Life is A Journey...Come Follow Our's

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wonderful Weekends...

Could this weekend have gotten any better? My weekend started Thursday and every moment has been absolutely amazing. I say it started Thursday because this was the first day I was allowed off the couch to finally move around. The alarm clock went off and I jumped out of bed, walking clothes on, and there was no stopping me! The pent up energy from bedrest had to be used (and I had to stop shopping on line). Mom and I took a great "leisurely" walk and I felt like a new woman. It felt so good to be moving again, that's for sure!

So, you might have noticed that I said I had to "stop shopping on line." Wow...did I ever have fun buying shoes this week. Here are just a few of my favorite purchases:


Yes...there were more, but for the sake of embarrasing myself, I'll stop here. I keep reminding myself, I can always return them with free shipping =)

Friday night Brad, Mom, Sara, Chris, Brenda, and I headed down to Fayetteville to see Second City perform. If you haven't seen them before, I highly recommend it. They are an improv troupe from Chicago where hundreds of famous names like The Belushi Brothers, John Candy, Joan Rivers, Tina Fey, and Amy Sedaris got their starts. They were absolutely hysterical. I think my favorite skit was the Blow Up Betty skit. I just about peed my pants. I haven't laughed so hard for so long since I don't know when. It was just what the doctor ordered. Here are just a few pics:


Mom had to leave Saturday morning. Good Byes are always hard. I am super close to my mom and wish we lived closer, but maybe that adage "Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder" holds true there too? Nonetheless, I am already looking forward to the next time I get to see her. Brad and I decided to take full advantage of the rest of the beautiful day and invited some folks over to spend the afternoon out on the lake. It's so sad that summer is coming to an end and there are only a few nice lake weekends left. We are trying to take full advantage of every opportunity we have to be out on the water. I have to say that living on the lake has been much better than I could have ever imagined.

As for all the IVF stuff, there is no news here until Wednesday. I am feeling wonderful. No signs of pregnancy but my mom never had any either so I'm staying optimistic. I'm heading back to work tomorrow and cannot wait to see all my students. I know they will keep me entertained and keep my mind off everything. Please keep praying that our babies are still growing.

Stay tuned for more later this week!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Great Trip to OKC and Now You Want Me To Do What?

Brad and I had a great day in Oklahoma City yesterday. I spent the morning getting in one last walk before my bedrest would begin. The weather here in Northwest Arkansas has been amazing in the morning. A touch of fall weather has dropped upon us and I just LOVE it. The air has been crisp and fresh first thing in the morning and it's the perfect weather for a run or in my case, a walk. I also have really started to enjoy morning walks because it just seems like the perfect time to take in all the beauty God has created in our world and pray.

We arrived in OKC around lunchtime for our 1pm embryo transfer. We met with the embryologist and she said "I have picked two GREAT embryos for you today." I wanted to ask her if one was a boy and one was a girl but decided against it. Brad got all gussied up in his scrubs and we were off to the procedure room. The whole procedure absolutely amazed me! It lasted all of 10 minutes and took such precision. Dr. Kalenberger did our transfer and he talked and joked the whole time until he said, "I just want to be the first to congratulate you. You are Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise!" So...we are technically pregnant with twins, but we are far from being in the clear. I have been on bedrest for the past 30 hours waiting, hoping, and praying that these two embryos are attaching themselves and getting comfortable to hang out for the next 9 months.

Okay, about the bedrest thing. It is KILLING me! It's not just bedrest, it's laying flat on my back for all day Monday and Tuesday and then on Wednesday (drumroll please...)I can recline. Ooooooh. Is that exciting or what? In fact, after spending 30 hours flat, I'm ready to recline. It really hasn't been that bad. Cable has been wonderful and BRAVO has some great marathons (I highly recommend The Rachel Zoe Project if you want some brainless yet over-the-top tv). Even better, my mom is in town, friends have been visiting, and Brad has been wonderful. He insists that I do NOTHING which is hard for me but I know it's because he has the end result in mind.

Mom and I will be going to Tulsa Thursday for some bloodwork but we won't know anything until next week. I'm just praying, praying, praying and talking to my embryos. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I'm trying to be convincing enough to make them want to implant.

Stay Positive! I am!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Still Cooking

What a great weekend it's been so far! Shoot, Brad and I are hard pressed to find a weekend that isn't great. We woke up yesterday morning surrounded by steam rising off the lake and the autumn temperatures in the air. I couldn't wait to get out for a walk while Brad did his 14-mile training run for The Chicago Marathon. If all of the fall is as beautiful as yesterday was, it's going to be perfect!

Working under the assumption that we'll be pregnant tomorrow, Brad and I decided to go out and find all the seafood for dinner that I can't eat when pregnant. Have you ever seen the list of all the restricted pregnancy foods? No big fish, limited shell fish, no soft cheese, no luncheon meat, sushi, and the list goes on and on. Did I forget to mention wine!??!?! Anyway, I searched almost every restaurant in North West Arkansas looking for steamers and sea scallops. Can you believe no one has steamers (for those of you who don't know, steamers are clams in their shell)? I even expanded my search up to Joplin and down to Fort Smith!!! I was bummed but changed my search figuring I'd look for liguini with seafood. Can you believe my options were only Olive Garden or Carraba's ? Being Italian, I just can't bring myself to going to Olive Garden very often, so Carraba's it was for us.

I enjoyed steamed mussels (not nearly as good as steamers, but they'd have to do) and a nice BIG glass of wine. Life is good. I really hope that that is the last time I get to indulge for the next 8-9 months =)

On another note, while we were at dinner, I recieved a call from my nurse who said "You and Brad make some beautiful embryos" as soon as I answered the phone. I knew it was going to be a good phone call. Turns out that we had 1-10cell, 1-9cell, 7-8cell, and 1-7cell embryo, all of which are what they hope for 3 days post egg retrieval. On top of that, she said the embryologist are rating most of them as Grade A - Prime Quality! "Maria, I'm so excited for you. This is going to be really good," was what she said before we hung up. Brad and I are trying not to get too excited knowing that a variety of factors play into a success, but so far we're on the right track.

Here's what they look like:




Thank you for all your prayers. Right now, please pray that...
...our transferred embryos love their new home enough that we get to see their beautiful faces in 8-9 months
...that everything goes smoothly in our transfer tomorrow.


I'll keep you posted from bed rest this week! That's going to be trying =)

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Family of 12!?!?

Well the good news has arrived that of our 12 eggs, 10 fertilized and as of today, all of them are doing well. We'll get another report tomorrow and are just praying that by Monday there are still at least 2 blastocysts ready to be transferred.


As for now...here's what they look like:
Crazy...they look just like Brad and Me, don't you think!?!?
On another note, I have spent my first 2 days at school this year and I must say I am super excited. My students are the best anyone could ask for. They are so sweet, follow directions well, and are just a blast to have in class! I am so excited for an awesome school year. No matter how rough a day I'm having, their smiles, hugs, and love always put a smile on my face. Here's to a good 5th year of teaching!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Maria and Brad Plus 12

I just got the cutest e-mail from one of my friends who has also done IVF informing me that "Congratulations, you are now a parent of 12!" YIKES! But for us today, that's good news. Brad and I left at 4:30 this morning for Oklahoma City for my egg retrieval. We were fortunate that they were able to harvest 12 eggs. We'll find out tomorrow how well they all did with the rest of the process.

In the meantime, we're just laying low at home and allowing the full anethesia to wear off.

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ready, Set, Go...

It's official! Wednesday will be our egg retrieval in Oklahoma City!!! I went into the doctor last week and my estrogen levels were lower than they'd like and my follicle size was still small. They ended up tripling my medication in hopes of making everything grow. Well, as it turns out, today we found just that! My estrogen levels are now at 1687 (they were at 460 last week) and my follicles are large enough to house mature eggs!

I am still feeling absolutely wonderful. I have been walking 7+ miles a day and while I am cramping, it's nothing I can't handle! Shoot...it's all in the name of starting our own family, right?!?!?!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Well On Our Way

What a great day it's been! In fact, what a wonderful week. I started my stims on Sunday and have been responding super well. I still feel great and am not going through exercise withdrawal. That may have to do with the 7+ miles I've been walking everyday or maybe the fact that we're back to school and I am now suddenly super busy. Nonetheless.

School started back Wednesday for us teachers. I love that we get to come back early because I get to see all my teacher friends who I hadn't seen all summer. While I haven't been ready to go back, I am finally getting excited to see my kiddos again. I'm bummed I'm going to miss their first day, but it's for a good reason for sure!

I had my first doctor's appointment today since starting stims and so far, they are saying that everything is looking great. My hormone levels are normal and they said there are about a dozen follicles (one egg will be in each follicle with any luck) on one ovary and "quite a few" on the other. A good IVF cycle produces about 13 eggs so so far, we're looking like we're on our way to having a good cycle! I told my doctor how great I was feeling and he told me to "enjoy it while it lasts because with this many follicles it won't be long now." The way we're looking at it though is that if I start to become not so comfortable it's only because good things are happening hopefully resulting in an even better IVF cycle. I go back tomorrow for another look then one last appointment on Monday before our Egg Retrieval on Wednesday. I can't belive we're getting so close!

Things to pray for...
...that I continue to remain strong physically, mentally, and emotionally
...that my follicles continue to grow and will produce mature eggs
...that this IVF cycle results in one or two healthy babies (we're not looking for our own TV show anytime soon...hehehe)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Let The Fun Begin!

Would you be jealous if I told you I got to spend my last weekend of summer honoring the DelMonte Sweet Corn Queen in rural Illinois? Yeah, I don't know if I'd be jealous either, but that's where I am, in Mendota, IL population 2,000, corn population 20 million (ish) =) It actually has been a whirlwind of a weekend with both my mom and dad. I can't say the weekend was perfect, but it was awesome to get to spend time with my folks.

Mom and I took a few great walks and spent a lot of time in the sweltering heat selling her invention, a Come-Along-Cuff. It's a really cool idea - it's a wrist wallet that's big enough to hold a few credit cards, some cash, and a few keys. Dad and I "philosophized" (I call it "bs"ing) and ate a lot of sweet corn together. This festival is probably the 20th one I've been to so everything brought back fun memories.

One thing I did learn from this weekend was that extreme heat, wine, and the Orbitor (that crazy ride that spins insanely) do not mix well. But, it was also ridiculously fun especially because I was riding with my 3rd and 5th grade second cousins, one of whom had just finished eating 5 ears of sweet corn in less than 10 minutes in the Sweet Corn Eating Contest!! Can you even imagine how bad this could have turned out?!?!?

On another note, the fun has finally begun in our journey through IVF. $3500 worth of drugs arrived Friday and I've been working out hard in prepartion for my exercise hiatus which officially began at 7am today. After a stellar 5-mile run this morning, I cam home and gave myself my first shot of Follistim. It was so easy and painless - SUCCESS!! Tonight was the Repronex. I felt like a chemist using Sodium Chloride to reconstitute my drugs. I was warned that the Repronex would sting; however, a McDonald's ice cream cone and an hour later - there are still no side effects. I just told my mom that if it stays this easy, I'll be set! FAT CHANCE, I'm sure, but a girl can hope! Just wait until my body realizes how many hormones are being pumped into it!

I'll be going to the doctor Thursday to see how everything is growing. Please keep us in your prayers. Pray that...
...physically, mentally, and emotionally I can stay positive and strong
...I continue to respond well to the meds
...our eggs are growing like they're supposed to be growing.

More updates and prayer requests to come later this week! Thank you all for your continued love, support, and encouragement. It means more to us that you'll ever know!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

PRs and Life on the Lake

What a great weekend we had. Living on the lake, we're hard pressed to not have a great weekend when the weather cooperates. Friday night I went with Sara, Brenda, and Karie down to Fayetteville for some shopping and dinner at my favorite pizza place, Mellow Mushroom. When I was in college back in Chapel Hill, we always made weekly trip to MM for the Mega Veggie Pizza (broccoli, spinach red onion, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, peppers, sun dried tomatoes, feta, and tofu). Of the probably 100 times I've eaten at MM, I'd say I've eaten the Mega Veggie 90 times...though Karie had one with a hummus base which very well might be my new favorite. If you haven't been there yet, it is a must try! I promise you won't be disappointed...and they have a great bar too =)

Yesterday was definitely the highlight of the weekend for both Brad and me. We started the morning with a trip to our favorite trails at Hobbs State Park. I was all pumped up to run, knowing it would be my last run here for hopefully 10 months or so, until we got to the trail head and was suddenly just not feeling it anymore. I knew I would kick myself later if I just walked a few miles instead, so off Brad and I went, he on his mountain bike and me by foot. About 15 minutes into the run, something kicked in and I was on a roll. What started as a HORRIBLE run ended up with me posting a PR on the trail of 1:25:10 for the 9 mile run. I was so excited and decided I was going to celebrate that afternoon with good food, a run to Walmart for some tonic and limes, and an afternoon of relaxing on the lake.

Living on the lake, you're never hard pressed to find friends who want to come hang out, so that is just what we did. Brad pulled out the infamous bike ramp that he and Levi built a few weeks ago and the brave people in our group took turns mastering the art of front flips, Supermans, and just not breaking anything as they took off down the hill on the rusty bike and catapulted themselves over the ramp and into the lake. In case you're struggling to imagine all this, here's the video from 2 weeks ago when the bike ramp was inaugurated:


video

Though Brenda, Karie and I weren't brave enough to jump, that doesn't mean we missed a beat when it came to having our own fun. Throw some gin and tonics or mimosas into the mix and everyone's guaranteed to have a good time =) The saddest part of the night was realizing that it was after 10:00 and that everyone had to go to work in the morning...oh I'm sorry, I should say, everyone but me =)