Sunday, March 10, 2013

Blessed, blessed, blessed.

I've been a bad blogger (again). My only real excuse is that I've been busy playing Candy Crush. Seriously. This is an addiction that can only be rivaled by the Great Spider Solitaire Addiction of 2006. I'll admit it. That is the first step, right?

Anyway, last Monday, March 4 was our big anatomy scan! I was beyond excited. Brandon and I flew to Dallas and then drove to Wichita Falls on Sunday. Monday morning, we met Ivy for breakfast at IHOP and then a tour of labor and delivery at the hospital. For the most part, everything was great with that. The staff was really nice, even if mostly ignorant of the surrogacy process. I think they will do their best to accomodate us and I actually feel much better after meeting with them. I think I speak for Ivy and myself when I say that July can't get here soon enough! We cannot wait for delivery day and all the amazing, amazing feelings that come with that!

Then, we were off to Ivy's doctor's office for the scan. Everything looked perfect! Two sweet hands with adorable fingers, two sweet feet with tiny toes, a gorgeous beating heart, stomach, kidneys, brain...all perfect. And...the anticipation of the gender reveal...we are having a GIRL!!! I still can't believe it! Each time we refer to her as, well, a "her" or "she" I have to take a moment to realize it's all real. We would have been thrilled with a boy or girl and really, truly just wanted a healthy baby. It has been so long since we've had a little girl though (Aubrey will be 13 in May!) and we are so excited with the newness of it. I'm also thrilled that Aubrey will have a sister (she is too, bursting into tears when she found out). And, I'm happy Blaine and Abram will have a little sister to love and protect. It's just wonderful.

And, because no post is complete without pictures, here are some jewels...

Introducing...Miss July (her nickname given by my 90 year old grandmother). She has a real name but I'm not quite ready to announce it :)

Ivy at 18 weeks! Isn't she adorable!?
We did gender reveal cupcakes for our older children and a few friends. Abram was in heaven! 


Brandon and I celebrating our second little girl!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Monday, I flew to Dallas, rented a car, and drove 2.5 hours to Wichita Falls, TX. We are planning for Ivy to deliver the baby there because it is the closest major hospital across the TX line from her (she's in OK). We need to deliver in TX from a legal standpoint. It was her first appointment with her new OB and they did an ultrasound. Here is our sweet one...

I don't care how long I live and how many prenatal ultrasounds I see...they will always amaze me. Ivy is now 12 weeks along and baby is measuring 12 weeks 2 days. Heart was pounding away at 169bpm and looked perfect. The nuchal fold looked great. We saw the chambers of the brain and even fingers :) It was so amazing to watch that screen. I was just overwhelmed with thankfulness. 

Then today, Blaine came home from school and told me that he was given an assignment to write an essay about a person who changed his life. He chose to write about his little brother, Abram. I cannot really describe what hearing that felt like. Sure, they fight like cats and dogs and have all the normal sibling angst, but at the root of it all even Blaine knows how fortunate we are to have Abram in our lives. 

Too often I go through my day to day and don't reflect on what our journey has been like since I lost my ability to carry children. When, Blaine was born, Aubrey was 14 months old. My sole focus was survival and any spare minute of sleep I could find. I was not thankful. I loved my children, but seriously, I was not thankful. Brandon and I both made a conscious decision to cherish every moment with Abram and enjoy him...something we didn't do with our first two. With all that infertility and April 24, 2004 took from me, it gave me something far greater...thankfulness. I now know what it's like to long for a child and dream every night for years of their face. The longing and aching for a little head to smell. I don't know if I would have ever gotten to that place had I not been forced there. I know it could have happened; I just don't think it would have. I don't know if my older children would have gotten to that place either. They have something their friends don't: a greater appreciation for their younger brother, an understanding of the trials we sometimes have to walk through to get something far greater than we could have imagined. They have learned much younger than most that sometimes in life you have to make sacrifices, pray really hard, and be willing to do whatever it takes to see your dream come to life. And, for that, aaallllll that, I am thankful. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Beginnings

Happy New Year (from the worst blogger on the face of the Earth)! So much has happened since my last post. I was so tied up with Christmas and family that blogging became last on the list. So, here's my attempt at a catch up.

Ivy, my Brandon, and I met in Dallas on December 11 for the ultrasound. Here's what we saw...

One absolutely beautiful, exactly on target at 7 weeks 1 day, baby with a heart rate of 144bpm. There really is nothing like that sight. Overjoyed is the only word to even come close to the emotions we were all feeling. Dr. E. said the bleed looked to be just about gone and he felt the pregnancy was very stable. Music to our ears! He released Ivy to her OB's care and told her to quit her medications at 11 weeks. We exchanged lots of hugs with the staff at ARCC and said our see-you-in-a-couple-years (remember, we have two frozen maybe babies there). It was a wonderful day.

So, here we are. Ivy is 10 weeks 1 day today and still feeling pretty green (Zofran has helped a ton). She has 6 more days of the crazy med regimen she's been on for months and her first OB appointment is January 14, 12 weeks, for an ultrasound and meeting with a Nurse Practitioner. I am going to fly up to Dallas and then drive the rest of the way to Wichita Falls to be there for that. I cannot wait to see how our baby has grown! Our official due date is July 29. I cannot wait!

Ivy came to visit us in Houston for the first time last weekend. We had a great time! Friday night we had a get together with some of our surrogacy friends. It was so much fun. Then Saturday, Ivy and I went shopping at a large outlet mall here. It was so fun to watch her try on maternity clothes and we just enjoyed the time together. 

Saturday night, Ivy, my Brandon, Kelly, and I went to the Rockets/Thunder game. I am a huge Rockets fan and Ivy loves the Thunder. Talk about a blast (even if the Rockets lost)! Kelly and I took this picture while in Las Vegas in August...
We recently decided that we will try to recreate this picture everywhere we go. Here we are at the Rockets/76ers game on December 19. We decided this on the fly and obviously forgot what the original picture looked like...
And, then the Rockets/Thunder game on December 29. This time we added Ivy to the middle in her James Harden beard (if you don't get that, you are not an NBA fan). I cannot even describe how hard we laughed. Even if no one else thinks we are hysterically funny, we do so it's okay.
I love, love, love my Kelly and Ivy!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Life on the Rollercoaster

Maybe that's what I need to change my blog name to. I keep hoping eventually the rollercoaster will stop and let me off though. One of these days...

Well, our first ultrasound was November 1. We have about a 4 hour drive to Irving and Ivy has a little over a 3 hour drive. On our way there, she and I were talking. We both said we'd be absolutely shocked if we saw two little ones, considering her beta numbers. When we got to the clinic, they took us straight back. Dr. E and our nurse, T, were equally excited as us, I think. Ivy laid on the table and T began. It seemed like an eternity before we saw anything but I'm sure it was only a few seconds. Then, into view was one perfect gestational sac and a yolk sac within it, exactly what you want to see at 5 weeks 4 days! Ivy looked at me and said "One baby, Heather!" Dr. E immediately said "I think you're speaking too soon. We still have half your uterus to check out!" Just then, T shifted the ultrasound wand slightly and into view...a second sac!!! Dr. E said "See! I told you!" Ivy's reaction was hilarious. I'm sure mine was just as funny. I jumped out of my chair and got as close to the screen as I could. I could not believe my eyes. With a better look, Dr. E explained that the second sac was not as well defined and was slightly smaller. He said there was no way to know whether it was a twin in the process of catching up, a twin in the process of vanishing, or a dreaded SCH (sub chorionic hematoma= a blood pocket very common in IVF pregnancies). Looking at the embryos, one was smaller than the other. Looking at the betas, from one to two did not double. From two to three it more than doubled. A twin in the process of catching up makes the most sense. After the initial shock, we all believed we had two babies. We scheduled a follow up ultrasound to check heartbeats for Dec. 14, 7 weeks 4 days.

Ivy has had the normal 1st trimester exhaustion and a little more than normal nausea and vomiting. Dr. E called her out something to help her keep her food where it belongs and things were getting better. Then came Friday. I'll save everyone the details but it involved a LOT of blood with absolutely no warning. She pulled herself together and called the nurse. After a million questions, the nurse said it sounded like a textbook SCH. Even knowing these things are common does not help. Ivy's had some bleeding off and on since but nothing like that initial bleed. Thank God! In light of that, our second ultrasound has been moved up to tomorrow, the 11th. We are expecting that the second sac we saw on the 30th was actually the bleed and are all praying for a healthy baby and heartbeat tomorrow.

I have a peace I really can't explain...the peace that surpasses understanding. In August when we found out we were not pregnant, Brandon wrote an email to his family telling them the news. In it he said, "We don't understand why we felt so strongly that we were to go down this road only to have it fail." My heart was in a million pieces and those words summed it up. Four months later, I feel like God has revealed one of the answers to me. Ivy and I have known each other for four years online: surrogacy support boards, facebook, email. We matched for this journey at the end of May. I've felt I've known her for the last four years but the way our relationship has grown in the last four months is remarkable. She is one of my closest friends and we talk and text about all kinds of things. Of course, I wish we would have gotten pregnant in August, but in light of everything, I'm so thankful for the extra time to get to know Ivy better. It really is a sweet, sweet relationship that I cherish. Coming to terms with losing the ability to carry your own child is not easy and entrusting someone else to do it is not something everyone can do. The friendship that goes so far beyond this life that I have with Dawn and now, Ivy, is such gift though. I am thankful.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Beta Catch Up

I have been a horrible blogger. I've been on an emotional rollercoaster, have one really sick kiddo, and there was Thanksgiving in there too. Those are my excuses anyway :)

So, to catch up, our first beta at 9dp5dt was 59. Pregnant! Then, there was the beta 48 hours later at 11dp5dt, 107. Betas should double every 48 hours although the acceptable window is 48-72 hours. We made that but it was still enough to give us all pause. I'm not going to lie, when the nurse called and told me the number, I burst into tears. I was terrified we were losing the baby or it was a chemical pregnancy. We started out a little low and then to have it not double...well, it was scary. We decided to do one more beta another 48 hours later to see what was happening, and drumroll please...we needed 214...we got...290!!! So, our doubling time between beta 1 and beta 2 was about 55 hours. Doubling time between beta 2 and beta 3 was only 33 hours! And, if you cut out that middle beta and look at an overall doubling time between beta 1 and beta 3, we're down to just under 42 hours! We all breathed a major sigh of relief with that one!

So, Ivy's hpts continue to get darker and we have our first ultrasound this Friday at 5 weeks 4 days. We are all so excited to see who is in there! Whoohoo!

Friday, November 16, 2012


what one day and a ton of prayer can do...
If you can see that second line, congratulations, your eyes are good! This was taken this morning, 5.75dp5dt and it means one thing...


Ivy's been getting faint positives now since 3.5dp5dt but they were too light to even photograph, much less make us comfortable. With this one, we all agreed it's time to call it. Of course, we are still very anxious for beta on Monday, but this is definite reassurance that we've got someone snuggling in! Thank you to all of you who prayed for us. God is so good! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oh, the perils of the 2ww...

I've struggled with what to write or if I should write at all. I promised transparency though, for myself and anyone who is following along. Know that we cherish every kind word, every prayer, thought, text message, email, etc. It's just hard to figure out how to respond when we don't have an answer. We were hoping, praying, wishing for a clear positive much earlier than was probably realistic (but it does happen) and we passed that on to everyone in our lives. My mistake, completely. The truth is that, despite all my optimism, IVF is a terribly complicated process and the 2ww is pure torture. It is in no way guaranteed, even when the doctor gives you a 70% chance. There is also high incidence of what is called a "chemical pregnancy" in IVF. I had never even heard of a chemical until I entered the world of surrogacy. In August, we experienced it and it is one of the cruelest jokes that can be played. Pregnancy tests will show positive and then become negative again or they just don't darken, indicating no rise or a very slow rise in hcg (hcg should rise very quickly in early pregnancy). This is an indicator that something tried to happen and then didn't develop for whatever reason and it is heartbreaking. You see those first faint lines and allow yourself to get excited only to have them fade away. Terrible.

With that said, Ivy has been seeing those familiar, super faint lines for a day or so now. This is exactly what we were praying to avoid. We know we are still very early but it is nearly impossible not to let past experience taint expectations. So, please, please, please, friend, family member, random person finding my blog on the internet, pray that those lines darken up quickly and this is a viable pregnancy. Thank you all and we'll update when we have news. At the latest, beta blood test is Monday.