NINE MONTH VISIT

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John Luke had his 9 month well-baby visit this week.  He’s 21.2 lbs, 29 inches long and is in the 75th percentile of weight and 85th percentile of height.  He’s gonna be a monster!  The doctor said he could eat anything we eat with the exception of honey, until after the first year.  He also recommended I get a food grinder.  I recently bought a small food processor, but I’ve still been giving him baby food.  I’m still getting used to the idea that he can eat grown up food.  My baby is growing up so fast!!  It doesn’t register to feed him what we’re eating.  The doctor said he could now have things like scrambled eggs, peanut butter (to watch for allergies), and puffs.

He also asked if we’d baby proofed the house with safety locks for household cleaning cabinets, etc.  I told him we had as of last week.  He also mentioned something I never would’ve thought about.  To have a fire escape plan.  For example, if we’re upstairs, what would be our plan of evacuation from different points in the house if a fire ensued.

We have more work to do baby proofing the house.  Just the other day, Josh and I were watching him play in the den.  He wandered over to a small chest the size of a plant stand.  He started pulling on one of the drawers.  We watched to make sure he didn’t pull the drawer out and bonk himself in the head.  Well, instead of the drawer coming out, the whole chest fell over.  Luckily, it’s made of pine and very light weight.  He didn’t hurt himself, but my heart plunged to my stomach.  I yelped as I threw my sandwich and jumped up.  He cried about 30 seconds then was easily distracted again.  I think it scared him more than anything, it sure scared me.  The table has since been moved and I’m re-evaluating what other items could be pulled over.

The doctor also asked if John Luke was sleeping any better.  I told him he was still waking up about every four hours.  The doctor replied he should be sleeping through the night.  I should let him cry.  That it would take about three days of letting him “cry it out”, and he’d be sleeping through the night.  Josh is all for this, but I’m not there.  All I can think is, that he is crying for his mama and she never comes.  Especially now that he is saying ‘ma ma’ a little bit.  I keep thinking since he’s eating more solids and is more active, he’ll sleep longer through the night.  I may start stretching his daytime feedings out to every 5 hours to try and condition him to wait longer between night feedings.  Right now after about 4.5 hours he starts coming unglued if he doesn’t see food in his future:)

It’s all a learning curve.  Everyday I’m learning and experiencing all I thought motherhood would be.  Some days I would do things much differently.  Other days, I wouldn’t change a darn thing, as long as he’s happy and healthy.  And that he is!

The following pictures are from a ‘Diaper Ministries’ photo shoot I previously posted about.  He didn’t win, can you belive it?  I’m a little partial.  Wink wink.

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CELEBRATION OF LIFE

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We headed to Alabama this week for a family reunion for a meet John Luke party.  Yes, he is almost 8 months old and we are still celebrating his birth.  I guess when you’ve waited and hoped for a baby for six years every day still feels like a miracle.

We’ve been home several times since John Luke was born; but we usually head south for a whirlwind trip for the weekend which doesn’t allow time to see everyone.  We had planned a barbecue at Josh’s parents for the aunts, uncles and cousins to meet the newest member of the family.  However, on Thursday Josh’s 92 year old Great Aunt (Aunt Carol) passed away.

Funeral arrangements had to be made.  It was a bittersweet homecoming; but a blessing in disguise that we were able to be home.  Josh’s mom needed help with everything that needed to be done.  Aunt Carol never married and never had children.  Josh’s mom was her caretaker. 

Aunt Carol was a career woman with a fascinating life.   She moved to Washington DC in 1958, and worked for Senator Lister Hill for ten years.  After Senator Hill’s retirement in 1968, she continued to work for the sub-committee on Health, Education and Welfare, until her retirement in 1979.

She was a staunch democrat in a family with traditionally conservative views.  We had numerous heartfelt debates on politics, politicians, and social issues.  I loved talking politics with her, although our views were worlds apart.  She referred to me as a “good little Republican.” 

The funeral was held on Saturday then we all gathered at the house afterwards for barbecue to celebrate her life and to welcome John Luke.  We decided it would be a “Celebration of Life” party to say goodbye to our oldest family member and to welcome our newest.

We will miss you Aunt Carol.  You will forever live in our hearts.

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SHOWERED WITH LOVE

Our church family threw me and Josh a baby shower last Sunday, and we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love shown to us. It was the most beautiful and special baby shower we could have ever imagined. We were filled with gratitude by amount of people who took the time to come share in our joy.

We received many, many wonderful gifts. I think about the many hand-made gifts we received. Hand-made receiving blankets, burp clothes, a hand-knit babies first stocking, crocheted baby booties. As much as the gifts mean to us, the time it took for friends to go out and hand pick something or hand make something for our little tot is very special.

As I type this, Josh is busy painting the baby’s room a soft baby blue. We have the bedding and crib ordered, but it will not arrive until about 2-3 weeks. As I was unloading the bags and sorting the baby gifts, I started to become anxious at all we have left to do before the baby arrives. As I looked around the room, I thought to myself and laughed. A year ago, I never would’ve been able to believe this could be happening. I just need to be grateful for all that I have, and the best gift of all we have received. This growing baby due in just 4 weeks, and how are lives are going to change forever.

Many of our close friends call our baby the church baby because of all the prayers that have been poured out for us over the past 6 years since we have lived here. So when I say, I was completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, I was literally brought to me knees in gratitude after the shower. I came home and had go to my bedroom and just close the door behind me.

Almost feeling undeserving, it was as if gravity was pulling me down to the ground. I just had to get on my knees and thank God. Thank God for our church and the friends he has placed in our life, for our family who have supported us all along the way, and for this incredible journey we are about to experience.

3-D SCAN

Me, Josh, and both sets of parents went for my 3D ultrasound this week. It is amazing what technology can do now, considering ultrasounds were not available when our moms were pregnant with us. Now you can almost visualize what your child is going to look like from the womb.

Our 3D scan was done through Stork Visions Prenatal Imaging Center. It is a franchise that performs 2D, 3D, and 4D scans by a ob/gyn or licensed sonographer. You may even be able to go through your ob/gyn’s office. A friend referred us to Stork Visions, and since there is one in our area, we used them because it was highly recommended. It was worth every cent, even though it is not covered under insurance. We were given about 35 minutes viewing time of the baby on a home theater sized TV. We were also sent home with a CD-Rom, and a DVD of the entire session, and about fifteen still photos.

It was a wonderful experience, and I’m so glad our parents were able to share it with us. We got to see the baby move around, put his arm across his face, and even yawn. The doctor confirmed that he was in vertex position (let’s hope he stays that way)! He also indicated on my abdomen where the baby’s head, feet, and arms are positioned.

When I got home, and had time to absorb all I had experienced, I was almost overcome with emotion. Our baby boy has a prominent nose, very full lips, chubby cheeks, and a round face. And, I love his profile! It’s like meeting someone you’ve heard about for along time, then finally meeting them face to face. I am 31 weeks now, so I know he will go through many more changes before his arrival, but what fun it is to get a glimpse. How lucky am I to be this little guy’s mom? What a sweet blessing.

21 Weeks

I was reading in my ‘Pregnancy Week by Week’ book that by 21 weeks your waistline is definitely gone and people can tell you are pregnant. I was able to get away with wearing regular clothes for a while, but as my “bump” grew, it gave me a chance to finally go shopping for some maternity clothes.

In the waiting room of some infertility clinics, they would have parenting or pregnancy magazines that would have pictures of pregnant moms-to-be. I was always fascinated with the clothes and the articles on parenting.

I feel like I am now a part of this “exclusive club” called motherhood, which allows me the blessing to do those fun things like shop for maternity clothes, and read those coveted books like, ‘What to Expect When you are Expecting’.

This book answers a lot of questions for me. As the name indicates, it explains what you may be experiencing in your body at a particular stage of pregnancy. Like at 21 weeks, it talks about continued absentmindedness. There it is in print! The book validates that for my type-A, ADHD brain, there is a reason for this slightly more than usual absentmindedness. I usually “have it together”, but sharing the oxygen supply, I do believe helps contribute to some short-term memory lapses.

It also talks about the gymnastics, called fetal movement, going on in my belly. I have to admit this is one of my favorite parts of being pregnant. It reminds me that he is still there, and gives me reassurance from time to time. When I don’t feel anything for a while, it concerns me. Then sure enough, he gives me a little “punch” to let me know he is still growing strong.

He is most active at night when I am trying to sleep. My friend told me, and I have read, that when pregnant women are active during the day, it is like a rocking motion for the baby. You also feel movements more at night when you are still. Between the fetal movements, and having to get up to go pee more frequently, sleep is becoming a precious commodity. I do believe this is God’s way of preparing you for the sleepless nights ahead.

I have so much to learn in the coming weeks. I also want to start reading about what to expect when the baby arrives, which will be here before you know it. I am sure I will be ready to meet him when he comes in to this world, but for now, I am content on being his mom while he is growing in my belly.

20 WEEK ANATOMY SCAN

This was a big day, not only would we find out if our baby bean was healthy, we would know whether we were carrying a boy or a girl! At my 16 week ultrasound, it was too early to determine the sex.

I had a really good feeling about this pregnancy. I felt everything would turn out alright, however, there is always a chance a problem could be detected. We were filled with anticipation.

From the first ultrasound picture, I had a feeling it was a boy. I called it a mother’s intuition. Josh said I had a 50/50 shot of being right. It’s hard to go wrong with those odds, he would laugh.

The genetics counselor asked us some general information about our medical history and wanted to know if we wanted to do an amniocentesis. We chose not to, since there are risks involved, and it wouldn’t change anything if something was wrong with baby. This was the child God gave us, and we would love it no matter what the outcome. We told her that we had adopted an embryo and gave her the information we knew from the donors’ medical history.

We were originally supposed to go to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for the scan, but our doctor’s office directed us to go to a smaller hospital near our town to save us the two hour drive. The UT traveling group were performing anatomic scans at that hospital around the time of our appointment.

Since they were a traveling team, we had to view the ultrasound on a laptop. I could not see the screen most of the time, but it was awesome to watch Josh’s face in amazement as he watched the screen. The tech would talk to the genetics counselor in medical speak, but it seemed everything looked the way it should. Being in the medical profession, Josh would converse with them and ask questions. He had guessed the heartbeat accurately at 160 bpm even before they announced it. The tech and genetics counselor determined everything appeared to be healthy. Our baby has a four-chamber heart, no abnormalities were found, and we were given a very minimal chance of Down’s Syndrome.

I told them my prediction that it was a boy. I had been patient and wanted to get through the important stuff, but was still anxious to know the sex. Finally, the tech said, “Well, I guess mama was right, it’s a boy.”

We didn’t really care whether it was a boy or girl, as long as it was healthy. This mama was just ready to go shopping. I had waited to buy anything for the baby until we knew what we were having. We headed to Target to buy something blue so we could surprise my mom in person with the news.

We had to get creative with Josh’s parents, since they live eight hours away in Alabama. We had told them we would call after our appointment. We decided we wanted to surprise them instead of just telling them over the phone. We called the florist where they live and had a bouquet of yellow flowers, with a blue-gingham ribbon sent to their house.

The card simply read, “It’s a Boy”. They weren’t expecting to hear from us until that afternoon. When we answered the phone to a half-laughing and half-crying grand-momma, we knew they had received the bouquet and were surprised. It was so much more fun than telling them over the phone.

With a healthy diagnosis, and visions of blue “dancing” in my head, I was ready to do some more shopping.

ACCEPTANCE TO ELATION, GOD’S TIMING IS PERFECT

Josh and I met and started dating our senior year of college. After
graduation, we took jobs in different cities to pursue our careers; me in
marketing and Josh in communications as a District Executive for the Boy
Scouts. We became engaged and commuted for 3 hours on weekends to see each
other. After working a few years, Josh decided to go back to school for a
degree in nursing before we married. Josh received his Bachelors in
Nursing, and we married the following November. Thank goodness for the
demand in nursing jobs, we were finally able to relocate to the same
city!

We both worked for several more years, wanting to “get established” before
starting a family. We decided it would be best for him to get his master’s
degree so that we could afford for me to quit working and be a
stay-at-home mom. Josh was accepted into the master’s program which took
a little over two years to complete.

After receiving his masters, we relocated to Tennessee. We had found our
dream town, our dream house, and our dream church. Finally! We were
ready to start trying to have children. A family was everything we needed
to complete what we had worked so hard for all these years. It would be
so easy right? We didn’t realize while focusing on our careers, we were
using the few “good years” we had left to get pregnant on our own. We were
still so young.

After trying for a year on our own and with clomid, our ob/gyn referred us
to an infertility specialist. After numerous IUI attempts, and two failed
IVF attempts, our beloved doctor passed away from cancer. We had to start
over using his partner in the practice. This doctor informed us there
wasn’t anything more he could do and suggested third party reproduction.

Since moving to Tennessee, we had developed a close circle of friends.
Three of these dear friends offered to be a donor for us. Still believing
we could conceive on our own, we had never discussed third party reproduction
as a serious possibility. However, after much prayer and consideration, we
asked our friend who was most like a sister to me if she was still willing to
go through with her generous offer. She said yes, and excitedly we called the
doctor to make an appointment. He informed us he would not do “known donor”
transfers but only used donors provided by their clinic. We found a doctor
an hour away that would do the procedure.

We had 6 embryos with our donor. We transferred 3, which did not result
in pregnancy. Our 3 remaining embryos did not survive the thawing process.
Disappointed but determined to press on, we researched different options
online. We had previously come across the NEDC website while researching
IVF with our donor. We had also considered traditional adoption, but felt
embryo adoption gave us the possibility to become pregnant and bond with
the child from birth. We contacted the NEDC in March of 2011 and another
door opened for us.

Starting the process of embryo adoption seemed daunting at first. How do
we get started, how do we apply and go through the process of adoption,
how long will it take? After our 3rd failed IVF attempt with my friend’s
oocytes, Josh and I decided it was time to move on to embryo adoption. We
felt God led us here and it was the next logical step.

You see, going through the IVF with our friend was not an easy decision.
It was prayed about by all three of us, and many in our church were
standing in prayer with us. There were many things to consider. Would she
think we would be good parents? Would she feel like the child was really
hers and eventually want to be more involved? After all, we live in a
small community and are very close friends. But… God gave us a peace,
“Trust Me” is what would come over me when I prayed. The negative
pregnancy result was devastating because everyone who had been praying for
us felt this was God leading us. So how could it be negative? We were so
sure we had heard Him right. But, it was part of a “Greater” plan.

Many couples need a break after a failed cycle. For me, when I was not in
the middle of an IVF cycle it was torture. It felt like time was ticking
and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Being in the midst of an IUI or
IVF cycle was like therapy. It meant we were getting somewhere.. we were
making progress. Downtime was unbearable. So immediately after the
negative result I had to have a plan. I remembered coming across the NEDC
website when Josh and I were researching information on donor IVF.
We didn’t think much about it at the time, because we were so sure
this time it was going to work.

That is where looking back, I can see God’s hand in it all! Just coming
to the place where we were willing to use a donor meant acceptance. It
meant closure to a dream. A dream of a biological child of my own. It meant
never seeing my own eyes in my son or daughter. It meant knowing they
would never have my little quirks (which BTW can be a good thing). It
meant admitting that my body had failed me. Also, it meant all those
years preparing the nest to be more educated, more mature, and more
financially stable; didn’t exactly fall in line with our plan. But it was
not our plan, God was using those years for His vision and His timing. We
never questioned waiting. We never thought we’d have a problem conceiving.
We always had a peace that when the time came to start a family, we’d be
ready and everything would work out. And it did, just not the way we had
envisioned.

Had God never allowed us to go through this with our donor, we may not
have come across the NEDC. He used that time to prepare me. Not only would
I never see my eyes in my child, or my quirks, but my husband’s either.
But that we would come to the place where being a parent is more than
what you envision your child to be. It is embracing the child God had planned for
you all along, in His time. He used every clomid cycle (12 in all), 13
failed IUI’s and 3 IVF attempts (one more to come later) to bring us
to a place of acceptance of His plan. But it is more than acceptance. It
is elation, exuberance, and complete joy!! We are now 6 months pregnant
with our first child due in December.

I want to give you a “very basic” timeline of our first contact with the
NEDC to pregnancy, because if you are reading this you probably have a
similar story of heartbreak and disappointment. This timeline
will be different for everyone as there are many factors involved.

March 2011- We first contacted the NEDC
April 2011- NEDC initial application submitted
May 2011- Went to Bethany Christian Services
Discover Adoption Informational Meeting
June 2011- Started Homestudy Packet for Adoption
Aug 2011- Went to NEDC for mock transfer
Nov 2011- Homestudy walk through and individual interviews with
social worker
Dec 2011- Homestudy approved!
Dec 2011- Received donor selections and medical protocol
Jan 2012- Transferred 4 embryos
Jan 2012- Two weeks later, BFN
Feb 2012- Received new donor profiles for March transfer. No embryos
remained from January transfer
Feb 2012- Received medical protocol
March 2012- Transferred 3 embryos
March 2012- Two weeks later- We’re Pregnant!

If embryo adoption is the path God leads you, I hope you see just getting
started is often the hardest step. You can see the forest for the trees,
and there is beauty even while you are in the midst. I wish you success
on your journey to becoming parents.

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