Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sharing "The Story Behind of Baby Nelson"

I struggled so much with whether or not I wanted to publicly share our IVF journey (with friends, family and coworkers). David was always for it. He wanted people to know that this baby was nothing short of a miracle. I finally came around and realized he was right, and we decided to share our "IVF story" today on social media, as it's the start of National Infertility Awareness Week. I posted a Note to my FB account and so far have been overwhelmed with the support and positive responses. Here's what it says:

Dear Friends and Family, 

By now you have probably heard the wonderful news that David and I are expecting our little Nelson Nugget at the end of July. What you may not know, however, is the incredible journey we embarked on to get to this place. When David and I decided we were ready to add to our family in September of 2015, we soon discovered that it would not be so easy. To make a long story short, we learned that the only way we could conceive would be through in vitro fertilization (IVF). After meeting with our doctor in December, we prayed long and hard over this decision and did much research before deciding we wanted to continue on this journey. So for the past year, whenever anyone has asked me when we're having kids, I've just smiled...even though deep down inside I would be crying. 

As soon as I was finished teaching my spring 2016 semester, I flew to Maryland to start the IVF process. And let me tell you...it was not easy. I do not like needles, and IVF requires a lot of needles! I had my blood drawn every other day to the point that both my arms were black and blue. I had invasive ultrasounds done every other day. I learned to give myself subcutaneous injections--2 to 3 per day--and later my mom and David learned to give me nightly intramuscular injections. (In total, I have had ~108 injections.) All the while, we dealt with the emotional roller coaster that comes with IVF. There are so many hurdles you must get over before moving on to the next step, and if one fails, you have to start over. Our first transfer in July was unsuccessful; the embryo did not implant. I was devastated. I couldn't get out of bed. I didn't think I could go back to work in the fall. Yet somehow, by the grace of God, I picked myself up again. In November, I flew back to Maryland and transferred our last frozen embryo. This little miracle embryo implanted, and we are 26 weeks,1 day pregnant today. 

The reason I am sharing this is because I do not want people to think that this was an easy, planned, journey for us...because it wasn't. At the same time, we were blessed to find out about our need for IVF from the very beginning, and I am very thankful for that. I know several people who have experienced (and are experiencing) the hardships of infertility...and have experienced this for too long. My heart truly goes out to them as I can only share in some of the pain they feel. 

While I know most of you are happy for us, I know that some of you may also have some questions...and I am happy to try to answer them if you want to private message me. Please note that this is a very sensitive topic for us, so if for some reason, you are against our choice of doing IVF, please refrain from contacting me, as I do not wish to get into an argument or debate about one of the happiest moments in our lives. However, I will share that we did not have to worry about multiples, as our doctor practices elective single embryo transfer (eSET), so we only transferred 1 embryo at a time. And in our case, we are not worrying about extra, frozen embryos. We had 2 embryos and we transferred both of them. The first one did not implant, and the second one did. 

David and I just wanted to be honest and transparent about our journey. We got the good news the day before Thanksgiving and we were elated...but even then, we were not "out of the woods." I still had multiple blood tests and ultrasounds before my doctor would release me into the care of my OB/GYN. At 5 weeks, 6 days gestation, we had a scare and I ended up in the ER. I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma (SCH) and was put on bed rest. The SCH was a scary diagnosis because it is linked to an elevated risk of miscarriage or pre-term labor. (As of the 3/10/17 anatomy scan, the SCH is no longer showing up on he U/S.) Beyond the medical side of things, there are also the the financial burdens associated with this. Unfortunately, our insurance does not cover fertility treatments, so we are paying for everything out of pocket. Some have asked if they could donate to our IVF fund, and the answer is yes, we would be so very grateful. We have an IVF GoFundMe account set up here if you are interested. 

Thank you for taking the time to listen to our story. We hope this doesn't change how any of you feel about us, but we wanted our story to be heard. This week (April 23-29) is actually National Infertility Awareness Week, which felt like the perfect time to share our story with you. Did you know that 1 in 8 couples struggle to build a family? "The CDC tells us that this is 15% of couples in America. Infertility does not discriminate based on race, religion, sexuality or economic status. You never know how badly you want something until you are told that it may not be possible." For more information, please visit https://infertilityawareness.org/about-niaw. 

Love, 
Dorothy & David 

Post Note: We are overwhelmed with the positive responses we have received. To be honest, I never knew if I wanted to share this story with anyone. It’s something I’ve gone back and forth with for months. Part of me worried that we would be judged for the particular route we chose to expand our family, whether for moral, religious, or other reasons. Part of me just didn’t want the whole world to know after we’d kept this secret for so long. David is the one that encouraged me to share our story, and I’m glad he gave me that push. We’ve gotten to see Baby Nelson since she was just a small cluster of cells and it’s hard to believe that that tiny little miracle embryo is now kicking me as I write this. (She kicks even more when I eat pizza.) Thank you so much for your kind words and support. It truly means a lot. :)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Maternity Style

I have been wearing my normal clothes for the majority of my pregnancy, but with my waistband starting to feel a little snug, I've started embracing showing off "the bump," and have found a few great maternity wardrobe pieces that I wanted to share on the blog today. A few weekends ago, David and I had to make the long drive to Ikea to return some stuff, so we stopped at a Motherhood Maternity Outlet Store where I found so many amazing pieces.

We live in a small little town and the closest maternity clothing store is 2.5 hours away...so I've also found many of my favorite pieces online or at Target. My friend and coworker introduced me to Pink Blush, which I've quickly fallen in love with. What I love about them is that many of their pieces can be worn before, during, and after pregnancy-and their models show what it looks like either way. Below are 10 of my favorite maternity wardrobe pieces:


Here are 10 of my absolute favorite pieces!

  1. Ivory Floral Striped Colorblock Maternity Top from Pink Blush - I actually got the Fuschia top (#2) first, but loved it so much that I had to get the floral one as well. I love the raglan sleeve, and this top can definitely be worn pregnant or not. I love wearing it with black leggings or skinny jeans.
  2. Fuscia Striped Colorblock Maternity Top from Pink Blush - You can see what it looks like on a non-pregnant model vs. a pregnant model (#1). I don't usually wear bright colors (like hot pink) but something about the raglan sleeve makes it so fun. 
  3. Keyhole Side Ruched Maternity Tee Striped from Motherhood Maternity - This top is so comfortable and flattering that I got it in black/white and black/blue. The back has a fun little keyhole, and the elbow-sleeve makes it perfect for spring or summer.
  4. Jessica Simpson Back Interest Maternity T-shirt from Motherhood Maternity - I haven't found a maternity T-shirt I've liked until I tried on this one. Jessica Simpson makes some really cute maternity clothes for Motherhood Maternity . This T-shirt has a really fun back detail and is super soft. I can't wait to wear it this summer. I got it in black and light blue.
  5. Heavy-Knit Shift Dress from Old Navy - This isn't actually a maternity dress, but it's one of my favorites and I have it in 3 different colors! The material is thick and forgiving, and I wore this dress so much during the first trimester. People never even realized I was pregnant! In the fall and winter, I wore it with tights and boots and in the spring I've worn it bare-legged with flats.
  6. Liz Lange Maternity Over the Belly Distressed Jeggings from Target - I had given up on maternity jeans until I discovered these. Everything I tried on was too big in the waist until I realized that even though my bump was still small, an "over-the-belly" style worked better for me than "under-the-belly" or "side-panel" options. The latter two are always too big/loose for me in the waist/belly area, but the "over-the-belly" option works because you can wear it folded over (when your bump is still small) or pulled up (when your bump is bigger and needs the support). I love the distressing detail on these jeans!
  7. Liz Lange Maternity Under the Belly Ponte Pant from Target - "Under-the-belly" can also work too. I found these ponte pants on clearance and couldn't pass them up. They feel like leggings, but are ponte pants, so they're much thicker and are suitable to wear for work.
  8. BeMaternity by Ingrid & Isabel Seamless Belly Black Legging from Target - I've been mainly wearing my normal favorite leggings, but the high waistband has gotten a little tight, so I searched for a pair of comparable maternity leggings and found these. These are great because you can also fold the waistband over or pull it up. 
  9. Side Ruched Maternity Dress from Motherhood Maternity - When I was at Motherhood Maternity, the sales lady insisted I try on this dress even though I wasn't looking for dresses. I tried it on in two patterns and instantly fell in love. The ruching is great because it grows with your bump, but I anticipate being able to wear this when I'm not pregnant too. I wore this striped pattern with a denim jacket yesterday and our admin. asst. kept telling me how cute I was.
  10. Royal Damask Bottom Maternity Maxi Dress from Pink Blush - I love this dress! I got it just before we left for our Babymoon and luckily my seamstress was able to hem it for me before we left that weekend. This can be worn pregnant or not, and it's just so eye-catching! I get compliments every time I wear it.

Monday, March 27, 2017

It's a...

I've been meaning to share this story for weeks now, but I was waiting until after our anatomy scan, and then totally forgot to do it. 

We actually could have found out the baby's sex on January 19, 2017, when we went in for a 2D U/S, but we had the technician put the information in a sealed enveloped, and then I had David hide it from me. Our plan was to open it up on a special occasion, like Valentine's Day, so we could celebrate the news. Well, Valentine's Day didn't end up going as planned this year. We were both extremely busy and the night just did not turn out the way we had hoped it would, so we didn't end up opening the envelope that night. 

That weekend (Saturday, February 18, 2017), David planned a special date for us. We went out to dinner (originally planned to be at a local restaurant/wine bar, but then at the last minute, I got a weird craving for potato skins, so we ended up going to a wings place instead--haha!) The plan after dinner was to go to one of our favorite European cafes for dessert, where, unbeknownst to me, David had set up for the waiter to bring out a special cupcake for us that would reveal the sex once I cut into it. However, I ruined the plan again because I was feeling so anxious about the baby's sex, and wanted to find out at home in private...so we ended up picking up some delicious desserts (macarons and tiramisu), and bringing them home.


It's a girl!
Even though I ruined his plans, David still managed to salvage the moment. He set up a smorgasbord of our desserts (including 2 cupcakes that he had specially baked by a friend at work) and some roses. Since the plan with the waiter didn't work out, David ended up having to peek at the envelope first, but then he gave me the "right" cupcake to cut into...and it was pink!

We are overjoyed to share that we are having a baby girl! The sex was confirmed at our March 10, 2017 anatomy scan, and now we can plan accordingly!

On another note, I finally "officially" felt the baby move for the first time on March 21, 2017. The past two visits to the OB, my doctor and nurse have asked if I've felt anything and I've always been hesitant to answer because I haven't been sure...but at 3am on March 21, I was lying in bed with my hand on my tummy, and I distinctly felt it. I tried to wake David up for him to feel it, but he was so groggy. He ended up feeling it for himself in the morning at 8:13am. Since then, I can feel (and distinguish) baby girl's movements throughout the day, and most actively, at night. I can't tell if she's kicking or punching, but I love feeling the little nudges, pokes, and prods!

We have also made the decision to hire a DONA-certified birth doula to assist with the labor. We met a wonderful (and highly recommended) woman, and I am looking forward to sharing more about that later on!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

22 Weeks, 1 Day

I am 22 weeks and 1 day today. So many things have happened in the past few weeks:

  • David and I had an amazing time in SoCal. We stayed in the cutest little beach bungalow in San Clemente. We went to a live taping of The Big Bang Theory, and also made it on camera for The Late Late Show with James Corden. We had a chance to meet up with his sweet cousin, Katie, and her husband, Brad.
  • My friends (coworkers) are so sweet to be planning me a Baby Shower in early May. While I am excited for this, it also meant I was asked to come up with a Baby Registry, which I have been dreading completing. I spent the past week or so asking friends/family for suggestions and then weighing all the different options available. Let me tell you, there are so many options for every little thing, and there are so many things that people tell you you need (or don't need)! I ended up making an Excel spreadsheet with categories and listed different things that were suggested to me (supplemented by a few helpful lists: Baby Registry Checklist, Must-Have Registry Check List, Ultimate Registry Check List). I am now able to cross off the things I've registered for or have purchased myself. 
  • Speaking of purchases...David and I spent the entire day yesterday shopping for baby gear. I had the most anxiety over the stroller/carseat combo, but after doing a lot of research (and listening to a lot of opinions), my friend suggested the best thing I could do was go test them out and take a look at them in person. First, we went to IKEA, where we purchased a crib, dresser, bookcases, and high chair. (We seriously spent 4 hours there). Then we went to Babies"R"Us to take a look at some other things, including strollers. I am so glad we went with the IKEA crib, because I found the ones at Babies"R"Us to be too bulky/heavy for my taste. (I have had several friends recommend their IKEA cribs to me.) We took a look at infant bath tubs, and then took a look at some of the strollers and carseats. David and I both really liked the Baby Jogger City Mini GT for its smooth ride, maneuverability, and small size when folded up, but the price tag is a little hefty for us. There is one other stroller/carrier combo I really want to see, the Graco Aire4 XT Travel System, but unfortunately, I can't find a store with a display to check it out in person. The Graco Aire4 XT Travel System includes an infant car seat, stroller, and base for the same price as the Baby Jogger City Mini GT alone. (If we added on the infant car seat, base, adapter, and other accessories, we'd be spending an additional $200-$300!) On a side note, a few friends recommended I get a copy of Baby Bargains, which was really helpful in affirming my registry items. The funny thing is I totally read the Bridal Bargains book when we were planning our wedding!
  • Another source of anxiety has been planning the layout of the nursery. We are turning our guest bedroom/office into the nursery. This means David moved his office into his Man Cave, and I moved my office into the office nook off of our great room. This also means we had to sell our queen guest bed and try to come up with a different guest room solution. After debating many options (including a murphy bed and air mattress), we have decided to get a daybed with pull-out trundle. After speaking to several new moms, I found that they all appreciated having a bed to rest on in between feedings (or when baby is sick). The bed will also serve as a guest bed (such as when my mom comes) and then hopefully baby will move to the bed after outgrowing the crib!
Now that I know what I want/need, and now that we've purchased a few of the big ticket items, I am feeling a lot better about being "ready" for the baby. I still need to clean out and organize the room, but once that's done, I can't wait to start decorating!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Halfway!

I am officially 20 weeks today! We had our anatomy scan yesterday and everything looks great! Baby Nelson is measuring 1 day ahead. We also officially know the baby's sex, but are waiting to share this news publicly.

I am feeling a lot better this trimester. I figured out that the cause of my daily headaches was due to the pillow I was sleeping on. I have always been a stomach sleeper, but after switching to my back and side, I was waking up with neck aches and developing headaches after work everyday. After going to the store and getting fitted for this pillow, my daily headaches have gone away. Nausea has also mostly (if not completely) gone away as well.

At 20 weeks, I have gained between 3-4 lb. This is not a lot compared to many women, and I even had a scare a few weeks ago (on 2.17.17 at 16 weeks, 6 days) when I had lost some weight. Luckily, my OB was able to fit me in that day (a week before my scheduled ROB). We listened to the heartbeat on the doppler, and the doctor was not at all concerned. She explained to me that the baby is essentially a parasite, and will take from my body what it needs before anything bad would happen. At my anatomy scan yesterday, the baby measured perfectly (even ahead by 1 day), and again, the OB was not at all concerned with my weight. (Baby weighed in at 11 oz., and was measuring 1 day early in the 29th-49th percentile.)

I get comments regularly (from coworkers, friends, family, the dry cleaner, doulas, even strangers) that I am "so small" and "not showing at all." At first, this bothered me because it made me feel like I was a bad mother or doing something wrong...but now I am embracing the fact that I am healthy, the baby is healthy and right on track, and I still fit into my favorite skinny jeans. I have some of the cutest maternity clothes hidden away in my closet, and I look forward to the day I can wear them...but until now, I am happy being able to wear my normal clothes. David and I can see my belly growing everyday even if others can't. :)

Tomorrow, we leave for So-Cal for a much-needed Spring Break/Babymoon. I can't wait!


Friday, March 3, 2017

Stress!

Have I mentioned that being pregnant is stressful? Not only are you uncomfortable and dealing with the normal pregnancy-related hormonal changes, but for me, specifically, I had the add-ons of the IVF hormones. I also made the decision (with my doctor) to completely wean myself off of anti-anxiety medication...so basically I am a pregnant, hormone-laced woman with untreated anxiety.

I am currently sitting on my couch in the living room while a contractor is in (what will be) the baby's room fixing the drywall and a leaky window. My dad is currently visiting (staying at a hotel). We had another guest visit (stayed with us) for 3 nights about a month ago. All I can say is that this is STRESSFULI have quickly learned that during this time, for the sake of my well-being, I should not host any guests at all. 

We (and by "we," I mean David) finished taking down the picture rail, patching the walls, and re-painting the nursery. However, we then discovered a leaky window which led to some minor mold in the drywall surrounding it. (This was after we had all new carpet installed, which was a whole other stress-inducing experience involving packing and a house in disarray.) The good news is that the mold is not serious, and the contractor is confident that he can remove all of it, reseal the window, and fix all the drywall. I'm hoping the job is finished today!

I can't wait until everything in there is fixed and painted. Next, I will need to tackle all of my "stuff" and make room for the baby. Below is my working To Do List!

My Tentative To Do List:
  • New kitchen table/chairs/barstools
  • Trade in car for SUV
  • Change carpets
  • Figure out maternity leave
  • Decide on daycare/pre-school
  • Take down picture rail in baby room
  • Re-paint baby room
  • Clean out baby room
  • Furnish baby room
  • Sign up for birthing classes
  • Make/fill a Baby Registry
  • Get info about doulas
Our important anatomy scan is scheduled for next week. We are praying for the best news. After that, David and I are planning on taking a little Spring Break/Babymoon to So-Cal. This will be a much needed break!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Nesting!

I've officially entered "nesting" mode. We have 6 months which may seem like a lot of time, but there are so many things that I want to get done before the arrival of the baby and we have a number of out-of-town guests scheduled to come in the next few months (which creates a whole new level of stress).

On 1/19/17, we went to our local 3D U/S place to do a gender determination scan. It was mostly to feel safe before making our official pregnancy announcement, but the tech was able to determine the gender (which we have safely tucked away in a sealed envelope to open later).

I've contacted (and/or visited) ~6 different daycare/pre-school options in town. I knew from watching my friends' experiences with this that I wanted to get a head start, and I'm glad I have. I've found a few options, but am still deciding what works best as far as location, convenience, price, hours, and wait lists. I also finally worked out my birth/bonding FMLA and fall teaching schedule. The plan right now is to take 8 weeks of leave, and teach the 2nd 8 weeks online, which will allow me to stay home with the baby for the entire semester! I'll be working a little from home, but essentially won't have to take the baby to daycare until mid-January (when s/he is nearly 6 months).

Yesterday I went in for my Return OB (ROB) appointment and got to hear the heartbeat on the doppler. Then we drove 2.5 hours to take a look at a new car. I actually hadn't thought about a new vehicle at all during this whole process until David brought it up. He wanted to get a larger, safer, vehicle, with a few other features we've learned we need living in the snowy mountains, like AWD, dual climate control, and roof rails. We originally considered trading in his hatchback for an SUV, but then after talking about it, realized I'd be the one driving the baby around the most, so it'd be better to trade in my sedan. We spent 5 hours at the dealer yesterday (and another 5 hours on on the road), but we walked away with an amazing deal on a Honda CR-V with a handful of extras thrown in. I don't think the car salesman had anticipated what it'd be like negotiating with a pregnant, hungry, former buyer. ;-) I had always told myself I wanted to get a new VW Beetle next, but things can change in a heartbeat!

I have basic plans drawn out for the baby room, including trying to accommodate potential guests, but there are a few things we need to do first including changing out the carpet and repainting the walls. So much to do!

My Tentative To Do List:

  • New kitchen table/chairs/barstools
  • Trade in car for SUV
  • Change carpets
  • Figure out maternity leave
  • Decide on daycare/pre-school
  • Take down picture rail in baby room
  • Re-paint baby room
  • Furnish baby room