Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back

2010 was, like most years, a mix of both good and bad.  During 2010 we learned to laugh rather than cry when things seemed like too much.  We learned that the best things in life really are free.  We learned that we are stronger than we imagined, and that faith truly can move mountains.  We learned to fully trust God's plan and wait.  We learned that even when science says something is nearly impossible, God makes a way and miracles really do happen.

Here's a look back at a year that definitely changed our lives.

January:  I was in a dark place in January.  We were taking a break from REACH and fertility treatments.  The weight of infertility and the miscarriage weighed heavily on my shoulders, and I couldn't bear the uncertainty of the future.  January was a hard month in many ways.  On a happy note, in the middle of the month, we added Ethel to our little family.  Though I was a little uncertain of her in the beginning, she's been a wonderful addition and I couldn't imagine our home without her. 

February:  We celebrated Lucy's first birthday on February 13!  We also returned to REACH at the end of February.  I remember being filled with such hope that month.

March:  We learned that our first treatment cycle failed.  I started taking Bravelle injections and added an IUI to the mix.

April:  On April 1 I celebrated my 26th birthday.  We learned that another cycle had failed.  I continued taking the Bravelle injections and had an IUI. 

May:  Another disappointment.  After the negative result in May, Dr. W and I discussed surgery to remove a possible blockage in one of my fallopian tubes.  I scheduled the surgery for the first week in June.  

June:  I had surgery on June 1.  The blockage that had shown up on the HSG test wasn't there, and Dr. W couldn't find any reason to explain why, even with all the medication, I couldn't conceive.  We were at a loss.  Dr. W pulled everything out of his Hail Mary Box and we were presented with an aggressive treatment plan.  However, we were also told that IVF may be the only way to have a child of our own.  I finished my fourth year of teaching.

July:  I injected myself with more Bravelle than ever before.  Dr. W changed some of the other medications, hoping that something would work.  We didn't do an IUI because Dr. W felt it would be best if we saved that money for IVF.  We celebrated our fourth anniversary on July 29.  Bradley and I spent time at the beach with friends during the two week wait.  Everything about our time there is ingrained in my mind--the dinners, the time spent on the beach, our conversations, the strange mix of hope and anxiety I felt, the ride home.  Kesha tried her best to talk me into taking a pregnancy test while I was there, but I wouldn't because I was so afraid I would be disappointed again.

August:  We came back from the beach on August 4.  The morning of August 5, I took a pregnancy test.  After realizing that what I thought was a negative was really a positive, we rushed to REACH for blood work.  On August 6, I posted this on the blog.  Bradley turned 29 on August 12.  On August 20, we had our first ultrasound and were able to see the baby's heartbeat. 

September:  We had our second ultrasound on September 2, and were released from REACH.  We went to the Apple Festival.  I wrote the 100th post for the blog.  On September 24, I met Dr. H for the first time.  After a scary moment with the doppler, we had another ultrasound.  The baby was there, wiggling away.

October:  In October, we celebrated the end of the first trimester.  We also lost Bradley's grandmother to cancer this month.  Near the end of the month, I felt the baby's first fluttery movements.  What a precious moment!

November:  On November 12, we were thrilled to see that our baby was growing perfectly during an anatomy scan ultrasound.  We learned that we were expecting a little girl!  We fell even more in love with her as we watched her on the screen, and we chose a name for her that day.  We celebrated Thanksgiving with our families. We reached the halfway mark of the pregnancy during November.  We also celebrated Ethel's first birthday!

December:  Bradley felt the baby move for the first time.  We celebrated Christmas with our families, and experienced a white Christmas for the first time. 

Now we're thirty minutes away from 2011--the year our daughter will be born, the year we'll become parents, the year our lives will drastically change.  Looking back, I can truly appreciate how far we've come.  As good as 2010 was, I can't wait to see what 2011 holds in store for us.  :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

25 Weeks!



How Far Along: 25 weeks, 0 days

Size of Baby:  Length-13.5 inches; Weight-1.5 lbs.

Gender:  Girl--Aniston Louise

Movement:  I'm feeling her more and more.  She's most active in the mornings between 6:30 and 7:00 (but only if I'm being very still) and in the late evenings. 

Cravings:  Fries.

Food Aversions:  None this week.
What I Miss:  Sleeping on my stomach and sleeping through the night; being able to tie my shoes easily.  It's definitely worth it though. :)
Sleep:  Some nights are pretty good.  Others...not so much.
Symptoms:  Heartburn, back and leg pain, some swelling.  This is the first week that I've really noticed a difference in my ankles between morning and night.  
Best Moment This Week:  Bradley was finally able to feel Aniston kick last Thursday morning!

What I'm Looking Forward To:  Working on the nursery.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Merry Little Christmas

Bradley and I had a wonderful Christmas, and I hope you and your family had a merry Christmas as well!  Christmas is always such a special time, but this year I couldn't help but begin looking forward to next year and the Christmases that will follow.  This was our last quiet Christmas morning, our last Christmas to sleep as late as we wanted.  Next year we'll be on Aniston's schedule, and we are so excited!

Christmas is always busy, busy, busy for us.  On Christmas Eve we go to three different places and on Christmas Day we go to two, then host one family Christmas at our home.  It seems like it's a constant rush, and we're never able to spend as much time as we want at each place.

This year, though, was different.  Our area experienced its first White Christmas since 1947!  It started snowing on Christmas morning while we were at my parents' house, and didn't stop until mid-day on Sunday.  We were on our way to my aunt's house for lunch on Christmas, but then turned around.  The snow was beginning to lay on the road, and Bradley was quick to point out that it's not just us anymore.  Since my parents live next door and had made the decision to stay home as well, we had lunch and spent the afternoon with them, Eric, and Chelsea.  We played games, talked, and laughed.  Snow days are so....peaceful.  Outside, the snow is so beautiful and everything is so quiet.  Inside, no one is in a hurry to do anything because you can't go anywhere.

This Christmas was different than anything I had experienced in the past.  While I'm sad that we didn't make it to my aunt's and our dinner with Bradley's family was canceled, I enjoyed our quiet Christmas at home. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

What a difference a year can make.

I remember last Christmas Eve all too well.  Last year, just like today, Bradley went in to work for a few hours in the morning.  I was left alone with all of my thoughts.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table and crying for what seemed like such a long time.  I blogged that day, but the post was never published.  I remember thinking about how different things should have been.  It should have been our first baby's first Christmas.  My heart felt like it was in a million shattered pieces, and I didn't know how to even begin putting the pieces back together.  With the exception of the ultrasound day, I have never felt so dark, so alone, so absolutely broken as I did last Christmas Eve.

This Christmas Eve is a different story.  I sit this morning in awe and wonder at the miracle I'm experiencing.  After all we've been through, this pregnancy still seems too good to be true...but Aniston's precious little kicks remind me that it is.  We are truly blessed beyond measure.

I spent time in prayer this morning for those couples who are still waiting on their miracle, and I ask you to do the same.  Infertility often doesn't show on the outside, but can destroy a person internally.  The holidays can be especially difficult for couples facing such an uncertain future, as well-meaning relatives ask difficult questions and babies are everywhere.  So pray for those couples.  Pray that God would be near them during this season, renewing their hope and giving them peace.    

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Little One Letters-About Love

Dear Aniston,
  Precious girl, with every day that passes we are one closer to meeting you.  Your daddy and I are so excited.  Most days this still seems unbelievable.  You are a dream come true, a miracle we thought may never be possible.  Already you are the most important thing in our lives.  Our decisions are centered around you, even though you're not even here yet.  I'm amazed at how much we love you already.  We don't know what you look like.  We don't know your personality or temperament.  But you are ours, and the love that comes with that is just overwhelming at times.
  You see, sometimes love can be scary.  It can be absolutely terrifying to give your heart to another person.  It takes a lot of trust, and a lot of faith.  Right now, you are safely inside of me.  While I realize I'm not in control of what happens to you even now, I'm more in control now than what I will be when you're born.  Right now, I'm responsible for you.  Every day I make sure to eat the right things, drink enough water, and take a prenatal vitamin.  I don't do anything that may even possibly put you at risk.  I am careful with you because I know what a miracle you are.
  Some days you are more active than others.  On those lazy days of yours, I worry constantly.  I just want you to be safe and healthy....I think that's all any parent wants for their child.  The other day I mentioned this to your daddy.  I told him about how I worried about you now, when you're still safely inside of me.  I asked him how in the world we were going to deal with the worry when you finally arrive.  What will we do when you go to school, to sleepovers, on a first date?  He calmly responded that you just aren't going to do those things.  We both laughed because we know that's not going to be the case.  We know we can't keep you in a bubble, and we wouldn't really want to.  Life is about experiences.  Yes, sometimes those experiences will hurt and you'll wonder why things happened the way they did.  But all of those experiences are woven together in the most amazing tapestry.  Sometimes it takes pain and hurt to see the beauty of it all more clearly.
  Little one, my prayer for you today is that your heart will always be filled with love.  When you are little, I pray that you will know love every single day of your life.  I pray that you will know how much your daddy and I love you, as well as so many other people.  As you grow up, I pray that you'll know the love of good friends and what a blessing friendship is.  And when you are older (much, much older), I pray that you will find the kind of love your daddy and I have.  You see, that's what it's all about, Aniston--Life is about love.  It's about loving God and loving others.  Love makes all the difference.

Love Always,
Mommy

24 Weeks!

First, I'm promising myself that I will do better with this.  Somehow life gets busy and I fall behind, but I'm going to make a conscious effort to do this every. single. week. from now on.  It's hard to believe that today marks 24 weeks--only 16 weeks to go! 

How Far Along: 24 weeks, 0 days

Size of Baby: around 12 inches long; weighs a little over 1 pound (It amazes me to think about how thin she is right now!)

Gender:  Girl--Aniston Louise

Movement:  She usually has a few very active days followed by a couple of lazy days.  Those lazy days really scared me at first, but I've realized it's just a pattern of hers for now.  I'm able to feel her move from the outside now.  Bradley hasn't had been able to feel her kick yet.  When I tell him she's moving, she'll completely stop when he puts his hands on my stomach.  Stubborn girl! :)  This morning she was really thumping around, and I was able to see her move once.  Absolutely amazing! 

Food Cravings:  Salad!  Lots and lots of salad!  I'm still loving orange juice.  I'm also still eating tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich at least two times a week for dinner.  (Bradley is so tired of that!)  I've also found that many things I didn't like before I was pregnant are now absolutely delicious--like chocolate covered pretzels and salt and vinegar potato chips.

Food Aversions:  Chicken, but only on certain days.
What I Miss:  Sleeping on my stomach and sleeping through the night.
Sleep:  Some nights are pretty good.  Others...not so much.
Symptoms:  Heartburn.  I never leave home without Tums. :)
Best Moment This Week:  Feeling Aniston move from the outside, and actually being able to see her move!

What I'm Looking Forward To:  Taking a giant step and starting on the nursery.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas...

...and so it should.  Especially since Christmas is FOUR DAYS AWAY.  Only three if you don't count today.  Only two if you don't count today or Christmas Eve.

This year, I just haven't felt very Christmas-y.  I love Christmas, I really do.  But this year just feels...different.  It's not that I'm unhappy or depressed.  I have more to be happy about this Christmas than I ever have before.  It's just that everything seems like it's a lot of trouble.  Usually, our porch is decorated for Christmas, as well as all the windows.  This year...not so much.  Our tree is up, but all the cutesy stuff I normally put on the coffee table, console table, and end tables just didn't make it out of the boxes this year.  Our dining room table isn't decorated.  It makes me feel bad to think about all I haven't done this year to get our home ready for Christmas.  All of the shopping is finished, but only a few things have been wrapped or placed in gift bags.  Sigh.  I'm just so tired all the time.  (Not that I'm complaining about this pregnancy because I most certainly am not.  I know how blessed I am, and I would not trade one single minute of this for the world.)

Last week, I read Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas to my class.  As I continued turning the pages, I thought, Oh, my gosh!  That's ME!  You know, minus the whole stealing Christmas from an entire town thing.  But the attitudes were very similar.  Too similar.

Over the weekend, as Bradley and I were finishing our Christmas shopping, he looked at me and said, "What's wrong with you?  You love Christmas!  Where's your Christmas spirit?!"  And, honestly, I didn't have much Christmas spirit.

Until today.

Today, friends, is a turning point.  Maybe it's because today is the first day of Christmas break (!!!).   Maybe it's because I was able to sleep a little longer than the night before.  Maybe it's because I'm having lunch/Christmas today at my favorite restaurant with my two best friends.

But really, I think it's mostly because of these pretzel bites.  The assistant principal at my school gave us all these cute little pretzel treats.  I fell in love with them.  That's kind of odd because usually when it comes to chocolate and pretzels, I like to eat a couple once a year at Christmas, but not the whole bag.  (Of course, this is the same person who couldn't stand salt and vinegar potato chips until a month or so ago but now has been known to eat them until her tongue is sore from the vinegar.  Oh, pregnancy, how strange you are.)  But these were different.  These were fantastic! They were like little pretzels sandwiches with gooey chocolate and caramel inside. 

This morning I woke up and had a couple more of these delicious little things after breakfast.  (You know, for dessert.  After breakfast.)  Then I began to wonder, What is inside of these?!  I tried one more (for research purposes only, you see), and then had a thought.  Could this be a Rolo?!  I think it is!!  Giddily, I grabbed the laptop and Googled.  And, lo and behold, a whole list of Rolo Pretzel Bite recipes popped up on the screen.  I grabbed the phone and called Bradley's office.  "It's Rolos!"  I yelled into the phone, "Rolos!  And, it looks like they're pretty easy to make!  I could so make these!  I'm going to make them for everyone because these things are so good!  And I'll put them in cute little treat bags!  It finally feels like Christmas!" And, Bradley (who, bless his heart, puts up with my craziness), said, "Really?  It feels like Christmas because of pretzel bites?"  I could hear the smile in his voice.

And with that, my Christmas spirit was renewed.  Maybe I'll even go down to the basement and unpack a couple of Christmas boxes.  :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Appointment

Today was my monthly appointment with Dr. H.  We had the pleasure of listening to Aniston's heart beat--what a little miracle!  I never get tired of hearing that sound and always wish the experience would last a little longer.  Her heart rate was a strong and steady 144 beats per minute.  I measured right on track, according to Dr. H, and everything looks good.  Earlier in the week I had some issues with my left arm going numb from my elbow to my fingers, as well as blurry vision in my left eye.  I called and spoke with the triage nurse on Monday afternoon.  Dr. H believes that the two incidents aren't related.  He thinks Aniston was simply on a nerve which caused my arm to go numb.  He also thinks that the blurry vision (which was followed by a headache, but not a terrible one) was probably a pregnancy induced migraine.  I was told to come in immediately if it happened again so that I could be seen while it was occurring, but, otherwise, it's nothing to worry about.  It hasn't happened since then, so I'm hoping it was just a one-time thing. 
Bradley and I continue to feel so blessed.  It's amazing to think about how fast time is passing, and how in a few short months we'll have her here with us!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Our Christmas Tree

I always thought I would be one of those people who had a Christmas tree with a theme or at least a color scheme.  Growing up, I always liked the idea of having a tree with only a few colors.  My mom never did that.  Every year we would put up a Christmas tree, and every year there would be a hodgepodge of ornaments on it.  She had a collection of ornaments--ones Eric, my brother, and I made as children, ornaments she'd received as gifts, ones she had picked up here and there through the years.

Now I know why.

This will be our fifth Christmas as a married couple.  The first year, our tree had a definite color scheme.  I only decorated with dark red and green, with just a bit of muted gold mixed in.  It was a pretty tree, even though the tree itself came to be known as "the Charlie Brown Christmas tree" because of the number of holes it had.  Fun memories. :)  Anyway, the first year, the tree had a theme.  After that year, I stuck to the same theme but began to slowly add other ornaments.  Bradley and I have purchased a personalized ornament every year we've been married.  Lucy has a First Christmas ornament, and Ethel will have one this year as well.  Over the years, I've picked up ornaments here and there.  Some are sentimental for one reason or another, others I just like.  Last year, we did a tree of just angels in addition to our regular big tree for our sweet Peanut, the baby we lost.  Many angels were given to us, and throughout the season we were in a constant search for more. 

As November 30 (the anniversary of what would have been her due date in 2009) approached, Bradley and I talked about what to do.  We decided that this year, the angels would go on our big tree.  We're at a funny place in life.  I still think about her and all that could have been.  I still wonder why.  Even as I feel Aniston move around, even as I'm so thankful for her, even as I love her so very much already....I still miss the first baby.  She was a part of me as much as Aniston is now, and the sadness of never meeting her is still very real for me.  It's a strange thing to experience joy and sadness like this at the same time.  Back to the Christmas tree, though. 

Our tree is a hodgepodge, much like my mom's always has been.  It's a culmination of sentimental ornaments, lots of angels, and a few solid colors mixed in.  I now have too many ornaments that I love and can't bear to leave off the tree.  It doesn't have a theme, and it's not all the same color.  And it's perfect.  It represents us as a couple, the same way my mom's tree has always represented us as a family.  The personalized ornaments represent where we've been.  The angels represent what we've lost.  And Aniston's ornament?  It represents where we're going. 

Aniston's ornament

Our personalized ornament for 2010

21 Week Bumpdate

How Far Along: 21 weeks, 4 days
Size of Baby: around 10.5 inches, 3/4 lb.
Gender:  Girl!
Movement:  She's definitely getting stronger. 
Food Cravings:  Orange juice!  And tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
What I Miss:  Sleeping on my stomach.
Sleep:  Still not great, but has improved a bit since last week.
Symptoms:  Round ligament pain.
Best Moment This Week:  I have several: 1) Aniston's movements becoming stronger; 2) hanging her ornament on the tree; 3) deciding on bedding for the nursery.
What I'm Looking Forward To:  Appointment on Friday to check on Aniston.  I love hearing her heart beat!