Monday, October 31, 2011

Pre-Transfer Jitters...

Last night after I published my journal entry from my parent's home computer, I started packing up to leave. We had fed the boys their dinner and decided to take a chance that when we got home the power would be back on. If not, we'd just bundle everyone up to keep warm. Just when we turned our backs for a minute, Gavin was going up my parents stairs. When we got to the stairs he was only two steps up. But he turned when he heard us and fell. Right on his face. I've mentioned before that Gavin doesn't express pain very much. When he cries out in pain - and keeps crying - you know it's bad. He had cut his lip from the inside - he must have bit it. And his lip instantly started to swell. It was the icing on what was already a really bad day. The good news? When we pulled into our development, our neighbors porch lights lit the way down the street. We had our power back. Thank God. And our food seems to have survived after 27 hours. We knew to not open any of the doors.

It was confirmed that tomorrow is my embryo transfer. We need to be at the fertility clinic at 8:30 for an 8:45 transfer. My discomfort from the egg retrieval has not subsided too much. Actually my abdomen has become so distended and bloated I look like I'm about four months pregnant. Ed stayed home from work so I could rest my body for tomorrow's procedure so I did just that. I spent most of the day in bed with my heating pad.

This is a big deal - this embryo transfer. I am trying to remain stress-free so I can go into tomorrow with positive energy, but it has been hard. I'm a bundle of nerves which is not good. After the transfer, I will stay at the clinic for a half hour to an hour laying flat. I need to ride home with the seat back so I'm in a lying position. Then, when I get home, I'm on strict bed rest for 24 hours. I'm allowed up to pee. After all I've gone through to get to this point, I'm taking the bed rest part very seriously. I want to be sure I do everything I can to make this a success. There was a lot of stress this afternoon trying to secure help at the house for those 24 hours since Ed has something going on at work he doesn't want to miss. I'm almost there. Ugh.

I snuck out of the house late this afternoon as I was determined to meet our friends new baby, A.J.! It was my only chance for a while because of my transfer tomorrow! I'm so glad I went. It turns out that they are in the same room that Brian and I spent four days in after his birth. As I sat there holding their new little NINE POUND bundle, it was easy to remember the happy days I spent there holding a brand new Brian. A.J. is just a gorgeous baby and, let me tell you, he felt so perfect in my arms.

I know I ask for a lot of positive thoughts from you. Here I am again. I could use all the positivity and white light and prayers that you can muster as I go into tomorrow. I really want this to work. I need it to work.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Bundle of Hope...

Well. Where to begin. Since I last wrote, things have gone from bad to worse. Due to a freak October snow storm, we have now been without power, heat and hot water for about 27 hours. We stayed at the house last night - bundling up under comforters and extra socks - but spent this afternoon at my parent's house in order to feed the boys and keep warm. Everyone in my town is without power, so I couldn't farm out Gavin's food that fills our stand up freezer to neighbors. I'm just praying that we can salvage it when we get home. The power is "supposedly" coming back on around 8pm, but we'll see.

Last night my pain from the egg retrieval intensified - in a big way. I was only partially comfortable in a sitting up position - but was still having trouble taking deep breaths. At one point, around 11pm, I tried to lay down. Turns out that was a huge mistake. I instantly couldn't breathe and felt such intense pain that I actually started screaming a little. I couldn't get into a comfortable position - and couldn't breathe - which freaked Ed out and sent him scrambling around threatening to call an ambulance. We settled on calling the fertility doctor who said that what I was feeling was normal. Oh, really? If it's so normal, why was I told to expect "mild cramping" and "just take it easy" and "if you worked, you'd be able to go back to work after the retrieval." This to me was FAR from normal. I've had two C-Sections. This pain felt worse than both of them. No joke. So he told me to try to sleep propped up and to come in for an ultrasound in the morning.

Sleep never came. I mostly cried.

We woke up to a house that registered at 59 degrees. We fed the boys and Ed drove me over to the fertility clinic to get my ultrasound. They saw that I had blood clots and extra fluid floating around under my rib cage and in my abdomen area. That's what is causing so much pain. Nothing serious - I don't have any ovarian hypsertimulation issues. He gave me some meds for the pain and said I should feel better in 24 hours. My entire belly is distended - making me look like the pregnant woman I long to be - and is tender to touch.

Then - as if our day didn't already suck - I got the call from the embryologist in the lab. She was calling with the fertilization report. Out of the 9 eggs that they retrieved, only 2 successfully fertilized. And the two that fertilized looked "iffy" I was told. This was a crushing blow. In that the car...with the boys...Ed and I had to make a serious decision.

We had decided before all of this to do the genetic testing on the embryos to prevent transferring a chromosomally abnormal embryo into my womb. This testing is about 5-6 thousand dollars. The embryologist asked me if I wanted to proceed with PGD (which is what it's called) or if we wanted to freeze these two embryos - start a fresh cycle - and hope that we can add more to send for testing. Basically - do we want to pay that huge chunk of change once for many embryos or twice, testing two now and more later if we didn't get pregnant. Follow?

We decided to skip the testing. We never had it before with our cycles before IVF and if it wasn't offered to us it never would have mattered. Skipping the testing changes everything. Whereas before our embryo transfer would have been six days after my egg retrieval - on Friday - it is now going to be this Tuesday. After the embryo transfer I need to remain in bed for 24 hours. So please pray - hard - that there are no more storms or power outages or heater malfunctions or ANYTHING to get in the way of this recovery!!!

Today (and last night) have been very challenging. All I want is my own bed and a heating pad and rest. Instead I've been displaced, had no rest and have been up and down all day and night. Just for once I would love for something to go smoothly for me. It's starting to get old that everything is a struggle.

But - believe it or not - there is a bright light in all of this! I hate to share such a whiny post with such great news, but I can't keep this in. Our good friends, Drew and Melissa, had their baby boy last night! I've written about them before - back when they had a party to reveal his gender...and then the baby shower that was at my house. Andrew Joseph - or A.J. - is gorgeous. I can't wait to meet him and am so happy for our friends!!

He is such a beautiful baby. Actually, this is a nice way to end this post. He's a little bundle of hope.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Egg Retrieval...

This morning was my egg retrieval and I was really...really anxious. I was given explicit timing instructions for everything - like, "Take your HCG trigger shot EXACTLY at 9:30pm - no earlier and no later" and "Be at the office at 10am for an 11am procedure - don't be late." It didn't help my anxiety that we sat in the waiting room until 10:20am...and then we were late getting back into the OR for the retrieval. It also didn't help matters that I had a tremendous fear that I had already ovulated. If you've ever tried to conceive, you know that you *know* that feeling - you know when ovulation is happening and you know when it's over. I swore it was over. As the nurse struggled to get the IV in and move it all around claiming "rolling veins" - total TMI - I started to cry. I concocted this scenario in my head - I'd come out of anesthesia to faces over me telling me that all the eggs had already released and they were too late.

Lucky for me they brought the anesthesiologist in quickly after the nurse's failed IV attempt. He got the IV in - in record time - and it was fast moving from that point. I'll spare you the details of the OR and the crazy contraption with stirrups and straps. Yikes.

I woke up in recovery feeling pretty darn uncomfortable. They told me that out of the 14 follicles I had watched leading up to the retrieval...they were able to harvest 9. It's hard not to be a little disappointed - but I have to remember that not every follicle has an egg. And 9 is not too shabby. And we really only need one good one. Out of curiosity, I asked the nurse whey I needed anesthesia for this procedure. She told me that it would be inhuman and barbaric to do it without. Alrighty then. I needed extra pain medicine as it got a little unbearable - and then we were sent home.

It was quite a shock to walk out of the clinic to a winter wonderland. The drive home was actually pretty scary with downed trees and slippery roads and ambulances passing us. Hopefully falling snow in October on the day of my egg retrieval was little messages from Heaven telling us it was going to be alright. Sounds poetic enough to be true!

Since I've been home my pain has been intense. Ed took over with the boys and I've been propped up in bed with a heating pad. No one warned me that the pain would be this bad! I was told to expect "mild cramping" and this is definitely far from mild. I've been googling non stop and am a bit reassured to read that the pain I'm experiencing isn't uncommon...but wow. If you've gone through an egg retrieval I'd really appreciate hearing your post retrieval experience. How you felt, how long it lasted, what you did for it, etc. I am struggling!

So now the hard part begins. The long and torturous wait. They will call me tomorrow to let me know how many of my eggs were successfully fertilized. Then I will get updates throughout the week with their progress - which ones are growing, which ones are not, which ones are out of the running. Then, probably on Thursday or Friday, I will go back for the embryo transfer.

I. Am. Stressed.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Pre-Surg Burrito...

Today I was...and am...a bundle of nerves in anticipation for tomorrow's egg retrieval. But today was also very busy - which was a bit of a blessing. It didn't give me a whole lot of extra time to obsess!

It started off bright and early when my foot escaped from under my covers and came back to report that it was FREEZING. And not your "oh, it must be cold outside" kind of freezing. It was more like a "Is the air conditioner on by accident??" Turned out our heater wasn't working. Luckily a few hours (and several hundred dollars) later we were fitted with a new fan pump and were toasty warm in no time.

Miss Stephanie had to endure the cold house during Gavin's Occupational Therapy. For the past few weeks she has had a student intern named Andy shadowing her. (Note to self: take picture of Andy!) Last night Andy made pumpkin spice play dough! How adorable is that? It smelled good enough to eat.
Brian and I made pretend cookies at the other end of the table and pretended to eat them!
She also brought a mini pumpkin for Gavin, which was so sweet. I pulled out our paints and she attempted to convince Gavin to hold the little paint brush so they could decorate it. It was slightly unsuccessful - Gavin has resisted ANYONE holding his hands or making him do things with his hands lately.
After short naps (for the boys - not me!) it was time for Gavin's physical therapy with Miss Wendy. Wendy hasn't been here for a couple weeks and was amazed at the changes in Gavin. She eased him into therapy by just following his lead in the beginning - observing how much stronger he's gotten. But Gavin was not feeling PT today and cried...scratch that...SOBBED most of the way through. The heartbreaking bury his head in his hands on the floor kind of sobbing. I didn't take a single picture because I was trying to cheer him up! Poor Wendy felt horrible - but it wasn't her. I think Gavin was just in a mood. Not that I would know anything about that...

But can we just talk about how cool Gavin looked today?
So, tomorrow.

Ed and I need to be at the fertility clinic at 10am for an 11am procedure. I am NPO from midnight tonight until tomorrow. In preparation, I went out and got myself the biggest chicken burrito from Wegman's. I'm pretty sure that was on the list of pre-surg instructions. That - and my favorite cake. I will be under anesthesia for the egg retrieval. Once they pluck out all of my eggs they will then fertilize them with Ed's, you know. I will be brought to recovery and sent home rather quickly where I will remain in bed for the rest of the day. I already have a stack of magazines and the DVR packed!

Then, we wait. We pray that the fertilization is successful for at least one of the eggs! After five days, I will go back for what's called an embryo transfer. But during those five days we have chosen to have genetic testing done on the eggs. It's a quite fascinating process. They're somehow able to extract a few cells and test them for chromosomal abnormalities. If they were to find any embryos that would have genetic defects that would be incompatible with life - they will clearly not choose them for the transfer. It's very possible that the number of miscarriages I have had were because of chromosomal abnormalities. This process could save me from another loss.

I really am very nervous about tomorrow - and all next week. And it didn't help matters when my doctor - the one I've had for years at this fertility clinic - called tonight to tell me he won't be there tomorrow. He had to go out of town. So another doctor - who happens to be Ed's old fraternity brother - is going to do the procedure. I'm quite crushed to lose the comfort of the doctor I love...but I know I am in capable hands. It's just an emotional connection.

I'll write tomorrow with an update on how it all went. I'm grateful to Miss Katja for helping us all day tomorrow. She really has been such a good friend.

Thank you, as always, for your positive thoughts and prayers and encouragement. It means so much to me.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Retractions and Extractions...

There's a reason that I don't work for Time Magazine. Looks like I'm not much of a fact checker. I got a few emails politely correcting some of my statements about Proloquo2Go. What I should have said was "We have not been able to figure out how to..." or "I'm too busy to go through eight steps to..." or "I can't be bothered reading the very detailed manual and need something quicker to manage." Instead I made bold, sweeping statements like "You can't add your own photos" (which apparently is not true!). I am hereby retracting all of my incorrect and grandiose statements about Proloquo2Go - except the part where I said it was a great app. Because it is. And I went back and edited yesterday's post. I guess I would never make a good journalist. Oh well.

Thank you again to Kirsten and Eric, the developers of the So Much 2 Say Communication App I reviewed yesterday. Apple allots them only a small amount of free trials to give away - and by the time I did my review she had gone through a lot. But I feel lucky that I am able to give TWO away tonight. It hurts my heart to not be able to pick everyone - but I feel better knowing that the app is VERY affordable if you choose to buy it. So, with that said... in a lottery drawing done just now with Ed as a witness - the app promo codes go to:

Serena O'Malley
Courtney Norris

I will be emailing you your promo codes this evening! I'd love for you to stop back and let us know how your child does with the app.

Today was busy from the start. Miss Katja was nice to come early this morning so I could get to an appointment with the fertility clinic. I had to leave the house at 7:40. More on that later. When I got home we literally put the kids in the car right away and headed to the pediatrician for flu vaccinations! Gavin smiled through his injection...and Brian easily took the flu mist. No tears here!!

After lunch it was time for Gavin's teacher to come. Miss Janna is always so wonderful to Brian when he's around during therapy. Today he happened to have a late lunch and wasn't yet down for his nap. He never likes to miss the action...

...and Janna often includes him in such a sweet way.

Gavin and Brian are both very enamored with Miss Janna.

There is big news on the fertility front. After my ultrasound this morning showed ten mature follicles on my left side - and four on my right - I was scheduled for my egg retrieval this Saturday! Everything is very regimented in IVF. When they called me I had to immediately take my stimulation injections - the one's I've been taking every night. Then...exactly at 9:30 this evening, Ed is in charge of injecting me with HCG. Why Ed? Well - it has to go in my hip area and since it's a very long needle it's a bit awkward to do by myself. He's a sport to do this - for sure. The HCG is to trigger the follicles to release their eggs - just in time for them to be extracted by the doctor on Saturday morning. I will be under anesthesia for this. It's all pretty fascinating; but I have to say - this whole process has been enormously stressful for me. It may not show on the outside - it's business as usual around here. But I'm a wreck. There is so much riding on this - for me. I am a little worried about how I'll handle it if it's not a success. But I guess we'll cross that bridge if we come to it. In the meantime - I need to start trying to relax. My body is so tense I can barely breathe. It's not in my hands. It's not in my hands. It's not in my hands. Rinse, repeat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So Much 2 Say...

As promised in yesterday's post, I want to share my thoughts on a new app on the market called "So Much 2 Say". I was given the opportunity to test it for 30 days if I agreed to review it here on my blog. While this is normally not my "thing" on this blog - I am very happy to make an exception in this case. Why? Because I feel like this app was exactly what we have been waiting on for Gavin. And I feel like we can't be the only family around that feels desperate for a more "user friendly" communication app (at a low price). The only thing I get from this review is 30 days free. And the developers have graciously offered some of my readers free trials as well - which I will give away by lottery to those of you who are interested.

I've mentioned before that Gavin currently uses (or tries to use) Proloquo2Go. This was the only app that I could find that was suitable for him and not too difficult. What WAS difficult was on my end and his therapists end. Changing pictures and setting up pages and choosing icons - it was a process. And Gavin isn't always patient for a long process. Also, Proloquo2Go doesn't let you record your own voice. Sure, they have male and female - deep and high pitch - Indian and British...but it's still some unfamiliar voice. It also uses icons which I really struggle with. Gavin is developmentally delayed. I don't want to confuse him by showing him a stick figure and trying to teach him it stands for "Daddy". Or a foreign looking cup that looks nothing like his own. It never made sense to me. I've been told that you can add your own photos - but I guess the fact that we could never figure it out says it all. Do I think Proloquo2Go is a great app? I do! But for this's too advanced. And, quite frankly, it gives me a headache trying to figure out the complicated set up with grids and categories and a thousand icons to choose from for one's a lot for this old lady.

So.... I happened upon a post on Facebook from a woman named Kirsten. She and her husband, Eric, developed the So Much 2 Say app. They have two daughters named Autumn and Ava with multiple disabilities - both are non-verbal. The app was intended to be a personal communication app for them that they could easily customize. A perfect partnership - and who better to develop and app (if you're smart like that, that is!) than parents who know exactly what their children need! It's obvious to me that it was made by someone "on the inside" of this special needs world. Why? Because they thought of things like making the editing feature passcode protected. I can't count the number of times Gavin hit the edit button in Proloquo2Go and we had to stop everything to try to get out of that mode and back to what we were doing. So Much 2 Say thought of that - so it makes it harder for a child who likes to touch every button to edit the program! They also allow for you to record your own voice - a feature that I love. And the program was made with the iPad 2 in mind - making it even easier to snap photos of all Gavin's favorite toys, books, movies, and every day items which I was able to make into cards in minutes. If you have a first generation iPad, it's just as easy to sync your photos and add them that way.

I took some videos - which I apologize in advance for as I took them myself while working with Gavin - so you can get an idea of our experiences so far with this app.

In this video, we are just starting. You can customize a page to have one to six cards per page. I chose two at first - and then kept adding two at a time on multiple pages. I thought it would make our lesson quicker if we worked on page one - and then I swiped to page two. This is how that went...

Gavin has a problem with accuracy when he's touching the iPad. He tends to use his whole hand a lot - and not always in a "tapping motion". So often things happen like this - a page will turn or a wrong button will be pressed. So I moved on by quickly eliminating the multiple pages so if he accidentally swiped, the page would not move.

I added two pictures - one of me and one of Ed. I asked Gavin to find me. This is what happened...and it melted my heart.

We tried it again after he realized (I think) that I wanted him to find my picture and not me and he did it!

In this video, you'll see Gavin make a connection between needing to touch the iPad and getting what he wants, which is pretty exciting. You'll also see me make an edit to So Much 2 Say so you can see just how quick and easy it is to do in the moment. Oh, and you'll see some really adorable smiles from our Superhero. No charge for that.

I decided in the end to change the screen to just one picture at a time - wanting to set Gavin up for success as much as possible. Although he does have to touch the picture - anywhere else in the screen won't do - being able to have one picture on the screen is a HUGE plus to me.
In Proloquo2Go, we couldn't do that which was disappointing. We ended up adding two of the same icons next to each other so Gavin would be successful whichever side he touched. I really appreciate Kirsten and Eric from So Much 2 Say for thinking of this!

So my overall impression of this app? I love it. I love how easy it is to use. I love that I can record my voice...or Ed's voice! I love that I can use familiar photos. I love the price at only $24.95 - MUCH less than the close to $200 they charge for Proloquo2Go. Once my free trial ends, you can be sure that I will buy this app. Gladly! (Although I hope that I won't lose all of my photos when I switch from free to paid - must check into that one!) I also love that it came from a family that "gets it". When I showed Miss Maggie, Gavin's speech therapist, she was thrilled that we found an alternative to use with Gavin. This app, to me, is a wonderful stepping stone to a future with Proloquo2Go. If Gavin isn't talking before that, of course.

I am sure that Kirsten will be reading this blog entry. If you have questions about this app, feel free to comment under this post! And if you would like to be added into my lottery drawing for a free trial, please comment or contact me personally. If you added comments yesterday - I did see them and will add you to the list!!

Be sure to visit the Close to Home website for more information about Kirsten and Eric, the So Much 2 Say app and see pictures of their beautiful daughters. Thank you, Kirsten, for this opportunity!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brian's Big Evaluation...

Today was all about Brian. This afternoon I had a speech therapist, a teacher, a psychologist and an occupational therapist here to evaluate him. Right now he's receiving "Early Intervention" for speech and teaching services - which stops when he turns three. The evaluation is necessary for his transition to the school based programs. They need to see if he'll qualify (which he will because of his speech issues) and then they will recommend schools or programs that would fit his needs.

I was holding my breath when they all arrived...hoping that Brian would be on his best behavior and do everything they asked of him. He is two after all! Turns out I didn't have a thing to worry about. Brian was an angel! He sat sweetly among this group of women - hanging on their every word and direction. He tried everything they asked of him and was very cooperative! And, he showed off just how smart he is. (Mommy bragging is allowed on my blog)

Just like last time he was evaluated (to get him into Early Intervention), I was bummed when he was distracted during a few questions. Like pointing out body parts on a doll - which he totally knows. It was hard to sit back and not coach him! But I think they got an overall idea of his strengths and weaknesses from seeing him for an hour. His biggest weakness (besides having extreme good looks...sorry, can't help it) is still speech. But he is getting better every day - trying to parrot everything we say.

Everyone was impressed with Brian's patience. They were here for a little over an hour testing and quizzing and "playing" with him. I was so incredibly proud of him. He got the biggest hug and the biggest cookie when everyone left!

It will be a few weeks before I get the results of their evaluation along with their recommendations.

While they were here, a small knock on the door announced the arrival of Brian's iPad! After squirreling away money I pounced on a one day deal at Target for a cheap (and new!) iPad. Now Brian and Gavin both have their own! Since my posts on iPad apps, I've encountered a couple more I'd like to share.

For Brian... an app called Toca Tea Party! It is the most adorable app to pretend play with. We set up three of his Little People at each place setting and then pretend they are having a tea party. It was very easy for him to learn how to set the table, fill glasses or tea cups, eat and drink the food - and even clean up spills on the table. This Mommy give it two thumbs up.

For Gavin...something very exciting. I wrote before that we have been using Proloquo2Go with him. I think it's a wonderful app, but it can also be complicated to use. And it's not cheap. Gavin's speech therapist and I often complain about it being not so "user friendly" - and not so easy for Gavin to use. I belong to a Facebook group - "iTeach Special Education - iDevices in Special Education". It's a support network for people using iOS (Apple Operating System) devices and apps in special education. I would recommend this group to any parent or therapist to special needs kids. It's a great resource. It was on this page that I encountered a woman who, along with her husband, developed a brand new communication app for the iPad. She graciously offered me a free trial. AND - if I honsetly review the app here on my blog, I will get some more free trials for some of my readers!! I typically don't "review" things on this blog for swag - but this is different. I like the idea of potentially helping some other Moms out there by giving them the chance to test out this new app. I will write up my full review (with video of Gavin using it) in tomorrow's journal. I have a lot to say about it.

The app is called "So Much 2 Say". While you're waiting to hear about our experience with it, you can check out a video explaining how to use the program here...

I've never done a giveaway - and I'm not sure yet just how many I will have to give away. I do know that I'm very concerned about fairness and not disappointing anyone. So I'm pretty sure I'll do it by lottery. After checking out the app in the video above - and reading my review tomorrow - leave a comment if you are interested in participating in the drawing!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Exhibit A...

Brian has the biggest personality - he really makes me laugh every day. Lately he has been having a TON of fun with the "Monster At The End Of This Book" on the iPad. The only way to explain it is to show you in this video which I PROMISE will make you smile...
This child makes me so happy.

Aunt Bean came today to hang out with the boys while I went to my fertility appointment. The boys love Bean.
They made "carpet cookies" by pushing cookie cutters into the rug - clever, eh? And they colored and sang the ABCs...she should have been a pre-school teacher.

My fertility appointment went much better than the last. I was surprised that my body produced many more follicles since Friday! I don't want to brag, but they said my ultrasound scan looked "beautiful". *wink* I need to continue my meds (which have been kicking my butt lately - I'm nauseous day and night) until they see me on Wednesday for another ultrasound. Then sometime between this Friday and Sunday they will schedule me for an egg retrieval. It's all very nerve wracking... and exciting at the same time.

As a side note - I know lots of you who read this blog may have strong opinions about IVF. Many of you have not been shy to tell me how you feel through comments and emails. I've heard everything from "Why don't you focus on your kids and stop spending all this time on IVF" to "God would not approve of this" and even "Give it up." I'm all for free speech and all - but this is so, very important to us. We have struggled for several years now to conceive a child - if it wasn't something we felt strongly about we would have stopped some time ago. After losing our daughter, Darcy, we felt this desire even stronger. The boys, in our opinion, need another sibling. I share my journey openly by choice. Why? Because when I google looking for other peoples open and honest journeys - it helps me. I feel so honored when I get emails from women who feel like they can open up to me about their infertility journey because of my blog. I am a real person. This has been an emotional journey. I can't help but be affected by your negativity. The next couple weeks are critical. I am begging you - if you feel like you can't support me through this please don't speak up. If it means losing you as a reader - I guess that's what I'll have to accept. I don't need to hear that you don't agree. I don't need to hear that I'm neglecting my children while I'm going through this. That makes my blood boil and couldn't be further from the truth. I don't need to hear that God is not happy with us. I'm pretty sure God is on our side for a lot of reasons. Exhibit A......


Gavin and Miss Janna worked on his color matching today. She attached yellow and blue colored scruncis with long ribbons to each of his wrist. The hope was that he would reach out with the hand that had the yellow to touch the yellow block, and vice versa.
I'm not sure he "got it", but he looked super cute! They then moved on to another activity. Janna brought the cutest toy from Lakeshore. It's called "Scoop-A-Bug Sorting Kit" and the scooper handle is just like scissor handles - a skill Gavin needs to work on.
It took a while to get him to put his fingers through the handles - he kept pulling his hand away. When he finally did hold the scooper...
Yeah. He grasped the scissors - but not quite the concept. But he looked super-cute!!

As always, thank you for the support and love you show us every day.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Good Night, Gorilla!...

Today was the neighborhood Halloween party! The boys costumes were inspired by the book "Goodnight Gorilla" - Brian's favorite book at the time I bought them. The book is about a Zookeeper who is saying goodnight to all the animals in the zoo. But he doesn't realize that as he walks through the zoo, a gorilla steals his keys and opens up all the animal cages. They all follow the Zookeeper home and into his bedroom to go to sleep! Brian gets a big kick out of the Zookeeper with his flashlight.

So, it was only fitting that Gavin dress as a lion and Brian as the Zookeeper! They were both so good for their photo session before we left for the party. And now, for the deluge of pictures...

A few wonderful neighbors coordinate this fun Halloween party for the kids every year. There are snacks (Brian LOVED the snack table!), a craft table and fun games. Brian participated in the "Donut eating contest" - where the kids have to try to take bites out of hanging donuts without using their hands.

As you can see in the video - Brian was AMAZING at this game...

Okay, maybe he cheated a little.
In his defense, it was a really good looking donut. I really can't blame him for just grabbing it and stuffing it in his mouth.

Gavin wasn't feeling the party as much. Ed and I took turns walking around with him - I think he was equal parts hot and hungry. A deadly combination for Gavin. We stayed for a little while and then brought him home so he could eat. All in all it was a great time and I was happy to catch up with some of my neighbors - even for two minute conversations! And I'm always happy to see their kids.

We have such an incredible neighborhood.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mortified Mommy...

Last night before I went to bed I went in to check on the boys, as I always do. But I also wanted to take Gavin out of his crib to check his eye. It was red - very red - when I put him down and I was very, very worried. The eye surgeon has told me, essentially, to 'not get too comfortable' with his healed eye. It will remain fragile - to dry air, to slight abrasions - and could tear again. I really feared last night that "it" had happened. At 10pm - still red. At 2:30 - still red. I generously applied ointment to the eye both times.
I barely slept I was so anxious.

Then this morning, before 8am, I walked into his room holding my breath. I peered over his crib and saw him looking down at his book. I called his name and he slowly lifted his head up smiling from ear to ear. Soon I was, too, when I saw the WHITES of his eyes!! I've never been so relieved.

If you look closely at his left eye in this photo - you can see a haze which is the scar from his awful corneal abrasion last year. I took the picture with the light hitting his eye so the haze showed up...but it is pretty hard to see in real life. You wouldn't know unless I told you it was there.

After breakfast the four of us headed to a local outlet mall. I was on a mission to find some onesie snap shirts for Gavin - which are getting harder and harder to find as he grows. We discovered today that "Osh Kosh", a store we normally don't shop in, runs big. So a 24month size shirt is the size of a 2T in Carter's - which is perfect for Gavin! Score!!

Then we headed to Stride Rite. I wanted to get Brian a new pair of shoes as his sneakers are getting a little tight. Uh...turns out "little tight" is a "BIG" understatement. Boy was I mortified when the woman measured his feet and the 6 1/2 size I was shopping for should have been an 8 1/2 WIDE! WHAT???? I feel just awful that I was stuffing his cute fat feet into shoes that were SO small for him! In my defense, they went on easily - even with my arthritic hands - so I really thought they still fit! Poor Brian. He came home with two cool new pair of boats today, though, so all is well. 8 1/2 wide. Wow.

The rest of the day was spent putzing. The boys and I went for a long walk - Brian pointed out every neighbors scarecrow, pumpkin and ghost and kicked his way through all of their leaves. Ed was busy in the kitchen today making a TON of yams for me, which was very nice. Gavin was really interested in the process today - which was cracking us up. He wanted in on the action!

Tomorrow's a big day! Our neighborhood has a little Halloween event for the kids in one of the cul-de-sacs. I'm excited to catch up with many of our neighbors. And I can't wait to reveal Gavin and Brian's costumes to all of you! The costumes were inspired by a favorite book in our house. I guess you'll just have to wait and see!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Overwhelmed and Underwhelmed...

This morning we were up, dressed and ready early. Miss Stephanie, Gavin's Occupational Therapist, was coming for breakfast so she could work with Gavin on feeding and using utensils. He did a phenomenal job. While I've been working with him on eating solids, I don't always hand him the fork or spoon to do it himself. (Note to self: I will now!) He did a great job - check it out!

We couldn't do entire meals like this. Gavin successfuly fed himself at least five or six bites in a row - of pancake, banana and mandarin oranges. But he tuckered out after a while. It's a lot - the processing, the physical demand, the chewing - it's exhausting for him. But it's a start! Miss Stephanie was very excited.

While Gavin was feeding himself, Brian was next door in his chair practicing drinking from an open cup. He's also doing a great job! He needs some reminders to go slow when he's tilting, but otherwise - great!! And he's super proud of himself after every sip. He's asking me for "more" with his sign language in this photo. Although I have to say, he's been doing a great job stringing words together with some prompting. I always have him ask me, "Mama...more milk, please!"

Soon after Stephanie left, my sister, Bean, arrived. She came to stay with the boys so I could run to my ultrasound. The boys LOVE Aunt Bean. The other day she taught Brian to play "I Spy" and he's been asking me to play ever since. Brian was very excited when I told him Aunt Bean was coming this morning.

My ultrasound this morning was a bummer. They were underwhelmed by the number of follicles I have...and so was I. It's all a wait and see - they have to grow to a certain size before they are ready to release. In this case, they will be extracted under anesthesia in a procedure fittingly called "Egg Retrieval." We could be looking at the end of next week for that. I drove home in tears - really disappointed with the number of follicles. A greater number of follicles give you more of a chance of getting at least one good egg - which is all we need! I could have ten follicles - but only one that is good. So the more there are the better our chances. I'm probably not explaining this very well. Sorry.

I came home and had some work to do with our insurance company - which is never, ever fun. I have never - ever - dealt with an insurance company that made a member jump through a thousand hoops to get something. We now have United Health Care. They give you instructions - which you follow - which lead you to another person who gives you another set of instructions - which differ from the first set - and then the second set, which just gets you more confused, leads you to a completely different department that tells you that you never should have been in the first department to begin with - that they told you all incorrect information - and - confused yet? Welcome to my world. I hung up so defeated - which I'm sure was their goal.

Later this afternoon I took the boys for haircuts. As usual, they were so good. I think they're just so used to it now - it doesn't phase them at all. But between the hairdresser and baths when we got home - something happened and I don't know what or how. Gavin, who rarely cries - and when he does, he means it - has been very upset. After his bath I noticed his eye - the bad eye - was red. That sometimes happens when it gets wet - and it quickly recovers. This time, it didn't. I put extra ointment in his eye at bedtime hoping that would help...but I'm worried. I just spent the last 45 minutes with him - singing and rubbing his back and trying to get him to sleep - but he was just so upset. I'm not going to lie...I'm freaking out a little bit. I plan to go back in a few times during the night to check his eye - and if needed, add ointment. Please pray that when I go into his room tomorrow I look over his crib and see the whites of his eyes - literally!!

I'm pretty confident that I need a really, really good cry tonight. And maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Flattened Piece of Cake...

Big day today! I had my very first mammogram. Ever. I was prompted by the latest celebrity news, actually. Giuliana Rancic, who has been publicly going through IVF with her husband, just announced she has breast cancer. One of my fears has actually been that all these fertility meds will somehow cause cancer. So, of course, when I heard about her - I panicked. Turns out that my fears are unfounded. There is no known link between the two. (So they say...) But I was able to immediately schedule a mammogram and I'm glad I did. My doctor ordered a diagnostic mammogram for me - which means that a radiologist reads it right away. I left the hospital this morning knowing that my breasts were healthy. One less thing to worry about!

While we're on the topic of IVF, I'll update you on my current status. I've been on stimulation medication for this entire week. This picture shows my nightly regimen - it's no joke.
These medications are not without side effects. I've been experiencing night sweats (which are oh, so lovely!)...mood swings (SHUT UP!!! sorry.)...and my skin has been breaking out. I'm also nauseous pretty much all of the time and my abdomen and thighs are filled with bruises from the needle sticks. I posted this photo on Facebook recently with the status that in part said, "Please say a prayer that a baby comes from all of this!" Boy, did I get some pounds - from all angles - comments and emails. People wanted to remind me that a baby doesn't come from needles and science...that it comes from God.

A very sensitive friend was prompted to send me this email after seeing that Facebook update and has given me permission to share this personal story from her own life...


Sooooo, thought this story of some old geezer men in the hills of West Virginia (my dad and some friends) might be fitting.

It's true...

Three miles off the last paved road, about 1 mile from my house, was our little one-room church. Kind of like one room schoolhouses, and we had one of those too, except it was now where we had covered dish dinners, as all the kids in "the settlement" (holler) were by now bussed an hour to the town elementary school. It was where a dozen or so families gathered for church services, bible school, Christmas programs, and Easter services. Out front was a huge, huge tree, probably 3-4 feet in diameter, with a bench built around it that could easily seat a dozen kids in church clothes, and was a favorite place to play hide and seek because if you kept circling, the seeker could never find you.

When I was about 12, the tree was dying, and with every wind storm came a fear that the tree would fall on the church. One Sunday DURING church there was a lively discussion (yeah, it was that kind of place) about my dad and some of the men folk wanting to cut the tree down. A large faction of the members (15-20) felt that God would do something to protect the church, and therefore we should do nothing.

My dad's friend stood up and calmly explained that God had already done something - he invented the chainsaw.

God invented IVF. Go get 'em, tiger!!

I really needed to hear that from someone. If you're struggling with IVF and all the stress and worry and physical discomfort that goes along with it...hoping that all of your efforts get you that baby in the end - I hope that her personal email to me brings comfort to you.

p.s. - Don't forget to schedule your mammogram! It was a piece of cake. The piece that someone actually sits on and flattens but is still good kind of piece of cake - but nevertheless, a piece of cake!
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