Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On Track

We are only about a week away from what I'm now calling the Big Day.  Embryo transfer day!

I'm amazingly blasé  about the whole process.  I don't have the slightest clue what the embryo transfer process is - I don't even know if I'll be conscious or not during the procedure.  This is very unlike me to not have researched the whole thing to death.  I guess I just trust the clinic enough that I don't feel I have to micromanage the doctors, and it's not like childbirth, where there are a lot of choices I have to prepare for.  I'm just going to do what they tell me and take it a day at a time.

But speaking of choices, there is one decision that we've made.  Assuming there are at least two viable embryos, we will transfer two.  It turns out that all the statistics that I've been given on success rates are based on transferring two embryos.  It's standard operating procedure to do two.  Statistically, we then have a 70% chance of getting pregnant, and a 40% of getting pregnant with twins.  Of course, the numbers are lower for a successful live birth, and it's very common to become pregnant with twins but to lose one of them early on.

But Adam and I do have to prepare ourselves for the idea of twins.  It's not what we would choose, but we're both okay with it if it happens.  Actually, I would love to have two more children.  It's only the pain of the first year or so that I would hate.  And if history is any guide, I'm probably going to hate the first year anyway.

Medically, the process has been much more mundane than I had expected.  I went off the birth control pills about two weeks ago and had the worst bout of PMS ever, but it passed.  I'm still doing the Lupron shots every day, but at a lower dose.  Now I've added Estrace, a form of estrogen.  I've had an ultrasound and two blood tests in the past couple of weeks.  Again, no big deal. The monitoring is to adjust my meds if necessary, but so far I've stayed on the standard dosages, which is reassuring.

The clinic calls me every couple of days with a report on mine or my donor's status.  She is also proceeding as expected.  Today I received a call telling me that she has between 15 and 19 small follicles growing.  Those are the potential eggs!  She'll have another check up on Friday and I believe that they will then schedule the retrieval for a few days later, which means getting those eggs out and into the petri dish.  For her, that's the end of the line.

I have a check up on New Year's Day which will include another ultrasound.  When they do the retrieval, I have to start progesterone (those are the nasty injections with the big needle), antibiotics, and, of course, Adam will have to make his contribution.  I also have to have yet another ultrasound on retrieval day.  Then, three to five days later, is the Big Day.

I'm working hard not to get too excited about this.  It's not easy, because I do think I have good reason to be optimistic.  But even if we do achieve pregnancy, there's still a long wait before I'll feel like we're really on the road to having a baby.  Our success rate with natural pregnancies is only 17%.  Getting pregnant is just a prerequisite.  Getting past eight weeks is the major hurdle, since that's where the last four have gone wrong.  But then there's the twelve-week mark, when the miscarriage rate really drops, and the twenty-week ultrasound, which is when we found out that our first pregnancy was going wrong.  I really hope that a younger someone's eggs will solve all of those problems, but I'll probably have a hard time feeling secure until I have a healthy baby in my arms.  Can you blame me?

Despite my conscious effort not to think too much about the uncertainties ahead, my subconscious is busy.  Last night I dreamed that I had a son but that I couldn't recognize his face, and I kept forgetting to pick him up from school.  A separate dream last night was about having twins.  But mostly, I notice that I'm highly cognizant of the awesomeness that is Samantha.  Sometimes that means that I worry that a baby without my own genes won't be as special to me, and sometimes it means that I desperately want any baby at all.  But one way or another, I have Sammy, and that's what I'm trying to focus on now.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Loot

Okay, I'm officially one of "those parents" who buy way too many toys for their kids.  We didn't get Sam anything extravagant, but she got so many different things for Christmas, even after we had to postpone the ant farm due to the mail-order ants being DOA.  We don't have a lot of relatives, so there were only gifts from five people/couples besides Santa and Mommy and Daddy.  But all of those people went as hog-wild as we did, especially Aunt B., who is responsible for almost all of the musical gifts.

The rest of this post is mostly for the relatives to enjoy, but if you're going to watch any of the videos, try the last one with the race track, because there's nothing cuter than a 4-year-old girl saying "munch out" over and over.

Here is the tree right after Santa left.  (Toby gets tired just watching all of that hard work!)

Sam opened every single present on Christmas Day, unlike last year.  She did take eight hours to do it, with a break for a bath, and that ended up creating a wonderful, relaxing day for all of us.  Although what's up with the high quality wrapping paper that is impossible to rip?  We couldn't understand why Sam kept asking for help opening the gifts until we tried it for ourselves.  Here she is needing some help:

I didn't have Christmas-present-unwrapping-angst at all like I did last year, either.  Sitting next to Sam and immediately making separate piles for trash, toys, and owners manuals solved that problem.

Here is what Sam got for Christmas:


  • A tambourine

  • A chimalong (which is like a little xylophone, with real metal tubes)

  • Finger cymbals

  • A real, working miniature accordion

  • A real ukulele

  • Two sets of jingle bells

  • A harmonica

  • A drum

  • A "cat and canary" whistle (which was a huge hit)

  • An awesome set of bells

  • A foam, step-on piano mat (kind of like from the movie Big)

Books and Crafts

  • Books:  Can You Hear It? (A book with music CD), The Secret Garden (audiobook), My Oh My A Butterfly, Olivia Goes to Venice, Angelina Ballerina, Lily's Purple Plastic Purse, Mariette on the High Wire

  • Two workbooks (tracing and numbers)

  • New York City calendar

  • Disney Princess coloring book/calendar

Stocking Stuffers

  • Blob gel (you know, just some slimy stuff in a jar)

  • Pinwheel pen

  • Bubble bath

  • Lip gloss

  • An indescribable little monster thing that you squeeze and its eyes bug out

  • Silly bandz

  • Kaleidoscope

  • Instant snow in a can

  • One of those plastic wiggly things with all the spikes sticking out of it - if you're a parent, you know what I'm talking about.  Sam has wanted one of these things for ages. Here she is dancing with it:


  • A few outfits

  • Barrettes

  • 3 pairs of socks

  • A scarf (her first one)

  • An adorable hat


  • A small, real pot (which I just pulled out of my kitchen cabinet and wrapped up) because "I want to cook with mommy"

  • A set of wooden magnetic dress up dolls

  • Mr. Potato Head

  • Popsicle molds (a particular type that she wanted)

  • Foam puzzle of the world

  • 3 Christmas ornaments

  • A butterfly garden (the kind where you grow real butterflies)

  • Magic wand

  • A wooden frog that you put together

  • A chia-pet type thing

  • A penguin that poops out candy (another hit!)

  • Princess note cards

  • A racetrack set (this was the "big" present from Santa)

All that stuff seems crazy!  Did we all get this much stuff for Christmas when we were children?  Well, Adam didn't.  He was raised in a Jewish household.  He's a kid at heart, and since he never had Christmas before, I think he's enjoying it more than any of us.  But we've all been having a blast for the past few days, just playing with toys, including my iPad from Adam.  Yay for Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

This Year's Jewish Christmas Dinner

It's time for Jewish Christmas dinner!

I'm spending most of the day cooking today.  It's something I look forward to about Christmas.  Most of the food is really simple, but somehow, it's all very time-consuming.  But as long as I have some Christmas tunes on, and as long as I have a plan, it's kind of like a vacation.
"Mommy, I need help cutting this foam heart into teeny tiny pieces!"

"Go ask Daddy - I'm cooking."

"Honey, where is the doo-dad that you never, ever use, but which I can never, ever find?"

"I don't know but I can't help you - I'm cooking."


"Adam, the cat is hungry and I'm cooking."


"Adam, the dog needs to go out and I'm cooking."

Ahhhh, paradise.

Again, I'm making matzo ball soup as a kind of appetizer.  I'll use real schmaltz again this year, but I'll prepare it this way, which looks like fun!

The website with the schmaltz preparation also includes a couple of ideas for what to do with it.  I can't resist trying the salt and pepper kugel.  My understanding is that kugel is basically egg noodles - yuk.  But this recipe calls for schmaltz and chicken livers.  I'll do this instead of the potato latkes.  When Adam heard about this plan he said, "Not only do you disappoint me with no latkes but you add insult to injury and you're going to serve me LIVER?  Ack!" I might have to ask Santa to bring him an extra present this year to make up for this offense!

The main dish will be brisket again, but this time I'll try Mark Sisson's recipe. How can I not, after reading Kelly's description of it?

Finally, I'll try this winter squash recipe. I hope it's not as bland as the broccoli casserole I made last year.  I don't know what it is about Jewish food, but it's all beige, and it's all bland.

And so I'm off to the kitchen!   Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dance Recital

Sam had her first dance recital last weekend.  Her first words to her dad afterward were, "I did it!"  She has reason to be proud - it's not easy for her to deal with a room full of a dozen people, let alone hundreds.  And not only did she get up there and dance - she had fun doing it, as you can see in the video, especially at 2:20.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Too Much Time on the Computer?

Sam and I were doing laundry and I asked her to unload the dryer while I pulled the line-dry stuff out of the washer.  She removed each article of clothing individually, dropping them in the hamper and saying each time, "Drag and drop. Drag and drop."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Little Thing

"Mommy, how old are you?"


"Wow. That's a lot.  I'm not going to be forty until...until...until I'm older."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Little Thing

Sam's very favorite thing to do at school is phonograms, and it shows.  Today, she read the word "enjoy."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Miscellaneous Update

I feel like I MUST get a blog post up today, but it's impossible to come up with a coherent subject lately.  I figure that by giving this a title of "Miscellaneous Update," I'll feel less pressure to have any kind of theme.  So here it goes:

  • I've now done four injections of Lupron.  It's easy as pie and doesn't hurt a bit.  The first one was stressful in exactly the way I expected:  I felt uncertain that I was getting the dosage right and getting rid of air bubbles and all of that.  But after the first time, it's been no problem.  Sam keeps asking to watch and I'd totally let her except that I keep forgetting.  But doing it with her around is not the big issue that I had feared.

  • We had Family Movie Night on Saturday and watched some weird Rudolph spin-off - something about the Lost Isle of Toys.  I really disliked it.  The music was bland and the story was preachy.  We're getting our classic Rudolph from Netflix later this week!

  • Today or tomorrow, I swear, I'm going to start planning my Jewish Christmas dinner.  We're having one or two guests, and it will be simple in every way except that I'll cook for two days.  I love it!

  • Our Italy plans are slowly progressing.  I booked the airline tickets last week.  I still haven't booked hotels, though.  Everything is turning out to be more complicated than I had anticipated.  Prices are higher, there were less flights to choose from, etc.  But now that the flight is booked I have a sense that THIS REALLY IS GOING TO HAPPEN.  Woohoo!

  • We're working on refinancing our house and it is also turning out to be much more complicated than I had anticipated.  Did you know that a large check might take up to ten business days to clear?  I suspect this is a new phenomenon due to post 9.11 financial regulations (or maybe other new regulations).  My bank told me that it has not always taken that long.  I planned things around certain timing and now the whole thing might fail because of this.  Regulations - arg!

  • I still have tons of Christmas shopping to do.  In fact, I must leave right now to do exactly that.  Bye!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Little Thing

Adam:  So what do you think, Sam - should I grow a beard?

Amy:  He'd look like grandpa.

Sam [in the saddest, cutest, little-girl voice you can imagine]:  No, daddy. Don't grow a beard, because then you'd look like grandpa and I'd never see you again.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Christmas Package

I've been working really hard at not getting too excited about this donor egg thing.  I've tried not to think too much about the process or the possible result, because I've already done the thinking and made my decision.

But now I'm getting excited.  And nervous.  I received the following email this morning from my buddy K. at the clinic:

Good morning!  Just wanted to remind you that your Lupron injections will start tomorrow morning.  You will need to inject 10 units each morning.

Also, please continue your active birth control pills until 12/17.  Take your last active pill that day.

Your baseline appt will be on Wednesday, 12/22.  What time would you like to come in for this between 7am and 9am?

And so it begins.

My Lupron injections are self-administered, which seems scary, but I don't think it's going to be such a big deal.  The hardest part might be doing it at the same time each day, and managing that with Sam around.  I have to do some serious thinking about what time is best.  Here's a video of a woman doing a Lupron injection.  It doesn't show her measuring the medicine into the syringe, which is actually the scariest part, to me:

She's an egg donor, but it's the exact same medication and the same needle.  My donor is doing the same thing right now, too.

After the Lupron come some pills and then later, progesterone injections, which are intramuscular and require a bigger needle.  My baseline appointment is bloodwork and an ultrasound, and I'll have a few of those as we go along.

I bought all these meds from an online pharmacy.  There was so much stuff that it came in a FedEx Large Box:

With all of the other packages arriving at this time of year, it was kind of strange, but I have hope that this package is the means to the best gift of all.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Humor in Infertility

Why have I never seen this blog before?  A Little Pregnant is hilarious.  Check out this post on what it's like to be infertile on Facebook.  And this excellent response to those who call for infertile couples to adopt because it is the right thing to do "for the planet."  (The TODAYMoms piece is actually kind of weak, but I like what Julie wrote on her own blog and look forward to more.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Is Here

Yesterday afternoon, Sam and I went to a book fair fundraiser for her school.  When she heard the word "fair" I guess Sam thought it was a very special occasion, because she asked to wear her Christmas dress.  I had completely forgotten that we had even bought her a Christmas dress, but there it was in her closet.

Now this is a milestone because Sammy does not like to wear anything that feels in any way different than her favored "pajama clothes."  No buttons, snaps, ties, zippers, or bows are allowed, turtlenecks are horrible, and if the material is scratchy, forget it.  She has also never worn tights with a dress, that I can recall. There was no way she was going out bare-legged at this time of year, so I was doubtful that this was going to end well.

But she did it!  She wore the dress, with a shirt underneath, of course, because the material was too scratchy, and she even LOVED the tights.  She also allowed me to put her hair in a ponytail and to clip her bangs back with a barrette, which is a rare event.  She couldn't quite make the leap beyond tennis shoes, but hey, this is progress!

When we were ready to leave, she refused to put on her coat because "it might mess up my hair."  In this photo you can see the pain of Sam's first sacrifice for fashion:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

FMN - Jack Frost

We were again too busy this weekend to do a real Family Movie Night, but Adam came home a bit early last night and we caught the 1979 claymation special Jack Frost.  As Adam said, it sucked.  Or, as I said, it blew.  Sam was mildly entertained and the popcorn was good, though.

We've been recording airings of all of those old Christmas specials from our childhoods off the TV for the past couple of years - Frosty the Snowman, the Grinch, etc.  But they don't seem to be airing the claymation Rudolph anymore, so I'm going to have to get it on Netflix.  I wonder what's up with that.

What's your favorite Christmas movie or TV show?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sam and Jinx

This video captures EXACTLY what goes on in my house every single day, except the tiger is just a regular domestic cat and the gibbon is a four-year-old girl:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Objectivist Round Ups

I missed last week's Round Up and I'm a whole day late with this week's, but I'm happy to say that my family is healthy again (except for me - I finally got the cold - but I can deal with that much more easily than the others) and most of the crises are over.  I should be able to keep up with life again starting next week.

So, in case you missed them, here they are:

November 25 - Rational Jenn

December 2 - Reepicheep's Coracle

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Yard

Our new deck and patio are complete!  Well, almost.  Of course, there is one outstanding issue we can't seem to get the construction company to complete - removing some piled up dirt under the stairs - but that's really the only thing left.  It's kind of a bummer because we have to keep walking the dog until that gets done, but I'm hoping they'll do it this week.  Then we're going to put down gravel and try to train the dog to do his business there.  I hope it works, because I really do not want to have grass.

We do also have to wait until spring to stain the deck because the wood has to be seasoned, but that doesn't stop us from using it.  The new deck furniture should arrive by mid-December.

The deck seems huge!  Our old one was barely big enough for the grill and a tiny table.  Now it is a real outdoor space, which we mostly plan to use for grilling and dining.  The stairs, which we didn't have before, will allow the dog to go out from the main level of the house and get to the yard, instead of me having to take him down to the basement and hang out by the door until he is ready to come back in.

We did one kind-of interesting thing with the deck.  We installed a gutter system under it so that the patio underneath will stay dry in the rain.  This system also creates a ceiling on the bottom of the deck that is a more finished look than bare wood beams, and will allow us to install low-voltage lighting or a ceiling fan down there in the future.

We installed lights on the railing of the deck and on the stairs.  I'm not expert enough with the camera to get a good night-shot, but the lights make the deck a very attractive place when it is dark.  That was a cheap feature and it makes a huge impact.

The patio is just concrete.  We have such a tiny yard that I didn't want to break it up with part-hardscape, part landscape, so we basically paved over the whole thing except for a small area for Toby.  Concrete is not my ideal surface, but we wanted something low-maintenance and inexpensive, so this was the best option.  We plan to put potted plants around the perimeter to make it look a bit nicer, but really, it's just a little bit of extra space for Sam to play in, and for storage.  Because it is fenced, she'll be able to go out there on her own as soon as the weather allows.

Even though it's practically winter, we've already had a picnic breakfast out on the deck and we've played tag on the patio.  The dog loves to go out on the deck and just bask in the sun, and we've even started letting the cat out there. We bought an outdoor storage bin for the patio and moved a ton of stuff like charcoal, rakes, bush-trimmers, etc., out of the house, freeing up more space inside.  Really, the backyard was a total wasteland before, and now it is functional and clean.  Clean, oh joy, clean!

This was an extremely expensive project.  I never imagined I'd ever spend this kind of money on a house - I'd never even bought a new appliance before we moved here.  But it is totally worth it!  I'm sure it will increase the value of the house, but we never count on that.  We only invest in things that we will get the value out of while we live here, and it looks like this one will pay for itself in that regard very quickly.

Samantha and I also enjoyed watching the whole construction process.  The two main guys who did the deck-work, Nelson and Nicolas, were friendly and very responsive to my constant questions and perfectionist tendencies. When they were done, Sam was actually quite sad to see them go, so she dictated a letter to them, which we were able to deliver by hand when they had to come back for a follow-up visit.  Nelson has kids so he gets it, and he read the letter out loud in front of us.  That moment is just one of the ways that having a child can turn an experience like this into a touching memory that I'll savor forever:

Dear Nelson and Nicolas,

I love you. You built our new deck for us. I like it when you put it together right. I don't like it when you don't come to our house. I miss you.