Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Monkey's First Day of Preschool

So much to say, and so much has happened since I last blogged…but I think this list to remember Monkey's first day of preschool is a perfect post for now. Last night, Monkey and I snuggled before bedtime, and we had a conversation about his favorites. It was slow at first, getting him to talk, but once we started, he wouldn't stop. When I told him we had one more minute of snuggling, he resisted because he wanted to talk now. I would ask him a question, and he would put both hands up to his face, say "Hmmm," and think carefully about his response. It was definitely a perfect moment.
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Monday, June 3, 2013

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

May was a beautiful month here in Maryland. It seems like so often around here, the weather changes from winter to summer so quickly, and we are plunged right into the hot, humid stickiness.  It was refreshing to have a true spring season this year.

Last year, we were members of the National Zoo in DC, and while it's a great zoo, it's always such a trip to get down there, with the traffic and the 45 minute, minimum drive.  It always makes for tricky timing, particularly with naps, as a 45-60 minute ride home isn't long enough for Monkey to nap, and yet it also is too long to make it home without him falling asleep.  Moose is still a little easier, as he can nap on the go, in the carrier or stroller.  But still, we appreciate our free time during nap time, and making it home from DC in time for nap is always difficult.

So, we became members of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore this year, and already, it's been great.  It's only 30 minutes to get there, and the traffic is nowhere near as bad.  There are plenty of animals, they have a great Children's Zoo section, and it doesn't seem to be as crowded yet.  We'll probably still alternate every once in awhile, but for now, the Maryland Zoo is definitely better for us.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lunch Underway

The boys are eating lunch, while we are out for a sail on a beautiful spring day. I love that they have the same expression in this photo!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Story on Choice: Reproductive Choice is About Infertility

Today is Blog for Choice Day, and the charge for bloggers is to share our stories on choice:

It’s our personal stories that change hearts and minds about the importance of always protecting a woman’s right to choose. That’s why this year we’re asking you to share your story about why you’re pro-choice.

My story on choice revolves not around abortion, but rather, infertility, as you may have guessed, if you are one of my regular readers, or you've noticed my blog description.  I have a hormonal imbalance called polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS.  For me, this means I don't ovulate, and I just about never get my period without medicine to induce it. This may seem pretty obvious, but if you don't ovulate, you can't get pregnant. 

When it came time for my husband, J, and our to begin building our family, we already knew we'd need medical assistance because I already had my diagnosis and knew I didn't ovulate.  I started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist (RE), and I began fertility treatments.

I like to explain fertility treatments in three tiers.  Depending on your diagnosis, you'll start somewhere in one of these tiers.

Tier 1 is oral medication--Clomid or Femara-- and varying level of observation, perhaps a few vaginal ultrasounds and some bloodwork, maybe a trigger shot of hormones to induce ovulation once a follicle (hopefully containing an egg) or two has matured, and either timed intercourse (TI) or intrauterine insemination (IUI, a fairly simple procedure where a catheter is used to insert sperm into the uterus).  You get to try this a few times, maybe up to 6 cycles.

Tier 2 is injections to stimulate follicles--Gonal-H, Follistim, or any number of other follicle stimulating hormones (FSH)--and much more intense observation including vaginal ultrasounds and bloodwork just about every other day until a trigger shot induces ovulation, followed again by either TI or IUI.  Monitoring is stepped up on this tier because FSH can be pretty powerful, and there's the risk of high order multiples if you develop too many follicles, containing too many eggs.

Tier 3 is in vitro fertilization, or IVF.  This is the mack daddy of fertility treatments, and while there are varying degrees of IVF, depending on if you use your own eggs and sperm, or if you use donor gametes, or if you go the route of gestational carriers, or surrogacy.  With IVF, you again use FSH to stimulate follicles, and you again go through intense monitoring, every other day, and sometimes daily.  Again, there's a trigger shot, but this time, the timing is critical because next comes a surgical procedure--egg retrieval or ER--where a needle is inserted through the vaginal wall to retrieve the eggs, before they ovulate.  Then you wait while sperm are either mixed with or injected (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, ICSI) into the eggs in a lab, and then they are cultivated to grow for 3 to 5 days.  Ideally, they develop into beautiful blastocycsts, and then comes the embryo transfer (ET), where a catheter is used in a relatively simple procedure to inject the embryo(s) or blast(s) into the uterus.

This may all sound pretty complex to the uninitiated, or the Fertiles.  But to me, this has been my life.  I went through all three tiers, over the course of 13 months, in order to conceive my first son.  I got lucky and got to go straight to IVF the second time, and I was again lucky to conceive my second son on my second round of IVF.

And I had choice each step of the way.  I got to choose the level of medical intervention.  I consulted with my RE, and she made the recommendations best suited for my medical condition and how my body was (or wasn't) responding to treatment.  Sometimes, I also had to deal with insurance because I couldn't get approval for the legitimate medical procedures needed for my valid diagnosis, but that's a whole other story...

My point is, I made the choices.  My husband and I together discussed our options, taking in the information from our doctor, and we were able to build our family using the best medical technology available to us.  We didn't have to worry about laws restricting us regarding the creation or disposal of our embryos.  We didn't have to consult legislation regarding how many blastocysts it would be appropriate to transfer.  We followed the sound medical advice of our doctor and made the choices that were best for us, our family, and my body.

I'm always astounded when infertiles aren't pro-choice.  I don't get it.  Being pro-choice is about supporting reproductive rights, reproductive freedom.  I've never had to face the decision of an abortion, but I have had to face the decision of fertility treatment, and I will forever and always be pro-choice because I personally know how important it is to have choice.

Some infertiles say being infertile has made them anti-choice.  Once they want a baby that badly, and they struggle through fertility treatments or pursuing adoption, they say they can't understand abortion because they want a baby, and they'd adopt that baby....and so on...Yea, okay, but if you understand the magnitude of your or your partner's medical diagnosis, or the biological reality for lesbian and gay couples, and your need to either pursue fertility treatments or adoption, then the matter of choice should be so incredibly important to you, I believe.  You may not have gotten to choose your medical diagnosis, but you get to choose how you build your family...and you wouldn't have wanted that to be legislated for you, I would imagine.

And then the personhood laws or the arguments about emergency contraception just kill me.  Any infertile knows you aren't pregnant until an egg is fertilized AND implants in the uterine lining.  Implantation is oh-so-important to infertiles.  We joke about being PUPO, or pregnant until proven otherwise, but really, that's just being hopeful and thinking positively.  After IVF, when I lay on bed rest, desperately hoping for the blast transferred into my uterus to implant, yes I did have a fertilized egg--even more than that, I had a blastocyst-inside of me.  But I certainly wasn't pregnant.  

And I have 3 embryos cryopreserved.  But we're done building our family.  And so we've signed the paperwork to dispose of those embryos.  We've made that choice...again, choice.  Those embryos aren't people.  They have the potential to become people, but they aren't people.  And my husband I alone get to make the choice about what to do with those embryos.

Today, on Blog for Choice day, I celebrate reproductive choice.  It goes so far beyond abortion, to decisions regarding family--family building and family planning.  And those are choices only individuals and couples can make.  I will fight for those choices to be forever within the individual control.  

Being pro-choice means being supportive of making your own choices about your body, your future, your life, your family, and no government should be able to legislate that.  It's far too personal, far too powerful, far too important to be legislated, other than to have legislation to protect that freedom.  

I will forever be pro-child, pro-family, pro-choice.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Heads Up on Blog for Choice Day

January 22, 2013 is Blog for Choice day.  I plan to post, and I wanted to share, in case you were interested, too.  Reproductive freedom is a major and crucial part of infertility treatment.

From the site, on why it's important to blog for choice:

It’s our personal stories that change hearts and minds about the importance of always protecting a woman’s right to choose. That’s why this year we’re asking you to share your story about why you’re pro-choice.

I hope you'll join to share your story and why reproductive freedom is important to you!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Saying Good-Bye to Santa and Rudolph

We said good-bye to our stuffed Santa and Rudolph this morning.  Yesterday, Monkey helped me take down the tree and the rest of the Christmas decorations.  (I knew that if I didn't do it now, it'd be another month, and I hate dreading the take down.)  We talked a lot about the holiday, and how it was over, and how Monkey should play with Santa and Rudolph for one more day, and sleep with them for one more night, and then it'd be time to put them away.

He made good use of his last day, playing sleigh, loading it up with presents, and saying "Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas to all."  Santa got hurt going down the chimney, but Monkey gave him a bandaid.  I keep saying this, but I'm just amazed by the imaginative play.

Monkey wanted to know what was coming next--"Halloween?"  He asked if we'd get more pumpkins. We told him the next holiday would be J's birthday, so that was exciting for him.  I asked him what we should do, and he said we needed candles.  Of course, that means for the next two weeks, we'll be talking about baking a cake and singing "Happy Birthday," but it helps for him to look past Christmas.  I just love how much he embraced the holidays this year...I'm looking forward to next year, too.  The poor kid wanted to know when his birthday would be, but with 5 more months till he turns 3 (crazy!!), that's way too long for him to grasp.

Then, this morning, I let Monkey have the extra special treat of coming up to the attic with me, so he could put Santa and Rudolph away.  He always wants to know what's up there when I pull down the ladder, so he was more interested in looking around than in saying goodbye to Santa and Rudolph.  He gave them a few final kisses and hugs, and then he was all set to say good bye.  Later, he found the ribbon "harness" he'd been using and told me that needed to go away in the attic, too.

It all seems to be successful, but we'll see how it goes tonight when I pick him up from daycare!  At least there will still be Christmas lights around to look at on the drive home, though of course, those will be soon disappearing, too.


Totally random digression, but I just wanted to capture it here: we went to see a holiday lights display, and Monkey starts yelling excitedly about the "crack-a-nuts."  I can't figure out what he's talking about until I see the toy soldiers and finally realize he means "nutcracker."

He also still calls an octopus "opposite" and a granola bar is an "oll-gi-bar."  I love these mix ups...I know soon enough they'll fade away, just like "yo yo" (yogurt) and "toe" (toast) faded.


And finally, a Moose update: he's been sick with bronchiolitis :(  Friday night, we went into a pediatric urgent care center because he was wheezing a lot.  They gave him three back-to-back nebulizer treatments and started him on a dose of steroids.  He tested negative for RSV though, and no pneumonia or ear infection or flu.  We've been doing the neb every 4-6 hours since then.  Monday the symptoms seemed to peak, with a slight fever in the early AM, but we were headed back to the doctor for a follow-up anyway.  Basically, nothing new had happened, and we just need to keep doing what we're doing.  He is certainly the happiest sick baby I've ever seen though--nothing seems to bother him.  He isn't even waking that much more--3 times a night as opposed to 2, which happens on our good nights.  (We do still have lots of bad nights with more frequent wakings.)  Sometimes, though, he's harder to transition back down, but that's all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Crafts

Monkey and I had some fun making Christmas crafts.  Pinterest is pretty great for searching for ideas.  I figured handrpint ornaments would be appropriate for a 2.5 year old, and they turned out pretty well.

I found a spiced salt dough recipe online, and I'd say making the dough was Monkey's favorite part.  The dough still smells really good, though the ornaments did puff up a bit.  I found conflicting advice on cooking them, and I should have cooked them at a lower temperature over a longer period of time.  Around 200 for at least an hour probably would have been better.

I thought Monkey would enjoy the painting part, but after a few strokes, he was done and it was up to me to paint the rest of them.  He did get a kick out of the handprints becoming reindeer, though, of course, anything reindeer this year is a big hit.

He was also very good for the handprints, being patient while I painted his hand, then being still while we placed his hand on the ornaments.  Moose, on the other hand, well it was definitely a challenge getting him to spread out his hand.

We wrapped up the ornaments as presents for our family, and Monkey also had fun with that process.

My other "craft" was making a train table for Monkey's big train set gift.  We had a coffee table up in the attic that we weren't using anymore, as we'd needed the floor space for toys.  Instead of buying a specific train table, we just brought that back down, and then I stapled brown felt onto it.  This way, my table is protected, and he has a good surface for playing trains, without having to have them spread out all over my floor all the time.  And, we didn't need yet another piece of toy/furniture!

I can definitely say, having a toddler who is excited about Christmas does make the season last longer, and it is certainly more fun!  I think he'll be disappointed though, once the tree is down, and his Santa and reindeer stuffed animals are put away!  He has already been asking about his elf on the shelf, Max.