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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nina's Battle Against Infertility Part III

Moving Forward After…

My heart was now broken and I was down and depressed. Not only did I have this going on, we had to drive 12 hours to Rochester to visit our family for Christmas. I had to put on a brave face to see everyone celebrate Christmas with their families and open gifts. The hard part was that all of my husband’s family did not know because we had planned to tell them when we got there. I had no interest in celebrating anything, all I wanted to do was sleep. I started telling myself that I was ok. That everything was alright, but I was far from ok. I was hurting behind the smile that I put on every day. I felt embarrassed because I had told all of these people that we were expecting and then I had to tell them that now I was no longer pregnant. 

Surrounded by heartache with the loss of my maternal grandmother in November and my paternal grandmother in January, it took everything in me not to give up. Not just on trying to conceive, but on everything. I was in a place that was very dark, and pretty scary to be honest. Everyone that I loved dearly was being taken from me and yet I could not get one little glimmer of hope. I was angry. I was hurt. I was broken. Yet, I clung to my faith with all of my might. God saved me. He placed people around me to help me see that joy was all around me. In the little things that I had some how forgot while being so focused on conceiving. I forgot to cherish the moments I had with those who were still in my life, precious moments with my husband, making memories with my family and my friends. I learned to let go and truly let God have His way. I questioned why me, why did I have to go through this. I soon realized that He knows better than I do and I started to embrace where I am in this journey. So I decided to use my voice to support others who are embarking on this journey or already in the midst of their journey.

What Now?

My husband and I chose to take some time off before we decided to do a frozen embryo transfer. We only have one embryo so we did not want to rush into it with all of the stress around us. We also decided that we would go through the next step on our own, without telling everyone around us because the disappointment was hard on us and those around us as well. Right now we are focusing on closing on our first home and enjoying our time together. Prayer has helped me get to this point. I also believe that music has been a part of my healing. So I will share this with you as we all continue to move forward in our journey through life. Thanks!

Nina
Here I am, I’m still standing
Here I am after all I’ve been through
I’ve survived every toil
And every snare I’m alive, I’m alive
Here I Am – Marvin Sapp 


Fellow HeartBEATS
As I stated at the end of Amanda's battle I honestly can’t imagine the amount of courage it took for her and Nina to share such an intimate journey with us. Please wish Nina and her hubby all the best in becoming future parents. Their journey hasn’t been easy but I’m truly hopeful it will be worth it in due time.

As always this is a communal space so if there is anyone else battling against infertility, and would like to share your story please feel free to email me atexternalheartbeat@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Nina's Battle Against Infertility Part II

The Solution. So We Thought!

We had our first office visit with my OB/GYN doctor in 2006. I first had to undergo a procedure called a hysterosalpinogram (HSG) which is an x-ray test that uses a contrast material to check for injury or abnormal structure of the uterus or fallopian tubes. This test was normal. My husband had to provide a sperm sample for Semen Analysis. His counts were not the greatest, but they were not horrible. So we tried the medication Clomid alone, then along with intrauterine insemination (IUI) for 6 cycles with no luck. I eventually had a procedure called a Pelviscopy done a few years later to check and make sure that I did not have any adhesions or abnormalities that could not be picked up by ultrasound alone. It is a laparoscopic procedure where a long thin scope was placed through small incisions on my abdomen and my belly button. This was normal as well. After all of this we were referred to a specialist at a Fertility Clinic. So we continued on with new medications and IUIs, then injectable medications and IUIs. They were all unsuccessful. 

So, here we were now in the year 2012 and the next step in our journey would lead us to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Our insurance did not cover the cost of IVF so we now faced a major decision. One cycle of IVF would cost us around $7000. That was not including the cost of the medications required during one cycle which can be around another $2500. So we decided to postpone our dream of becoming parents until after we relocated from Rochester, NY to Charlotte, NC and were settled. Through the grace of God I found a job through an organization that would cover my IVF treatments after working there a year. I would still have to pay a copay for the procedure and for my medications, which was nothing compared to what I could have paid. In October 2013 we started our IVF process after completing blood work, genetic testing, and a semen analysis for my husband. Now the true test of my strength would begin. There are five basic steps in the IVF and embryo transfer process which include: 

  • Monitoring and stimulating the development of healthy egg(s) in the ovaries, collecting the eggs
  • Securing sperm
  • Combining the egg(s) and sperm together in the laboratory and providing the appropriate environment for fertilization and early embryo growth
  • And lastly transferring the embryo(s) into the uterus. 

I created calendars to write down all of the medications I had to take, injections I had to give myself (some nights included three injections into my abdomen). I wrote down all of the appointments for blood work and ultrasounds in order to check my progress. I was very diligent, always on time, afraid to make a mistake. Taking injections with me to dinner at restaurants and injecting them into my abdomen in the bathroom so I gave it at the correct time. I had several alarms programmed on my phone to help me remember what time I had to give or take each medication. On my birthday, December 3, 2013 I celebrated my birthday under anesthesia. My eggs were now ready for retrieval through a minor surgical procedure that uses ultrasound imaging to guide a hollow needle through my pelvic cavity. My eggs were aspirated from my ovaries. They now had 11 eggs from my ovaries. After my eggs and my husband’s sperm were combined we had 8 good embryos left. I returned on December 8th for my embryo transfer. The process involves a speculum which is inserted into the vagina to expose the cervix. With my embryo suspended in fluid and guided by ultrasound it was gently placed through a catheter into my womb. My doctor only transferred one embryo and we planned on freezing the rest for later procedures when we were ready to try again. That day we received our first baby picture. A picture of our little embryo that was ready to be transferred. We also learned that we only had one remaining embryo that was ready to be frozen. The next phase of the cycle can actually be the most stressful time when you are trying to relax. It is known as the two week wait. 

Our wait was finally over on December 17th when my husband and I listened together to a voicemail from our IVF nurse. We were pregnant, for the first time in almost 9 years of trying. We were elatedExcited I told all of my close friends, my mom, my sister, and my co-workers who knew every step of the process as I was going through it. On December 19th I had to go back in for follow-up blood work to make sure that my hormone levels were doubling. To my surprise, when I received the voicemail from the IVF nurse about the results they were not what I had expected. I did not prepare myself for this. I was crushed. Our levels had dropped and it was considered a chemical pregnancy. Now I had to tell my husband and I was at work so my co-workers found out and just about my entire office was in tears. That was a really hard and trying day. I felt like I was going to die because the pain was so severe. My heart literally hurt. 


Thanks for reading and don't forget to come back tomorrow to find out what's next for Nina and her hubby

Monday, April 28, 2014

Nina's Battle Against Infertility

Happy Monday Loves!

National Infertility Awareness Week ended on the 26th, but after sharing Amanda’s story I received another story that is near and dear to my heart so I just had to share with you all. I’ve known the couple you are about to meet since my freshmen year of high school, yet it wasn’t until I started this blog that I realized they had their own battle with infertility. From the outside looking in their marriage has a solid foundation, and appears that they are the perfect couple. You see them and think they are the cutest couple ever because the bond between them radiates and you know they have the kind of love people dream about.

So how could it be that they too have suffered from infertility? Find out now by reading their journey below...


My Testimony 
Hi. My name is Nina G. of Finding Joy inFertility and I am looking forward to sharing my Infertility journey with you all. I have enjoyed reading Sheena’s blog and Facebook posts about baby O. I appreciate her honesty, her sense of humor, and her vulnerability at times. I recently contacted Sheena in regards to possibly starting a blog of my own in the hopes of sharing my Infertility journey. After talking things over with my husband, who is very private, he told me that if sharing our journey helped me to heal my broken heart then he was all for it. Yes, I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest and beaten into tiny little pieces. In other words, I was hurting in silence and refused to allow this pain to consume me. I knew that opening up and sharing would not be easy, but it would be worth it if I could help anyone who was going though a journey of their own. So here I am, ready to share with you my journey of Infertility during National Infertility Awareness Week.

The Beginning
My husband and I started dating when I was in the 9th grade. We literally grew up together. We decided to get married in December of 2004, four years after I graduated high school. Through difficult times and struggles we always had each other. We would talk about starting a family and becoming parents, but we never imagined that it would be the hardest thing our relationship and marriage would face. Infertile couples are three times more likely to divorce. Sometimes, the void of not having a child causes so much damage and strain on the relationship that the couple decides to end it. Thankfully, our story did not end in divorce. The pressure placed on a woman of child-bearing age can also take a toll on you when no one knows that you have started trying and nothing seems to be happening. Early on in our journey, one of my biggest fears was that my youngest cousin would have a child before I did. Well, now she has two children and I am the only one in my immediate family sitting here childless. I’m far from bitter, it just hurts a little every time that it is not me who is sharing good news. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. I tried to do things the “right” way. I was married to my best friend, I graduated with my Bachelors degree in Nursing, and I had a career working as a Pediatric nurse. My menstrual cycles were normal, we were both healthy. I just did not understand and started to tell myself that I must have done something wrong, some how it had to be my fault. I felt like I was being punished by God. Every time I thought that I was pregnant and my period came I cried, every child’s party that I was overlooked made me sad, every Mother’s Day I spent without a child I cried. Still, I hid behind a smile and no one knew how bad I was hurting inside. I felt like I was slowly dying. I felt like if I could just be a mom I would not care if I had the latest clothes, the nicest car, or any materialistic things. I could have been stripped down to nothing and I would have been overjoyed with someone simply calling me mommy. Oh how my heart yearns to hear those words. I think I cried so much and so often that my husband almost became numb to it. It almost became a part of who I was. He probably expected me to cry because I did so very often. So we knew that we would have to seek help in trying to find a solution to our problem.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to come back tomorrow to find out if there's a solution for Nina and her hubby

Friday, April 25, 2014

Amanda's Battle Against Infertility (Part II)

IUI Round 1
IUI, or Intrauterine Insemination, is the gateway assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment for many people dealing with infertility.  It is also rarely covered by insurance as only 13 states have infertility mandates, and at the time we were not in one of those states.  However we knew that if we didn't give it a go we would regret it, and so we placed our prescription order and put in our requests for time off.  The medication was the same, and so were the side effects leading to the wonderful "Chloe" nickname to explain the oh-so-lovely personality change I had.  When it came time for our IUI we headed over the river to Maryland, with my husbands contribution cup under my shirt in order to keep the swimmers as close to body temperature as possible.  As with HSG, IUI treatments require a catheter being inserted thru the cervix but in place of the dye, "washed" sperm are sent down the tube cutting their journey time in half while reducing the chances of chemical damage from cervical mucus (yes, they check the pH and yes it's as awkward as you think).  The washing process basically insures that only the best of the best sperm are allowed to attempt to fertilize the egg, no weak/deformed swimmers allowed in this gene pool!  Once again my hubby produced Super Sperm with post-wash numbers that were graded by the nurse as A+++.   Again I started the progesterone supplements and again dealt with swelling and bloating, and again we received a big fat negative (BFN) when it came time for our BETA. 

Cancelled Cycle
At this point we had already decided to go forward with the recommended 3 IUIs, and it was during this time frame we decided it would be in our best interest to jump the Potomac in to Maryland - one of the states with an infertility mandate.  Meanwhile we paid for IUI #2 and I went for my baseline CD 3 apt, which was disastrous.  Even though Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome had been ruled out pre-RE, the nurse doing my transvaginal ultrasound found 4 cysts, 2 on each ovary, and blood tests confirmed that they were estrogen producing - cancelling IUI #2.  This settled our resolve to move to a state with infertility coverage, for while it wouldn't stop the emotional roller coaster at least we could start controlling the financial aspects.  Within a few weeks my husband was offered his dream position, and while at my annual gaming convention, we sold our house for more than asking in under a week!  For the first time in a long time things were starting to look up, we had infertility coverage on the way and the selling price of our house gave us a great nest egg to use on treaments.  When I returned from the trip I was sick as a dog and chalked it up to the "ConBug", until my fertility app sent me a reminder that I was Late.  A (male) coworker even asked me if I was pregnant after noting that my boobs were huge (his words, not mine), something I had been chalking up to all the fertility treatments and associated hormones.  A quick test confirmed it, with two lines popping up before I could fully get the lid on. I shot an email to my boss that I would be late for work, and went to my RE for a blood test.  That afternoon I got the call we had been longing for - a doctor was confirming that YES we were pregnant.  I did a happy dance in my cubicle and started planning fun ways to tell my husband that it was really happening, all of which went out the door when he got home from work as I just blurted it out.  That weekend we continued our house search, laughing at how one of the reasons for the move was no longer valid.  I went for a blood test on Monday morning, and that afternoon set up a meeting to talk to my boss about my upcoming move and what kind of role I could have in the company.  During that meeting my RE's office called and my world fell apart - my pregnancy hormones had dropped to a non-viable level leading to chemical pregnancy #3.  

Back to IUI
After taking a month off to recover, physically and emotionally, we were ready to try again.  By this point I was working and living in VA while my husband was in MD, starting his new job and finalizing everything on our new house.  I started the medication for IUI #2 the day before giving my notice at work, and while I was sad to be leaving my coworkers I was thrilled to be leaving a place that had become filled with painful memories.  IUI #2 ended with another BFN, and IUI #3 followed the next month with the same results.  By this point the holidays were fast approaching and we decided to take at least a month off before embarking on IVF.  The plan was to start IVF #1 at the end of December, taking advantage of our new insurance before a few of the medications would no longer be covered.  Yet that was not to be, as my period decided to arrive three days early, during the time in which my RE's office was closed for annual inspection.  Another month off it was, which allowed us time to relax and just enjoy being together without the stress of needles, pills, and catheters.    

IVF 
When most people think of infertility treatments, IVF is generally where their minds go.  Even if they are saying artificial insemination (IUI), the process they describe is more often than not invitro fertilization (IVF) and this the BIG MOMMY of fertility treatments.  Nothing is simple about this process and it makes holding down a full time job a pain in the rear as there are apts almost every day for a week or more plus it requires multiple days off and the ability to administer medication at work.  For IUI everything is done either first thing in the morning, or post-dinner, while with IVF portions of it are smack in the middle of the day.  Since our move I hadn't found full time work, so I decided to starting subbing in the local county as it offered the flexibility I needed along with some extra money to put towards our treatment.  Our first Box o'Drugs arrived in the middle of January and it was massive, requiring our full dining room table with an inserted leaf to hold everything.  I was going to be taking at least two shots a day for up to two weeks plus a variety of pills and suppositories after the transfer.  Unlike TI and IUI, IVF is a complete override of your natural system and for many women it begins with birth control pills (oh the irony) in order to reset the clock.  My clotting issue meant we would skip the pills and begin with my next cycle, which resulted in my first appointment happening on January 24th.  This baseline apt began like all the others, starting with blood work and then followed by a transvaginal ultrasound to insure no cysts.  However the ending was vastly different as I was given a quick shot class, to include a how-to guide on mixing medications and finding the right spot.   I was officially cleared that afternoon and got my first two shots after dinner.  I went for my follow-up apt on CD7, and was told all was looking good!  The follow-up call in the afternoon confirmed what the ultrasound tech had told me, and I was told to add my third daily shot in the morning.  This morning shot was the first hiccup in my IVF journey as unlike the other ones it was time sensitive, so I had to pick a time that I was 100% certain would work which resulted in waking up way earlier than I desired in order to get the shots in before my 7AM apts.  I had additional apts on days 9 and 10 - before getting the go ahead to trigger at 915PM on February 2nd. Unlike the other shots and triggers this one required my husband's assistance as it needed to hit a target not easily reached.  After a good 5 minute panic attack, the shot was finished and I waddled off to bed.  Another LARGE difference between IUI and IVF is that once the trigger shot is administered there is to be NO sex until the transfer - and that includes what my mom still refers to as "Bill Clinton sex".  The next day was an "off day" - no apts, no medications, just instructions to drink lots of water and attempt to relax.  The following morning started early with nerves and excitement, and off we went to get our eggs harvested.  Sedatives were given and I awoke to my husband's smiling face and a happy nurse telling us that 18 eggs had been retrieved!  15 eggs had been our goal number so we were elated to hear that my ovaries had gone over that, however we found out the next day that while 18 had been collected only 15 were mature and of those mature eggs only 7 had been successfully fertilized.  With IVF each egg is given its own petri dish and then a few hundred thousand sperm are added to the dish, and generally 80% of eggs are fertilized.  In our case, I was producing eggs with hard shells which resulted in a 40% fertilization rate and being told that if there was a next time we would be using ICSI which injected a single (tail-less) sperm in to each egg.  I was praying hard there wouldn't be a next time as my body was not enjoying the after effects of the retrieval.   I was a tired, sore, cranky, swollen, constipated mess - and my stress levels just kept going up as we continued to get the results.  Of our 7 fertilized embryos all 7 were still growing the morning of day 2, giving us hope of a day 5 transfer which is the ideal transfer day.  However late that same afternoon we got a call telling us that 4 of our embryos had stopped growing and that I was going to need to do a day 3 transfer.  Within 24hrs I was back in the stirrups and 2 little embryos were being inserted in to my waiting uterus.  We were told that we had a 70% chance of implantation and around a 25% chance of twins, all based on the grades of the embryos - and I was told that while my husband was now open to "release" I was still in the land of no sex and would be for 72hrs.  I started taking my pills and suppositories - figuring out which schools in Baltimore had the largest faculty bathrooms in order to administer the post lunch dose. After 14 anxious days I decided to take a home pregnancy test and was once again delighted to see two lines pop up - which I confirmed by taking two more tests.  I had a blood draw the next day but the afternoon phone call was full of doom and gloom in that my pregnancy hormones were not high enough to suggest a viable pregnancy.  A second blood draw was scheduled and I knew as soon as I heard the voice of my RE, and not the nurse, that I was having another CP.  We were told to schedule a recurrent loss panel (RLP) apt when we were ready, and that we would need to take off at least month.  A few days later my IVF pregnancy was officially over, and I was scheduling more tests to see if something unusual was at play for while I was tested at the start of the journey some problems are so rare - and the tests so expensive - that they are only administered as part of a RLP.   While one test did come back positive, on its own it was not enough to explain why we had suffered three official chemical pregnancies.  

Now
So where does that leave us?  We just finished what became a mini-IVF cycle (medication & retrieval but no transfer) and hope to begin another IVF round within the week.  The only option we have left is getting our embryos genetically screened, which is a lot easier said than done.  The test can only be done on a blastocyst, which is where an embryo should be on day 5 - a milestone we didn't reach on IVF #1.  With our first mini-IVF we only got 1 viable blastocyst (17 retrieved, 12 mature, 10 fertilized, 3 blasts, 1 viable) and the statistics/costs involved with the genetic testing are such that sending less than 4 isn't advisable.  We are also reaching the end of our infertility prescription coverage, but I have been offered a FT job that does provide infertility benefits (thank you again Maryland!).  However we are reaching the end of our medical options.  If none of our blasts pass the genetic screening then this is the end of our infertility journey.  If the genetic screening shows a chromosome problem then we can explore donor eggs, but we have no insurance coverage for that and the costs are well north of $20k for what is a 40% chance of success.  If our blasts do come back "normal", and one is transferred, and we have another miscarriage than the most likely answer is for some unknown reason my body can't handle a pregnancy which leaves gestational surrogacy - something that costs around $80k with similar odds of success. We have started contacting adoption agencies, something that I had been drawn to pre-infertility days and it's possible that our child is currently being carried by another woman.  I still have faith that we'll become parents, and while the journey is taking much longer than we ever could have imagined and filled with more heartbreak than we ever thought possible I know that one day I will hold my child in my arms.

Fellow HeartBEATS
Reading this and reflecting back to when she first informed me her infertility battle I can’t imagine the amount of courage it took for Amanda share that with me. I’m beyond grateful that she not only shared it with me but also choose to share it here with you all.  Please wish her and her hubby all the best in becoming future parents. Their journey hasn’t been easy but I’m truly hopeful it will be worth it in due time.

As always this is a communal space so if there is anyone else battling against infertility, and would like to share your story please feel free to email me at externalheartbeat@gmail.com

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Amanda's Battle Against Infertility

Hi Luvs!

For those of you who may not know this week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and although I celebrate my blessing (Baby O) with you all daily I am aware that there are some couples who’d love to be blessed with a child of their own. This is why I reached out to a former co-peep/friend to see if she’d be willing to honor this week by sharing her battle with infertility. She graciously agreed so today and tomorrow I’ll be sharing her testimony, which I truly hope will be source of encouragement for some and educate others.

Her Testimony
Hi!  My name is Amanda E and I can normally be found blogging about vegetarian food over at DancingVeggies. Many moons ago I worked with Sheena and during that time I started opening up with her about the struggle my husband and I had been having conceiving.  In talking to Sheena, and a number of other awesome ladies, I started becoming more comfortable talking about our journey. This past week I have been sharing various infertility factoids on Facebook in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week which is why I quickly agreed to write this guest post when Sheena asked. Below is my story...

Pre-Infertility
My husband and I were wed in April of 2012 and we knew pre-wedding that we wanted kids - the sooner the better!  We did the "not trying, not preventing" thing for a bit while I investigated the best "methods" to get pregnant. Luckily I was working with a number of moms and one of them told me all about temping and tracking.  The best part was that this method was free, and didn't involve any strange fruits!  All I needed to do was download one of the many fertility tracking apps, I went with Fertility Friend, and take my temperature immediately upon waking.  This temperature is known as a person's basal body temperature (bbt) and in women it varies based on where you are in your cycle.  In finding out where in the month I had an ovulation dip, we were better able to pinpoint exactly which days were the MUST HAVE SEX days.  In my case this was around the 20th day of my cycle, marked by a very clear dip in temperature and followed by a fast rise.  Two cycles later, in October of 2012, I was pregnant!  However within two days I started bleeding and experienced what I learned was called a chemical pregnancy (CP).  We took time to collect ourselves but resolved to keep going, knowing that 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.  In late January of 2013 I had a very unusual period and after a blood test learned that I had experienced another chemical pregnancy.  At this time we had only been trying for 6 months but my OB/GYN realized that my husband and I needed help and sent us over to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), something that normally happens after a year of trying for people under the age of 34.  For folks 35+ a RE is normally recommended after 6 months of trying, while couples over 40 are told to go in ASAP.  So we went for our consultation and officially began our Infertility Journey on April 21, 2013 - the day before our 1st Anniversary.

The Beginning
Our first meeting easily ranks among the scariest most nerve wracking moments of my adult life.  We had no idea what to expect, and most importantly had no idea if they could help us.  After all, we had no problem getting pregnant; it was just staying that way.  To say that first meeting was eye-opening doesn't begin to cover it.  We learned that 1 in 6 couples suffer from infertility and that there is no one type of infertility.  We discussed all the types of treatment available, the (terrifying) costs associated with each, and the general timeline we were looking at.  From our first appointment it was made clear that as there is no one type of infertility, there is also no one treatment for infertility and that even if all known treatments were used there was still a chance that biological children wouldn't happen.  Eager to begin, we went from the consultation room to the lab where I had my first blood draw.  The first step was to figure out what was causing our infertility, in the hopes that it would be an "easy" fix.  My blood was sent off for kerotyping, to insure that I was chromosomally normal, and a full battery of genetic testing. The first sigh of relief came when my tests came back normal, outside of a known clotting issue, which doubled when my husband's blood test also came back clean. 

Getting Personal
Once the "easy" tests were done it was time to move on to the more intimate tests.  For my husband that meant a sperm analysis (SA), where his swimmers would be investigated to insure that they were the right quality and quantity.  We were beyond thrilled to learn that his swimmers were in the Michael Phelps category, acing the tests in quantity, mobility, and morphology.  I was up next, facing a test that I had read multiple horror stories about: the hysterosalpingogram (HSG).  I was sick to my stomach the morning of my apt, and instead of working up until my apt time, I was in the bathroom dry heaving with fear.  While most other tests are relatively painless to perform, the HSG test involves inserting dye in to the uterus and Fallopian tubes by threading a catheter up through the cervix.  There is no sedative, and unlike annual checkups there are generally no stirrups to help keep things were they should be - just a nurse (or two).  Even during my long drive to the apt I was debating cancelling it, or in the very least finding an open bar within walking distance of the clinic.  In the end I sucked it up, knowing that this test could eliminate/diagnosis a number of infertility issues including: misshapen uterus, blocked tubes, or endometriosis.  Since I had already had 2 CPs, though only the second one was officially counted by the RE as there was no clinical proof of the first one, it was suspected that my issue could be a poorly designed uterus.  In the end this test was like all the others - my reproductive system was practically perfect in every way. At this point we knew what it wasn't but still had no idea what it was, which is when we became part of the 20% of infertile couples that suffer from unexplained infertility.  The primary testing had ended, it was time for treatment.  

TI Time
After a much needed vacation, and some hardcore budgeting talks, we decided to start infertility treatments in early June of 2013.  Since we had no infertility coverage we elected to start with a medicated monitored Timed Intercourse (TI) protocol.  This treatment option meant we only had to pay out of pocket for the medications as the monitoring appointments were included under my standard ob/gyn coverage.  On days 3-9 of my cycle I took Clomid, going in for monitoring on days 3 and 7.  The side effects began on day 4, and it was at this point that I had to start opening up about what was going on.  From around the clock hot flashes to intense mood swings, it became apparent to those closest to me that something was up.  The slightest thing could set me off, including some idiot who didn't understand the concept of a maiden name.  Thankfully the mood swings stopped with the Clomid and the (self-administered) trigger shot on cycle day (CD) 10 was a walk in the park.  Since we were doing TI, there were no restrictions on being intimate - in fact it was HIGHLY encouraged!  I started taking progesterone supplements around CD 15 and quickly had to adjust my wardrobe to account for the water weight and breast growth.  We found out via a blood test (BETA) that our TI protocol did not work.  

We were devastated but after a few days of discussing our options, and further budget analysis, we decided to bite the bullet and try an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) cycle. Yup! We finally accepted that we were going to need some form of medical intervention – and was praying that it would worth be the financial and emotional cost.  


Thanks for reading and don't forget to come back tomorrow to find out if IUI worked for Amanda

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bowed Leg Problems (Update)

Hey luvs!

Thank you all for your kind words yesterday as I dealt with my emotions behind there potentially being a problem with my lovebug’s little legs.  I truly appreciate your continued support and encouragement.

Yesterday’s appointment literally lasted less than ten minutes and it turns out that Baby O isn’t bowed leg after all.  All this time what I thought were cute little bowed legs are really what the medical profession considers to be internal tibial torsion”.

What’s this?

Per John’s Hopkins...“Internal tibial torsion is a condition in which the tibia (the larger of the two bones going from the knee to the ankle, forming the shin) is rotated inwardly (internally) or outwardly (externally) along its long axis. The rotation of the tibia also causes the foot and ankle to be rotated. Such rotation is seen throughout the course of normal development, but too much rotation is considered a developmental abnormality.

How does this affect Baby O?

In Baby O’s case her tibia is on the abnormal spectrum. The doctor informed us that her tibia is rotated inward quite a bit. A normal person’s tibia would line up to their 2nd toe while Baby O’s is lined up to her 5th toe on her right leg and past the 5th toe on her left leg. Keeping her message to us very positive she informed us that some of the inward rotation will self-correct over time, however she didn’t suspect it would be enough to eliminate future issues down the road :(.  

What’s next? With the diagnoses above she informed us that we had two options.
  1. We could do nothing and see how she continues to develop over time.
  2. We can try having her sleep in special shoes (braces) for the next 4 months.
The specialist presented her options with no pressure and totally left the decision to Dom and me. However, I left secretly more stressed than when I went in, I think it was because she was very technical and spoke in medical terminology the entire visit, so I was unsure what all this really meant. This is why I was truly thankful that Baby O had her 15 month appointment with her normal pediatrician later that day. During her checkup I discussed her condition in detail with her pediatrician; she broke it all the way down for me. I left feeling relieved and decided that for the severity of Baby O’s internal tibial torsion option 2 was the best way forward. 

Guess I’ll be updating y'all on her progress over the next few months :).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bowed Leg Problems

As I sit here nervous as ever for Baby O's 9:40 appointment with a pediatric orthopedic specialist I can't help but pray that the outcome of today's visit is no different than the last...

A few weeks ago I received a frantic call from her teacher saying that Baby O wasn't acting her normal self. She informed me that she had a really bad cough and there was a coughing virus going around the class. With her not sure if the virus was contagious I immediately chucked my co-peeps the deuces and headed to get my baby to take her to the doctor.

Turns out her allergies and asthma were just acting up so she'd have to start breathing treatments again... Thank God. However, as Baby O was walking out and blowing kiss bye to the staff the doctor stopped us in our tracks. She noticed the bowed legs y'all and begin to express concern. Just like that my I'm a good mom high was blown, and the ever so concerned mom reared her ugly head. Leaving the doctor stressed as hell with breathing treatments, allergy medication, a referral to the dentist (for all those damn teeth), and a othropedics specialist was just too much.

Powering through the anxiety I made the appointment. We arrived with me expecting the worse (from my web md research) only for him to tell me that in his opinion she was growing as she should. Yes! her legs didn't concern him, may baby was clear until he hit me with a... However. Since children weren't his speciality he'd prefer I get a second opinion from someone who only sees kids. 

So now I sit waiting on more good news hopefully :). Even tho, I Lost all eight hours of sleep lastnight and woke up concerned, watching my active lovebug play this morning reminded me that no matter what this doctor says she's perfect.  



Monday, April 21, 2014

Battle Of Wheels

I'm sure from this title you thought this article would be about Olivia and her little hot wheels. Ummmm it's not, but check this photo the hubs got of her in her ride couple of Sundays ago.
Now, the main purpose of today’s blog, in my house there is a real battle of WILLs going down.

I’ve finally realized that Baby O is whole heartedly a toddler and has really be trying my patience. Yeah we have some... She tried it (in my Tamara voice) moments.  The crazy part is I didn't realize that’s what she was doing until I was chatting with my friend Amber, about some of my recent dinner time experiences with Baby O. Over the past couple weeks the shenanigans at dinner time have simply been getting out of control. Of course, I blamed teething (because I blame everything on teething lol) but in reality she was pulling these stunts, because she knew she could. Talking to Amber helped me realize what was going on though.

But, I honestly wasn’t 100% convinced that she was playing me until I arrived at her school that same day. When I arrived to pick her up from school her teacher informed me that Baby O is learning to self sooth in the classroom. Of course, I inquired to see what self-soothing technique they were using, turns out when my tiny tot gets upset they walk her over to a little plush chair, explain to her that all is well, she has her moment and comes out when she’s ready to play again.

So my child gets the concept of time out? Really?

You better believe I left the school in total shock. Home girl listens to everyone but me lol (it's not funny but it is)...

For the first time in a long time I was the soft one. Totally thought I left that ish back in my childhood with my rough a** brothers. Guess I was wrong because home girl be punking me y'all. That night at dinner I put some base in my voice when speaking to her, how about home girl ate her entire dinner...oh it's ON. Bet I won't be around here letting a tiny tot get over on me anymore. It's her will against mine, and she may have won a few battles, but I promise I'll win this war.

After all it's simply a matter of respect. Which is not optional in our house.

Fellow HeartBEATS
I'll keep you all posted on our little war but for now is like to know when you first discovered the Battle of Wills in your home?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

But She Has RESPONSIBILITIES

So I recently had a conversation with a few male co-peeps about how men feel after the baby comes. I must admit our chat was blatantly honest yet hysterical at the same darn time.  I gained ton of perspective from one of them and requested he write his thoughts out to share with you all.

Read his testimony is below...

Friends,

My wife recently gave birth to our second child.  As a parent, there are few things more memorable then when your child enters this world.  It was without a doubt one of the best days of my life.  Not just because I had another son, but because today marks the road to recovery for my wife.  From the guy’s perspective, the road to recovery means one thing…sexy time is back! :)

Women….mothers….we men understand what a toll the last 40 weeks and delivery has taken on your body.  We know that you do not feel at your prettiest; that you don’t find your bodies “sexy” a t this point in time.  Please keep in mind that most of you (if not all) shut the pearly gates for weeks (if not months) before your little bundle of joy arrived.  In addition, your hormones over the past few months have been off the charts, with dear ol’ dad taking the brunt of that punishment. 

You (ladies) may think that this entitles you to a free pass, allowing you to physically and emotionally heal.  I can tell you that it DOES NOT!  You have a marital responsibility….a marital duty, to take care of your man! Have you ever heard the expression “taking one for the team”? That is what you need to do until your mind and body have returned to its usual self.  Love making may be prohibited by the doctor for a while, but servicing your man is not….yes, I said it….step up your game and rock the “Mike” like you were BeyoncĂ©!!!

Most women respond to this notion with “what’s in it for me?” or “why would I do that when you cannot reciprocate?”

Ladies ladies…you made it very clear that the past 40 weeks were all about you.  The baby shower was all about you.  Decorating the baby’s room was all about you.  Being dragged to every Carter’s, Buy Buy Baby or trendy baby boutique, was all about you.  Now, it’s about US! You know, the reason you were able to have a baby in the first place…..this pregnancy was long and hard on us as well; just in a different fashion.

So while you may not be in best place physically or emotionally, just remember that a little goes a long way in our book. 

Let me preface this by saying I have never been and would never be a cheater.  In the end, there is too much to lose and nothing to gain.  However, history does show that if you ignore or deny your man too often, he will stray and find someone who will take care of his needs.  Don’t let that happen to you.  You and your man have a wonderful thing going. Evidence of this is the recent birth of your child and your growing family. 
Men are simple creatures; we don’t need or ask for much.  Isn’t fifteen minutes of your time worth it to ensure a healthy relationship? :)

Lesson to be learned?
Handle your business ladies and take care of your man!

Respectfully,
Dear ol’ Dad

Fellow HeartBEATS
Now! The other funny part abput this is I also work with his wife. She was on maternity leave during the time the converstion took place, but we shared a good laugh about this upon her return.

Any way can any of you relate? I sure can and know like hell I felt/used every excuse that his wife did right after having Baby O. Hell I was drained, feeling like someone else, and focused on being a mom, but as my co –peep so eloquently puts it...None of that had to do with the hubs lol. So at some point it was time to shut up and put up, because although a new responsibility had been added to my plate I still have a previous one to take care of.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Momma Drama: Mystery Scratches

Hey luvs!

I want to take a moment circle back on Monday’s article about being THAT Mom. Although I’m shamelessly proud of the title I still would like to go into further detail regarding the bullets I posted. Not for validation, simply because the stories behind them are important. Starting today I will be doing a series called (Momma Drama) which goes into further details regarding each of these incidents and future ones like it.This honestly should be good because as my co-peeps put it I have the most bizarre conversations lol.

Oh so no one knows where this scratch on my infant came from?

This was the start of my THAT Mom life with Baby O’s school so it’s the most fitting place to start.  One day I went to pick my lovebug up (she had to be about 7 months) and as I was gathering her things I glanced over and noticed a scratch on her neck. This was no little scratch. It actually looked more like someone had been digging into her skin, and I could tell it hurt and from the dried blood. Of course, I immediately stopped what I was doing to get closer look at it. After my inspection I ask the teacher what happened to which she informed me that this was her first time seeing it.

SAY WHAT? 
                                              
Apparently, Baby O had been shuttled from class to class that day so her primary teacher was just seeing her. I was too alarmed by the change in classrooms as it this happened a lot on the school infant unit. I was surprised that I visited every infant class and NO ONE knew where the mark on my baby had come from.

WHAT THE F*&%?

Internally PISSED yet visibly calm, I proceed to pack up the rest of Baby O’s belongings, picked her up, and marched down to the director’s office. When I got to her office I politely requested a moment of her and time during which I pointed out the marks on Baby O, and let her know that while I understand that accidents will happen while my child is in their care I was very disturbed. As I had spoken to her staff and none of the infant teachers knew where the marks came from. She informed me that they the team keeps a very close eye on the children, and couldn’t believe that no one on her staff had seen this if it happened on their watch.

To which I responded with the following...

It has become a daily tradition in our household that my husband and Baby O take a morning photo so something like this would have been noticed prior to her arrival had it happen at home. Not to mention I watch her like a HAWK at home, since she is my only I actually don’t have anything else better to do. Not to mention I bath her nightly and I can promise this was not there. This means it happened in your care, so now that we know where this happened let me tell you my issue once again. My issue is that NO ONE on your staff seen this and I had to walk in a place of “care” to discover a mark on my child. My issue is that I was not identified of this issue prior to arriving at your facility. That shows negligence on the schools behalf in my opinion. I don’t ever want to walk in this facility in find a mark on my child that you all aren’t aware of...Like NEVER. I pay you all to educate and protect my child while she is here and that is not something you feel your staff is capable of please let me know immediately.

I could tell that my polite yet firm ton surprised the ish out of her because every day prior my demeanor mirrored that of a ball of sunshine lol.  I left our little meeting with feeling accomplished as I believed my point had gotten across and knowing I’d be receiving a follow up call the next day with further clarification of what may have happened. Since, a few teachers had already left for the day I knew she needed to contact them and I thought it was only fair to allow her to do so. Especially, since the bullshit story she initially tried to feed me of this being self-inflicted wasn’t flying past me lol.

In any case I received a call bright and early the next morning to which the truth was revealed, because Baby O led them to it.  Apparently, little miss independent had been snatching her own bibs off her neck and no one cared until...Momma found them scratches.
Fellow HeartBEATS
Do you remember the first time you had to SPEAK UP in the name of your child? If so please share :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Here Comes Easter

Last year we took Baby O to Sesame Street live and although she had limited exposure to the show she honestly had the time of her life. She sat there the entire show singing and dancing to all the songs. It was amazing to watch her enjoy herself and led me to want her to have more exposure to the brand. As she continues to grow and explore the world around her I don’t think there is a better time than the present.
This is why this year as I begin to teach her about the importance of Easter I plan to incorporate Sesame Street in her understanding from the commercial perspective of the holiday.  I plan to create a Sesame Street themed Easter basket. No my planning behind haven’t put the basket together yet. I’ve just found some very key elements to go into it based on the things she enjoys daily...
The Basket
As we all know every kid must have a Easter basket. I had been admiring the beauty of this basket in my local grocery store for some time now. With this being my first purchase of a basket for her, I wanted to ensure that I got the perfect one. Wanting a basket that would stand the length of time so I could use it for all her Easters to come (a little piece of tradition).I passed this one each week and would think to myself that...it is perfect. So, Once it went on sale I purchased it.
The Elmo
Since most children Baby O’s age tend to love Elmo I figured I’d start her Sesame Street introduction with him. Of course, I found a ton of Elmo products during my search, but there was one that truly spoke to something she loves (music). Once I spotted Let's Rock Elmo I knew he would be perfect for the center of her basket. I purchased it about a month ago and have been hiding it. She's reallyinto stuffed animals and dolls right now so I know once she gets her hands on it there’s no turning back lol.
The Book
In my search for Elmo products I came across an awesome living social deal which, allowed you to personalize a book for your child. As luckwould have it the character they choose to use in the book was Elmo. I snatched that deal up quickly and personalized a book for my love. It came in the mail over the weekend and I can’t wait to sit on her room floor so she can read it to me:). She loves books and pretend read to me each night before her bath.
The Book
I think with these items and a few other little touches her 1st Easter basket is well on its way to being PERFECT. She already has the collecting eggs portion of the day down, which means I better get to reading her some Easter stories so she truly understands the reason for the season.
Happy EASTER HeartBEATS

Monday, April 14, 2014

THAT MOM

During a few recent conversations with my co-peeps (coworkers) I discovered that I’m THAT MOM at Baby O’s daycare. You know the mom that everyone tip toes around, The one they have secret conversations about but smiles when they see her. Let's not talk about how they hate to have to call with a problem, but will call for every single thing...

Hi Sheena I’m just calling to tell you that Baby O coughed and although she’s fine I just wanted to inform you.  Yup that’s me and I shamelessly OWN it LOL
I know at this point some of you are probably thinking  I’m only acting in this manner because I’m first time mom and please feel free to think that way, but I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. I wouldn’t care if I had 99 other children and knew everything in this world about raising children. I am very invested in my child’s (and future children) lives, so when things go down while mine is in your care I WILL always properly assess the situation. Need to know who, where, why, and plan going forward, to think about it that’s just how I am naturally (I want all the details so that I determine how I’ll handle things with the person in question going forward). Not to mention, when paying college tuition for my child to be in your care the expectations are HIGH and nothing less so be prepared to do what grown-ups do and communicate.

Needless to say I’ve had more than a few run-ins with Baby O’s school...
  1. No one knows where thess scratch came from? (Mystery Scratches)
  2. Did she really just say that? (The Teaching Experience)
  3. So you won’t potty train her until she’s 2? (More details to come)
  4. I referred two people but have yet to receive my referral bonus?
  5. Excuse me did you just say my child got bit? Is this that first incident with this child biting?
  6. My child isn’t being stimulated enough in her current classroom is it possible for her to move up early?
  7. Based on my calculations your fundraising total is incorrect and we actually raised the most funds.

LOL those are the only ones I can think of at the moment, but were all reasons for me to start a conversation then head to the schools director based on the response I received. Since, I’m comfortable in my own skin (in my Beyonce voice) I’m perfectly fine with being that mom. Actually I’m PROUD to be that mom and advocate for mines J. What I didn’t realize is my hubby is THAT DAD as well. Y’all last week he went in on the administration at the school about the ingredients in some Honey Nut Cheerios LMBO. I'll spare you all the details but check out his response to their request that we not send Baby O to school with Honey Nut Cheerios...

Here is the exact label on the box. It was my understanding that pre-2006 Honey Nut cheerios contained actual ground almonds, but now it has a "natural almond flavor" which really isn't almonds at all. Maybe they changed the formula to save money.
However, in the sake of safety we will no longer bring honey nut cheerios to school.

"Honey Nut Cheerios is a variation of Cheerios breakfast cereal, introduced in 1979 by the General Mills cereal company. The second variation from the original Cheerios, it is sweeter than the original, with a honey and almond flavor. While this product used to be mad
e with actual nuts, as of 2006, the nuts were discontinued, and natural flavor is used instead."

"What is, "natural almond flavor"?

Well according to Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation it's benzaldehyde which in turn is generally derived from peach and apricot pits. 

Can't say I blame Cheerios on this one though. Do you think "Honey Benzaldehyde Cheerios" would sell? It just doesn't seem to have the same zing and really, what good are ethics when it comes to sales?"

I was too done yet proud that he too will stand his ground in honor of our lovebug.

Fellow HeartBEATS
Have you ever felt like THAT PARENT?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fit Friday: My Goals

Happy Fit Friday Luvs!
I started this post with the image up top because hat’s exactly what I’ve decided to do. After posting my mom body sorrows with you all I got to WORK and I love the results in how I feel.  I don’t quiet have a workout routine in place but I have set my goals.
  • Workout at least 5 days a week
  • Eat clean at least 6 days a week
  • Focus on Inches and not Weight I’m pretty happy with my size just would like to be shaped differently so my inch goals are;
  1. Waist – 26 I’m currently a 28.5 and started at 31
  2. Hips – 40 I’m currently a 38 and started at 36
My plan is nice and simple I didn’t want to over complicate things but wanted to make sure my goals weren’t too easy yet obtainable. I’m working and will be sure to post progress pictures when I can see my results. Of course, since I’m already small this will take time but I’m encouraged :). 

For those of you still on the fence about getting started you a more fit you here’s a little fitspiration for you...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

No Pictures Please

So yesterday was Baby O's picture day at school and for the first time since she's been there I declined on the option to have her photos taken :(. Which sucks because I look forward to these moments with my lovebug, not to mention I spent a whole week going back and forth with Dom on which of her cute little spring ensembles she'd wear, and laid it out on Sunday. 

Only for us to end our Sunday evening nursing her and the nice little shiner she gave herself. Yup! Baby O is walking around with a black eye after our family fun day in the back yard...It was such a beautiful day that we decided to go out back and get some fresh air. All was going well and she was having a blast, until she tripped while chasing our dog CoCo. Of course, I understand that being a tiny tot she have a lot of bumps and bruises while exploring along the way but I totally felt horrible and my Mother's Guilt came back in full force (hangs head in shame).

Any who, yesterday when I headed up to her school midday to take her to the doctors all of her little classmates looked so cute in their picture day attire. I was sad but enjoying my view until everyone I passed (all the teachers, directors, etc) mentioned how there was a ton of controversy that morning on whether or not Olivia was supposed to take her photos (I thought I had notified everyone she wasn’t but I guess not). When I told them no they laid it on SUPER thick and convinced me otherwise, vowing to hide her litter shiner, and allow her to have her photos taken today. Because, all the staff in the building looks forward to seeing Olivia on picture day lol.

I agreed to their terms because I just love when my kid is the highlight of others day like she is for mineJ. Especially since when I stopped by the infant room to see a friend’s daughter her little cute face and outfit just gave me LIFE.  Can’t wait to see how all the kids photos turn out. For now here’s a hair and outfit sneak peek...