8 months and 7 years

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Skylar gets to share a month-a-versary with this guy’s 7th birthday!  Happy birthday Cousin Lliam!

On her 8 month birthday, Skylar enjoyed her breakfast bottle with both moms.  She had coffee chats and read one of her favorite books Giraffes Can’t Dance before snacking on some zucchini, squash and avocado (one of her FAVORITE foods).  We even managed to get a short walk in before her morning nap.  Both moms were off to work after her morning nap leaving Skylar to spend the day with DeDe (Lisa’s mom).

What’s Skylar up to these days?

  • Skylar adores morning time.  She wakes up on her own anywhere between 6:15 and 6:45 and plays in her crib until we go and get her at 7:00.  She always smiles when she sees us and immediately starts chatting as if to tell us about her dreams or telling us what she’d like to do for the day.  These are some of our (all three of us) favorite times.
  • She sleeps through the night, 12 hours.  Loves her alone time in her crib at night and asks for it as soon as she’s ready by pushing her bottle away and reaching towards the crib.  We are very lucky that she loves spending time alone and wonder if this will translate as she grows in to a girl that is independent and asks to go to bed rather than us struggling to get her to bed.
  • She LOVES to eat.  He favorite foods are avocado, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and chicken mixed with apples.  We haven’t found a food she absolutely refuses at this point and that even includes kale!  We make all of her food at home guaranteeing her the freshest and most quality ingredients we can find…she eats better than us!
  • She likes to drink water ONLY from a big girl cup, not a sippy cup or a bottle which is a challenge for the moms to keep the water in the cup and not all over the house when she grabs it in an attempt to drink out of it.
  • She loves to roll over, be on her tummy at great lengths, and she’s working on sitting up independently.  While she hasn’t mastered getting to sitting on her own quite yet, she is pulling her legs underneath, pushing up on her hands, and reaching for things that are just beyond her reach.
  • She feels like a super big girl in her bumbo seat, especially when her piano is in her lap.  She’ll hold conferences with her court or concerts for her fans and even sit and learn how to cook while the moms are in the kitchen.  One mom in particular likes to reenact the Food Network when she cooks providing much entertainment and laughter to Skylar.
  • She LOVES to play in the water!  When I say loves, I mean LOVES.  She loves to splash around, clank toys together, try to catch water as it drips off of toys or a hose or the faucet.  Both moms are water babies along with Papa Walter, so we’re pretty pumped about this discovery!
  • She is quite chatty!  She loves to babble “lalala, dah dah dah, blah blah, blah” and sing to the mom’s favorite songs (I still think dance and techno are her favorite, but I am pretty biased).  Her first sign is “more” and we working on a slew of others including “thank you”, the colors, meals and “good morning”.
  • She LOVES her changing table.  Loves to attack the sleeves of her clothes and play keep away with the moms while we try and to get her dressed.  And she makes sure to grab both of her feet and pull her bum off the table when we change her diaper.  She’s almost got her feet in to her mouth!
  • Car rides are one of her favorite things ever.  Even though the moms sometimes like to use car rides as snooze cruises on days she doesn’t like to nap – Skylar manages to sing her little heart out and play with all of her car seat toys while on rides before .
  • She loves to be at coffee shops (really anywhere in public with the dull hum of people chatting and walking about).  Sometimes she naps but mostly she wants everyone to come and chat with her so she can tell them all about her day.
  • She loves to read books, especially before bed time.  Her favorite books are ones that she can grab and help to turn the pages, ones that have big bold colors, and ones that have the crinkly sound.

So…we had a baby!

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Look at all that hair!

This blog post is LONG overdue!  As you can imagine, we’ve been a tad busy.  Not only did we have a baby, but I (the non pregnant momma) changed careers in the middle of all of this baby birthing stuff.  Needless to say, things have changed a bit around here.

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Let me introduce you to Skylar Emerson!  She was born on December 15, 2015 via C Section.  The Cliffs Notes version of the story goes like this….

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The parade to the nursery!

Skylar was born around 2:30pm, and I was able to be in the delivery room/OR allowing me to be the first person to tell my wife that our baby was a little girl.  All along we thought Skylar was going to be a boy, so it was even more of a surprise!  She came out super vigorous with fantastic APGAR scores!  The whole neonatal team was there in case any issues arose, and thankfully we didn’t need their services beyond the normal stuff.  Skylar spent less than 24 hours in the Special Care/Level 2 Nursery (a step above the well baby nursery) for cardiology consults.  Luckily her heart looked good, no surprises, so she was able to go the the regular nursery the next day.

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Q-tipping colostrum while Skylar spent some time in the Special Care Nursery.

Lisa and I both ended up puking our brains out the day Skylar was born.  Lisa from all of the medications, me likely from stress, lack of eating, and lack of sleep.  It was a rough start for the mommas, meanwhile Skylar was dreaming sweetly of colostrum in the nursery.

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First car ride home! (Someone coulda told me about the bat in the cave?!)

Momma and Skylar came home after three days in the hospital (the normal stay after a C Section) and the learning of the battle rhythm began.  We’ve been very lucky in the sleep department.  Skylar has gone from a Snuggle Nest in our bed to a basinet beside the bed to her crib in the past five months.  She started out with an 11:00pm bedtime and has moved her way back to 7:00pm and sleeps 12 hours without waking!  She doesn’t really nap during the day which is a challenge, but to sleep all night at her age!!???  We’ll take it!

Lisa started breast feeding and pumping immediately.  There were some definite bumps along the way.  Skylar was getting too tired and working to hard early on that she didn’t gain weight the first month.  Our first pediatrician wasn’t supportive in our quest to breast feed and didn’t offer any other suggestion than formula, formula, formula.  Through some frustration we were connected with a midwife and a new pediatrician that made house calls – yes HOUSE CALLS – to help us when the owners manual that came with Skylar wasn’t helping.  Skylar and Lisa were both such troopers as we navigated a variety different methods trying to breast feed, bottle feed, supplement with donor milk, pump, etc.  Long story short, Skylar is now a formula fed baby and we’re all happier for the switch.

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So, yeah, we order our formula from over seas.

Bet you’re wondering about the whole Down’s Syndrome thing, huh?  Well, interestingly enough to be diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome there must be genetic testing done and there’s more appointments and insurance hurdles to navigate than I think anyone could prepare us for.  We’ll save that for another post and leave you with this little gem.  Oh, and find Skylar on FaceBook and Instagram!

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Fist bump! She’s 5 months old!

“Sometimes you get shown the light…

…in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”  Grateful Dead

“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need”  Rolling Stones

“Two of my favorite quotes of all time.” – Lisa

This is another long and barely edited post – buckle up or just read this first sentence below.

Alrighty, friends, loved ones, world.  We made the decision to keep our baby – OUR baby – the Brutini.

**But, first…we’ve been asked a lot through this whole process, “why be so out there?” “Why put your private life on display for all to see?”  Well, both Anne-Marie and I feel strongly that there is too much silence and shame in our world.  I decided years ago when I came out to stop the cycle of secrets and shame – in all things.  I chose not to hide any longer how difficult it can be to run a small business with a plastic smile pasted on my face.  I chose not to pretend that I don’t need help and support and care – even cacti need some sunshine and water! Anne-Marie and I chose together to share our story so that others can know that they are not alone – that none of us are alone and there is no shame in sharing our humanness.  As a result of our brutal honesty, we’ve received so many messages and heard so many stories from strangers and from people in our lives that had never talked out loud about their personal struggle with some of the same things.  We were bowled over by some of the stories – we had no idea and thank you for sharing all of you with us!  We were also advised not to talk about this either, especially if we chose to terminate the pregnancy, but we felt sure that it was not in our life intention to hide.  When we reached out through this to those we trusted, the tidal wave of human connection consumed us and we were held and heard and loved by loved ones and strangers, now new friends.  How can we not be the change we want to see in this world?  For real?!

One of our angels, Crystal Mauro, from Giovanni's 21 Gifts.  She brought us our first baby gift basket and shared her story.  Please go read about their mission: http://www.giovannis21gifts.com/

One of our angels, Crystal Mauro, from Giovanni’s 21 Gifts. She brought us our first baby gift basket and shared her story. Please go read about their mission: http://www.giovannis21gifts.com/

It has been the most excruciating  2 weeks of our lives.  Anxiety causes me not to sleep – Anne-Marie sleeps to cope.  Days of shutting down just to cope in a zombie-like state, crying at every little thing with absolutely no fucking patience for anyone else’s ridiculous drama and whiney bullshit. Nights of me tossing and turning and with my wife needing to sleep through the pain – most nights I was literally getting 3-4 hours of broken sleep – off the couch on the couch pacing the floor.

Making the decision to kill your baby is no fucking joke.  Yes, I said it.  That is what this was.  Without belittling the pain and anguish of losing a child to a miscarriage – it is not the same thing!  That choice was tragically taken from you – we had to chose – we had to make the horrific choice whether to kill the human we created or continue on knowing what the future could bring.  That burden of responsibility is unbearable.  As I mentioned before, I went so far one night to contemplate suicide as it seemed like an easier choice.  Other nights I prayed that the choice would be taken from me and I would wake up bleeding and cramping and knowing that pain of losing a child.

During one of my sleepless nights I found this article and the author articulated it so well that in just changing a few details, this is our story too.  I needed to read these stories just as much as I needed to read the happy stories.

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Anne-Marie and I would violently swing from one decision to the other moment to moment – it was interesting to observe how when one of us would say, “I just can’t do this,” the other would present thoughts and ideas for “why not us and why don’t we try?” And then vice versa.  Our love for each other, especially through this, is undaunted and the support we have for each other’s experiences resolute.

The grief, the anger, the sadness, the fear, the darkness felt insurmountable.  A few friends pointed out that the grieving was for the death of a dream – the expectation of a “perfect”…”normal” child – we mournfully agreed.  An analogy friends shared and that we read on some blogs, was that it was as if we planned for a trip to Hawaii and instead while the plane was in the air we were rerouted to China.  No clothes for China, no guide books, no language skills, and just not what we had our hearts set on.  I begged to differ – it was more like planning for a trip to Hawaii and having your plane hijacked by terrorists who take you to a prison camp with no hope of rescue.  That’s how dark of an abyss we were in.

I looked to my spiritual practice and my teacher for any guidance and she reminded us that our teachings tell us that we are in no way locked in to taking on the karma of anyone or anything else – not even biology – and that we have free will and the power to make choices from our own hearts.  I took time – a lot of time – to sit still and be quiet.  My boundaries have never been so stalwart and sure and if nothing else some major karmic shifts in my relationship to the world took place in me from really sitting and listening to my heart (**i hope my wife takes the time to write about her experience through this also. i know she is forever changed also.**)

Gifts - gifts of love and support and words and just holding space unselfishly.

Gifts – gifts of love and support and words and just holding space unselfishly.

As we began sharing slowly and quieting with trusted family and friends, the world of families of humans with Down’s Syndrome just busted wide open.  We were invited in with open arms and honored to meet two different families at different places in their life journey – one mother with a 19 year old and one mother with a 1 year old.  The roller coaster of emotions swung so so high and so low that I thought I would fall off the earth at any moment.  One night I couldn’t sleep again…I sat on the couch alone and made my “final” decision to terminate.  I was sure.  The decision was made.  There was a small window of feeling lighter and clear – but as soon as I walked back up to bed, I vomited harder than I can ever remember.  I passed out from the exhaustion.

Ren could feel my sadness and was by my side - sometimes forcing her way beside me.

Ren could feel my sadness and was by my side – sometimes forcing her way beside me.

In the morning, the light of day and the look on my sleeping wife’s precious face told me that, no, NO, I want this baby.  I’ve waited my whole adult life for a partner like Anne-Marie.  I’ve had two abortions prior to this knowing that the timing and the relationship weren’t right.  I set my own karma in motion. I prepared my body and invested a lot of time and money in building the nest for this baby.  This is my baby.  This is what I created out of love and as my first fierce act of motherhood, I choose to keep this baby and be his or her mother.

Anne-Marie and I cried and talked and held each other’s hands and looked into each other’s eyes and decided to see where this all takes us.  We called a family meeting – although we know that our families are there for us and their unconditional love is never a question, we felt that we needed to look into all of their eyes and let them know that this decision wouldn’t only effect us.  This decision to bring the Brutini into the world would be a family commitment especially in our situation – we will need help.  We will need our families to help raise our child.  We will also need you.

Onward to enjoying this life experience of being pregnant – especially now that the first trimester is fucking behind me!

Namaste strong, y’all.

Is this real life?

**warning** This is long and barely edited.  I have no energy for cute pictures either.  It was just time to let you all know what’s been going on…love, Lisa

These past 17 months have been the most challenging of my life and these last 11 days a special kind of torturous hell. I always thought that the consequences of my heart-breaking decision to come out finally at 38 and divorce my friend of 13 years was going to stick with me as the most challenging and necessary of my life.  No.  Without my wife – her strength and fierce love, there is no possible way I would have made it this far in this whole process of trying to conceive and have made it these past 11 days without (quite literally) contemplating suicide.

January last year, we pulled the trigger and started trying to conceive on our own with tedious tracking and planning and some inconvenient and awkward meetings with our baby daddy, Walter.  After about 6 months of trying, we scheduled with The New Hope Center at the recommendation of a dear friend and gynecologist.  Right away, Dr. Robin found that my uterus was covered in fibroids – one huge one that when removed would seal my fate in never being able to give birth vaginally.  That was a tough truth to swallow, but reconciled that Anne-Marie holding our child would out weigh my deepest wish to give birth naturally.

This surgery (I had another invasive abdominal about 8 years ago) in August left major carnage in its path – the largest fibroid being so large that it required an extra incision under my ribcage that still bothers me to this day when I eat a little too much, or when I sit too long, or now with being pregnant the pressure of my swollen abdomen.  Healing was a lengthy and arduous process that almost broke my spirit, but Anne-Marie was my rock, my nurse, my cheerleader.  As soon as we were permitted to start the process with New Hope in February, we did.  Being 42 was making the big clock in the sky tick fucking fast.  Anne-Marie and I were ready and knew that who we are as people and to each other was the perfect foundation to push ahead and face anything that was tossed our way.

After two failed cycles, the third was to be our last if we could pull together the energy and the money – enter YOU, all of YOU that made us a part of you and made us feel you and your love and your genuine support so deeply that I think that helped with the third cycle being successful.

Success!!  The hardest year of our lives and we made a human with all of your help!  I’ve started a blog post in my head about a thousand times to share my first trimester with you all – but I was so miserable so much of the time that I didn’t want to seem too negative, so I thought I would wait until it (hopefully) passed and I could have perspective.

Last Wednesday June 10th at 7:30am all of our smiles through the nausea and the heartburn and the exhaustion – all of our laughter at the strangeness of people’s behavior once they know there’s a baby in your belly – all of the celebration and storytelling back and forth with other mothers quickly became a heavy-hearted flood of tears and sadness that we both thought might swallow us whole.  Time stood still and we could not fathom that this could be our story.

Our team at New Hope highly recommended that we take the InformaSeq Prenatal Test at 10 weeks to rule out any chromosomal abnormalities.  I did share with a friend that I was a little nervous – being over 40 comes with risk, but I had already been through so much and weathered so much physical and emotional battering that the Divine couldn’t possibly see to give us any more challenges.  So, we put it out of our mind.  We got the call that Monday night that we needed to get with Dr. Robin right away and our hearts sank, but we refused to leave the moment and refused to let our minds get the best of us.  We held each other tightly and remained calm.

Trisomy 21 – Down’s Syndrome.  It was as if we were thrown into a nightmare unable to shake ourselves awake.  We were frozen and squeezing each others hands so tightly as if it could numb out the pain. Dr. Robin very calmly led us through what to do next and what our options would be depending on what we decided to do with the pregnancy.  Our first next step was to have another more invasive test, the Chorionic Villus Sampling, that would yield more concrete results.  The New Hope Center set up the appointment for us to meet with the staff at Maternal Fetal Medicine at EVMS the following Monday.

In the meantime, we both had to work – that day.  The realities of this past year have left us living paycheck to paycheck with no room for errors.  I had four clients that day and was in such a haze the whole time that I barely remember the day. Having a job that involves taking care of people and being very close in their space and energy and whether you get a paycheck or not depends on how you hold it together to give them their experience, is and was brutal.  And the days that followed, the anger and anxiety were so strong that although I had to keep calm and ironically tolerate some pretty major professional degradation (this person’s timing is impeccable as usual,) I did what I could to set boundaries because I was ready to literally have a breakdown at any moment.  I know Anne-Marie shared with me the same – that the anger she as feeling was bigger than any she’d ever felt before – so big that she didn’t know how to manage it and so strong that she didn’t even really have a container for this level of anger.  All of you who know my wife, know that anger is not an emotion she owns often or well.

We slowly began telling people about the diagnosis mostly through texts because the telling out loud over and over and over was excruciating and letting them know that we had no idea what we were going to do – whether we would continue the pregnancy or interrupt – and ask that people not hover and not ask too many questions and just be there for us.  Everyone has said that they would be there for us either way – with some interesting personal opinions slipped in here and there (why, people why?) – and that we won’t be judged and to know that we have our village.

Our appointment at EVMS was way more than we were prepared for.  We were whisked back to the genetics counselor who informed us that we would be talking with her for about an hour and then we would have a full ultrasound and then whatever test we opt to have done.  She said we’d be there for several hours – I panicked – I needed a snack and we were both terrified.

The staff was thorough and straightforward – the ultrasound tech was amazing at her job. This was our first abdominal ultrasound and I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my face – I could’t even look at Anne-Marie.  There was our baby (by the way, I hadn’t been able to call it Brutini since the diagnosis – my first reaction was one of pure detachment and that this thing isn’t me and it is foreign and sick and I want it out) arms and legs and swimming and flipping around so much that the ultrasound took almost 30 minutes – the ultrasound tech was literally chasing the baby around my placenta.

Then the doc came in with the ultrasound tech, a student and his assistant.  It was a whirlwind of him doing another ultrasound to be sure where my placenta was exactly before shoving the needle in my stomach and then callously informing me that my uterus is rutted and potholed, and he wondered why and if I’d given birth before – obviously this is the consequences of my fibroid surgery and why I’m unable to ever go into labor.  Then the surgery set-up began – needles and draping and movement and energy and gloves and chatter as if I wasn’t even there.  I closed my eyes, focused on my breathing and on Anne-Marie’s body right next to me keeping me from shattering into a million pieces.

It was painful and bizarre and the spasming in my back was excruciating, but with a needle piercing my body all of the way through to my placenta, moving or making a sound was not an option.  Shock – exhaustion – cramping – fear – resignation – withdrawal – fury and absolutely no room for anyone or anything else as we wait.

We received the final results on Wednesday night June 17th.  Our baby has Down’s Syndrome.

Baby Bump? Baby Bump!

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The Brutini is 8 weeks along!  S/he is growing quite nicely and all of Lisa’s hormone levels are perfect – so much so that she was able to stop taking the Crinone early!  From an outsider-esk point of view, I believe that my wife is handling this pregnancy thing quite well.  (I say outsider-esk because I’m obviously biased and not really so outside of this experience.)  She will likely tell you otherwise and maybe she should write a post about her experience thus far (hint hint wifey!).

One of the bonuses of finding out we’re pregnant early and going through a fertility clinic is that we get weekly updates on the Brutini’s development.  Every week we go in for an ultrasound, hormone levels and a brief consult with the Nurse Practitioner.  We could choose to not go in every week, but as they said we worked really hard for this pregnancy so we’re going to work really hard to make sure all goes well.  Watching little Brutini grow and form is pretty amazing – like indescribable amazing.  We’ve see the heart beat, a little bit of movement, a blob start turning in to a longer blob with flippers – it’s fascinating to know that this is how we all started!

Some thing I wasn’t necessarily prepared for?  Mainly my attachment to this little thing growing.  And I’m a bit freaked out (what if this, what if that?)!  I’m already so protective and Brutini hasn’t even been born yet!  So now that over protection extends even more so to my wife (as if I wasn’t already).  My wife is completely capable of taking care of herself and really doesn’t need protection.  Her strength and independence is just two of the reasons I fell in love with her.  Even still, I want to make sure that she has everything she needs and wants before she even thinks about it.

Our village has been great!  Since we’ve made this pregnancy so public we get inundated with other families’ experiences.  It’s helped a great deal to hear from other families, even if it’s to be prepared for the unexpected.  The OB Docs that people like and don’t, suggestions on staving off the morning sickness (Lisa’s only puked 1x! I think that’s a win!), knowing that it’s ok to pee 3+ times in the middle of the night and then take a 2hr nap in the afternoon, and needing to eat every 2 hours.

One of the important things that we’ve learned is that each and every pregnancy has some similarities but mostly they vary widely!  This brings me to the title of this post.  The baby bump.  Yes, there is a discernible tightening and firming and little bit growing of the belly.  Even though I’m not the one carrying Brutini, if I hear one more time that “Oh, I didn’t show until I was X months”, I might pop a bitch.  (See above paragraph regarding my over protectiveness.  I see how it affects my wife to hear that from the people she loves.)

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Number 1. My wife is fairly small with a flat belly that she’s never had to try to maintain in her life = showing.  Number 2. She’s had not one but TWO serious abdominal surgeries – one of them less than a year ago = BAM, LAY THE FUCK OFF.  Number 3.  She isn’t you, or your sister, or your mom, or your second cousin twice removed (what does that even mean?) = what was their pregnancy is not hers.  While EVERYTHING is appreciated, I suggest taking a brief PREGNANT pause (pun intended) before speaking.  What’s your intention in saying it?  How would you feel hearing what you’re about to say if you have a shit ton of jacked up hormones flowing through your blood stream?  Maybe I have a bit of those hormones too?  And I’m a sensitive flower?  But what bother’s my wife ultimately bothers me, and…see above…again.  I’m sure I’ll have something a bit more significant to bitch about later – but for now, there’s a baby bump.  Shut up and deal with it already.  It’s here to stay, and I for one am pretty damn pumped that my beautiful wife has a little bun in that oven.  That bump is a sign that Lisa’s body is doing what it’s supposed to, and Brutini seems quite content.

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We made a human! 4 weeks down

Yep, Lisa here!  So, we were inseminated on April 4th (which makes the timeline weird since we DO know the exact day we were inseminated but, the medical world still goes off the first day of your last period to set your timeline) and here we are now a little over 4 weeks along with a tiny little human in my body the size of a seed!!!  Yikes!! After this year of naive expectations, meticulous planning, high hopes and disappointments – best laid plans failing – signs of life and then negative results…we did it!  We’ve decided to name it the, “Brutini” instead of the “bean” or whatever – it’s a little brute yogi, so Brutini.

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My gut reaction was one of complete elation and remarkable relief.  Anne-Marie and I screamed like little girls when we got the call.  I could not stop trembling through all of the phone calls to loved ones – I really think we were both in shock!  We were at the gym when we got the call and there just wasn’t any way either one of us could pull it together enough to do anything!  We got some lovely hugs of support from some of our Brute friends with the most special from Stella, Brute’s matriarch.

Our first Beta test (which is basically a pregnancy test using blood levels), showed my hCG at 500mIU/ml which was a definite sign that I am pregnant – any level above 25mIU/ml means a woman is pregnant – with mine being so high and with me having released two eggs, they were thinking it might be TWINS???!!!  Levels are expected to rise about 60% every other day and mine tripled to 1794mIU/ml!!  Again, could it be twins??

Friday the 24th was our first ultrasound and third BETA test (being that we had our appointment late in the day, we don’t have those BETA levels yet.)  We could see the brutini and it looks like there is just one! Anne-Marie was okay with two, but I am slightly relieved – I’m not sure my body could handle it and then there’s…well…it would be TWO of them!?

The Brutini makes its appearance!

The Brutini makes its appearance!

Now that the shock is wearing off, I am realizing that it is very difficult to allow myself to feel it or know it is there yet.  Even with all of the love being poured over us by you all, after this year of so much story, emotional demand, and just plain trusting and believing so very hard with every fiber of our being that this was going to happen only to have my period come, or my boobs to stop hurting, or to have to have major surgery…I am awaiting the next shoe to drop per say every day.  Every cramp and every bit of moisture in my lululemons – is it my period…is today the day that we will be told it is over once again? I check my boobs constantly to be sure they are still big and sore – is this the day that they won’t be?  Even after seeing the 4 week old little egg in my body, it still doesn’t feel real.  I am hopeful, just IUI shy – especially after talking with our nurse practitioner during our appointment today.

Our nurse practitioner, Kat, said today during the ultrasound appointment that after our last ultrasound post-insemination, she went to speak with Dr. Perez about us.  She told him that we had discussed that this may have to be our last try based on our finances and my emotional well feeling depleted.  She, of course, said, “please don’t give up!!”  When she spoke with Dr. Perez she said that, in his so matter-of-fact European way, he put my statistics in the computer – my age, my history with my uterus etc – and it showed only a 10% chance for me to get pregnant.  So, I guess this really is a miracle AND this just re-emphasizes to me how fragile things still are and that I really must be mindful of how I use my energy and who I spend my energy with.

And, even though it doesn’t feel real, I can definitely intellectualize that there are things I need to be doing and not doing.  So far, my only “symptoms” are the giant, painful boobies and sooooooooooo tired – like falling asleep during massage clients and driving.  It is a strange tired that I’ve never felt.  I’ve been exhausted and I’ve been sleepy, but wow…this tired is no joke!  So, I will be napping more often I guess especially since I’ve cut my caffeine intake way back.

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No nausea (yet, they say.)

Being that I am high-risk because of my age and because of the work they had to do on my uterus last fall, they’ve told me to stop exercising like I have been for the first trimester and start power walking (hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!) I had to control myself when I basically said, “are you fucking kidding me?!”  Kat said, “well you can use 5# dumbbells while you do it.”   Yes, folks, I will back off, but I will not stop doing what my body knows and has been doing in one way or another for 10 years.

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The plan now is an ultrasound along with urine and blood labs every week up until the 10th and possibly until the 12th with the folks at The New Hope Center.  They prefer to keep an eye on their patients until there is a heartbeat and because we spent so much time, energy, and money on making this happen that they want to be able to walk with us as we go along until we are stable enough to graduate to an OB.  It’s also time to choose one of those….and start doing research (meaning ask all of you question after question after question…) to decide if we need a midwife and a doula since I have to have a C-section (again, the surgery made it so that my uterus can carry, but will not withstand contractions.)

As our buddy, Jason, said…4 weeks down 36 to go….

Namaste Strong!

I’m a mess…

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I’ve started this blog post about 3,425 times and rewritten it just as many times.  There are so many things that I’ve wanted to write down, so many emotions that have occurred, and yet I still haven’t found the fingers on the keyboard to get it all out.

As you may have gathered, the second IUI cycle was a bust.  Lisa knew.  She could tell she wasn’t pregnant before the blood draw on March 23rd.  We’re getting pretty used to this rejection unfortunately.  This makes 8 months of active “tries” and this shit’s getting old to say the least.  In Lisa’s words, she wants to “make a baby” for me – and I want this for her.  To continually feel this denial is one of the more painful things I’ve had to experience.  To feel like “oh this might be the month” and then “FUCK….” …silence…tears, and “no, we’re sorry you’re not pregnantAGAIN.  I know that a lot of our fellow bloggers have felt this exact roller coaster of emotions themselves, so this isn’t news to you.  It’s definitely the first time I’ve felt like this.

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Our visit with Dr Robin this past week brought about more emotions than I had anticipated.  Basically, with Lisa’s advanced maternal age Dr Robin would have suggested that we try IVF by now.  However, that’s just not possible for us financially and we’ve taken that out of our line of thinking from the beginning.  If we were able to go that route we’d take my eggs and implant them in to her nest (I stole that from another blogger…the whole eggs in her nest thing).  Again…not possible…so, what is?  We’ve tried two cycles with Femera without much response.  Our next option to increase the odds is to try some powerful follicle stimulating hormones, Follistim.  This option may also require a few other drugs to help control the LH surge, ovulation, etc.  Basically we’re controlling Lisa’s cycle as much as we can to increase the chances of fertilization.

Here’s a sticky point.  These drugs are not cheap.  We are not wealthy.  I hit a breaking point.  I almost lost my shit.

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I told my wife “I don’t want this that bad”.  I feel awful for saying that in the midst of some pretty serious emotions.  I do want this, I do want to share a life with a child that my wife and I raise together (and our village of amazing people).  I can see a little person strapped in to their car seat in the back of our Honda.  I can imagine tucking our baby in to their crib at night.  I can conjure up our child’s voice yelling “mom” from the yard wanting a snack.  I can see this happening.  We have what it takes to be amazing parents.

And……I am afraid.  If we cannot afford to “make” a child, can we afford to feed and care for a child?  I am anxious.  How are we going to afford this cycle?  I hate money, the lack of at times, the accumulation of much before loosing it all again, and the denial of financial reality has caused this very unhealthy relationship.  I am frustrated.  I cannot make any more money and I want to be able to provide for my wife in that way – at this point I cannot.  Why does this have to cost so much?  I am sad.  This is a decision that I would not have made with any other person on this earth.  I could play the what if game all day, but the reality is we fell in love later in life (later only in terms of maternal age) and this adds to the challenge of trying to conceive.  I feel helpless.  My wife tells me that she feels her body has failed her, and this is a pain I cannot put in to words for you to comprehend.   She tells me that she feels that this is all her fault.  I have no words to help ease her pain, frustration, sadness.  I cannot fix this.  This sorrow is almost too much to bear and I just want my wife to be happy no matter the cost.

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I’m not great at outwardly sharing my feelings and emotions – you have to REALLY know me to even get a glimpse.  I’m accused of walling up, spacing out, keeping it all in, retreating, running, you name it I’ve tried it – all in an effort to not feel.  As my nephew says so eloquently, “I’ll do it myshelf” (he can’t quite say self yet). So, yeah, I need help.  We need help.  Even if I push you away and try to hide.  Of course I want to sacrifice any aid and ship it all to my wife, that’s just who I am.  I want her to have the world on a platter.  In order to even remotely come close to giving her all she deserves I know I have to learn to accept the support and aid of my village.  I’m nothing without that.

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We didn’t know, until we asked.  And we could not be more grateful, surprised, thrilled, speechless….YOU ALL ARE FUCKING AMAZING.

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In just 12 hours of the campaign posting – THIS happened. Support is still pouring in. Wow. Just wow. We love you guys, seriously, there is some kinda crazy love in our hearts for you.

We’re asking for help

We’re a little behind in the recent events of this TTC journey we’re on.

Here’s the gist: We may be on our last cycle as it’s become too expensive, both financially and emotionally to continue.  A few of our friends asked why we hadn’t set up a GoFundMe account.  Simply, we didn’t know that this type of support would be something our village would be inclined to participate in.  We’re overwhelmed with response and decided to give it a shot – we LOVE our village.

Two Brute Yogis GoFundMe Campaign can be found by clicking the hyperlink.

We’ll be posting an update ASAP (like tomorrow, ASAP).

Every little thing our village sends our way is appreciated beyond measure.

Every little thing our village sends our way is appreciated beyond measure.

Timing is Everything

And I woke up anxious as hell this morning worrying about the timing of this cycle.  It is a whole new roller coaster this time around and…Yes, yes we have been neglecting writing recently.  We have both been doing the very best we can to stay present in our moments to get through our days and that means there isn’t a whole lot left in the tank to do any thoughtful writing.  I thought being up early with my butter coffee and a few quiet moments before the day begins was a good time to just get it all out.

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First, I want to share with you a dear gift we received from a genuine, full-hearted friend after we heard the news that our science experiment hadn’t worked last month.  Laura sent us a text with a picture of her work that night and it made me cry so hard I could barely speak.  I think I had been in shock up until that moment and unwilling to ruin a night out with friends by weeping and feeling sorry for ourselves.  And, in my usual way, made a joke too…and inside joke we have with two other best friends – “Vulva!!”  Laughter always helps me!  Anyway, please head over and read her blog post and see the gift she created for us – it will hang in our room to remind us of the beauty within all of this science.

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Vulva Cupcakes because, why not!?

So, let’s play catch up with what’s been up with us – Anne-Marie has been taking an 8 week Psych course as a pre-req for nursing school and with it being only 8 weeks (and two of them were canceled for a holiday and snow) she has had a test or a project every week.  Oh, and her truck blew up so we were down to one car for a bit before one of our village lent us her jeep.  Poor timing right now, but we are beyond grateful for the kindness of our friends.  We had to give the jeep back yesterday and now have another friend willing to lend us a car.  Our village rules!

Anne-Marie and I both have been taking on extra jobs too to make extra money to pay for the hormones (they are as much or more than a monthly car payment) and for the 4 doc appointments I have before every cycle and the several I have during and after too.  One of those extra jobs is one we both LOVE doing under our Brute Yogi handle – programming!  We have been programming for some pretty amazing humans, new to working out…training for a marathon…just needing some assistance being more badass.  We love it AND it takes a TON of time to do it well and personalize it for each person.  Our brains are usually fried to far to do any writing after that too.

Soooooo….today is Cycle 2 Day 12.  I had not ovulated as of yesterday, not for not trying to see it with the 4 ultrasounds and 3 blood draws I had in a week.  Last cycle we did the IUI on Day 11, so this cycle is way off…probably from all the hormones I had shoved in to my body last cycle.

I am so sick of this thing!  I've had this damn thing in my vagina more often than I've had my wife in there this month!!

I am so sick of this thing! I’ve had this damn thing in my vagina more often than I’ve had my wife in there this month!!

We did have a one on one with Dr. Robin to discuss what happened during Cycle 1 and to have a game plan for Cycle 2.  Basically, Cycle 1 wasn’t ideal – I had only one egg/follicle that grew and it grew a lot and big, so much so that it ended up being over-ripe when it came time for the sperm to meet her.  My estrogen was also an issue which was why I was popping Estradiol 3 times a day.  Anne-Marie and I also believe that the sperm weren’t vibrating at as high of a frequency energetically as they could be if they were fresh (that’s the yogi/hippie/spiritual side of us.)

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We did finally get to ask Dr. Robin directly about why it was that we had to pay for the protocol for an unknown donor with Walter when if we were a straight couple with a known donor, we would be allowed to use a fresh sample.  She explained to us that the FDA regulate it in order to protect the [me] from anything Walter may be able to pass on to me without my consent – if we were consenting to have sex already, it wouldn’t be an issue.  But we continued pressing and asking and finally got a meeting with the embryologist at New Hope who was very open and kind and receptive and glad we posed this question.  She said that as long as we signed a waiver, she was good with it and actually preferred to do it all with a live sample anyway.  (If only we had asked sooner, we could’ve saved $1,000……!?!?)   I sincerely hope that from all of this, they will now offer this option if and when another couple comes in in our same situation.

This week of appointments and blood draws and ultrasounds – this week that has forced me to cancel massage clients and personal training clients last minute – this week that has not given us any time at all yet again to get to the gym or on our mats…this week did bring us what felt like more hopeful news though…All four follicles/eggs were growing this time (although, I apparently don’t respond to the Femara because I still only had one growing larger than the rest).  My estrogen levels are normal. My lining is growing normally.  No fibroids aren’t of any concern.  And Walter gets to give a live sample and be there again for the IUI on…..Monday.

Like I said, I am “off” this cycle.  When we went in yesterday I could tell I wasn’t ovulating.  I can always tell – here is some more TMI, but you ladies need to learn this stuff about your bodies – I get a little crampy and the egg white stuff starts dripping out of my vag at any random moment throughout the day or when I pee.  That hasn’t happened yet and my LH levels were too low yesterday.  Today though…I think I’m starting to ovulate and this is what woke me up early this morning.  What if we miss it?!  Kat’s nurse called last night to say to have Anne-Marie give me the HCG trigger shot tonight at 10pm and then we come in Monday morning for the IUI.  Now that I feel my egg starting to drop, what if we miss it?!  I will trust…they are the professionals…I will pray and I will enjoy my wife’s birthday weekend (DO NOT TELL ME TO FUCKING RELAX though…)  I will try hard not to worry about the needle she’s going to stick in my ass cheek again tonight…it will call for a glass of wine that’s for sure!

Namaste Strong, y’all! XO Lisa

 

Nope

Not pregnant…again.  We’ve been instructed to stop the supportive hormones (progesterone and estrogen), set up an appointment for a consult with Dr. Robin, and call them on the first day of my period to start all over.

So, yes, we will try again.  And, yes, we are super sad and disappointed – ( I, Lisa, am even feeling a little bit angry at my body.)

Onward.  Round 2 will being around about March 29th or so.  Tonight though, we will eat all of the gluten (aka PIZZA) and Lisa will drink some delicious beers – then we will go watch the funny ladies of Panties In a Twist do their thing on stage and laugh and laugh and laugh.  We need it!

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Anne-Marie here.  This cycle felt different for me (the one NOT carrying the baby).  To let you in to Anne-Marie land a little more – I am a serial optimist.  I do believe that thoughts shape our experiences, i.e. if I think it will happen, it is more likely to happen (what ever it is).  We’ve had a lot of nopes in this 14 month journey and this cycle was the first one that I wasn’t 100% sure about.  A lot of it had to do with the frustration we felt with the New Hope Center, some of it with the unknown now that we are dealing with the New Hope Center among other things.

Still, as soon as the phone rang today to give us the news my stomach dropped like I was heading down one of the largest drops on the tallest roller coaster at Bush Gardens.  Did that 8 double to 16?  Fuck you very much, no it didn’t.  I’m sad, and frustrated.  BUT, and that’s a BIG BUTT (see what I did there?), I’m beyond appreciative and grateful and more in love with my wife every moment that passes through this adventure.  She is working so hard, physically, emotionally, spiritually to try to carry a child for the three of us.  What she is enduring I witness first hand.  I’m not frustrated or sad that we lost this potential child, I’m frustrated and sad that my wife is working so hard and this time wasn’t a success.  I’m also thankful for this experience as it continues to strengthen our bond as a couple in ways that I could have never imagined.  I don’t need a child to appreciate this, I want a child to share this life, this love, this bond.

I’d also like to express my sincere gratitude to all of YOU that read this and share your experiences and your support with us (Lisa, Walter and me).  This village, this huge extended village, is pretty awesomesauce.

Oh, and PS the winner of the best response thus far goes to my (Anne-Marie) mother: Ok next month!!! I am going to spank that little semen he went the wrong way! Thanks mom, that was hilarious!