Saturday, December 25, 2010

Twenty Weeks

Fetus at twenty weeks

Michaela is now about 6 1/4 inches long, and she weighs about 11.5 ounces. On Monday night I felt her movements for the first time! It's kind of like a flutter or a little bubble bursting.

I am composing this on Wednesday, the 22nd - my 43rd birthday. The best birthday gift I'll receive today was a call from my nurse practitioner. She said that my most recent blood work indicates that there's a 1:1200 chance of Down's. That's improved over the first test where the results were 1:150. Trisomy 18 is 1:20,000 and Open Neural Tube/Spina Bifida is negative. There's no need for further testing in these areas. She did mention the location of the umbilical cord, and reminded me that we will watch that monthly at the perinatologist's. My appointment is already booked for next month.

This week I'm still nauseous and dealing with daily migraines. I have crazy hunger pains and have to eat every hour and a half or two hours. When it's time to eat there's no putting it off. I'm not sleeping that well at night, but I think that has more to do with my parents' guest bed than anything else. I'm missing my Heavenly Bed - my extreme pillowtop like they have in all the Westin hotels. Just need to feel well enough for long enough to venture moving back home.

Today is Christmas. Jesus probably wasn't born in December, but rather in September. Regardless, this is the day Christians around the world remember His birth. He truly is the reason for the season, but that gets lost in all the hubbub for many people, even devoted Christians.

The greatest gift you could ever receive on Christmas, or any other day for that matter, is the gift of eternal life through Christ. All you have to do is put your faith in Him. Believe He is Who He said He was - the son of God - and that He died and rose again. You don't have to change your life and come to Him in better shape than you're in right now. He will change you when you invite Him into your heart. You don't have to work for His love or approval. Just believe in Him and He will never let you go - you'll be received in Heaven on your earthly expiration date, and enjoy eternal life with Him and all who love Him. That's better than anything Santa Claus or anyone else could ever do for you. And I really want to see you there!

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very naturea]">[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very natureb]">[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11


Joy to the World!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nineteen Weeks

Fetus at nineteen weeks

We're just about halfway there, everybody! By now, Michaela is about six inches long from the top of her precious head to end of her little behind. We learned on Wednesday that she weighs about nine ounces. Some descriptions about fetal development at this point say her five senses are developing and it's possible that she can hear my voice. It's also likely that she's got some hair growing on her little head by now.

My nausea has really increased the last couple of days. I've been just miserable. Nothing really seems to help, either. Not the home remedies and not the medicine I've been prescribed. It's very frustrating. My daily headaches are slightly less intense, but if I do much of anything they really intensify. I've got three weeks left on my leave of absence, and I'm really concerned that I won't feel well enough to go back to work in that time frame. However, I will be seeing my doctor before then, and if I'm not much improved then we'll have to talk about a later date for my return. Managing my class at this point would be impossible.

This means most of my days during the week are pajama days, and I have to admit that I've been watching way too much reality television. My gosh, those people are so incredibly dysfunctional. Yikes, they need Jesus! When I'm not suffering with a headache, I have made an effort to get back into the Kay Arthur Bible study on the book of Acts that I started in August. It's so good! I've missed my time in the Word, and I've really missed going to church. I haven't been able to go in months now. I miss the worship time and I miss my pastor's teaching. I did talk to Pastor Ray on Wednesday to let him know that Baby Labrador is a girl. We had a good talk. I'm forever grateful that he allowed God to use him to lead Michael to making a decision for Christ.

My mom and I did venture out a couple days ago to Babies R Us. We were just giddy to see all the girl stuff. Well, we came across this crib:

The floor model was for sale at a reduced price, and it was in great shape. So, my parents graciously purchased it for me. I think it's my birthday or Christmas present. The finish is a mahogany, and it will match Michael's antique chest of drawers. I've decided to use that instead of the white dresser I purchased before. My sister has a changing table in about the same color, so we'll reuse that instead of making another purchase. I think the dark woods with the pink accents will be really pretty.

While we were there I added some more things to my registry. I think I understand what I need when it comes to the big ticket items, but all those little things in the Infant Care section get my head spinning. What do I really need? Your suggestions are welcome!

I hope I'll start to feel good enough to return home and start getting the house prepared for Michaela soon. I feel so stuck with my health being what it is right now. By the time that shopping trip was over, I was in terrible shape with a killer headache. My mom was up half the night with me because I couldn't keep anything down. I just can't do much of anything, and it really stinks. Of course, Michaela is worth it, but I had no idea that pregnancy would be so hard.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's a Girl!

Michaela Grace Labrador

We got lots of good pictures of her today, and it's certain that she's a girl! I am beyond thrilled. The anatomy scan was very thorough, and the perinatologist and technician checked her heart, brain, and areas of blood flow. Everything was perfect. They told me that she weighs 9 ounces at this point. Michaela had her face pressed up against the placenta, so I will have to go back in a month for another look at her profile. They will be looking for signs of cleft lip or cleft pallet. The doctor said that the umbilical cord is not attached to the placenta in the ideal place, but she didn't think it would present any problems. They will see me monthly to monitor that.

As we (my parents and I) walked out of the exam room, we ran into Dr. Dourron, my reproductive endocrinologist. He was there with his wife, their toddler and their six-week old baby. My mom had just asked me if I was going to call him and tell him that the baby is a girl. I said I thought I'd wait and send him a birth announcement, but there he was. I was able to share the good news with him, and he gave me a big hug. I'm sure that kind of news must be very rewarding for him and his staff to hear after all the things they do to help these babies come to be.

After the appointment, we met my sister for a celebration lunch. This will be my sister and my BIL's first niece or nephew. I'm very excited for them. There are five grandchildren on Michael's side of the family, but my sister and her husband have the only children on our side or his side. It will be a new experience for them. And my nieces are so excited to have a cousin - their only first cousin.

Anyway, this means that all the little girl things - including some beautiful Asian dolls - will be brought in from the garage and put in the white vintage dresser I bought for another little girl five years ago. I just need to feel well enough to do that! Hopefully these migraines and the nausea will go away soon.

Today is another example of how the Lord will turn our mourning into dancing. He is so faithful and good. If you are struggling with trusting Him in any part of your life, I encourage you to give it over to Him. He will lead you to a place of joy and hope. I am a living testament to that.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Eighteen Weeks

Fetus at eighteen weeks

Baby Labrador is now about 5 1/2 inches long from crown to rump - about the size of a bell pepper - and weighs in at about 7 ounces. I've seen how active he or she is whenever I have had an ultrasound, but I haven't felt any movement yet. I should sometime soon.

I'm still experiencing migraine headaches, but they seem to be slightly less intense than before. I had a pregnancy massage on Thursday afternoon, and I think it was beneficial - especially the massaging of my head, neck, and shoulders. The last couple of days I have had some pretty strong discomfort on my right side that I think must be associated with ligaments stretching. I am missing my own bed, as my parents' guest bed is not easy on my back as mine is. I did purchase one of those pregnancy pillows, but I haven't had much luck getting comfortable with it yet. The nausea has really lessened. I still feel a bit queasy each afternoon, but I head it off with the Phenergan and Benedryl. I made the mistake of eating salad with a vinaigrette dressing a couple nights ago, and that really did not sit well with me. I will not make that mistake again.

This coming Wednesday, I will go to the perinatalogist's for an anatomy scan. My nurse practitioner assured me that we'd know then whether Baby Labrador is a boy or girl. It's going to be like Christmas morning for me. I probably won't be able to sleep much on Tuesday night in anticipation. I've already got names chosen in either case, and I can't wait to start planning the nursery and complete the baby registry.

Yesterday was Michael's birthday. I felt better yesterday than I had in months, so I was able to go to my in-laws' for dinner. It was so nice to be together. Two of his brothers were there, and I enjoyed watching things about them that remind me of Michael. After we said Grace, Michael's dad commented that despite our terrible loss this year, God has blessed us greatly with this pregnancy. Amen to that. It's good to know that this baby is already bringing joy to so many people.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

MRI Results

Everything is normal. Thank you, Lord.

While I'm grateful, I am surprised. I was almost certain that they were going to find something ugly in there. That's how much pain I'm in.

However, the neurologist said that this leads her to believe that I'm experiencing hormone-induced migraines, and she is hopeful they will go away as I get further into my second trimester. She told me to keep taking my pain meds (Vicodin), use hot and cold packs, have massages, and rest. If the headaches don't improve, she said that my OB can consider prescribing migraine medications for me.

I'm not scheduled to return to work until the second week of January, so I'm hopeful that I'll be over this before then. In the meantime, I will follow doctor's orders.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nine Months

I think that one of the strangest things about losing a loved one is how time marches on. On the one hand, I wish it wouldn't so that I would be closer to those times when we were still together. One the other hand, having an eternal perspective, I realize that I am nine months closer to our Heavenly reunion. I find it's best for me to look forward and not backward.

I say it every month, but truly there aren't words adequate to express how much I miss Michael. This whole pregnancy experience would be so very different if he were here. My life would be so different if he was still here. We loved being married to each other, and having children together was our dream.

Despite the loss and the heartache, I choose to trust the Lord and His promises. I do believe that what has been lost will be restored and redeemed one day in ways that I cannot even begin to comprehend. That will have to be enough for now, and it surprisingly is. Funny how when we trust Jesus, He fills us with peace and hope to get through the worst of times. Life is hard, but God is good all the time.

Friday would have been Michael's 55th birthday. I am hoping to feel well enough to join my in-laws for dinner that night to remember him and celebrate our love for him together.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Seventeen Weeks

Fetus at seventeen weeks

I went to the OB on Thursday, and during the ultrasound the nurse practitioner tried her best to see if Baby Labrador is a boy or girl - to no avail. That's okay because it's just about time for the anatomy scan in a week or two. I will go to the perinatolotist's for that, and they have the cutting edge ultrasound technology there. We should know then for sure. That appointment hasn't been made yet, but I will probably be able to schedule it come Monday. During Thursday's ultrasound, we got a picture of the baby's foot. My mom thought it looked like Michael's foot. She said she should know because she spent a lot of time rubbing his feet when he was sick - we all did. He liked that.

Anyway, it's just amazing to watch this baby grow and develop even from this vantage point. I follow one of my favorite authors, Randy Alcorn, on Facebook, and today he posted this:

At 18 days after conception the human heart is forming and the eyes start to develop. By 21 days the heart is pumping blood throughout the body. By 28 days the unborn has budding arms and legs. By 30 days she has a brain and has multiplied in size ten thousand times; at 40 days brain waves are measurable.

This baby is way past forty days. He or she is at least five inches in length from the top of his or her head to the rump. With long legs like Michael and me, I guess the baby's full length could be around 8 or 9 inches. You'd think I'd be able to feel something that large inside of me, but I haven't just yet.

I'm still nauseous off and on, but not as much as before. I'm afraid to say anything for fear I will jinx myself and it will start up again. I take Phenergan and Benedryl only occasionally when I feel a little queasy. My appetite is much better than it has been in months. My mom has done a lot of cooking for me this past week, and I like that I'm able to enjoy food once again.

The terrible headaches continue. I saw a neurologist yesterday, and she really wasn't able to come up with a diagnosis based on what I told her and her examination of me. So, the next step is an MRI of my brain next week. She told me that I can take Vicodin for the pain because it won't hurt the baby. Sometimes the Vicodin helps more than other times, but it usually takes the edge off. I can take up to two per day. I am relieved to not be working right now. I just rest and eat. When a headache comes on, I do even less than that.

I was supposed to meet with a doula this morning, but somehow our wires got crossed and she didn't show up. Maybe she was helping someone else deliver a baby this morning. I think I'd only want to use a doula if I have a vaginal birth. If we need to schedule a c-section for whatever reason, then I don't think she would be necessary. Even so, I'd like to talk to her.

Lastly, my mom and I made a quick stop to shop for some maternity tops earlier today. I have found that even my largest t-shirts are getting too small. Motherhood Maternity had some really cute things, and I thought they were reasonably priced. So, I'm set for a while.

Seventeen weeks!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sixteen Weeks

Fetus at sixteen weeks

Baby Labrador is now between 4 and 5 inches long, and he or she weighs anywhere from 3 to 5 ounces. This precious cargo continues to make me sick. I'm still dealing with nausea and these painful headaches. I've spent the last few days at my parents' with Buffy. They are taking good care of both of us. I'm hopeful that I'll have my referral to the neurologist by Monday, and that I can get an appointment this coming week. I suspect my problem might be occipital neuralgia, and I think it was brought on by all the vomiting. Of course, my medical degree is from Google, so I may be wrong.

I can tell you that it's really hard to be disabled, even to a slight degree, after being healthy for most of my life. On Thanksgiving, I did go to my sister's, but after eating I crawled into her bed and slept for about four hours. I was miserable. Tonight, I should be at a wedding with Michael's side of the family, but I'm just not well enough to leave the house. I miss having the freedom to do the things I enjoy doing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Time Out

I saw the OB this morning. After going over everything I've been through in the last couple of weeks, she was very concerned about my headache/head pains, and the fact that I've been on Tylenol as much as I have to deal with the pain. She prescribed something else to replace the Tylenol, decided to refer me to a neurologist to investigate the cause of the pain, and put me on a leave of absence from work. I'm not scheduled to return to work until the second week of January. She hoped that would be enough time to get to the root of my problem and treat it properly.

It's a relief to have work off my plate, because now it's time to focus on my health.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

15 Weeks

Fetus at fifteen weeks

At this point, Baby Labrador measures about 4 1/2 inches but only weighs 2 or 3 ounces. This was the first week since week five that I haven't had a ultrasound to see the baby, but I will in just a few more days.

Yesterday morning my mom and I decided that I'd been sick long enough (nine days of diarrhea and eleven days of head pain), had complained to my doctors enough without much response on their part, and it was time to get some more immediate treatment/action. So we went to the ER.

On Monday, my GP had surmised that I had a viral infection, but yesterday's blood tests did not confirm that. Instead the ER staff determined that I have a bladder infection. Funny because I had no symptoms for that. The PA said that catching it was a good thing because it can cross the placenta and affect the baby. I was also dehydrated. Not too surprising after nine weeks of nausea and vomiting and nine days of diarrhea. They gave me two IV bags, and an intravenous antibiotic. As for the head pain, they are thinking that I have a tension headache. I can continue taking Tylenol for that, use hot and cold compresses, and get a massage. I'm still not sure that I agree with the cause of the head pain, but I'll follow their instructions and see if it improves.

They also allowed me to take Imodium, and that was something my GP and OB would not allow me before. Needless to say, it worked! I felt better while getting the IV fluids, but by the time I got home, I was pretty nauseous once again and I had a hard afternoon and evening with that. My mom stayed with me until I was ready to go to bed. It just helps having someone here with me.

Of course, spending the morning in the ER meant that I had to call for a sub. I emailed my principal right away, tried to get a good sub, but eventually had to leave it up to the system. A sub I know picked up the job, and I think she has a pretty good reputation for classroom management. I heard that the principal walked through my room more than once, and that several parents volunteered to come in and help during the day so that the kids didn't get out of hand. I had just received two more expressions of support the day before from two other parents, so I hope this didn't undo that goodwill.

I have the upcoming week off, and I hope to rest up and feel better soon.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Some Parents Do Understand

Yesterday one of my students' mothers came in to give her son some asthma medication. Before she left, she approached me at my desk and said that she totally understands what I'm going through and she fully supports me. She said she'd heard all the talk, and that she thinks it's ridiculous. She then told me she was going to send my principal a positive email about me.

After school today, she came in and elaborated a bit on the situation. Seems a mom who doesn't even have a child in my class is one of the parents who is complaining. Can you believe that? Sheesh! Anyway, we had a good conversation and came to realize that we really are "sisters in Christ." She shed a few tears for my situation and gave me a lot of encouragement. She told me how much her son enjoys being in my class and how pleased she is with his progress. Later in the day, she forwarded the very complimentary email she sent to my principal. What an angel. Here's a snippet of her email to me:

It's so wonderful how Jesus keeps putting other Christians in our path to help us over the humps.

Yes, it is.

Speaking of my principal, we had a good talk yesterday. After what happened on Monday, I was reluctant to talk to her. If it had been my previous principal, I would have been in her office in a heartbeat, but I've got such a strange relationship with my new principal that I didn't know if she'd support me, or not. Turns out that she's very supportive. She said she's been fielding these complaints, but that she's tried to keep them from me so as to not stress me out. She said I've done nothing wrong, and that she checked with human resources and they told her that I'm not in violation of any policy. She said she'd come through my room when I'm out to make sure the kids are not out of control, and she excused me from attending anymore inservices where I would have to be out of the classroom during instructional time.

I made a point of showing her my plan book so that she could see how prepared I am two and three weeks ahead of time. I wanted her to know that there's no excuse for a substitute not to cover the right material and to assign the right homework.

Anyway, it's been nice to receive some support in the last couple of days and I feel much better about the situation. Thank you to all my blogging buddies who weighed in with support and suggestions. You ladies are just the best. I've been reminding myself of what the Lord has already seen me through and this is peanuts compared to that. One day I'm going to enter His glory and all this petty stuff (and petty people) won't matter one bit. So, like the author of Hebrews, I'm going to keep running with endurance (Lord, please supply that!) the race that is set before me.

Onto other things...

Regarding the neighbor's dog, because some of you had asked about that, things are much better. Although I never received a response from them, it looks like they have barricaded the side of their yard so that the dog cannot get to their side gate and near my bedroom. This keeps the dog way to the back of their property. She barks much less because she cannot see every person or animal that goes by. And when she does bark, it's not as loud (to me) because she's behind their house, and their house extends further back onto their property than mine does - so she's way back there. I'm happy with the outcome. I hope things between us will defrost in time.

I'm still having digestive issues and my head still hurts like the dickens. I'll get myself back to the doctor if things don't improve by Friday. I'm taking Tylenol every four to six hours just to deal with the pain, and that can't be good. Right?

Two more days until I get a week off for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Parents Just Don't Understand

I have been in tears most of the afternoon after meeting with a concerned parent after school today. She admitted that she complained to the principal a few weeks ago, but she told me that since the principal hasn't done anything about the situation she decided to come to me about it. If you'll remember, my principal told me that a couple of parents had complained about my recent absences and that there have been multiple substitute teachers in the classroom.

I told her that my health and the health of my unborn child come first, and that I will stay home when I need to. I showed her how detailed my plan book is and that there's no reason for a substitute not to cover the content as planned or assign the homework correctly. She complained about the substitutes' lack of classroom management, and I told her I have no control over their inadequacies.

She said she's not the only parent upset about my absences and since the principal isn't doing anything about it, that they are considering going to the school board or the superintendent. I told her I have ten sick days to use, and that I haven't used them all. I'm not in violation of any district policy. She asked me what she should do. I told her to do whatever she feels she should do. What do they think they will accomplish by going to the board or the superintendent? Do they want me to lose my job? She knows what I've gone through in the last year. People can be so cold.

All of this was couched in a "I'm your sister in Christ, and I really feel badly for all you've gone through and are going through, but. . .".

But nothing. I sure hope she doesn't have to learn the hard way that life isn't perfect and you can't control every outcome. People are imperfect, wounded, and fragile. They won't always live up to your expectations. Heck, they don't always live.


On another note, my OB called today. He was concerned that my screening test has come back with a 1:150 chance that my baby has Downs Syndrome. That's not a positive test, but he doesn't like those odds. Another blood test next month will be somewhat more conclusive. I'm not too worried about this, but it's just another concern after everything else today.

I saw my GP this afternoon. I've had the runs for five days, and I'm still dealing with that terrible pain on the right side of my head. She thinks both complaints may be related to having a virus. She didn't want to prescribe any medicine for me because she thinks it will get better on its own soon. I told her all about my work stress and she told me to give people her number when they want to complain about me. Oh, if I only could!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fourteen Weeks

Fetus at fourteen weeks

Just look at that! Fourteen weeks ago Baby Labrador was just a few cells, and now he or she is a miniature human being about the size of my fist.

I met my OB for the first time Thursday. I have been going to that office for several years, but I've always seen the nurse practitioner. Michael's mom went with me, and we were able to see the baby on the ultrasound. Unfortunately, the doctor didn't print out a picture for us. He did try to tell if Baby Labrador is a boy or a girl, but Baby wasn't in a cooperative position. My next appointment is in three weeks, and we'll hope to find out then.

The doctor recommended that I start taking a DHA and a calcium supplement. I'm still not able to keep my prenatals down, but he didn't seem too worried about that. However, he did recommend that I start taking Pepcid for my nausea. He said that he'd just been to a conference where that was recommended for pregnant women with nausea. I started taking it yesterday and it does seem to be helping.

In the last three days, I've developed a new complaint. Now I've got scalp pain. It's kind of like a stiff neck, but it is affecting the right side of my scalp. Doctor Google says it's scalp neuritis which is an inflammation of the nerves that provide sensation to the scalp. It really hurts!

Please keep my friend Ashley in your prayers. She's delivering a baby girl (her first) via c-section on November 30th. There have been some concerns about the baby's development in the recent weeks. Please pray that Ashley and her husband will have peace of mind as they get closer to meeting their precious baby, and please pray that their baby will be healthy in every way.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11, 2007

I so wish the last few weeks of my life had included the planning of an anniversary trip and what to get for Michael. We really enjoyed our first two anniversaries by getting away and choosing special things for one another. The first year we went to San Francisco and stayed in a swanky hotel, and last year we stayed at an amazing inn on the beach in Cambria. I'm sad that this year will not be that way.

Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life. All my dreams seemed to be coming true as we dressed in our wedding attire, said our vows and exchanged rings, drank to our happiness, danced to some of our favorite songs, and received well-wishes from dear friends and family in attendance. Now instead of celebrating our wedding anniversaries together, I will dream of the marriage supper of the Lamb where I hope to sit right next to my earthly groom and celebrate the dawn of Eternity - an eternity in which death will not steal our loved ones from us ever again. Maranatha!

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are the who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God." ~ Revelation 19:7-9

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eight Months


It's hard to believe that it's been eight months already. There are no words to describe how much I miss Michael. I think about him all the time, and I reflect on all the good things we shared and were able to do in our short marriage. The picture above is from a quick trip we took to northern California in June of 2007. We stayed at a really neat place in Guerneville nestled amongst the redwood trees. It was kind of rustic, but they had a great restaurant on site. The purpose of our trip was to check out the venue at which we got married that fall. I wish I could say it was a romantic trip, but he was dealing with a lot of guilt about leaving another relationship to marry me. He was a reluctant groom until we got much closer to the wedding. By then he embraced his decision and we were both really joyful and content with our decision.

Speaking of our wedding, this coming Thursday would have been our third wedding anniversary. It's a shame that we had such a short time together here on Earth. But there are some things that I've come to understand in the last eight months and they are comforting.

Michael's days were numbered - and so are mine, and so are yours:

. . . And in Your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:16)

Michael entered the presence of the Lord as soon as he left my presence:

We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

He is experiencing the wonders of the present Heaven, worshiping the Lord, and enjoying fellowship and friendship with others. I imagine he's got a pretty busy social life hanging out with new friends and making music, and maybe even playing a game of pick-up basketball. I also believe he is missing me and his family and friends, and that Heaven won't be complete for him until we're there together.

I see my life here as a journey to Heaven and our reunion. I must be here for a reason, and I will continue to share my story and point to Jesus as long as I have breath in the hopes that someone who is weak in their faith will be strengthened, and that someone who has no faith in Christ will consider His claims. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6) He is the way to Heaven.

There is no way that I've gotten through these last eight months like I have except that the Lord is my strength and my hope. Without Him and His promises, I would be in bed hiding from life. That's me without Him and the truth of His Word. When dark thoughts linger, and I'm struggling with the loneliness and all of my shattered dreams, I consider His Word and His precious promises and I am strengthened and comforted, and someday I will see what now I can only believe.

The most comforting thing of all is that I know that Michael is a bigger part of my future than he is of my past. Once I get Home, our time together will never be limited again. Praise God for that! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thirteen Weeks

Fetus at thirteen weeks

Baby Labrador is about the size of a peach at this point, and I think my bladder is all too aware of that! I'm up several times a night to relieve myself. But that's no biggie. This past week was better than last, but I'm still dealing with nausea in the afternoons and evenings. I go to bed really early to escape my misery. Then I usually have to get up before midnight and eat something. The crazy hunger pains have not subsided, and I'm forced to feed myself even though I feel queasy. I must admit that although I love my baby, but I don't love being pregnant - at least not so far.

This is the last week of my first trimester. Perhaps I'll start to feel better soon?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ultrasound(s) #8

Baby Labrador measuring at 69.9 mm (13 weeks)

This morning I visited the RE's office for the last time. I've graduated to the OB from here on out. I was seen by Dr. Anderson instead of Dr. Dourron. Turns out that Dr. Dourron's wife just had another baby this week. Dr. Anderson had done my transfer back in August so he commented that it was nice that he got to see me from start to finish. During that scan, the baby was very active. He or she was sucking their thumb, and they had the hiccups. Too cute!

After that appointment, I had an acupuncture treatment. Then I went to the perinatologist for the sequential screening. Their ultrasound equipment was a lot better than my doctors' and I could see the baby in more detail. The scan above is from that appointment. The technician said that everything looked perfect anatomically speaking. She did notice that I have a small fibroid in my uterus. That's something new because Dr. Dourron checked for those in April. She said that it's not a huge concern right now, but that I will have scans more frequently during my pregnancy because of it. That's fine by me!

I still need to go get my blood test which is part of the sequential screening this afternoon. I'm putting it off because I've got a headache and I'm just feeling a little off right now. It's always something.

You know, I know I'm pregnant, but most of the time I'm just so focused on how crappy I feel. However, when I go in for a scan and I see my baby moving around, I am so excited about it. I can hardly wait to meet this little person in a few months.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Barking Dogs, Substitute Teachers, and Cramps - Oh, my!

Barking Dogs:
Shortly after Michael passed away, my next-door-neighbor stopped by to give me her and her husband's condolences. We had a nice little talk, and then I mentioned to her that her dog barks a lot when they aren't home. She was really nice about it, and she suggested that I email her when it's a problem.

So, I began doing so now and then, but certainly not as often as the dog barked. I tried to be really nice about it, but I was hoping that she and her husband would do something about it. Their dog likes to sit in their side yard behind a see-through metal gate that looks out onto the front yard. She can see the world go by from there, and she barks at most of the human activity that goes by - long and loud. My bedroom is only four or five feet from where the dog is, so it's a problem when I'm resting in my room, or when I've retired for the evening.

Yesterday I email her once again about how long the dog had barked on Halloween - an hour non-stop and that dog has a big bark. I really wanted to crawl into bed because I wasn't feeling good, but it wasn't an option. In my email I explained that I hadn't been feeling well because of my pregnancy, and how I've been going to bed early. I was just trying to help her understand why it was so disturbing to me. Once again, I was looking for her to offer a solution like they'd put the dog indoors or in the garage when they were away from home. Instead I got a rather cavalier response about noisy dogs and crying babies and "such is life".

I was flabbergasted. I thought her response was really heartless. I emailed her again last night citing our city's ordinance against barking dogs, and I told her how some of our neighbors had complained about Buffy's barking way back when, and how I'd resolved the situation by leaving her in whenever I'm not home. I told her that I don't want to file a complaint, but that this is a serious situation and I expect them to come up with a solution or I will (file a complaint). I tried to express myself very reasonably, and I assured her that I wouldn't have the windows open at night so the baby's cries won't disturb their sleep. I did not receive a response today. I don't know what's going to happen, but I do know that I will file a complaint if it's not taken care of. I just can't tolerate it anymore.

I think one of the things that bothers me the most is that they are committed Christians. That doesn't mean that they (or I'm) perfect, but it should guide us in how we respond to others. They know how much I've gone through this year. I just don't understand why they would disregard my concerns and complaints about their dog. I prayed about it before I went to work today. I asked the Lord to soften her heart and convict her about the right thing to do. I don't want to be at odds with them. We have been neighbors for thirteen years.

Substitute Teachers:
My principal came to me this morning. She said she didn't want to upset me (uh, huh), but that a couple of parents had called and complained about my absences. She said they said they understood my situation, but they want me to have the same substitute when I'm out. I can't even believe she bothered to pass that information on to me. I told her that I always try to get my favorite sub (hi, Susan!), but that she's very popular and she is usually booked well ahead of time. I also told her that I have a short list of other subs I prefer, but that they are not always available on short notice either. My principal should know these things after being a teacher herself, and after being a principal as long as she has. She could have told those parents that very thing and spared me the concern. Sheesh!

I already decided recently that my health and this baby's health are most important. I will take days off as needed. Who's available to cover for me is not going to determine whether I stay home, or not.

Cramps:
Came home today and started experiencing some cramping. Called the RE's and the OB's offices. Talked to a nurse and a doctor. Since there's no bleeding they suspect that it's due to my uterus growing, or me having been on my feet too much. They told me to stay off my feet for the rest of the evening. That means I can't go vote. Oh, well. The baby is more important. I will see the RE tomorrow morning for an ultrasound. Hopefully, that will be reassuring.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Twelve Weeks

Fetus at twelve weeks

You can tell from my previous posts that this was a really tough week for me. I have just been so sick - nauseous and constipated. What a combination. Ugh!

I am really hopeful that I will start feeling better very soon. I'm off all hormone supplements now, and everything I've read seems to indicate that it's likely that by week 14 I will no longer be dealing with nausea. Please, Lord! I'm so sick of feeling queasy and insatiably hungry at the same time. It's awful.

I've started messing around with a baby registry, but I've come to realize how hard it is to choose things without knowing the gender. So, I haven't gotten very far. It's not like it needs to be done now, but I've had some time on my hands since I've been without television this week and it was something to occupy me.

Each week when I search for the images I use with these weekly posts, I am simply amazed at how quickly babies in utero develop. It has made me even more strongly convicted about my pro-life position.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. ~ Psalm 139:13-16

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just a Little Whine, Please

I am home, yet again this week, due to one of the nastier side effects of this pregnancy. I'm about to lose my mind! I've called the doctor's office, and I'm waiting on an okay to use Milk of Magnesia. The nurse suggested it, but then she wanted to doctor to approve it before I use it.

I am sick of feeling sick.

I'm using up my sick days too fast.

And I am tired of my house looking like a bomb went off inside of it - there is dog hair all over the hardwood floors, laundry is still undone and unfolded from last weekend, and mail is scattered all over the house. I don't usually live like this, but I don't feel well enough to do much about it.

Help!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ultrasound #7

Baby Labrador measuring in at 12 weeks

The baby's head is on the left of the picture. Baby was very active this morning during the ultrasound. At first the physician's assistant said the baby had its legs crossed, and then we could see the baby stretching its legs out. Such a wonder!

I no longer need to take the progesterone or the estrogen. Oh, hallelujah! I am so over those routines. The nurse seemed to think that eliminating those from my system might make me feel better in a few days.

I bought several pairs of maternity pants last Sunday. I was tired of feeling the pressure around my waistline. A few people have commented that I'm showing. Perhaps, but I think it's more likely that I'm just distended from being constipated. I know that's TMI, but I'm just being honest. I have been miserable in the last week or so. Just miserable. I'm eating a high-fiber diet, drinking Metamucil, and I just started taking Colace. It's awful feeling queasy and stopped up!

Next Wednesday will be my last appointment with the RE. It will also be my first appointment with the perinatologist.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Eleven Weeks

Feet at Eleven Weeks

This past week was better than the weeks before, but I still don't feel like I'm completely over the nausea. However, I'm taking less and less of the Zofran and that's a good thing because Zofran has a nasty side effect - constipation. It's always something!

I'm pretty sure this will be my last week of progesterone suppositories and estrogen patches. I'll be all natural in a week.

This week and next will be my last two visits to the RE. After that, I'll be seen by the OB and the perinatologist. I will miss the doctor and the staff at the RE's office, but I won't miss those early morning appointments.

Someone asked how often I'll receive an ultrasound at the OB's. I really don't know. My next appointment with them isn't until the second week of November. I don't know if they will do an ultrasound every time I go in, or not. This is all new to me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Holiday Season

I am really dreading the months of November and December for several reasons:
  • November 11th would have been our third wedding anniversary.
  • December 10th would have been Michael's fifty-fifth birthday.
  • December 22nd is my birthday.
  • And, of course, there's Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.
That's a lot to get through without Michael, and I'm trying to decide how to handle each of those days. Obviously, our special days cannot ever be the same. I'm trying to figure out how to honor our anniversary and his birthday without his presence.

As for the standard holidays, I do not want them to be the same for me this year as they have been in years past. I need a change. I'm thinking about going down to San Diego to have Thanksgiving with my aunt's family, but what to do about Christmas?

I'm open to suggestions - especially from those who've had to get through that first year after the loss of a spouse or other significant family member.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First OB Appointment

I had my first appointment with the obstetrician's office today, and although I was originally supposed to see the doctor, I got to see my favorite nurse practitioner instead. She did another ultrasound and I got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time. That was very cool! I think I could listen to that sound all day.

I am being referred to a perinatologist. For those that don't know, a perinatologist specializes in high-risk pregnancies. He will perform "sequential screening" which is the least invasive way of testing for abnormalities. I will not be doing any of the other more invasive tests as they carry a risk of miscarriage. As I understand it, sequential screening only involves an ultrasound and a blood test.

As Rajeeni (the NP) said, we're almost out of the woods. Just a couple weeks to go until my second trimester begins.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ultrasound #6

Baby Labrador

The baby experienced a real growth spurt this last week! He or she now measures 42.6 mm, and that puts him or her at 11 weeks, 1 day based on measurement. Looks like Baby Labrador will be tall like Mom and Dad.

Tonight was my last progesterone injection. Hallelujah! I've still got two weeks of progesterone suppositories to go, but that will be a welcome change from the injections.

Today has been another very long day, so that's it for now.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ten Weeks

Fetus at ten weeks

This week has been a mixed bag. When I started taking the Zofran on Wednesday, I immediately felt better. Then on Thursday afternoon and evening, despite taking the Zofran, I was still struggling with queasiness and food aversions. Same thing happened yesterday. It makes dinnertime very difficult.

My mother-in-law has invited me to her Filipino-American Association's Gala this evening, but I'm not sure I'll be able to make it because of how the last two evenings have been. I so want to go. I love Filipino food, and I would enjoy the time with Michael's mom. I'm just going to have to play it by ear and see how this afternoon shapes up. Ever since this morning sickness has set in, I have done very little other than go to work or doctors appointments. I could use the change in scenery.

Another problem that has developed is that even though I am no longer wearing the Primabella wrist band since beginning the Zofran, I have ongoing tingling and numbness in my hand. That is not good. I'm going to have to inform the manufacturer.

Early this morning, four o'clock to be exact, we had some excitement around here. My dad had set some traps in my attic because we suspected there are rats or mice hanging out there. Sure enough, this morning one got trapped. I could hear its cries. As much as I dislike free-range rodents, I felt badly that it was suffering. Dad will be coming by to deal with that later today. Sigh. . .

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ultrasound #5

Baby Labrador at 9 weeks, 5 days*

Today's ultrasound showed that baby is nearly 29 mm in length. The head is still at the bottom of the fetal shape. You can see the arms in the middle there. The heartbeat is going strong.

I had such a terrible night last night due to "morning sickness" (what a misnomer!), that I called for a substitute teacher and rescheduled my ultrasound appointment for later in the morning. Once the nurse took me back to the examination room, I complained again about my nausea, and she suggested that I start a prescription called Zofran. She told me that this is a pill that is taken under the tongue, and that their patients have had good success with it. I just dropped off my prescription, and I will pick it up before the afternoon nausea kicks in.

It is really remarkable to see the growth that occurs to my baby in the course of a week. What a miracle life is!

*Based on measurement, not the calendar. Learned something new today!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Nine Weeks

Fetus at Nine Weeks

Baby Labrador is no longer considered an embryo. As of nine weeks, an embryo becomes a fetus. Did you know that the average rate of growth from now until birth is .06 inch per day? There's a lot going on in there!

Also (from baby2see.com):
  • The embryo has grown to measure 30 mm (1.2 inches) in length.
  • The fingers and toes are well defined. Cartilage and bones begin to form.
  • The upper lip as well as the nose tip is being formed.
  • The tongue begins to develop and the larynx is developing.
  • The eyelids are developed, although they stay closed for several months.
  • The main construction of the heart is complete.
During this week of pregnancy your baby is now swimming round in a little bag of fluid. The arms and legs have lengthened. They fingers and toes are forming, but are still joined by webs of skin. They can flex their elbows and wrists. They are growing eyelids as well as forming their anus. The embryo is protected by the amniotic sac that is filled with fluid. Inside the embryo swims and moves gracefully. The embryo is now about 1 inch long.

During this time of development, the baby's head appears much larger than the body because the brain is growing very rapidly. Brain waves can now be measured. The main construction of the heart is complete. Through its parchment thin skin, the baby's veins are clearly visible. During this week the ears, the teeth and the palate are continuing to form.
I know it happens all the time, but I think it's really remarkable.

As for me, I'm still feeling very mediocre. I had a couple of better days this week, but overall everything related to my digestion is just messed up, and I had a headache that lasted for two days. I really hope that I'll start to feel better soon. Right now I just feel like I'm surviving.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Seven Months

Today marks seven months since Michael had to leave me.

I really miss him - especially now that I'm pregnant and back at work. He was such a good partner. He took such good care of me. I've been thinking about all he used to do since I've not been feeling well and I don't have as much time to get things done around here. Unlike some men, Michael was not above any household tasks. He would clean, cook, do laundry, run errands, take the dog to the vet - whatever was needed. I really appreciated his help.

Of course I miss his companionship, too. I feel much more isolated and I do fewer things than I did when he was here. I miss the lifestyle we had together. We were always having fun. Michael was fun.

Tomorrow marks a year since my grandmother passed away. I miss her, too, but I feel like I didn't have time to really mourn her passing because I was so busy caring for Michael and then mourning him.

Last week a coworker and friend passed away. She was so young. Her family is devastated. There are several things I could tell them that I think made a positive difference for me in my early grief, but there's no way around the gaping hole that remains in your life and the nagging sense of loss. You just have to learn to live with it the best you can.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ultrasound #4


Baby Labrador at 8 weeks, 4 days

Today's ultrasound shows us that Baby Labrador is now 21 mm long! Baby has grown 8 mm in just a week. Dr. Dourron pointed out that the baby's head is located at the bottom of the fetal shape in the picture. He reminded me that with each week that passes, the chance of miscarriage decreases. He also advised me to make an appointment with my regular OB/GYN for two or three weeks from now.

I complained about my ever increasing morning sickness, and I was given a device called Prima bella. At first I was skeptical, but after feeling pretty good most of the day, and into the evening which has been my worst time of the day, I'm beginning to think this is the ticket. The vibration is kind of annoying, but I prefer it to being sick.

Late in the afternoon the nurse called to tell me that my progesterone has increased to 50 from last week's level of 36.

Everything is looking good, and I know I'm blessed.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Eight Weeks

A Fetus at Eight Weeks
(Photo by Lennart Nilson)

Today marks the eighth week of pregnancy, and to celebrate I finally tossed my cookies last night. Thank you very much!

The Unisom and B6 does wonders for me during the day. I can eat breakfast and lunch without any trouble. But, the medication seems to wear off in the mid to late afternoon about the time that school is coming to a close. Then I'm crazy hungry, but the food aversions mean that there's not much I can eat that appeals to me. Fruit usually appeals to me, but it just doesn't fill me up and keep the hunger pains at bay for long. So all evening I struggle to eat enough to prevent the nausea. Couldn't do it last night.

I am bummed that I have to report to jury duty on Monday morning. I don't know how I'm going to manage that. At school, I keep my little fridge stocked with fruit and yogurt and other things to eat. I don't know how I'm going to get through the day in a jury room, and there's just no way I can serve on a jury right now. I first received this summons right after Michael passed away, and I was able to get a postponement then. There is nothing on this summons that gives instructions for postponing service or what to do if you're unable to report. So I guess I'm going to have to go in and tough it out.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ultrasound #3

Baby Labrador now measures 13 mm and the doctor saw a "rapid heartbeat" this morning. Praise God!

It's been a very long day, so that's it for now.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Seven Weeks

Fetal Development at Seven Weeks

I remember watching In the Womb with Michael last year, and we were both amazed by how quickly everything happens.

At seven weeks:
  • elbows form
  • fingers start to develop
  • feet start to appear with tiny notches for the toes
  • ears, eyes, and the nose start to appear
  • intestines start to form in the umbilical cord
  • teeth begin to develop under the gums
It's absolutely incredible, and I don't see how anyone can say that life doesn't begin at conception. It obviously does.

I'm afraid to jinx myself, but I must say that I'm feeling better this morning - first time in a week. Nevertheless, I will be talking to a nurse sometime today about the queasiness because I just can't function when I feel that way. On the days I've felt queasy, it's stayed with me all day long. It's really hard to do my job, or anything else for that matter, when I feel sick.

Update: Was just given permission from the RE's office to take Unisom and B6 in the evenings for my queasiness. When I first spoke with the nurse (one I don't know), she was telling me all the things I already knew and have tried. Then she told me to drink smoothies, and I told her that Dr. Pak does not want me having anything cold this trimester. She poo pooed that. So, I was a bit frustrated after talking to her. Then she called back and told me that Tori (the most wonderful nurse ever!), said I could take the Unisom and B6 combination for my sickness. Thank you, Tori!!! I hope it helps.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ugh!

I am feeling so lousy, and I hear that's a good thing.

While I haven't "tossed my cookies", I am continually queasy. I have to have a piece of candy or a little something to eat all the time. However, there is very little in the way of food that appeals to me right now. I'm craving fresh fruit, and I go through a lot of Trader Joe's organic apple slices and fruit salad from Bristol Farms.

The hunger pangs are more like hunger pains - very intense! I cannot believe how hungry I am and how often I am hungry. Then when I try to eat something, I can only eat a very small portion.

And my digestion is all messed up. Enough said.

I had a terrible night last night and called for a substitute teacher early this morning. I've already managed to catch up on a few hours sleep.

I understand this will get better in a few weeks, but it stinks right now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ultrasound #2


The doctor said everything is looking good. There is noticeable growth of both the gestational sack and the yolk sac. He also said that next week's ultrasound should show us the fetal pole and the heartbeat.

I'm feeling better about my symptoms. They come and go, but now I know that's normal. I've experienced some queasiness, and it seems like my digestive system is even more sensitive than usual. I will not be able to eat my mother-in-law's turkey meatloaf again during this pregnancy. It tastes so good, but it really upsets my stomach. Boo hoo.

I am craving fruit. When my stomach was upset yesterday, I found that apple slices were really soothing.

I'm still cranky. My mom can vouch for that. I'm sorry, Mom.

My sleep is messed up. I woke up this morning at 2:30 am and couldn't get back to sleep before the alarm went off at 4:30. I hate that!

Anyway, things are progressing. It's hard to believe, but it's feeling more real all the time.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Concerned

I'm up in the middle of the night scouring the Internet for information because the breast tenderness is gone. I haven't felt it all day Saturday. I only found a few references to it being something that can come and go as hormone levels change, but a few anecdotal references were that it preceded miscarriage.

Then it dawned on me that another symptom I'd been experiencing was vaginal secretions (I know TMI), and I didn't experience those yesterday either.

I'm going to call the RE's office in the morning, but I'm pretty sure they will make me wait until my appointment on Tuesday for an ultrasound and the answer only it can give us.

Sigh. . .

UPDATE:
Just spoke with a nurse. She said they frequently hear about both of my concerns, and not to worry. Hormones fluctuate, and symptoms can come and go in a healthy pregnancy. I'll go in as scheduled on Tuesday morning. I guess that makes me feel better, but I can hardly wait for Tuesday's ultrasound so I really know what's going on.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Six Weeks

"They" say I'm six weeks pregnant today. My only symptoms are afternoon fatigue and tender breasts, and sometimes in the afternoon on my way home from work I am so hungry. Oh, and I have to get up multiple times a night to pee. Fun times. I've not had any morning sickness. My acupuncturist says that's neither here nor there. You either have it, or you don't. Not to worry. I'm still going to see her twice a week through the first trimester.

I guess I'd also say that I've been feeling irritable. If only I ruled the world, everything would be so much better. You know? ;) But I can't really say that is a pregnancy symptom. Maybe I'm just cranky from having to get up so incredibly early every morning to get to work on time.

Speaking of work. . .

My class seems to be a nice group of kids, and none of their parents has struck me as being crazy, unreasonable, or otherwise difficult to deal with. And that's a huge plus. I can handle almost anything when it comes to the kids. They're just kids, after all. It's their weird parents that send me over the edge. In the past I've had parents yell at me, chase me out to my car after school, threaten me, send me mean-spirited nasty notes, etc. Some people are insane, and I hate it when their kids end up in my class. Crazy people should home school. I'm not saying that people who home school are crazy. I just think crazy people should definitely home school. Trouble is, they probably don't know they're crazy. Shoot!

So far, I've got lots of parent volunteers and I'm plugging them in to help out anyway they can. Many hands make light work. My class is full - 32 students. I also take an additional seven students for math everyday. We're crammed in like sardines at that time. I still don't understand why K-3 classrooms can have no more than 24 students in them, but somehow it's okay for fourth and fifth grade classrooms to be jam packed. I guess the fourth and fifth graders weren't cute enough to pull on the heart strings of the politicians who came up with California's class-size reduction program, or something like that. See what I mean about being cranky?

Ah. . .

So now my sweet little post about being six week pregnant has morphed into a rant about work.

Sorry.

I'll conclude with an amazing picture of a baby at six weeks:


Isn't it just incredible that so much development takes place in such a short period of time?

Monday, September 13, 2010

One-derful!

Miracle Baby's First Ultrasound

This morning's ultrasound revealed one miracle baby! Yea!

Dr. Dourron said that not only could he see the gestational sack, but he could also see the yolk sac which is something he would not expect to see until the sixth week. He indicated that it was a good thing.

My progesterone was 35 today. Also a good thing.

I will have an ultrasound every week through this first trimester, and they will check my progesterone weekly.

Too tired to write about impressions and feelings. Just very thankful and happy to be blessed like this.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Aunts & Nieces

Today we celebrated my Great Aunt Nilja's 90th birthday. She's quite a lady, and you'd never guess she's ninety. She and my great uncle are looking forward to their trip to Las Vegas later this week. They are precious. There were probably thirty or forty family members there to celebrate with her, and we all held hands while my cousin Jeff led us in a prayer of thanks. It was a beautiful prayer, and I just thought how blessed we all are to be family here on Earth and brothers and sisters in Christ. After that, Aunt Nilja said her secret to looking beautiful and living a long life was to laugh everyday and she thanked her husband for giving her lots of reasons to laugh.

Anyway, my favorite moment this afternoon was as I arrived and got out of my car. Running in the street to get to me for a congratulatory hug was my eighteen year old niece (and new college student), Rebecca. She was so excited for me and she said she wanted to be the first to give me a hug. In other words, she wanted to beat her younger sister to it. I just love her sweet spirit and enthusiasm.

My other niece was remarking that she wanted to meet the other kids at the party, who are distant cousins. Sarah just doesn't see them often enough to know them. She then said to me that she was going to know her cousin(s) very well. That she was going to be a good "auntie" to them. That just warmed my heart. I told her she could babysit and change diapers, and she was okay with that. That's my girl. I changed many diapers when my cousins were little. It's good practice!

I am nervous about tomorrow's ultrasound. I just want everything to be okay. I'll post tomorrow night and let you know how it goes.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th, 2009

September 11th is infamous for the horrible national tragedy we experienced nine years ago today, but I also now remember it as the day Michael started taking Sutent. Just the day before, he had gone to see his oncologist. I chose not to go because it was just the second day of school, and I didn't think it would be anything more than a prerequisite to him starting the HDIL-2 treatment.

As it turned out, he received some devastating news that day that his cancer was too aggressive and too advanced for him to do HDIL-2. After his appointment, he called me with that news, and I was shocked. I rushed up to Santa Monica, leaving my students in the care of some other teachers, to be with him while we waited for his prescription to be approved. Our insurance company was balking at the cost - $10,000 for a month's supply.

While we waited to see if we'd be able to have the prescription filled that day, we rested on his sister's guest room bed and looked each other in the eyes. The reality of his disease was so heavy on our hearts. It was the first time that we realized that our time together might be much shorter than we'd ever considered. I just remember telling him not to leave this world without Jesus, and I'm forever grateful that he didn't.

The next day, September 11th, our insurance approved his prescription and he began taking it right away. He derived an almost immediate benefit from it, although it turned out to be a short-term solution for him. However, in the next two months, we were able to enjoy our life together and spend time with the people that mattered most.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

IVF #2, Beta #3

Today's beta was 896 - not a doubling of Tuesday's beta, but the nurse said they were not concerned about that. I do not have to have another beta test, but I will go in for my first ultrasound on Monday morning.

I'm feeling good physically - not too tired, no more crazy hunger, just some breast tenderness from the progesterone.

I'm really looking forward to Monday!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

IVF #2, Beta #2

Today's beta level was 513 and the nurse said that was good. Beta levels are supposed to double every 48-72 hours, so I'm in the pocket. My progesterone has also increased from 17 to 31 due to the additional amount in my nightly injection.

I will repeat the beta test on Thursday and Saturday. If all continues to progress, then I will have my first ultrasound next Monday.

I woke up at a quarter to three this morning and I couldn't go back to sleep because I was SO hungry. I had to get up and eat a bowl of cereal! I never eat in the middle of the night, so I'm guessing that has something to do with the pregnancy. Other than that, I'm feeling good.

Six Months

Yes, time marches on, and because of that it's been six months since Michael went home.

Hard to believe.

On the one hand, I hate that it has been that long since we've been here together. On the other hand, I know that I'm six months closer to seeing him again, and that's what keeps me going - the knowledge that there is more than this fallen world and this fragile life.

When it's my time to go or when the trumpet sounds, whichever comes first, then I will begin an eternity with Michael. We'll do so many things that we didn't have time to do here, and we'll experience things I can't even begin to imagine. Of course, Heaven will be so much more than just hanging out with Michael. But because I can't really understand all that God is preparing for those that love Him, I tend to focus on what it will be like to be reunited with Michael. I already know how good it is to be with him. If you knew him, you know just what I'm talking about.

I oftentimes imagine him exploring the present Heaven like he explored so many international cities when he was touring with the PA band. By now I expect that he's made a ton of new friends, come to know our Lord Jesus in a way he didn't while he was here, and he's using his gifts to serve the Him. I fully expect that Michael will be my "tour guide" when I get there. That he'll take me by the hand and show me all his favorite places in the heavenly city like he did when we went to Madrid and London. It's going to be amazing.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Madrid, July 2007

Monday, September 6, 2010

Overjoyed, Overwhelmed, and Tired

Yesterday was just incredible. It was the second happiest day of my life - the happiest day being the day I married Michael. That got me thinking about the worst day of my life, which wasn't the day Michael died, but the day he was diagnosed with cancer. But that's a whole other post.

When the nurse was taking my blood yesterday, she asked me what I thought. Since I hadn't taken a HPT, I told her I didn't know what to think. I told her that I didn't feel anything and she said no one really feels anything this early on.

As I was leaving the office, so was another patient. She asked me if I was pregnant. I was kind of taken aback. If you've ever been in a doctors office like that, you know that NO ONE talks to one another. Spouses talk to each other, but other patients do not sit there and share with one another. It's some unspoken code of conduct. So I was really surprised that she would say something to me. I told her I didn't know if I was pregnant and that I'd just had my first beta test. She said she never talks to anyone, but that she thought I looked pregnant. She also said she was doing her fourth IVF. I told her a little of my story, and she offered to pray for me. She asked me for my name and reminded me that God always has a plan. I remarked that maybe she'd been sent to me this morning as a little light, because at this point in the day I was feeling so low. I was just certain that when the call came in it would be another chemical pregnancy.

On the drive home, I turned on the local Christian music station. On Sunday mornings their playlist is all worship music. I heard a good one by the David Crowder Band called Here is Our God. I had seen them perform this song at the Harvest Crusade a few weeks earlier. It's a great song, and although I could barely sing along (too choked up with emotion) I raised a hand and tried to worship Him. My pastor continually reminds us that we are to offer praise to the Lord even when we don't feel like it. Do you know how hard that is when you feel like your life just sucks? Excuse my language, but that's how I've been feeling lately. Intellectually I know that God is worthy of my praise regardless of how I feel or what my circumstances are, but sometimes I just don't feel like it! Anyway, I think doing that was a little spiritual breakthrough for me. It was a sacrifice because it wasn't easy for me, and God honors our sacrifices when they come from the right place in our hearts. (Psalm 50:23)

By noon, my parents and my mother-in-law were all here to wait for the call with me. When the call came in, I could hear a difference in the nurse's voice from the seven other times I've taken a call like this. She sounded happy, and in a matter of seconds I knew why. It was just amazing to me. Completely unexpected. I had been praying that my beta number would be high, so that I would be able to have more confidence in the pregnancy being viable. God is faithful.

Then we started calling all the friends and family members who have been faithfully praying for this outcome - aunts, uncles, cousins, friends near and far.

Last night, my parents and I went out to my in-laws to have dinner together and to celebrate this great news. Everyone is just overjoyed. It's about time we had something to celebrate after everything we've gone through this year. They opened a bottle of champagne, and I couldn't have any. :)

This morning I saw Dr. Pak for acupuncture. I will continue to see her twice a week through the first trimester. She, too, is so happy for me. Dr. Pak has been a constant in my life twice a week since May. I see way more of her than I do my RE. I don't know what all those little needles do, but I do think they have beneficial qualities. I'm glad I've invested the time and money in it.

I am completely overwhelmed by all the comments I've receive here on the blog and on Facebook. What a blessing to be connected to so many people through the Internet. In the last five years I have made friends as my life went through various phases - adoption, infertility, cancer, loss and widowhood. Your friendship has been a real blessing through all of these challenges. I have been so touched by so many. Thank you!

Lastly, I'm tired. Very low energy. I think I can count this as my first pregnancy symptom! According to an online IVF due date calculator, I am 4 weeks, 2 days pregnant. What?! That's crazy, but I like it. Also according to that site, if I'm having one baby, my due date is May 14, 2011. If I'm having twins, my due date is April 22, 2011. Sounds good to me. :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Joy

I am pregnant!

My beta number is 273 today. That's a good strong number. I will go back on Tuesday morning for my second beta test. We need that number to double by then.

My progesterone is a little low at 17, so the doctor is having me increase the amount of my injection from 1cc to 1.5cc.

I was totally prepared for bad news, so this good news is a wonderful surprise.

God is so good! I am feeling joyful!!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Uncertainty

I'm pretty nervous about tomorrow's pregnancy test.

Every other time (five IUIs, first IVF, and the FET) I always had another option - something else we/I could try.

But, this time there is no other option.

I'm a forty-two year old widow.

I'm out of options.

I really want to experience joy again.

I want to be the recipient of good news, of an incredible blessing.

What does tomorrow hold?

Joy or more heartache?

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Better Day

No, I haven't received a transfer, and at this point I'm not expecting one, but today was a better day than I expected it could be.

Thanks to my sister and my parents, my room is really coming together. I'm also beginning to a feel a renewed sense of camaraderie with my coworkers. And, I sense that my principal is making a real effort to be gracious to me.

I received my class list today, and none of the kids jumped out at me as having a reputation for being a pain in the you-know-what. Of course, only time will tell. The one full-inclusion (and high maintenance) child I was concerned would be placed in my classroom has been placed in the other fourth grade class. That's a relief.

And when the teacher of the three/four combination class asked me to take her kids for math, we worked out a schedule in which she will be present in the classroom with me for at least half of the math lesson after her third graders go home. Although there will be forty children in the classroom during math, all of the kids will benefit by having two teachers then. I will teach the lesson and model the processes on the whiteboard, and she can work the room helping kids as they need it. I think that will work really well.

So, I'm stuck in fourth grade for the thirteenth year. I will escape next year. I will! I will! I will!!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

More Work Woes

On Monday I was encouraged to believe that there were several openings within the district, and that it was likely I would receive a transfer this afternoon.

But that has not happened.

I had another long conversation with my contact in HR this afternoon, and she said there's still a chance, but it could be at the last minute, or even after school has started.

I am so disheartened.

My parents and the school custodian loaded up all of my personal belongings into my parents' minivan first thing this morning. Then we waited.

And waited.

It just didn't make sense to begin setting up the room I'm currently assigned to if I was going to get my transfer in a few hours.

Fortunately, that room is already papered and bordered. If I stay, all I need to do is situate my things in the room. I'm afraid that is something I will have to start doing tomorrow morning even though I am still desperately hoping for a transfer.

I did enjoy seeing my colleagues this morning. But I did not enjoy the crowd and the noise in the teachers' lounge where we first met this morning. That was too overwhelming for me. I only stayed for a few minutes.

This is hard. I feel let down by my school district. I know they have accommodated other teachers in the past, and I wish they would find a way to do so for me.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to Work

So, tomorrow I return to work.

I haven't worked since the first week of February.

What I've gone through since then has been awful, but being home has been good. Very good. I like being home. It's safe. There aren't too many unexpected triggers and stresses, so my days are predictable and my grief is fairly manageable. I don't think it will be that way once I'm working again.

As wonderfully supportive as most of my coworkers have been, it will be hard to see them tomorrow and receive their sympathy. Sympathy is lovely, but it triggers my emotions. I don't want to be emotional at work. That's another reason I want to transfer to another school site. I don't want to face the students and parents next week who know about my situation. I don't want to hear what they have to say or see the pained expressions on their faces. I can't handle it.

If Michael had had life insurance, I would be taking this school year off. I'd get through all these firsts without them sprinkled in with my work life. But he didn't have life insurance.

I tried to get him a policy shortly after we were married, but when he had a physical examination for it they determined that his PSA was too high and they rejected his application. We knew that if he had a biopsy and it came back negative, that they would reconsider his application. He went ahead and had the biopsy, which we needed to do anyway to make sure he didn't have cancer. Ironically, the biopsy came back clear, but of course he had cancer - just not prostate cancer. Anyway, I wanted to move ahead with the life insurance application, but he was resistant because he didn't want to spend the money for it. I gave in.

We both regretted that decision.

And so now, I must go back to work.

Monday, August 30, 2010

IVF #2, Progesterone Injections

When Michael and I first began fertility treatments, I was given progesterone suppositories after our IUIs. Very messy. Fun times. :P

But, during my IVFs and FET progesterone has been given via injection, 1cc per day. It's a nightly routine, and my mom, my sister, and Michael's mom take turns giving them to me now. I don't mind the injections as much as I did the suppositories.

When I began the injections last week, I immediately noticed the side effects - really tender breasts. Today they aren't as tender though, and of course that makes me wonder if I'm getting enough. Any IVFers have an opinion to share?

Anyway, this is the part of the two week wait where I begin to analyze every symptom that seems present, and every symptom that seems absent. Honestly, I'm feeling good and no different than I've felt when I'm not pregnant (my whole life!). So, I really don't have anything to go on.

The pregnancy test is on Sunday morning. Five more days!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Work Woes

I still have not received a new assignment like I've been hoping and praying for. Things could change this week, but so far they haven't. I feel completely let down by my school district. Returning to my school and the grade level I have been assigned to on Thursday this week is beginning to cause me to feel stressed.

It's stressful because I have already taught this grade level for twelve years, and I believe I am not up for the rigors of it in my first year of grief. Also, my principal and I have had a falling out, she has made her decision about my placement based on her personal feelings for me, and I'm concerned that she will continue to be punitive towards me as long as I work for her.

I feel like I'm a poster child for Life Isn't Fair right now. When will something go my way?

************

Update:

I just got off the phone with human resources. I was told that my transfer request is a top priority. There are a handful of staffing needs in the district and it's likely something will be decided at the end of the week. She mentioned two schools to me, and one of them is my first choice. I am encouraged!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

IVF #2, Resting

Just an update to say I've spent the last five days lounging around like a big lump - like I'm supposed to. I have watched countless cooking shows, flipped through lots of magazines and catalogs, started and finished a novel, napped, and so on. At this point I am bored, but hopefully new life is incubating within.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Facebook

I added a Facebook button in my sidebar a few days ago. I had one friend request because of that the other day, but because I didn't recognize the name I didn't accept the request. Then I saw that the person had sent me a message explaining that she was a reader of the blog. Oops! Sorry about that. I would be happy to friend you. I just didn't make the connection before I responded to your request.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

IVF #2, Three Little Embryos


Now if I remember correctly, the embryo on the top left is the star student. It had so many cells that it's beginning to compact and the embryologist said that was very good.

The embryo on the right was also considered to be a goody with six to eight cells.

The embryo on the bottom was the late bloomer. It started as one of the immature eggs and was fertilized a day later than it's siblings.

They are all precious to me.

I have a new friend my same age who is just a few weeks ahead of me in the IVF process. She only had one embryo to transfer, but she is pregnant with great beta numbers. Her outcome has given me great hope for these little guys.

Thank you for all the comments and emails, and for surrounding me with your loving thoughts and prayers. From our lips to God's ear, as they say.