November 17 is World Prematurity Day


This is the second world prematurity day that we are here for since Roo was born. Last year, I was still in a fog to do much other than have it cross my mind. This year, I’ve been reflecting on it much more.

We are one of the lucky families. The toll has been great on us but much easier than other families I know in real life or online. However, our story is our story and the toll has been great.

I never thought much about prematurity. It never crossed my mind that Roo would be premature. But, who does like any other disease or illness or struggle?

For Roo, the toll has been ongoing medical and physical challenges. From her NICU stay to the reflux to the surgery for her crossed eyes to the weekly physical therapy to her eczema and food allergies, it has been one thing after another. I wish my little girl could get a break.

Yes, all of those things could still have happened to her if she was full term but I think many of her challenges are tied into her early birth.

Even with all of those challenges, Roo is the happiest, sweetest baby I know (I’m biased!). She is sensitive and shy but she is a caring and sweet little girl who rolls with the punches and takes the challenges head on. She doesn’t know life to be any differently and for that I’m grateful that she doesn’t realize that all little kids don’t need physical therapy every week.

As for me, the impact is greater. Emotionally, I was not prepared for the changes to my life. I know that life changes after a new baby arrives but life with a preemie changes even more. It has taken a toll on me as I struggle with depression. It has taken a huge toll on my marriage. MH and I struggle with some issues separate from life changing with a preemie but I think if the stress of dealing with the challenges of a preemie baby weren’t there, it would be easier to work on and fix those other problems. But, there is only so much room emotionally and psychologically to deal with challenges and we have to put Roo first right now. I worry and wonder if our marriage will survive. I now understand why parents of children with special needs have a harder time keeping their marriages intact. I don’t want to fall into the category where we fall apart. Some days I think it would be easier on my own. That makes me sad.

Adding to the stress, we were not prepared financially for the costs of having a premature baby. Our health insurance is great but has a very high deductible and we are afraid to make any changes for fear of losing access to the great providers we have established relationships with already. That high deductible means we pay a huge sum of money out of our pockets before insurance kicks in, which means any inkling of extra money is gone. PT alone is $500 a month or so that would have gone into savings. It’s hard. And, MH alone makes great money. With my extra income (I actually make more $$$) than MH, we will be able to get back on our feet more quickly and start to make up for the lack in saving the past year and a half.

Had we known what we were facing, in hindsight, we would not have purchased a 2,000 sq. ft. 4 bedroom house in the suburbs where we needed to buy another car, pay for lawn service because we have no time to care for the yard because we are busy caring for our child, etc. We would have not needed the fourth bedroom because we are not having another child that ER thought we might have tried for before all of this . We have three rooms in the house that virtually are unused because we haven’t had the time or the money to do anything with them. I love our house but we may need to move.

I’ve been slowly losing friends. It is hard to maintain friendships with old and new friends when I’m depressed and focused on Roo. My old friends were used to me calling them and returning calls. Now I’m too exhausted and I am also tired of hearing their words of “encouragement”. They don’t understand because they don’t have a preemie in their life. Distance makes it hard. I used to be able to hop on a plane and visit them but with our extra tight finances that is impossible. So my long time friendships are feeling very distant and farther away than ever. My new friends don’t understand either. Plus, I will make a play date with someone and then they or their kid gets a runny nose and so se have to reschedule. It’s a challenge. I’m feeling lonely. I know this will get better as Roo gets older and her needs diminish but I feel like now is a time when I need those friendships the most and I don’t have the energy to feed them.

This is a long-winded way of saying that life with a preemie changed in ways that go beyond the physical needs and challenges. The challenges are far-reaching. Life is hard no matter what. And, as one challenge ends another will surface. Overall, my life isn’t bad. I’m dealing with first world problems, which aren’t really too hard in the bigger picture. I should quit my whining.

Getting back to the point, World prematurity awareness day is a reminder that millions of babies around the world are born too early. We all need to be aware of the issue and do our part to help stop this problem. Visit the March of Dimes website and make a donation to their efforts to find a solution to ending prematurity. Many premature births like Roo’s happen for no rhyme or reason – even with perfectly healthy pregnancies and mamas like me. We were lucky to have world-class providers keep our little one with us.

Thanks again for following, reading, supporting Roo and me!!

(Top photo is of Roo in NICU towards the end of her stay. The bottom photo is of Roo a couple of weeks ago!)

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An MBA with a new baby?!


It may have come up in a previous post or two that I’m struggling with what to do professionally.  I am an independent PR consultant and I spent the last two years building my business.  Since I got pregnant last November, I’ve been struggling with morning sickness (all day) and fatigue.  Two of my clients wrapped up their projects in December and because of the first trimester woes, I didn’t do anything to fill those empty client spots.  Now that I’m starting to feel better I’m disappointed in myself for not having any clients except for one pro-bono client, a non-profit cancer organization.

Knowing that I’m pregnant and thinking ahead to my future with a baby, I’m confused.  I don’t know what to do about my career and professional life.  I know that I’d like to keep working and ideally the best position would be a part-time position so that I have the flexibility to spend as much time as I can with Roo, when he/she is born.

The problem is that PR is a very demanding career with clients needing your attention at all times of the day and sometimes night.  When I was working full-time, I worked 7:30/8am-7/7:30pm and sometimes later.  I also was traveling a lot.  It is not something that is sustainable as a new mom (at least for me).

The questions that I’ve been grappling with the past few months are:

  1. Do I keep trying to get new clients and only do shorter-term projects knowing that I give birth in six months?
  2. Do I look for a part-time job in an office environment?
  3. Do I recreate myself and find a different, more mommy-friendly lifestyle career?  If so, what do I do?
  4. Do I take my professional career to the next level and take the GMATs (yikes!) and apply for business school next year (Roo would be one if I got in for a Fall 2013 start)?  Is it even a rational thought to consider business school with a little one?  If so, it would be an evening program or an executive MBA program – I need to learn more about the differences.

I’m hard on myself.  Through the years, I’ve been pretty lucky but I’ve also struggled to find balance in my life.  I have been very successful professionally – many of my high school girlfriends have said that they envied my career.  But, I was always dreaming of how to make my personal life a little better.  When I met MH, I slowed down.  I realized that at 34 years old that if I wanted to get married and start a family that I needed to make a change.  So, I left my six figure PR job.  Three months later, I was engaged.

I don’t regret the decision because now my personal dreams are all becoming a reality but I am realizing that I also want to not forget about my professional ambitions….Ambitions, which are evolving as this pregnancy advances.  How do I get to a place where I can be satisfied with both my personal and professional life?  Is it OK to let go of my professional life temporarily?  Will I be able to get back on track?  How do I find the right balance?

Do you have any advice?  Do you need any PR support (I know someone with great recommendations)?! 😉  Is working towards an MBA with a little one a ridiculous thought?

I apologize for the long post but I need to get this off my chest.  MH is very supportive but he keeps telling me that everything will be OK.  Yes, I know it will be but I need some focus and direction and I don’t feel like I have it, which frustrates me and causes me more angst.  I need to let go of my type-A personality, right?!

Consult with CCRM Done.


Well, my consult with Dr. G. went well.  He seemed very nice and down to earth.  In fact, there was so much small talk at the front end, I felt myself getting a little irritated and uncomfortable.  LOL.  Whatever.

I didn’t learn too much more than what I already know about myself and the IVF process.  I did learn more about CCRM’s process and also that he lumped me into a category of women who have a 65% success rate with a 30-40% twinning rate.  The actual success rate for me may change once they’ve seen me and done the test themselves.  I also learned that we could potentially get started right away – meaning as soon as I get my period (which I hope stays away because it would mean that I’m pregnant!) we would make arrangements to fly to CCRM and stay for two nights.

It was interesting that he went over the risks involved very carefully – both the risks to me and also to any resulting baby(ies).  None of the other doctors have done so with me.  They’re pretty scary though rare…

MH has no idea how our call went other than me sending him a text that it went well and was very interesting.  I know that based on the stats alone that he will want us to choose CCRM.  I’m probably pretty close to calling it CCRM too but I am pretty nervous about cycling so far away.  That’s pretty ridiculous, huh?

I’m also really anxious about flights, travel, how it all works, etc.  I need to let it go though, right?!

If you were me: would you go to CCRM or the other (for those of you newly following, the other is Oregon Reproductive Medicine in Portland) with also really great success rates but not as high as CCRM?

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On the TWW front, I’m on CD25.  I continue to have wacky dreams, extreme exhaustion and tugging/pulling in my uterus/belly.  Would you test on or after Thanksgiving Day?  I’m usually a pretty regular 26-28 day cycle girl.  OR, would a digital test tell me the truth right now and you wouldn’t wait – you would test tomorrow morning?  If I’m not pregnant, I would get my period on Thanksgiving Day or on Friday.

What would you do?

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Clearly, I’m incapable of making decisions on my own given this post.  LOL 🙂

Day One Gluten-Free: A Food Diary


How exciting!  I’m going gluten-free for 14 days and we’ll see what happens.  I decided that I’d do a food diary to help track what I’m eating and to make sure that I’m not eating things that I should be avoiding.  This is my meal schedule for the day:

Day One

Breakfast: two rice cakes with peanut butter and honey, yogurt

Lunch: chicken breast cut up on top of butter lettuce with chopped celery, halved cherry tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese (not sure that’s Gluten-free but oh well), balsamic dressing and a handful of salt and vinegar chips (gf, of course).

Dinner: curried whole chicken legs with carrots, rice and lime

Snack: popcorn, sliced apple with peanut butter

I emailed Dr. Sher this morning to submit my medical release form (I want to see the results of my autoimmune tests myself).  I was told that the results from the alloimmune testing are in and once they confirm they have everything they need to give me the results that there’s a chance that I could get my consult with Dr. Sher done tomorrow.  Fingers crossed!  One stop closer to making a decision!  Of course, I’m hoping that I get a BFP this weekend but of course I know that the chances are slim.  So, do I go ahead and move forward now?  What if I get a positive?  Would they give back our deposit or is it lost $$?  So confusing.

Update from Oregon


We are more than half way to our new home in Seattle.  Our road trip has been a lot of fun so far with nearly perfect weather.  Though I hear the sound of rain drops this morning.  It’s OK.  We’re getting really excited to get to Seattle and tomorrow we’ll be there!

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I haven’t had much time to read blogs or post (clearly) but thought I’d give a quick update.  I was able to get our testing lined up for tomorrow morning.  The person I’ve been working with at the lab has been incredible.  I explained how I wanted this testing done as quickly as possible and she arranged for a mobile phlebotomist to meet us in our hotel to take our blood tomorrow morning.  Amazing!

I’m definitely leaning towards putting our $2,000 deposit down for the December 5 IVF cycle in Las Vegas.  MH is still getting there but I think he’s right behind me and will be on board very shortly.  He would be more on board if he knew that I would have company in Vegas…so I’m trying to recruit a friend to come out and spend a few days with me.  We’ll see.  Anyone else doing IVF with Dr. Sher in December?  If so, let’s be buddies and hang out when our husbands are back home!

Without knowing what the results of these follow-up tests will be, I’m a little anxious to commit to the IVF.  But, I’m eager and wanting to move forward.  We’re more than ready to have a baby and if doing IVF will make it happen, we’ll spend the money – only if the odds are in our favor though.

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My pregnant sister-in-law has been sending me updates about her pregnancy.  I know that she is excited but it is too hard for me to read them.  I sent her an email asking her not to…I probably shouldn’t have but I just can’t deal with it.  This is my email (which was hard to write because I didn’t want to make her mad but I wanted her to understand:

Dear A,

I truly am thrilled that you and Tim are having a baby. I look forward to celebrating the birth of your new baby girl when the time comes.  I hope that a miracle will happen so that we can talk about pregnancy together sooner rather than later.

I hope that you understand that now is a difficult time for me to hear updates about your pregnancy – though I hope and wish for an uneventful and healthy one for you!

Love,
M

She wrote back and said she appreciated my honesty.  What more can I ask for, right?!

Hope you all are doing well!

The Financial Cost of IUI #1


One of our bigger concerns and questions was around the financial cost of an IUI.  There are many estimates found when using Google but I was never 100% positive of what it would cost in the end.  We also got a cost sheet from our fertility center but it was a little vague because everything was dependent on what steps we needed to complete.  (We live in California where the costs may be slightly higher than other parts of the country).  Also note that we have NO infertility coverage through our insurance 😦

I want to share the steps that we took in our first IUI procedure and how much each step cost:

  1. Initial consult with fertility center (includes 60 minute meeting with doctor, full review of history/blood work previously taken/ultrasound and recommended plan for moving forward): $350
  2. Blood work for me FSH, TSH, E2 [estradiol], Prolactin, [the following are required by CA before IUI or IVF] Rubella, Varicella, ABO/Rh, CBC, Vitamin D 25-Hydroxy): @$500
  3. Blood work for MH HIV 1& 2, HTLV I & II, Hepatitis B Surface Antigen, Hepatitis C Antibody, RPR/VDRL (all of which are required by CA each and every time prior to an IUI or IVF) and a semen analysis: Unknown/SA $200
  4. Medications (partially covered by insurance) Letrozole (15 2.5mgs), Ovidrel (250mgc), Prometrium (20 200mgs): $140
  5. Baseline ultrasound on CD3 this is done to make sure that I had no ovarian cysts and it is safe to start the medications: $285
  6. Follow-up ultrasound on CD11 this is done to check the lining and to count mature ovarian follicles and see if I can trigger: $285
  7. Second follow-up ultrasound on CD14 done to recheck my lining and to see if I can go ahead and trigger (most people don’t have to have this second u/s): $285
  8. Sperm wash and IUI: $450

TOTAL cost: @$2, 495 ~ probably more because I don’t have full cost of MH’s tests

My IUI procedure cost slightly higher because my lining was too thin to trigger on CD11 and I had to do a follow-up ultrasound three days later.  It is a lot of money but we’ll spend as much as we are able to without putting ourselves into financial danger to bring home a healthy and happy baby.  We will do what we must to make this dream come true!