Sunday, August 22, 2010

Goodbye, Brother

There are some people who are truly good for your soul. Where your soul is better for having them in your life. Mike was one of those people for me. There are not a lot of people I really have that connection with, but I found it in Mike.

6 years ago, I met Mike. And I thought he was a jerk. He was rough around the edges, sarcastic, and generally just harsh. As a people pleaser who is rather gullible, I tend to not mesh well with that personality style. As much as I thought he was kind of a jerk, he probably thought I was uptight and high maintenance. So, for the first couple years that I knew him, our paths didn't cross much. In a sense, we were both a little bit right about each other. But we were more wrong than right (well he wasn't THAT wrong. I AM uptight and high maintenance ;) ), and I'm so grateful God corrected those first impressions.

Then, 4 and a half years ago, he got his first tumor. And something in him changed. He was the same Mike, but a softer version. He stopped trying to push everyone away and I stopped believing him when he tried. Beneath his tough-guy attitude and hard shell was a man full of humor, honesty, and humility. And we became fast friends.

Mike came through the first surgery with flying colors and soon they were on their way to adopting sweet little Skyler, the 3.5 year old love of my life. I remember we held a co-ed, all church shower for them when Sky came along, and Mike and Todd had a food fight in the middle of it. Mike was really the only one who could get away with a food fight in church.

As the years went on, God continued to soften Mike and Mike began teaching me and everyone around him about what it means to suffer with grace. He repeatedly said over the last several years that God was more concerned with his sanctification than his physical health, and that he was going to trust God to work as He saw fit. He was constantly reminding those around him to believe the character of God when our circumstances tempted us to doubt His goodness. Mike and his dear wife Krista handled this journey with such unwavering strength, and far better than the rest of us around them. As Mike's illness increased, so did his faith.

Last November, when we were approaching our second transfer, he said "this is as important to me as it is to you. I want you to relax, so I'm getting you guys a hotel room in Tucson [where our clinic is] so you can relax and not have to drive the morning of." For various reasons, we didn't take him up on his offer, but how much of a priority he made it really impacted me.

When we got the call that our transfer had failed, Mike happened to call me literally less than a couple minutes later. Of course I was hysterically crying and he wanted to know what was wrong. I told him and he asked what he could do and I just asked that he and his family be at church the next day. He came in and sent sweet Sky to hug and snuggle me, and then during the Sunday school hour, he just sat next to us and held us while we cried. I told him this week that I would loved to have been a fly on the wall in the room when he introduces himself to our first 5 babies as their crazy Uncle Mike. While I would have loved to have met them myself, I don't mind sharing them with him.

Mike was a big part of the reason I finally became not only comfortable with open adoption, but a strong advocate of it. Skyler's story is a rocky one--he should have been a statistic. In terms of the way the world thinks, his mother had every reason to abort him. And then there was every reason for the pregnancy to fail. And then every reason for Skyler to be born with problems. And every reason for the adoption to fall through. And every reason for Mike and Krista to be concerned about letting his birth mother too close to them. You know when people say "I don't believe in this or that except in cases of this." Well they had those "exceptions" at every turn. And yet, Mike had such a wonderful compassion. As far as he and Krista were concerned, they were taking both Skyler and his biological mother into their family, and their role was to be a ministry and blessing to both of them. They took the scary part out of open adoption for me. They loved in the middle of one of the most difficult combinations of circumstances, and loved without fear.

Mike and Krista have taught me a lot about the kind of parent I want to be. They have 3 really, really terrific kids. These kids are so full of love and joy and compassion and confidence and wonder. And I think the way Mike and Krista raise them is a huge part of that equation.

Mike had a huge heart. My own brother has had a rough couple of years. That just wasn't acceptable to Mike, so he was constantly trying to reach out to him and frequently asked me about him. He just had this giant heart for people, even those he hardly knew, or didn't know at all.

What I originally believed to be roughness or harshness, was just Mike being authentic. He had little patience for small talk and the superficial. He was a "say it like it is" kind of guy, and wasn't afraid to tell you when he thought you could stand to evaluate your opinion, behavior, conviction, etc. But he never used his honesty as an opportunity to be unkind. He truly mastered "speak the truth in love."

He was such a rascal. He used to call me on my cell phone just to chit chat and harass me. The gullible part of me has never gone away, and that made me one of his favorite targets. When he couldn't make it to church on Sunday mornings, he'd try to call or text me, just to see if I remembered to turn my phone off, thereby ratting me out to the whole church if I'd forgotten. Today someone's phone went off in church and for just one second, I forgot he was gone and thought that might be him. I walked into his traps without fail, every single time. But, it always brought me such great laughter. He had this dry wit that was so clever and subtle and completely effective.

We lost Mike in bits and pieces but several things continued to remain, among them being his compassion. One night before one of his surgeries this year, we spent several hours with him in his hospital room. And we talked about faith and God and love and family. And he spent at least an hour witnessing to and blessing the caregiver assigned to him. The remarkable part is that he didn't remember this occasion at all. Even when he was apart from his mind, his heart remained focused on Jesus. Strip everything away and take away all abilities to mask and pretend, and you see what remains. In Mike, that was a deep love for the Lord, and for people.

Mike was the closest thing I have had and will ever have to a big brother. He was everything I always imagined a big brother would be: loving, kind, protective, silly, challenging and rascally. He gave me so many wonderful gifts: lessons of love, kindness, and humility; a wonderful friend in his wife Krista; a close relationship with his three darling children whom I adore and who bless my soul so much; and most recently, 3 new sisters. He told me often that he wanted me to be friends with them, but as they all live far away, we'd not had opportunity to meet before.

As Mike was in hospice this week, Krista invited his friends to visit him. As he grew weaker, she began restricting the visits to just family. They were all so kind as to include us, and not only did they include us, but they checked on our well being in dealing with this. And it was such a gift to be around them and get to know them as well as we did because in each of them, I see a different part of him. Sisters, I don't know if you're reading this, but thank you. Getting to know you has made losing him a little more bearable. Thank you for letting me in this week. You gave me such a sweet gift. I love you all.

I still can't really wrap my head around the fact that he's gone. We went to see him the night before we left for vacation, and while he wasn't himself, we just thought it was a bad day. There was no indication that we'd be saying goodbye to him a week later. I am disappointed that that last visit was so difficult--I would really have loved to have had one last "real Mike" visit. But I'll always cherish all the others I did get, which I know are far more than many others were privilege to, so I am trying to hold on to that. And I love that if we were going to be on vacation, that we were in San Diego. He loved San Diego.

I'm a do-er. It's how I cope. So when the opportunity came for me to bless Krista by taking care of the memorial service, I took it. I had the honor of planning and coordinating the service and reception, selecting the participants in it, making the arrangements for the military honors, and creating the photo slideshow. He passed away on Friday, and the service was today, and we had church all morning, so getting everything done in time demanded almost round-the-clock work. And as much as his family has been thanking me for what I did, it was as much a gift to me to be able to do it. More than anything in times like this, I want to be useful. It was such a joy for me to really be able to pour my heart and soul into honoring this man and helping others honor him too. It was a privilege to take that burden off of Krista and his sisters. He looked at me very seriously recently and asked me to make sure I took care of Krista and the kids for him after he was gone. At the time I told him I didn't want to talk about it, and as much as Krista is one of the most capable, strong women I know, I felt that by allowing me to do this, they gave me the opportunity to begin or try to make good on his request of me. And quite honestly, it was a gift to me to have a distraction. I honestly didn't have time to sit down and really think about how hard this is, and I'm so grateful for that because when I do think about it, it overwhelms me. Having that "safety zone" of distraction while I gained some chronological distance from his death has been so helpful.

Now that the work is all done, it's harder. Last night after I finished everything that could be done in advance, I broke down because there was nothing to do except sit and think. It woke me up this morning. After the service was over, I came home for a little rest, and couldn't sleep because of my thoughts. And tonight, I'm just flooded with memories and nostalgia and heartache. I hate this quiet. This is where I really have to work at being still (ironic, isn't it?).

The memorial service went well. We had a wonderful turn out. Mike impacted so many lives. We had full military honors, with the flag presentation and the 21 gun salute. I think he would have been especially proud of that. People stayed for hours afterward just visiting, reminiscing, and loving on his family.

After everything was over, Krista invited the family back to her house, and she included us in that. As we sat around watching the flurry of activity and people laughing and loving on each other, Krista said "Mike left me with this amazing gift. Look at all these wonderful people!" And Mike would have loved it--all his favorite people, hanging out and just enjoying sweet fellowship in blessing each other.

I'm so grateful God was patient with my judgmental first-impression, and gave me a second chance to forge a friendship with this remarkable man. I've learned so much about who I want to be as a Christian, wife, mother, and servant. I've been challenged and humbled. I've laughed harder than I ever have before. I've fallen victim to more pranks than I can remember, and I have buckets full of sweet, sweet memories.

Goodbye, brother. I love you and I miss you, so very much.

The above picture is us, with Mike's family (Mike is standing next to me), and one other family from church. Our 3 families together make up one larger family, that Mike affectionately called the WWF (the first initials of our 3 last names).

PS: A huge number of wonderful people helped me with the memorial service, and I give you my sincere gratitude for your help in honoring Mike. I could not have pulled this off without you, and could not have honored him the way you did. I have to give a special shout out to my friend, Brenda who didn't even know Mike, but who brought a friend to set up the food and keep things refreshed so that none of us had to miss any part of the service or reception. My wonderful Mother-in-Law was going to do the same. Illness prevented her from coming, but the willingness to help was a blessing just the same. Thank you to all of you lovely ladies. You really gave me a precious gift in preventing me from having to miss anything.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vacation Recap

Mike is still hanging in there with us. We spent most of the day there yesterday. Today I've got a wicked headache and I want to accomplish a few things around the house while DH works and then we'll go over. So, I've been distracting myself with processing vacation photos. If I constantly think about how much this whole situation stinks, I'll go nuts. So, without further ado, a vacation recap.

We left on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30--1.5 hours later than our intended departure time, but still early enough to get a good night's sleep in San Diego and wake up with a whole day on Thursday. Well, that didn't go exactly as planned. Between potty breaks and puke stops, the 6 hour drive took 8 hours! Guess it was good practice for vacationing and road trips with a kid! By the time we were checked in, unpacked and ready for bed, it was nearing 2:00am so we spent most of Thursday morning just being bums and sleeping in.

We stayed in this darling little hotel. I called in advance and requested an upstairs room, explaining that I'm a light sleeper. The woman who took the call was so nice. She not only put us upstairs, but she found THE quietest corner on the entire property. It overlooked the pool and it was set back in a little from the rest of the rooms, creating this cute little patio (the only room in the whole hotel with one), complete with picnic table. The hotel was one of the cleanest hotels I've ever stayed in. I saw them regularly washing down the patio furniture, trashcans, pool deck, etc, and our room was spotless. The room included a microwave and mini fridge, so I took the opportunity to pack food for us. I brought our little mini crock pot, and my sandwich maker that doubles as a griddle. We had fruit and either oatmeal or french toast every morning for breakfast, and paninis with crackers and veggies for lunches. We only ate out one meal a day, which helped with the budget. And since we both love Mexican food, that meal out was whatever hole-in-the-wall taco shop we could find, so even that was cheap. Phoenix has good Mexican food, but it's got nothing on San Diego!

DH laughed initially when I had an entire suitcase and cooler packed with food and when I unloaded it into the "kitchen" but I think he's sold on my way of vacationing!

Thursday afternoon we had the wonderful chance to meet up with one of my dearest friends from college, and his wife. They just happened to be in San Diego too. His work has brought him to Phoenix several times over the years, but it's been forever since we got a chance to see his wife. They're expecting too, and are just 1 month behind us. So she and I shared pregnancy stories and the guys commiserated a bit. Visiting with them was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. We hung out in Seaport Village, which was much prettier and cuter than I remembered. I'm totally bumming though, as I did not get a photo.

After we parted ways with Dave and Jenn, DH and I debated on what to do. We drove by the Gaslamp district but, as a baseball game had just let out, it was super crowded. We felt like we'd had our fill of Seaport Village, so we decided to head to Balboa Park. I spent the first several years of my life living in San Diego, but I guess I'd only ever been to the kid/playground part of Balboa Park. I had no idea or recollection of how breathtaking it is there. We spent hours just getting lost in the beautiful architecture and gardens.

DH took this one

I sat down to rest my feet and DH took the camera and walked away. He called my name a bit later and when I looked over, he snapped this.

After walking all over the park, we were ready for dinner so we stopped a local and asked for a recommendation for some good Mexican food. He directed us to El Zarape. It was this tiny little hole in the wall--our favorite kind of restaurant. It was crawling with people, so we took that as a good sign. We were not disappointed! The food was awesome!

We also got a call that night that my best friend had just given birth to her baby! It was a great day of celebration! 

The next morning, we stayed in again, just relaxing and napping and watching TV. In the afternoon, we ventured over to Coronado Island, which is home to what is becoming one of our favorite beaches. We walked around part of the little town and up and down the beach. We did go in the water, but it was 61 degrees! DH toughed it out longer than I did, but neither of us lasted long at all. I've truly become a desert rat!

And this is what happens when DH takes the camera.

Isn't he cute?

That night we intended to go back to the hotel and get cleaned up and go back out for date night, but we ended up being tired so we found another little taco shop, picked up food and ate in and spent the rest of the evening just lounging and swimming in the pool.

Saturday, we wanted to give the beach another chance. The marine layer was heavy, but we hoped it would burn off. We loaded up and headed over--the gloom was thick and the temperature was cold. We tried to drive north to see if we could outrun it--no luck. We turned back and went back to the hotel. After considering our options, we decided to go to Bates Nut Farm which is this charming little place that my family used to go to when I was a kid. DH thought it was hilarious that my family used to hang out at the nut farm :P They have this cute little country store, and this little area where you can feed their animals. We had a really nice time. It was fun for me to share that with DH and enjoy the nostalgia.

I used to stand at these barrels and just drool over all the candy. I just wanted to fill my bag with all of it! 

DH made friends with the goats. This guy in particular really liked DH. He was almost like a dog--he loved DH to scratch his ears!

This guy was the playground bully-he kept bumping the other animals out of the way when we tried to feed them.

I fed these guys great (great?) grandparents when I was a child.

DH thought this sign was perfect for us:

Then we headed back into town, enjoyed a swim in the pool, got cleaned up and went out for a night on the town in Old Town.

We went to Casa de Reyes, which is this darling restaurant with all outdoor patio seating, surrounded by fire pits, vendors selling roses and churros, and live music. We've been there a couple of times now, and definitely recommend it.

Sunday morning, it was time to check out. We got on the road around lunch time, and were almost home when we got the call about Mike. We drove faster than I think is legal anywhere on the planet, and arrived in time to spend several hours with him that evening.  That was a sad end to our vacation, but my mother in law pointed out that at least we are going into this season of grief with well rested hearts, minds, and bodies.

I want to write about Mike, but I'm going to save that for a separate post.

Overall, we're really grateful for the opportunity to have gone on vacation. Both sets of our parents and DH's grandparents had given us some money for Christmas and our anniversary, so we'd been saving it up along with our own contributions until we had enough for a nice little getaway. Given the struggles we were having between the two of us, and the new developments with Mike, and me recovering from being so sick, the trip could not have come at a more perfect time, and we're just grateful that we had the chance to go. My NVP behaved itself most of the time, which was also a nice gift. We were and are definitely blessed.

I'm off to go try to rest off this headache before heading back over to hospice. Thanks for checking in. I hope you all had nice weeks, too!

Monday, August 16, 2010


We're home from vacation. We had a lovely trip. On our way home however, we received a phone call to hurry as quickly as we can because our dear friend Mike would soon be on his way home to Jesus. We prayed that we would make it in time, and we did. We stayed all evening last night. We came home to get some sleep. We've not received any word that he went home overnight, so as soon as DH wakes up, we'll be heading back over there. We would love your prayers during this time. Please remember specifically his wife and 3 children in your prayers.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Appointment Update

We had another OB appointment yesterday. The doctor could not find the heart by doppler, so we got another ultrasound (you can hear my disappointment, right?) We saw baby's head and torso, spinal cord, heart, arm, hand (and fingers), and foot! Baby was sucking his or her thumb-it was SO cute. We are SO in love.

Unfortunately, we tried to record it and because we thought we were, the doctor didn't take any still images, and we didn't realize until it was all over that the recording didn't work either, so I have no images to share with you, but I can just tell you it was amazing. He said baby looked great.

Our next appointment is in 4 weeks, and then after that, we'll have an ultrasound to determine gender! I can't believe that in a month, we'll know if baby is a boy or a girl!

The doctor did give me the mail order prescription. It was a little more difficult to get him to also write me a short supply prescription to pick up at the local pharmacy while I wait for the mail order. He prescribed me a 5 day supply with 1 refill. I picked up a 7 day supply yesterday. So I just have to pray that the mail order one arrives within 17 days.  It wasn't the total flexibility and stress relief I was hoping for, but it was not the fight I anticipated it would be, either. Thanks for your prayers!

We went to a U-Pick Orchard this weekend that is about 4 hours south of here. It was wonderful to be in cooler weather, the wonderful sunshine and beautiful scenery. We took this picture. Baby is supposed to be about the size of a navel orange. The orchard didn't have any oranges, but their peaches were enormous! So we chose a peach that was about the same size as a navel, and took this picture :) This kid is going to soon find out that his/her parents are completely cheesetastic!

The Tough Part of Open Adoption

We have a pretty unique relationship with the genetic parents. We "met" online in an infertility support group before either of us knew what God had in store for us. Eventually they approached us about adopting their embryos. We met in person, mutually agreed on the match, and went forward from there. That was in the summer of 2008. I had a transfer that fall, got pregnant, and miscarried. Then we took a year off and had another transfer in December of 2009, that didn't work. That brings us to now, 2 years after we matched. We've been told by our program that the relationship between our two families is the most open of any of their matches.

Because my first pregnancy was so short (just under 6 weeks), and the second transfer didn't result in a pregnancy, we'd only ever made it so far along in the process of navigating these waters. The last two years were relatively easy in our relationship, because there wasn't a baby to complicate things. Most families don't have two years to get to know each other before things start changing dramatically.

That's been good and it's been bad. Two years to really build a bond between our families has been great. We've built a tremendous relationship of  honesty and vulnerability. The downside is that we've had two years to get used to the status quo. Beau and Sheila only had to go so far in their grief journey so long as the babies were still frozen, and we only had to go so far in our learning process so long as our only parenting decisions were about embryo storage and medical procedures.  Now that there's a baby on the way, it's pushed us all deeper into our respective journeys, and it's been admittedly, difficult.

The hardest part of being an adoptive parent in an open adoption relationship is feeling like there is always going to be this other party watching us and approving or disapproving of our decisions. While Sheila and Beau are wonderful and they don't actually make us feel like we're under the microscope, the knowledge that they are the genetic parents is always there in our subconscious. The other really tough part is knowing that our joy comes at the expense of their pain. That's really, really hard to wrap your head and heart around. again, Beau and Sheila have never made us feel this way and have even tried to absolve us of feeling responsible, but there's just some feelings that exist, regardless of the facts and all efforts to the contrary. Beau and Sheila could say one thing until they're blue in their faces, but I will still always feel this other way. We all, Beau and Sheila included, believe that these children were always intended to be ours. But, no matter how you slice it, the fact is that these are our children because Beau and Sheila couldn't keep them. They didn't create them, intending to place them with someone else. They fully intended to parent these children when this journey started. That's just tough to swallow, for everyone involved. And to a certain extent, I think our feelings are appropriate because we always DO want to be mindful of what they are going through.

Sheila has used words like "anger" and "grief" to describe what they're going through, and I can't even begin to fully grasp what they are experiencing. But, I was finding that the more I tried to understand, the more I felt responsible, and even guilty.

The end result was that we were both walking on eggshells to avoid upsetting the other. I was trying to maintain the delicate balance of including her in the details because she wanted to know them, without wanting to "throw" my pregnancy in her face. She was trying to be honest with her feelings, while still not burdening me too much.

So, we've decided to take a break from communicating with each other. The bottom line is that where we are each are two such polar opposites that they can't really coexist right now if each person is going to be able to fully grasp what they're experiencing without feeling the need for censure or restraint. We've decided that it's probably a good thing that most families don't have communication during this part of the process; the genetic parents need time to grieve fully without feeling like they'll offend the adopting parents, and the adopting parents need time to fully embrace, celebrate and enjoy their pregnancy without feeling like they'll upset the genetic parents.

I will send updates on how the pregnancy is going to the agency, and when they are ready, Sheila and Beau will retrieve the information from them.

All 4 of us are still fully committed to an open adoption, and we know that this is just a season. Their grieving will eventually subside, and we will settle into a place of comfort in parenting. We'll reestablish contact when both of us agree that we could handle it.

The breaking away is painful, but we all agree that it is best for our respective families. The downside of an open adoption is that you get to see the tough stuff too. It's hard to know that someone is out there hurting, and you can't do anything about it. It some ways, an anonymous placement where we wouldn't know a thing about what the GPs are experiencing would be "easier." But I wouldn't trade that ease for the authenticity and vulnerability we have among our two families. It has been a wonderful gift to both our families, and we all think it will be a wonderful gift for all the children involved, too. We just need to be mindful of not biting off more than we can chew at any one time, so for now, we're each giving each other space to adapt. We'd love your prayers for each of us as we deal with our own journeys.

14 and 15 Weeks

I missed posting the 14 week update, so I'll post it here, and then double up with the 15 week one!

Week 14:
Isn’t it glorious? You and your little buckaroo have roped your way right into trimester numero dos! Are you ready to rock!? Okay, okay… maybe just a little rolling and poking. Needless to say, your baby will definitely be making themselves known in the upcoming weeks. At about 3.5 inches long, their little body and limber limbs are coordinated enough for loads of complicated motions. In fact, their whole body is moving right now! You're not feeling it because their current size is still a bit too small to make an impact you'd recognize. Still, their movements are recognizable on an ultrasound. Speaking of which, you should be scheduling one with your health care provider! Week 16 is the classic date as you can usually determine the gender. Your baby is also starting to develop the ability to move their eyes this week, although the eyelids still remain fused shut. What's more, they can make all sorts of fun facial expressions as they practice squinting, frowning, and grimacing. Cute development of the week: their little hands can grasp at things and they may already be sucking their thumb!

Week 15:

Your nearly four-inch long gymnast is happily mobile inside your womb and if you're really lucky, you’ll notice a point when your sneezing, coughing or laughing results in a little kick here or a poke there. Still, many women don't feel anything until the 17th week or later. Although the poking and kicking isn't very charming during sleeping hours, it’s a good sign as it means your baby is actually reacting to outside events. Yay! You’ve got yourself one active healthy baby! Their little elbows and knees are bending more freely this week and their little legs are finally growing longer than their arms and getting pumped up for prenatal Richard Simmons. Many of their major organ systems are increasing in capacity—particularly that amazing tiny heart and complex circulation system, which is now pumping about 25 quarts of blood per day, and will increase to a very impressive 200 quarts per day by the end of the pregnancy. As far as hair goes, we’ve got some new scalp patterns beginning to develop on the head, although actual head hair is not yet present.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

One Day at a Time

Zofran update day 4: Oh my goodness, I didn't realize it was possible to feel this normal while pregnant. I feel like I have regained at least several hours per day where I feel human. I'm still queasy sometimes and I still vomit several times a day but the huge difference now is that it's once or twice per occasion, and when I'm done, I feel better. Before, it was just constant 24/7 nausea, and when I vomited, it was over and over and over again until my stomach was empty and I was dry heaving, and then I still felt queasy when it was over. If you feel like this, it's NOT normal. I struggled so much with trying to decide between how much was goes-with-the-pregnancy-territory sickness, and how much was abnormal. Believe me, I was in the abnormal category. I've talked to two HG mamas, who both say I sounded like they did, and none of my friends who had normal pregnancies experienced anything close to what I did. So I guess I can just say that I wish I'd spoken up and asked for help much sooner.

Now, here's the tricky thing. The doctor prescribed 30 pills, and said I could take one every 6 hours. If I take them round the clock, that's 7 days of pills. The first day I was on it, I was still really sick, so I was taking 8mg (which I confirmed was safe through multiple authorities, though I didn't call my doctor). Every other day, I've pretty much been fine with 4. However, doubling up that first day puts me running out of pills one day early. We're going out of town tomorrow and I wanted to fill my prescription before we left. The pharmacy responded that insurance won't cover a refill until Sunday. (However, if the prescription had been larger in the first place, they would have filled that just fine--go figure).

I have the refill left so I could get it on Sunday. The problem is that I want a larger prescription from him on Monday. So if I fill on Sunday, I can't fill the new one on Monday. And then having that little prescription puts me in the exact same boat of running out a week later, while we're on vacation and he's on his honeymoon. So I guess what I'm asking is for your prayers that the 12 pills I have left will take me all the way until Monday afternoon, and then that he will give me a larger prescription at our late afternoon appointment? Honestly, I'm just so frustrated that I had to waste so much time on drugs that didn't work before he'd even prescribe the Zofran, and now I feel like I'm having to fight to get what I need.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my doctor. I really respect him and one reason I like him is that he's very non-interventive in the birth process. But unfortunately, he displays that same aversion to intervention in this area, when I really *need* him to intervene. And I lose my nerve in being as assertive with him as I need to be (on that note, I'm thinking of hiring a doula so I don't chicken out in the hospital in enforcing what we want) because I don't want to feel like a pest to him.  And as I said, I downplayed how sick I was for the same reason. So his conservativeness and my under-assertiveness is a bad combination.  Would you just pray that I get through this weekend, that Monday goes well and that we can finally come to an end of this conversation? But in the mean time, I'm just trying to focus on getting through one day at a time.

Thank you for all your prayers. I truly feel like a different person and I'm so, so grateful to have found something that works. I feel better than I have through almost the entire pregnancy. I still notice that I'm susceptible to smells, to too much up and down movement, and to hunger, but honestly, this is much more how I *expected* to feel in pregnancy, so I don't find it to be too bothersome.

I still haven't ventured too far into normal food land. I still eat a lot of cereal and smoothies. Last night I still lost toast and tonight it was potato that did me in, so my stomach isn't strong yet, but at least it's keeping something down. I find that I'm really really hungry after all this, so I just have to pace myself and not eat everything in sight, just because I momentarily feel like I can. Baby steps, one day at a time... Praying I can soon add a lot of good food back into my diet though.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Update: Zofran Day 1

I've been on Zofran now for 28 hours. In that time, I've vomited twice, and it was just about half an hour ago, so I went 27 hours barf-free. And even the fact that it was only twice instead of over and over and over again was a huge difference.  Before that, I hadn't kept a single bite of solid food down since Friday, so this feels marvelous. It's amazing what milestones you'll celebrate.  I had not gone more than several hours without vomiting in weeks. My muscles are starting to relax a bit. I've sat in a chair and rested all day. I sort of don't know what to do with myself since I haven't had to run to the bathroom every ten seconds!

I'm still very very queasy so I still don't do or eat a lot, but at least I'm not constantly heaving, and losing everything I eat, so I'm very grateful. At least for now, this seems to be working. I was prescribed 4 milligrams of generic, to take every 6 hours. But I also know that my doctor is very conservative. My friend who is a nurse said at her hospital, they administer as much as 8mgs every 4 hours. So I take 1 pill every 4 hours as a compromise, which is usually about the time I feel the effects of the first one wearing off. It's so much different than the other two. The Reglan worked but wore off quickly, and its lifespan of effectiveness was growing increasingly short. Phenergan was awful and just gave me GI issues, while doing nothing for the NVP.  I've only been on the Zofran a day so I can't pledge my allegiance yet, but I do already notice a huge difference in the way I feel.

I guess my only piece of advice is to be a assertive with your doctor with what you need. I feel like I wasted a lot of time trying stuff that wasn't working because I didn't want to keep "pestering" my doctor. I downplayed how sick I was, and he responded accordingly. When I did ask for Zofran specifically, he gave me some information about my insurance company that turned out to be inaccurate and I didn't know until I called, a week later--my current insurance does cover it, and as much as he prescribes so I could have started with it.  I still don't like having to take anything, but I couldn't go on the way I was.

On that note I do have a specific prayer request. Our insurance changes on August 15th.  Diana has the same provider that we do, and she said that they only cover 12 pills a month. She was able to get a special exception when her doctor filled out a form from the insurance company. The problem with this is that my doctor is getting married on August 14th, and then going on his honeymoon (woohoo for him!) So when I become a patient, he won't even be in town.  The script I have currently will only last 1 week, and he only gave me one refill. It's possible that my new insurance will cover it without problems, but I don't want to get stuck while he's gone. So at our regular appointment on Monday, I'm going to ask him to write me a 90 day prescription that I can get filled under our current insurance, so then I don't have to worry about it. I'd love your prayers that he would help me with this.

On another note, DH and I are going on vacation! We try to get away at least once a year, and we've been saving our Christmas money, anniversary money, and leftover budget money to get away. We're either going to Arizona North Country to see Sedona and the Grand Canyon, or we're going to San Diego, depending on how well my tummy is doing then. We prefer San Diego because we love the beach, but we'll just have to wait and see what baby chooses :) We've got some tough stuff happening in our marriage right now. I don't want to be more specific than that, but I'd appreciate your prayers for us. I'm praying that the time away and alone will be really restorative.  A couple from church has come along side us to help us, which has been a Godsend. But I think the time just the two of us will be good, too.

For those of  you who like Jamba Juice, I googled this weekend to see if I couldn't find a recipe that would be close to theirs, to hopefully save on some money.

I usually get the Peach Pleasure, which, on their menu is: "A refreshing mix of peach juice, peaches, bananas and orange sherbet."

I found this recipe:
8 oz. cold Peach juice (not nectar)
1 c. frozen peach slices
4 scoops Orange sherbet
1 small banana (ripe)
ice (optional)

makes 2 large glasses

I threw it all in my trusty Vitamix and it came out pretty darn close to the original. I think I actually liked it a little better. We couldn't find straight peach juice, but in the refrigerator section, Dole has a juice that is Orange Peach Mango so I used that.  It's very yummy!  And this way, we were able to use a low fat sherbet, and this juice has no added sugar.

So, some of you may recall that last year on vacation, I traveled with my mini crock pot. If we go to San Diego, our Vitamix is going this year too, along with our Griddler (thanks,!) so I can make my safest foods: smoothies, toast, oatmeal, and pancakes (notice a carbtastic pattern here?). We found this darling little hotel that has a little kitchenette in the room, so we're just going to go play house. But seriously, who else travels with an arsenal of kitchen gadgets? Wonder what I'll add to the list next year!

Anyway, it's time for a nap! Thanks for your prayers for some relief. I've definitely received some!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Emesis. That's the "pretty" word for vomiting. And I've got (done?) a lot of "emesis" (emessising?)

People are so sweet. They always ask me how I'm feeling. I've gotten to the point where I hate answering it, because I feel like my answer would either be a lie or a complaint. I mean, who really wants to hear, "I still feel terrible, I vomit all the time, and if not for my blubber, I'd have 6-pack abs from the workout my core muscles are getting from all this puking!"

But that's the truth. I physically ache from vomiting so much.  I thought about it this morning, and the only thing I've not thrown up a single time is my trusty Jamba Juice smoothie. Seriously. Every other food I've eaten in the last 12 weeks, I've thrown up, at least once, and in most cases, more than once. Healthy food. Junk food. It doesn't matter; it's all the same. And actually, the junk food stays down a little better. Go figure.

That's one of the things that's made finding something that works so hard. I'll find something, say, toast or yogurt (both pretty benign) and I'll do ok so I'll think "great! It's safe to eat toast!" Then, without fail, I'll eat it again one day and the toast will make an encore appearance shortly thereafter. It's gotten to the point where I hate to eat. I'm afraid to eat. Every day I have the conversation with myself: "Which desire is stronger? Hunger, or the desire to avoid vomiting again?"  I measure what I eat by "how much will this hurt coming back up?"

Yet, I can't actually say that to anyone. But if I say, "I'm fine," I'm totally and completely lying.

I'm having a tough time managing this. I second guess myself all the time. I ask, "Am I really that sick?" I feel like a total wimp. But other days, I can freely admit, that yes, I really am that sick. Today's count is at least 10 (now 15) times. But then I think to my friends who've had hyperemesis gravidarum and I think, "at least you're not that sick, so suck it up!"  But when I called Diana (who had HG) today and described what I'm experiencing, she said that I DO sound as sick as she was.  So, I just don't know. I want so badly to take this gracefully, but I'm just exhausted of everything. The simplest tasks and the most benign foods make me sick. I can't even do the dishes or sweep the floor because the bending over to stand back up action makes me ill.  I even wake up out of a dead sleep to throw up.

I'm just really struggling. I didn't know this would be this hard. And from what I can determine, it's at least somewhat harder for me than for others. And I'm struggling with that too. As much as I'm ashamed to say it, I sort of felt entitled for some part of this to go easily! And if it can and does go easily for some, why am I not one of them. I feel like I already did 6 years of hard. So anyway, I wanted to write more but we're running late to go meet my ILs. They offered to cancel, but I'm tired of canceling engagements because of feeling crummy, so we're going.

I'd sure love your prayers. And to those of you who ask how I'm feeling--thank you. I really don't mind being asked and I don't want to sound ungrateful. I just don't know how to answer you.

And thanks, sweet Diana, for your wonderful generosity of time and wisdom. Thanks for validating me and listening to all my gory details!

Updated: Well, I'm back. Sitting still in the recliner, trying to keep down the few bites I had. Bah. Updated about 5 seconds later-I've now lost all that, too.

To answer some questions I got on here and fb: I've been on Bendectine, Reglan and Phenergan. Bendectine was totally benign. Reglan helps a little, but doesn't last long enough. Phenergan makes me more sick. I've asked to be put on Zofran (which is what they give chemo patients for nausea and has become standard practice for severe NVP), but my doctor insisted I try the other 3 first. I am praying that when I call tomorrow, he'll prescribe the Zofran, and that it will work!

It's just messing with my head. I'm struggling to be grateful for and enjoy this pregnancy.  It used to be that I had a couple good days, then a bad day. But now, it's becoming a couple good HOURS, followed by lots of bad days. I can't understand how I'm getting worse, though it should go away with second trimester. So it's just got me down. I feel totally worthless to Todd, who pretty much does everything, save for my mom who comes up every couple of weeks to clean the house.  I read stuff like what's in my last post about how important good nutrition is for baby. Want to know what I've eaten that's stayed down today? Jamba Juice (consisting of juice, sherbet and fruit==all sugar, and golden grahams=more sugar) Updated like 5 seconds later--nope, the Golden Grahams are gone, too.  Everything else has come up, including the salad, chicken, soup, cheese and bread I tried to eat. I'm not getting good nutrition. Baby's not getting good nutrition. And I feel so tremendously guilty about it.

So, I'd just love your prayers for some relief, and moreover, some restoration to my attitude and spirit and strength.

Thanks, friends.

Week 13

Bye, bye, first trimester!

This is your final week in the first trimester and your little weed continues to grow and grow and grow. Of the three trimesters, this one has been the most important for your little one’s development. Assuming you’ve carefully adopted a healthy diet, continue to exercise and get ample rest, your little one is set up perfectly for even more growth and development in tri-two! Way to go! He or she now weighs about 2.5 ounces and is roughly 3.5 inches in length. Little hairs, known as lanugo, will start to cover their body this week, as their sense of taste and smell are further refined. Their cozy little amniotic sac is also increasing in size and mass as it continues to fill with more fluid.