Monday, June 3, 2013

The puzzle is complete!

Last Tuesday, May 28th, we were blessed to welcome into this world Amelia Grace Manke.  She came to us at 10:01 am weighing 8 pounds 3 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches long.  At long last we got to meet the little person that would complete our puzzle.

It has been nearly a week now and she fits into our family just like I had hoped.  Her big brothers adore her, and her father and I have been enjoying getting to know her.  She is already developing her own little personality, and is clearly much more feminine -- from her delicate features to the way she burps to the way she sneezes.  But at the same time, she is also forging her own path of strength and is not shy about expressing her opinion about something.

It has been nearly 10 years since we started down this path of infertility and to be honest, I had hoped it would've been completed sooner.  I never expected to still be having children into my mid-30s.  We experienced more than our fair share of pain (both physical and emotional) and heartache, but at the same time we persevered with the help (through prayers and support) of family and friends.  As a result, we have been fortunate to experience more joy and happiness than we could have ever known in the 3 miracles that resulted.

I want to take a moment to thank my readers for following along on this journey.  It has been therapeutic for me, and I hope it has been helpful and informative for you.  For all those still on this journey, my thoughts and prayers are with you and I hope some day you will have the same joy and happiness that I have.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

All systems go!

Today was my final ob/gyn appointment to check on our little lady and make final arrangements for her arrival next Tuesday.  For once, my blood pressure has held steady (a huge relief) and she has made some substantial growth in there.  The doctor is estimating that she'll be north of 8 and a half pounds, and has been head down for some time now.  Her heartbeat is nice and strong in the 140s.

We've been finishing up some last minute errands and to-do list items, and my nesting urges continue.  I keep feeling this need to get things done, and seem to always find something new that I think should be done before she makes her arrival.  Both Kurt and I have been experiencing some anticipation anxiety, which unfortunately is affecting our ability to sleep well (not that I've slept well in weeks with this basketball belly I've been carrying around, lol).  But I know that if she decides to make her entrance before Tuesday, all would be well.  It's an odd feeling to be honest -- this need to do everything possible but also feeling content that everything will be alright.

Next post will be to meet our new little lady!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The home stretch...and maybe a little nesting.

Depending on your viewpoint, the home stretch can begin whenever you want it to.  It's an individual feeling on when you feel like you're near the end.  I really felt this was true for me when the month of May started.  After all, before the month is out, our little lady will make her appearance.

She's still as active as ever; constantly testing the limits of her environment, seeing what kind of mischief she can get into.  I tell people she's going to claw or kick her way out of my uterus.  Her brothers wanted nothing to do with coming out but I have an intuition she's got her own feelings on the matter.

I've also been frantically (at least to me) preparing for her arrival.  I find myself with bursts of energy to get things done.  As big as I am and as tired as I have been, I spent 2 hours one morning washing, sterilizing, and assembling bottle parts, breast pump parts, and pacifiers.  Now I find myself this week with a lot of energy to get everything else done, not just for her, but for her brothers as well.  I feel a sense of satisfaction with every to-do list item completion.

Is this nesting?  Maybe.  I don't remember it being like this with my other two pregnancies.  No sense of urgency or anxiety that things weren't getting done.  This time though, I've been gripped by this feeling that I'm fast running out of time.  I don't have those funny urges that you sometimes hear about with nesting women.  No urge to suddenly clean out a cabinet and scrub it with a toothbrush (unless rearranging my kitchen a little bit counts).  No urge to get down on my hands and knees to clean the floors or the ceiling with said toothbrush.  But I'm guessing, like everything else pregnancy related, there's a large range of normal that would fit in the category of nesting.

Whatever this is, I'm happy to be experiencing it one last time.  The end of my infertility journey is near, the puzzle is nearly complete, and I couldn't be more content with the results.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Badges of Honor

Pregnancy can definitely wreck havoc on a woman's body.  Some of them involve skin changes -- everything from acne to stretch marks to linea negra to a host of other changes are commonplace in pregnancy. Some are more pronounced than others.  And not every woman will experience the same set of them.

But what they all have in common is that they are all what I consider badges of honor.  Rather than lament about these changes (many of which are temporary), I suggest that we embrace them.  After all, there's really not much we can do about them.

Take stretch marks for example.  There are many products on the market that claim to prevent stretch marks or make them fade if you already have them.  But really, aside from not gaining weight too quickly, there's not a whole lot you can do.  My first pregnancy I religiously slathered my belly with topical Vitamin E oil and I did not end up with any stretch marks.  My second I still did it albeit less often and still no stretch marks.  This time around?  I'm happy if I remember to put lotion on my hands much less my belly.  But still no stretch marks.  A different woman could do the same thing I did in my first pregnancy and end up with a road map of marks.

I treat my c-section scar the same way.  Instead of fighting it, I embrace it and wear it proudly as a badge of honor (even though it's only visible to myself, my husband, and my doctor).  Same with the giant blue veins that have suddenly appeared on my body.  I see them as my body doing it's job, nourishing the life within.  And even though my IVF shots left no visible evidence, I wear those as badges of honor too.  They are marks of what I experienced to create my family.

So ladies, instead of fighting these changes, embrace them. We work hard for our children, and these skin changes are proof of that.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

IVF in the news - Remembering one of the pioneers, Robert Edwards

Yesterday the world lost a great man, one who I owe a great debt of gratitude, even though I had never met him.  See, this special person is the one that essentially made my family (and countless others) possible.  In 1978 (the year I was born, oddly enough), this man, along with a colleague, developed IVF.  They didn't know if it was possible, but they believed in trying to make it happen and miraculously enough, they did.

I obviously am not the only one that thought this was a wonderful development in this field.  Edwards, along with his colleague Dr. Patrick Steptoe, were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 (technically the award went to just Edwards as Dr. Steptoe had already died and prizes are not awarded posthumously).  They were criticized for their work, accused of playing God, and at one point, Edwards himself took a step back to make sure this was the right thing to do.  Fortunately he came to the conclusion that it was and his research and advances in the science continued.

So, on behalf of the millions of people he has helped (and will continue to help in the years to come), I thank you.

(For the full article on Dr. Edwards' passing, please click this link from the NY Times.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fools' Day

I've never been a fan of April Fools' Day.  I'm not a prankster by nature and I hate having them played on me.  But I'm not about to ruin anyone else's fun so I always kept the secret or when called upon helped in a prank.  As long as I wasn't the victim (and the prank seemed funny), I thought it was all harmless fun.

That is until I started suffering from infertility.  After all, for women of a certain age, playing the old positive pregnancy test prank is a classic one.  It's easy to do, and if you're a good enough actress can be a really convincing one.  It requires no props unless you want to be really convincing and borrow a real test from a pregnant friend; just the words to shock whatever person you're trying to fool like the unsuspecting spouse/significant other, friend, or family member.

As time went on, this prank, instead of funny, became increasingly painful.  And after years of trying, I started to wonder what would happen if I actually did find out I was pregnant on April 1st.  Would anyone believe me?  Would anyone share in my hard won joy?  Or would they all think it was a prank I was playing?  It was an awful feeling.  Even though I'm relatively a private person, there was a small group of people I was counting on to celebrate with me in that moment.

It also opened my eyes to those around me also suffering from infertility.  I saw how that prank may have caused them pain in the past and it really sealed it for me that I would no longer be a part of it, nor find joy in it.  It was no longer harmless fun.  Instead I would prefer to support my friends in their struggles on this day, just like any other day.  And that is no joke....

Monday, March 18, 2013

29 weeks and eviction date fast approaching

Today marks my 29th week!  Little lady is still doing her constant acrobatics and lets me know when she isn't entirely pleased with her situation in there.  If I'm hungry or my bladder is full (which it seems to always be these days, sorry for the TMI), she lets me know that she doesn't like it by kicking or rolling around in there until I rectify the situation.

I'm also experiencing more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions.  If you're not familiar with these here's a good definition: Braxton Hicks contractions (WebMd) .  These are basically just practice contractions but they can be pretty strong and mine are usually caused when I've been on my feet too much or haven't had a good chance to rest.  Our little lady doesn't care for these either I've noticed and will move away from where they are (if they're at the bottom of my uterus she moves towards the top).

The other big news to report is that I have my c-section date!  Since I have had 2 previous c-sections (not by choice but by necessity), VBAC is no longer an option for me.  It's very disappointing for sure.  Given that I had to IVF, I had hoped for something to occur naturally on its own but again, my body decided not to cooperate in that department.  Once again, it was out of my hands and a decision that was made for me by Mother Nature.

I am allowed to deliver any time after 39 weeks (which for me is right at Memorial Day) so to make the most of my childcare arrangements, I am scheduled to deliver our little lady on Tuesday, May 28th at approximately 9:30 am.  Of course she could decide she wants out earlier and the c-section would be performed at that time but past history indicates that she'll bake until we force her out.

It's a bit of a relief to have a firm date in hand; after all I am a planner by nature.  But as I mentioned earlier, it's disappointing to have the fun taken out of guessing when she'll arrive.  The important thing is that she gets here safe and the delivery is safe for me as well.  However that happens is irrelevant as I'll have a lifetime of surprises with her.

Monday, March 4, 2013

3rd trimester begins

Today is officially the beginning of the end.  I am 27 weeks today and that marks the beginning of the 3rd trimester.  The final 12 - 13 weeks before we meet our little lady have begun and I find myself feeling a little sad.  After all, this is truly my final pregnancy; the show is over after she is born.  And while it seemed so far away so many years ago, now it seems too close.

It was just about a year ago that my husband and I started flirting with the idea of adding to our family again; this blog wasn't even an idea yet.  And now we're coming to the end of the road.  The end of our infertility road and I can finally say that my family feels complete.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Viability and High Heels

Huh?  Viability and high heels?  What a strange name for a blog title!  But it's really what's on my mind these last few days.  Weird I know.  It's strange sometimes the things I worry about.

I am now just past the 24 week mark which means that our little lady has reached viability!  If something were to happen and she needed to be born, her chances of survival, while challenging and rife with potential lifelong health issues, would be fairly high.  I don't know why, but this knowledge gives me comfort.  I'm a worrier by nature and each day I get closer to certain milestones in my pregnancy, the more I feel I can relax.  I'm also reassured daily by her activity in my belly.  She seems to think it's her own personal space to do what she wants with and is constantly trying to rearrange my uterus.  This has caused many an alien movement with aggressive kicks/punches that can be quite entertaining to feel and watch.  Given that most people can't see this unless I tell them, it's one thing that's just between her and I.

As for the high heels, well, let me tell ya, that has suddenly become a challenge that sprung up on me by surprise.  The beauty (or not so beauty depending on your viewpoint) of winter is that I spend most of my outdoor time in my fur lined boots.  These are slip ons and don't really require much bending over.  Imagine my surprise the other day when I tried to put on an actual pair of shoes, my high heeled shoes for my brother's upcoming wedding to be exact.  Bending over to notch my new slingback heels proved to be impossible.  A task that should normally take just under a minute, took me a good five or six minutes as I attempted to contort my body into a position that would allow me to put these shoes on.  Needless to say, they were not un-notched when I took them off.  A fact I much appreciated when I had to put them on again a few days later for my dress fitting.  I had the same issue trying to put on my sneakers not too long after.  It seems as though my tie shoe days are fast approaching an end.  Not so horrible really except that we are still enjoying winter and the slushy days of spring are still yet to come.

Sometimes I feel guilty complaining about these things.  I am always conscious of those that would love to have these problems but for some reason are not able to.  So, ever mindful of these people, I keep my complaining to a minimum and instead try to focus on the wonder that is this human being inside of me, and continue to be grateful that I am able to have these experiences.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

22 weeks and kicking!

I am cruising right along through this pregnancy!  Today was my 22 week appointment.  Nothing all that exciting -- lab check, chat with the doc, and then my favorite part: getting to hear the heartbeat.  My doc is so awesome that she even makes it possible for me to record it (God bless smartphones)!  I'm always reassured by that sound and I never get tired of hearing it.

I was even brave enough to take a pic of myself this week and while I feel like a whale, I was amazed that my weight gain has been a really reasonable 9 pounds.

And since this little lady is so unbelievably active, we've nicknamed her Thumper.  Mainly because she doesn't just kick -- she thumps me!  She also throws in some rolls and turns just for fun and is active throughout the day (and occasionally into the sleeping hours of the night).

Many people have asked if we have a name for her yet.  Not quite yet and won't for awhile as we work our way through the baby name book once again.  We're hoping to nail it down by April but we are also firm believers in meeting our babies first before finally deciding for sure.

Next appointment is in 4 weeks and in addition to the regular check up, I get to drink the nasty sugar fluid (ok not so nasty but still not pleasant) and make sure I'm not developing diabetes.  We also get to start thinking about when the little lady will make her arrival!

Our puzzle is slowly coming together and the piece that is this little person inside of me grows stronger every day.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ultrasound Day!

Aside from getting that call from the nurse with the news of my positive pregnancy test, today is one of my favorite days during pregnancy.  We finally got to get a good look at Baby Manke and hopefully, get a peek at the goods.

Baby Manke was very active and not enjoying the ultrasound experience at all which made for some giggles and laughter by us and the tech.  But finally, the tech got the view she needed.  Baby Manke is now Baby GIRL Manke!

It is more than we can hope for after being blessed with two lovely and active boys.  And it seems as if Baby Girl will follow in her big brothers' footsteps.  She is measuring spot on for her dates and looks terrific in utero.

Our missing piece of the puzzle is starting to get clearer and clearer with each passing day....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


It's amazing how our concept of time changes depending on what's happening in our lives.  With infertility, time can pass at a snail's pace or at lightspeed depending on where you are in the process. 

Time can fly by when you suddenly realize that it's been 6 months and nothing has happened; denial about how long you've been actually trying can pop up here. I used to fudge that number myself in the early days.

The infamous two week also messes with your concept of time.  This time period between ovulation and either the start of a period or the time when you can take a pregnancy test.  The two week wait can seem like years when you're trying to get pregnant.  Even the 3 minutes it takes to process a pregnancy test at the end of that time can seem like hours when you're staring at it. 

Time also seems to creep by when you're waiting.  Infertility treatments mean a lot of waiting around.  Waiting for tests, for periods to come (or not come), waiting to get on the calendar at your clinic, and waiting to get the call from the clinic with your results.  All this waiting without having a clue much of the time what will happen.

Then if you're lucky like I am, the waiting ends.  You're finally where you want to be!  Then your concept of time changes again.  Now you're counting your pregnancy in weeks.  Ask any pregnant woman and most can tell you down to the day how far along they are.  For example, as of today, I am 19 weeks 1 day pregnant.  Time passes in a whole new way.  Suddenly you're calculating at what stage of pregnancy you'll be when something happens or when something happened.  It becomes a new way to mark time.

Once your miracle makes his or her entrance into the world, how you view time will change again.  Now you're marking time by how old your baby is (1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 18 months, etc).  Time here, at least in the newborn phase, seems to move by so slowly mainly because you're awake all the time!  Then suddenly, just like that, time is speeding along again.  They always say enjoy these days with your kids because the time goes by so fast.  In some aspects that's very true.  In others, not so much. Time creeps by when your child is sick and you just want the meds to kick in so they can feel better.  But time speeds by like a race car when it comes to milestones such as walking, talking, eating, and eventually, going to school.  I ask myself all the time where did this Kindergartner in my house come from.  Wasn't he just born a minute ago?

While we have a number of concrete ways to mark time, your life experiences are really the ones that help you mark the time in your own life.  I hope that you are marking the time in a way that makes sense to you and gives you the most peace.