Baton Class, 1992

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There I was, 6 years old standing shoulder to shoulder among a row of girls stretched across the half court line of an elementary school basketball court. It was early summer 1992 and I waited on my mark, baton in hand, sparkly leotard on, large bouffant hair bow on the top of my head. The music came on, signaling the start of the routine to C&C Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now). The instructor motioned for us to begin and we started walking towards her, twirling our batons to the music.

And just like that I was transported to another place.

I wasn’t twirling a shiny baton with ribboned ends in a stifling hot gymnasium among a group of female peers. I was warding off bad guys in some back ally with my bow staff like my rat sensei had taught me as Donatello, the purple Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. As the other girls proceeded in synchronized fashion to the other end of the court, I fell behind, voluntarily, too entranced in my own personal ninja pursuits. The music stopped and one by one the trophies were handed out to everyone in the class who completed the routine. If you received a trophy, you were pretty much guaranteed to be a shoo-in for the small town’s 4th of July parade (dream big). The instructor thanked everyone for coming and I made my way over to my mom on the side lines without a trophy. I wasn’t upset about it. I didn’t need some trophy to tell me how awesome I was at twirling a stick. My mother (a baton veteran herself) on the other hand, was fuming. She approached the instructor and insisted I be able to try again so I could get a trophy just like all the other little girls in the class and qualify for the town’s parade. The instructor obliged and rewinded the tape as I reluctantly took my mark in the middle of the gymnasium, alone this time. From the sidelines my mother pointed to her mouth, gesturing for me to “smile!” with accompanying jazz hands. The other girls and their mothers sat criss-crossed on the sidelines with their trophies, staring back at me. The instructor pressed play on the tape, cueing the start of the routine, and I, Donatello, stood frozen alone on the court for 30 seconds before finally returning to my mission of fending off bad guys and restoring peace to the city with blunt, swift swipes of my bow staff. I went home without a trophy that day and never made it to the parade.

It’s funny, when you’re about to have a kid of your own, you start thinking about what you and your partner were like as kids and compare stories. Trey has a good one about him playing the Wham Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go instrumental preset on the family keyboard while “porky piggin” it (wearing a shirt and nothing else). I try not to have any expectations for our little human, but sometimes I secretly hope we have a free spirited Donatello or Wham nudie on our hands.

Illustration by Trey.

Hello Third Trimester

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It’s hard to believe month 7 is already here. Little human is getting big. The size of an eggplant, according to the app on my phone. Just about 15 inches and over 2 lbs. That’s a big eggplant. More like a coho salmon! If I watch closely, I can now see little kicks from the outside. Not quite the scene from Alien, but we’re getting there. Trey took some photos the other day of me with the dogs and Mila and the little human in my belly. I think I might get some of them framed for the nursery.

Our nursery is really the dining room, haha. Our house is about 700 sqft, tiny! We got this wood mini crib that I love and can’t wait to use. We built some bookshelves a few weekends ago. Trey brought home this rainbow sloth stuffed animal and every night when Jack and Keeper come in from outside they go and check on it in the crib. They think it’s theirs. Keep’s got sloth stealer eyes.

I finally caved and bought a pair of Topshop maternity jeans and they are so comfy. I’m definitely wearing these as pizza pants post-pregnancy (pants you wear to eat too much pizza in). Most of my pants have been relegated to the bottom drawer unless they have some stretch to them. I was wearing overalls, but kept having to ask myself before leaving the house – how many undone side buttons are too many undone side buttons? I’m really digging boyfriend jeans at the moment (literally, Trey’s jeans), with my same shirts and comfortable shoes like vans. I think preggo bellies are cool looking. When else am I going to have this Homer Simpson gut peeking out from under my t-shirt? I’m into it.

This Saturday I start an Aqua Zumba class which I’m pretty excited about. I had convinced Trey to go with me until he found out it was latin water dancing. I happen to think he’d make a really beautiful water dancer. A friend told me about water aerobics and I’ve been looking for a class around me for that too. I lap swim most days if I’m not going a class. Swimming in liquid while the baby in my belly swims in liquid…meta! I like being pregnant during the summer because there are so many aquatic exercise options around. And there’s nothing better than throwing on a dress and slides and letting your hair air dry afterwards.

So, after not passing the 1-hour glucose test and having to go back the next day for the 3-hour test, I ended up passing the second time and being told I was negative for gestational diabetes, whew! I do have to watch my sugar intake though – my body really didn’t like having that much glucose put in it. The week before, I had a kidney stone (ouch) and kidney infection (double ouch) which put me on antibiotics for 10 days. The combination of the glucose and the antibiotics kinda threw my body for a loop. But then I went in for an ultrasound of my kidneys (normal) and got to spend 10 minutes taking a peek at little human with the ultrasound technician and…cheeks! A nose! Little hands and feet with tiny fingers and toes! Then we went in for an ultrasound with my OB a couple days later and got to have another look and everything is measuring and looking perfect. It’s really cool to see the development. Apparently little human can hear us in there now – so we’ve been making sure to play lots of New Order and Pixies to get this one ready for life on the outside.

Other than that, everything has been pretty chill and easy going. Now we’re just spending the next 2.7 months (not that we’re counting or anything) relaxing and getting prepared to meet this little turkey. I’m hoping this last trimester goes smoothly. We’re meeting with a doula next week to help us navigate the coming months. Lots to do, but feelin’ good about it!

25 Weeks

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It all started with this photo.

I made the comment “this is how I feel when I wear earrings” to Trey laying in bed one night while scrolling through my Instagram feed.

Fast forward a week later when I’m getting dressed to go out and put earrings on. I ask Trey “earrings or no earrings?” To which he replies “no earrings…you don’t want to look like an alpaca”.

Me, having totally forgotten about the aforementioned alpaca photo earlier in the week, thinks he’s making a pregnant joke.

Then this alpaca decided she wasn’t going and took off her shoes.

Trey (from the living room): “Babe, let’s go!”

Me (from the bedroom floor, sitting in front of the mirror, now pant-less): “No, I’m as big as an alpaca!”

Then it became known he was referencing the photo. We laughed, I got dressed and off we went.

Sans earrings.

Yours truly,
Big as an alpaca

 

Photo by Kara Rosenlund.

A Babymoon in Kauai

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There are times in life for exploration. Times to sleep on trains and climb mountains, times to discover new cultures and develop yourself and how you view the world. And then there are times to lay idly by the pool listening to the lapping waves of an ocean nearby while drinking an overly sweetened virgin pina colada and occasionally leaning over to spark conversation with the old couple next to you about their two vizlas because one of their shirts says “I love dogs, it’s people who annoy me“.

The latter was what we chose to do for our “babymoon” in Kauai. Mila cat is drooling all over my arm as I write this by the way, so I’m assuming that’s her way of saying “hello internet world” to you all. She would like you to know we left her alone, without head scratches, for 5 days (although our friends did check in on her and we spoke to her through the nest cam).

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We flew into Kauai on a Thursday. Earlier in the week we had went in for the anatomy screen ultrasound that told us the gender of the little human. So it was exciting and sweet to finally know and have a name to put to this small creature currently kicking my insides. We checked into the resort and promptly ordered two drinks before going and hanging out by the pool. Intermittently we’d decide to interrupt our sun lounging to submerge ourselves in one of the pool’s fountains or waterfalls like a couple kids.

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The resort was really pretty, with gorgeous plumeria trees all around and a private beach. A big change from the places we usually stay at off the beaten path. I pointed out the pink plumerias in one of the trees to Trey while walking to our room, and later in the week when he came back with pizza delivery for dinner one night (my hero) because my ankles turned into cankles from too much fun, he handed me one of the pretty flowers he had picked.

The next day we picked up our rental, a red mustang convertible (they were all out of jeeps) and drove up the east side of the island. Kauai is “the garden isle” of Hawaii, and it really is just beautiful. I love how lush and mountainous it is. Along the way we stopped off for a green smoothie at Harvest Market, a natural foods grocery store with a smoothie machine in the back, and a farmer’s market where we got a fresh coconut before heading up to Tunnels beach on the northern part of the island. There we swam in the waves and spotted sea turtles and picked up shells on the beach.

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A couple hours later we got back in the car and drove in search of some lunch. We found some fish tacos and cute shops in the town of Hanalei. Then we got some shaved ice at The Wishing Well (a favorite on the island because of the homemade organic syrups, according to locals…it was so so good) and continued on our way.

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Our last stop of the day was Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”…or, that’s what our waitress told us the night before anyway. It was beautiful. The colors of the hills and rock, combined with a rainbow that spread across the sky really capped off the end of an awesome day.

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Well, that and some burnouts in the mustang.

“Babe, can you stand over there for a min?” (points to edge of parking lot). I go stand “over there”. “Back up a little further!” he waved. I did. Then Trey proceeded to do burn outs in the parking lot. I wasn’t invited on this endeavor on account of having more than just two fish tacos and a snow cone in my belly. Later he told me we needed a new car (true, our mazda is part of the 10 year club now) with more horsepower when we get home because going faster is “actually a safety feature” for getting out of harm’s way quicker. Pffft.

We got back to our room to discover our friends from home had had a beautiful bouquet of local flowers and banana bread, macadamia cookies and fruit delivered to our room, which was the best surprise (I had no idea anyone knew where we were staying!). So sweet of them.

The rest of our time in Kauai was spent swimming in the waves at the beach right off the resort, drinking different fruity concoctions, eating nachos, and just being blissed out happy.

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“What should the middle name be?” I asked Trey, shielding the sun from my eyes.
“I really love _____”, he responded…a name I had jokingly suggested a few days ago.
I turned back to look at the beach and said the full name out loud. I liked it too. It’s still hard to believe in just a few short months the little human will be here and there will be a face to that name.

This trip was just what we needed to relax, have some fun, and set our sights on the crazy adventure that’s ahead.

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I also want to say a big thank you for all the sweet words and messages you guys have left on here, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit over the past few days. I read them all and we’re really excited for what’s to come.

A Happy Announcement

 
If you’ve been following along, you know that on January 5th we went in for an embryo transfer via a 2nd round of IVF. After taking a home pregnancy test and it coming out negative 14 days after the transfer procedure, we went in to the IVF center for a blood test to confirm the results we were getting. A few hours later our nurse called to give us the results of that test.

It was positive. TREY AND I ARE GOING TO HAVE A LITTLE HUMAN.

It feels really good to say that! When I started documenting the process, I was already half way through the 2nd round of IVF. I didn’t know whether or not it would work and was anxious, which led me to open up about it here. Since I decided to go back and start from the beginning to tell the story, the timeline has been on a bit of a delay for anyone reading this. When we found out the test was positive, I decided to finish telling the story before announcing. I wanted other women going through IVF that were reading about my process to get the full story, and for others who have people in their life going through something similar to understand what the roller coaster of IVF is really like.

Since finding out, we’ve been overly cautious with the news. We both couldn’t really believe it at first. We knew the blood test would be more accurate, but thought we had waited long enough for the home pregnancy test to read. Coming off 3 years of failure and disappointment, we almost had to convince ourselves it was really happening. We kept reminding each other to take it one day at a time since we still had 12 weeks to go to get through the first trimester before the risks of miscarriage and other complications went down. We knew from past experiences not to celebrate things too quickly.

At 6 weeks, we went in for our first ultrasound to make sure the pregnancy was in the uterus and not ectopic (in one of the fallopian tubes). We learned that there was one embryo only, and that we wouldn’t be having twins. I was relieved, though we would have made it work with twins…one was awesome. One is perfect.

Being overly cautious and not celebrating too soon ended up being a good strategy for us. Like everything has been throughout this process, the first trimester was a bit rocky. I would describe my first trimester experience kind of like the feeling you get when you step off a roller coaster and it still feels like you’re on it for a few steps afterwards. Around 8 1/2 weeks, I woke up in the middle of the night and something felt off. I looked down to see blood everywhere. It was basically my worst nightmare. As if this whole process hadn’t been difficult enough, now we were afraid things were over before they really had any time to get started.

This led to an emergency ultrasound early in the morning that found I was having major subchorionic hemorrhaging in my uterus. They said there was a 50% chance we would lose him/her and to be prepared for that. Dr. Chet put me on bed rest for the rest of the first trimester and told me to only get out of bed to do my progesterone-in-oil injections and go to the bathroom. Those 3 1/2 weeks were torturous not knowing whether or not I was going to wake up and have it happen again. They told us that subchorionic hemorrhaging of this degree typically happens when there is a trauma from a fall, or car accident, but then sometimes there isn’t a real clear explanation for why it happens other times. The only thing we could think of was me possibly coughing too hard from a respiratory infection I had at the time, but that seemed unlikely.

A week later we went in for another ultrasound, this time to check for a heart beat. Going in, we had prepared ourselves for the worst possible outcome. We were prepared to be told that there wasn’t a heart beat. Laying there, looking at the small black and white blip on the ultrasound screen while Dr. Chet examined the fetus felt like forever. He looked at the hematomas (internal bruises) that had formed in my uterus. Because everything is so small and hard to discern at that stage, it was hard for Dr. Chet to tell for certain whether or not the placenta had detached from 3/4 of my uterus, or if the dark spots were hematomas that could heal. Then he turned on the audio to the ultrasound machine and the whooshing sound of a strong heartbeat came through followed by a flicker (the heart) on the screen. He or she was still alive in there, and doing well. The nurse joked that we might have a strong-willed baby in our future, since he or she was hanging in there. Trey later told me he almost passed out in the room because he was so nervous.

Gradually, the hematomas that had formed as a result of the hemorrhaging started to heal. We went in for weekly ultrasounds to check the healing progress. We were glad to learn that nothing had permanently detached, I just needed time to heal. By 13 weeks, Dr. Chet referred me over to a high-risk OBGYN and released me from his care because things were looking good. Our last visit with Dr. Chet and the nurses was a happy one. It had been a crazy ride, but I had gotten pregnant and made it through the first trimester. We thanked Dr. Chet, the nurses, and the staff for being so kind to us. We decided to keep the news to ourselves a little longer before telling anyone. At this point we barely acknowledged there was a baby. We referred to her or him as “the embryo”, and later, “the fetus”. Looking back, I think this was because both of us were afraid of getting attached and it not working out.

Since then, things have been great. I was downgraded from high-risk to a normal pregnancy and have completely healed from the early trauma experienced in the first trimester. I was given the OK to start swimming and exercising lightly. Once we survived the first trimester, things seemed to pass by pretty quickly. Around 15 weeks or so, I was taken off the intramuscular progesterone-in-oil injections because my progesterone levels were consistent. My energy increased and we felt comfortable sharing the news with family and close friends. We met with our new OB and had a fun genetic screening ultrasound where the tech made me skip (slowly) down the hall (the mama catwalk, as the techs there called it) to turn our kid because he or she wasn’t cooperating with getting their picture taken. Our OB and the doctor who looked at the genetic screening ultrasound results told us everything looked normal, and that if they hadn’t known about the hemorrhaging from the first trimester, they would have never even suspected a thing. It was reassuring to hear that. I’ve never been so happy to be considered NORMAL.

It’s taken a while, longer than most probably, for this to feel real. I don’t think you go from 3 years of failures and the anxiety of things not working out, to being overwhelmingly happy and confident in the success you’re having. It’s been a process. Learning to allow ourselves to let our guard down and feel the happiness and celebration that comes along with having a little human is something that has taken us some time.

Trey and I have experienced that process of letting our guard down differently. For me, it happened randomly on the treadmill at the gym a couple weeks ago. I was increasing the incline from 3 to 5 like I always do after the first 10 minutes. As the steepness got greater, I found myself quietly saying “hold on!”, then realized I wasn’t talking to myself. I was talking to the little human. It was the first time I had done so. I think a part of me felt like up until then if I acknowledged her or him that they’d go away. I couldn’t help but smile a big goofy smile while walking up the rest of that pretend hill.

For Trey, it happened on my birthday last month. He brought home Thai food from the city on his way home from work. After dinner, he gave me a bag with a couple gifts inside. One of the gifts was an octopus nightlight for the little human that when you turned it on projected the moon and stars on the ceiling. We turned off the lights and sat at the kitchen table with the night light on. It’s funny how little things like a treadmill and a night light can represent so much more. For us, it was the start of letting go of the anxiety and disappointment from the past few years, and the beginning of feeling the happiness and celebration for what’s to come.

This Friday, I’ll be 22 weeks.
Which is 5 months and some change. It’s hard to believe we’re already over half way through seeing as though it wasn’t too long ago when we felt like it wasn’t going to happen for us. We just got back from a little babymoon in Kauai that was really relaxing and fun. We had pina coladas (virgin for me – they’re kinda better that way??), swam everyday in the waves, and rented a convertible (the were all out of jeeps) to drive around the island.

So. Currently, there is half a burrito, 3/4 a cup of yogurt, and 1 baby human inside my belly region. In September, Jack and Keep and Mila cat will have a new human friend around.

Two dogs, a cat, two big humans and one little human. I like the ring of that. Sounds good to me.

Sounds really perfect, actually.

IVF Round 2: Embryo Transfer

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My body had just returned to a semi-normal state when the new drugs arrived on our doorstep a week or so before Christmas. The same FedEx guy delivered them. “Happy Holidays”, the guy told me as I signed for the box in between Keeper howls saying “hello” from inside. Getting a refrigerated box delivered to your door is interesting. I mean, what do you think FedEx guy thinks is in it? A few times when we would have to carry the medications into the IVF center (which is connected to the hospital here) we would make sure to talk extra loud about the severed appendage we were carrying in the box while passing commons areas.

The medications this time were Estrace (tablets containing Estradiol, a form of estrogen), a micronized progesterone vaginal suppository (really fun), and my favorite…progesterone-in-oil, a 3 inch-long intramuscular injection that had to penetrate the fat layer so a thick oil could be injected straight into my muscle. It went into my back upper hip, which is a really nice way of saying upper-ass. Right in the buttocks. The real clincher, I couldn’t do these myself because of the awkward angle. The nurse told me I’d need to get someone else to give them to me. “No worries”, Trey informed her, stepping up to the plate. “I’ll give them to her, I’m really good at darts”

(Insert the face you’d imagine me giving him here).

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IVF phase 3: Embryo Transfer

On the morning of January 5th, 2017, we woke extra early to avoid bridge traffic into San Francisco for the embryo transfer. We were excited, Trey more so than me. It’s only about a 25 minute drive to the lab where the transfer would be taking place when traffic is clear, but we left a good hour and 15 mins early just in case. I was quiet in the passengers seat most of the ride. It was a cold, clear day with the Golden Gate looking extra reddish-orange against the blue sky. I couldn’t get over this gut feeling I had that something was inevitably going to go wrong. I tried telling myself that I was only thinking this way because of how things had gone over the last few years for us and that this time was different. When I shared my reservations with Trey, he reassured me saying he was anxious too, but that we shouldn’t worry.

But then, as life goes sometimes, my gut feeling ended up being right.

As we drove through the city and made our way to the Embarcadero, I got a call from Dr. Chet. It was about 30 minutes before the procedure was about to take place. He told us through the thawing process (since the embryos were frozen), the male embryo had not fared well and was over 75% “dark”, which meant that the cells weren’t expanding and thriving like they should be, and instead were dead or dying. He told us we would have to transfer in another embryo. We were gutted. There were no more boy embryos to transfer. IVF is expensive and invasive and to have the one shot at us possibly ever having a boy of our own get taken away, was heartbreaking. Trey pulled the car over while I was still on the phone with Dr. Chet. I just remember him looking over at me as he decoded what Dr. Chet was telling me by the reaction I was having, and punching the steering wheel when he figured it out. After I hung up, we both just sat there crying. I stared out the car window at the lobby of the corporate building across from us. Everyone going about their day, bringing back salads and coffees across the outdoor commons area. It was just a regular day. I thought about Jake and the dinosaurs and how much I had always wanted that. I’ll never forget the words Trey told me in that moment. Those words are only for me, but what he said made me feel closer to him than I ever have – even after almost 11 years together. Through talking to him it became apparent that he wasn’t crying because we wouldn’t have a boy. He was crying because of how much he knew I wanted a boy.

We had a decision to make and we didn’t have much time to make it. I had told Dr. Chet I would call him back to tell him what we wanted to do. My body had been preparing for this transfer through the drugs for the past few weeks and in less than 20 minutes I was supposed to be having the procedure done. Did we want to proceed with a female embryo instead? Did we want to try just the male embryo despite it being 75% dark and having a very low probability of implanting? Did we want to put both the male and a female embryo in to still have a slight chance of having a male, but be okay with most likely having a female with the possibility of twins? Did we want to walk away and not do this at all?

In the end, the decision was difficult, but we knew what we wanted to do. More than anything, we wanted a little human. If we had a girl, she’d be the coolest girl ever. If we had a boy, it would be against all odds. If we had twins, they’d be the raddest duo ever. So we called Dr. Chet back and told him we wanted to proceed with the transfer, this time with both the male embryo and a female embryo. He instructed the lab techs and we made our way up to the 7th floor of the fertility lab.

I was a mess going in to the transfer procedure. I took a picture of Trey sitting on the couch in the waiting room before we went in. We were both pretty dazed by the morning so far.

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They led us back to a room for the procedure. When they further emphasized that putting the male in would be a low probability of implantation and I heard Dr. Chet say “you’ll likely have a daughter if it’s successful”, I cried. I cried for a lot of reasons. I cried because I had prepared for a boy. I cried because I felt bad for not being more excited about the prospect of having a girl due to how much we had invested in the only male embryo. I cried because it was yet another painful twist in our infertility saga. I cried for not being normal. One of Dr. Chet’s medical students that had been with us for the past few weeks asked why I was upset and I shared with her the disappointment of losing the only male embryo we had. She was really sweet and compassionate and I was glad she was there.

The transfer itself was simple and relatively painless. They wheeled a refrigerated lab over to our room and carefully transferred the embryos from a dish into a pipette before checking with a microscope to make sure the embryos (they are tiny) had been collected from the dish. Once the lab technician gave Dr. Chet the “all clear”, the embryos were transferred from the pipette into a thin catheter that was inserted into my uterus. Dr. Chet used ultrasound to guide the catheter and transfer the embryos. No sedation was needed. Trey sat in the room too and we both stared at the projected ultrasound on the tv that allowed us to see what was happening in real time.

45 minutes later I sat up in the hospital bed and we were given a print out with a photo of the two embryos (really they are just blastocysts at this point) that had just been transferred. We looked at the two microscopic clusters of cellular mass we had created together. What a weird process this had been. The whole thing felt kinda like something out of a science fiction movie. The IVF nurse pointed out the darkness of the male embryo to show us the difference between the two embryos on the sheet they gave us.

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I wasn’t sure how to feel after the procedure. I think your body goes through this kind of stressed response when you’re caught off guard by news you weren’t prepared for. You don’t really feel much, you’re just kind of in this state of shock. Like someone has pulled the ultimate rug out from underneath you. This changed a lot. We had left the house that morning thinking about the single boy embryo that was going to be transferred and whether or not the process would be successful and I’d get pregnant. Now we were leaving the lab with two embryos transferred inside of me, one male and one female. Where we had thought our future held a boy (or me not getting pregnant at all), now the future possibilities were different.

Dr. Chet advised me to go home and lay in bed for the next few days as much as I could and “no swimming” (hard to tell a swimmer, it’s a drug).

Then came the longest two weeks of our lives thus far waiting to know whether or not the transfer had worked. I watched 3 seasons of this British baking show vowing to finally put my Kitchen aid mixer to use and master the culinary art of European pastries. It gave Trey and I some time to talk about the likelihood that if this did work out we would have a little girl. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long to fall in love with the idea. Trey told me he’d teach her to ride a bike and write code and enjoy math. I said I’d teach her about the natural world and how to swim and play guitar. Really, we’d just let whoever we had be whoever they wanted to be.

When it came time to take the pregnancy test, I did the same thing I’d done almost every month for the past 3 years. I was a pro at this. Two lines for positive, 1 line for negative, give it a few minutes before reading.

We had completed the entire IVF process now and this was the closest we’d ever gotten to potentially having a little human of our own. It was a mixture of excitement, grounded in harsh reality. Nothing had worked in the past, we had to remind ourselves.

I sat on the edge of the bath tub staring down at my mismatched socks waiting for the test to complete. A couple minutes passed and I hesitantly glanced at the stick on the sink.

1 line.

Negative.

I didn’t want to tell Trey. I didn’t want to ruin his morning too. So I just sat back on the edge of the bath tub for a little while longer hoping another line would appear and it didn’t. I tried another test. Maybe the first one was a dud. I counted the days on my fingers. Maybe I tested too soon. 14 days. It should read accurate by now. I checked the expiration date on the box. 2020. FML. What if I’m doing this until 2020! I wish I could say I gracefully accepted our fate after that, but I didn’t. I was angry, the emotion I often tend to feel instead of sadness a lot of the time. And I dunno, sometimes screaming FUCK THIS SHIT FOREVER just feels a whole lot better than crying about things. Eventually I came out of the bathroom and told Trey. I called our nurse and told her too. She told me to come in for a blood test the next day to know for sure.

The next morning we went in to the IVF center and waited in the lobby for them to call my name. Trey and I told each other whatever happened, we were going on a vacation after this. Not a traveling trip where we go explore, but a full-on vacation – some resort with fruity drinks, a pool, and a beach to just lay around in the sun and veg out. We didn’t have to convince each other. All we both wanted at this point was to be on a beach somewhere, miles away from here. If I wasn’t pregnant, we said we’d go to Mexico (Zika). If I was pregnant, we told each other we’d go to Hawaii (no Zika).

The nurse called us back, gently tapped my vein with her finger and slid the needle into my arm, a sensation I had become all too familiar with. I un-clinched my fist, asked the nurse about her two twin boys, and watched the tube fill with blood. Trey sat across from me. I looked over at him and one corner of his mouth turned up into a half-smile. In my head I could hear him saying “almost done, baby”.

Then we waited.

IVF round 2

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Starting over again wasn’t easy.

I’m not sure I was completely ready to do so when we did. I told everyone I was. Trey, Dr. Chet, my therapist, even myself – but on the inside I felt more like a zombie going through the motions, vaguely resembling something human on the outside. I was still bummed from the last time not working out, and I was hesitant to set us up for another let down.

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IVF phase 1: Stimulation.

The medications arrived on our doorstep on a rainy Thursday morning in late November. I put them in the refrigerator next to the cheese and almond milk before going and checking in on the foster puppies we had in the sunroom. It was good to have them around, a bit of sunshine in the middle of a rainy and bleak winter. This time Trey and I came up with a new system of doing things. We would both measure and prepare the medications together and then I would administer them – that way we double checked each other’s work. I think it’s important when dealing with this many medications, syringes, vials, needles, pills, appointment schedules, etc to have a second set of eyes on everything and to be overly meticulous. This go round we got through the stimulation phase (injections, blood work, ultrasounds to measure follicles, etc) with no hang ups and on day 14, with Dr. Chet’s go ahead, I gave myself the trigger shot to signal my body to begin the stages of ovulation (release of eggs). In my last post, I went more in-depth about the stimulation phase if you’re interested in what medications were used, etc.

IVF phase 2: Retrieval.

After 14 days on medications that had stimulated my ovaries to produce lots of eggs, it was time to have those eggs retrieved. The eggs are retrieved surgically through a process that involved Dr. Chet using a small suction device guided by ultrasound to extract the eggs from their follicles. Romantic, right?

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We drove into the city on the morning of the egg retrieval surgery in early December. It was foggy and cold, a proper San Franciscan day. The office was on the top floor of a building off the Embarcadero, a street which sits right on the bay. The office had big windows that looked out at the bay and the boats docked off the pier with a great view of the Golden Gate bridge. I stood looking out for a while, too anxious to sit and flip through magazines. My life had changed so much in the past few years. On a day like today a few years ago I was out working in the Farallones marine sanctuary (an area of the Pacific beginning just outside the Golden Gate) when a pod of 50 or so huge, mottled Risso’s dolphins appeared out of the fog around our boat. Later that day we had a similar encounter with a pod of humpback whales lunge feeding. We were in rough water with 12 ft waves about 20 miles off the coast and the visibility wasn’t great but none of us wanted to call it a day. It was one of those days when you couldn’t feel the cold with all the adrenaline running through your body.

The nurse called my name, snapping me back to my current situation. She led us back, put an IV in my arm and an anesthesiologist came and spoke to me for a little while to make sure he got the anesthesia right while I signed the various medical history forms.

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Once I was put under, the retrieval took less than 30 minutes and was successful. I asked Trey if he would recount this next part of this since it’s a bit embarrassing for me to do so myself.

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Trey:
After just enough time to make a cup of tea and reach the
end of my Instagram feed, a nurse opened the door to the
waiting room to let me know I could come back in. As I
approached her she assured me that everything went absolutely
fine, but that “she was pretty emotional, like… crying a lot”

I came back to find Nicole red-faced, tears running down her
face, dazed but assuring me “I’m fine, I’m fine.” She couldn’t
really explain much of anything at this point, about why she
was upset, nor was she able to recall even going into the surgery
room, or why she had asked everyone involved in the procedure
for a hug afterwards. Everyone was really sweet to her.

Apparently Nicole can be *really* sweet to strangers too,
especially when you heavily sedate her.

So, anesthesia can make you do silly things. The anesthesiologist (who I also asked for a hug, apparently) told me afterwards that sometimes when you have pent up emotions they come out when you’re waking up from the anesthesia and your inhibitions are lowered. Made sense, this was an emotional process. So, 1 bag of teddy grams, a cup of apple juice, and many hugs later and we were ready to go home. Dr. Chet told me to get some rest and that he would be in contact with more information about the eggs that were retrieved soon.

Now that the eggs had been retrieved, they needed to go to the lab to be fertilized w/ Trey’s sperm and cultured out (grown) in a dish for 5 days before being biopsied for any genetic abnormalities and then frozen to await transfer.

The next day, Dr. Chet called to give us an update. He told us 14 eggs had been retrieved, which was a good number. But then he told us that only 7 of those eggs were mature, which was abnormal given my age and having been on heavy stimulation drugs for 14 days. He thought almost all, if not all, the eggs would have been mature. 50% of eggs not reaching maturation was a possible indication of why I was experiencing infertility in the first place, although the process would have to be repeated in the future to really know if that was the case. Over the next few days he called us several times to give us updates about the remaining 7 eggs and how they were faring.

Of the 7 fertilized eggs, only 4 were normal after genetic testing (meaning no chromosomal abnormalities) and made it to day 5 to be frozen. In a week, we had gone from 14 eggs down to 4.

By now, I had been off the stimulation medications for about a week. Going off the medications again wasn’t fun. Throwing your hormones into fifth gear and then slamming on the brakes does a host of weird things to your body. Hot flashes, acne, nausea, exhaustion, blurry vision, moodiness, you name it. It’s not a walk in the park.

Enter: this post, where I had it up to my eyeballs with infertility and decided to finally write about it.

One of the really sucky things about infertility is you never feel like you’re in control of anything – your body, getting pregnant, the process – all of it. And then with IVF, you turn yourself over to doctors and it very much feels like everything is out of your hands. Your hormones are being manipulated with drugs, you’re being poked and prodded with needles, vaginal ultrasounds, blood draws, IVs, put under anesthesia, etc.

One of the ways you do get to have some control in the matter is by having the ability to choose whether or not you want to find out the gender of your embryos. If you do, you can choose whether you want to transfer in a male embryo or a female embryo or both (given you have both female and male embryos and don’t mind the chance of twins).

We elected to know the genders. Dr. Chet called us when the lab confirmed them.

Had this have been a normal getting-pregnant experience, we wouldn’t have had a particularly strong preference over girl or boy. Either would have been a happy, random surprise. But, going into this we had a long time to think about whether or not we wanted to transfer in a boy embryo or a girl embryo. We knew IVF would allow us to know, and given the chance to choose, we both really wanted a boy.

The next time we spoke with Dr. Chet he told us that of the 4 embryos, 3 were female and 1 was male.

He asked us which embryo we wanted to transfer in and without any hesitation we told him, “the boy”. It made sense for us, there was only one male embryo. We had plenty of female embryos to keep frozen for the future if we wanted more kids. We were really excited. This was what we had been waiting for and everything was starting to feel like it was falling into place.

Dr. Chet told us he would instruct the lab and a few days later called to give us our embryo transfer date: January 5th, 2017.

The weeks leading up to the transfer were intense. It was end of December now and we were spending the holidays just the two of us since traveling with the medications seemed too difficult. I was on a lot of injections again, new ones this time to prep for the transfer. Plus, it’s not like you can be totally cavalier when you’re scheduled to go get a baby put inside you. Trey and I would lay in bed at night and talk about everything that was to come. Would the embryo transfer be successful? If it was, what would we name him? What would he be like? Would he look more like you (Trey) or me?

But then we’d remind ourselves to take things one day at a time.

Let’s get through the medications. Let’s get through the procedure. We told ourselves.

Tom Boy Style / 05

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This weekend was really fun. We hung out with friends, got brunch at Le Note – this french spot that has the best eggs and beignets, went to yoga, took the dogs to play at the dog park, got all the supplies for a little home DIY coming up, booked tickets for an upcoming trip in March, then fell asleep watching the Oscars. I realized I hadn’t done a Tomboy Style post in a while, so I snapped a few photos of one of the outfits I wore this weekend and felt good in. Just a simple white tank, black jeans, a pair of boots, and a rad black leather jacket. I’ve been wearing this jacket so much lately I feel like it needs a name. Something like “Ray” or “Mick” or “Wolfgang”. It’s perfect for when you want to add a little bit of badassery to whatever you’re wearing. I capped it off with a punch of red lipstick, because why not?

Notes from Editor (Trey): “You and Keeper match”.

…welp.

Leather Jacket: Topshop / White Tank: Free People / Black jeans: Madewell / Boots: h&m (similar) / Red lips: Iila.

Tom Boy Style / 04

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There really is nothing better than finding a good pair of vintage jeans. I grew up wearing Levis, as I think a lot of people did. When it comes to my style nowadays, I’m still mostly a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl. Usually the clothes I like have the 3 Cs: Comfortable, Classic, and Clean. Which is something I just made up while typing this, actually. Most of the time I just wear whatever’s clean and hasn’t been laid on by Jack.

The other day I was walking around Berkeley and ducked into this basement shop because it started to rain. Inside there was a stack of vintage Levis 501 jeans in various washes, so I tried a few pairs on while I waited out the rain. I’ve been living in the pair I found every day since then. I love how worn-in they feel, the baggy legs, and how pretty much anything you pair them with looks effortlessly cool. Wearing a sweater or nice tee basically says “I give a damn” up top, while the worn-in jeans say “yeah man, it’s whatever” on the bottom, which is basically the perfect wardrobe dichotomy in my mind.

P.s – I tried to sneak a dog in these photos, but Trey (boyfriend, in-house editor) vetoed it. So, you’ll just have to imagine a border collie with an extremely long tongue hanging out just out of the frame.

Above: Levis 501 jeans (vintage), Future is Female Tee, Leather boots.

A few of my favorite places to shop for vintage denim:
Etsy - here, and here.
Ebay - here.
(SF area) - Wasteland, and Slash denim.

More Tom Boy Style posts, right here.

Tom Boy Style / 03

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Right now there’s a pile of dirty clothes overflowing the hamper that’s giving me the stank eye from across the room. In a few days it will turn into a pile of clean, unfolded laundry that will get picked through for a day or two before finally being put away. I know, magic. Please hold your applause. And whaddyaknow, this outfit was a gem of a hamper dive find. Just keeping it classy over here today. I like to think it screams Jackie from That 70s Show plays a pick-up game of baseball with the gang.  Also, what’s black and white and cute all over? Keeper. She knows so many tricks now! I’ll have to do a video soon to show what she knows. I can’t believe my little puppy is 9 months old!

 

Baseball Tee: Camp Collection / Flares: H&M (similar) / Shoes: PONS