Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We've Come A Long Way, Baby

I've always been a late bloomer, and didn't really consider getting married until I was in my mid-30's. After kissing more than a few toads (and a snake or two, for that matter), I found my prince and married him at the ripe ol' age of 39. We both wanted a family and knew we weren't going to waste any time in that department. Little did I know there would be a snag. Enter the world of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and the land of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

As a newlywed couple, we were faced with a daunting situation. (The statistics, for a girl my age, just aren't very optimistic.) And Jim (God bless that man!) certainly stepped up to the challenge of supporting me through, easily, the hardest thing I have gone through thus far. And so began the process of administering shots, egg retrieval surgeries, and a long emotional rollercoaster ride.

Long story short: Our first IVF cycle resulted in a pregnancy, but sadly, I miscarried early on. Our second cycle produced even fewer embryos - only two. But, happily I got pregnant again. I'll never forget the first time we heard the heartbeat. I think I was in shock. We were both crying and my doctor and nurse (heroes in my book) gave us big congratulatory smiles and hugs. The doc then asked, "So where do you two want to deliver?" And I remember thinking, "Deliver? Deliver what...a pizza?" It was just such awesome news I couldn't digest it right away. One of the two embryos below is our soon to be born daughter. I'm just amazed and humbled and so incredibly grateful.

I don't even have words to describe how happy, fortunate, and grateful I feel. We were lucky. So lucky. Many couples go through these treatments and don't end up with a baby of their own. Of course, there are many alternative ways to have a family and, believe me, I don't think any one way is "better" than another. This is a lifelong dream come true for us though and it truly feels like a miracle.

Some of the highlights of the infertility journey are:

  • Over 100 injections (in the thigh, stomach, and hip)
  • A fully stocked liquor cabinet that was quickly depleted by one stressed out husband
  • An extreme mix of faith and fear, high hopes and shattered dreams
  • Multiple runs to Costco for Kleenex for one emotionally distraught girl
  • Countless prayers and conversations with God (also some begging and pleading on my part)
Here is an excerpt from my journal:

Well, tonight was the night for the big Kahuna shot. An inch and a half needle! Poor Jim-a-loo...he is not a medical kind of person. He prepares the shot while I'm in the other room. (He told me later that's when he started getting nauseous.) The time has come. I walk into the medical room, aka kitchen, and say, "Put that shot behind your back...I don't want to see it!" He gets the ice pack and slaps it on my butt. "Longer...longer," I plead. Several minutes later, he plunges the needle in my rump, surprised at how easily the needle slides in. I'm doing okay. I can handle this, I think. I am a bad-ass-woman-hear-me-roar-type trying to protect the home and survival of my future specks. Until...I feel his hand leave the shot and now, (huh?), he's sitting on the kitchen chair.

"Jim, are you done?"
"No, baby." (long pause) "Just give me a second."
"What are you doing?," I say in a panicked voice, sweat beginning to bead on my forehead and upper lip.

No response.

"Is the shot dangling out of my ass?!!!" "What are you doing?!!!"

"Just hang on,", he says. "I'm about half-way done."

Oh, my God! This is starting to hurt. I moan. Now, I feel the thick medicine dispersing through my body. I think I am going to be sick. I hunch over the kitchen counter, with my weight on the non-shot leg, now sweating profusely. He pulls the needle out. I slump into the chair and immediately put my head between my knees. Jim staggers into the hallway and collapses onto the floor. He is drenched in sweat. I join him on the floor, stepping out of my fallen pants and collapse next to him. We did it.

And now here we are... just seven days from Baby A's due date. Thank you all so much for checking into my blog now and then, and for all the sweet comments you've left. (Many times I will delay reading your comments because I want to savor them like little jewels.) I'm very appreciative of our creative community - what a nice and fun and supportive group of people! This will probably be the last time I post until the bebe arrives. Wish me luck. Hope to be back soon!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hospital Swag

As my due date approaches, I thought it would be fun to prepare a few tokens of appreciation to hand out at the hospital, kind of a modern day cigar. For the past, oh...nine months or so, I've been doing something that is probably not in my best emotional/mental interest (other than eating French fries, peanut butter, and any dessert within a half-mile radius). I've been watching those birthing shows on the Discovery channel. I tell myself I'm "educating myself" but really I think I'm just working myself up into a lather on all the things that can go wrong. Like the epidural not working. The baby gets stuck in the birth canal. You get the drift. My husband just shakes his head at me. (In fact, I've caught him deleting several episodes off of Tivo because they were "too intense.") Anyway, what I've picked up on in these shows is how the labor and delivery nurses are the ones who seem to do most of the work and provide most of the care. The doctor just breezes in when the baby's head is crowning and does his or her thing, but the nurses are the ones who are around to encourage and support and, more importantly, page the anesthesiologist when it's time for drugs. Let's just say I want to have a nice, friendly relationship with my nurses.
One of my favorite gift ideas for someone I may not know very well is a really fun pen. I love these Tornado Retro 51 pens and have given them as gifts many times over the years. They come in all kinds of colors and designs. I actually buy them at a local store (at a better price) and keep them on hand in the gift closet. And they come in a cool metal tube with the motto, "Life's too short to carry an ugly pen."
Since Baby A should arrive in February, I thought a box of Mrs. Field's chocolates might be fun to give as well. I hope the hospital staff will enjoy these. They have such an important job and they affect so many people's lives (when they're at their most vulnerable!) that they deserve to be thanked and appreciated on a daily basis. If anyone deserves a little swag, they do.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Hope everyone is indulging in a decadent treat tonight and enjoying time with your sweetie-pie, good friends, or even solo time with yourself.
Jim and I are avoiding the restaurant scene and picking up take-out instead. A low-key night at home. In fact, he is taking a little snooze on the couch as I write this. We are such live wires these days!
Even though I gave him a free pass this year because of all the home improvement craziness, the boy still came home bearing hot food, a bouquet of beautiful flowers, a little gift (amy winehouse cd), and a card with the sweetest sentiments written inside. This is our second year of marriage and we are still very much in the lovebird phase. If I had known married life could be so gratifying, I think I would have considered it years ago. So...James Andrew, thank you for being my valentine. xoxoxo, k.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Scenes From A Nursery

Hello, Friends, Fellow Bloggers, and Artists! I'm still alive and pregnant, due to give birth any day now. Initially, my OB was going to induce me early next week (he'll be out of town the week of my actual due date), but that plan has changed. After doing some research on induction and the positive correlation with C-sections, we've decided to let Baby A choose her own birthday, that is, unless I gradually begin to dilate and show some progress in that area. It's been an interesting decision. There is no medical reason why I should be induced. Baby is doing fine. She's not too big. I'm doing fine. Part of me is very attracted to the idea of knowing when the big day will be and being able to rest the night before, arrive calmly at the hospital, etc. However, it's very important to us (for reasons I'll post about another time) that we avoid a C-section, so it looks like we are going to let things happen on their own schedule. For the last two days, she's been squirming and kicking like crazy. I feel like she's communicating with me and letting me know that she's pretty cramped in there and really wanting to busta' move and come out soon. Wishful thinking on my part perhaps.
Home improvement continues at a steady clip. We now have fluffy new carpet in two rooms and Jim is almost finished putting hardwood down in the family room. Thank you so much for all of the baby love and hardwood compliments. (I have passed your sweet comments on to one weary and exhausted husband.) Our motto now is: "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." My parents have come to help me clean the house and my mom made the bed skirt for the crib. The fabric has images of classic fairy tales, so I guess that is sort of my theme. Or, maybe my theme is no theme...too much pressure, you know?

I did give this art piece by Cheryl Kuhn a place of honor. I really love her work.
This old creme colored hutch belonged to my Italian grandmother. It's pretty shabby and has been sitting in my garage, unused, for about nine years. The wood is warped and splintered, but yet I think it has a certain charm and the extra storage is useful. After putting out numerous bags full of stuff for FIVE consecutive weeks for donation pick-ups, I am really trying to utilize what I have instead of going out and buying something new. Vintage animals and the Mouse Family are ready to welcome Baby A to her new environment. I cannot believe I am about to become a mom. It still hasn't sunk in yet. And, I've got my girly, tactile-liscious Cake bag ready for diaper duty. A big THANKS to my Silver Bella buddy, Carmen for encouraging me to keep this over-the-top purchase. I do love it and this bag will have its own special place in the purse timeline of life. Well, folks, the tummy is tight as a tic and the nest is full of twigs. I'll let you know when the stork arrives!