information (turns out my husband inherited gout from both his paternal grandfather and biological father and is taking the same preventative medication that his BF takes), and the ages and causes of death of his paternal grandparents. It humbly asked that we refrain from further contact. Both my husband and I took this as the gift of kindness that it was.

For my part, I circled back with Jay, our PI, to provide him with his success and to inquire about half-siblings. He provided the names and birth dates of 4 children, two of which are likely my husband’s cousins and two his younger half-siblings (a brother and a sister). We’ll do nothing with the information for the time being. I am fairly certain that the family, maybe even this man’s current wife, know nothing about the existence of my husband. No good will come of us reaching out. Should his birth father pass away, well, maybe then.

I should also mention that through the twists that the universe takes, I have become quite close to my husband’s birth mother, so much so that I am FB friends with her and so, now, is my husband. It feels right for the both of us and has even been good for my mother-in-law who is also in direct contact with her. A lot of healing has come from finding and knowing her. My MIL is thinking of having an 85th birthday party at the end of this year and if she does, we will go. And, if we go, we will meet my husband’s birth mother, too.

I’ve gotten no response from my birth mother from my last two pieces of correspondence. At this moment and while I have the great desire to find my birth father, I have no idea how to proceed, although I plan to.

G turned 2! TWO! We are approaching 6 months of speech therapy and while there has been a LOT of progress, we have a ways to go to catch him up. I love him in a way I am sure there is no word for. And, not to play favorites, my older son will be 8, EIGHT, in 2 months. At7y9M, he finally lost his first tooth, followed quickly by two others and was quite happy to no longer be the only one in second grade to not have lost a tooth.

Finally, I posted this back in July, 2014, and am happy to report that last night, Wendy Burch gave birth to an 8#8oz baby boy named Brady. I am thrilled about the happy ending to her story and am also thrilled that Bobbie Thomas, Today Show contributor, is 12 weeks pregnant through her 4th IVF and you can see her update here. These public women sharing their experiences with infertility and journey to motherhood is helpful in raising awareness and bringing IF and ART to the fore.

50 before 50

Happy New Year! I hope that however you chose to ring in the new year and flip a page on our annual calendar, that you did so in the manner of your liking.

I am not one for making resolutions. They set me up for failure and self-flagellation. It must be noted and cannot be avoided that my 50th birthday will occur in May, 2016. As I begin the march forward with much anticipation of celebrating a half-century on this planet, there are things that, unless I write them down, turn my limited attention toward them, create a spreadsheet for tracking, and check them off, they simply won’t occur. The busy-ness of life has a way, like water, of seeking its level.

There has been tremendous freedom of mind, heart, and soul in completing our family. And, while I continue to be a supportive and experiential coach for fellow infertiles trying to start or complete their families, that does not take up near the amount of time that my own journey did. I have been encouraged, and this is a post for another time, to start an infertility coaching business. Since my clinic is uninterested (read: cheap) in moving forward with a concierge roll but because it is something I am passionate about and qualified for, it is possible that it is the venture that I will move forward with.

The freedom from not being in the struggle myself has, though, created a bit of inertia in my life. Of course, I am raising young children and their lives are at the center of my own, but I am a multi-demensional woman and want and need to use my talents beyond being a wife and mother. It is in the spirit of self-enrichment, goal setting and attaining, the true desire to maximize this one life I have at a time when I am physically and intellectually still able, that I created a 50 before 50 list. These are things that are important to me, in varying degrees, and I know that in their pursuit my life will be richer and deeper and productive and joyful. I am posting the list here as I need accountability and you, my dear readers, are just the sort to provide it.

IIWII’s 50 before 50
1. Hummingbird tattoo
2. Lose 30#s
3. Maintain weight loss
4. Fully incorporate the THM lifestyle
5. Take a flower arranging class
6. Take piano lessons
7. Take Italian language class
8. Find a new source of income (fertility coach, perhaps, or franchise owner)
9. Become a board member of at least one organization that I’m passionate about
10. Volunteer my time in a meaningful way
11. At least one overnight getaway weekend with DH
12. See JM in person (which may happen in Feb-15)
13. Attend 18 date nights (one/mo from Nov.14-May.16)
14. Attend 18 MNOs (one/mo from Nov.14-May.16)
15. Plan at least one girls overnight getaway
16. Eliminate hangers-on as friends. Acquaintances are one thing; takers masquerading as friends is another)
17. Go to a concert/play/entertainment event
18. Visit a place I’ve never been
19. Go on a family road trip
20. Go whale watching
21. Begin writing draft of memoir
22. Get a piece of writing published or printed or reproduced somewhere
23. Eliminate refined sugar/carbs from diet (See #3)
24. Learn how to take better photos
25. Ride a horse
26. Consult a financial/real estate/estate planner
27. Consult a psychic
28. Visit the cemetery
29. Go to a show taping (Fashion Police, maybe, as I have a contact and love Kathy Griffin)
30. Publish at least one blog post weekly
31. Drink more fluids daily
32. Have my body fat measured
33. Create G’s baby book
34. New haircut/style/color
35. Handwrite letters/notes/cards to friends
36. Resume search for birth father
37. Some form of strenuous physical exercise 5 times/wk (for now that will be CB and P90X)
38. Have more sex
39. Begin a facial rejuvenation routine (consultation set of 1/17/15)
40. Read 1 book/mo
41. Reduce clutter/organize cabinets
42. Review/purge what’s in the boxes in the garage attic
43. Scan meaningful old pictures
44. Sell jewelry that I set aside to sell 4 yrs ago
45. Whiten teeth
46. Make a new friend (in process)
47. Try a new cuisine/food (I have already tried fried dill pickles, but that doesn’t count)
48. Be more present with my boys
49. One random act of kindness a week
50. Prioritize and complete DIY home improvement projects (as money & time permit)

Finally, if you can help me with anything on this list, perhaps you have a skill or a horse, please contact me dolfynstar@gmail.com.

Book Review: Where Have All the Storks Gone (+ Book Giveaway)

Even though this space has taken some detours from being solely infertility focused, the struggle, the cause, and the journey of those diagnosed with infertility continue to be something I am involved with and in. I was approached by the publishers of a new book, “Where Have All the Storks Gone, A His and Hers Guide to Infertility by Michelle & Chris Miller to write a review. I’ve never agreed to review, promote or advertise on this blog, but will admit that the idea of a his/hers guide intrigued me, so I accepted the free book in exchange for providing a review. The thoughts expressed below are solely my own.


I tend to be critical of show segments, articles and books written about infertility, having gone through almost every single aspect of diagnosis and treatment myself.  That said, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed Michelle & Chris Miller’s, Where Have All the Storks Gone, A His and Hers Guide to Infertility.  The book is a candid, factually accurate, humorous and loving portrayal of the couple’s attempts to have a baby, struggles month after to month to conceive, eventual tests and procedures which led to a diagnosis of infertility, and their many treatment attempts from IUI to IVF.

It is written in a back and forth style, from the perspective of both husband and wife, each and every step of the way.  I found this to be particularly refreshing as we don’t always hear the husband’s (or significant others) point of view simultaneously with the woman going through it.  Their style of writing is conversational, with his being more direct and to the point and hers often providing a more in-depth look at what she and they are experiencing.

What comes through is their love for each other, their desire to start a family, their commitment to supporting each other as they navigate each step in the labyrinth that is an infertility diagnosis, and the hope that they come out the other side as parents.  Not only is this their personal account, but it also serves and an Infertility 101 Primer, for those just starting out or for the loved ones of those struggling with infertility who want to better understand the process.  Each test or procedure is accurately defined and there is a glossary of terms at the back of the book which is useful.

Their story does not gloss over the emotional toll that trying to become pregnant month after month takes, nor does it wallow in self-pity.  They persevere in the face of snow white HPTs, high FSH results, a fibroid sighting (and need for surgical removal), having no embryos to freeze following their first transfer, dropping hCG levels after a promising start, a miscarriage, and finding themselves back at square one.

I will not spoil the outcome of their journey here.  I highly recommend the book to anyone having trouble conceiving, or who has been diagnosed with infertility and is starting down their path of treatment, or to their family, friends and loved ones to get a better understanding of what the rigors of treatment mean to and for a couple. It is a quick and easy read packed full of insight, warmth, humor, and love.

If you would like to win a free copy of the book, please leave a comment about what holiday tradition you are most looking forward to by Thursday, 12/18/14 (11:59PM PST) and I will select one winner at random on Friday, 12/19/2014.

My Christmas Wish – 2011

We have a gorgeous “Wishes” ornament that comes with slips of paper to write new wishes every year and store them inside. The only year we’ve ever used it was Christmas, 2011. For whatever reason, I hadn’t seen the ornament since then until we trimmed our tree today. My older son wished for a Lego police station (he was 4), my husband wished for ‘peace, love, and happiness’, and me, well, this was my wish that year.

It came true the following year and he was with us one day past Christmas, 2012.

From my heart to yours, whatever you are longing for, I hold your wish as my own and hope it comes true.

“Where Am I? Where Did I Go?”

~ From BabyFirstTV’s Peek-a-boo; it is the cutest thing.

I am committed to NOT falling off the face of the blogosphere, but it is harder and harder to find time to write. In fact, I was approached to review a new infertility book that I am way overdue in posting (which will include a giveaway of the book, both of which are a first for this blog!). I write posts in my sleep over and over but can’t transcribe them to this space. I felt a lot of guilt that my reader was well over 125 unread posts, 26 belonging to Mel, and my commenting was non-existent. I’ve whittled the list down to under 40 and hope to catch up (and with my commenting) this weekend.

Thank you to those who have checked in on me and to those who’ve said they miss my writing. I’m touched. And, I am well. You may remember my post about my uncle who was murdered. He was my uncle’s (my mom’s brother) wife’s sister’s husband. There is another sister, my Aunt C, whose husband passed away rather suddenly two weeks ago after a recurrence of prostate cancer that swiftly took his life. He was 81. They lived nearby, and theirs was the house we spent Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. My aunt is devastated, still in shock, and can’t believe he is gone. Even though he was 20 yrs older than my other uncle and even though that uncle’s death was tragic and completely senseless (do you know that the police STILL have not issued a final report on his murder?!) my aunt is grief stricken. We were already a small family who just grew smaller in the span of 3 months. It is sad.

I do think we’ve decided to stay put, in So CA, for the time being, even though I continue to look at listings in the Portland area. We just had a solar company come out to give us a bid and we’ll likely move forward with that in 2015. It is possible that we’ll buy an income or vacation property in the Portland area, but before any of that can happen, I MUST return to work. I have been out of the workforce for 4 1/2 yrs and, as a former headhunter, I know that 5 yrs is its own kind of gainful employment death knell. I am looking at all sorts of options as my background is varied and would lend itself to a few different kinds of opportunities, but I haven’t landed anything, yet. It is going to be very hard for me to return to a corporate environment and I wish I had a skill or passion that would translate into a small business venture, but we don’t have that kind of money to spend as I need to be generating income as soon as possible (that will add to our depleted savings and pay for G’s care while I’m working). I’m flummoxed, if I’m being honest, but I am looking, daily. I would still love to foray into the infertility business, but when my proposal to my RE/clinic went nowhere, it kinda cooled my jets.

In 18 months I will be FIFTYFUCKINGYEARSOLD. It seems like the biggest age related milestone of my life. I am working on a 50 Before 50 list that I will post here when finished (very interested to know what is on your list?). Having a toddler keeps me feeling young as does consistently working out. That said, my metabolism has slowed to a snail’s pace and it has been recommended that I need to increase my 4 time/wk work-outs to daily and restrict my calories to 1,200. That is a tall order as being hungry does not suit me. I’ve continued to attempt the THM lifestyle although admit to being mostly confused by it, still. Now that my thyroid levels are within normal limits, something that has taken months of tweaking my meds to achieve, I am starting the lifestyle over, which is to say, from the beginning, and trying to learn what I couldn’t the first go around.

Even though the general stressers of my life persist (continued estrangement/difficulties with my parents, our deepening financial worries, weight gain as a result of my thyroid that I am hoping to turn around now, the need for me to be employed, G’s continued speech lag) I am abundantly grateful for my health and that of my boys, for my marriage to the exact right man for me, for the close friends I have who are my chosen family and who fill my heart to overflowing, and for this life that I live.

Eleven

Today is our eleventh wedding anniversary. Being engaged was one of THE best times in my life. Our wedding was such a perfect day, exactly as we wanted it.

The gift for eleven years is steel. I have a decades old Hamilton Beach blender that I use daily, sometimes twice/day. I was testing margarita recipes for an impromptu Halloween family dinner were throwing for friends tomorrow night, and it was SUCH a problem as I just couldn’t get things blended right. My husband got me a Ninja Ultima as an anniversary gift and got such shit from his co-workers. I, however, LOVE it. It is probably one of the best gifts he’s ever gotten me (without me prompting him to do so). Here is the side by side image of my new beast vs. my antique:

I love celebrating our anniversary. We typically go out to a nice dinner and spend our time together talking about our relationship, tweaking our needs from each other, talking about our plans/goals/desires for ourselves and our family. It keeps our relationship fresh, gives us a time to reconnect, and allows for an at-least annual tune-up of our relationship.

Our wedding is the first happiest day of my life. There would be others, particularly my two successful positive pregnancies (pee-sticks, heart beat confirmation and all) and the births of my two sons. But, none of that would have happened but for this day exactly eleven years ago today.

Portland – Lush & Plush

We made it home safely, although I could have done without the turbulence.

As for our pup, poor thing. She is going to be 10 in January and these kinds of injuries take their toll on this small breed dog. She is very sore, very tender, very unlike herself. Even upon hearing our voices and excitement to see her (it was just my husband and I), she didn’t come out of her bed to greet us and went straight to her crate when we got home where she barely moved all night. She’s got another 4 days of antibiotics and he one wound (between her shoulder blades) has an abscess and needs to be flush twice daily.
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The thing that struck me most about Portland was how green and gorgeous it is. Somehow it is called the Rose City, but it really should be called Tree City as there are trees everywhere. So many trees lining the streets, the hills, the yards, creating a wall often times that blocks from view what’s behind them. We would drive down major thoroughfares from one town to the next and couldn’t see the shops or malls or strip malls for the trees.

We had lovely weather while there. It rained when we landed, rained overnight every night, but was mostly clear, if not sunny during the day. It made the extensive driving we did more manageable.

It is unlike LA in every possible way. That is not a judgment one way or the other, but the two cities could not be more different.

We toured every possible neighborhood in Portland that might be a fit as well as every suburb. We fell the most in love with Eastmoreland, around Reed College. But, the homes there are more expensive on smaller lots, so it’s not ideal but could work. Given my current love for mid-century modern homes, we found other neighborhoods that might suit us better both in terms of price point, schools, and type of home and those would be West Slope, Sylvan Heights, and Hillsdale. It is possible to find a 3+ bed/2+ bath, 2,500SF+ home on a regular sized lot for $500K.

Of the two realtors we met, one was clearly a better fit. She is a mom (to 20 yr old and 2 yr old daughters). She lent us a stroller so we didn’t have to pack one. She picked us up at our hotel and drove us everywhere, explaining the demographics, property values, and why people live in one area over another. The other one is almost 40, no married, no kids and she had us meet her at her office and our time together felt antiseptic. She left it to us to drive around and figure out where we thought we’d best fit vs. get to know us and offer her expertise.

My husband and I have had several conversations and will continue to do so as we process all that this trip was for us. If you’d have asked my on our first or second day (when we were virtually on our own), I would have wanted to fly home early and call it a bust. By our 3rd day, the day of our guided realtor tour, I was committed to moving. I feel excited and invigorated at the prospect that maybe a whole sale move was in our future and, gosh, wouldn’t that be a great adventure for our family. By yesterday and even now, I am not so sure.

On the one hand, knowing what is out there, having seen the possibilities, could we ever go home and settle into our lives and not move? On the other hand, is it worth the risk to uproot everything for even what appears to be an informed decision?

Do I have what is required to move away from what I have always known with the only real, albeit cultivated support system we have and start completely over? As must as the things that compelled us to look at Portland remain the same, what’s the cost of staying vs. going?

I am not afraid to move. The prospect excites me. I guess I’m just not all that confident that Portland is the place. I’m actually disappointed that it wasn’t clearer that Portland was beckoning us. I’m going to wear the memories around now that we are home and see what comes of it.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

We will be heading home today from our exploratory trip to Portland. It is a beautiful city, lush with trees and green foliage. We had great weather, it rained overnight and was either partially sunny or dry during the day with 70+ degree temps. I have an entire post dedicated to this trip and where things likely stand.

In the meantime, I haven’t had time to be nervous about the upcoming flight until this morning. I’m trying to recall that our flight here was uneventful and hope the one home will be the same.

We have an Italian Greyhound that we boarded. On Sunday, she was attacked by a Golden Retriever (of all breeds) which resulted in a day long stay at the vet, several puncture wounds and lacerations. She’s been on anti-biotics and pain pills 3 times/day. The owner who is extremely apologetic, has been in constant communication with me, sending me pictures documenting our pup’s improvement. In the decades we’ve boarded dogs while we’ve traveled, nothing close to this has ever happened. It has been awful being away from her at a time when she would be soothed just being with us. A friend did go by and visit with her and reported back that things were not a bad as they were reported, but our dog just wanted to leave with her so we decided not to have her go back. The owner has kept her mostly with her. Can’t wait to pick her up tonight. Poor thing.

For those of you who tracked our flight, I’m calling upon you to do the same today. We are on the same airline, departing PDX at 2:30 PDT on Flight #570. I’d appreciate you tracking us again.