Both of my children were conceived via in vitro fertilization. This is not a secret and I have written about it before. What I have not written about is our Leo Lion’s conception. I have known what my beauties looked like from 3 days post conception. Amazing! This is our lion’s story.
The transfer process is less clinical than the egg retrieval process. The embryo(s) is/are unfrozen and sometimes they need to give them a bit of time to acclimate. For whatever reason, my precious embryos often did not make it after unfreezing. I said a prayer for each one. I mourned each one.Then I had to move on because there was always (thank you God) another one/baby waiting for its mama to be there. Just like our sweet Teddy, Leo Lion was the last embryo we had. Leo was different. When you are in the advanced maternal age group of at least 35, your embryos go through “assisted hatching” where the embryologist helps the shell open to release the embryo. Quickly after unthawing, Leo Lion was bursting through his shell ALL on his own. We all laughed at the eagerness of this tiny, precious embryo ready to go. He was moved into my womb and the waiting game began.
Have you waited to take a pregnancy test after disappointing months? I have. It is awful. This time, I skipped to the bathroom to take the test, 3 days early. I had a secret. I knew I was pregnant. I knew the day after the transfer. I KNEW. I FELT that tiny and blessed embryo burrowing deep into his home. He made it.
A few days later, the blood test confirmed my intuition and the home pregnancy test. I was VERY pregnant.
Skip forward to the delivery room…..Leo Lion came roaring out of the womb. He roared and roared and roared. I actually started to panic because I knew I was in for a much, much wilder ride than Teeny gave me.
He wanted to nurse immediately and with great intent. He fought going to sleep at night. He roared letting me know he wanted to be held. His pediatrician said he was “very alert.” Leo does not do anything halfway. Even when he is just observing, his little limbs are moving as though he can move himself into the middle of the action. He is vocal about what he wants and does not want. There is nothing casual about Leo Lion. He has been this way since conception.
I find it fascinating that from 6 days past creation he has exhibited very clear personality traits. We did not choose his name based on its meaning, but it is very apt. While IVF is considered a liberal choice, viewing and participating in the process of scientifically creating life has made me very conservative. I have known my child since conception, and I have seen his fierce determination since his cluster of embryonic cells forcefully left their shell. This is a gift and significantly cemented my view on when life begins. My child’s personality began at conception. I know this.
I love you madly Leo Lion. May you always live life fully and fiercely. I will roar behind you, my darling.
I could not sleep Saturday night. I had decided I was going to take an at-home pregnancy test Sunday morning and the waiting was getting to me. We had our FET (frozen embryo transfer) October 17th, and like this entire process has been this time around, it did not go off without a hitch. Our first embryo did not make it through the defrost, so we had to thaw a second, leaving us with only 2 precious embryos left. The day after the transfer, I caught a particularly vicious and humbling stomach virus that left me 8 pounds lighter of water. How in the world is a tiny embryo supposed to implant in a water free, roller coaster ridden body? I was heartbroken. It felt as though we had taken every dollar spent and flushed it down the toilet along with all the water I was heaving.
Despite all of this, I had hope. Isn’t it amazing that the basic human response to a situation is still hope for the best? I did not verbalize this, I remained outwardly cautious, but inside I was glowing with hope. This WOULD work. We have been through so much, the month was ideal to start a pregnancy and I am strong enough to handle this. I felt twinges in my body like I did when the Tiny One was busy burrowing into his first home. I rested my hand over my belly in hopes that the precious, growing human would feel my warmth and presence and know all was all right. When the Tiny One would wrestle and accidentally kick my belly, I wondered if that was the beginning of the sibling relationship and it made me smile. I was sure it was going to be a girl.
Sunday brought a negative test. Today has brought a negative test as well. I am waiting for the Tiny One to arise and start his day so we can go confirm this with a blood result. I am aching with sadness, but the funny thing is, even in the reality of what I know to be true, I still have a tiny shred of hope waiting for the final results.
It is common knowledge that teenagers have no sense of mortality. What I learned last week is that not all adults do either. I know that I will age. I know that I will not live forever. I thank God for my strong and imperfect thighs when I run past someone who is struggling to simply walk. I knew these things but I had not viscerally felt them until last week.
Our in vitro fertilization journey has been very different from the first journey when we had the tiny one. The drugs are different; the time line is a different. The medication made me sicker than I could have imagined. I sobbed uncontrollably from the hormones. I saw the needles being prepared and would sit, shake, and sob all the while knowing they were not that bad. My husband would apologize as he shoved 1 of 3 needles into my belly. I was awake most nights trying to breathe shallowly so I would not vomit. It was not like that last time….
Like last time, I produced a gazillion eggs. I am a hen. I was ridiculously proud of this. They cut short my injections and scheduled my surgery. I bought an US Magazine and looked forward to being in bed because, at my core, I am lazy. They retrieved 24 eggs during surgery. 16 were mature and I happily went to bed. I remembered the last recovery being palatable, so I forced my husband to take our tiny toddler to run at the park after his long and boring morning. They left and I read. I started to not feel great, so I went to get my anti nausea pills, which were no more than 15 feet away. I fell. I could not get up. Please Lord, do not let me vomit. The only thing worse than vomiting would be pooping my pants in public. Ok, let me vomit if it means never pooping my pants in public. I crawled back to bed and called Pat. It got worse.
I never know when it is appropriate to call the doctor so I waited. I could no longer stand up without dizziness and nausea, and pain started spreading all over my torso. I could not sit down, lay on my back, or on my right side. I knew it did not make any sense, but wondered if it was a heart attack. Ok, perhaps now it is ok to call the doctor. My doctor said I needed to come back to his office. I had to kneel in the back of the car because I could not sit and I said things that were not nice at all whenever my husband hit a bump in the road. Really.Not.Nice. The doctor sent me across the street to the hospital where we waited for 7 HOURS to be admitted. This entire time was spent on my left side. They were unable to do a cat scan because I could not lie on my back, even after 3 rounds of intravenous pain meds. I waited 6 more hours to be told that I had fluid and most likely blood in my abdomen from an ovary follicle that failed to clot during my egg retrieval surgery, and now I needed more surgery to fix it. They thought the surgery would take 15 minutes. It took 2 hours. My sweet, precious husband was in a full panic mode waiting to find out anything. He said he was so desperate he asked a maintenance worker if he could find out what was going on in surgery. They removed 2 liters of blood from my abdomen. I could finally rest on my back and sit. It was glorious until a few hours later I was too weak to move at all. I am not sure which situation scared me more. I needed to decide if I would accept a blood transfusion. The people in my life who know me deeply know I am terrified of this. I have irrational fears of diseases and am also a control freak. I had to let go and trust because otherwise I would not be leaving the hospital anytime soon. The beautiful view out my hospital room window of the foothills, bright blue skies, and wide lanes where I could walk and run convinced me just as much as my father’s voice over the phone to embrace the transfusion. I left the next day.
My husband asked me if I thought God was punishing us for being greedy and wanting another child. That probably saddened me the most of anything we had gone through during this procedure. I do not think we were being punished. I, too, lost faith briefly, but looking back, I think a small gift was being in that room with the beautiful view. That was a small nudge to remind me what waited for me outside those walls. Life. Running. Hiking. My family. More time to depend on my body while I am young. And just maybe in a year or so, another baby. Maybe. Hopefully.
My brothers and I fought, a lot, as small siblings. My mom had a friend who was a psychologist and she told her to simply remove herself as an option the next time we were fighting. She followed the professional suggestion and locked herself in her room while the 3 of us argued over something. Apparently we knocked on her door asking for a referee and she told us to work it out ourselves. As the story goes, we stopped arguing, she heard a chair being dragged across the room, a phone being picked up and dialed and then a self righteous voice speaking. This is what she heard. “Hello Operator? My name is Katie Goeschel. My dad works at the hospital and I need you to call him. My mom locked herself in her room and won’t come out.” Enter sprinting mother and CLICK.
The tiny one needs a sibling. He needs a confidant who doesn’t have to go to his own house at night or follow a different set of rules. He needs a last option when no one else is available to play. He needs someone to teach him how to deal with confrontation and to side with him when parents are being unreasonable in his child mind. He needs a best friend and a best enemy (at times.) I may have fought with my brothers, but I cannot imagine a better life without them in it. I may or may not have been convinced one of them was a serial killer while he was going through puberty, but I am entertained and proud of the man he became.
We cannot make our own child without the help of science. We committed emotionally a while back to try in vitro fertilization again, and finally pulled the financial trigger last week. I thought I would share with anyone pondering this way of baby making, and anyone else who is curious, what the process entails as we go along. To anyone who has been told to “just relax” or “go on vacation and it will happen,” this is for you. There is nothing visually sexy or spontaneous about this. Oddly, I find it very sexy to watch my husband prepare my subcutaneous injections, but perhaps this is just me.
We ordered over $4000 worth of medications from one of the few labs who are able to provide. Everything shown in the picture is the medication that covers only 1 cycle of treatment.
Yes, it is that expensive, and yes it is mind blowing and kind of painful to stomach when most people just buy a good bottle of wine before making a baby, but it is worth it and I am grateful that there is an option that provides the lifelong joy of a child. They have to overnight the medications because some must be refrigerated. We met with our reproductive endocrinologist for an ultrasound to make sure I was physically sound to start the process this morning. Our doctor was very excited about my ovaries and I was absurdly peacocking around today because of it. It took about 30 minutes to review the medications and reteach us how to administer all of the medicine that will stimulate my ovaries into making LOTS of eggs. We have to inject the medication at the same time each day, and we chose 9:00 pm as our shot time because my husband thought he could be home by that time to administer the shots.
I choose not to give myself the shots for 2 reasons: I feel very connected to my husband when he gives me the shots, and they burn and make me queasy, so it is best if he does them. As the medication kicks in and the days continue, I will bloat as the eggs push against my abdomen, run out of non-used injection spots and bruise because of it and possibly become somewhat emotionally irrational as I have excess hormones running wild in my body. The emotional part did not happen last time, but I will no doubt blame any moodiness on it. I think this is fair. We have 1 day down and about 11 more to go before I undergo surgery to retrieve the eggs in hope of creating beautiful little embryos. Maybe it will work and our tiny T will have his own brother or sister, but maybe it will not.
Our doctor feels good about our chance of success and gave us a 50/50 chance. This is high in the world of ivf. It is not in our hands and we have accepted that whatever happens in this next year is ok. Our small boy is enough, but 1 more would make our cup overflow with joy.
My husband is out of town. I had the house to myself after the tiny one went to bed. I thought perhaps the complete freedom might be liberating, but honestly, I’m bored without my partner. I miss him. I decided to take a bath and as I took my hair down, I thought about how hideous it currently looks and I made the ugliest face I could contortion. I am not sure why, but I sometimes choose to do this. I prefer it when I can perform this for my husband. I adore his responses. He is slightly horrified by what I can conjure, particularly if I am inspired by either old school Rachel from Glee or my perception of zombies. I thought about this during my free time tonight and I thought maybe I should be concerned that this would eventually be a major repulsion for my husband. I immediately dismissed the thought. “Come on, he’s crazy about you” was my inner response. Then I realized that this is a gift my parents gave me long ago. I have never felt unloved by them. I have never doubted the family bond of my parents, my brothers, and myself and it has allowed me to feel security in my grown up family. This is not to say that I have not been allowed to blow around in the wind on my own, because I have, and I am also grateful for this. My parents knew me and trusted the relationship enough to let me flounder and succeed or fail as needed before swooping in to save the day. I am so happy, after the fact, that they did. Here is what shaped me:
My parents let me sing multiple verses of Santa Claus is coming to town to our congregation at church, in June, at age 3. (This led to me thinking teenage boys would like to hear me sing too, which was a very successful method of birth control. Sneaky parents.)
My parents allowed me to audition for everything and drove me to said auditions. If I failed, they talked with me but let me know that failure is part of life.
When I realized TCU’s music program was terrible for musical theater goals, they let me decide whether to stay or transfer. No judgment made. For the record, I made the wrong choice.
When I asked when we were all moving me to New York City, my mother said I had it wrong and I should buy a one-way ticket and figure out where to stay. I thought she was evil. In hindsight, she was both brave and brilliant.
When I could not figure out how to live in New York City, my parents did save the day and paid for my broker’s fee for the apartment. I paid the rent.
My dad drove me out to California to go back to school. I paid for school; he paid for all the insurance needed on my 26-year-old self. I got a 4.0 and the outstanding student award for my major. I needed to pay for school myself in order to achieve that.
Catching your child on every stumble can lead to an insecure child/adult, I have decided. I am learning how hard it is not to sprint over when someone pulls the tiny one’s hair, or he falls 4 inches and bruises his forehead, but learning disappointment at a young age is ok. I would rather that he be disappointed about being in his crib and learn to figure it out, than have an adult who is constantly disappointed about everything, without seeing how to make it ok internally. I want to raise a boy who is so confident about having been so loved and believed in that he was allowed to fall a little bit, knowing he could pick himself up. All of this rambling comes from one ugly face in the mirror. Come home soon Patrick.
There are needs and then there are wants. I count my blessings, when I run, that all of my needs are provided, along with many of my wants. I am still greedy. Here are my wants:
A new couch. Mine is repulsive.
An outdoor rug for my courtyard.
To live in a stronger school district for the tiny one.
In all honesty, I desperately want a Chloe handbag.
To win the lottery even though I don’t buy lottery tickets.
We just met with our fertility specialist who told us that we have roughly a 0% chance of having a child naturally. Suddenly, my wants change, and unfortunately they are wants.
A second child.
Another happy and HEALTHY tiny one.
More belly laughter from someone under 1-year-old.
More diapers to change.
More croup to keep me awake at night.
We have decided that there is another round of ivf left in us. There is another round of injections, potential surgeries, emotional hurt, financial (God awful) stress, and weight gain (forgive my vanity) in us to try. If you have not been through this, let me give you hope. It can work. I remember sitting in my doctor’s exam room, crying that I could take no more after having to cancel our second round of ivf in exchange for a second surgery. It takes you to the depths of despair, but I had an incredible partner to catch me in those moments. Surprising no one more than myself, every day I thank God for how hard it was to have this tiny bundle of joy. I am more patient because of our struggle to conceive him. I value each repulsive diaper because I wanted him so badly. I see beauty in a sleepless night at 4 a.m. because I so desperately wanted to rock my own child. Truthfully, the money we spent seems like a bargain because of what it gave me emotionally in return. I can only say this after the fact. Had it not worked, I would have been resentful of forgoing numerous glamorous vacations and Chloe handbags. The glorious side of today and not yesterday is the worst case scenario: if the tiny one is the only child we are graced with, he is enough. Enough joy, enough laughter, and enough love to share. He was our need.
I have been a parent for just over a year. The tiny one is 13 months today. I am not an expert; I have roughly 5% of the answers. I search the internet daily for answers or clues into certain things he does or does not do. I have been in molar and illness hell since August. (I love him madly whether he is a baby disaster or not, just to clarify.) I do not know what to do for him in these situations other than give him Motrin, sing, make funny voices, and read “Good Night Little Sea Otter” over and over until he is soothed.
I write today because I feel proud of a piece of advice I recently gave him. I felt it was wise and translated well throughout different phases of his life. The tiny one discovers body parts and becomes enthralled, entranced, and engaged with each part. He found his feet at 4 months and they are still hilarious to him. He recently found his penis, as all little boys do. Now, if his feet are amazing, this is clearly above amazing. I was changing his diaper the other day and said to him, “You only get one of those. Be gentle. Choose wisely.” Whether this is referring to the current manhandling, seeing if it can be shut into a door in a few years, or inappropriate choices as a 40-year-old (a girl can still dream as a mother), this is the best advice I can offer.
There are a couple of words/phrases that should simply never be uttered aloud. Keep this in mind as a preface.
I have worked in fashion/retail in some capacity for almost 15 years. I have experience with personal shopping, selling, event planning, hiring, training, management, and visual merchandising. I have taught students about the importance of creating a proper retail environment. I love it. I love working with a woman and watching her transformation from self doubt to self confidence. My greatest professional moment was working with cancer survivors for a fashion show and watching them strut the runway feeling sexy and womanly. This is good.
One time in my career, I was working with a very poised and proper lady and I needed to go grab some different pieces for her. I asked a colleague to check in on her for me. As I was returning to my customer, I overheard my colleague say, “Yes, those pants look great. They don’t give you camel toe or anything!” Camel.Toe. This is the most foul phrase. Why she chose not having camel toe as a selling point is beyond me. I gagged. I panicked. Would this customer put me in the same category as this other person I foolishly sent to her? Would she think I coached her on the proper usage of the phrase camel toe? Please make it stop. I later told this story over family dinner and it went in an entirely new direction when my dad did not know what that phrase meant, and my brother googled images of the phrase for him. Note, you can never unsee certain things….
I reference this story because I had to put my word loathing aside when I found the perfect pair of skinny jeans. They are by “Rich and Skinny”. I find “rich” an offensive and tacky word. The only time you should utter it is in regards to food or the saturation of a color. I have actually avoided this brand due to their name. Now that my ivf prep and baby weight is gone, I found myself in a delightful situation of needing smaller pants. My finances are not quite as delightful, so I headed to Nordstrom Rack. I found the Rich and Skinny Schoolboy Cuff jean marked to $59.97 from an original retail of $154. They are perfect because of the stretchy fabrication, but not so stretchy that they cling unnecessarily, mid rise, the dark wash, and the slightly loose calf. If you are a curvy girl, you do not want a skinny jean that says “legging” or “ultra skinny” unless you plan to wear them tucked into a boot. When a skinny jean is a little straighter, it is much more flattering, especially when paired with a dark wash. When I put these jeans on the first time, my husband asked me when I got so skinny. THAT is a phrase I can never hear too much!
I played T-ball when I was little. Eye/hand sports have never been my strong suit and T-ball was a slow starter for me. I wasn’t very interested in the defensive aspect of the game and spent a lot of time … Continue reading →
The tiny one and I have taken 2 roundtrips together. We have flown Southwest both times. The first flight was fairly dreamy. I carried the small bundle of love inside a Moby wrap. The bestie flew with me on the outbound flight because I was scared to fly alone. We had an entire row to ourselves and Teeny only cried when people eyeballed our middle seat. He was cute and sleepy the rest of the time. On the way home, it was the same. The first leg of the flight was so empty that most people had their own row. A woman across the aisle said she was moved by the way I looked at him. The biggest challenge I had was convincing the person in front of me that the gaseous, adult-like noises were not coming from me, but a 3 month old infant. That particular plane did not have a changing table in the bathroom. I thought that was rough. Little did I know….
We flew again when he was 5.5 months. I was not nearly as nervous. I felt I knew his behavior. I was a little worried about missing his afternoon nap, but he slept almost the entire time on the previous flight, so I assumed he would again. The first leg was challenging, but doable. We again flew Southwest and again no one wanted the middle seat. He fussed, but we walked the aisles and it was ok. He fell asleep 20 minutes before we landed. We sprinted for our gate and all hell broke loose. He was a complete and total mess for the next 1 and a half hours. I would like to say that when people boarded after us they saw a woman with large blue eyes and youthfully tousled hair, discreetly nursing a baby with just a hint of womanly cleavage showing. In all actuality, I had a crazed look in my eye with hair that could have housed beavers, and I would have offered my fully exposed teats to anyone who could make this baby stop screaming. He would not stop. He missed his nap. I took his clothes off because he’s a little nudie. I sang to him. I offered him a bottle. I walked the aisles with him and apologized to passengers. He.Would.Not.Stop.Screaming. The ‘dude’ (you fake hipster) in front of me kept turning and looking at me, and it certainly was not because he was interested in my still exposed breasts. I finally yelled that there was nothing I could do to make him stop crying. He did not turn around even once more. The kind, princess-of-the-air flight attendant came over when we had to buckle up and offered to walk with him. I burst into tears and sobbed the rest of the flight. She assured me over and over again that it was ok. She walked with my screaming mess and appeared to like him. I am certain she was the only one on the flight who did. She was an angel at that moment. The way back was not nearly as traumatic. The amazing, fabulous, professional flight attendants let us take our car seat on the flight, which helped immensely, and told me that mothers drink for free on their flight. I am flying back in a few weeks (with reinforcements) and I had no problem paying an extra $40 to fly Southwest*. Southwest, you are amazing and are a luxury for terrified mothers. I am yours….for life.
*I apologize in advance for any non-parents on my flight.