Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

From our two big Snowflakes: 

From our Snowflake monkey:

And from our whole family:

We wish you tidings of comfort and JOY now in this Christmas season and in the coming new year.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Embryo Adoption in the News

I have an embryo adoption friend who recently was interviewed by People magazine about her personal adoption story.  This past week, her story aired as a three part online special.  Part one was Liz's story, part two was the genetic mother's story, and part three was an interview with Liz's reproductive endocrinologist.

All in all, they were amazing interviews that, hopefully, brought some positive attention to embryo adoption in the United States. 

One point could bear elaboration:  there are three different routes one can chose from when seeking embryo adoption:  agency adoption, a private match, or a clinic's donation program.  Liz and her husband exemplify scenario two, the private match, while my family has grown through an agency adoption.  I have no interest in saying one is better than another because that point varies by personal situation.  I merely want to lay out some of the similarities and differences between the three paths.


To date, there are three main facilities that offer agency-type embryo adoption services:  Nightlight's Snowflake Program, the Embryo Adoption Services of Cedar Park, and the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC).  I've examined these programs at length before, so, for the sake of brevity, I'm just going to look at some common points. 

All three require a home study from adoptive families.

The first two facilities write up contracts that carefully outline the relinquishment of the genetic parents' rights.  (As NEDC retains rights to the embryos, not the genetic parents, its contracts are different in nature than the former two establishments.)

All three provide matching services.

All three offer open, semi-open, or closed adoptions. 

All three offer the adoptive family the complete batch of embryos.

All three offer biographical information on the genetic family.  Snowflakes and Cedar Park offer extensive information on the placing family.  NEDC offers varying amounts of information given the different levels of openness (an closed match often means a more limited amount of information available on the donors).

Snowflakes and Cedar Park offer counseling services to both the donating and adopting parties, if desired.

Both Snowflakes and Cedar Park oversee the physical transportation of the embryos from wherever they are housed to the adoptive family's transferring clinic.  (NEDC is a clinic and already houses the embryos.)

This route tends to be the most expensive due to the involved role the agency plays in the whole process.

Additional costs consist of the home study (though Cedar Park offers one in house for an additional cost), medication, and the embryo transfer (except for NEDC which performs the transfer on site).


There are two ways to pursue a private match:  through "word of mouth" or through a matching forum.  With the advent of social media and chat groups, finding embryos through "word of mouth" is not an impossible scenario.  However, many adoptive families are turning to one of the two "matching forums" in existence.

Miracles Waiting is essentially a classified advertisement service for donating/adopting couples to find each other.  One pays a flat fee to join ($150) and then one can obtain full access to the listings.  Embryos may not be bought or sold, as that is illegal, but otherwise, there are no regulations or requirements of donors or recipients.

NRFA is a relatively new forum for finding a match.  The price for membership varies, based on the number of months purchased.  This is less like a classified advertisement service and more like a personal look at placing/waiting families' life books. 

Home studies are usually not required, though some placing parents may show preference to those adoptive families who have a current home study.

Usually a private match results in some sort of openness between the placing and adopting families. 

While a private match appears much less expensive than an agency match, there are a few other costs to include:  transporting the embryos to your transferring clinic, legal fees, and all the fees associated with the embryo transfer itself. 


Some clinics have their own in-house embryo donation programs.  The clinic may or may not have full rights to these embryos.  If the clinic has full rights, then the paperwork is just between the clinic and recipients.  However, if the genetic parents retain rights, then legal paperwork must include them.

Home studies are not required.  Some clinics require counseling services for all patients using "donated material" (embryos included); some do not.

Typically clinics offer only anonymous donation programs.  The adoptive parents have access to whatever details the genetic parents provided which could range from full life history with pictures, to just minimal characteristics.

While other clinics may offer it on a case by case basis, Embryo Donation International (EDI) is the only clinic I know of that has an option for a level of openness.

Many clinics offer enough embryos for a single transfer only.  The receiving couple typically does not receive the whole batch of embryos.  Some clinics, like FIRM, allow the recipients to reserve a whole embryo set.  Others do not. 

Some clinics charge just the standard embryo transfer fees.  Some clinics have additional fees for using embryos from their donation program.

Overall, a clinic donation program is usually the least expensive route, but with the greatest limitations.

From a Catholic perspective, there is no "morally superior" path out of the three.  A potential adoptive couple should carefully weigh their personal needs, finances, and goals for the future (both their own and any resulting hypthetical children) before chosing a route.  And pray, pray wholeheartedly for guidance and direction.  Obviously it goes without saying that, when pursuing any route, the utmost care must be taken to preserve the dignity of each embryo. 

EDIT:  While I find there to be no morally superior path out of the three options, I personally have a hard time with programs that split embryo sets into single transfer portions only (usually groups of two or three).  Try to keep the good of the embryos in mind, including their future well-being.  Will they want to know more about their genetic parents one day?  Quite possibly.  Will they want to know more about their genetic siblings one day?  Most likely.  How important is it for you to be able to assist them in searching for answers?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Somewhat Surreal

Sorry for the absence. Life has been busy and, though I've composed multiple entries in my head, they've yet to make it out.

I have five weeks to decide if I want to find out if Violet is really a girl.  Or a surprise boy.  Or will remain a surprise until May.  Five weeks.  That's kind of insane.

My OB referred me to a MFM (we called them perinatologists in VA) to check on the status of our "vanishing twin". 

News:  Dash's sac is still there, though he is not.

Good news:  Violet should be physically unaffected by the lingering second sac.

Best news:  Violet was very active on yesterday's ultrasound, sucking her thumb, flipping, jumping, kicking, body slamming... 

I forgot how amazing these early ultrasounds are, when you can see them move but still not feel anything.

In the picture above, Violet had just done a belly/face flop, one of her many break-dancing moves.  I'm greatly amused by the roundness of her little bottom.

In the picture below, she is resting on her back between rounds of hip hop.

Thank you, God, for this gift of life.  It's been a long, hard road (for both our snowbabies and
ourselves) but we trust in You.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Goodbyes and Hellos


We had our follow-up ultrasound Monday at our clinic and learned that Baby B, "Dash", was no longer with us.  It was a strange ultrasound.  We could actually see the two sacs much more clearly than we could the prior ultrasound.  We could also see a stark difference between the two sacs:  "Violet" is alive and growing and had doubled in size in ten days; "Dash" was half the size of the previous visit and no longer had a heartbeat. 

Though we had hoped against hope for Dash's survival, he left his temporary home for his eternal home.  As we've done with all our little ones in heaven, we have given him a Biblical name - Joshua.  Goodbye, sweet Joshua.  We miss you.  We love you.  Please pray for the continued growth and health of "Violet".

And with this ultrasound, we are done with the clinic.  I am discharged from their care to the care of my normal, local OB.  Goodbye, clinic.  Thank you for your care of all of our Texas adopted embryos. 


I have yet to call my OB to schedule my first appointment.  Maybe today I'll make the time.  I can't wait to share an ultrasound experience with Cora and Mac and to let them hear the heartbeat of their growing sibling. 

"Violet", it's just you now.  My daydreams are switching over to life with a single newborn.  I've got to admit, life looks a lot easier with one baby rather than two.  You appear strong, a fighter even, after six years on ice.  We can't wait to welcome you to the world in May, or June, if you decide to take your time.  We love you.  Grow strong.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Ultrasound

I am overjoyed to announce that we are indeed pregnant with twins.  Yesterday, we saw two babies and two heartbeats.

However, it appears I am not yet free from worry.

Note:  Cora and Mac have decided that Baby A is a girl (Violet) and Baby B is a boy (Dash).

Baby A is the one with the large sac.  She measured beautifully, exactly the dating that I was yesterday - 7w2d.  Her heartbeat was about 135 bpm.

Baby B is having a hard time.  I don't know how much of the measuring difficulty was due to baby position, but the doctor had a challenging time getting a good look at him.  His sac appears very small and he is measuring five days behind, 6w4d.  He had a heartbeat and, though Dr. H. tried repeatedly, we just couldn't zero in on it enough to hear it.  Dr. H did think his heartbeat looked slower than his sister's.

Speaking honestly, we just don't know if Dash will make it.

I have been through a whole range of emotions since yesterday (hence why I didn't post then - still working through things).

I honestly expected multiples given my consistently high (for me) hcg levels and doubling rates.

While I mentally prepared myself in advance to see one or two babies, I did not expect to have the ultrasound and leave with questions.

I don't want to have to say goodbye to yet another baby.  It is not only possible but it is the more likely scenario.

But, but, but...  I am NOT giving up on Dash!  He is there NOW.  I am carrying twins NOW.  And we love them both dearly.

We do not know what will happen.  I go back for a repeat ultrasound in about a week and a half.

I am trying to maintain balance, to not let my fear of what might happen cloud my joy over what we saw yesterday.  Yesterday, there were two hearts beating.  We are, again, the parents of twins.

I have Matthew 6:34 written down and resting on my nightstand:  "Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself."  Do not worry.  Do not worry.

Thank you all for your prayers.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Seven Weeks

I am jumping over hurdles.

My bloodwork came back with a continued healthy increase. I have passed the hcg level of my last miscarriage.

And today I am seven weeks pregnant. I have passed the point of my last miscarriage in dating too!

I did learn Monday that it is advisable to avoid having the flu while having "morning" sickness.  Not that any of us have control over flu germs. But if you can, the two do NOT mix. I am only slightly exaggerating when I say I felt like death for about 24 hours.

And now, I am getting increasingly eager for my first ultrasound Friday!

Many thanks for the continued prayers - I know your words have helped hold my spirits.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

7QT - The Real Life Edition

7 quick takes sm1  7 Quick Takes about driving in DC, meeting fabulous people, and outing myself as an airplane stalker nerd

1.  My ultrasound is scheduled for 10/10 at 10. thirty.  Adding the thirty kind of breaks the repetition I had going on there.  I am starting to get excited.  The advent of pregnancy symptoms has definitely encouraged excitement.  Feeling cruddy, yay!  Want to sleep all day, yay!  Clothes starting to feel snug, yay! Well, err, maybe more surprise at that last one than celebration.  I'm only 6.5 weeks - snug already?! Haven't gained any weight, maybe even lost a little as I can't eat as much in a sitting, but "things" are rearranging. 

2.  Homeschooling has had an interesting start.  While I've done some casual work with the children before, this is the first time I've ever attempted work in which they might need correction.  And we had a rocky beginning learning each other's personalities.  Thanks to advice from many seasoned friends, I have learned that Cora and Mac need to be schooled separately, even subjects in which they are seemingly the same level. Amazing transformation of our school day.  Another life saver is these things:

I purchased mine from a local teacher store.  And now math is not a battle.  Well, the math itself was never the battle; number formation for hands that just weren't quite ready yet to write them was at fault (especially little boy hands).
3.  I've taught two preK/K classes so far.  We meet two Wednesdays a month and I teach a class that has a science theme though is not limited to science activities.  Class one we talked about apples, apple trees, and tested kitchen ingredients that could possibly slow the browning process of apples.  Class two was devoted to outer space, specifically the moon and the sun.  And we did an extraordinarily messy experiment exploring the formation of craters on the moon.  Class three will be this week and our topic is the ocean.  It is truly amazing how many good finds are available on pinterest.  And how intimidated I am by the professional primary teachers. 
4.  Sometimes I wonder how much Hank, our Great Dane, can understand what we say to him.  Fridays are family movie nights.  One day, in preparation for our movie, I called out to the kids, "Go get your favorite stuffed animal and sit on the couch!"  And Hank went to his toy basket, pulled out his stuffed gator, and laid down in front of the couch clutching his toy. 
Another time Bryan was trying to get Cora to give him a hug.  She was persistently ignoring his "pleas".  However, Hank sauntered over and put his head on Bryan's shoulder.  Yes, Danes can do that when you are sitting.  And that is what you call a Dane hug.
5.  We have a relatively new rule at our house:  No swinging with sticks.  Though the rule went into effect after one loss, Mac has now destroyed two pairs of shorts and torn a third by "forgetting" this rule.  Yes, I'd have to say boys are harder on clothes than girls.
6.  I lead a Moms' Group at our church.  We meet two times a month to discuss a book chapter and for social time.  We just finished our last book (Style, Sex, and Substance) and voted on a new book.  Starting October 16, we'll be studying My Sisters the Saints.  Ever read it before?  Are there any other books you'd recommend? 
7.  And, lastly, I thought I'd throw in a random fact about me to make it to number seven.  I grew up in a household that demanded you eat all the food on your plate.  I hated peas and lima beans but had to eat them regardless.  So I taught myself to swallow them whole.  Any deep dark food secrets from your past?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I mentioned previously the "hurdles" I need to overcome.  I don't even know entirely what I'm looking forward to - calm? peace? freedom from all fear?  I realize that no state in pregnancy will bring me "freedom from all fear".  It can be all too easy for a mother to get caught up in the "what if's" and dissolve into a fear frenzy.  And, let's be honest, the fears don't end with birth.  A mother can seem an awful lot like a concerned mother hen, clucking around her young.

I do want to elaborate a bit on what these hurdles are.  Maybe if I can successfully describe these mental roadblocks to you, then you can celebrate with me as I pass each one.

Hurdle:  Blood draws.  Each week I have my labs run, checking my hcg, progesterone, and estrogen levels.  I have no problems with needles.  It's the numbers game - I am constantly comparing this pregnancy's numbers to my December pregnancy.  Yesterday's draw equaled the highest hcg I got with my last pregnancy before I miscarried. 

Next blood draw is Monday. God willing, I will overcome this hurdle.  Fear, be gone!

Hurdle:  Bleeding.  Last pregnancy I had two bleeding episodes while maintaining great hcg levels.  And then I had a surprise miscarriage in January.  I had a bleeding episode Sunday morning (thank you, Lord, it wasn't at church!).  The fear is twofold: the bleeding in and of itself, but also what it represents - the beginning of my last miscarriage. 

Unfortunately, there's no "expiration date" of this hurdle.  I know that bleeding is not uncommon in pregnancy, especially early pregnancy.  Fear, be gone!

Hurdle:  The first ultrasound.  We've now had four transfers with our Texas clinic and I have not yet been able to see a heartbeat on an ultrasound. Last pregnancy, we miscarried the day before the ultrasound.  I did see one little baby, on her way out, no heartbeat.  While I haven't scheduled the appointment yet, the ultrasound will be sometime next week. 

Dear Lord, I am praying so hard that we see heartbeats next week!  Fear, be gone!

Hurdle: The transition from clinic to OB.  This obstacle dates back to our very first transfer in May 2009.  We had good initial numbers, and then a beautiful first ultrasound.  And then I went to my first OB appointment at eleven weeks only to see she had stopped growing already. And her heart had stopped. 

I have a lot more monitoring now than I did back then, so this hurdle is a teeny bit less scary than the others. It's also more remote, as the transition won't take place until probably early November.  Nonetheless, fear, be gone!

I'm praying the novena to St. Therese through  I typically am at least one day behind schedule with the prayer schedule which meant I prayed this Sunday, after my bleeding episode:

Despite great suffering during her life, St. Therese still trusted deeply in God. Today, let's pray to have the same trust and strength when we suffer through hard times.
The suffering can come in many forms, but none of us are immune to it. Jesus carried His cross and asked us to take up ours and follow Him.
Since that is what He asks, He will give us the grace and strength to endure the suffering of this life as long as we continue to trust and hope in Him.
St. Therese, pray for us!

While I don't know what the future may bring, I did find comfort in those words.  I continue to try to offer up my fear and exchange it for joy in the present gifts I have been given.  And maintain hope for the future.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

7 Quick Takes: The Pregnancy Test

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about cool vintage books, a radio studio in my home, and the only five things that really matter when you host a party

1.  I woke in the wee hours of the morning Wednesday. Before I rolled over to look at the clock, I told myself if were after 3:00, I'd take a pregnancy test.  If it were before 3:00, I'd have to force myself back to sleep.  It was 3:45. I stumbled out of bed and struggled unwrapping the test, my hands were shaking so badly.  I POAS and waited the requisite amount of time.  It was positive.  I just stared at it in disbelief.  I debated waking Bryan then or leaving it on his sink as a surprise when he woke later. I opted for the latter.

2.  It was not easy to fall back to sleep. My mind was racing, alternating between "Thank you, Jesus!" to "oh, I want to wake Bryan right now and tell him!" to saying Hail Mary's in an effort to calm my mind.  I eventually dozed off to be somewhat woken up by Bryan's alarm at 5:41.

3.  His reaction was exactly what I hoped.  I stayed in bed, eyes closed, and listened.  He stumbled into the bathroom, turned on the light, and picked up the test. There was a pause, in which I imagine he was forcing his sleep bleary eyes to focus and read the test.  And the next thing I knew, Bryan was racing into the bedroom, and pelting me with kisses.

4.  The kids were good sports with our drive down to get my bloodwork completed and I got my results mid-afternoon.  My hcg at 9 days past a five day transfer (9dp5dt) was a 300.  The clinic's goal was a 50.

5.  I had my follow-up bloodwork yesterday to measure the rate of increase.  There is a huge range of acceptable increase rates for hcg, but, as a rule of thumb, clinics like to see the number double about every 48 hours.  My number was 874 (we would have been comfortable with anything 600 or higher).  This means the doubling time was about 31 hours.

6.  What do all those numbers means?  Well, hcg levels very hugely by person and pregnancy.  Personally speaking, these are the highest numbers and fastest rate of increase I've experienced.  But that doesn't really amount to much. (There's at least one woman in my Facebook EA group who had higher hcg numbers with her singleton pregnancy than her twin pregnancy.)  I would make a guess that both Dash and Violet are snuggled in and growing.  However, we won't know anything until my first ultrasound.

7.  First ultrasound?  My clinic does things on the later end of things so our first ultrasound won't be until around October 10. We haven't scheduled it yet.

We are elated.  Someone asked if the kids were excited. Honestly, the kids never assumed anything otherwise.  They have just always trusted, with child-like simplicity, that Dash and Violet were indeed growing.  

I am struggling a bit with fear, as I feel like we have certain "hurdles" to overcome. Hurdles may not be the right word, but I think every woman who has experienced miscarriage breathes a little more easily after she has passed the point of prior miscarriages.

I am heartened by the very good numbers and by the few pregnancy symptoms I am experiencing thus far. I am daily making the choice to seek joy. For TODAY, I am pregnant. TODAY, God has graced us with new life.

Thanks be to God!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Babies on my brain

I am not a compulsive home pregnancy test (HPT) taker. I'll take one hpt the day of the actual lab work.  And while I have kept my brain busy during waking hours, apparently it gets back to the baby business while I'm sleeping.

I dreamed one night that Bryan was holding quintuplets in his lap, beautiful bouncy black boys of about nine months old. Needless to say, his lap was pretty full. In the same dream, I learned I was pregnant with triplets. The rest of my dream was spent wandering the house, contemplating which corners could support the weight of baby hammocks to accomodate our rapidly growing brood.

I've dreamed about quadruplets.  Sure, why couldn't both embryos split? ;-)

Last night I dreamed that my HPT could tell me the exact hcg level. I read the test and saw a 2170. Oh, that's a huge number, I thought. (For frame of reference, my positive tests thus far have ranged from 76 to 250's for my first blood draw.).  And then, dream me looked at the HPT again and read a 20,170.  WOW! Dream me was almost bowled over by the enormous number.  And then my dream fast forwarded to the clinic and the first ultrasound. And we're all staring at the screen trying to count just how many heart beats we're seeing.

Apparently my subconscious is trying to set me up for my own TLC show.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Transfer Itself

Part of the embryo transfer protocol is a valium administered about an hour before the transfer itself.  Technically it helps to relax the uterine muscles.  But there's that ancillary benefit too, taking the edge off any nervousness or anxiety that might be felt.

Yesterday was the first time the nurse had ever made it sound like the valium was optional.  She knocked on the door and asked, "Would you like a valium?"

"Oh, yes, please!" I responded, my words practically running together in my eagerness. 

As she smiled and left the room to retrieve my dose, I asked Bryan, "Do you think I should have hesitated before answering?  Was I too eager?"

He just snickered at me.

I can say that between the valium and all the myriad of prayers that have been said (and are continuing), my nervous energy subsided.

I'd like to introduce you to "Dash" and "Violet". 

Dash and Violet were created in 2008 and vitrified five days after fertilization.  (And, if you're new to our story, we adopted them this past spring.)  These are blastocysts, and this picture was taken shortly after the thawing process.  These two were vitrified and stored in separate straws and thus thawed separately. The one on the right was thawed first and is a teeny bit more re-expanded/re-hydrated than the one on the left due to that approximate fifteen to thirty minute head start.

The embryologist was very patient with my myriad of questions.  Both of these embryos look great, with no noticeable cell loss.  It takes about fifteen minutes or so to thaw a vitrified embryo.  After the thawing process, each embryo "rests" for a few hours in a solution. 

The outside rim of each embryo is called the zona pellucida.  This is basically like a shell on an egg.  Through time, embryologists have learned that frozen embryos have a tougher than normal zona pellucida.  To help encourage embryos to hatch (a necessary step that must occur before the embryo can implant on the uterine wall), embryologist nowadays use a technique called "assisted hatching".  See that notch in the zona pellucida of the embryo on the right?  That's what the embryologist did to assist the embryo in its future attempt at hatching.  Both embryos had this done (it's actually standard practice at our clinic on all frozen embryos).  The left embryo had rotated since the assisted hatching was completed - the notch was there, we just couldn't see it.

You can just sort of make out an outer layer of cells, just inside the zona pellucida.  If I remember correctly, this layer is the trophoblast and will become the placenta.

The embryo on the right is a little clearer to see due, perhaps, to its short headstart from thawing first.  At any rate, you'll notice inside the outer rings are two masses, one a cell mass in the left center, and the other a clearer area in the right center.  The cell mass is what will grow into the baby and is called the "embryoblast".  I didn't think to ask what the clearer section becomes but it is called the "blastocoel".

Here's an color picture I found online that labels the blast components (this embryo is further along developmentally than Dash and Violet as pictured above).

Our clinic here in Texas has a big screen tv in the operating room.  We are able to see the embryos right before the transfer and watch as the embryologist sucks them into the catheter and brings them into the operating room.  There is probably a technical term for "the act of sucking into a catheter" but I do not know what it is.  ;-)

You want to know something truly amazing? The embryos had both noticeably grown in the short time since the first picture was taken. I don't know exactly how much time had lapsed between the first picture and the transfer itself, but it could not have been more than a few hours.  And both embryos had visibly grown - it was incredible!

The blastocoel (the clearer inner mass) had grown considerably on both embryos.  One embryo was more than two thirds filled with blastocoel, the other about half filled.  And, one embryo was already hatching, almost like the random internet picture below.  The embryo was just starting to hatch, though not near as far along as the one pictured below.

I didn't really notice the moods of the crowd in the OR (and there was a crowd: techs, doctor, intern, embryologist, plus me and Bryan).  But Bryan said everyone seemed very upbeat and encouraging about Dash and Violet and their growth.

Our clinic had recently changed their post-transfer procedures, so we didn't have to rest for any requisite amount of time.  Just transfer, bathroom (as procedure is done with a full bladder you cannot underestimate the necessity of this step), change back into civilian clothes, and then we were released. 

We then had some of the best burgers in our life at Hopdoddy's.  I had the Greek burger and it was AMAZING.  Perhaps I was still on a bit of a valium high and riding the good vibes from the transfer, but that was one good lunch.

We then wandered a unique toy store (Terra Toys, if you're ever in the area) and then headed back home.

I slept wonderfully last night and my nervous energy is mostly gone today.  This is due in part to the encouraging-looking embryos but most of all due to your prayers.  I am so very thankful for the family, friends, and even relative strangers offering up a few words on our behalf.

I do not know what the future will bring.  However, I know that today I am pregnant. Today, I have both Dash and Violet on board.  I am choosing to live in the moment and embrace it.  And pray without ceasing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Thoughts Before the Transfer

I've done a good job keeping my mind busy and not over analyzing all the transfer possible outcomes.   Until last night, during my shower.  I felt my spirits plummet as I started down the black hole of "what if's".

I wallowed for a few minutes, hopelessness creeping in.

And then I decided if I have to go to an extreme, I will choose the other extreme. The one of faith and hope.

I am clinging to these beliefs for dear life, attempting desperately to banish those dark, heavy thoughts.

If I believe in a God who can move mountains, then I will choose to believe that He could even turn two into three and grant us triplets if He so desired.

The important thing is not really the exact words I'm saying but the acts of faith and hope that I am deliberately choosing to utter.

God, I believe.

I trust.

I hope.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Four Days

Four days until we meet our last waiting ones, our last snowflakes.  For a while there, I kept telling people I was terrified of this final embryo transfer.  And then, after some contemplation, I realized I'm not.

I am not terrified.

I am not exactly sure what I am.  Resolute is the word that keeps coming to mind, but I've rechecked the dictionary and that word doesn't quite fit. 

I have hope.  Not excessive hope, I don't see things through rose colored lenses.  But I do believe that these embryos will complete our family.  For a while, until I get the adoption bug again.

I have courage. Sometimes it's hard to march back into the same situation, in this case the clinic, when the prior three times have not ended as desired.  I am moving forward.  And with a smile. It may be a teeny tiny little Mona Lisa smile, but by golly, I will smile and go forth with cheer.

I have respect.  For the genetic parents who chose to give up their remaining embryos in hopes of fulfilling another couple's dreams.  For the adoption agency, for believing these embryos are worthy of life. For Bryan, for walking down this road of hopes and dreams, again.

I have been busy and that's helped limit my daydreaming.  Don't know if anyone else is like this, but whatever I daydream never comes to fulfillment. So for now, I limit myself to one of two scenarios.  A negative.  And a positive yielding triplets.  Both situations are possible, though I'd like to think highly unlikely.  And, honestly, after the length of this road, part of me (perhaps the less sane part) would welcome triplets.  (The sane part would be hyperventilating into a pillow.)  Statistically, since we're transferring two embryos, triplets are possible if one of the two embryos splits.  Not altogether unheard of, but extremely rare.

A negative is a real possibility too.  I recognize that.  I don't want it, but I name it as a possibility.  For the sake of transparency with myself, I have to admit that a negative could happen.

I guess in some small way maybe I am finally learning to put my hopes fully in God?  With each of our last three transfers, I always had that back up plan - we can use the remaining set of embryos, or rematch.  I still exerted some miniscule amount of control on the situation.  But now, we're done.  This is it and there's nothing I can do except pray and follow my drug protocol.

One startling aspect: my type-A brain might actually be more relaxed in totally relinquishing control to God.

"Dash" and "Violet", we'll meet you soon.  Your first parents love you.  We love you.  See you Monday, little ones. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's Go Time

You know how sometimes time zips past and other times you seem to be aware of the passing of each and every second?

Much of the summer was the second scenario.  And now that we're in the transfer cycle, I feel like every time I blink, a day or more has passed.

I have lots of little house/school projects that I have more or less postponed until now.  And we took our trip to San Antonio last week.  And Moms Group is starting back up at church.  And I'm toying with the idea of teaching a prek/k science class.  And I'm the leader of the family readiness group for Bryan's work.  And there's this thing called homeschooling...

In a three week period, we will have driven round trip to San Antonio once, Round Rock once, Austin three times, and Houston once.  Many people wouldn't blink an eye at that.  But I'm a homebody.  That much driving kind of makes me twitch a bit.

My baseline ultrasound was yesterday (just a status check on the state of my ovaries and uterine lining among other things).  Everything looks good.  Dr. H. thinks these embryos look very promising.  I know she's trying to reassure me, to offer me some hope.  It's been a long road with her.  Can you believe we're now experiencing our FIFTH cycle prep with this clinic?  One cycle, last November, ended up cancelled, but still... 

Assuming next Tuesday's lining check and progesterone labs are good, our transfer will be Monday, September 8. 

I want to feel hope.  I do daydream from time to time about being pregnant again.  But this time I am guarded. 

Cora and Mac are accompanying me on this journey once again.  Cora pretends to take her medicine at each meal, just like I do with my estradiol doses.  Apparently she is going to have two babies, a boy and a girl.  She is undecided on the names as of yet.  And Mac takes his "reminder" role very seriously.  "Momma, don't forget to take your pills!" 

Cora and Mac each assure me that they will be a good big sister and a good big brother.  And they will, I know it, whenever that day comes. 

I wish I could tell them with some sort of certainty when that day will come.  When they can greet new siblings in person.  I have no idea.  God willing, late May.  Right now, this whole embryo adoption process is sort of a fantasy to them.  Momma takes medicine, goes to the doctor several times, and then we end up with more babies in Heaven.  That's our status quo thus far.  And I pray that it will change.  Short term.  I still want all my children, present and future to end up in Heaven.  Just hopefully after a lengthy time here with us.

Jesus, I trust in You. 

Jesus, I trust in You.

Friday, August 15, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Prayer Requests

I thought originally I had seven prayer requests.  I'm sure I have more than seven, but some are more personal intentions while others are ongoing prayers.  In the end, I only am putting into words the six more time sensitive prayer requests.

1.  My best friend's sister-in-law is slightly younger than me and has three darling children.  And has had anything but a restful summer given her recent breast cancer diagnosis.  Erin had a lumpectomy Wednesday and, while the cancer hadn't spread, she is at a high risk for it returning.  She'll be starting chemo and radiation soon.  Please lift up Erin and her family as they negotiate these difficult trials.  St. Peregrine, pray for Erin and her family.

2.  There is a blogging family I've followed for years, Joy Beyond the Cross, well, stalked may be more like it since I'm terrible about commenting on others' blogs.  I digress.  Her newborn daughter Katharine Therese, started having cyanotic episodes one day after birth.  And the medical professionals have no idea what's going on yet. Yet, that's the key word here.  Please hold the B. family dear as they struggle to find answers.  Sts. Jude and Colette, pray for baby Katharine and her family.

3.  I am a member of a rapidly growing Embryo Adoption/Donation facebook group.  Two of the women I've gotten to know a little bit are living both their dreams and their nightmares at the same time.  Both women have grown their respective families first through infant adoption and now they're experiencing a second dream - pregnancy through embryo adoption.  Unfortunately, both women are facing scary diagnoses. A. has recently learned that her male twin is missing a hand and one bone in his forearm, possibly due to a uterine band defect.  Since the exact cause is not yet known, the doctors have not ruled out the possibility of further disabilities.  K. has recently learned that one of her female twins likely has Trisomy 18, a condition that is not compatible with life. Please lift these ladies and their families in prayer, as they shoulder new burdens and shower love upon the little lives they are growing.  Sts. Gerard, Jude, and Colette, pray for these families.

4.  My mom is a bit of a connundrum for her doctor.  She is in exceptional health for her age.  Except for the recently discovered 2.5 cm hole in her heart.  Apparently it's so unusual for an adult to have a hole in their heart that her cardiologist is using her file with his cardiology students.  Right now, the plans are to close the hole through a cardiac cath next week (I don't know the exact date yet).  Please pray for my mom that the upcoming procedure be a success.  St. John of God, pray for my mom (and my dad, as he may be a nervous wreck).

5.    Cora and Mac have named our two remaining embryos "Dash" and "Violet".  However, the twins have informed me that "Dash" and "Violet" will not be born with any super skills as babies can't do those things yet.  I pray that "Dash" and "Violet" will indeed be born and we will see them in this world.  Sts. Gianna and Padre Pio, please hold close these little ones and encourage them to grow when the time is right.

6.  Me.  I've worked hard to try to cultivate hope for our upcoming final embryo transfer.  But, it is hard.  I alternate between estimating transfer dates/subsequent due dates and then imagining giving all our baby items away if this transfer is once more unsuccessful.  I told a friend recently that I've downgraded myself from a "when" to an "if" (when we get pregnant vs if we get pregnant).  I don't view myself as a pessimist, but there is, unsurprisingly, some amount of self-preservation present.  I may have said this before on here, but my motto lately has been to "find joy in the present and hope in the future".  Some days are way harder than others.  St. Rita, pray for us.

Saint explanations (All prayers help, but some Saints have a special place in their own hearts for particular intercessions):

St. Peregrine - patron saint of cancer patients

Sts. Jude and Colette - patron saints of sick babies

St. Gerard - patron saint of expectant mothers

St. John of God - patron saint of heart patients

Sts. Gianna and Padre Pio - patron saints of the unborn

St. Rita - patron saint of those struggling with infertility

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Kid Funnies

The kids have been trying my patience enormously lately, so I thought it'd be a good idea for me to remember their charming moments.  Good theory, right?

1.  We came home from the grocery store one morning and Mac really wanted to play out front.  Much to his dismay, I told him no, that I had to put the groceries up and couldn't watch him in the front yard.  Cora then placed her hand on my arm and looked me in the eyes, "Don't worry, Momma, I can watch him for you!"  Apparently that forty minutes headstart she has over her brother makes her infinitely older.

2.  The kids invent words; I'm sure that's very normal.  Mac often takes being a wordsmith to an extreme though, making up a word and thoroughly embedding it into his vocabulary.  The past two weeks he's been using "ferociouness".  It sounds like ferociousness but without the 's' at the end of the ferocious part.  I asked one time if he meant ferociousness and was corrected abruptly.  It means precisely whatever he wants it to, which is not ferociousness. 

3.   I've had a lot of talks with Cora about listening to her body. Your body will tell you when you need to go potty - don't ignore it!  Similarly, your body will tell you when you need air when swimming under water - don't ignore it! (Explanation on the latter:  she's highly competetive and challenges herself to underwater swimming contests; these don't always end well.)  I walked into her room the other day and saw clean clothes strewn about.  "Cora, why are your clothes everywhere?!"  "I listened to my body and it said "NO" to these clothes."

4.  Mac was holding a one dollar bill.  "That's George Washington.  He's our first President."  And I smiled, surprised by his keen sense about money.  And then Mac continued, "He went to the pyramid and came back with money."  And my smile was swallowed by chuckles and a brief correction.  Only very brief because I have no idea why the pyramid is there!  Anyone care to educate me, to save me the time researching it later?

5.  There are inherent differences between boys and girls. Raising boy/girl twins really allows a parent to see this since both children have equal exposure to toys (we don't enforce any gender particular rules when it comes to toys).  That being said, Mac makes weapons out of things and Cora does not.  We have a decent collection of lego duplos.  Cora lately has been marrying off Cinderella to each male lego figure.  Mac, instead, made "funeral spray".  The spray, apparently, has a fairly obvious use:  "you spray someone and they turn dead." 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Still Here

I've written a lot, in my prayer journal, in random spirals that I keep around the house, even on spare slips of paper I come across when my mind won't turn off at bedtime.  But on blogger? Every time I sit down, my hands still.  My mind blanks. 

The first half of July was hard. Very hard.  Loss does not get easier the more you experience it.  And though it eases with time, the echoes of "what might have been" are still there.

And then the twins turned four.  There was planning and crafting on my part and way too much time on pinterest.  And then laughter and celebration with friends.  Forty-plus people here - how did that happen?!

And then there was a work ceremony for Bryan.  Something we had been waiting for since January, planning since May.  And it finally happened last week.  Outside.  Well, sort of, in an open air building.  In the Texas heat. 

And now July is drawing to a close. 

Friends have moved/are moving.  Seasons of life for a military wife.

Making plans for a little family getaway sometime in August.  We're horrible about actually taking a vacation.  I've put my foot down and said We Are Going!

September approaches and our last transfer looms into view.  Next cycle.  Will this be it, finally?

But August comes first.  And we will take our little vacation.  And enjoy the present moment.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Drawing the Line

You reach a point and you're just exhausted looking at the road ahead of you.  It could mean it's time to reevaluate the road.  It could mean it's time to take a break.  It could mean it's time to ask for help, to ask for directions or clarification. 

We've had a line drawn for a long time on how many more times we'd try embryo adoption.  Of course, we'd never thought we'd approach that line with zero additional children here on earth. 

My doctor says that everything has been fine on my end.  Our problem is our adopted embryos just haven't been strong enough. 

We have two embryos left, but we've hit our line.  I am, we are, emotionally worn.  September will be our last transfer. 

I loved being pregnant with the twins.  There is that selfish part of me that wants to go through embryo adoption again just so I can experience pregnancy one more time.  To be able to revel in that magical experience of first baby movements.  Baby hiccups.  To be able to put Cora and Mac's hands on my belly and let them feel the movement of their sibling(s).  To see them giggle in awe and joy when my belly shakes with teeny tiny dancing movements from within.  To see Bryan's compassion and receive those gentle kisses on my swelling stomach.  I don't have to experience pregnancy to be a mother, I know that. And I won't feel less of a mother if our family only grows through alternate means in the future.  But if we can, if God is willing, I want so badly to share the joys of pre-born life one more time with my family.

We have already adopted these last two "snowflakes".  They are already waiting for us at our clinic.  We are committed to them.  My doctor says they look great on paper and that we can feel hope.  And yet that word is almost foreign sounding now.

Hope, what is that?  "Ask and you shall receive."  God, I have been asking and asking. And begging and pleading.  Am I saying the wrong words? 

Please give me the strength to move forward.  To love these two remaining little ones with the love they deserve.

Please help me also to find joy in the day to day.  To see my blessings in every day life.  In the form of my soon-to-be four year olds.  In the form of my hard-working husband.  In the form of friends, a furry beastie, family, and delightful summer days. 

Again and again, it comes back to my prayer from January:  I pray for hope and joy.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Results are in

And they are negative.

Not pregnant.

I feel battered, betrayed even.  I felt pregnant this time.  And yet I'm not.  Apparently even my mother's intuition is jacked up.

Why would God call us so strongly to this path and then break me so many times?

I now have twelve babies in heaven, five from 2009 and seven from 2013 - 2014.

After each failed transfer or miscarriage, I ask how much more can I take???  I ask rhetorically, because that's not a question I want answered.  And then LOSS happens again.  Apparently God thinks I am so much stronger than I feel.

I wanted each of these children selfishly.  I want a baby to grow within my womb, to experience the joys of new life again, and share these joys with my husband and twins. 

I also wanted each of these children with the most noble of desires, to free them from their frozen stasis.  To return them, as much as possible, to a life of dignity.  Yes, Heaven is clearly a life of highest dignity.  I just wish they spent more time with me first.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Transfer

Today I am pregnant. Who know what tomorrow may bring?  I won't know anything one way or another until late next week.  But today I am pregnant.

We transferred one beautiful day six blastocyst.  One embryo did not survive the thaw.

I mourn the loss of that little one.

Even the kids feel that loss. "What, you mean there's only one baby?  I thought we each would get our own baby to hold!"

I'm sorry, I really am. I wish both had survived the thaw, that both were starting to nestle in.  It feels so cold and heartless, undignified even, that an embryo should reach its end in a Petri dish, rather than in a womb.  Not that I'd chose death at all, but when it happens, I'd prefer it to be with the utmost dignity.

I was fixating a lot on the one lost rather than the one inside me. And then I realized while praying with the kids tonight, that I am precisely where God means me to be.  I don't understand His ways, umm, pretty much ever.  But I keep trying. And I know that He has hand-picked this scenario for us, these adopted embryos for us.  I am their mother, even if it is for only the briefest of whiles.

Thank you all for your prayers, your kind words and encouragement.  I seemed to get little love notes all day long, through text, email, and Facebook.  Thank you.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Closer and Closer

Our last two transfers have not been successful.  May 2013 was a failed transfer (lost two embryos in the thaw and then the singleton transferred went straight to heaven).  December 2013 was initially positive and then I miscarried the day before my first ultrasound.  It's not illogical that I would be harboring fear/anxiety about tomorrow's transfer.

I'm in kind of a weird place emotionally.  I haven't spent too much time dreaming about what if's.  I haven't poured myself into frantic pleas to God, begging Him to let these babies live.  My life has gone on here and I have allowed myself to be carried along with it.  I cannot live distant from my current duties as wife/mother/friend.  And that has been helpful.  Given me mental distractions during the day.

But then when the house quiets down, I find myself a little more pulled in by the what if's.  By the doubts.  And I have to take firm steps towards optimism.  Towards hope.  I try to completely shut down/shut out fear.  Thanks be to God, I've been more upbeat than I anticipated.

During Lent I signed up for a daily devotional.  One quote resonated with me so much that I printed it and stuck it to my bathroom mirror.

"What is most important?  Jesus, You created me in love.  You redeemed me with Your blood.  Then why am I so full of fear?  My life is ruled by fear of failure, fear of what others think, fear of losing the love of those around me, fear of being forgotten, or fear of being lonely.  In the past, I've resisted giving You these fears.  The most important thing in my life is loving You, so I freely give You these fears.  Today I will look for ways to put You first.  If I start to wory again, I will stop, give it to You, and then continue my day.  May my constant acts of trust and surrender bring You joy."  (written by Fr. Leszek Czelusniak)

My fears are different than described in that meditation but the sentiment is the same.  I have gone for a much simpler approach this time around.  I am not begging or pleading with God.  Instead, I have chosen to simply TRUST, putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that God will provide the path beneath my feet.  Still terrifying at times. 

My friend sent me a message a little bit ago, saying her four year old son prayed for me during his bedtime prayers tonight.  "I pray for Mrs. __, because she is going to have a baby soon."  He doesn't know anything about tomorrow's transfer. 

We are called to have a faith like a child's.  Pure, simple, untainted by the world around.  I'm trying, Lord, I'm trying.

The transfer is scheduled for 11:30 tomorrow morning.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Countdown

1.  Three days until the transfer (June 17)

2.  Two embryos to thaw (after being frozen for seven years)

3.  Three estrogen pills to take each day (until weaned off at end of first trimester)

4.  Two Crinone applications each day (until weaned off at end of first trimester)  [additional progesterone will be added after transfer]

5.  Ten or eleven days until first pregnancy test (I have some flexibility with clinic orders)

6.  About one month until the first ultrasound (week seven of pregnancy)

7.  Countless prayers (on behalf of everyone: embryos, their genetic family, us, the clinical staff)

Friday, June 6, 2014

7 QT: Recommended Reading on Embryo Adoption

                                        7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about wearing triceratops hats, signing Kindles, and standing in the middle of Times Square wearing an epic selfie t shirt

7QT, linking up with Conversion Diary.

It's been a while since I've argued on behalf of embryo adoption.  Sure, I talk about it and share first-hand stories of living through it, but I haven't recently written any Catholic moral arguments on its behalf.  Maybe I'll do that soon.

In the meanwhile, here's a list of seven starting points if you want to know some of what the Church has to say about embryo adoption.  Be forewarned.  This is not a simple black or white issue.  In the particular issue of EA, there are not just two opposing schools of thought (one for and one against), but dozens of slightly differing schools of thought. 

1.  Dignitas Personae (DP). Published in December 2008, this is the only Vatican issue document that mentions embryo adoption (see sections 18 and 19 specifically).  While the wording is strongly negative, it does not label EA as illicit.  The Church knows how to be clear; there is no room to question her ruling on IVF, for example.  However, she has specifically chosen this somewhat ambiguous wording on EA for the time being.

Side note:  shortly after the Vatican released Dignitas Personae, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a short Q/A and summary in response.  While many theologians were questioning the openness of the EA debate following the release of DP, the USCCB's Q/A clearly indicated that the debate was still open.  (See page 3, question 5).

2.  While the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) was predominantly against embryo adoption, they did recognize that DP left room for personal interpretation, or "further theological reflection" as they put it.

3.  In November 2009, the USCCB released "Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology".  This is the ONLY time that the Church has mentioned embryo donation and embryo adoption as two separate courses of action.  I wish the document actually defined the two and clarified their differences.  I have my own ideas and perhaps one day will finish my draft and publish it, but I digress...  Page 12 specifically mentions embryo adoption as morally concerning, while egg/sperm/embryo donation is clearly condemned on page 5.

4.  If you want to get a feel for some of the differing schools of thought on EA, try to locate a copy of The Ethics of Embryo Adoption and the Catholic Tradition.  I first read this when a med school friend checked out a copy for me from his school library in 2008 or 2009.  And then I was blessed to receive a complimentary copy from the editor.  Though the compilation predates the release of Dignitas Personae, many of the arguments remain the same. 

5.  Ronald Conte is a Catholic moral theologian.  He wrote a lengthy essay arguing on behalf of the theory of embryo adoption.  I do take issue with his specific proposal for thawing/transferring (only a single embryo at a time), but that should be saved for another blog post. 

6.  I first "met" Dr. Gerry Nadal through his blog, actually his first installment on his embryo adoption series.  We even talked on the phone around the same time he wrote his three part series.  I'm pretty sure I was the first person with whom he'd interracted who had real-life experience rather than just theoretical experience with EA.  Click here for Part One, here for Part Two, and here for Part Three of his series on embryo adoption. 

7.  There is a blog called "Catholic Moral Theology" that is written by a "group of North American Catholic moral theologians".  In January 2013, they published a piece that examined embryo adoption from a different standpoint.  "Setting the Captives Free”: Is There Precedent for Embryo Adoption in Scripture and Medieval Christian Tradition?

This is not by any means an exhaustive list.  Since I personally am arguing on behalf of embryo adoption, many of the links above argue the same.  Just keep in mind that support for EA is in the minority among groups of "professional moral theologians".  If you do a little internet digging, you will undoubtedly find a long list of articles against EA, if you so desire.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

It's GO time!

Normally infertile couples dread cycle day one because it's a tangible reminder of everything that did not occur in the prior cycle.

No such dread this time!  I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to get this process started.  It will be almost exactly six months since our last transfer and we are READY.

As we're doing an unsuppressed, "natural" cycle, I don't have to take very many medications.  (Unsuppressed and natural mean this transfer cycle will follow my own natural cycle and the only hormones taken will be used to supplement those my body naturally produces.)

Right now, Bryan and I both are taking z-packs, in the middle of that five day regimen.

Today I started my thrice daily oral estrogen dosage.

I'll make a trip down to Austin probably either Tuesday or Wednesday for my baseline ultrasound.

The next dates are a little fuzzy, since I don't yet have my "official" FET calendar yet.  I can make a good guess at each date, though, since these embryos are Day 6, just like my December transfer.  So the protocol should be very similiar.

That means I'll head back down to Austin again around June 12 for my lining check.  If everything looks good (and by "good" I mean is my uterine lining nice and plump, am I still pre-ovulatory, and so forth) then I'll start progesterone the next day (crinone, in case you're curious).

By my estimates, the transfer will probably be June 18, give or take a day.

Both sets of embryos arrived safe and sound at our clinic last Friday.  In case you were wondering, we are only thawing/transferring one duo, the older set.  Well, I say older, but really I think there's only about six months between the creation dates of these two sets (one in 2007, the other set in 2008).  God willing, we will thaw and transfer the other set of two a few years down the line.

The kids and I had a long discussion at lunch, prompted by the reappearance of my estrogen pill bottle (I take one pill at each meal, so I keep it at my place on the table).  Cora and Mac have decided to resurrect the names Habeep and Bappio for these waiting embryos. 

I ask your prayers for Habeep and Bappio, for Cora and Mac, and for Bryan and myself.  For hope and joy and trust.

Friday, May 23, 2014

7 Quick Takes

Linking up with Conversion Diary.

1.  We're at the in-laws' this weekend for several festivities.  However, the first thing that occupied our time upon arrival was letting our Great Dane, Hank, meet their new dog, Dax, a Malamute.  This turned into a several hour game of chase for the two dogs.  In case you are curious, one Dane and one Malamute is a lot of dog.  They're both passed out now which is good as we can all recover from their enthusiasm.

2.  Tomorrow is my 11th wedding anniversary.  As a special gift to my husband, I've lost my voice and am barely talking.  ;-)  I jest, but there are probably spouses everywhere who are envious of my husband's good fortune.

3.  It seems ironic that after seeing a slate article talking about the potential health hazards of participating in mud runs, namely ingesting dirty mud, that I'll be doing just that tomorrow.  A mud run. Not ingesting mud.  No thanks, my mouth stays closed! This is sort of an anniversary treat for us, completing a land version of Wipeout accessorized with foam and mud.  I know, I know, not what you might chose for an anniversary outting.  What can I say?  We're weird folks.

4.  I am following a local homeschool consignment group on Facebook.  Last week I bought my first purchase, our reading book for $6 in brand new condition (normally $22).  I was inordinately pleased with my deal.  On the other hand, every time someone lists Handwriting Without Tears for sale, it's gone in a flash and I miss it.  Seriously, yesterday I viewed a listing that had been claimed two minutes after it was listed.  Two minutes!  I can't compete with that!

5.  We finished our preschool coop this past Tuesday.  It is truly amazing how that little group grew together through the year and how much we're going to miss everyone next year.  Darn military lifestyle!  (All four of us families have active duty husbands; at least two of the four are moving this summer and one is in limbo.).  I tried to post a picture, but blogger and the iPad are not cooperating.

6.  Sunday we will be celebrating my brother-in-law's college graduation and his military commissioning.  Bryan got to commission him last weekend.  Pretty sweet deal.

7.  My sister is returning from Estonia where she put her National Guard skills to use covering a story on bomb disposal techniques.  I'll just let you ponder that one for a moment. There aren't really words I can use to describe that...

And, on that note, have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.    Obviously I have a special fondness for our service members, but I think most people will have at least one family member who has sworn to protect  and defend our nation, either in the past or currently.  Thank you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Learning how to pray

Each transfer I've struggled to find the right words to pray.

This morning I think I finally figured out the words.  I am praying for an end of fear. For complete acceptance of God's will, even if that means our family will stay a family of four (on earth).

Let me just say, I am not there yet.  Still fearful. Of failure, of pain, of loss, of the end of dreams...

But the complete surrender that God wants of me? I'm praying for the supernatural strength to work towards it.

I have a long way to go.

Edit:  I am praying that we end up with two more sets of twins, meaning survival for all four of our adopted embryos. However, my prayer for an end of fear, for Trust in the divine plan, needs to come first.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Getting closer

We have shipping dates!

On Tuesday, May 27, the tanks will be sent from my clinic to genetic parents' clinics.  Each set of two embryos will be loaded up and returned for delivery to my clinic Wednesday, May 28.  That's next week!!!!

We're just in a holding pattern right now, waiting for cycle day one (still about ten days out from that).  All of my meds are ordered, some are already here.  Because we're following my natural cycle, I'm not on any medication currently (other than allergy meds, but that's just due to pollen count, not cycling...)

Just need to get one more form notarized and then I can hand it over at my first appointment.

We are getting closer and closer!

PS.  Could you please say a quick prayer that transport will be smooth and uneventful and the embryos will remain safe?  Thank you.

Friday, May 9, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Homeschooling

Linking up with Conversion Diary.
7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about hanging out with The Glitch Mob, a new meaning for #SOTG, and that terrible moment when you get cilantro bath soap and nobody cares
1.  My personal education background kind of reflects a little of everything.  Public school from K - 7 (five different schools represented), homeschooled 8 - 12 (one program represented), and then I taught in Catholic schools (three different schools in two states) for seven years.  Bryan experienced the "joys" of public school the whole way and was rather anti-homeschool when we got married.  I used to try and argue in favor of homeschooling as an option (not necessarily one we'd chose, but just a viable option).  I should have saved my breath.  The longer Bryan's been in the Army, the more open-minded he's become towards homeschooling for a variety of reason that I won't get into here. He's evolved with minimal effort on my part.  And now we're on the same page:  local schooling options stink and homeschooling is our best bet at this stage in our lives.  We'll probably reconsider every time our family grows and every time we move, but for right now, homeschooling is the direction we're taking.
2.  This makes me happy.  Openness to homeschooling means I have been able to question my more experienced friends at length and do oodles of research.  I even compiled a spreadsheet comparing/contrasting what the major Catholic "all in one" programs offer for kindergarten.  I love to research.  Making decisions for my own kids is a different matter entirely, but the research process has been enjoyable.
3.  But, you know what?  I think I made some decisions!  At any rate, I finalized my favorites and formulated an action plan last night and haven't yet changed my mind.  Amazing!  A miracle really, given how hard it is for me to commit to something.  :-)
4.  Cora and Mac turn 4 in July.  I've studied Texas preschool standards and kindergarten standards at length.  From this and from careful observation, I know that my kids have above average little minds in above average sized bodies with average attention spans.  We're basically going to do kindergarten level work but at a pace the kids will set for themselves. 
  • Reading - We're going to tackle "How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons".  I don't plan on finishing the book, though if we do, great.  All three of us (the kids and I) will work on these lessons together at the same time.
  • Math - We'll do Singapore Essental Math for Kindergarteners and use manipulatives too.  I'll probably start all three of us together but move to one on one work as the kids need it.  And, given their personality differences, I imagine we will be moving to one on one sooner rather than later.
  • Handwriting - We'll do Handwriting without Tears, Kinder level, with manipulatives.  This will have to be taught one on one.  Cora has excellent fine motor skills and is already a decent right-hand writer.  Mac is ambidextrous and has only recently developed a pencil grip.  With both hands, no less!  This program is highly recommended for teaching lefties (or even ambidextrous kids) which is why I've had it bookmarked for quite some time.
  • Religion - I'm not buying a specific program for this next year.  My hope is that we can all live life more aware of the liturgical year and celebrate feast days, read Saint and Bible stories, and attend a daily Mass once a week. 
  • Science - I'm not buying anything specific. I'll probably continue to take advantage of PBSkids and Disney Jr.  ;-)  Currently the kids love Octonauts and so we often will pull up images via google of the animals.  And re-enact Octonaut scenarios over and over...
  • Extras - I grew up listening to Wee Sing tapes.  Wee Sing America, Wee Sing Bible songs, etc.  I can still sing the 50 States in alphabetical order thanks to those tapes (and I'm sure my siblings can too!).  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that these tapes still exist!  Granted, they're now cds or mp3s, but they do exist!  The plan is to purchase these cds and load them into the van's music library.  I won't force the music on the kids, but I'm sure the songs will work their way into our regular repertoire.
  • Technology extras - Thanks to facebook, I was able to download Hooked on Phonics for FREE the other day (normally $50).  So far, we are enjoying this "new game".  I'm also debating whether or not to sign up for  Any thoughts on that?  Is it compatible with ipads?
5.  I really want to set a gentle school pace.  I want to only start one subject at a time to ease into a slightly more formatted school set up at home (contrasted to our one day a week preschool coop), though I haven't decided when we'll start.  There is no clear end date in mind.  When they're ready for more, we'll move on.  If one child is ready faster, I'll be okay with one moving ahead of the other.  Right now, I'm leaning towards starting math first and then adding in handwriting.  We might even start both in the summer.  We'll participate in the local library's summer reading program again, so I won't add in our reading lessons until late August or September.
6.  One example of how tv affects my kids:  Mac ran up to me the other day with a broken fireman.  Poor man's legs had fallen off.  "Momma!  My fireman has leg'tachanosis!!!!"  I can thank Doc McStuffins for that lovely tidbit.  Fortunately, the fireman was salvageable. 
7.  On a completely unrelated note, I learned a valuable lesson in cooking the other day. I made chicken alfredo from scratch for the first time.  Fantastic!  And an excellent use for leftover roast chicken.  However, I made enough to eat the leftovers later in the week.  Eww.  Your PSA of the day:  fresh alfredo sauce does NOT reheat well. 
And that is all for now.  Have a wonderful weekend! 
PS. There are many of you who have children making their First Communion this weekend.  I will pray that their joy bubbles over to all surrounding! 
PPS.  Sunday is also Mother's Day.  I pray for all mothers, all mothers to be, and all mothers in waiting.  Waiting is hard. Perhaps the hardest cross many will have to bear.  You all are in my prayers.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


We are one cycle out.  Cue outward calm and inner freak outs.

Since we're aiming for a natural cycle, dates are at best educated guesses. That being said, we're looking around the Ides of June.  Right in the middle of the kids' swim lessons so I guess Grandma gets to tackle that one.  Sorry, Grandma, I'll buy you a Route 64 Diet Coke from Sonic to make it up.

My meds are being ordered.  Paperwork is nearly complete.  Just a few more forms to have notarized. And we have to update our own infectious disease screening.

Oh, and there's the minor detail of transport. Our adopted embryos need to be shipped here from wherever they are. I don't actually know that detail this time (just never asked; I could find out if I inquired).  Hopefully this won't be problematic. I'll certainly breathe a sigh of relief once I know they've arrived and are waiting for us.

Tick tock goes the clock.  Seems like we've been waiting forever for transfer!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Finally, an adoption update

At long last, contracts are in!  It took us a few days to get our personal contracts notarized and mailed off.  In the meanwhile, it took the genetic parents a few weeks to get their portions done.  I'm glad we weren't crunched for time because the process this time around has taken FOREVER.

I had my hysteroscopy completed a few weeks ago. Unpleasant, but all clear.  However, it did bump my timeline back a bit for the embryo transfer.

All we have now is clinic paperwork (have to re-enroll in their system each transfer) and then we'll hit the ground running.

Our four adopted snow babies should be shipped this way within the next few weeks.

I'll start meds end of May or beginning of June.  Really, really, really hoping to avoid birth control and do a "natural" cycle this time.   BC for me equals crazy psycho woman.   Given past experiences, I'd basically need to live in the Confessional by week two on birth control.

Right now, my estimates put the transfer the last week of June.  Yay!!  And yet still so far away...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Quiet Heroism

Bryan was tasked with “escort detail” for one of the Soldiers injured in last week’s shooting at Fort Hood.  More than anything, Bryan is acting as the liaison for this man and his family.  Only Bryan and a dedicated Public Affairs Officer (PAO) will be allowed to contact the family.  All other information will be relayed through Bryan.  And trust me, there’s been a constant stream of information.


As you can imagine, Bryan has acquired an increased knowledge of both the injured party and some of the surrounding circumstances.


By now you probably have heard the stories or at least read the brief biographical blips of the deceased.  Through the course of the last few days, I have learned stories that show these injured Soldiers also acted with bravery.  They shun the public eye and rest with their families, hoping for a return to “normal,” whatever that may be.  They are the quiet heroes.


Bryan’s escortee and another Soldier fled the shooter’s path.  They escaped into the commander’s office but still feared for their safety.  Bryan’s escortee broke the window and both men slipped outside unnoticed by the shooter.  They then began collecting other escapees and herding them to a safe location.  Due to the adrenalin surge, Bryan’s escortee didn’t even notice he was bleeding until a first responder pointed it out.  He reluctantly allowed himself to be stitched up – he had multiple lacerations on his hands from the window escape.


As an aside, this was Bryan’s escortee’s first day on the job (not new to Fort Hood, just to the brigade).  He had just picked up his office key that morning.  It’s safe to say that he has had a "trial by fire" introduction to his new position.


I heard another tale that made me chuckle, even in the face of such tragedy.  A young Soldier was helping barricade a conference room with chairs.  The room’s occupants heard the weapon fire at the door and then the Soldier cried out incredulously, “I’ve been shot!”


He then reached down and plucked the bullet out of his chest. (!!!!)


“Oh, I guess I shouldn’t have done that,” he was heard to say as the blood began to pour forth.


Apparently, the bullet lost most of its momentum when it smashed through the door.  By the time it crashed into the Soldier’s ACU zipper, it was already mostly flattened.


The Soldier is recovering nicely and was released from the hospital over the weekend.



From what I can tell, the military is trying to take care of its own.  Meals are being arranged; personal drivers are available too, as needed.  Battalions are banding together to offer support, both physical and mental.  Unfortunately, there is some turmoil as the various groups try to assist the injured and their families.  There’s not a lot of continuity or communication between various parties and it’s often up to the escort to try and straighten things out and prevent duplication.  In this instance, I can see how the military is similar to a large family, full of faults and folly but bound together in love and support for one another.



I’ve learned recently that though the media sees the military full of crazies and potential PTSD sufferers, reality is quite different.  There is a quiet force in the military moving forward, fulfilling their duties, yes, but moving beyond the call of the job.  They’re not motivated just by some sort of patriotism but often something higher, a sense of duty to their fellow man.  The three fallen will be honored tomorrow, but I want to remember more.  I want to honor those who were injured, many of them in the midst of acts of bravery.  I want to honor those in the affected units – their hearts are heavy yet life doesn’t slow for them to grieve.  I want to honor those supporting units – though the grief is not their own, they are lending help and care.  There are many quiet heroes who would deflect the public eye.  “Just doing my job” I’m sure they’d say. 

You all have my thoughts and prayers and thanks.