Babymoon in Europe: Part Three

The third leg of our trip consisted of a quick stopover in Belgium before we finished our trip back in London.  My husband’s favorite movie is the cult classic In Bruges, so the only reason we were making the trek to Belgium was so Lee could see it in person.  When making the arrangements to stop over in Belgium, Bruges didn’t have a hotel where I would be able to receive my discount.  In fact, they didn’t  have one of my hotels at all, so we opted to stay in Brussels to take advantage of the cheap room, but spend half of our layover in Bruges as it was only about an hour away by train.  Imagine my surprise when we got off the train and started seeing signs for the newest hotel in Bruges, the exact same brand that I work for.  As it turns out, the hotel had just opened a month before, but because I had made the Belgium travel arrangements so far in advance (and of course, never thought to double check after the hotel reservation was made) we missed out on the opportunity to fully take in the city.  Oh well.  At least we know for next time.  And I’m fairly certain there will be a next time.

Bruges was absolutely breathtaking.  Like Amsterdam, Bruges is a canal city, and is referred to as the Venice of the North.  Lee had researched all of the spots where In Bruges had been filmed, and so our day was basically spent retracing the steps of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.

We visited the Belfry of Bruges, but the line to get in was incredibly long, and while I was game to climb the 366 steps to the top, Lee didn’t think that was the best idea.  Instead, we enjoyed a drink at a restaurant in the town square and admired the view.

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We only had about 4 hours to kill in Bruges, but we managed to fit in quite a bit of walking and drinking.  Well, Lee managed to fit in the drinking.  Considering I was 5 months pregnant, I had to stop every so often to either use a bathroom or rest my feet, and I always insisted I do so at a bar.  Just because I couldn’t drink didn’t mean my husband couldn’t partake in a delicious Belgian beer or two.

Then it was back to Brussels.  I was pretty exhausted from all of the walking, so we called it an early night.  We had most of the next day to sightsee before we had to catch our train.

I’ll be honest, I did some research before we went to Brussels to try to map out any sightseeing we might want to do, and I didn’t come up with a lot that I absolutely had to do or see.  Everyone makes such a big deal out of the Mannekin Pis statue, and I don’t know why.  It’s a tiny statue of a boy peeing.  We saw it, snapped a picture, and that’s it.  I won’t need to venture to that street corner again.

 

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Grand Place was beautiful, and I suppose if we were there for Christmas or to see the flower carpet that they build every couple of years that would be cool.  But there was nothing exciting going on when we were there.  We didn’t have time to do much else, so I can’t say that Brussels made that much of an impact on me.

We boarded the train late Thursday afternoon to head back to London.  We had one more full day in London to enjoy before we went home and jumped into full nesting mode.  I was excited to spend more time in London, but it was bittersweet.  London is our favorite place in the whole wide world, and yet, I had no idea when we’d be able to make it back.  We are so excited to be able to share our favorite city with our daughter someday, but want to make sure we bring her back at an age where she’s a bit more mobile and able to truly appreciate the experience.  As such, the last leg of our trip would be our last visit for the foreseeable future.

We started our day with a walk through St. James Park, up to Buckingham Palace, then through Green Park to Harrod’s.  I’ve always wanted to have lunch at Harrod’s and yet in all of the times I’ve been to London, I’ve never purchased so much as a coffee there.  That was going to change this trip!  We walked through their food halls, shopping for lunch and delicacies to take home.

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We hit up a couple more shops before making our way back to the hotel so we could drop off our bags before dinner.  We had dinner reservations at Lee’s favorite London restaurant:  Gino D’Acampo’s.  There are a few of Gino’s restaurants located throughout the UK, but the closest one to us was at Euston station.  That night, we were able to just sit back, relax with some delicious Italian food, reminisce about our lives together and share our hopes for the future.

Neither one of us were ready to say goodbye to the city just yet, so after dinner we hopped on the tube and went to Tower Bridge.  It’s such a beautiful area, with the Tower of London situated right next to it.  It was a beautiful night so we decided to walk along the river and take in the views one more time.  We ended up walking along the river all the way back to our hotel, which was roughly 2.5 miles.  It was the perfect way to end our amazing vacation.

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We left London early the next morning and while our hearts may have been slightly heavy, we were excited to go home and start preparing for our sweet baby girl.  This trip helped us close the infertile chapter of our lives.  We were on our way home to start the next chapter:  The one where we become parents.

Babymoon in Europe: Part Two

We left London Sunday evening and hopped on the Eurostar to Amsterdam.  I’m sure you’re wondering, “what’s a pregnant woman going to do in Amsterdam?”  I mean, I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t get high, and at almost 6 months pregnant, I wasn’t able to hop on a bike to see the sights.  But I could eat!

We got in to Amsterdam late Sunday night, so we didn’t have a chance to do much that first night, other than to find a place to eat close to our hotel.  Like the London leg of our trip, we didn’t have much of an itinerary.  Our plan was to figure it out when we got there.

The one thing I knew, I wanted to visit in Amsterdam was the Anne Frank Huis, but be warned: tickets sell out fast!  I procrastinated on purchasing them, and tickets were gone by the time I tried.  They do release a limited number of same day tickets each day, so I held out hope that I’d get lucky by checking the website each day that we were there.

We came up empty-handed the first day, so we decided to just walk around Amsterdam and see the sights.  Our hotel was located right on one of the canals, so we walked some of the canals, through  the Jordaan neighborhood, Vondelpark and up to the Rijksmuseum.

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We ran out of time to do much more that day, so we made our way back closer to the hotel to find a place to eat.  We found a cute little restaurant a couple blocks from our hotel to grab a bite to eat, but I couldn’t tell you anything about that dining experience.  Why?  Because my eyes were transfixed on the bakery across the street.  I don’t know how I didn’t notice it before.  It was bright, colorful and super inviting.  I told Lee we would be making a pit stop at the bakery as soon as dinner was over.

The bakery was packed.  I perused all of the different options while I patiently waited for my turn.  After some back and forth and absolutely no help from Lee, I chose a slice of Dutch apple pie and a chocolate cream puff.  They did not disappoint.

 

We awoke the next day, attempted to get tickets to the Anne Frank House and this time we were successful!  We finished our breakfast and then made our way over to the museum.

The tour was amazing.  Heartbreaking, but amazing.  You actually get to walk through the apartment where Anne’s family and others were holed up during World War II.  There are still remnants of pictures and magazine ads up on the wall in the room that Anne and her sister occupied for the majority of their time in the apartment.  I found the museum to be educational, poignant and incredibly well done.

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Anne Frank’s diary is on display, in all of the languages in which it has been translated.

From there, we took a boat tour of the canals, which was conveniently located outside of the museum.  It had started to rain, so it seemed the best way to see the rest of Amsterdam since we couldn’t walk around.

We made one more trip to Rene’s bakery on our way back to the hotel before calling it a night.  The next leg of our trip would be taking us to Brussels first thing the next morning.

While there was a lot we managed to accomplish in the 2 days we spent in Amsterdam, there’s definitely a lot that we need to go back and experience.  I would have loved to rent a bike and see the sights that way, however, I was a little nervous about hopping on a bike at 5 months pregnant.   I’ve never been to a city that is so bike friendly!  I would have also liked to take a day trip out to the country side to see some of the famous windmills.  And I’d be lying if I said trying a space cake wasn’t somewhat intriguing.

It might take us years to make it back to Amsterdam, but it’s definitely on our list of places to visit again.

 

Babymoon in Europe: Part One

As you may remember, my husband and I planned a trip to Europe.  We scheduled the trip a few months after our IVF cycle, with the idea being the same as our Europe trip after the previous cycle.  If our IVF was successful, it would make for an incredible babymoon.  If it wasn’t, well, at least we’d have a vacation to look forward to.  As luck would have it, our cycle was successful, and we were determined to make our babymoon one hell of a celebration.

We left for Europe at the end of October.  Our trip would start as our Europe trips always do; with a few days in London.  This was my 8th trip to London and my husband’s 4th, so we didn’t really have an itinerary planned for this trip.  Our plan was simply to take in the sights and enjoy ourselves.  Chances are we won’t be making it across the pond again any time soon.

We did make a point to visit the Museum of London, which neither of us had been to in our previous visits.  It’s a museum that takes you through the history of London, from the prehistoric ages all the way to the present time.  It’s a great way to experience London’s history and it’s free!  We spent the better part of our day taking in London’s history at the museum.

Our weekend in London was spent with some of our closest friends and favorite UK residents, Charlie & Gareth.  We spent the morning making our way over to One New Change, a shopping center complete with rooftop patio and breathtaking views of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the city itself.  It was there that my baby bump made its social media debut.

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From there, we went to Borough Market.  It’s an outdoor food market with tons of vendors and a variety of different foods.  We managed to destroy some cheese and olives breadsticks, pretzels, pad thai, bratwurst and Turkish delight in the short time we were there.  Honestly, we might have had more.  It’s all a food coma haze to me at this point.  They were out of the one thing we showed up for, however.  There’s a vendor there called the Pieminister that’s supposed to have the most amazing pie and mash, but alas, they were out of all the ones we wanted by the time we got there.  Oh well.  Gives us an excuse to go back, doesn’t it?

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A pregnant woman leads the way into the food market of her dreams

From there, we made a special trip to a bookstore in London called Waterstones.  Their store on Picadilly is the largest bookstore in all of Europe and one of my favorite places to visit when we come to London.  This time, our visit was particularly special, as I was buying my baby girl her very first Paddington Bear book.  I got incredibly emotional walking through the children’s books thinking about how lucky we were to be having this baby and how I couldn’t wait to start reading her some of my favorite stories from my childhood.  Picture it if you will; me, 5 months pregnant, walking around the  children’s book section, clutching a stuffed Paddington bear and crying hysterically.  Lee just looked at me and laughed.  Not in like, a “haha your tears are funny”, but more of a “that’s my pregnant wife, isn’t she adorable” sort of way.  I would use the excuse that pregnancy makes one emotional, but frankly, I’m just an emotional person and Paddington is one of my favorite books.  I probably would have cried about buying it for my child even if I wasn’t pregnant.

After a long day out and about in the city, it was time to head back to the hotel.  The plan was to take a quick nap and head out for dinner with our friends.  In actuality, it ended up being a 3 and half hour nap, followed by snacks purchased from the local grocery store, playing card games and watching music videos in our friend’s room.  It was a wild Saturday night.

Our last day in London was more like a half day, as we would be leaving for Amsterdam on the Eurostar later that evening.  We had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel with our friends, and did a bit of shopping before we left for the train station.  We stopped at a cute stationary store and I happened to find a pregnancy journal.  It seemed like the perfect thing to work on during our 4 and a half hour train ride, so I snatched it up.

We also made a quick stop over at the British Museum, another one of the free museums that London has to offer.  We didn’t stay long, as we had a train to catch, but it provided a great spot to look around while we waited for an afternoon rain shower to pass.  The Great Court is, in my humble opinion, one of the coolest places in London.

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Once the rain passed, we walked back to the hotel, picked up our luggage and said goodbye to our friends.  Then it was off to St. Pancras to embark on the next leg of our European Vacation:  Amsterdam!

 

 

22-Week Update

I’ve had the best of intentions with continuing my writing, but it seems like time is going by so fast.  So much of my time is now devoted to preparing for this baby; from preparing the nursery to researching day care centers, and every item that the baby may or may not need, to starting a baby registry.  It’s incredibly time-consuming, but oh so fun.  In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a planner, so all the research that goes into preparing for a baby is basically a dream come true.

Baby Girl Gilbertson is doing well.  We had our 20-week ultrasound a few weeks ago and our little ninja is continuing to impress with her ability to break dance in utero.  45 minutes into the ultrasound last week, our sonographer, exhausted by the number of images she still had yet to capture, finally looked at Lee and I and said “you’re going to have your hands full with this one.”  As of right now, we’re assuming she has all 10 fingers and toes?  It was incredibly hard to tell with all the fist pumping and karate kicks going on during our ultrasound.

Can I feel all these kicks?  Hell yeah!  It’s a pretty amazing feeling.  Lee got to feel her kick for the first time last week, so I’m guessing it’s starting to get real for him too.

How am I doing?  Pretty fantastic.  I spent the entire first trimester in an exhausted haze, so the energy burst I’ve experienced in the second trimester has been a welcome change.  Watching my belly grow has been a pretty amazing sight as well.  I’m being very cognizant about the amount of weight I put on, particularly because having PCOS makes me extra susceptible to gestational diabetes.  I was tested at 10 weeks (it was negative) and will have to be tested again (most likely at my next OB appointment).

And if life couldn’t get any sweeter, we’re heading on our babymoon on Wednesday!  10 days traveling around London, Amsterdam and Belgium.

Yes, things are going pretty well with the Gilbertson clan right now and we couldn’t be happier.  Only 18 more weeks until we meet our little miracle!

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Back from Sabbatical

I’ve been MIA for roughly three months now, for which I am deeply sorry to those of you who follow my blog.  But, I’ve been silent for good reason.  I’ve been hiding a monumental secret.

Baby Kira

Our second round of IVF worked!  I’m currently 16 weeks pregnant with an incredibly resilient baby girl.

It doesn’t feel quite real yet.  Even as I’m watching my body change to make room for baby, I can’t believe I’m pregnant.  I’ve seen her move like a maniac on an ultrasound and heard the sound of her beautifully strong heartbeat, but it still seems so surreal.  I’m not sure when it will truly register.  Will it be the first time I can feel her kick?  Or perhaps it won’t fully sink in until she’s in my arms?  I guess time will tell.  When you spend so many years hoping for something only to be consistently disappointed, it makes it a little hard to believe when that almost forgotten dream becomes a reality.

But now, let me get something straight.  That doesn’t mean I’m not over the moon with excitement.  And I’m already completely in awe of her.  She’s an absolute miracle.  And yes, I know all children, in general, are a miracle, but she’s managed to take it up a notch.  Between two IVF cycles, we had 25 embryos.  Out of all 25 embryos, she’s the only one that survived.  That in and of itself, is pretty amazing.

I’m excited to be back in the blogosphere and sharing our story; just because I’ve been silent doesn’t mean I’ve run out of things to say.  Thank you to all of you who have followed our story, shared in our heartbreak and celebrated our victories.  The story isn’t over; in fact, it’s just starting to get good.

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If you’re wondering what the hell the title of this blog post means, it’s IVF-speak for 3 days post day 5 day transfer.  That’s how all the cool kids going through IVF talk, so I figured I’d give it a try.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity the last 8 days.  Last Wednesday was our egg retrieval and it was just as I remembered; painful as shit.  You see, they give you some painkillers, but they have to use them sparingly, as too much can hurt the eggs.  Then, a needle is inserted into the uterus to remove the follicular fluid as well as the egg from each follicle.  After, the follicle is void of fluid and egg, however, it doesn’t deflate right away, so it feels like having an abdomen filled with air.  Actually, it felt exactly like this:

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Thursday, I went back to work in a fair amount of pain and feeling fat as hell, but tried to keep myself busy.  The day after the retrieval is when we would find out whether our transfer would be scheduled 3 days or 5 days after the retrieval.  You see,  after the retrieval, my eggs are married with Lee’s sperm via a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).  All of the eggs are injected with sperm and then left untouched for roughly 20 hours to fertilize.  At the end of that 20 hours, if a couple has four eggs fertilized or less, Dr. Corfman schedules a 3 day transfer, the idea being that the woman’s uterus is a better incubator than the ones in the lab.  If there are more than four eggs fertilized, a 5 day transfer will be scheduled.  A 5 day transfer allows them to watch the embryos more closely and better determine which ones might result in a pregnancy.  Day 5 transfer success rates are a bit higher than 3 day transfers for that reason.

We didn’t find out how many fertilized eggs we had on Thursday, but we were scheduled for a 5 day transfer.  We chose not to ask how many eggs we had, as anything can happen in those 5 days.  We didn’t want to be told we had one number and then find out a bunch didn’t make it to the 5 day mark.  We did find out, however, that Lee gave one of his best samples for this cycle.  Not only was that something to celebrate, but it was sort of a feather in my cap as well:  Proof that all the nagging I did to change bad eating and increase exercise worked.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

Monday morning was our transfer.  They give you a little report card when you show up that let’s you know what you’re working with.  The report card stated the following:

17 oocytes retrieved

15 oocytes ICSI’d

14 oocytes fertilized

13 viable embryos

First off, those numbers are pretty fucking incredible.  By the time a woman gets to my age, 40-60% of her eggs are considered abnormal.  One of the great things about aging!  We knew I would probably have a high retrieval rate because of my PCOS, but the number of eggs (oocytes) that are considered normal is always going to be a crap shoot.  On our last cycle, I had 26 eggs retrieved, 19 of which were considered normal.  Because I work in accounting and numbers are my favorite, I’ll have you know that 73% of my eggs were considered normal with our first cycle.  I was pretty jazzed about that  way back when.  But look at my numbers this time.  17 retrieved, 15 considered normal – 88%.  My eggs jumped a a full letter grade and a half.  We were awestruck.  Though they retrieved less eggs this time, we actually had more viable embryos.  We left the retrieval, still cautiously optimistic, but finally, maybe, just a little more optimistic than cautious.

But we still had one more hurdle to clear.  They don’t freeze embryos until day 6, so we had to wait one more day to determine how many embryos would be freezable and allow for future cycles, in the event that this one is not successful.  So we waited anxiously for one more day, fairly certain that with the numbers we put up this time, at least a couple would make it to the freezing stage.  NOPE.  What’s inside me is what we’re working with.  We’ve experienced this before, but that doesn’t make it any easier to hear a second time.

The good news, is that Lee didn’t take this news lying down.  He did some research because, frankly, we were dumbfounded.  How on earth have we had 25 viable embryos between 2 IVF cycles and yet, we have no back up?  Well, it turns out that only about 20-25% off eggs make it to day 6.  There are plenty of cycles that don’t produce freezable embryos but still result in a positive pregnancy test.  So currently, that’s the glimmer of hope we’re holding on to.  That, and Dr. Corfman told us that my uterus had an A+ rating.  I’m basically a uterine valedictorian.

So that’s where it stands.  We’re currently in the dreaded two week waiting period, where we try to keep ourselves busy and not think about anything baby related, all the while secretly counting the hours until we find out the results.

 

Wholly Unprepared

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I’ve been staring at this empty page for what feels like ages.  I’m just not sure what to say.  Our retrieval has been scheduled and I’m feeling entirely unprepared.

We went in for an ultrasound and blood draw on Sunday morning.  At last count, I’ve got roughly 30 follicles, roughly half of which were at about 12-14 mm. The others were all under 10 mm.  At that point, the nurses weren’t quite sure whether they would try to bring me in for one more ultrasound or if they were going to schedule the trigger shot.  Sunday afternoon we received a call letting us know it was time.  We would do one more stimulation shot, two more follicle maturing shots and 3 more anti-ovulation shots.  The HCG and the Lupron trigger shot (designed to keep my ovaries from hyper stimulation – common in women with PCOS) were scheduled for 10:30 p.m. on Memorial Day, with the retrieval scheduled for exactly 36 hours later, at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

If it seems to you that things are progressing a lot faster this time around, that’s because they are.  We had 12 days between our first shot and egg retrieval on our last cycle.  This time it was only 9.  I don’t honestly know if that’s a good or a bad thing.  It just is what it is, I guess.  What I do know, is that everything seems different this time.  I don’t remember feeling bloated and achy last time, until the day of the retrieval.  This time, I feel like the fricken Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I haven’t gained any weight during this cycle.  If anything, I’ve dropped a couple of pounds, but I’m so bloated that I feel as though I look like I could already be pregnant.  I also don’t remember being this sad.  I’m sure it’s mostly hormonal, but I can’t seem to shake it.  Most days have been fine, but the last couple have been pretty terrible.  And I can’t quite figure out why.  Maybe because I have no choice but to be ready before I truly feel ready.

That’s all I know for now.  Our transfer date won’t be determined until after the retrieval and will be contingent upon how many eggs successfully fertilize.  At this point, we know it will either be Saturday or Monday.  I’m desperately hoping that we have better luck with that this time.  If you remember our last retrieval they took 26 eggs.  One of their technicians even mentioned that she’d never seen so many eggs get collected at one time.  That left me feeling pretty amazing.  Sore as fuck, but incredibly proud of what my body was capable of.  Of the 26 eggs, 19 were considered normal.  Again, great news and higher than average numbers.  Of those 19, 12 fertilized normally.  Lee and I were overjoyed at the these facts, feeling pretty confident that we would be an IVF success story.  And yet, none of those 12 ended up being viable embryos.  I honestly don’t know if I’m strong enough to endure that kind of pain again.  And I don’t know that I’m ready to find out.  But I don’t really have a choice anymore, do I?

I’m going to go underground again for a bit.  Call it self-preservation, if you will.  To those of you that have followed along through our journey, thank you.  To those that have felt compelled to reach out, just to let us know you’re hoping for the best for us, I can’t even begin to describe what your thoughts and kindness have meant.  Know that I’ll be carrying those thoughts with me tomorrow, all the way through our transfer, up to our pregnancy test, and beyond.  I hope this story finally gives us the happy ending (beginning, really) that we’ve been hoping for.

 

 

Europe 2k18

Well, this should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but surprise!  Lee and I are planning another Europe trip.  5 months from today, we’ll be on our way.

How can we afford this you ask?  Skymiles.  You see, roughly 5 years ago, when Lee and I were planning our wedding, I suggested that we sign up for the Delta Skymiles Card.  While we had some money set aside for our wedding, I figured if we were going to have the party we wanted, it was going to involve some debt.  And if we were going to incur some debt, we might as well get some credit card perks to go with it.  As we planned our wedding, we would put all purchases on the credit card, and then pay it off as soon as possible.  We managed to amass a fair number of miles this way, but not quite enough to pay for a honeymoon.  That would have to wait.

Then 4 rounds of IUI and 2 rounds of IVF happened.  We’ve got miles coming out of our ears at this point.  So many, in fact, that we’re able to pay for both of our flights with miles and still have enough leftover for another trip.  I guess that’s our silver lining?  Thanks inferility!

We’ll start the trip in London as usual, because that’s our favorite place in the entire world.

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Why do we love London so much?   The history is definitely a huge part of it.  Walking through a city with over 1,000 years of well-documented history is pretty awe-inspiring.  Also, the food is pretty amazing.  Don’t let anyone tell you that Brits don’t know food.  That’s false.  London is a melting pot of culture, so there’s something for everyone when it comes to food.  The last time we were there, we had great pub food, but we enjoyed fantastic Italian and Turkish fare as well.  The walkability of the city is another reason to be obsessed.  There’s so much to see in London and most everything is conveniently accessible by foot, tube or train.  Finally, the hotel company I work for has such great hotel deals over in Europe that it allows us to stay in luxury without breaking the bank.  As long as they keep offering such a generous perk, I will make sure to take advantage.

After a fun-filled 4 days in London, we’re heading to Amsterdam!

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Neither Lee and I have ever been to Amsterdam, unless you count an hour-long layover at their airport.  There’s so much to see in the Netherlands!  We’ll be spending 3 days there, and so far have plans to do a half-day trip out to the countryside as well as a trip to the Anne Frank museum.  Other than that?  We’ll do what we do best on vacation.  Walk around and take in the sights.

We’re hoping to take the Eurostar out to Amsterdam, as they now have a direct from London.  On the way back we’re planning on making a stopover in Brussels.  Depending on how long we have in Belgium, Lee would like to make a quick trip to Bruges as well.  One of his favorite movies is the dark comedy “In Bruges” so Lee’s looking forward to channeling his inner Colin Farrell for an afternoon.  (I’d personally prefer that he channel his inner Colin Firth, but that’s another discussion altogether).

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Bruges is known as one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so I’m looking forward to taking in the history!  After a quick trip through Belgium, it’s back to London for a couple more days to wrap up our vacation.

Naturally, we’re hoping for a big fat positive at the end of this cycle, which would make this vacation a pretty epic babymoon.  In the event that we don’t get the outcome we’re hoping for, we’ll need something to look forward to.  While I don’t know that there’s anything that will quell the sadness and disappointment we’ll be experiencing if this round doesn’t work, spending some time in our favorite place will probably help to ease the pain; at least for a little while.

Keeping up the cautiously optimistic attitude in the meantime.  T-minus 4 weeks until we learn the outcome.

 

It Begins…..Again

We hit the ground running today.  Ready or not, the time has arrived.

Our first ultrasound took place this morning.  My endometrial lining is right where they want it, all of my cysts are under control, my ovaries look good.  I was instructed to go ahead with my first dose of hormones.  We should be excited, right?  Well, we are, except for one thing:  We’ve been here before.

It feels like we’re walking an emotional tightrope this time around.  We get good news and feel on top of the world.  But then we remember we’ve heard this good news before and didn’t fall pregnant, which brings us right back down to earth.  Naturally we want to stay optimistic, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.  If our cycles had an underlying theme, this one’s would be “cautiously optimistic”.

My focus this time will be a little bit different than it was during our last go around.  Last time I was very focused on healthy eating, exercise and all that jazz.  While I still plan on keeping a healthy lifestyle, this time around I’m going to be laser-focused on my attitude and stress levels.  My emotions have been a veritable smorgasbord, much, I’m sure, to Lee’s dismay.  Emotions have been heightened for the last few months as I’ve tried to come to terms with our last cycle as well as attempting to mentally prepare for this one.  The stress and anger have been a little too much at times.  And I’m letting things that normally shouldn’t bother me throw me completely off-kilter.  I really need to focus on not letting the minutiae of every day life get to me as much as it has the last few months.  Try as I might, I can’t control everything.  I can only control how I react.  And my reactions need to chill out a bit.

The good news is, it’s almost impossible to be upset in Minneapolis in late spring.  Spring started off like an evil joke this year, but we’re finally getting the mid 70s and sunny days that keep most of us Minnesotans in the bold North.  It’s also a short week for me!  I’m two weeks from my 2-year anniversary at my job and have a few vacation days to use or lose.  I’m choosing to enjoy a 5-day weekend this week.  And I’m trying to ensure I make enough time this week to do the things I enjoy.  I have 3 books on loan from my local library, and my goal is to finish at least one this weekend.  Other plans include drinking tea on my deck, planting some flowers and enjoying the beauty of the season.  I’ll also probably spend an exorbitant amount of time with my husband.  Did I mention how much I enjoy his company?  I feel like I might have casually mentioned it once or twice on this blog.  A long weekend with my main squeeze sounds like the perfect way to spend a holiday.

I have no doubt the second cycle will seem to go much faster than the first one.  We’re excited and scared, hopeful and nervous for the outcome.  The time has arrived and now we’ve got to put our game faces on and get ready for a whirlwind of a month.

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After my last breakdown, I received the following message from a friend, one who knows the struggle all too well.  I’ve been ruminating on her message for the last few weeks, and about what her kind words have meant to me.  It is so beautifully written, that I felt I had to share.

Even though my journey ended with 3 beautiful gifts from God – it doesn’t mean, for one second, that my heart isn’t with you.

I know your pain.  Your anger.  Your frustration.  Your exhaustion.  Your hope.  Your prayers.  Your tears.  Your anxiety.  Your desperation.  I know all of it.  The financial struggle, the energy to keep going after so many disappointments.  The feeling of why her?

My heart is with you.  And while our journeys may be different – please know I pray for yours everyday.  Every single day.  Every time I look at my gifts from God.  Every time they make a mess or won’t sleep.  Each time they make me want to hide in the closet with a back of Reese’s.  I stop – and pray for you.  You yearn for the “bad toddler” days.  I know you do.  Because I yearned for them.  For years.

So I am here to tell you are justified in EVERY emotion you feel.  Except loneliness.  Please, please promise me you’ll keep reaching out – to me, to a support group, to anyone who will listen.  If a baby is the desire of your heart, then you have to walk this road – but you don’t have to walk it alone.  And I promise you – I promise with every fiber of my being – it’s all worth it.  Every last bit.

Her message got me thinking, specifically about friendship.  I’ve tried to stay off the grid the last few weeks, as I deal with my anxiety over the impending cycle.  Yet, there have been a small handful of people who refuse to let me go it alone, despite how much I’ve tried to evade all human contact.   And this post is, in small part, a way to thank them for their kindness and friendship, as I go through the hardest thing I’ve ever endured in my life for a second time.

To my best friend, my ride or die, my PIC.  Who has refused to let me go through any of this alone.  Who has called after appointments, shot me up with fertility drugs, held my hand and wiped my tears.  Who oozes enough positivity for the both of us, so on the days when I feel particularly hopeless and self-deprecating, I know she’ll carry me through until I can stand on my own two feet again.  Who understands that sometimes I just need to be alone and never takes it personally, but instead, keeps calling, texting and sending me funny memes just to let me know she’s thinking of me.

To the girls in my book club, who always make a point to ask how we’re doing every time I see them.  They make me feel comfortable with talking about where we’re at and how I feel.  And after my last breakdown, a card and beautiful little plant showed up on our doorstep.  It was such a nice little pick-me-up and both Lee and I appreciated the thought and kind words.

To the friends, going all the way back to elementary school all the way up through college and beyond, that have reached out and sent messages filled with kind thoughts from all across the country.

To the friend who listened to me vent as we walked 3 miles around the lake and then took me out for sushi afterward.

To the friend who came over so we could co-celebrate our April birthdays with cake that we wouldn’t have to share with anyone else.  The same friend, who, every time I see her, asks what she can do to support me.

The friend who’s going through enough of her own personal issues right now, but still sends the occasional text telling me that we’re on her mind  and my personal favorite, that she “believes in my uterus”.

To my two coworkers (friends, really) who ask how I’m doing and give me a safe space to be vulnerable if the need hits me mid-workday.

I can’t even begin to describe what each and every one of these kindnesses has meant to me in the last few weeks.  Ever since I went public with our struggle,  every now and then, I find myself wondering if being so public and vocal about our infertility was the right thing to do.  It seems to make some people uncomfortable.  But I hope that whoever is out there reading this blog, that you have managed to find something to take away from it.  Whether you’ve recognized the struggle because you’re currently going through it, or perhaps, you’ve watched a loved one endure the same pain.  If anything I’ve shared over the last year has made a difference to you, then I’ve been successful.

To those that have reached out and been supportive, especially those that have helped us gear up for our second round, I am forever grateful.  I might not have the biggest support system, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got the best one.

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