Pregnancy blog: First Trimester

Uncategorized

I found out I was pregnant on August 5, 2017. I told my husband, my parents, my in-laws and our best friends. Then Alex and I decided to keep quiet.

Being pregnant and not being able to shout it from the rooftops is pretty challenging, but having a tiny bubble of people who know and being able to enjoy the news alone is pretty incredible.

My first few weeks of pregnancy were not easy or very pleasant, I had extreme cramping which take the test in the first place, but even after I found out I was expecting I still had the cramping. On August 7th, I went to my fertility clinic to get an ultrasound and blood work to make sure I was in fact pregnant and the doctor confirmed I was 2 weeks along.

Because I was undergoing fertility treatments and getting ultrasounds every week, we were able to see even the smallest change in my uterus! Typically women wouldn’t know they are pregnant this early and getting an ultrasound this early is very unusual.

Over the next few days the cramping got worse and worse and I was throwing up from the pain. I called my fertility clinic and they told me to go to the hospital to be checked out further. So again I had an ultrasound, they couldn’t see anything (because it was so early) but suggested I rest and classified me as a high risk pregnancy. What does high risk even mean? Should I be on bedrest? Is my baby ok? Should I go back to work? None of these questions entered my mind at the hospital, I just sat there and thought “high risk, oh my God!” My husband and I had worked so hard to get pregnant and here I was two weeks along and something was wrong. I was terrified.

I continued to be monitored by my fertility clinic weekly and on August 23rd we had an ultrasound where we could see a beating heart. We could see the tiny white blip of a baby. Wow, that feeling is indescribable. Unfortunately, with this great news we received some scary news. We were told that I had a mass in my left fallopian tube and that was what was causing my cramping. What our doctor and the ultrasound tech said was that we had a healthy, viable pregnancy in the uterus, but that we might also have an ectopic pregnancy. Again, high risk is flashing in my head. My doctor said that  I might need surgery to remove my left ovary, which would make getting pregnant again even more challenging than it already has been and while it was safe to do surgery while I was pregnant there was a chance that we would lose our baby. It was just another batch of bad news that I couldn’t emotionally handle. I ached to keep my baby safe but knew that if it was an ectopic pregnancy not having surgery wasn’t an option.

A week or so later we came back for another ultrasound where after my doctor and two ultrasound techs examined me it was confirmed that it was not an ectopic pregnancy but part of the egg that shed as it moved through the fallopian tube. Everything was fine and was officially not a high risk pregnancy! That visit marked the end of our time at our fertility clinic and we were off to see an OBGYN.

From then on my first trimester was pretty typical. A lot of nausea and morning/all day sickness (which got me out of a ticket as I almost threw up on the officer), exhaustion, and my husband would say mood swings, but I didn’t notice those!

Alex and I enjoyed this time, planning and brainstorming all the things we wanted to do before baby came. We talked about names, some we had loved for years and others we discussed for the first time. We felt my belly and were in awe of how amazing this journey had been and would continue to be. Everything we had done for the past 2.5 years had paid off. We were finally going to be parents.

 

Pregnancy blog: Telling my husband

Uncategorized

Flashback to Saturday August 5, 2017:

It was a gorgeous summer morning and the sun was already shining bright when I woke up. I had an awful night. I couldn’t sleep because of horrible cramping and I woke up still cramping. I thought I should just take a pregnancy test and force myself to accept it, these were period cramps. Obviously, I hoped it would be positive, but logically I knew it wouldn’t be. My doctor had said I already ovulated and was just waiting for my period. Nevertheless, I took the test and went to make some coffee, leaving the test on the counter. I wasn’t anxious about the test. I knew it would be nothing. I had some coffee and went to confirm the result. I glanced at the test and my heart pounded. “PREGNANT” More than two years of consistently negative results faded away instantly. I had a teeny tiny baby inside me. OH MY GOD!!!!

I am pregnant

After 2 years and 2 months, we are finally expecting our first baby!

 

I cried. I was shaking and my heart continued to beat out of my chest. I couldn’t think of anything except how much I needed Alex to come home from work! Unfortunately, he was working an event all day with his co-workers who had flown in from all over the country. He was unreachable…all day.

 

I had dreamed of how I would tell him when it finally happened. I watched countless YouTube videos of people telling their husbands and families and cried along with them as they jumped for joy. I had just never really decided on how I would actually tell him, I guess I assumed we would take the test together and we would just find out at the same time. So now to keep my sanity I had to make a plan. The only thought in my head was Target. Here was the plan, Target would guide me and show me what to do.

 

I walked around, looking in the baby section, then picture frames and crafts. I passed by the books. Bingo. This was it. I would find our favorite childhood books and then figure out how I wanted to arrange things later. I bought four books. I also picked up a nautical baby blanket. When we first started trying, I bought a onesie that I kept secret and I decided to use that to tell him too.

 

Alex was working at an event all day, but I had been able to text with him a bit and tried to play it cool. I casually asked when he would be home, he thought maybe he would go hit some golf balls after the event with his co-worker that was staying with us. Being the cool wife that I am, I said “Yeah, that sounds like fun, can you just stop by the house first?” I needed him to understand telepathically that he needed to come home and stop trying to go golfing! So let’s be real, I didn’t really play it cool at all. I texted him a lot, like excessively, and laid it on thick that I needed him to be home as soon as possible. I usually try to not bother him and just do my own thing when he’s at events, but I couldn’t handle not telling my best friend this news! He later told me that he had no idea why I was being so needy and annoying!

 

Finally, he texted that he was heading home! I set up the books, blanket and onesie on the kitchen table along with the two positive pregnancy tests I’d taken and I waited. I had already been waiting all day for him to get home so by this point I was so frantic and my emotions were all over the place. I heard the garage door open, I started shaking. Alex’s co-worker, who was going to be staying with us walked in first, I super casually greeted him and told him where the guest room was, then Al came in. Even now, my stomach is turning with excitement as I recall this moment. I asked him to come to the kitchen, he glanced at the baby stuff and asked me how I was doing. HELLO, ACTUALLY LOOK AT WHAT IS ON THE TABLE!!!!!!

IMG_6867

He looked again and stopped, he said “What is this?”, he picked up a test and stared at it then quickly looked at me. By this time his co-worker had joined us and was in shock too! I had to literally say “I’m pregnant” before I think he got it. The next few minutes are kind of a blur, we were happy and he was in shock, very similar to my reaction hours before.

 

We took some time just us two and called Al’s brother and my best friend. We decided to go tell our parents right away too. Everyone was surprised, everyone was happy and we received so much love from our people.

 

This was such a great and special moment in our lives and I am so excited to enjoy so many more moments with my little family!

 

Trying to conceive part 6

Uncategorized

Written June 21, 2017

Since my last post in March, a lot has happened.

I left off with going back to the doctor to see if an egg was stimulated and unfortunately, there was no stimulated egg. My ultrasound tech said that my doctor would call me with the next steps.

The call came while I was at work and I listened while sitting in my parked car after work. “This step does not seem to be working, come in for another ultrasound and we will discuss your options. We will most likely go ahead with IVF.” I would be skipping months of the TTC and jumping to my last step, my last hope. I cried, I hurt and I was scared.

At every step in this journey, doctors kept assuring me that the next step would work, and they just didn’t. We kept getting reassured by seemingly everyone that medicine has gotten so advanced, but none of it was working for me.

I was so heartbroken. Alex was away for work and couldn’t get home and I found comfort in my parents and my in-laws. Phone calls, some retail therapy and some projects for the future to keep my mind filled with positivity went a long way in helping to soothe.

The next appointment was a consultation with my doctor and we went over all the IVF steps again. We decided to get the process started. In addition to the paperwork and insurance approval, I needed a new medication to shed my uterine lining and a few more ultrasounds before we could go ahead with IVF. We had a two hour appointment with a nurse to go over the shots, how to fill the syringe, how to give yourself a shot, when to give the injections and what will be done with the eggs they harvest. It was an overload of information and honestly I don’t remember most of it.

This morning, I had my last ultrasound before the injections start. My uterus looks good, my blood work is good, but my insurance company needs more forms filled out before giving approval.

IMG_5275

My last ultrasound before IVF

Getting the IVF medication filled was a nightmare, but after an hour and a half on the phone with my doctor, the insurance and my specialty pharmacy we finally got the majority of the medication filled. I had been feeling pretty chill about everything and had planned on spending the day outside in the sun, now I am frazzled, anxious and spending the day in bed.

Looking back on my experience so far, I never thought I would get to the point of needing IVF. I knew I had fertility issues because of PCOS but I was a young and healthy woman, surely there was some pill or noninvasive procedure I could use to ovulate and BOOM have a baby. IVF is something I thought was so far beyond my fertility journey, but here I am, about to start IVF.

To prepare myself for the next step, I will focus on being positive. I will remind myself that there is a baby in my future. I will pray that I can adult enough to do this right. I will keep myself positive and hope that one day this will happen for me.

 

Trying to conceive part 5

Uncategorized

Written March 26, 2017

Fertility treatments began recently.

I am already exhausted.

My story is unique, because all stories are unique. No two people go through the same process to get a family.

Our first appointment was just a consultation, we met with our Fertility Specialist and discussed our options. There are three options that we could go with, here they are;

Option 1: continue on the medication I’ve been previously taking, along with a new additional medication to help stimulate an egg. I would visit the clinic every few days for ultrasounds to monitor ovulation and once an egg is stimulated from the medication, I would take a hormone shot at home and continue to get ultrasounds regularly to see if anything happens to the egg.

Option 2: Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization (americanpregnancy.org).

Option 3: In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is an assisted reproductive technology (ART). IVF is the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus. (americanpregnancy.org).

 

Our first visit at the Fertility clinic was on February 13th. Up to now March 26, 2017 we have been to the clinic four times. Here are the appointments broken down a bit.

1st visit: Consultation:

We discussed the three options and decided to start off with the first option. We added another fertility medication to the one I was already taking, ultrasounds and eventually a fertility shot, if things were progressing. We did discuss that even though I had been on fertility medication to make me ovulate, I was actually not ovulating at all. So I had been thinking I was making progress for a year and a half while in reality nothing was happening at all.

We also discussed that because I have been TTC for close to two years we would skip option 2, (IUI), entirely if option 1 did not work. It would be better for us to work on Step 1 for 3-4 months and then go right to option 3, IVF.

2nd visit: Ultrasound

This ultrasound was to check on my eggs. Until this visit I had no idea if I even had eggs, but I was pleased to learn that I have an extreme amount of eggs, probably because I’ve never ovulated before.

After this visit I was told to continue taking Femara (Letrozole) the medication that I had been on since July 2015, but a much lower dose and to add Decadron (Dexa) once my eggs were stimulated.

Alex and I were so new to this process that we didn’t know what questions to ask and what to expect, so we called the clinic and were told to come in for another ultrasound and then a sit down with a nurse.

3rd visit: Ultrasound and Meeting with the nurse:

At this ultrasound they rechecked my ovaries and we chatted with a nurse who answered all of our questions, gave me a form that spelled out every step I needed to take and when I need to take them. I felt really good and positive about everything!

4th visit: ultrasound, Meeting with the nurse:

Today was our fourth appointment. I had taken the medications and was waiting to do the shot after a good ultrasound today. I sat on the exam table ready to be super uncomfortable but praying for a nice large stimulated egg that was ready to ovulate. My ultrasound tech was great, she was very vocal and pointed out what was on the screen and then she was quiet and I knew that there wasn’t an egg. She finished up and I got dressed. So close to tears I held Al’s hand and I prayed that there was an egg, how could there not be? How could I be on so much medication and still not have an egg that is really supposed to develop naturally?

The nurse came in and said that there was no sign of a stimulated egg. That I needed to come back in three days for anther ultrasound. Guys, I held it together, I said “ok”, scheduled an appointment and got in the car. Alex and I ran some errands (including getting a chocolate shake from Cold Stone) and we went home. I put on pajama’s and slept for hours. The cramping and uncomfortableness from the ultrasound along with the frustration I was feeling really  got to me. I felt very discouraged.

My story is unique, because all stories are unique. No two people go through the same process to get a family. In my story I have had a lot of negative news. Other than hearing that I actually do have eggs, my process has been daunting, I have been given bad news at every appointment for two years. I am tired, drained, mentally exhausted and sad. Saying this to my husband prompted his knight in shining armor skills and he held me while saying that this doesn’t mean it’s over. This just means in three days we re-strategize, we look at what we have, what we can do and then put our whole selves into our new plan.

So next week I will go back to the doctor, I will still be tired and drained, but I will pray with everything I have to hear something positive, and the next time I go to the doctor I will pray with everything I have to hear something positive and the next time and the next time and the next time. I will continue to pray, I will continue to hope and I know one day, somehow I will be a mother.

 

 

My family has had some amazing trips over the years. Even with seven kids my parents always made an effort to plan family vacations. We have taking short road trips for hockey tournaments and other things. Trips to Duluth were frequent but we also drove to Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, North and South Dakota, Colorado.

In high school my parents took my three younger brothers and I to Canada to see Niagara falls and the hockey hall of fame, then we drove to New York for the baseball hall of fame, then to Cleveland for the Rock and Roll hall of fame. Our last stop was Chicago and then home. The next year we flew to Key West, Florida and had the best vacation of my life. Even though I say that is my favorite vacation, it is not the coolest place I’ve been. My parents took my three younger brothers and I to two more places that changed my life.

My dad took a job in The Federated States of Micronesia. You are probably thinking that I made that up, I actually didn’t.

Micronesia is made up of four islands; Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap. As the Chief Litigator for all four states of Micronesia my dad worked on all the islands, but we lived on the island of Yap. Again, I am not making this up, it’s a real place, check out this map to get a better idea!

We lived in the capital of Yap, Colonia, right next to the hospital (which turned out to be very convenient). We lived on a bay and right outside our window was a view of the ocean.

Let me explain a little bit about the island of Yap. It is the most culturally traditional island of Micronesia. While some locals wear shorts/skirts and t-shirts some, especially in the villages, wear their native dress. Men in loin cloths called a “thoo” and the women in wrapped skirts called “lava lava’s” and nothing else, yes, the women are topless. Which turned out to not be that big of an issue.

Yap has many great sights and one of them that you see all over the island is the stone money. Stone money can be anywhere from three feet tall to over six feet tall, and way several tons. Stone money is exactly that, a giant stone that was exchanged for services or products (mostly land). The money was not moved when exchanged, the villages just remember which stone belongs to which village.

Here is a picture of stone money.stone-money-bank.jpg

My family moved to Yap in August of 2006, just before my senior year of high school. While to some that would be the worst thing in the world, to me it was pretty cool. Yes, I did have my moments of anger and I absolutely showed my 17 year old immaturity at times, but overall moving to Yap was a great experience.

I celebrated my 18th birthday on a sailboat restaurant where once the staff found out it was my birthday I was given a traditional flower headdress and free chocolate cake.

My 18th birthday at Manta Ray Resort!

We spent the first few months finding a place to live, trying to figure out how to buy groceries, how to cook meals from scratch (with limited ingredients) and basically just how to feel normal in a scary new place. My parents did everything they could to help my brothers and I feel comfortable and keep our lives as normal as possible. We went to the beach, we worked on school, we went to the sports complex daily. Apart from all of us being homesick we were doing fairly well.

In January I flew back home to Minnesota to finish my senior year at my high school…and to see my boyfriend who I had been away from for five months!

I ended up being away from my mom, dad and little brothers for exactly a year. I made the decision to go back to Yap after one semester in college to finish out the rest of my families stay there. While that decision was tough and meant leaving my boyfriend again this time for eight months, it was absolutely the best decision for me. In the year I was gone my family had made friends, gone scuba diving and truly started enjoying their time there. I had spent my time in Yap being homesick and really needed to experience the island with a better mood. I was 19 and while leaving my then boyfriend was hard, I am proud of myself for not letting our relationship hold me back. I needed to go and even though that could have ended my relationship, I was 19 and it was ok for me to be selfish. Luckily my decision did not end my relationship and I am now married to that boyfriend!

When I got back to Yap I was introduced to so many people in the Peace Corps and they became regulars at our house (especially around dinner time), I got a job at one of the resorts and was in charge of managing several events along with other office duties. I went scuba diving and saw the majestic manta ray cleaning station of Yap, went to vertigo where I saw dozens of sharks and I experienced diving with my parents and brothers. My mom and I played tennis on the regular and after she broke her arm while playing and went to have surgery in the Philippines my  brothers and I managed to get along with my parents gone for three weeks.

My brother Tony and me at vertigo dive site.

In March of 2008 all of us went on vacation to Bali, Indonesia. Bali is a stunning and spectacular place full of temples, cultural statues, traditional dances and performances and what was most appealing to my brothers and I, cheeseburgers. We could eat american-ized food that we couldn’t get in Yap! We went to the monkey forest and two of my brothers took surfing lessons. I got to do some shopping and my youngest brother turned out to be a champ at haggling!

13

Just me hanging with a monkey in Bali!

In July we flew back to the States and quickly fell back into the American pace of life. I love to look back on my time in Yap and dream about bringing Alex and our kids there one day. I’m sure it will be so different from what I remember but I know that the smell of the ocean and the red stains of betel nut on the road will still be there. I know that no matter how long I am away I will still think of Yap as being one of my homes. A man that worked with my dad told us just before we left that we are Yapese, and that we are always welcome back.

I am so thankful to my parents for giving me the gift of seeing the world. I know I wasn’t always grateful and I know that my going back and forth from the island and the U.S. was hard on the people I love, but now eight years after being home I know that Yap is a place that I will love forever, and it will always be a part of me. 15My family on our private beach in Yap!

Uncategorized

Homeowner painting project

Uncategorized

My husband and I bought a house this past July. We semi-decorated and made it as homey as we could, however it still didn’t feel like our home. Suddenly it is Christmas break and we are both off of work for the rest of the year. Alex thought it would be the best time for us to do some painting, after a bit of pinteresting and talking about what the end goal for our home decor was we decided on our colors.

Alex and I love Santorini, Greece and the color of the beautiful dome roofs that adorn the city. We used this color in our wedding and both of our wardrobes are filled with the stunning blue. That color was a no brainer, our walls are currently a brown/tan/yellow/boring color, keeping that color with our beautiful blue was not going to happen so next we needed a muted color that would make our blue pop. We settled on grey, did you know that there are a million (not just 50) shades of grey?

We finally picked our colors and picked up a few gallons of each. It was time to start painting. Now you may not know this about my wonderful husband, but he is not handy. He is extremely smart and loving and an incredible person…but he cannot build or do any household fixing. So I figured I’d be doing the majority of the painting. Little did I know, when I get in homeowner fix-it mode I turn into a controlling, vicious, micromanaging crazy person and my poor husband had to bear the brunt of my attitude. Shortly after I opened the first can of paint I needed him to leave. Alex running errands and me painting is the best way for us to work together, it’s called multitasking…that means we can get more done in the time we have…right?

So not only can I be my bitchy fixer upper self but he gets to do his own thing and not be bossed around by me. It’s a win win!

I started with the blue walls and got the majority of them done before Al got home. My crazy had subsided a bit and I accepted some help from my husband to paint the vaulted area of the wall. Once we had finished the entire blue area we decided to be done for the day. We both tackled the grey the next day and suddenly our house felt more like home. I was so surprised how “handy” my husband turned out to be! He rigged up a long paintbrush stick to get the hard to reach places and I couldn’t have done it without him.

Alex and I also thought the same this Christmas and got each other artwork! So now we can hang up our new art along with the plethora of wedding pictures we have and really start living in our own space.

The only bad part about painting is that it has created new projects. Looking around we realized that our railing/banister doesn’t go with our new color scheme. So now we need to find a time to paint railings, spindles, and why not throw in the floor trim and maybe the doors upstairs! My husband is going to HAVE to become a handy man!

Here’s to a new year of projects and home upgrades!

 

 

The house is ours!

Uncategorized

22 days ago Alex and I closed on a house!

On July 1st we spent an hour signing papers and chatting with the previous owner of the house, he handed us the keys and it was ours!

We moved in the next day with help from my awesome brothers and Al’s cousin. The boys did all the lifting and I supervised, which is my specialty! Suddenly we were adults and living in our own home…alone. It was and still is weird.

Moving is stressful…always. We packed well in advance so that wasn’t the issue, it’s more of the time and the energy it takes to move and to unpack. Where do I put all my stuff? I don’t have enough stuff to fill an entire house! We have to go shopping again? How much money do we have in the bank!!!?

We have lived on our own before, but it was in a small apartment or townhouse that provided a washer and dryer and we didn’t have room for furniture and we were poor college students, so we were fine with small, mismatched, free stuff. Now we are grown ups and the mismatched stuff is still ok, but the junky free stuff we’ve had for five years isn’t so ok anymore. We bought a shelving unit, a TV stand, coffee tables, a new washer and dryer (that was a headache in itself!) and stupid little things that we needed to make the house livable.

I feel  like things have finally started slowing down though. We aren’t hemorrhaging money anymore, we are doing a few DIY projects and really trying to put our own stamp on the house. All in all moving has been a great experience, it is so great to come home to our house and we are really feeling married now (yes it has been two years since we got married, but we only lived alone together for two months of that, this has been a very big change) and we get to work together to make this house our home. We’ve had a few stumbles along the way, but we are now hopefully through the worst of it and can work to make our home pretty, comfortable and feel like ours. Maybe we’ll even have fun doing it together!

Here is our new house!

Here is our new house!

Anniversary 2015!

Uncategorized

It is June 1st 2015 and that means that two years ago I married my best friend…it also means that nine years ago my best friend asked me to be his girlfriend!

I’ve written before about how Alex and I met and started dating (check out this post A happy ending)

So here I thought I would chat a bit about the last two years.

We got married on June 1, 2013 (I am just realizing I never posted a blog about our wedding day….so that will have to happen soon!) We lived in Duluth at the time and had a great summer together! In September Alex moved to the cities to start working at a job that came up unexpectedly, meaning that we lived apart for four months during our first year of marriage, it was awful and very difficult.  Finally I moved to the cities to be with Alex and since then we have been together, going on trips, being with both of our families and working toward building an awesome future together.

I would say that the first year is very much a romantic period. Even with living apart we were head over heels in love and the reality of the “real world” hadn’t hit us yet.

That brings us to year two…we officially got out of the head over heels phase, don’t get me wrong I love Alex so much and I think that my love for him grows every day, however I don’t need to fall apart when we aren’t together, if he has to go out of town for work it isn’t the end of my world (really this phase is so much healthier!) and I LOVE going to work and being my own person with my own things. We were really so co-dependent that is nice to finally be Alex and Jill, two separate people who happen to be madly in love.

I feel like year two was the most challenging year we have faced in all our years of being together. We both had to find ourselves within our marriage, we both were working and trying to decide what do we want to do for the long term (still not sure on this one), we are looking for a house, we are trying to save money for a house and a family, we are always trying to better ourselves and be good people. Being a grown up sure is a lot of work! This past year has been a year of intense discussions (some louder than others), decisions being made, dreams being adjusted and a lot of change both personally and in our relationship.

Alex and I are huge believers in therapy and the process of talking things out, for some people it might be a sign of failure to go to therapy, but for us we have found that therapy has helped us work out issues that if not worked out would have broken us. Marriage is work and for us therapy is an important part of our work schedule.

All of this being said, I could not have asked for a better partner in life. Alex is such a kind, sensitive and caring husband and everyday I see him working hard to give us an amazing life. I am proud of him and so honored to be his wife.

Happy anniversary my love!

Come what may!

xoxoxo

House hunting 1

Uncategorized

Alex and I moved into his parents house in December of 2013…..and as of May 2015 we are still living at his parents house.

We are however finally looking for a house! I can’t believe it is actually happening but it is!

Our house hunting started the first week of May and the first house we saw was incredible. It had the right location, a quiet street, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a great kitchen, a lovely yard, and a spacious deck, even the laundry room was perfect! It had just gone on the market that day and we were in love! Our only hesitation was that it was the first house we had ever looked at with buyer eyes. Would they all be this great? Would we see another house that was better? Is it irresponsible to buy the first house? Luckily for us we didn’t have to make a decision the house sold the next morning, having only been on the market for under 24 hours.

While somewhat disappointing we were totally okay with that. It was only the beginning of our search and we knew that there was a house waiting for us to fall in love with it.

Hopefully we will find it soon, my Pinterest boards are getting ridiculous!