2014 in review

Thanks for joining me in 2014 with the ups and down of parenthood.  Looking forward to seeing and hearing from you all this year.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Shots, and Tests, and Transfer, Oh My!

To actually become a gestational carrier there are many tests that the carrier and her partner must do first.   I had to go through extensive blood work.  This blood work was to make sure my thyroid was working to par and that I had no blood clotting issues.  Thyroid hormone plays a critical role during pregnancy both in the development of a healthy baby and in maintaining the health of the mother.  Women with thyroid problems can have a healthy pregnancy and protect their fetuses’ health by learning about pregnancy’s effect on the thyroid, keeping current on their thyroid function testing, and taking the required medications.  It just so happens I produce a thyroid hormone which is called hypothyroidism and can cause many of the body’s functions to slow down.  Mine was very minimal and I believe it was not an issue but since I was going through all this effort I did go on thyroid medication to help the thyroid work at its fullest potential.  Since blood clotting can pose problems in the IVF process with all of the hormones (estrogen) that are taken, it is essential to have that tested.  We also had my blood tested to make sure there were no infectious diseases that I could be carrying (don’t be insulted; they need to cross every t and dot every i).  Your partner will have to have his blood tested as well to verify he is not carrying anything that could be passed to you (again do not be insulted; It’s protocol). Next both you and your partner have to go through a psychological evaluation.   The psychological evaluation is intended to assess the candidate’s:

  • Motivation for serving as a carrier
  • Understanding and appreciation of the psychological and emotional implications involved
  • Understanding and appreciation of the time commitment and medical aspects of treatment
  • Perspectives about the future child and oneself in relation to that child now and in the future
  • Current psychological and emotional stability
  • Preparedness for various cycle outcomes
  • Reliability and responsibility
  • Lifestyle factors

Do not underestimate how vital your partner will be to you in this process.  My husband has truly been my lifeline and I would have not been able to do this without him.  Make sure you really discuss the implications this will bring on your relationship and family.

The next thing I needed to have done is a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) which is an x-ray that looks inside of the uterus, in the fallopian tubes and the areas around it. This is often done for women who are having a hard time getting pregnant.  Many times for women it is caused by blockages in the fallopian tubes.  Even though I have had two successful pregnancies, I still had to take the test because I was advised that blockages could occur at any time.  The doctors wanted to rule out any reason that the IVF transfer would not work before they went through the whole process.  The intended mother had already warned me that it was an uncomfortable test and I would certainly agree.  The procedure itself is rather quick (once the catheter is inserted it takes less than a minute), however I’m not going to kid you, when the catheter was first inserted I thought I was going to pass out.  I asked the doctor for a minute to take a few deep breaths which he allowed and then he inserted the dye.  Again the intended mother had told me that it would be like a burning sensation which is true but it’s not painful (although I have heard if there are blockages it can be).  During the x-ray dye is put into a catheter which is put through your cervix into the uterus.  The uterus and the fallopian tubes are hooked together so as the dye flows through the fallopian tubes pictures are taken using an x-ray and the doctors will be able to see if the uterus and fallopian tubes show problems such as injuries or abnormal structures or blockage that would prevent an egg from going through.  In my case there were no blockages and no issues which meant I just cleared the last medical hurdle

The next step for the gestational carrier is to begin medication.  The doctor will start you out with a low dose of Estrogen and then with observation will increase it.  I started on one pill of estrogen and was increased up to 4 pills of estrogen over a three week period.  During the time the estrogen is given I to go back to the office periodically to be monitor using an ultrasound to determine the thickness of the uterine lining and a blood test to look at the levels of estrogen my blood.

Once the doctor is satisfied by your hormone levels and thickness of the uterine lining you can now start the progesterone. The intended mother had warned me that part just stinks. I would agree with her but luckily it’s only once a day and it’s for good cause.  The progesterone matures the uterine lining and makes it receptive to an embryo implant. Once progesterone has begun there is a certain window of time when the implantation can occur so the transfer of the embryo must be done at a precise time. Therefore the only factor that locks the patient into performing the transfer on a certain day is starting the progesterone. Once the progesterone has begun, if the embryo transfer is not performed on a certain day the cycle must be canceled and the new preparation of hormones must begin after allowing a period to occur.  It can be very frustrating constantly rearranging your schedule for blood work, checkups, and for the transfer (there is no wiggle room for that day). However if all goes well it is well worth it.

For me I take two forms of progesterone which I am still doing till the end of the first trimester.  The first is a progesterone injection and it must be administered in the muscle of either you lower back or in the thigh (thigh is not preferable and it hurts much more).  It must be done in the muscle because it is thick oil and if it is administered in fat it will never be disbursed into your body.   I’m not going to lie to you; after a week of taking turns on each side of your back, you are sore. I have found that taking hot baths or hot showers before the injection helps and after the injection rubbing the area with a warm washcloth.  It helps loosens the muscle and soothe the area.  The other form of progesterone that I take is progesterone suppositories one in the morning and one in the evening.

The actually transfer of the embryos was a rather quick process.  I was instructed to drink 32 ounces of water and I was given a Valium to take (that part was very nice 🙂 ) The sedative was to relax me.  The actual transfer is not uncomfortable, but if the office is running late and you are sitting around with 32 ounces of water in your bladder, that is uncomfortable.  When it was finally time to do the transfer, I was brought into a room with the intended parents.  I lay down on a table and an ultrasound was used to help guide the doctor as he transferred the embryos.  The embryos were loaded into a fine tube catheter that passed through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. In my case two embryos were deposited.

1197104193998287648papapishu_Baby_boy_crawling.svg.hiThe hardest part is the waiting period afterwards.  It is an excruciating two weeks of not knowing and it is highly suggested you don’t take a pregnancy test. It is possible to get a false reading because of the hormones being taken.  It is on the very early side when you go back to do blood work for the pregnancy test. It is about 12 days after the transfer.  Five hours after my blood work I received the wonderful news that I was pregnant.  🙂

This Is Your Last Chance Skylar

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I took our kids to a local place to go pumpkin picking and go on a hay ride.  The place was filled with families who had the same idea as we did.  On the grounds they had hay stack mazes, spider web climbs, and a petting zoo. Since Liam and Ava wanted to do different things Will and I decided we would each take a kid and follow them around.

It just so happen, that Ava was attracted to this one little girl who I quickly learned was named Skylar. Within the first few minutes of being in Skylar’s presence I heard her mother say, “If you don’t stop that right now we are leaving.”  “This is your last warning.” And my all time favorite, “If you don’t start behaving there will be no pumpkins for you.”

 Needless to say Skylar and her mother did not leave a minute before Skylar was ready to go, she had many warnings, and Skylar’s mother ended up buying two pumpkins.  Part of me felt really bad for this woman because things had spiraled so out of control I don’t think she knew how to get it back.  The other part of me was annoyed because Ava observes and mimics everyone. Due to this her own listening skills deteriorated.  However, unlike Skylar, Ava served a timeout in the middle of the hay stack maze and everything returned to normal. 

The truth is no parent wants a disobedient child.  Still if you never put your foot down, you never are going to have control. Don’t get me wrong, when I have had to draw the line in the sand for either Liam or Ava and the tears begin to flow there is a huge part of me that wants to crack, and say “Just Kidding.”  Then I have to remind myself if this was how I handled things I would not have the results that I do.  Many times now when Liam and Ava are not listening all I have to say is, “Do you want a timeout,” and they stop because they know I follow through. 

Liam and Ava are disobedient like any other children. However, at the end of the day, they know Mom and Dad say what they do and do what they say.  I think that it is not only an important message to send to our kids for consistency reasons, but in the future they will know  we are authentic.  There is no wondering how Mom and Dad are going to be because we have always been true.


The Art of Roughhousing

In the last couple of weeks the new game Liam and Ava like to play with daddy specifically, is wrestling. My husband roughhouses with them and they giggle, laugh, and eventually they tire out (which is key). It’s funny that they inherently know to go to daddy for this interaction.   They have never approached me and asked me to wrestle them. Although some people might warn that someone could get hurt I think that this is a very important process to go through.

Let’s face it when you are roughhousing every once in a while someone is going to get hurt. However, I can’t help but think that this might make them a little more resilient. Although there are times that I worry that it is getting too rough (and that is why they pick daddy over mommy) for the most part it teaches them to bounce back. Will is careful in his play and the kids always come back for more. Even though, this physical play can cause a few playoff-payoffbruises now and then, I think it outweighs the alternative of them being less active.

I also believe that roughhousing can help sharpen reflects. Kids have to think fast as they are rolling, pillow fighting, wrestling with dad. They are constantly changing their approach on how to defeat dad. Of course this is all done in good natured fun, but it still does take some problem solving skills to overcome him. This kind of play also teaches boundaries of what behavior is acceptable and not acceptable.

I am not a worthy competitor. Routinely as part of the game my husband drops the kids on their beds and they giggle with delight. The truth is I have tried to do this and my height on dropping the kids onto their bed is not as exciting as dad, who can lift them over his head. Daddy takes chances that either I would not do or physically are unable to do. Sometimes it is good to push pass the limit of normal active play just a little bit to be challenging and entertaining.

My husband is very involved in all aspects of Liam and Ava’s lives; however this is one specific activity that he just does with them. I think it is important that both Liam and Ava feel a bond between themselves and their father. In creating this bond, Liam and Ava will recognize that they each have a distinct relationship with their father in which it can develop into a very special parent-child connection.

I guess in short, if you are one of the many mothers who anxiously watch as a bystander as your kids and husband roll around and wonder is this ok? Consider what your kids might be getting out of it besides a few laughs and a good time with dad.


The Fearful Parent

Liam asleepPrior to Liam’s birth I read many articles about SIDS. The disease terrified me. The fact that there was no explanation and only speculation on prevention of the disease really unnerved me. Even though his bedding came with it, no bumpers were in his bed, or for that matter blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals. To add to this fear, during my pregnancy I heard several stories of someone knowing someone whose baby died of SIDS. Liam was born in February and I kept our house at cool 67 (it’s recommended to keep bedroom Ava Asleeptemperatures cool as there seems to be a parallel between deaths in SIDS and overheated babies). After he was born I would check on him multiple times during the night. Liam was a silent sound sleeper.   On a few occasions I was caught (by my husband) sitting him up in his crib to wake him and once he opened his eyes I quickly put him back down. When Liam turned one a huge sense of relief came over me (SIDS is the leading cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age.) After Ava was born even though she was a light sleeper and the smallest disturbance would wake her, I checked on her all the time. I took all the same precautions as I did with Liam and when Ava turned one I breathed a sigh of relief. Until a week ago ….

I was on Facebook and someone posted an article about a two year old that died of Sudden Death Unexplained in Childhood (SUDC). SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood) is the sudden and unexpected death of a child over the age of twelve months, which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, is conducted. Similar to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), SUDC is a diagnosis of exclusion – given when all known and possible causes of death have been ruled out. I was heartbroken for the parents and felt the fear creep over me. I remembered in my head all of those times that I checked on Liam and Ava because they had slept longer than normal during naptime.

That is when I had to shake myself a little bit. I could easily let this terrify me. Being a parent is a balancing act of living and not letting the fear overtake and control you.  Finding the balance between being concerned and even at times fearful without it dictating how you live. It is something every parent experiences, but it is important to not let it overtake you. I think about Ava and Liam when they were babies and all though I did not obsess over it, I did think about it a lot. After reading the article about SUDC, I knew I could quickly get carried away with worrying. The problem is besides always being in a constant state of fear and unable to enjoy anything, you will also miss out on a lot of opportunities and experiences. Life is about the unexpected and the ever changing flow.   With that being said below are the few known facts about SUDC for informational purposes only. Read them and then go give your kids a hug and do something worth living for today.

Here are the known facts about SUDC:

  • Occurs in children over the age of 12 months. Is a diagnosis of exclusion- assigned when all known causes of death have been ruled out
  • Its incidence is approximately 1.2 deaths per 100,000 children. In comparison, the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is 45 times more common
  • We do not know of any way to reduce the risk of SUDC. Presently, SUDC cannot be predicted and/or prevented since its cause is unknown. Most SUDC deaths occur between the ages of 1 and 3, but researchers have looked at cases of children as old as 15.

Defiance of a Three Year Old

I am not sure who came up with the saying, “Terrible Twos,” but three is where it’s at.  Tantrums, defiance, yelling, hitting, “Ah yes how I love three.”

Throughout any given day my wonderful, loving son plays this new game which I call “Jekyll and Hyde.”  In a split second he can go from a crying, screaming child to a laughing kid all while tears are still on his check.  There are times that it truly takes me off guard and either I am in utter disbelief or fighting back a laugh at just the sight of it all.

Throughout any given day there are tears, timeouts, stomping off with arms folded, however now I have realized the delicate balancing act of what keeps me afloat and surviving and what sinks me like the Titanic. If it is 8:00 AM and we already have had two tantrums I know I am goner. I can only hope and pray that the almighty nap might reset things a little, but for the most part the day is a lost cause. This is where my pick and choose my battles tactic comes into play. Of course I do not tolerate defiance, hitting or anything like that. However, if I can tell it is going to be “one of those days”, I might let it slide that Liam insisted on wearing his church dress shoes outside (I can only hope that they don’t get too messed up or he will grow out of them soon).

The beauty of all of this is that Ava loves to do everything that her big brother does, including but not limited to, shaking a finger at me, throwing her water cup, and sitting herself in timeout. This is one of the many reasons why I love my kids being so close together. At least we can get past this set of “crazy” all at once before we enter a new phase or stage of the game. And although there is no doubt in my mind that there will be more “crazy” moments and stages, I believe that this is preparing me for what’s to come. I have already learned that patience and being more stubborn then your kids are the key to keeping it cool. If you are able to keep those in check (at times very difficult) you already have won half the battle.

liamWith all of this being said, every night I go into Liam and Ava’s room to check on them as they sleeps so peacefully. I kiss them on their checks and walk 10269493_10203874918819356_8596449218211577264_ninto my bedroom with a huge smile on my face and say to my husband, “I just love them so much.” All the tantrums and tears in the world could never change that.



B is Failure According to Society

Several months ago my husband and I were in the process of obtaining a car loan to purchase our SUV.  Towards the end of the process the loan specialist advised me that we would be receiving a survey regarding his performance and asked if I would fill it out.  The gentleman was very helpful with us and I said yes.  He then went on to explain that most questions were based on scale of 1 to 5 and anything lower than a 5 was deemed failing.  I did not give it much thought until this past weekend when our cable was not working and the DIRECTV technician was at our house and at the end he advised that we would be receiving a survey regarding his performance. He went onto explain that most questions were based on a scale of 1 to 10 with anything less than 10 being a failure. He pointed out just as the loan specialist had that these surveys are used for his reviews and ultimately how much he makes is based off of it. That’s when it struck me how inappropriate this method was.

In both scenarios the gentleman completed everything they were supposed to, they were polite and friendly. I might not have given them the highest mark, but since I was informed both times how their companies valued their scores I felt compelled to.  Here in lies the problem with this way of scoring.  It is inflation at its best.  The customers feel compelled giving 5′s or 10′s knowing anything less than that is deemed failure.  So unless the worker was completely horrible you feel obligated to give them passing (5’s or 10’s) scores. It really isn’t a true evaluation.  This way of grading has trickled down to our schools.  It is less about children’s responsibility and working for a grade and more about what a child is entitled to and what they “need” (I use the word need very loosely).

I am not sure when this train of thought first infiltrated our schools but I remember very vividly being in high school and receiving at times a “B” or “C” in math or science class (not my strong suit) and I equated that to being a failure.  A “B” for all intents and purposes means above average and a “C” means average, and yet somehow I took it as a failure and I know I was not the only one who felt this way.  They only difference between me and the students of today are now the parents are beating down the doors blaming the teachers and demanding a grade changes because an 85 is not an acceptable grade for their son or daughter.

How have we gotten so far off the mark (no pun intended)?  Somehow society has turned every evaluation that one might go through into a situation in which if you score a little less than perfect it is failure. This is certainly not healthy state of mind. The pressure we are putting on ourselves is immensurable. This is why we have kids with test anxiety and having nervous breakdowns. It’s just not right. On top of this there is the underlining message of dishonesty and pushiness. Even if you don’t earn the “A” if you complain loud enough and long enough you might just get it changed. Even if you fixed my cable and I wanted to rate you with 8 out of 10 (which is an 80%, above average), I am going to give you a 10 because you don’t deserve failing remarks. This standard of basically either be perfect or a failure is not only unrealistic expectation but not healthy. The truth is the vast majority of us are average and until we accept that fact and really try to fix this problem we are only further contributing to this black and white dilemma. “Back in the day” there used to be true bell curve and evaluations and test really meant something. Call me old fashioned but I would take that any day over a 6 year old scared to score anything less than a 90 on her math test.

Happy Father’s Day

By definition everyone knows what a father is, but that really does not do justice to what describes a father.  A father is someone who helps the mother through the nine months of pregnancy without ever complaining about it.  A father is terrified and thrilled the day his child is born.  A father is the one who changes diapers, helps with feedings, and hands the car keys to the mother when he can tell she needs to get out of the house.  A father is one who praises and celebrates the first words, first steps, potty training, and all of the other milestones and is excited about it.  A father is someone who comes home from work and immediately drops everything to find where the kids are hiding (even if it is the same spot as the day before).  A father is the one who is completely exhausted from a day at work, but still takes the kids outside to play.  A father is the guy in the suit who rushed from his job to see his kids in their sport.  A father is the one who every year takes his daughter to the dress rehearsal of her dance recital and tapes it (he also on the way home will take her for ice cream, as their little secret).  A father is the one who with mixed emotions of happiness and sadness will give his daughter away on her wedding day.

I am very lucky.  The father examples I described above are the fathers that are in my life.  My husband, father, and father-in-law are all constant suppliers of love and support.  It is not an easy job and often exhausting with little shown appreciation. Take time to thank the father (or father figures) in your life and know that every step of the way he was proud of you.  Happy Father’s Day!!!!