Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Simple Things...

Our lives can often be dramatic with very high highs...and very low lows.  So it's often days like today that I treasure.  Just an ordinary "according to schedule" day.  

One of my favorite times of the day is picking Brian up from preschool.  Brian loves school...and his teachers and friends love him.  He's happy to say goodbye in the morning...and he's happy to see me two and a half hours later when he walks out.

Typically when he spots me he comes running and, I swear, it's such an ego trip.  He runs up with his arms spread wide saying "MOMMYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!" and jumps into my arms.  Really - can it get any better?  I always have a nice cold milk waiting for him in the cup holder and we drive home talking about his morning.  I treasure that time in the car with him.

Today was Gavin's double therapy day.  His teacher, Miss Janna, came first and they worked on color matching, worked with play dough and used the iPad.

Miss Maggie followed with speech therapy and continued to work with the iPad.

We had a lovely visit today from our very own Miss Katja!!  The boys and I were so happy to see her.  She stopped by on her way to work at our neighbor's house and we had a nice time chatting.  She stopped by again with one of the little boys she watches during Gavin's therapy.  Miss Sara and Brian decided to join them on a walk!  What a sight to see two of my favorite girls hanging out and (trash talking me) spending time together.  *wink*  In all seriousness, it makes me so happy that we have such good relationships with our helpers.  These girls become like daughters to me.

After Gavin's therapy, the two of us took off for our joint Dr. Trish appointment.  Gavin is always happy to see her and to be in her office.  She worked on both of us for a long time - we needed it!  Between my swollen, bruised and stitched up face...and Gavin's swollen tonsils and adenoids...we were a wreck!  She tried to calm a lot of the swelling in Gavin's throat and told me to let her know if his sleep improves over the next few days.  Fingers crossed!  It's so hard to articulate how much I love Dr. Trish.  She's so special to us.  This photo is a good example of what Gavin's treatments look like.  She barely touches him!

I got word today that our donor will be taking her HCG trigger shot - which will induce ovulation.  Her egg retrieval will likely be this weekend.  My embryo transfer could be either June 5th or June 7th.  If it's June 7th I will be so happy - it's my parent's wedding anniversary.  My Mom and I were talking tonight about how cool it would be if I "conceived" on that special day. 

I'm feeling very lucky right now...and in a very good place.  Ed and I are relaxed from our trip...Brian is doing so well in school and with his speech...Gavin continues to make progress despite health issues here and there...and we are nearing the end of our fertility journey.  I always thought the end of our journey to have a third child would only feel good if we had a baby.  But now I feel differently.  Although I'm sure I'll be disappointed if I don't get pregnant - I know in my heart it's the end.  Pregnant or not, I walk away knowing that we tried.  And I walk away feeling so grateful.  Grateful to have my children.  Grateful to have had time with my daughter.  Grateful to have had a supportive husband through all of our fertility trials and tribulations.  And grateful that all of you have walked beside me on this journey.  It hasn't been easy - and I had to find my own way and do things in my own time.  But I know I couldn't have done it without all of you.

So...here we go.  This is it!  In less than a week I'll be soliciting your positive thoughts for one tiny little embryo for the very last time.

Bittersweet.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Catching Up...

I feel like the last week has been a whirlwind.  Getting ready for the trip, the roadtrip to my Dad's lifetime achievement award ceremony, going on the trip to Puerto Rico and then the recovery.  I have so much "catch up" to do around here to get my journal back to "normal!"  So tonight will be just that...all business with a sprinkle of fun and, big shock, a plethora of photos.  Oh, and be sure to read all the way to the end as I have something very special to share about THIS beautiful niece of mine!!  

Ed and I were pretty shocked to come home to weather that was more unbearable here than it was in the Caribbean Islands!  We celebrated Memorial Day (or "Soldier's Day" as Brian called it!) out in our own backyard.  We have a pretty swanky pool that is the envy of all of our neighbors, as you can see...

Including a pretty attractive lifeguard...

We decided that day to set our Ladybugs free.  We raised them from little larvae and it was so fun to watch them grow.  Here's Brian with some of the play by play action:

Goodbye little ladybugs!  Hope to see you around the yard!

Then there was lots of running.  Chasing butterflies.  Climbing on the playset.  Gavin and Daddy were smart and lounged at the pool while I was sweating to the oldies...me being the oldie.

Brian - following in his big brother's footsteps - is finally getting courageous enough to put his face in the water!  Gavin does it in the tub all the time and will actually blow bubbles.  Yes, Gavin!  Brian's starting to get the hang of it and laughing all the way...


It was a nice, relaxing few days with our boys.  Paradise was wonderful...but there's no place like home.

Lately I've been embroiled in another edition of "Mystery Diagnosis" with Gavin.  Since his last two (and only two!) ear infections (ever!) he has been having some issues that are concerning to me.  He's been having coughing episodes at night that lead to vomiting.  When I say we protect his bed - we're talking two to three mattress protectors...two fitted or top sheets...and then we lay a huge bath sheet on top of it all.  One night we had to change his bed three times - and give him two full baths.  It's been rough - shades of his infancy all over again!  After kneeling by his bed one evening and realizing that his apnea (which is not new) was at least 50% worse (if not more),  my mind has been racing with possibilities and I landed on three that I brought up at his last pediatrician visit.

Tonsils.  Adenoids.  Reflux.

The doctor was able to tell in the office that his tonsils were inflamed.  And today I was able to get an X-Ray which confirmed what I feared - enlarged Adenoids that look as if they could be restricting his airway.  The reflux is a hunch - based on two straight years of experience in the trenches.  I'll be calling his ENT at DuPont in the morning and begging him to see Gavin as soon as possible.  We could be looking at an adenoidectomy which only worries us because of the obvious need for sedation.  Gavin and anesthesia are not the best of friends.  But I am very worried about his apnea so something needs to happen - it's pretty extreme.  I constantly have the monitors on high so we can hear if he throws up any time during the night.  But listening to him snore - and then not snore - and then gasp - and then cough - and then snore again - it's painful.


Gavin's therapy has been going well.  He had Occupational Therapy with Miss Stephanie today and she used some of the time to work on his re-evaluation.  It's hard to believe that time has come - that means that his current therapists have been with us for almost TWO years!!  (Which also means that Gavin is nearing five years old.  Just insane.)  


This was a pretty great moment from today's therapy.  He not only held the marker himself - he held it well.  AND he touched it to the paper!!

Oh and by the way - Ed and I are shocked that Gavin's eyes have suddenly changed color.  Is that even possible at his age??  His once blue eyes are now turning a dark hazely brown!!  Seriously - is that even normal???  I will definitely be giving his geneticist this information.

If you didn't notice by the videos, Brian has had a speech and language explosion!  He talks from morning to night and we love it.  Some of the things he comes out with are hysterical - and some are profound.  We feel so lucky to watch him express knowledge that he's obviously been storing away in his brain!  He's a smart little boy!

As for me - I'm hurting at the moment.  Last night I had my oral surgery and it was awful.  I am quite a baby at the dentist and have always had very sensitive gums and teeth.  There's never enough Novacaine - they always have to keep re-injecting me, which sucks.  I came home last night with sutures from where they cut into my gums - a huge "chipmunk cheek" - and a mouth that hurt to open.  Today was rough.  But it's over...and just in time.  I have big plans to get pregnant next week.

I will know more details over the next two days, but it looks like our egg donor is getting close to her egg retrieval!!  I have been on Lupron injections to keep my body from ovulating...and a high dose of Estrogen which keeps me crying at commercials and moved beyond words when the mailman walks our mail to the door.  (God I love that guy!)  After the donor has her eggs retrieved and they fertilize the one we want - we wait for three to four days while it 'grows' in the lab.  When it's ready, we'll go in for the transfer!  Once the embryo is transferred inside of me, I'll be on two full days of bedrest which will be torture.  But if I don't complete poor Brian's third birthday video (remember his birthday last DECEMBER???) while I'm laying in bed - I will gladly turn over my Mother of the Year award.  It should have gone to the Octomom anyway.

Finally...I need to be a proud Aunt for a moment.  My niece, Hannah, recently took a trip to Haiti with my sister (her Mom) Meg.  Hannah is 15 years old...going on 30.  She's not like any teenager I know...and it would be a dream for me to have a daughter like her one day.  After coming home from this mission trip, Hannah felt moved to do something more to help the Haitian people.  She realized that shoes were a hot commodity and decided to organize a 5K race and shoe drive.  We're talking formal letters and visits to local businesses...speaking at the chamber of commerce...collecting shoes...fundraising...getting police detail for the race...and more.  Did I mention?  Yep - 15.  This weekend is the big race in their hometown of Merrimack, New Hampshire.  I feel lucky that I was able to send up five or six huge garbage bags of shoes that were kindly donated by my friends at the Just Between Friends consignment sale in April.  If you live in the Merrimack area, please do stop by the race and meet my beautiful niece!  

I'm so impressed by her.  Actually, my sister Meg is my parenting idol.  Each one of her four children is more amazing than the next.

Take a minute to check out the full story of Hannah's inspiration to go to Haiti, to organize the race and to buck the stereotype of the "typical teenager" by "Doing Hard Things."


Congratulations, Hannah!  We love you!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Honeymoon 8.0...

"That was the best night's sleep I've had in years."

"This was the best food I've had ever."

"I feel the most relaxed I've felt in a long time."

"That was the greatest nap of my life."

"I feel more in love with you than ever before."

These were just some of the things you would have overheard if you were on our romantic anniversary trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico last week.  This short getaway came at the right time...and it couldn't have gone smoother from start to finish.

Ed booked us in a Villa Suite at the Caribe Hilton and it was an incredible property.  Our room overlooked the ocean and we left out balcony doors open at night so we could fall asleep to the ocean breeze and crashing waves.  We were in Heaven...truly.  Sitting on our balcony doing nothing was one of the highlights of our trip. 

After leisurely unpacking, we got a bite to eat and wandered over to the concierge.  While planning our trip at home, we had big ideas.  Like taking a boat through a Bioluminescent bay...or ziplining.  Perhaps horseback riding on the beach...or even a guided rainforest tour that included a trek to a waterfall we could swim under.

But then - we got real.

We're the Leongs.  We don't do rugged and outdoorsy.  At least not like that.  So we tossed the brochures and executed plan B immediately - napping under the palm trees on the beach in a hammock built for two.

(When Brian saw this picture at home he said to Sara, and I quote, "Mommy!  Daddy!  They fell!  Uh oh!  Can't reach trees.  They in jungle...no leaves anymore.  The leaves fell in the grass.  All messy.")

We spent a good deal of time in that hammock over the next few days - and it was, as you can imagine, blissful.  

We also went swimming in the lagoon which, much to my dismay, was not blue.  My childhood fantasy was shattered right then and there.

We went into town that evening to one of our favorite restaurants - the unpretentious, very authentic "Cielito Lindo".  It was such a great experience - I felt like I was one one of our first dates!

The next morning we woke up - big surprise - the same time we wake up at home.  But there was one difference - we felt refreshed, relaxed and weren't in a rush to get anywhere.  We had one and only one plan - to take an hour trip to El Yunque Rainforest.  We've been there before and it's just breathtaking.


We - the lazy Leongs - actually hiked up those rocks to get close to the waterfall.  Impressed??  
*wink*


Upon seeing this photo, Sara sent us another observation from Brian.
"Mommy - Daddy - WOW!  They in a fountain!  Not in the mall, in a jungle.  Be home soon!"  
We realized we were looking forward to his comments a lot - they were cracking us up!

We climbed to the top of the Yokahu Observation Tower to see one of the most incredible views of the rainforest.  Imagine feeling like you're above the trees, close to the clouds.  


And here's Brian again:
"Mommy Daddy have glasses on.  They are not in the fountains anymore.  They all clean."

I was slightly obsessed with the largest bamboo trees we've ever seen.  They were magnificent.


(p.s. - I love this photo of my cute husband)


As we drove down the mountain and out of the rainforest, Ed and I vowed to one day bring the kids back here.  It's such a special place to us.

That night we had dinner at Lemongrass Pan Asian Latino Restaurant which, lucky for us, was right in the hotel.  The setting was incredibly romantic.  We sat outside in what can only be described as a tree house over the water.  But to get there we walked a foot bridge beside and over a Koi pond that was also the home to swans.  It was a delicious dinner...and a beautiful night by the water.

Our last day there came too soon and we only had one major goal - to get to Old San Juan.  I had something special planned as a surprise to Ed and was bursting as we walked the beautiful, cobblestone streets.  The architecture...colors...and rich history of Old San Juan is lovely.  I had a great time taking pictures...


I just love the city of Old San Juan.  My hair doesn't.  But I do.

Finally we made it to my surprise destination.  The beautiful Cathedral of San Juan Bautista.  

And it was there on their main altar that Ed and I renewed our vows.  
It was the highlight of my trip.

As we walked toward our car, we passed one of Old San Juan's pigeon parks!  I thought it would be a great opportunity to send a fun photo home to the boys - imagine Mommy with birds sitting all over her!  My worst nightmare - but it just goes to show the lengths I'll go to entertain my children.  Ed took the camera and stayed a safe distance (smart guy) as I was a little more than freaked out - hoping these pigeons wouldn't poop on my arms. 
  I sent the photo home to get this back from Brian:
"Daddy's gone!  Aw, Daddy's missing!"
That's IT???  I felt a little jipped - not gonna lie.  hee hee

After one last snooze in the hammock, we made our way to the airport.  Happy.  Content.  In love.  This trip, as it turns out, was a brilliant idea.  

I wrote home to the boys, "Remember what I say: trips like this are very good for a marriage.  And a friendship!"  And knowing that Brian was missing Daddy after that pigeon photo - I sent this picture from the plane.  (Check out Ed's scissorhands!)  
We got back... "Daddy!!  Daddy's awake now!  Where'd Mommy go? Mommy in picture?  No Mommy anymore!"

This was an unforgettable trip for us.  We couldn't have done it this well...this comfortably...without Miss Sara.  Knowing she was with the boys - and getting the constant communication that made us laugh and talk about just how lucky we are - it made our trip that much better.  Walking into their rooms Sunday morning to their smiling faces...we felt like the luckiest Mommy and Daddy in the world.

It was the happiest of anniversaries. 


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