Christmas in London

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Surprise!

I’m planning another London trip.

The idea came about when we were in London for Lee’s 40th birthday trip last November.  The Christmas decorations were going up for the season and I was awestruck.  Anyone that knows me knows that I am a little obsessed with Christmas.  From the music, to the decorations to the food and time with friends and family; I am enamored with all of it.  Being in London and walking through department stores like Harrod’s and Selfridges filled me with such childlike excitement that I knew I had to come back and experience Christmas at full tilt.  Thus, the plan for London Christmas Vacation 2K17 was born.

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Pictures from our London trip in November 2016

Our friends Charlie and Gareth, who live just outside of London, travel every year to Cologne, Germany right before Christmas to check out the Christmas markets.  Neither Lee or I have ever been to Germany so naturally, the idea of tagging along on their annual Christmas pilgrimage sounds like a dream come true.  We could travel out to London, meet up with them, travel to Germany, have an amazing time, and be home in time for Christmas with our families.

Given everything else we’re going through, it may seem like we’re overextending, but I feel like we need this.  As I’ve explained to those who know of our travel plans, if our IVF cycle works, this will be the last time we’ll have an opportunity to visit the UK for quite a while.  If our cycle doesn’t work, we’ll need something to look forward to.  I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than spending the holiday season in our favorite country with some of our favorite people.

And think about it:  If we are pregnant, it’ll be our bump’s first transatlantic vacation.  If I’m not, I can drown my sorrows in delicious UK whiskeys and ciders.  It’s a win/not quite a win, but somewhat bearable situation, really.

While we wait to see what’s going to happen over the course of the next 9 days, this will be the thing that keeps my thoughts otherwise engaged.  And if, for some reason, this round of IVF does not work, this will be what allows me to heal, recharge and come back ready to kick some infertility ass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Years Down….

and forever to go.  Yes, today marks three years being married to my one and only.  I look at how far we’ve come in the time we’ve been together, but especially in the last 6 months or so.  At the risk of sounding like every other pukey couple, I can honestly say, without hesitation, that I love my husband more today than the day I married him.

This year hasn’t been the easiest for us as a couple.  But, I think that we’ve come out of it stronger and more united than ever before.  We’re a team.  And whatever we’re faced with, we’ll be facing it together.

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Now, this next part of the post is for my husband.  You’re more than welcome to read it, but fair warning:  It will be sappy and may induce dry heaves.

 

 

Lee,

Your ability to love and always see the best in me, never ceases to amaze me.  I’m not always an easy person to deal with.  I’m mouthy, easily annoyed and stubborn as hell.  Yet, you always know how to center me and bring me back down to earth.  And you’re not afraid to challenge me, which as weird as it sounds, may be one of my favorite things about you.

I’m a better person for having met you, but I’m an even better person for having married you.  You are helping me to become the best version of myself, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

We’ve had some amazing highs over the last few years as well as some unfortunate setbacks, but at the end of the day, there’s no one else I’d rather be on this journey with.  No one I’d rather start a family with.  I love you with my entire heart, soul and being.

Thank you for choosing me to be your wife.  I look forward to spending the rest of my life proving it was the best decision you’ve ever made.

Love you Always & Forever,

Katherine

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The Injection Class

Lee and I attended an injection class Wednesday morning.  The purpose of the class is to go over our medication outline and walk through the mixing and administering of the medications.  To say that I am overwhelmed by all of the information presented is an understatement of epic proportions.

Below is a copy of our medication outline.  I’m sure after looking at it, you can understand my trepidation.

Medication Outline

Most of the drugs will be administered via subcutaneous injection.  That’s fine; we knew that going in to this.  However, the majority of the drugs do not come ready to use.  They will have to be mixed just so.   One mistake on preparation and we could be out hundreds of dollars.

Both Follistim and Gonal-F are follicle stimulation medications.  They do the same thing, so we’ll probably end up choosing whichever one will cost us less money.  The Gonal-f is the only ready-to-use medication and the more expensive one, so Follistim will likely be what we end up using.  Follistim comes in pen form, with medication cartridges that need to be inserted into the pen.  These should be relatively easy; you just dial-up your dose, and boom.  Done.

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The amount of time I’ll be on Gonal-f/Follistim is undetermined, but most likely a few days.  Once they have determined that my follicles have been stimulated enough, we move on to Menopur.

Menopur is a follicle maturation drug.  Around the end of August, Lee and I will be going in for ultrasounds every few days to monitor my follicles.  Menopur is a powdered drug that will need to be mixed with saline in order to inject.  The amount taken and length of time we will be on Menopur will be entirely dependent on the ultrasound results, so we will have to rely on daily messages from our doctor on when and how much in order to make sure we are administering correctly.

Menopur

This is where it starts to get fucking scary.  Next up on our list is Ganirelix Acetate.  Ganirelix is an ovulation prevention drug.  Missing one dose of this drug will ruin the entire IVF cycle.  If this is not taken at the right time each day, I will ovulate and all of the work that we’ve done will be for nothing.

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If all goes well with the Ganirelix, then we move on to either Pregnyl or Novarel.  Both are HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormones.  This drug, will induce ovulation, so it needs to be taken at just the right time; I believe 36-40 hours before the egg retrieval.  The amount taken completely depends on ovarian stimulation up to that point.  This is also another drug that is in powdered form, so extra care needs to be taken when preparing this drug.

One of the side effects that is common in women with PCOS when undergoing IVF cycles is ovarian hyper-stimulation.  As such, it’s probable that I will have to also take an additional injection drug called the Lupron trigger along with the Ganirelix shot to stop that from happening.  Fun, right?

Timing is everything for the next month and a half.  It’s incredibly daunting.

Yet at the end of the day, this will (hopefully) all be worth it.  I dream of the day that Lee and I can celebrate our first positive pregnancy test.  And years later, when our children are old enough to understand the processes that we went through to bring them in to this world, they’ll realize what this whole experience was actually about.

A story of true love, determination, perseverance,  and the marvels of modern science.  A family that just wasn’t complete until we had them.

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A Memorial Day Getaway

For the first time in the 7 years we’ve been together, Lee and I took a mini-break for ourselves.  Sure, we’ve traveled a fair amount in the time we’ve been together, but it’s always been for  specific reason.  This was the first trip we had planned with no one to visit and nowhere in particular to be.

I chose Duluth as our destination for a variety of reasons.  First, I hadn’t been since I was about 12 years old.  I’d driven through Duluth since that time, but never stayed long enough to appreciate the beauty of the North Shore.  I was looking forward to experiencing Duluth again as an adult, because the visit was lost on me as a kid.  Going on vacation with your parents and your 4-year old sister isn’t exactly “cool” when you’re 12.  This trip also gave Lee an opportunity to walk down memory lane.  Lee graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, so it was nice to see the places he used to hang out “back in the day.”

The hotel company I work for has a hotel in Duluth and rooms were $60 a night which made it an affordable getaway.  The icing on the cake was that the hotel also allows dogs, so we were able to bring our dog, Omar, along for the trip.  While bringing Omar might have impeded on the romance of our mini-break, you could tell that Omar was having the time of his life.  Omar is a jealous little dude; he tolerates our cats, but if we lavish the kitties with too much affection, Omar whines and pouts until we turn our attention toward him.  The fact that he got to spend a weekend with just Mom and Dad made for one happy pup.

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We spent all day Saturday hiking along the North Shore.  We visited Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls and finished the day at Castle Danger, a brewery and taproom on Lake Superior with a dog-friendly patio.  It was a fantastic, relaxing weekend.

It was nice to be able to spend the weekend together, just the two of us (and Omar), with no obligations or worries.  It made me so thankful for my little family and reminded me that sometimes we waste so much time and effort focusing on the things we don’t have that we often forget to be grateful for all that we do have.

What a great lesson to learn on such an important holiday weekend.  A huge thank you to the servicemen and women who fought for our freedom.  I appreciate you all.

Proactive Therapy

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Lee likes to joke that proactive is my middle name.  Seriously though, it probably should be.  I like to plan ahead,  problem solve, analyze and make to-do lists.  As nerdy as this may sound, there is almost no greater exhilaration for me than crossing a completed item off my list.  That’s almost impossible when you’re playing a waiting game, so I decided to up the ante.  I would now try to solve problems BEFORE they happen.  Thus, the idea for proactive therapy was born.

I read an article that discussed the strain infertility can put on a marriage and I was determined to preempt any potential issues before they arose.   But how was I going to explain this to my husband?  Who wants to blind side their spouse with the term “couples therapy”?  I decided to plan out exactly what I was going to say and downed some liquid courage to help me say it.

I told Lee that I was interested in meeting with a therapist to improve our communication skills and help us develop a better team mentality for the upcoming months.  I said that while I think we’ve got a really solid marriage, we also didn’t know what the next few months would bring.  To my surprise, Lee didn’t balk at my suggestion.  Not even a little bit.  At that moment, my heart swelled with love and admiration for my husband.

I made an appointment with a family and marriage therapist in our area and as luck would have it, we both really like her.  She assured us that the communication issues we were having in our marriage were actually quite common and commended us for coming in to see her before we started experiencing bigger issues.

We’ve had three appointments now and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that it has already been so helpful.  Yes, there have been tears in these appointments, but the laughs far outweigh the tears.  We’re learning how the other person communicates and are developing ways to sort of create our own language.  As a result of these tiny changes, I feel more in tune with Lee than I have in a long time.  Maybe ever, actually.  Our therapy appointments have allowed me to fall more in love than I even thought possible.

I feel so confident that we’re moving in the right direction as we head into the unknown.  And I can say with absolute certainty that I love, cherish and respect my husband more today than ever.

 

An Outpouring of Love

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The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind of emotion, but it’s also been so very empowering.  I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I thank you all for your support.

I want to give a special shout out to the women that  have reached out since I posted my story to inform me that they too are suffering from fertility problems.  Wherever you are in your journey, know that you were my inspiration for this blog.

Most of all, I’d like to thank my husband for encouraging me to go public.  Thank you for encouraging me to be open and honest with my feelings.  I love you more than words can say.

A Match Made in Trivia: The Story of How I Met My Husband

I heard his voice before I saw him.  It was a Thursday night and I was sitting at the bar at my local TGI Friday’s chatting with my bartender friend when a deep silky voice seemed to surround me.  I looked around wildly to see where it was coming from and saw an incredibly attractive man speaking into a microphone.  Turns out I had shown up on trivia night, and he was one of the trivia hosts.  For me, it was love at first listen.

Well, maybe not love, but I was definitely smitten from the get-go.  He was handsome, red-haired (I love them redheads, man!) and funny.  But when he wasn’t regaling the teams with his trivia hosting prowess, he was actually incredibly shy.  In fact, his shyness made me shy around him!  I became a trivia regular; rarely did I miss a show when he was hosting.  It took about 6 months for me to work up the courage to approach him after a show, but after a solid Sunday Funday, I worked up courage of the liquid kind, and struck up a conversation.

He didn’t speak more than 5 whole sentences to me during our first full conversation.  I basically talked at him for a good half hour, while he drank his beer and kept his eyes on the TV screen above the bar.  I left that night feeling dejected, but thankful for the all the whiskey I had consumed up until that point, as it lessened the embarrassment of striking out.

I don’t know what I did or said that night that intrigued him, but I must have had some positive effect.  I woke up the next morning slightly hungover and ready to forget my failure from the previous night.  Imagine my surprise when I found a Facebook friend request from my trivia host crush.  This was the start of our weird 6 month flirtation.  I say weird, because he wouldn’t really talk to me at trivia.  However, once I got home and hopped on Facebook, he would instant message me and we would talk for hours.  It was exciting, confusing and frustrating all at the same time.  I liked this guy so much and made no secret of it, yet he acted aloof when it came to my feelings.  After 6 months of this infuriating back and forth, I threw in the towel.  I stopped showing up to his trivia shows.  I hoped that absence would make me forget.

Well, it didn’t.  But as luck would have it, my absence made his heart grow fonder.  Within a couple weeks of my disappearance, Lee asked me out on our first date.  We’ve been together ever since.

I’ve had a really hard time writing this post about my husband.  This post was going to be my virtual love letter.  Most writing comes pretty easy, but this post has taken about 3 weeks to compose and I finally figured out why.  It’s impossible for me to put into words what Lee means to me.  He makes me laugh, makes me smile and after 7 years, he still makes me swoon.  He understands my idiosyncrasies and loves me in spite of them.  Or perhaps he loves me because of them.  Either way, he handles me like a champ.  And sometimes, I can be a lot to handle.

I don’t doubt that these next few months are going to be hard and may even test our marriage, but there’s no one I’d rather share this journey with.

K and L_MockWedding_RotellaPhotography_2015-6Photo By Rotella Photography