Sunday, December 27, 2015

Forward March

It's time for a little update :) Things have been up and down around here lately. Every time I drop down to a low note, I say a little prayer to be saved by Jesus. He never fails me! Nonetheless, it's a daily struggle walking the path I have been given.

Insomnia continues to be an issue for me. I didn't sleep a wink on Christmas Eve, and last night I had a restless sleep. Every little distraction had me looking at the clock just to see that time was crawling by. I drifted in and out of a light sleep in between. I have been grinding my teeth at night and wake up with tension headaches. I had a dream last night that I went to lunch with a childhood friend of mine. She is pregnant, and in the dream she started to tell the table about a complication with the pregnancy. I instantly started sobbing as I jumped to conclusions fearing the worst for her and her baby. She reassured me that it was nothing like that, but it just showed me that my subconscious is still working on this fear of mine.

It is very difficult for me to be around friends and loved ones who are pregnant. A small, small part of it is the sting of jealousy, but mostly it is the consuming fear that their baby isn't healthy. I know that once their babies are born and I can see that s/he is healthy, I'll be fine. But pregnancy strikes on a nerve for me and is a painful reminder of a weakness in my faith. It is an aspect of the "seeing is believing" that I have a hard time putting aside. It worries me for the future as I think about the possibility of becoming pregnant again myself.

I try not to get too far ahead of myself and play the "what if" game. Thinking about all the possible outcomes... it's overwhelming. And yet there is a part of me that believes that I will be able to joyfully go through a pregnancy if I should be blessed with one again. One thing is for sure: we will celebrate EVERYTHING if we have the chance again! Pregnancy announcements, gender reveal, baby shower, we will embrace it all. The next day isn't promised, so you have to live in the moment and love what you've got. And we will! One of my biggest regrets is that we canceled Rosa's baby shower... sadly, she was stillborn the exact day we planned her baby shower. I look back now and wish that we had rescheduled it to earlier in the pregnancy. It breaks me up knowing that we didn't celebrate her in that way. She deserved it, and we failed to give that to her. I don't know how, but I'll find a way to make it up to her.

In other news, John & I had been going back and forth on testing our frozen embryos. It's expensive ($5K!) and we're not sure how the future will go. If we do not have a take home baby amongst our four ninja squirrels, then we're going to look into adoption in 2017. Should we save the $5,000 to put towards a potential adoption? Ugh. It's so hard to know which way to go! John wanted to save the money and was also afraid about the risk to the embryos in the thawing and refreezing process. I wanted to test the embryos because I think it's worth every penny to have that peace of mind if we do have a subsequent pregnancy. A few weeks ago, John said that he was willing to do the testing even though he didn't want to. I was hung up on him agreeing with me, so we "slept on it" for the next few weeks (I am laughing because of the irony of him snoring while I lay awake with insomnia!). After a beautiful Christmas Eve mass, I was able to pray on it and then had a beautiful moment of clarity. It was like Jesus was born into my heart to answer my prayer: TEST THE EMBRYOS! I don't need John to agree with me. If he agreed with me, then it would be easy. But the fact that he doesn't agree, and is still willing to put his fears aside to make me happy is the ultimate sign of his love. We decided on Christmas morning that we will indeed have our embryos tested. We are going to dedicate 2016 to seeing these four embryos through. We are 100% committed to them and invested in them.

I have a few appointments coming up that are important: we finally got on the schedule for a preconception visit with our new MFM. That's on January 6th. The next day, I have my hysteroscopy. All I want for Christmas is health & happiness for myself and my babies. So here's to a healthy uterus and four healthy embryos! And Rosa & Robin smiling down from heaven as they wait for us!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"The Plan"

It's been a while since I've been on here with any regularity... life has been beyond description. Anxiety, depression, confusion, happiness, joy, hopefulness, hopelessness... the emotional palate has been comprehensive and rich with depth and intensity. It is difficult to keep up with it all, so I have been staying off the interwebs in an effort to salvage my sanity :) I feel like I'm in a good spot, so here I am with a little status update!

Physical Health
At my last rheumatologist appointment, the doctor kept using the word "lupus." Here's where a lot of confusion has always set in: the doctors have always said that I don't have it, but that they're keeping me on their radar. Well, my head started spinning, and finally I interjected and said, "Do I have lupus?" The doctor explained that my C3 is low which could possibly be the Sjogren's, but she suspects that it is lupus activity :( She said that I am flaring right now, so I am on a course of prednisone. Hopefully, that will help to clear things up. Since then, I have been taking into account all the symptoms I've been feeling... muscle pain, muscle stiffness, joint pain, fatigue, brain fog... It is scary to think about where this could be heading, so I've been redirecting those thoughts so they don't get away from me.

Emotional Wellbeing
Things have been tricky in this department. All of my scars from the past.... infertility and loss have really taken a toll on me. Add on top of it that we're still dealing with infertility along with autoimmune diseases... it's a lot to manage. I feel like I'm in a good spot at the moment. I've been working really hard to untangle the mess and to try to find some form of balance in my life. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it up :)

"The Plan"
I am on CD15/1dpo on our last natural cycle before we get going again. We tried our best with the hopes of a spontaneous conception, but we are keeping our hopes in check with reality. Let the record show that we are open to the miracle if that should be the way we are to go :) But at the same time, we have a plan for our next FET, and that gives me a lot of hope. That is my anchor right now. Here's the rough timeline of "the plan."

  • 12/19 - CD1, call my nurse
  • 12/21 - CD3, blood work to establish baseline, start BCPs
  • 12/29 - hysteroscopy, cross fingers that this is simple and smooth!
  • 1/22 - come off BCPs, start FET cycle
  • 2/12 - meet one of our ninja squirrels :)

I'm sending lots of love & light out there for anyone who is reading this! Take care of yourselves!!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Letting Go

I realized something very important this week. My heart is broken. That much is obvious and expected after everything I've been through. But I realized that life as I had dreamed it is not what it is. I had been fighting so hard to make it into what I thought it should be.... I've only been hurting myself and the ones I love by resisting so hard. 

Life as we know it is not the way I dreamed it. And I realized this week that it's okay. I am okay. 

I am done planning ahead (within reason of course!! I do have a job to keep after all!!). It is one thing to plan for the weekend or a big race (coming up soon in November!! Yay!!). But to plan on things that I have no control over? Silly Cici. That's not your job to do. 

What will I do instead? I'm going to love the life I'm living instead of lamenting the one I wished I were living. 

I admit, it is hard to let go. I can actually feel a little tug on my heart as I type this. But I know what is best for me. 

I had a moment today. I was looking at a picture of those tiny little toes... They are so perfect and loved. And then the words and tears started spilling out of me...

Dear, sweet baby, I love you so much, really I do. But I love myself too, and right now what you're doing to me is not good for me. I have to let you go. And I don't want to let you go, but if I'm going to save myself and live a happy life, then I have to. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop loving you. I never will stop loving you. But it's time I started loving myself first. I know you want me to be happy. I know if I let go that you're still with me. I will set you free and by doing that, I will set myself free. I love you more than you will ever know. Until we meet again, sweet child, fare thee well. 

Love always and forever, 
Your mama 

Monday, August 31, 2015

New Seeds

This little diaper bag caught my eye this afternoon. 

I bought it when I was about 14 weeks pregnant with Rosa... How I wish I could put all of her stuff in it, strap it to my back, bundle up little Rosa and put her in her carrier on my front, and show her the world. Sigh. That is a dream that will have to wait until heaven to come true. 

Next, I looked over at the shelf to the left. 

I took in the sight of all the precious items on the shelves. The photograph of my grandparents on their wedding day, Rosa & Robin's transfer day picture, Frostie Ninja's memory box, all the full bins of medical supplies and medications... And then I noticed the three purple flower pots in the basket on the middle shelf. With the best of intentions, I planted some basil, parsley and cilantro seeds last fall. I did better than I expected, but as Rosa's health declined so did my attention to my little seedlings. 

It was sad seeing my dried up dreams along side the cracked soil. I took the basket outside and cleaned out the old dirt. I put fresh soil in each of the pots. Then I planted new seeds... Wildflowers. I do not know if they'll take root, but there is only one way to find out: you have to try. 

As I took in the sight of my small act upon the shelf, I felt proud and hopeful. When I stepped back, I realized just how meaningful this little task of mine was... It symbolized more than I can type out here in this moment... 

So I'll leave it to your imagination to decode it. I'm sure you know exactly what I'm thinking....

Rosa & Robin, mommy thinks of you every second of every day. I love you more than you'll ever know. Keep each other company until I'm there in heaven at last to hold you and kiss you. 

Frostie Ninja, come back to me... I miss you and love you. I don't think our time is over just yet. I believe there is more for us to do here before we can go be with your brother and sister in heaven. 

My four little seedlings waiting for us, I love you so much and we still have yet to meet. We are doing everything we can to give you the best shot at life. I pray everyday that you are healthy and that you'll take root in my womb and in our lives when the time is right. 

Love always, 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Frostie Ninja 💜

AW: We opened the envelope 😊 Results are at the bottom. Scroll down if you can't wait!!

In February 2014, we did our final egg retrieval with my eggs. That cycle produced the one and only blastocyst from all of my cycles. We participated in the SUMMIT study at RMA, so our precious Frostie Ninja was CCS tested. We found out that s/he was chromosomally normal a few weeks later and began prepping for our transfer immediately. During the nine weeks from ER to beta, I fell in love with my baby more than I had ever imagined possible. I "visited" him/her every day by doing my meditations in my clinic's parking lot, playing music from my car stereo, sending so much love to him/her. Our hearts broke on April 22, 2014 when we got the dreaded call from my nurse: beta was zero. I was not pregnant. 

At the time, we decided not to find out the sex of the baby even though the information was available to us on our CCS report. We had hoped to be surprised on Frostie Ninja's birthday, and with that dream shattered we thought it would be too painful to find out. 

Over a year later, so much has happened, but my love for Frostie Ninja endures. Losing Rosa & Robin has only made me miss Frostie even more. We went through quite a drama to find out the sex of Rosa Kimberly. We feel in our hearts that Robin Kay is a boy, but we will have to wait until we get to heaven to find out for sure. Frostie Ninja was a mystery until this week when we decided to open the envelope. 

Throughout my time with Frostie, I imagined the perfect blend of my DNA with John's. Frostie would have my bouncy curls, artistic streak, and athleticism. S/he would have John's twinkly eyes, irresistible dimply smile, and sense of adventure and wonder. Boy or girl, either would be a miracle to us and welcomed into our hearts and lives. When we had to say goodbye, I wrote a letter to Frostie. I envisioned him/her as a little girl in this image. 

Over the past few weeks, I have been getting signs that Frostie was a boy. Blue and yellow butterflies literally surrounded me, one even landing on my shadow's heart during a hike at the very moment I was talking about him/her with my best friend on the trails. 

Two weeks ago, my nurse at RMA looked up the results from Frostie's CCS testing and put them in an envelope. This past Monday, John & I felt ready and opened it at the cemetery with Rosa. It was a quiet moment of excitement. When I saw the single word through the trifold paper, I couldn't help but to smile. I gasped and John and I embraced in a long hug. I felt and still feel so happy knowing ❤️

I love you, Frostie Ninja. I pray for you to come back to me every day. Until you do, I hope you have found your brother and sister in heaven. 

Frostie Ninja is male 😍

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Consult #3

Today we met with Dr. S, a new-to-us RE within our current practice (our former clinics merged back in April). It was a good move on our part to get a fresh set of eyes on our case. She really seemed to take an interest, and was genuine when expressing her condolences for our recent loss.

I liked her a lot. She listened to everything we had to say, answered our questions honestly and professionally, and overall had an excellent bedside manner. She offered to reach out to the other doctors on our team, including my rheumatologist and the MFM doctor from CHOP. When I mentioned that the genetic counselor from CHOP would be willing to consult regarding our frozen embryos, she was very pleased to hear that and said absolutely they would work together. I really that she is willing to go out of her way to help us. We are a bit complicated and puzzling, so we really need doctors who are willing to work together and think outside the box.

We reviewed our history and past protocols. As I expected, she was open to all of the medications I was on with the exception of the high dose of Prednisone and the use of IVIG. All the other medications and supplements were fine by her.

She recommends a diagnostic hysteroscopy prior to a transfer and testing our embryos. The hysteroscopy is a no-brainer. Testing the embryos to me is too, but John is afraid about the risk of losing viable embryos in the thaw and refreeze... Dr. S said that the survival rate at their lab is 97% for the first thaw, and then the second thaw would go down to 95%. She said that usually the embryos that don't survive are not good quality... our embryos are of very good quality. But still, I can see John's hesitation because someone has to be the unlucky 5%. We have proven to be the unlucky percentage almost every time in the past... is it worth it to take any unnecessary risks? I don't know if I could proceed with a pregnancy knowing that the embryo had not been tested... That's something we'll have to think about before making a decision.

Dr. S recommends waiting at least six months postpartum before transferring another embryo. She said given our history, we could transfer two embryos if we wanted, however she'd feel more comfortable with a single embryo transfer. We agree... as much as I have always dreamed of being a twin mama, it is not worth the risk to our precious babies. Besides, I already am a twin mama... Rosa & Robin made it so <3

I asked if she had any recommendations for my diet & lifestyle. She referred me to the nutritionist, so we'll schedule a consultation. She said that running is not a problem for a future cycle nor a potential pregnancy. I like that very much. VERY MUCH. I can't begin to tell you how important it is to have the option to go for a run through all of this... I need to feel like myself in order to keep my head on my shoulders.

I asked her when my period should return. I'm still not sure if the bleeding I had 5 weeks postpartum was my period, and even still, it has been 32 days since that bleeding. She said that right about now is when I should be getting my period again, and then said she'd do an ultrasound and blood work to see where I'm at in my cycle right now.

The physical exam showed that I have high blood pressure (what the what?! 138/82... so out of the norm for me). I gave blood and urine samples for testing. My weight has gone up 5 lbs (which to this marathon runner is a win! I know it's the muscle mass that I've gained over the past several weeks of training). The ultrasound showed possible calcification in my uterine lining. And, get this, my lining measured 9.8mm and was Type III. NEVER in all of my documented cycles has my lining been that thick. I know it doesn't bear any significance, but I am kinda proud of that. My ovaries are doing their typical thing. Righty had 6-8 follicles measuring under 10mm and a 22mm cyst, Lefty had 4 follicles measuring under 10mm. The cyst might mean that I ovulated. We're waiting for blood results to see what's what. Depending on my blood work, I will probably be prescribed Provera to induce a period. Then I'll go in for another baseline on CD3 to see what's going on with my uterus.

The final question we asked was to look up the sex of Frostie Ninja. We had him/her CCS tested after IVF #3. S/he was normal, but we didn't want to know the sex at that time. Now, I think we're ready to find out. Though, I have to say, I am a little nervous to know. I have a gut feeling, but what if I'm wrong? I have been operating under the assumption that Robin was a boy. We won't know until we get to heaven... if I was wrong about Frostie, then it'll make me wonder if I am wrong about Robin too. I hope I am right!!

Saturday, August 1, 2015


I scream until my voice is raw. The tears in my eyes don't flow anymore. I guess I cried them all out. Either that, or the Sjögren's is mocking me with my chronic dry eyes. 

There is no way to describe this pain. I am exposed, and there is no shelter. I begged God to take me today. The hurt in my heart is unbearable. He did not answer my prayer. Like so many prayers before, this one went unanswered. 

Just when I think I have healed a little bit, something happens to rip away the scab. My wound is raw again, gushing. 

Rosa's EDD is on Tuesday. I am unraveling because of this. Not that I had it together to begin with. I miss her. And I miss Robin. I miss my babies. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Missing My Babies

37 weeks. I would have been 37 weeks pregnant this week. I should have my twins in my arms at this very moment. I am so sad that I lost it all. How cruel to take a baby from a mother in any way, shape or form. I feel like my babies were taken in a way that was meant to hurt and torture me as much as possible. Slowly and methodically, fate kept the losses coming. Just as I would come close to accepting one horrible truth, the ground would drop out from under me yet again. I miss Robin... I hate that day in December when Dr. J said he couldn't find the second heartbeat. And Rosa.... Rosa, Rosa, Rosa... I miss her so much. Watching her make my belly dance, those were the best times. I would wonder if she had a treadmill in there with her. She moved so much! Then to stand by and feel so helpless as things went so wrong... I hate that no one could do anything to save her. Why couldn't we save her? Why couldn't I save her? 

I miss my babies. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Running on the Boardwalk

I'm out for a run on the boardwalk right now. The breeze is glorious. The sounds of the ocean are like music to my ears. My body falls naturally in rhythm with my old, familiar stride. My muscles ache from the previous workouts, but that only fuels the motivational fire within. Sounds delightful, doesn't it?

My thoughts, however, betray me. I see running mothers and fathers pushing their babies in jogging strollers. I see families out for a bike ride with patriotic streamers trailing from their handle bars. I see people smiling and laughing as they enjoy the beautiful day. They all hurt my heart. Not because they are happy and have what I want, but because I am sad and don't have what I want. 

These are all reminders that I shouldn't be here right now. I should be in the hospital. By Rosa's bedside. Watching her fight for her life. Watching her win. 

My friends and family were so concerned about me spending time at family events over the past five weeks. Jack's first birthday party, Emily's baptism, visiting Mel with Liam bouncing along in his exersaucer. "Are you sure you want to go? Isn't that going to be too hard?" I insisted that I would be fine. And I was. Admittedly, there were moments that stung. I couldn't stay in the room when they sang Happy Birthday to Jack. I thought about Rosa while I held Emily, and wished that the two cousins could grow up together. I had to cut my visit short when I reached my threshold for baby talk towards adorable Liam. But I knew I wanted to be there for each of those moments. Infertility already robbed me of so many moments like this. Chances to see my friends and family as the beautiful mothers they are. I won't let that happen again. 

Even these strangers at the shore... I think it is beautiful the way they are enjoying their time together with their families. I just wish I weren't here to see it. I wish I were with my growing family, even if it meant being in a hospital for a year and watching Rosa go through the fight of her life. I wish she pulled through...

But she didn't. She is in heaven instead. And I am here wishing I could go to her. Someday, I know, I know. But today hurts like hell. And as another mother running with her baby in her BOB jogger passes me, I think to myself, "Do you know how lucky you are??" I hope she does. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

In the Clouds

John & I are down the shore for the weekend. I woke up completely miserable, and feeling so heavy and sad. I miss my baby. 

I went for a walk to work out some of my emotions. I was out there for over three hours just wandering around. There were roses everywhere! I walked to the other side of the bay, through two towns, through a park, and on two boardwalks. 

While I was at the park, I spent some time on the swings. I haven't been on a swing in years. When I was a kid, I would swing for ever and ever. I just loved it. As I was swinging, I was thinking about Rosa. Maybe if I swung high enough, I could reach my feet out towards heaven and get closer to my babies. It made me feel better to try. 

While I was swinging, I looked at the clouds and saw a huge, fluffy cloud. It had three heart shaped holes in it... I instantly thought of Rosa, Robin & Frostie Ninja. I think they were there, saying hi to their mama <3

I love you, babies <3 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Postpartum OB Appointment

I was so concerned that I hadn't been angry at all since losing Rosa. With all of my losses over the past few years, I had always kicked off my grieving cycle with a healthy dose of anger before settling into sadness, despair and depression. This time, I skipped right over anger and thought it was odd. Well, I found my rage yesterday. All it took was a few pokes from the universe to remind me of how utterly infertile I am.

Poke #1: John & I are members of a group that has been selected to perform at a convention in December. The application process is rigorous and acceptance into the convention is a huge deal. Yesterday was the deadline for committing to the event. It involves traveling with the group for four days before the holidays out of town and a $2000 financial commitment. The only thing I could think of was "how will this impact our cycling plans?" I cannot believe that after almost four years of trying to conceive that we are still thinking like this!!!

Poke #2: I was nervous about my postpartum OB appointment yesterday for lots of reasons. I knew it would be hard and painful, and I was looking forward to having it behind me. Just get it over with. I walked into the waiting room and the first thought through my head was, "this is the first time I've ever been in this office and not been pregnant." I miss Rosa so, so much. 

Poke #3: I was relieved to see that there were no pregnant ladies or babies in the waiting room when I arrived. I thought I dodged a bullet... until I heard a tiny little voice in the back. A pregnant lady and her toddler walked through the back door and plopped down in the waiting room. Will it ever be my turn to have a child that I don't have to give back? 

Poke #4: I tried to distract myself from the pregnant lady and her child by watching the TV in the waiting room. The Real was on, and they were doing a pajama party segment. Cute, right? Well, it was until their playful game of truth or dare. One of the personalities was dared to call her husband on the show and tell him she was pregnant. She wasn't pregnant, but how fun would that be to play a little prank?! To say the least, I was not amused. 

Poke #5: I was sort of holding it together until the receptionist called me up to the desk. She handed me a clipboard with a postpartum depression questionnaire.

You've gotta be effing kidding me!!! How exactly am I expected to respond to this bullshit?? I was so angry to have to look at this piece of paper. I wanted to tear it up, crumple it, stomp on it, spit on it, burn it, destroy it. I refused to answer the questions and told my doctor that it was not appropriate. I suggested that they have a modified questionnaire for situations like mine. I mean, for crying out loud, when 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth, I can't be the first or last to have this happen in their office. Get your shit together, assholes!!

The Details of the Appointment: I finally thought that this was enough, and asked the receptionist if there was an empty exam room where I could wait. They were actually about to call me back, thank god. The nurse asked if I wanted to go on the scale. I was actually curious to see my weight, so I jumped on. I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Slightly under because I have no muscle mass. She took my blood pressure and it was normal. Then I was given instructions to disrobe and put the gown on. The doctor came in shortly after. She was sympathetic about our loss and everything we had been through. She asked a lot of questions of me, and answered all of my questions. She was apologetic about the questionnaire and that I wasn't immediately seated in the exam room. I passed the physical exam and was given clearance for running (thank god!!), swimming, and intercourse. All exercise restrictions have been lifted. 

Poke #6: We discussed our future family building options. Dr. C doesn't think we need to wait six months to try again like Dr. Ntoso had recommended. Dr. C recommends waiting two cycles at minimum. There was talk about testing our embryos, hoping the placenta results were informative, and then considering adoption. Depending on the pathology report, she advised us to be open minded to the possibility of a gestational carrier. These are both amazing opportunities and paths to parenthood, but.... ouch. I have always had them on the back of my mind, but never invested much thought because I want to believe that our embryos can do this. That my uterus can do this. It is extremely painful to be at the point where we are facing another significant loss. At the end of the day, I just want a healthy baby. But it would be a great loss for me to give up the chance of carrying my child. 

Poke, poke, poke... I was full of rage by the time I left. Infertility sucks!!!! I hate this so, very much!!! 

So I bought these plates at the local goodwill store. 

And John & I blew off some steam by smashing the shit out of them. It felt amazing to unleash on those unwitting, ugly plates. Assholes!!!

I also pounded the pavement and went for my first run back. It felt incredible! I cannot describe how good it was for me. I could think again! I felt centered and like me for the first time in months. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Light in the Darkness

Let me start this by saying that if you don't believe in signs, then you might want to stop right here. I have always heard everyone else's stories where they'd say it's too much of a coincidence to not be a sign. I agreed with them, and I believed that they were in fact receiving a sign. I never personally experienced any signs until Rosa, Robin and our four frosties came into existence. Since then, November 11th, the day that our embryos were conceived, I have had an abundance of signs. 

Today is my niece's baptism, so we traveled down to be here for the family event. I had planned on going to 8:15 mass at our home church, but I was so disappointed when I woke at 8:45. I must've slept through my alarm thanks to the Tylenol PM I took last night. I decided to attend the 11:30 mass at my sister's church instead. This way, I could still receive communion and I'd be where I needed to be for the baptism afterwards. 

I walked into the church a few minutes after mass had already started. All of the lights were out, and after a little while I remembered that they probably were affected by the storm. I found a seat in a pew, and was quickly distracted by a father holding his little boy. I recognized the father and the mother, but couldn't quite place them. 

My thoughts continued to wander, and as usual fixate on my beautiful Rosa. I snapped out of it by the time we got to the homily. And then I couldn't believe my ears as the preacher spoke about the loss of a child being the most tragic of all losses. He went on to relate it to the gospel reading of the day... It was as if he were speaking just to me in the sea of worshipers. He spoke about a little girl who Jesus raised from the dead. He said that we all face dark times in our lives, and Jesus is the light that will help us through. 

By this time, there was no hope of holding myself together, so I quietly wept. The woman next to me noticed, and gave me a tissue along with a hug. She whispered in my ear, "I don't know what's wrong, but it will be ok." I appreciate her kindness so much. 

After the mass was over, I spoke to the familiar looking couple and found out that we did graduate from high school together. They were there with their mother and two year old child. They asked me if I had any children. Before I could even think of an appropriate way to respond, the words were already spilling out of my mouth. "I have a daughter in heaven," I stated. They were shocked and sympathetic. They asked her name, and said that they would pray for Rosa and me. 

Later in the day, I was telling John about the preacher's sermon and he became immediately excited and eager to share what happened this morning. He said that while I was in the shower, he turned on the TV and came across Joel Olsteen's sermon. Usually, he would keep moving on, but he had a similar experience as me: he felt like he was being spoken to. 

I feel like Rosa was speaking to us both. That she wanted us to hear her message, so she found a way to get it across to us both even though we weren't together when we got it. We hear what you are saying, baby girl. We know you are waiting for us with God. We know you are safe and happy. We know we will see you again in the next life. Mommy & Daddy love you more than we could ever say.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Stop the Hurt

I may or may not have just had a panic attack. I feel so sad. I can't describe it any other way except extreme heaviness in my entire body. Especially in my heart and throat. And arms. My arms feel so empty, so when I can, I fill them with the stuffed puppy we had made for Rosa. I wish it was a baby in my arms. My arms yearn to cradle a baby in the worst way, and are literally aching at this absence. 

I was dozing off on the couch just over the past few hours while John, his friend, and my sister were all watching TV. I woke up suddenly and in a panic a few times. It felt like my heart was racing and my chest was tight. I worried and thought that maybe I was having a heart attack. 

I don't think that I am having a heart attack now that I'm awake and conscious enough to understand that my chest feels tight and heavy from the grief. I want to cry all the time. But I feel like I don't have any tears left. Like my tears ducts have actually dried up and are empty. So instead of tears constantly streaming down my face, I have a constant lump in my throat. And my heart feels heavy. And my arms ache for a baby to snuggle and nurture. 

I want the pain to stop. But at the same time, I don't want it to stop. I don't want to lose any little bit of my connection to Rosa. I don't want her to fade. And the bleeding, the lactation, the yearning are all physical reminders of a baby that was just there... and now she's not, but my body hasn't fully registered that yet. I know that sounds completely fucked up. All of this is fucked up. I just miss her so much and am still in disbelief that she is gone. I want to be with her and understand that she can't be here anymore because she is dead. So part of me wishes I could go to her instead. But the other part of me knows that is wrong. I don't want to die. But I don't want to be without her. It's so unfair. I feel so tortured. There is no way to be happy like this. 

Rosa, baby girl... I am so sorry. I am sorry I couldn't save you. I am sorry that I can't be with you right now to hold you and tell you that everything is going to be ok. I am sorry that you didn't get to feel the sunshine on your face, or the grass tickle your skin. I am sorry I never got to hear your laugh or cry. I am sorry I never got to hear your little voice call out my name. I am sorry that I never got to give you a fraction of the things I wanted to give you in this life. 

I see roses everywhere. I want to gather them all and give every single one to you. Yet I realize that it won't help me to feel better. I could fill my whole yard with roses, I could fill my whole closet with rosy clothing... It'll never ever come close to filling the incredible void in my heart. None are half as beautiful as you. All I want is you. 

I love you, baby girl. I may not have been able to give you all the beautiful things that this world has to offer, but I have always and will always give you all of my love. You have my heart and you ARE my heart. One day we will meet again, and it will be so sweet. Until then, baby girl, please know how deeply I love you. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness

Have I ever mentioned how FABULOUS my fellow Dreamers are?? Because they really are the best of the best. I am so grateful for their love, support, and friendship.

Why are they so fabulous, you ask?? Well, check this out:

They made this beautiful flyer and then organized an event where people could perform random acts of kindness in Rosa's honor. :') Just beautiful!!

Here's how John & I participated.

We bought a dozen red roses. Six of them were given to Rosa in honor of her and her brothers & sisters (Robin and the four frozen embryos who we pray are healthy). The other six were given as gifts.
  1. Shopper at the Farmer's Market. She saw me while I was buying the flowers and commented that they were really pretty. She asked who they were for, and I told her they were for my daughter. She said, that's nice, for a graduation? How old is your daughter? I told her that my daughter was in heaven. She gave me a hug, and I gave her a rose. She asked if I was sure, and I said, yes, Rosa would have wanted her to have it.
  2. The receptionist at the vet's office. We had to make a visit because Mocha got injured from falling out of our bed last night :( She's ok, but we had to get her checked out. I didn't explain why I was giving the receptionist a rose. But it was nice to see her smile :)
  3. My MIL
  4. John's Grandmother
  5. The worker at the gate. My MIL's community is gated, so I handed a rose to the worker at the gate. She asked if there was a special reason why I was giving her a rose. I knew I wouldn't be able to explain it without crying, so I just smiled and said, "It's just a random act of kindness." She smiled back and said thank you.
  6. My neighbor. She and I were bump buddies... she is due three weeks after Rosa was due. She is expecting a baby girl. Sigh. It is and will be difficult to see her growing belly, and eventually growing baby girl... a constant marker of where Rosa should have been. So why did I give her the last rose? Because I feel like that would have made Rosa happy. I want to buy all the roses in the world... and I want to give them out to the whole world to leave Rosa's mark all over the place. It's like she is here whenever there is a rose. 

What Today Could Have Been

I have a voice message saved on my phone from Dr. Moldenhauer. The message was left on May 27th to tell us that we were scheduled to meet Rosa on June 24th: our scheduled C-section, 34 weeks and 1 day, the optimal time according to the neonatologists, surgeons, and MFMs given Rosa's circumstances. That message came just two days before the worst day of our lives... the day that Rosa's heart stopped beating.

You can probably imagine that June 24th - a day that was supposed to be happy, our daughter's birthday - has now become a day that will forever be remembered along with a string of "what ifs" and "could have beens" and "should have beens." We knew going into it that Rosa was going to have to fight and probably fight hard in order to survive... but in my heart, I really thought that she had a chance. We were completely blindsided by her fetal demise... even though we really had no right to be blindsided... the doctors told us all along that it was unfortunately a possibility.

So today is here. It's the day that should have been everything that it is not. We should have been in Philadelphia right now by Rosa's bedside as she fought and kicked ass and survived. We should have been starting a new chapter in our happily ever after. We should have been... but we are not...

Instead, the day started out with a restless night's sleep. I tossed and turned through most of the night. My legs felt so antsy that I remember actually kicking and almost running in my bed. I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin! I needed to MOVE!!! Mocha was also restless...

It really is remarkable to me the bond that Mocha and Rosa shared... and still share. Call me crazy, but I truly believe that they are connected on a spiritual level. Mocha just knew when things weren't right with Rosa. She sensed that Rosa was there. She snuggled my bump on several occasions, and it seemed that whenever Rosa took a turn for the worse, Mocha would have sympathy pains (causing us to run to the vet).

The night before we went to the hospital the last time, Mocha was restless. John distinctly recalls Mocha laying on my bump in the middle of the night and swears that was the moment that Rosa probably passed... I wouldn't put it past her to have known. When we returned home from the hospital, Mocha jumped up on the couch, sniffed my belly, then jumped down and turned her back to me. Is it possible that she knew Rosa was gone?? I really think she did.

So going back to today. It was three in the morning when I heard a THUMP. Mocha fell out of our bed :( Poor pup! I picked her up, and we cuddled and fell back to sleep. When we woke up this morning, she was limping. We took her to the vet and thankfully she's going to be alright, but she sprained her leg. My poor baby!

I got to thinking... and it just seems like more than a coincidence that Mocha got injured on THIS day. On Rosa's day. Perhaps a sign?

Taken just 10 minutes away from Kristen's house on June 23, 2015
There was a pretty severe storm last night in my hometown, the town that my parents live in. There were a few tornadoes that touched down, lots of downed trees, power is out. My parents' street is not passable due to a large tree blocking the cul de sac. We should have been there. If Rosa hadn't passed three weeks ago, we would have been at my parents' house during yesterday's storm. We would have been there in preparation for Rosa's birthday. We would have been trapped at my parents' house with a massive tree blocking the only way in and out. Now THIS is definitely a sign. At least, it is to me.

Between the storm, the literal road block on our route to the hospital, and Mocha's injury, I'm calling it a sign. Rosa is telling me that today was not our day. I will never know for certain if she would have survived had she had a chance to have her surgeries. But I know for sure that if she was born today like she should have been then she would have felt so much pain.

I so wish that things could have been different for our dear, sweet Rosa Kimberly. But I am thankful that she never felt pain. That I was able to endure all of the physical pain for her. That John & I, along with all our friends and family, will shoulder the emotional toll of losing her, and that she'll never have to know what pain feels like.

I am thankful that Rosa Kimberly only ever knew the loving embrace of my womb.

She only ever knew the sound of my heart. She never knew pain.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Maternal Instincts

I feel an intense need to cradle and rock a baby right now. My arms actually ache along with my heart right now. I am yearning for a baby. 

Mocha let me cradle and hold her for a bit. It felt nice. Then she had enough, so I'm currently rocking in the glider with the stuffed puppy we had made for Rosa. It has her heartbeat inside. I've been sleeping with the stuffed puppy ever since we got home from the hospital. 

I have been reading the book given to us by the hospital, Empty Cradle, Broken Heart. It has mentioned that all of the above may happen. Along with the feeling that you may be going crazy. When I first read it, I thought no way. Now, I see what the author means. 

I can't believe that this is even a thought in my mind, but I find myself wondering when we can try again. I want a baby in the worst way. I worry that we may not be able to get pregnant again. We had so much trouble getting pregnant in the first place. What if Rosa and Robin were our only chance? 

Dr. Ntoso recommended that we wait at least six months before getting pregnant again. I wonder why... Is that to allow for emotional healing? How much of that is for physical healing? I have wanted a baby in my arms for years now. I feel like it's my only chance of being truly happy... A piece of me is missing. I cannot get the piece back that is with Rosa in the cemetery. My heart is with her and always will be. But I hope and believe that a new life growing will help that piece of my heart to grow back. It'll never be the same. But I just see it as being my only way of repairing. 

Maybe it is too much to pin all of my hopes for happiness on another being that isn't necessarily ever going to exist. But I feel like it is meant to be. I am meant to be an earthly mother. And until that happens, I am incomplete. 

I am just rambling... It feels good to get it out and shed the thoughts like this. No editing, no filter. Even still, the lump in my throat is still present. Just like it has been for the past three weeks. I wonder if it'll ever go away. I wonder if the emptiness in my heart will ever fill in. 

I love you, Rosa & Robin. I hope you are safely waiting for me up in heaven. I think about you all the time. Not a second goes by when you're not in my thoughts and heart. I love you more than you will ever know. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

I Gave Birth to an Angel

I have been thinking about this moment & experience nonstop since it happened. But I haven't been able to find the words to adequately express the power and love within. I'm going to try now to tell the story. I hope I do it justice.

Friday, May 29, 2015 will forever be a sad, dark day. It is the day that we found out about Rosa Kimberly's fetal demise. Once Dr. Moldenhauer confirmed that Rosa's heart had stopped, she was silent for a long while. I knew what she was going to say, but waited for her words. Finally, she said, "I'm so sorry..." 

I turned on the exam table to face my husband, and curled up in a ball. The tears streamed down my face and my voice was trapped in my throat. Then the wailing started and John and I wept as the doctor and nurse excused themselves from the room to give us some privacy. 

When the doctor came back in, she spoke gently to us about our options. I had to deliver the baby. The safest, healthiest way for me was a vaginal birth rather than a C-section. I flashed back in my mind to the appointment two weeks ago with Dr. Martinez. He confirmed that Rosa's birth would be a certain C-section with the only exception being if she were to pass away in the womb. I remember thinking, 'God forbid that ever become an option,' and then stuffing the fear and horrible scenario away in my mind. How could this be happening? 

As the doctor spoke to me, I kept thinking of the scene in Divergent when Tris is in the simulation. She's trapped in the glass case, and it is quickly filling with water. She snaps out of her panic and the world seems to float along in slow motion as she looks at her reflection in the watery glass. Her reflection looks back at her and says, "This isn't real." She taps the glass with her finger and it cracks. Calmly and peacefully, she taps on the glass until suddenly, the glass shatters and gives way to the weight of the water. 

We settled very quickly on a vaginal birth, and now the question was when to start the induction. I had taken my prescription of Lovenox about six hours earlier, so the doctors wanted to wait for the medication to clear from my system. I told the medical team that I didn't want an epidural or any pain medications, but they insisted that we wait just in case I changed my mind. We were offered the chance to go home and gather our things, or to stay at the hospital. The thought of walking around with my daughter's lifeless body inside of me... I just couldn't bear the thought of the world going on like nothing had happened when in actuality our world would never be the same. We decided to stay at the hospital until it was time.

We were taken from the triage room to a delivery room at the end of the hallway. Dr. Ntoso told me to eat a good meal. I would need my strength. But food turned my stomach, I was too upset to eat. I managed to eat chicken noodle soup and part of a soft pretzel.

John called his parents to tell them the awful news... I called mine. I could hardly say a sentence without sobbing into the phone. My mother cried back on the other end of the line as she made sense of what I was saying. She said they'd be there soon.

We spoke to Dr. Cole and went over the plan we made just two days before. The "palliative care plan" just incase the unthinkable happened. Did we want to take pictures? Did we want to make momentos? Hand prints, cut lochs of her hair... When we made the plan, I had hoped to never see it again. Then Dr. Moldenhauer called to tell me that we would plan to meet Rosa on June 24th. But now that wouldn't be happening...

My parents & sister arrived while we were talking to Dr. Cole. They said hello, and then we told them we'd get them when we were done. Honestly, I can't remember much of what was said. I felt like I was in a fog.

My brother came up and brought me a picture that my nephew made. Dr. Ntoso came in at 8:00pm to give me the first dose of misoprostol. I felt mild contractions within ten minutes. My family left around 9:00 or 9:30. I was sleeping by 10:00pm. The nurse and doctor came back in at midnight to put in the next dose. I couldn't fall back to sleep, so around 2:00am I asked for an Ambien. The plan was to get two more doses of the misoprostol at 4:00am and 8:00am, but I woke up at 6:00am and the nurse told me that they decided to wait because my contractions were too close together.

At 9:15am on Saturday, the doctor put in the next dose. Again, I felt mild contractions within 10 minutes. At this point, my cervix was 70% effaced and 2 cm dilated. My parents, sisters and brother all came back to be with us. I called Father Bruce to tell him what was happening, and he said he'd come around 1:30pm. My best friend, Kim, drove up from Virginia. My best friend, Kristen, came too.

The next dose of misoprostol was put in at 1:15pm. The contractions started to become much more painful, but I was able to manage them by breathing through them. I sat on the birthing ball, and held onto the side of the bed. I started feeling nauseous and as I mentioned this to the nurse I said that I should probably have a puke bucket nearby. Actually, I need one RIGHT NOW. The second it was handed to me, I got sick. I told the nurse that I wanted some anti-nausea medication. I could deal with most physical pain, but nausea and vomiting bring out the wimp in me. I got some zofran and as it was dissolving under my tongue, I felt the nausea creep back.

Kim took a deep breath and said, "So what mile are we on?" She was referencing a marathon because she knows how meaningful that is to me. I mumbled, "I don't know," while reaching for the puke bucket and vomited again. So much for the zofran! Kristen went to tell the nurse, and they gave me an intravenous version of the medication. The nausea went away almost instantly.

Father Bruce arrived around 2:00pm, and everyone cleared out of the room so John & I could talk to him privately. I told him that I might not be able to participate in the conversation too well because the contractions were getting intense. It wasn't long before I think I scared him! He said that he was present for his wife's three C-sections, but this was the first time that he was ever in the room with a laboring woman. I'm sure it wasn't pretty to witness! He & John eventually left the room, and the nurse stayed with me.

I went back and forth between the birthing ball and the rocking chair. At some point, I think my water broke. That was a surprise to me because there was no amniotic fluid detectable over the past six weeks. The contractions were so intensely painful. I started to wonder if I could do this without medications. I had no idea that I was in active labor at this point. I just knew that it was extremely painful.

The midwife checked on me at some point within all this. I was 80% effaced and 4 cm dilated. She apologized saying, "I know you probably hoped to be farther along." I hadn't really hoped for anything... I had no expectations for this experience. The only thing I had invested my hope in for the past three years was already gone.

Father Bruce came back in the room and said a blessing over me and the baby. The contractions made it very hard to focus, but I'm glad he was there to do that for us.

John & I stayed in the room alone from this point with the nurse & midwife coming in every now and then to check. John tried to comfort me, but nothing made me feel better. He asked me questions. I couldn't answer except in one word responses. "Water." He came running to my side with the water mug. I got up from the birthing ball and walked towards the bathroom. He came running over to move my IV pole. He was trying so hard to take care of me, and find out what I needed and wanted. I couldn't respond to him. I was so focused and concentrated on each contraction.

I felt like I had to push, but I wasn't able to verbalize it. I thought it might help to use the bathroom, and that's when John realized that he had to get the nurse. The midwife came in and said that she would check me. She said very calmly, "You are about ready to go." There was a lot of commotion around me as the nurse assembled the instrument table and the doctor came into the room. Jessi, the midwife, told me to try to breathe through the next two contractions to allow my cervix to get completely ready. I wanted to push very much, but tried to breathe it out.

Finally, Jessi said to push. She was so calm and serene. Pushing felt like a relief. The contractions almost seemed to disappear. Now the pain was entirely focused on the baby trying to come out. The time in between contractions and pushing seemed to stretch on for a long time. I winced from the pain, and Jessi assured me that it was ok, that it was just stretching. I sat with the pain and accepted it for what it was. It was uncomfortable and peaceful at the same time.

The room was so quiet. The nurse held one leg back and taught John how to hold the other. I looked to Jessi for direction. She quietly told me what to do. The look in her eyes was serene and sympathetic.

Rosa was breech, so her butt came out first. John decided not to look, but was asking what it looked like. Jessi explained that it looked like the baby was crowning, but instead of her head, her butt was poking out. I said, "She's butting." John misheard me and thought I said, "She's budding." That way was much better <3

After about four pushes, her butt, legs, and body were out. Just a few more pushes to get her head out. On the next push, I felt a woosh as she slipped out. It was the most incredible, indescribable feeling. John cut the cord, and the doctor and midwife explained to him that the placenta still had to come out. They said it could take 30-45 minutes more. But with the next contraction and push, it came out. All of the pain stopped. The nurse handed Rosa to me, and I just marveled at her beauty. She was beautiful.

It was such a peaceful moment. I couldn't believe how sweet her face was. Her skin was so soft. I wrapped her little hand around my thumb and stroked her cheeks with my finger. She was so perfect.

The world kept whizzing on, I'm sure, but for me, it's like the world stopped in that moment. I am still stuck there. I think I will be for the rest of my life. I gave birth to an angel. I can't wait until the day comes when I can join her in heaven. I love her so much.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

So much pain

My heart hurts so much... I don't understand why stuff like this can happen. I miss her so much. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

So much love!!!

I cannot begin to express how blessed I am... The love and support that John & I have been feeling is overwhelming and simply amazing! Our friends and family, our sisterhood of dreamers and internet friends, our colleagues and communities at work, our church... Just everyone! So many people, I just can't keep up with the love ❤️

One of the readings we selected for Rosa's Requiem Eucharist comes to mind. 

Wisdom 4:7-14

But the righteous, though they die early, will be at rest. For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years;
but understanding is gray hair for anyone, 
and a blameless life is ripe old age. There were some who pleased God and were loved by him, and while living among sinners were taken up. They were caught up so that evil might not change their understanding or guile deceive their souls. For the fascination of wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind. Being perfected in a short time, they fulfilled long years; for their souls were pleasing to the Lord, therefore he took them quickly from the midst of wickedness. 

Is it possible that Rosa's soul felt so much love that she was deemed ready by God for the next life? I think so. She was surrounded by so much love... I am so grateful that she felt that. I know she's up in heaven now, and I know one day we will be together again. And in the meantime, the love we feel here from our incredible support system lifts us up. 

Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you ❤️

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ethan's Mother

I went to the cemetery this afternoon to visit Rosa. It really is a beautiful place. It's more like a park than anything else. I see myself running there a lot in the future. 

When John & I went on Tuesday, we noticed that Rosa's 'neighbor' was a baby boy born last September. His grave had a tag with his name which said "Ethan DeRosa." We were instantly struck by the last name and its resemblance of our daughter's name. But simultaneously we also noticed the boy's first name: Ethan. When we thought Rosa was a boy, Ethan was my top choice for a name. Today, I noticed that Ethan's headstone was installed. It is beautiful. 

I brought a basket of rose petals and sprinkled them on Rosa's grave. Then I sat in the grass and showed her the cross stitch project that I started. 

I stitched for a little while and then put it away. I played 'our song' and sang to her. As the song was finishing, I noticed through my tears that a woman was parking her car and walking towards us. 

The woman was Ethan's mother. She was so kind. We shared our stories. She told me it gets easier. She gave me some flowers which she brought saying that she bought extra. She told me that she has never met anyone at the cemetery before. She is usually the only one there. 

I feel like it was meant to be for Rosa to be laid to rest next to Ethan. The significance of his name was enough, but to also give Margaret, his mother, and I the chance to meet... It's just beautiful. It was very comforting to talk to Margaret, to hear Ethan's story, to see his picture. It was difficult yet easy for me to tell her Rosa's story. We understood each other. One grieving mother to another. 

Finding my Voice

I don't even know where to begin...

Rosa Kimberly was born sleeping on May 30, 2015.
She weighed 3 lbs 6 oz, measured 15 inches long, and was a perfect little angel.
Not exactly the birth announcement I envisioned... I miss her so much. I don't understand how this can be allowed to happen to anyone. It is truly the cruelest, most vile pain I have ever known in my entire life. 

What happened... the whole pregnancy was so scary. We felt like we were cheating the system the whole time. Like it was too good to be true. God, I wish we were wrong about that.

I think back to the past eight months... three years... so much has happened. My heart has filled with love until it ran over, and then been smashed to pieces so many times... I have lost count. Now, I feel like I am empty. Walking around with a huge hole in my chest where my heart used to be. It fills with hurt and sadness, darkness and despair. 

She was so beautiful. I cannot describe how beautiful her face was. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

26 Weeks

Once again, I have gone MIA from this blog. I wish I could tell you it's because I've been whisked away in a happy pregnant bliss, nesting to my heart's content, and enjoying everything there is about pregnancy. Unfortunately, things have been very difficult and the pregnancy is not going so well. It has been full of surprises...

***Warning: high risk pregnancy update***

Let's start with the happy surprise. We learned at another anatomy scan that our little ninja babe is NOT a boy... IT'S A GIRL!!! Apparently, it was too soon to tell at our 16 week scan, and the doctors got it wrong! What a surprise! Not to sound cliché, but, truly, boy or girl, it doesn't matter to us as long as the baby is healthy. Either way is a blessing!

Unfortunately, during the anatomy scan the doctors also discovered a few complications with the baby. Our little girl has congenital heart disease, more specifically a hyperplastic aortic arch and a ventricular septal defect, and will require surgery after birth. There are a few other complications, but I don't want to get into them here. Thankfully, we were told that the surgeries would give our baby a very hopeful prognosis. 
This diagnosis came back in March at 18 weeks. It took us some time to adjust to and accept the situation, but we figured that things would be tough for a while, but we'd get through it. 

Then when we returned for another ultrasound at 24 weeks, we found out that the baby's condition was a lot worse. She has fluid in her belly, and the amniotic fluid was very low. Why this was happening, no one could be sure. I was not leaking fluid, and I had no signs of preterm labor. Due to the baby's heart condition, she would not survive if she were delivered until at the earliest 28 weeks. At the present moment, there are no interventions we can do but wait. 

The next week, we found that there is now no amniotic fluid. This is very concerning, and presents several risks to the baby: lung development, muscle tone, joint constriction, and the chance of fetal demise. I am paying close attention to the baby's movements & am to report to the hospital if I don't feel her move after a few hours... It has been extremely unnerving to say the least. 

Thankfully, the baby has been moving regularly, and somehow we are managing to keep our heads. We are preparing for a delivery as early as 28 weeks (May 12th) and no later than 34 weeks (June 23rd). We are praying that our little ninja survives the pregnancy, and when she is born that she is ready for a fight. I believe in my heart that she is a fighter. We are doing our best to stay positive and healthy. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

16 Week Growth Scan

Our appointment at the OB for the 16 week growth scan went really well. It was the first time that we went to a baby-related appointment and didn't come out with a new risk or concern to worry about. Thank goodness!

The Wharton jelly cysts seem to be gone now - whew! The ultrasound tech couldn't get a look at the entire umbilical cord because the baby was moving around so quickly, but we did get to see the section closest to the baby. That's where the cysts were noted last time, and there were none to be seen this time. HOORAY!

The baby's growth is right on track and we heard the heartbeat going strong at 136bpm. We've been listening on the home doppler, and I just love that sound!! I made a recording on my cell phone, and then on Valentine's Day, we went to Build-a-Bear and recorded the sound to be stuffed inside of an adorable puppy dog. It's so sweet that we can press a button and hear that glorious sound anytime we want :)

My MFM asked for my cervix to be measured as a baseline. I think he is just being ultra cautious, which I appreciate. At this stage of the game, they're looking for a measurement over 3.5cm. Mine is an overachiever at 4.7cm. I'm so thankful that this is not an area we have to be concerned about. They will continue to monitor my cervix just in case, but I'm feeling good about it (and a whole lot less paranoid about going for a run!! Now, if we could just get the ice outta here!).

Before starting the ultrasound, the tech said that she wasn't specifically looking for the sex of the baby, but if she happened to see it, did we want to know? I got a huge grin on my face and said, yes please!! I always thought that I would want to be surprised at the birth, but this pregnancy feels different to me. When we first thought that we would be having twins, John & I decided that we would find out. And then when we lost our angel, and it turned into a singleton pregnancy, I was still invested in finding out. I also had to disconnect myself from the pregnancy for a while to protect my heart while I grieved. I thought that finding out the sex of the baby would help me to connect a little more.

I was right! Now that we know, this pregnancy is finally starting to feel real! Wait, wait... did you miss the big announcement? No :) I'm just being dramatic!

IT'S A BOY!!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

NT Scan

We had our NT scan on Thursday, January 29th. For the most part it went very well aside from my extreme paranoia and one small, hopefully nothing-to-worry-about complication.

This was my first transabdominal ultrasound, and I have to say... it's pretty awesome not having to drop my drawers! The ultrasound tech got to work right away and started taking pictures while pointing out the various parts of our baby's anatomy. I wish I could have relaxed to enjoy it more... she waited until about five minutes in to find the heartbeat, and I was convinced that she was going to tell me that the baby's heart had stopped beating or that the baby didn't grow. Once we heard that beautiful thump-thump, I started to cry and felt so relieved.

It took about 15 minutes and a lot of poking and pleading to get the baby into the proper position for the NT test. I started feeling nervous that the baby wasn't responding and that perhaps there was a problem. But the tech told us that this was normal, and at this stage, the babies just do whatever they want. Whew. Finally, she got the pictures and measurements she needed and left to get the doctor.

We met Dr. M, and I really liked her a lot. This practice is large, and you don't see the same doctor every time. You are supposed to see a different doctor at each appointment throughout your pregnancy so that you have met everyone by the time you deliver. Sounds good to me! Dr. M took the time to explain everything that she was seeing and to answer all of our questions. I really felt like she listened to us and respected our difficult path and past.

She found some cysts on the baby's umbilical cord, and insisted that we don't stress out about them... uh huh... yeah, ok. They are called Wharton's jelly cysts, which aren't too common. Apparently only 3% of pregnancies have this occurrence. Ugh. I'm getting tired of being in the 1-3%. Anyway, she said that they usually resolve by the beginning of the second trimester, and as long as they do then it's no big deal. My big concern? I was 13 weeks 2 days at the time of the ultrasound... isn't that basically the end of first tri and beginning of second?? Sigh. We go back in two weeks to make sure they're gone. We asked what if they don't go away, and she said that it is not good, but we're not going to get ahead of ourselves. (Again, yeah, ok, we are capable of consulting Dr. Google... which, yeah, don't do that. SCARY. These suckers need to get the eff out)

We are THRILLED that our ninja's growth has completely caught up!! S/he had been consistently measuring six days behind until 11 weeks. S/he caught up two days at our 11 week scan, and was four days behind. Now we are only ONE DAY behind, and if you ask me, that's not behind!! Woohoo!! Way to grow, Ninja!!

We also got an awesome glimpse of his/her ninja tooshie - quite possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen!! Poor John kept saying, I don't see what you girls are talking about! It all looks like blobs to me!! The ultrasound tech pointed out the baby's butt, thighs and feet on the screen! I am so in love <3

We have been telling our news a little more here and there. No big, official announcements yet. I am kinda terrified to do that. Though, of course, I have an awesome reveal plan :D At work, it's customary to make announcements with food in the Teacher's Room. So I plan to make a sign that says something along the lines of:
Cici is in training for the BABY Z MARATHON!! 
I made a course map & plan to make a race bib with the EDD. Then I'll set out some healthy runner snacks.

I have still yet to determine if we'll share the news on Facebook... I just don't know if I feel right about it. I am so, deeply paranoid... Part of me doesn't want to jinx anything. Especially knowing the additional risks we are up against thanks to my Sjogren's Syndrome (the baby is at a higher risk for fetal heart block).

I wish we could just enjoy this, and I could just feel like a normal pregnant lady. But after all we've been through... it's just not in the cards for us. I am simply grateful that we are even to this point, and I just pray every day that we make it to August and have our happy, healthy rainbow baby in our arms to care for and adore for the rest of our lives. This still doesn't feel real... even this morning, I was at (my first) prenatal yoga class, and I found myself crying during the meditation. I just can't believe that this is really happening. To us. To me. The thought brings me to tears every time it hits me. After going through hell and back to get pregnant... and then having a rocky start with a SCH and vanishing twin syndrome...... it has been so hard.

And now to leave things on a happy note! Here's our little cutie. And, and, and, AND!!!! The doctor gave me clearance to RUN AGAIN!!!! I can't express how happy this makes me! To be able to say that I'm finally running for two... this is a dream come true :')

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

13 weeks - whaaaaaaat?!?

I am beside myself right now... How.... HOW?!? is it possible that I am 13 weeks pregnant today? It still does not feel real. It's like it is too good to be true. 

Our baby is the size of a peach, and measures about 3 inches long. Vocal cords are forming. Unreal. It is just UNREAL that this is happening inside my body right now. 

I am so grateful. And in love. I can't wait until Thursday to see our little ninja squirrel at our NT scan. I pray all is well. 

My Angels <3

A friend and fellow IF bump buddy of mine inspired me to pick up a new cross stitch kit. I love counted cross stitch, and have made several pieces in the past. I could definitely use something to keep me busy (and my mind off of all the running I wish I were doing). 

I have a birth announcement kit with owls. I started it when I was feeling hopeful about IVF#3... I don't know if I can finish it for this baby or not. I have to think about it and see if it feels right. 

In the meantime, I ordered two kits that I will dedicate to all my angels... All the embryos who arrested and didn't make it to transfer (especially from IVF#2...), Frostie Ninja, and Angel Ninja. My heart hurts for them all every day... Especially our vanishing twin... I am so sad about what could have been. 

Here are the kits... Now it's just a matter of which one to start first :) I think I'll hang one in Ninja Squirrel's room, and the other in the Reading Room. Which one should I start first?? 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sneaky Ninja

Where has Cici been? I guess I dropped off the face of the earth in terms of this blog, and now it's time to fess up!!


It is amazing to write that out loud, and I am excited to publish it to the Internet. Holy crap, it still doesn't feel real!! 

I have been absent for so long around here, so let's go back in time for a quick recap of the past four months. 

October - Precycle with the RE and Dr. KK. It.was.intense. I kid you not, I was seeing practitioners at least three times a week from this point on. Holy cow. I started medications the first week of October and had A MILLION vials of blood drawn to make sure the protocol was going according to plan. I started the Lupron phase on October 27th, and it was all zoom zoom from there!

November - the stim phase started on November 1st. I had to make a trip out to see Dr. KK in Chicago on November 7th and by some miracle, my uterus was looking great, follicles were doing their thing. Our egg retrieval was on November 11th and.... cue tears.... NINETEEN EGGS WERE RETRIEVED. This next part is the part that always had me up in knots... The time from ER to ET... I have legitimate PTSD from this part... But it all went amazingly well!!! Our Day 1 report was as good as it could be... SEVENTEEN EGGS MATURE, ALL FERTILIZED!!! The next five days, I did everything I could to not lose my mind. November 16th was our transfer.... We transferred two gorgeous blastocysts. I cannot begin to describe the love in my heart for these bundles of cells... The emotions were and are overwhelming. 
The two week wait...... The plan was to go beta or bust, but the night before our blood test I had some spotting and FREAKED OUT. We took a HPT at 12:34 in the morning on November 24th and IT WAS POSITIVE!!!!

December - betas were rising nicely, and we had several ultrasounds to see that things were progressing along for a TWIN PREGNANCY. Overjoyed does not touch it. I had always dreamed of being a twin mama. I truly feel it is in my destiny. Sadly, it didn't last long... On December 22nd, the RE couldn't find the second heartbeat :( We fall amongst the 30% of twin pregnancies that experience vanishing twin syndrome. Devastated. We were and are devastated by this loss. Our sweet Angel Ninja... 
Thankfully, the surviving twin is going strong, though it was a shaky two weeks because s/he was measuring behind. Our RE discussed a "guarded prognosis" with us... Christmas was ruined. We were so scared. 

January - we grieved and will always continue to grieve the loss of Angel Ninja right along side the other significant losses we have experienced on this bumpy road... Frostie Ninja... All the arrested embryos from IVF #1-3... Specifically #2 when we didn't even make it to transfer. Our hearts have been broken so many times over the past two years, and we will forever carry those scars with us. 

Today, January 25th, I am 12 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I can't adequately describe the overwhelming feelings that brings on... Joy, fear, relief, paranoia, excitement, happiness.... So many feelings and all intense. We pray every day that August 2015 brings us a real, live, happy, healthy baby. Our baby. I get all choked up thinking about it... 

And then I look at that picture... Or listen to the sweet sounds of his/her heartbeat on the doppler... And all of the stress melts away. I love this Ninja so, very much. There is nothing I wouldn't do for him/her.