Thursday, April 27, 2017

baby #2 | 27 weeks

How Far Along27 weeks!

Size of the BabyBaby W is the size of... a yellow turnip?

Symptoms/Sleep: I am starting to get some back pain depending on where baby brother is hanging out. Sleep is hit or miss. I am able to sleep on my side, almost on my stomach which is when I get the best sleep. Sleeping on my back is the worst. It leaves me so achy. Natalie has been having a rough week with the transition back to daycare so we have found her in our bed too many nights which means shitty sleep for me but it's a small price to pay right now.

Bump/Belly Button/Weight Gain: The bump is doing it's own thing. Some days it's really there and other days it's hidden well by my clothes. I am only 2 pounds up from my pre-Natalie pregnancy weight. We joke at work that I might need one of those fake bumps for maternity pictures. Thank goodness we have about 7 weeks to go before those!

I got the FMLA LOA paperwork this week and had an "oh shit, this is really happening" moment. We are hoping that after my appointment next week, we'll have a better idea of our plan. Our inability to plan for his arrival has been tough. 

Cravings/Aversions: nothing this week :)

Big Sister: As I mentioned, it's been a tough week transitioning back to daycare after a week and change off with Daddy but we're doing the best we can. She has cried every morning at drop off which is the worst. That part doesn't get easier.  But by the end of the day, she is totally fine and we have been getting good reports from Ms. Cheryl. On Wednesday when I picked her up, she was playing on the porch with the boys. One of them had his arm around her and they were sitting on a bench. It was adorable. B would have had a stroke if he saw it which only made me smile more.

Baby Brother: We have finally settled on a middle name which makes us ready to share baby brother's name with everyone :)  We wanted another 3 syllable, 1 syllable name which made picking a middle name for baby brother a little bit harder than anticipated. We probably tested out a dozen or so names before we settled on one.

Come July (hopefully not sooner!), we'll be welcoming Everett Grey into our family :) 

And for shits and gigs, a 27 week comparison picture:

Miss Anything: Our visit with Jimmie and Ilona made me miss spiked seltzer. I was jealous of those indulging in adult beverages. I also miss sleeping without a tiny little person pushed up against me, even if she is super cute.

Best Moment: Seeing Ilona, Jimmie and baby Chase was the best. Natalie immediately warmed up to Ilona and Jimmie and even held Chase which was a big milestone moment for our girl. It was nice to sit and laugh about college days and Natalie was on her very best behavior which made B and I so happy. And then she slept in until almost 9 on Sunday.

Can't Wait For: this weekend's little itty-bitty mini-moon :) B and I are going to see one of our favorite bands, the Turnpike Troubadours, and then stay at a hotel nearby for the night. We'll go to dinner before the concert and a little brunch action on Sunday morning before heading home to our girl.

Ms. Shawn's Baked Ziti

Y'all, I promised to share this recipe weeks ago and I did not deliver and I am so sorry for that! BUT, I made it last Monday for dinner with B's parents and, as always, it was a hit. Everyone who has tried this recipe loves it.  It's super easy to make, budget friendly and kid friendly - a total win all the way around  :)

1 box pasta (We use veggie pasta to add that boost of guilt-free goodness)
1 jar Pasta Sauce (If you like it saucy, have a second on hand)
1 jar Alfredo Sauce 
1 lbs of Italian ground sausage (We typically use two since we make extra)
1 bag of Italian style cheese (We typically use more, but we love cheese)

1. Preheat oven to 350 *
2. Cook the pasta according to the box instructions and drain. Set aside.
3. Brown the sausage in a large skillet and drain any excess grease. 
4. Add the pasta sauce and the Alfredo sauce to the browned sausage.
5. Add in the drained pasta to the sausage mix.
6. Spoon a layer of the pasta mixture into a greased baking dish. 
7. Add a layer of cheese.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7.
9. Bake at 350* for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the top layer of cheese is melty. 

It's that easy. We usually serve ours with Texas Toast so you can sop up any sauce with the bread. YUM!  Bonus: it reheats beautifully!  Double Bonus: it freezes SO well! We tend to make enough to freeze for lunches in the future. The recipe is super easy to double or tweak to your families liking. We absolutely love Ms. Shawn's Baked Ziti and we are so happy that she shared this with us last year :)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

National Infertility Awareness Week 2017

I have always been crazy open about our journey to becoming parents. It was definitely not by any stretch "normal", even as a fertility patient, thanks to working at SGF; however, regardless of the steps we took to get here, I could not be more proud of our journey. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I will share our story again today.

B and I quickly got pregnant in early 2012 after just a few months off birth control pills. Sadly, that ended with a loss. I was devastated. After another 6 months of trying in vain, B and I did a fertility prescreening work-up to see if we could find out why I wasn't getting pregnant.  While the answers were tough to hear, they were answers and answers meant we could come up with a family building plan. We could use those answers to take action.

The first step on our fertility journey was Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) cycles.  These cycles take sperm and place it above the cervix to aid in conception. It's super non-invasive, "low-tech" and relatively easy treatment. Our first cycle in October 2012 was medication free. We had completed our prescreening by mid-cycle so Dr. Levy ordered an ultrasound which showed a perfect follicle so he had me do some blood work which showed I was having an LH surge on day 13 so we did our IUI 2 days later. Please note: completing an IUI during the prescreening cycle is not then norm but rather a perk of being an employee. Unfortunately, this cycle was negative. Our second cycle in November was also medication free. We did our baseline appointment and came back on day 12 of my cycle for blood work and ultrasound monitoring. Nothing. We came back on day 16 of my cycle. Nothing. Day 19? Still nothing. By day 21 of my cycle, I finally had a little bitty LH surge and we scheduled our IUI 2 days later. Again, the cycle was negative. For our third cycle in December of 2012 we decided to bite the bullet and add Clomid. We monitored this cycle on days 10, 12 and 15. While I had a crazy lady response to the Clomid that happens in <0.1% of patients, I was also anovulatory which caused the cycle to be canceled. We decided to regroup and come up with a new plan. We'd move forward with IVF.

At this point, we were over a year off birth control pills and still not pregnant. It was tough and emotional and frustrating. We started the new year with a new treatment plan and I was optimistic that this was going to work out. I got my period a week into the new year and was excited to get my IVF protocol dates and roll into a cycle. An ultrasound revealed that I had ovarian cysts. Whomp whomp, no IVF cycle this month.

In February 2013, we were finally ready to start our IVF cycle. I will say this, if I had to choose between IUI or IVF treatment - I would pick IVF every. single. time. And not just because the success rates are better. There was more control and more structure which someone with OCD like mine really loves. I previously wrote posts breaking down my IVF cycle part 1part 2, the egg retrieval and the embryo transfer. On March 3rd 2013, Brandon and I found out that our IVF cycle had worked. We were pregnant. We graduated from Shady Grove Fertility on April 3rd and on November 13th we welcomed Natalie into the world.

In late summer 2016, B and I started talking about baby #2. We had a lot of concerns about expanding our family and we decided that maybe late spring, early summer 2017 would be a better time to re-evaluate our timeline and possibly have a frozen embryo transfer (FET). Then in August of 2016, I almost lost my husband to a fluke accident. There is nothing like a near death experience to make you re-evaluate your life plans. B and I decided that we would start treatment again in the fall. The reality is that there would never be a "good time" to have another baby and there were always going to be hurdles.

Our FET cycle was so different than anything I had expected. I was terrified of the intramuscular injections complete with 1.5 inch needles, but they really were not that bad. I was anxious that it seemed so easy: baseline appointment, lining check, transfer. Done. I was nervous about whether or not it would work. But we were lucky. We had our frozen embryo transfer on November 8th, 2016 and found out on November 14th that our cycle had been successful. On December 18th, 2016 we were once again graduated from Shady Grove Fertility. It took awhile for it to really sink in that we were pregnant. It had been so so easy this time around and I had all kinds of guilt because it was easy and I had several friends who were struggling. I was reminded countless times that while it seemed easy, 70+ IM injections were not easy and I had put in the work back in 2013 with my IVF cycle.

It has been quite the journey to get to where we are. A journey that has changed me as a person.  I am so thankful for my amazing, supportive and loving husband who held my hand and encouraged me every step of the way.  Infertility and fertility treatment are things that could have put a serious strain on my marriage but we used it as a stepping stone and a building block and it made us stronger.  I am beyond grateful for my clinical team and friends at SGF who made this possible for us.  B and I have said so many times that if I didn't work at SGF, we never would have considered fertility treatment as a family building option. And I am so thankful that I was where I was when I was because B and I have a beautiful daughter and a healthy pregnancy because of it.

If you are experiencing infertility or going through treatment, I am always happy to share my experience in more detail and lend a supportive shoulder.  It can be an overwhelming and emotionally (not to mention financially) draining experience. No one should ever have to feel alone in that.  I was lucky enough to have the greatest support system on the planet and feel like everyone should be that lucky. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

baby #2 | 26 weeks

Apparently I had this ready to post on Friday but never hit publish (hello pregnancy brain)... so here you go :)

How Far Along26 weeks! Y'all, we have entered the 3rd trimester. How is that possible?!

Size of the BabyBaby W is the size of a head of lettuce bowl of cereal!  

Symptoms/Sleep/Labor Signs: Another week of sleeping mostly on my belly/slightly on my side. It in unreal how well I am sleeping still. I am definitely counting my blessings with this little guy every day. I have started to have weird dreams about delivery and our plan for Natalie. While we think we have a fairly solid plan in place thanks to our wonderful, amazing and rockstar daycare provider Cheryl, it's really too soon to know for sure!

Bump/Belly Button/Weight Gain: I am loving this third trimester bump, even if I am up 26 lbs from my baseline appointment prior to my FET cycle.  (Note: While I know some people say 27 or even 28 weeks is the third trimester, my OB says 26 and I like that better. Besides, given that we think he'll be coming along a smidge early - this is totally the start of my third trimester.) This past weekend, on Sunday, it got up to 80* so I busted out a bikini top and my shorts and soaked in the sun. I NEVER would have done that with Natalie. The self-love I have for this body this time around is unreal. 

Cravings/Aversions: Nothing really this week. I have been loving on some pineapple, thanks to my friend Jordan. I have had my Panera salad and it was so good.  I have been drinking tons of water and it seems more refreshing this week than ever before.

Big Sister: I cannot handle how sassy and fun she has been this past week. Her new picture pose is everything. I don't ever want it to end. I mean, where do they learn this stuff?!

Her new phrase at mealtime is "I don't want to eat too much" and while, for me, this sparks super negative connotations with eating disorders, I try not to read into it and recognize that she is three and picky and learning independence.  We started a new thing at mealtime where we do snack size portions of things in a cupcake tin. This week it has been fairly successful. We'll see if it lasts. 

Miss Anything: Oh you know, just my sanity. We had baby brother's middle name fairly set and then I changed my mind... again.  We are on middle name number 4 or 5 at this point but for real, I think we have one picked this time. 

Best Moment: This week we have had a few!  B's parents came down early in the week to spend some time with Ms. Natalie.  B's mom brought Nat some much needed and oh so very appreciated summer essentials: size 5 (where did my baby go?!) short sleeve shirts, skorts (!!) and new summery shoes (insert all the praise hands here). I made Ms. Shawn's baked ziti (a recipe I plan to share, for real this time, in the next few days) and, as always, it was a total hit and we have been loving the leftovers. On Wednesday, I had an appointment with the pediatric cardiologist to do a fetal echocardiogram. While not an ideal reason to get to peak in on baby brother, it was nice to get to see him :) Bonus, Dr. O went to the appointment with me which was fun.

Can't Wait For: Meeting baby Chase this weekend! B and I went to college with Ilona and her husband Jimmie and I am so excited for her little family to come hang out with us this weekend. I am really looking forward to loving on that sweet babe of hers.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

baby #2 | 25 weeks

How Far Along25 weeks!

Size of the BabyBaby W is the size of a head of cauliflower Buzz Lightyear! 

Symptoms/Sleep/Labor Signs: Still no swelling and my rings are happily in place. This is much different than my pregnancy with Natalie! I am still sleeping mostly on my stomach/slightly on my side. I did not sleep this well at this point in my pregnancy with Natalie and I will take it as long as it wants to stick around!

Bump/Belly Button/Weight Gain: The bump is still cute and little. At work, we often talk about how small I am for 25 weeks.  I have officially hit my pre-Natalie's pregnancy weight. It is so crazy to think that this was how much I weighed when I got pregnant with her and here I am now, more than halfway through this pregnancy. Mind blowing. 

Cravings/Aversions: I have had my Panera salad twice this week and I am not ashamed. It is everything to me. It's so perfect for the warm weather we've had this week!

Big Sister: I could not love her more. She is so much fun lately. She is becoming more and more aware that baby brother is coming and we talk about it often. I love to hear her ideas of what we should do with him and all the things she wants to show him. I was nervous about the addition but I think B and I have a solid plan to help with the transition (never have I ever been so happy for a July due date and to be married to a teacher!). 

Miss Anything: Wine. As the nights become nicer, I am missing sitting on the deck with a glass of wine and unwinding with B. Last Sunday's warm weather made me miss an ice cold white claw. My ginger ale just wasn't as appealing. [ps - if you haven't had white claw yet, I highly encourage you to find it and try it. It is so. dang. good. and perfect for day drinking... you know, if you're into that kind of thing.]

Best Moment: I have two this week! One was seeing some of our Lyco best friends at Ant and Chelsea's reception last weekend. I loved getting to see the guys and their lovely wives. It is so crazy to think of how far the four of them have come: 12 years, 4 weddings, 5.5 kids later :)

Monday we got to peak in on the babe :) I love getting to see him. He is weighing in at a whopping 1lb 10oz. While my previa is all gone (insert all the praise hands here), he is breach right now. Here's to hoping he gets the memo and turns his little booty around in the next 14ish weeks.

Can't Wait For: This weekend the weather has been perfect and beautiful. We have been living on the deck, soaking in the sun, taking walks around our neighborhood. It has been a much needed weekend of downtime.