May the Luck be [Finally] in Our Favor?

We went for IUI #7 on Saturday morning. My wife’s lining was also thin on IUI #4 (around 6+ I think?) and afterward, we regretted using a vial on that cycle, because it seemed like the poor swimmers never had a chance. So, I scheduled a lining check the morning of the IUI this time. If the lining was under 7, we planned to give careful consideration to using the vial. Due to scheduling, the IUI was scheduled for 11 a.m. That meant the vial had to begin the thawing process at 9 a.m. That meant we needed to know before 9 whether it was a GO or a NO-GO. The only time they had for an ultrasound that early was 7:15 a.m. And because it was a weekend, our local office was closed and we had to drive to South Denver to visit the “main office.” It was an early morning, but we’re hoping it was worth it.

The lining was above 8. There was still one strong follicle on each side, and the ultrasound tech said the “walls were irregular” which meant “something was happening.” It just looked like the follicle was not a perfectly-lined circle, but more ragged around the edges. I took it to mean that she had not yet ovulated, but it was imminent. After consulting Lab Tech Google afterward, it appears as though ovulation can occur in under 20 minutes, and the follicle appears “collapsed” afterward. Given that this ultrasound was at 7:15, and the IUI was at 11:00, I’m thinking timing was pretty great.

The other good news was that the woman at the andrology lab (where they thaw and wash the vial) told us that she had never seen a donor vial like this – it had a higher count than many fresh samples. It had 180 million count pre-wash and something like 38 million afterward. I made my usual joke of “we only want one!” but I was secretly proud of our semi-anonymous donor who we’ve nicknamed Luke. High five, Luke!

Between the ultrasound and the IUI, we went to breakfast and then puttered around a mall. At breakfast, my wife said “well, I don’t know what I could do to encourage ovulation to happen now.” I winked at her and said, well, I’ve read one thing can help… Now, we had our daughter with us, and we’re about 50 miles from home, so that gave us few options. I said, “After breakfast, M and I will wait for you at Starbucks…the car is parked in a relatively private place…” And my wife, who is such a team player, willing to do anything for the collective effort, did her best to encourage the eggs to set sail in the parking lot of the breakfast joint. Hahaha, she’d kill me if she knew I was telling this to the internet, but it’ll be a great (private) story if this is the round that works…

And now were 2DPO. Trudging toward another round of everyone’s favorite game: should-we-test-or-should-we-wait. This truly will be our last IUI (for my wife), so my wallet is quivering nervously in my pocket, wondering if we’re about to take on IVF. Per the acupuncturist’s guidance, we’re not discussing future plans – only focusing on this round. Cross your fingers and toes for us, please!

In other news, our daughter’s newest obsession is chapstick…putting it on you, me, mama, even the dog. Take the cap off, dab on lips, put the cap on, take the cap off, dab on someone else lips, put the cap on. She regularly inventories her chapsticks, and if she does not find all four…she searches and whines until the missing treasure re-appears and she can clutch them all in her tiny fists.

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Thin Lining

Well we’re 12 days into IUI #7. As I mentioned before, we anticipated doing 6 IUI’s, then moving onto IVF. Because my wife has to travel to China in October, quitting after six would have meant (1) an entire cycle off due to timing and travel, (2) a “re-set” cycle of birth control pills while she’s in China, and then (3) IVF in November-ish. That felt like an awfully long time to wait, so we decided to press forward with one more IUI.

I was feeling pretty optimistic at the beginning of this cycle, because why shouldn’t it work? She’s 30, has regular cycles, very healthy, ovulates regularly, and we’ve gotten three early positives on 6 previous cycles.

She had her follicle check yesterday. She’s got two strong follicles (18.5 and 16.5) plus two trailers at 13 and 8. So, basically it’s looking like two viable (they could both be over 21 by CD14). The lining, however, was only 4.6. That is thin. She’s on Estrace now, so we hope it thickens, but it felt like a big blow to me. Our clinic does not do an ultrasound before insem (unless we ask for it and pay for it) so we won’t ever really know whether the lining thickened up enough. We’re going to insem on Saturday, which is CD 14 (that’s typical for her). To me, it feels sort of like we had the perfect cycle last month and missed our opportunity, and this month we’re back where we started. Maybe acupuncture will help, since it’s our newest trick that we’re trying this month.

As most of you know, this process is so draining. Of course we’re loving being moms to our happy baby girl (when do I have to start saying toddler?), but we really wanted kids close in age, and it’s feeling like the gap just gets wider and wider. Maybe we’ll get lucky on this cycle and all the frustration and worry about IVF, spacing, and what to do will vanish. That would be nice!

Thanks for any good thoughts or stories of thin linings WORKING with IUI! Crossing my fingers to see some positives out there in blogland!

 

TTC#2 Update

Well our journey continues on the TTC#2 path, and we’re exhausted. We’ve now done 6 rounds of IUI on my wife, and we had three faint positives that resulted in early miscarriage.

Try #6 felt particularly insulting, because we basically threw the kitchen sink at it. She was on Estrace, baby aspirin, clomid, ovidrel, then progesterone, prednisone, claritin, and prevacid after ovulation. She had four beautiful follicles ripe, and not one of them stuck around. We were pretty optimistic. Honestly, I think we inseminated late. We normally inseminate around CD 14, but this time they had us wait until CD 16. She felt like she ovulated CD 15, and I think she was right.

We planned to turn to IVF next, hopefully just using one of our last four vials. However, my wife has to go to China for work in early October. This means that we would have to sit out the September cycle due to travel timing, then do a “priming” cycle in October, and then hopefully an egg retrieval in November. I have never heard of a priming cycle, but it sounds like it is a cycle to let your body rest and reset. They said that my wife would just take a round of birth control, because all of her hormone levels are normal, so they wouldn’t supplement/stimulate. I don’t know – this is obnoxious to me, because why would we waste a cycle to “rest,” but that’s why these guys are paid the big bucks, I guess.

We’re both disinclined to take a whole cycle off before the resting cycle. So, we’re pushing through one more IUI. This will leave one vial for IVF, and two vials for a desperate attempt at TTC#3 (me) if we decide we want to go that route. If those two vials don’t work, I can hopefully transfer one of her frozen embryos and reciprocal IVF for #3. If IVF doesn’t work for her, we will just switch back to me and hopefully end up with two kids.

If we had not been teased by the three early positives, I don’t think we’d try another IUI. But it feels like we’ve just gotten SO CLOSE to success that we can try one more time. If we run out of vials of our donor, we can always look at Plan B and choose another donor for #3, if we ultimately want a third.

Money is a whole nother story. We’ve been paying out of pocket for all of my wife’s IUI’s. My IUI’s (two years ago) were partially covered through my insurance, and we put her onto my insurance before #6, but it was just too late to get the referral and provide coverage for that round. IVF, however, is not covered, and we will need to finance it. The estimate we got from our clinic is $31,000, including meds. This is not surprising to me. We don’t have that kind of cash laying around, so we hope to get a short-term personal loan. Anyone have experience with this, or any advice?

So we trudge onward. We’re going to try the same things we tried last time – hoping for another four healthy follicles to crop up. If this cycle worked, we’d be looking at a June baby, putting the kids exactly two years apart. That would be absolutely ideal in my mind. Unfortunately we’re nearing the point where the kids could be three years apart in school, with a June birthday and a possible August/September birthday. I’m really hoping we can avoid that, but it doesn’t seem too likely. I know, this is a silly small thing to focus on, but it matters to me.

In other news, we enjoyed a music festival this weekend. Despite the photos, I swear that our daughter wore clothes most of the time! It was pretty hot, so she enjoyed having a personal “pool” at our blanket/tent. 🙂

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An update on Nudity at the Nanny’s

So, as it turns out, I did not need to address the nudity issue again, because our nanny wanted to address it. And she was MAD.

Friday afternoon I went to pick-up and my daughter was still asleep and the nanny’s son was playing in the basement (obviously planned). She said she wanted to talk to me about pick-up the preceding day and how I was obviously uncomfortable with her son being naked. This is nuanced, but I was not uncomfortable with him being naked. I was uncomfortable dropping my daughter off into an environment where he was touching himself, playing with the same toys, sitting on surfaces she crawls on, and about to eat breakfast. I told her that I completely understood that he enjoys being naked in his own home, and I fully support that, but for the reasons above, I do not want him to be naked while she is around. I told her we pay for her to care for our daughter, and we would like him to be clothed when she is there. I explained to her that I never instructed him he needed to be clothed in his home, I told him we were not going to play with his rubber stamps if he was not wearing pants. I told her I had the same standard for our daughter, and if there were people who are not immediately family in our home, she would be wearing, at the very least, pants.

It became clear to me that she thought I was body-shaming her son and telling him he should not be naked. She pointed out, not incorrectly, that I did not want to engage with him while he was naked. I tried to make clear that I said nothing about his body on purpose, and he can be as naked as he wants, but not while my daughter is there, on the floor, playing with toys, crawling around. She eventually accepted the hygiene aspect of the conversation, and she said that he does consider us family, which is why it is appropriate for him to be naked around us and why he thought it would be okay. I actually completely disagree that he thinks it’s okay to be naked around us and not others, I’m pretty positive he thinks he can be naked around anyone (because he has walked out onto the front porch down to the sidewalk without pants on at least once), but I didn’t say that.

At the end of the conversation, she obviously felt a lot better. The problem is, I don’t. I’m super annoyed that she thought she was going to push back against be about him not wearing pants. I’m super irritated that it would not occur to her in the first place that he should not be pants-less around my daughter in that way. Aside: I still know and am  comfortable with the fact that he’ll use the restroom, change into swim shorts, and occasionally need to change clothes in her presence. I’m irritated that she did not listen to my very intentional words to him – that we were not going to play until he was ready to play, or that we could wait outside until he was ready if we needed to. In my mind, it’s simple: playing with a friend (any friend) means having at least underwear on for hygiene reasons. Being comfortable and and naked in your own space with immediate family (or others who you trust and have consented to said nudity) is totally fine.

In the realm of childcare issues, this is relatively small. Our daughter loves her, she loves our daughter, and I do not fear for her immediate safety. In many ways, our childcare situation is ideal – she’s flexible, affordable, they do fun things, conveniently located, and we actually like that she has an older child to learn from. However, I’m a little stuck on this issue (and some small, irritating frictions that have come up over the past 6+ months). The last thing we need, or our daughter needs, is a big change in the routine, and I do NOT want to start interviewing new caretakers. But, should I? I wish I felt 100% great about the person my daughter spends 24-30ish hours a week with! But maybe I wouldn’t feel 100% great about anyone, because I could nit-pick anyone who is caring for my daughter. Any insight is appreciated.

Childhood Nudity

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I fear that I have fallen into a bad habit of greedily consuming all the wonderful blog posts and pictures you are all posting, but only contributing when I need advice! Forgive me. I WANT to post more, and I know you all feel the time constraints of parenting, but I’ve been (per usual) neglectful of my own space in the blogosphere.

So here’s my issue today. Our nanny has a son who is 4 (April birthday). He is with the nanny and our daughter off-and-on, because he is in some music classes, camps, preschool, etc. He’s with her more than he’s not.

We don’t align perfectly with our nanny’s parenting style (she jokes about infantilizing her only child…still a lot of carrying in the Boba, strollers, nursing, etc.). This isn’t a value judgment on her – to each their own. It’s just not our style. One of the ways this has manifested is that her son has started being naked a lot when we go to drop off our daughter. As a reminder, our daughter is now 13 months. She’s very alert and aware of her surroundings, so she knows exactly what and where boobs are, and she’s recently been curious about why there is hair in certain regions of one of her mothers’ bodies.

Now, as a general matter, we are VERY body positive and feel everyone should be proud and comfortable in their own skin. We let our daughter be naked at home too, because what is cuter than a naked baby? However, I’m really NOT comfortable with him actively tugging on his penis and simultaneously handing her toys or touching her. Maybe that’s silly of me, but ew. He also sits on the carpet, kitchen chairs, and sofa with a naked bum. We all know how stellar 4 year olds are about wiping their butts…

My wife normally does drop off, so if he’s naked, she freezes. She just isn’t the person to address it in the moment, so she panics and we both are silently angry that our daughter is hanging out with a naked kid (she relays the status to me via text).

I did drop off today, and he was naked. I immediately said, “uh oh! Did you forget to get ready for the day?” He ignored me as he danced around playing with rubber stamps. I said, “Should we wait outside for you to get ready? For you to put some pants on?” Again, he ignored me and asked if I wanted to play with his stamps. I said “No, I don’t want to play until you’re ready. As soon as you’re ready, we can play with you.” I didn’t put the baby on the floor, and the nanny silently gestured to her husband to take their son upstairs (presumably to get dressed).

Do I address it again with the nanny? Do I hope my very passive approach sent a clear message? Am I overstepping my bounds by insisting that this kid have pants (or even just underwear!) on in his own house? I personally wouldn’t let my four year old be naked around another child for whom I was being paid to care, because I think it’s important to set healthy boundaries around bodies and privacy. Also, this would never fly at any kind of daycare or preschool. However, I do NOT want to body-shame ANY little kid who is most comfortable naked. I handle sexual misconduct on a daily basis, so I know I’m more sensitive to it than others, but I am also VERY aware that kids start exploring their bodies and the boundaries with others’ bodies VERY young, and I don’t want my daughter to be any part of this kid’s personal exploration.

Ugh. Thoughts? Am I being overly sensitive when he’s just a little kid, or am I right to insist on some limitations, even though it’s his own house? I appreciate your ideas!

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Bike to Work Day!

This is practically a national holiday at our house (and in Colorado). We put it on the calendar and look forward to it for weeks to come. Last year we missed out, because we were busy watching a brand new baby sleep in the NICU. This year, we were prepared.

After the devastating news that IUI #5 led to miscarriage #3, my wife wanted to lift her spirits through retail therapy by getting a new bike. This has been on our radar for awhile, so it wasn’t a complete impulse purchase. And we prepared by selling two older bikes, so much of the cost was absorbed and extra space was created. We are bike people, so when some folks might purchase new shoes or a new purse, we buy/sell some bikes for fun.

Monday night we went out to test ride a few bikes and have a beer at our local coffee shop/bike store/bar. I chose the new commuter (aka hybrid, or urban). Unfortunately they didn’t have the right size in their inventory, so they called some other local shops and found one a few miles away. Because le bebe was ready for dinner and bed, we headed home. Tuesday we went to retrieve the new bike (and several accessories that we don’t really need like neon pink cycling socks). This morning we were all up and early to ride around town and eat free breakfasts! We hauled the babe out in her seat, even though “work” for her meant staying at our home with her grandma for the day. Weather was great, the stops are plentiful, and for a moment we got to feel like we were in the Netherlands where bikes dominate the intersections.

I was about 45 minutes late to work, but it was worth it overall. This evening there will be “bike parties” at several local restaurants and bars for the evening bike commuters to stop for a drink or app. Do you celebrate bike to work day? Is this just a US thing, or does Canada do something similar?

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RPL

Per usual, I have a bunch of things I would like to blog about (our daughter’s first birthday, our trip to San Antonio/Austin, our upcoming trip to the California coast, etc.) but today’s topic is a bit of a downer.

We’re officially categorized as RPL, or Recurrent Pregnancy Loss. This cycle, IUI #5, we got the positive home test at 13DPO (CBE Digital), and then a beta of 11 on 16 DPO. A quick snapshot of the statistics thus far:

Unmedicated IUI#1 – Nada
Unmedicated IUI#2 – Faint positive HPT around 15 & 16 DPO, 33 day cycle, but we didn’t make it in for beta tests before AF showed up.
Unmedicated IUI#3 – Nada
Medicated IUI#4 – Positive HPT, Betas at 130ish and 80ish. Natural miscarriage at 7ish weeks
Medicated IUI#5 – Positive HPT, 16 DPO Beta at 11…looking like a 31 day cycle (TBD).

For those counting, that’s 3 positives in 5 cycles. What the heck is going wrong?! We did genetic testing and chromosomal testing. The lining improved a lot on this last cycle.

We will try one more IUI cycle, but sadly we are going to be traveling to California for the next week, so we’ll miss the requisite follicle check around CD10 and have to wait until the following cycle to try again. After the IUI, we’re open to doing IVF (ooofta to the cost), but it’s hard to know whether it would be worth it since the problem seems to be MAINTAINING a pregnancy, not getting pregnant.

If anyone has any experience or insight, I’d love to hear it.

And one photo from San Antonio this week, because posts without photos are no fun:

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First Birthday Denial

In just a few days, I’ll have a one year-old. For many reasons, that just does not seem real to me at all. This post will likely sound like a therapy session starting in a few moments one sentence ago, but I feel like I need to write it anyway.

First of all, the fact that she came early lingers as a tender wound in my heart. She was due toward the end of July, and she came June 20th. I still have to work hard to wrap my mind around her birthday being in June and her being a Gemini. I have absolutely no negative feelings about June or Geminis…it’s just not what I expected. I’ve learned that expectations around birth, parenting, and children are big, heavy things, and re-aligning them (even to equally lovely realities) can be really hard work. I don’t know why that is, but it’s true for me, at least.

I also feel a lot of guilt around her prematurity. I don’t know that there was anything I could have done to prevent it (my water broke spontaneously in the middle of the night after a completely healthy and uneventful pregnancy), but I still blame myself for all of the challenges she has faced after starting life outside the womb five weeks early.

The fact that she is TINY and still appears to be anywhere from 4-9 months old makes it harder to think of her as one. Twelve months. No longer a baby. At 15 pounds, we’re getting SO CLOSE to being on the growth chart (yay!), but when I see other 12 month-olds, I’m blown away by how bulky and sturdy they seem! She’s tall, her head is great, but she’s just a diminutive person.

Developmentally, she’s ahead with some things (she’s very smart, uses her pointer fingers and pincer grasp like a three year-old, communicates very well, and toilets like a pro), but she has gotten very delayed in gross motor skills, which makes her seem younger in a lot of ways. When I say “She’s almost one” to people when my daughter is not present, they respond “Oh, is she walking??” I cringe a little inside. She’s not walking. She’s standing while holding things all the time, but I know that she is months away from having the coordination to walk independently. She doesn’t crawl, and it’s not looking like she will (we have PT for this), and she’s able to roll but doesn’t really care to.

I should also mention the general denial most (all?) parents feel about their children aging – where did the time go? How are they already this old? Am I doing enough? Am I savoring enough? How can I get time to slow down?

So my denial is manifesting in a few ways. First of all, I don’t even think about where we were a year ago (getting excited to become parents, preparing for a baby shower that never happened, celebrating Father’s Day with my dad). Second of all, I don’t spend much time re-living the labor and first hours of her life. In fact, I completely forgot that we were sitting in the NICU for fourth of July fireworks last year, and this year in my mind I thought “This will be fun – her first fourth of July!”

My denial is also manifesting in the fact that we’re not planning a party. This is partly because I am philosophically opposed to huge birthday bashes for babies who don’t even understand what is happening. It’s also due to the fact that we have family in town this weekend and we’re traveling next weekend, so a party didn’t really fit into the schedule. Lastly, we don’t want any more stuff coming into our house, and parties equal gifts. But I would be lying if I said that my denial about reaching this milestone didn’t play a part in me ignoring how quickly this date has been approaching and not planning accordingly. Side note: we WILL celebrate her with our families when the schedules open up a little bit in mid-July, which will be close to her actual due date. Maybe that’s an unhealthy reinforcement of my expectations that didn’t materialize. (eye roll)

I don’t want this to sound too complain-y. I am SO, SO grateful for the last year. It has been a roller coaster, but it’s been great in so many ways. I will definitely write a positive and cheery “Yay for the first year” post within the next week – I just need to get some of this out of the way first. Also, I absolutely love my pip squeak, exactly as she is. I never anticipated having a somewhat frightening, early, and traumatic delivery, a tiny child with developmental delays, or a Gemini in our house, but I would not change her for a million bucks.

In conclusion, here are cute photos to reward you for reading my cathartic post about emotional birth and parenting baggage. Kisses!

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Chocolate “ice cream” face.

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Postpartum Periods

All right, mamas. I’m almost a YEAR postpartum. I have had 4-5 periods (starting at 8 weeks). I had quite a bit of damage to my vaginal wall during delivery with MANY, MANY stitches, but everything has pretty well healed up, according to the doctor.

Anyway, I come to you looking for recommendations. I seem to no longer be able to use tampons. They are extremely uncomfortable going in, I can’t seem to get them up far enough, they leak, they sometimes fall out, and it’s just a disaster.

I’ve used a Diva cup in the past, and I didn’t love it, but I would be willing to try again with a Dive Cup #2. My only other alternative seems to be pads. Boo.

Thoughts? Advice? Helpful hints?

Bottles and Pacifiers

Well, at 11 months (10 months adjusted age) we’re officially done with infant dishes, it seems. After almost a year of having this grey plastic bin next to the sink to catch all of the Dr. Brown’s parts and pacifiers, I’m putting it away and I feel sad about it. Our daughter quit the pacifier at about six months. She took it as a newborn in the NICU and we relied on it heavily in the car and when I wasn’t around through her first months. Eventually, she started getting angrier when you tried to pop it in, so it made things worse rather than better, I guess I am happy we won’t have to deal with weaning her later, but it’s still a little bit sad and I wish we had that easy soothing effect.

Our nanny told me this week that I don’t need to send the nipple/bottle parts to the bottles anymore, because she hasn’t taken the bottle for several weeks. I knew this was coming. Again, we started with the bottle from Day 1, though she’s always shown a strong preference for the boob. It worked moderately well for her to get some milk (never more than about 5 ounces…) while I was at work, but now she’s refusing it entirely. The nanny tries to get milk in through cereal, smoothies, and spoons, but it’s hit and miss. Again, I thought we would be able to get the comforting/nourishing benefit of the bottle for SEVERAL more months, but this kid does things her own way.

She continues to breast feed heavily when I pick her up at 3:00 and into the evening, so I know she’s still getting the benefit. It’s ironic to me that I have a strong supply and a kid who couldn’t care less. Unfortunately, she also hates EVERY kind of sippy cup, so we’re just working on regular cups or spoons. She does use a straw, so that’s a small win, but she prefers to just blow bubbles or suck it all up and dribble it down her front for fun.

I’ll be glad to put away the countertop clutter for now, but it’s hard to let go of all those tiny baby things, as many of you know well. Feeling kind of blue.