Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Riley Weight Loss - Update 4

I took Riley in for his annual exam, and the vet said he looked great!  His weight is 43lbs, which is 1.5lbs less than he was at his last visit 6 months ago.  I know that doesn't seem like a lot of difference, but it's a 3% weight loss, and we'll take it!  We're getting closer and closer to the goal.  I can't believe he's lost 17lbs since we started this (that's a 28% weight loss!).  Lots of people have commented on how much skinnier he looks, but I have a hard time seeing it since I'm around him so much.  I did notice it last time I got back from a vacation though.  He seemed smaller!  I think our overall goal will be to get his weight to about 35-38lbs.  I get the feeling I'll be looking to lose weight too, come spring of next year, so hopefully we can experience some success together.     

The Matriarch

Pictured above is my wonderful Oma, age 92, and my niece, age 7 weeks.  It blows my mind to think about all the things my Oma has seen and lived through in her time on this earth, and how, in contrast, my little baby niece is just getting started.  They both make me smile very, very much!   

Monday, August 29, 2011


If you aren't in a Supper Club, you should be.  Ours is called 'Bacon Gang' and we met again yesterday for a Mexican Fiesta.  The menu was ridonkulous!  Burritos, Mexican chicken casserole, Mexican beef casserole, tamales, 7-layer dip, queso, salsa, and guacamole.  For dessert, Rebecca made us an amazing snickers/oreo concoction, drizzled with caramel.  Delish! 

Our newest members, Jenn and John, immediately got in the spirit by bringing some candles and a piñata.  Muy bien!

We let my niece, Olivia, have a turn at the piñata. 

Unfortunately, she wasn't strong enough to bust it open, so the adults had to get involved!

(got a little dangerous when Rebecca hit the tree with the broomstick and broke a piece off, LOL)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

They'll Know of our Love 5000 Miles Away!

When Meezy and I traveled to Germany last year, we visited a bridge on the Rhine River in Koln where couples wrote their names or something else sentimental on a lock, attached it to the bridge to signify their bond to each other, and then threw the key in the river to assure it would never be opened, or broken.  We thought it was such a cute idea, but didn't have time to go to a store and buy a lock and then return to the bridge to add ours.  The friend we were visiting in Germany, Kim, remembered our regret at not being able to add our lock, so when she came to visit us this month, she brought a lock along with her.  She told us to write what we wanted on it, and then said she'd bring it to the bridge and attach it for us.  Wasn't that sweet??   

Here's what we wrote on our lock:

And here's where she'll be attaching it:

Kim's gesture was incredibly thoughtful, and I look forward to visiting our lock in Koln some day!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where I Am Now

*This is the last in a series of posts about experiencing a miscarriage.*

So, where am I now?  It's been about five months since I had to undergo a D and C to remove my failed pregnancy.  The sadness has subsided substantially, and I've made it through a few conversations about the experience without crying.  That doesn't mean there aren't still times where I get sad.  That doesn't mean I was able to re-read all of these posts without getting choked up.  Believe me, I'm ridiculously excited that I'm currently 13 weeks pregnant, but that doesn't erase my previous ordeal.  It makes it easier to be happy now, but it doesn't eliminate the sad memories or feelings completely.  I consider myself incredibly lucky that we were successful in getting pregnant again the first month my doctor told me it was safe to.  I look at it as avoiding adding insult to injury.  The injury still happened, but it wasn't made worse.

So what have the other effects been, besides bad memories?  I think the one that hurts the most is the loss of the pure joy that people get to experience when they see a positive pregnancy test.  I had it with my first one, but worry and doubt clouded my second.  I couldn't forget what happened the first time around, so my positive test in June was just met with a feeling of "let's hope this one works out."  Doesn't sound super joyous, does it?  That's not the way it should be, but I had lost my innocent naivete.  I couldn't help but remind myself that I shouldn't get my hopes up. 

The joy is here now, but I guess it was just a little more delayed for me than it is for others.   My 7 week sonogram still left me with doubts, which were almost gone after my 9 week one.  I honestly didn't get to have that purely happy moment until my 12 week sonogram, though.  I still didn't allow myself to fully accept that this time around would be successful until just this past week.

Another effect on me is a much deeper understanding for what other women have felt.  I've known many, many women who had miscarriages, and I (callously) thought I would handle it better than them if it ever happened to me.  I'm embarrassed by my previous views, because this experience was stronger than me.  It kicked me off my high horse and definitely gave me a reality check.  I remember not understanding how a woman who had a miscarriage could still be upset over it after later successfully having a child.  I just figured their sadness would go away because they had fulfilled their overall goal.  Here's my lame sports brain at work, but this is how I previously related it: If I swung and missed a pitch, but then connected and hit a home run on the next one, why would I still be upset about missing the first pitch?  It took it actually happening to me before I realized that each pregnancy is an individual occurrence.  Each pregnancy is its own "at-bat."

Obviously there have been other effects on me, like one I mentioned in a previous post about feeling closer to my husband.  I'll never forget this experience, but I think time will lessen its harmful effects on me.  Hopefully the positive effects stick around forever, though.  One thing I know for sure - I can't let myself wallow in 'what might have been.'  I am living in the here and now, and cherishing the baby I have growing inside me today.

If you would like to share your story with me, or need an ear to listen, or just want to say hello, you can reach me at vanweezy (at) gmail (dot) com.  I'm here. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Day to Day

*This is the third in a series of posts about my experience of having a miscarriage.* 

I consider myself a strong person.  I like to think I can handle stressful situations with minimal interruption to my peace of mind.  When something crappy happens, I might complain for a moment, but I've gotten pretty good at fixing the problem or learning how to ignore it.  I don't like letting the bad overshadow the good.  With that said, having a miscarriage really tested my abilities.  I tried to be strong, but it was tough. I tried not to let the stress get to me, but it won sometimes.  I think part of that was due to the hormonal changes I was experiencing, and the other part was due to just the extremely sad nature of the situation. I thought I had created life with my best friend, but I had failed.  It was a devastating realization.

My first taste of not having my emotions in check happened one morning when a very sweet coworker asked me how I was feeling.  I had spent the previous day at home, sobbing a lot, trying to take in the news my doctor had just told me about my molar pregnancy.  It was one week after having the D and C, and I felt like everything was crashing down.  I needed the day at home by myself to grieve and let out some frustration.  My coworker thought I was just home sick with a cold, so when I got into the office the next day, she stopped by to see if I was feeling better.  I was angry and sad, and I snapped at her.  Without looking away from my computer screen I said, "I'll be fine."  I was uncharacteristically curt, and my tone wasn't friendly.  She reiterated that she heard I was sick and just wanted to make sure I was okay, and I repeated, "I'll be fine."  As soon as she left my desk, I felt horrible.  I had been rude, when all she was trying to do was check on me.  No one at my office knew the troubles I was having, and I wasn't about to lay it all out there while I was still so fragile.  I wrote her an email later in the day to apologize for being short, but I really didn't give an explanation why.  I just couldn't talk about it yet.

Two weeks after the D and C, Meezy and I and a bunch of friends went out to dinner.  One of my good friends from high school was there, and after everyone else ordered a cocktail, she ordered water.  We gave her a sideways glance, and she confirmed our suspicions: she was pregnant.  Of course we were elated for her and her husband.  It was no secret that they had been trying for months and had previously been feeling discouraged about their lack of success.  Everyone at the table was thrilled to hear their good news, including me.  I could feel a little bit of sadness welling up inside me, however, and I tried my best to subdue it.  But, when she announced her due date, October 27th, I couldn't hold it in any longer.  That was the exact due date I had been given, before we knew my pregnancy had failed. What are the odds?  The tears started flowing and I was completely embarrassed. My pregnant friend had no idea what we had been going through, so I had to tell her about everything.  I felt horrible about the deep sadness I was experiencing right then, and even more horrible for taking away from her joyous moment.  She completely understood why I reacted the way I did, though, but it still didn't make that moment any more bearable.

In the weeks that followed, there were more trying situations.  Each time another friend or coworker announced their pregnancy, or talked about their kids, I was reminded of my plight.  It's not like I wasn't happy or excited for them; it's just that I was also sad for myself at the same time.  I know there are people with much worse situations than mine - years of trying, infertility, multiple miscarriages, stillborn births, etc. I'm not trying to minimize their suffering, or compare my pain to theirs, but this was still a personal tragedy for me. This was still a devastating loss that I had to be reminded of constantly.  I needed to grieve.    

If there is any redeeming part of this whole situation, it can be found in the realizations I have made.  Choosing to have a child is a monumental step in a relationship.  The hubby and I decided we were ready, and knew it was what we wanted before we started trying, and having a miscarriage just reinforced this.  The emotions we experienced afterwards really showed us how much we truly did want this to happen.  Instead of becoming disheartened and withdrawing from the situation, it just made us want it more.  If it's possible for love to get stronger, then the love between my husband and I has done just that.  I'm so thankful my best friend is the one going through this with me. We've been together through some amazing highs, and now a profound low. The way we've made it through it all, never wavering, has just proven to me that I picked the right one.  I can't wait to share this love with our future children.

Monday, August 15, 2011

It Wasn't Over

*This is the second in a series of posts about my experience of having a miscarriage, and what happened after.*

After the D and C, Meezy and I were in surprisingly "good" spirits.  We viewed this as a setback, but knew we could overcome it together.  My doctor told me I would need to wait 4-6 weeks post-procedure before we started trying again.  Okay, no big deal.  I could spend the next month eating cold deli meats, drinking sodas with aspartame, and enjoying an alcoholic drink if I so chose (things I had previously given up when I became pregnant).  I knew my body was capable of getting pregnant, so I tried to stay upbeat. The time would fly...or so we thought.

A few days after the procedure, my doctor called me with the pathology results.  She had sent the evidence of conception off for testing to see if they could determine what went wrong.  I didn't think what she said could be worse than finding out my pregnancy had failed, but it was. It was bad news.  I had experienced a "molar" pregnancy.  This means instead of developing into a fetus, my "baby" had just become a mole, or growth.  Something went wrong in fertilization, but my body didn't know that.  It thought I was technically pregnant.  (Lucky me for being the 1 in 1,000 women who experience this!)  Even though the D and C removed the growth and scraped the surface layer of my uterus, if the mole had moved into the muscle layer below, then there would be problems.  I would develop a disease and more than likely need to be treated with chemotherapy.  Whoa.  That's a lot to take in.  The way to determine if that occurred was by getting repeated blood tests to check my level of hCG hormone.  After a normal D and C, my level should drop to zero within a couple of weeks.  If I had developed the disease, then my level would plateau or rise.  For three weeks in a row, I had to go in for blood tests to see if my level was decreasing.  If it did reach zero, then I would have to start coming in monthly to make sure it stayed at zero.  In the meantime, we weren't allowed to take any chances with becoming pregnant again, because that would skew the results. That 4-6 week waiting period just went out the window, and now we were talking about a minimum of 3 months.  That news was more devastating to me than the news I got the day I went in for the sonogram.

At my first blood test, my hCG level had dropped from 5,880 to 156.  At my second blood test, it had dropped to 22, then to 7 on the third.  Finally I went in for my follow-up appointment with my doctor (one month post-op), and the level came back at 0.  Whew.  This didn't mean I was completely out of the woods, but it did give me reason to be very hopeful.  From there, I was required to schedule a monthly blood test for the next couple of months, to make sure the level stayed at 0.  I know some of you will think a couple of months doesn't sound very long, but when you go from being pregnant in February, to being not pregnant in March, and then not even able to start trying again until June, it feels like an eternity. 

I guess I was "lucky" in the sense that it wasn't worse. It could've become a cancerous growth and could've required chemotherapy.  That would've meant at least a year before we could try again.  I'm really, really thankful that it didn't come to that, because I don't think I could have handled a year of the emotions I experienced.

More to come...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I'm Not Alone

*This will be the first in a series of posts that I'll publish over the next couple of days.  They were actually written a while ago, but I wasn't ready to publish them until now.*

I'm by no means alone in this ordeal, but that didn't make it any easier to deal with.  I know this will come as a surprise to a lot of people, but here goes:

My first pregnancy did not make it to term. On March 24th, in my ninth week of "pregnancy," I had a D and C.  What this means is that I found out I was pregnant in February, but something was wrong.  The fetus didn't develop correctly, and I had to undergo a procedure to remove the pregnancy.  It was a hard time for me.  I had so many things I was supposed to be excited about - the recent birth of a niece, vacation plans, friends and family members being pregnant, friends getting married, etc.  While trying to joyfully celebrate these things, I also had to grieve the loss of the baby I thought I was going to welcome in October.

It was supposed to be such a wonderful time.  My sisters and I were all pregnant at the same time, and were all going to give birth in the same year.  How fun, right??  Three moms going through the same things at the same time.  Three little cousins growing up around the same age.  I got excited when thinking about what was to come.  I secretly shopped for maternity clothes online and started getting ideas about the nursery.  I couldn't wait until the day we found out the sex of the baby and got to share the good news with the whole world.  Before I was even able to tell my family, though, my big plans were promptly cut short.

At seven weeks in, I went to the doctor for my first sonogram.  She couldn't see anything on the monitor, but my body said I was pregnant.  The tests were positive, the symptoms had started, and the hormone levels were growing.  We thought we might've just been wrong about the timing, so we scheduled another sonogram for a week and a half later.  It was tough during that waiting time, because I wanted to believe that everything was fine.  I wanted to believe that a baby was developing inside me, despite that nagging feeling that something might be wrong.  Unfortunately, the next sonogram confirmed our fears.  There was no baby.

Meezy and I had been playing our cards very close to our chest.  No one knew we were trying for a baby.  We wanted it to be a huge surprise when we made the announcement!  What a cruel turn of events.  Now, our first mention to our family that we were trying to get pregnant was the news that our first pregnancy had failed.  We were so sad that we even had to share the news.  The reason we did, however, was because the procedure involved anesthesia and a hospital visit.  Having already started experiencing the initial feelings of becoming a mother, I knew my mom would want to know something like this was happening to her daughter.

To add insult to injury, I received a call from the hospital two days before the procedure, telling me they needed a deposit for my portion of the costs.  I was at work, trying to maintain my composure, and now I had to think about the cost of the termination of my pregnancy.  Awesome.  In addition to that, one day before the procedure, I got questions from two different acquaintances/coworkers, "When is it going to be your time?"  "What's next for you, a baby?"  Nothing like trying to hold back sobs while sitting at your desk.  Let this be a lesson, people.  Don't ask someone when they're going to have a baby.  I've been guilty of this in the past, and I didn't fully appreciate the ramifications of the question until now.  You never know what issues they're dealing with; you never know if they're having trouble conceiving; and you never know if they're about to undergo a D and C the next day!  I know it seems like an innocent question, but it can have a very, very profound effect when asked to certain people.  

The main reason I'm writing this post is because I want other women like me to know that they're not alone.  When your friends or family know that you're trying, and then something goes wrong, you have a support system to lean on.  You can be open about your feelings, and what's going on, and let people be there for you.  When you don't tell anyone that you're trying, and then your first sonogram results are inconclusive, you feel lonely.  Your spouse shares your feelings, but you haven't allowed anyone else to.  You feel upset, but can't share it.  You get sad, but try to hide it.  The reason we chose that route was because we didn't want the world to know what we were going through, right as we were going through it.  It was new to us, and we needed time to process it by ourselves.  We didn't want it to be the only thing people thought about when they saw us.  We didn't want people wondering when we'd try again.  We didn't want people asking us how we were doing.  I just wanted to be left alone, yet I hated the loneliness.  It was a conundrum.  I didn't want to talk to someone about it who I knew I would see constantly after that.  At one point, I thought about trying to find a stranger on which to unload this burden, but I didn't know how to go about it.

Because I know that I'm not alone in experiencing these feelings, this is me telling you that I'll be your stranger.  If you are worried you might be miscarrying, or recently have, talk to me.  Send me an email and tell me what you're feeling.  If I do know you personally, you can be sure that I'll keep your secret.  If I don't know you personally, use me however you need to.  If you just need to write about what's bothering you, but don't want a response, just say that.  Just putting it down in words will probably help.  If you want some reassurance that you can get past this, and everything will be alright, let me do that for you.  Heck, you don't even have to be a pregnant woman to write me.  If you feel like you just don't want to talk to your close family and friends about something, you can talk to me instead.  My email is vanweezy (at) gmail (dot) com.  Please don't be afraid to contact me.

More to come...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What a Difference a Few Weeks Makes

Wanna see what a baby looks like at 7 weeks?  Good luck!  There's not much to see!

Is anybody home?

This is the ultrasound I got to see at 7 weeks.  Baby boy just looked like a little dot.  The main purpose was seeing the flickering heartbeat, though.  That was very gratifying.  Unfortunately my hubby was out of the country on the day of my appointment, so I brought my sister with me for moral support (you'll find out more about this later).  I was so nervous and already crying before the ultrasound even started.  As soon as the picture came up on the screen and there was a flicker, my sister exclaimed, "That's a heartbeat!!"  It was awesome.

Now here's what my baby looked like at 9 weeks.  Look at the progression!

There's somebody in there!

It's amazing how things changed in 2 short weeks.  We could actually see the head and the arms and legs.  We could also see the umbilical cord.  What a joy!  I really started feeling confident about the pregnancy at this point.  We had reached another milestone, and everything was still looking good.

And here's our latest ultrasound, taken at 12 weeks:

Hi baby!

Look how much detail there is now!  We could see individual fingers and toes, and some bones.  We could even tell that the baby's feet were crossed.  The doctor says it's a boy, so I guess I'll refer to the baby as HE now!  Every time he moved during the ultrasound, my heart skipped a beat.  I couldn't believe that was happening inside me, and I couldn't feel a thing!  Can't wait to keep tracking how much he grows and develops in the coming weeks. 

The Times Are A'Changin!

I finally get the chance to announce our big news!  Meezy and I are expecting our first child around 2/22/12.  We're only 12 weeks along, but the doctor is 98% sure that it's a BOY!!!  He told my sister she was having girls at this stage in both of her pregnancies, and he was right, so I'm feeling pretty confident.  I couldn't be happier right now.  It's been hard keeping this quiet for this many weeks, but I'm glad it's finally out in the open!  My morning sickness hasn't been too bad, and even when I get it, it's actually been a nice reminder that things are still progressing each week.  (Mine should've actually been called evening sickness, btw!)

It's hard to believe that this is really happening.  I've always had the desire to be a parent, but I really wanted to wait until I knew the hubs and I were ready.  We wanted to enjoy the married life sans kids, travel as much as possible, and be a little irresponsible with our money when we felt so inclined.  I think 5 years of marriage has given us that opportunity, and now we're ready to tackle the next stage of our lives.  Should be a fun and challenging journey, and I couldn't have picked a better partner to take it with.    

Monday, August 8, 2011

Vacation to Florida

We're back from our trip to Florida, and we're exhausted!  We had an awesome time, though, and the scenery was breathtaking.  Here's a recap:

Since we were bringing Kim and Mik along with us, we tried to find cheap airline tickets.  Hence, we flew Spirit Airlines.  Well, I guess you get what you pay for!  They nickel and dime the hell out of you to try and keep the fares low.  Each checked bag costs $28 IF you pay for it online ahead of time.  If not, it's $38/bag.  The kicker is that their weight limit is 40lbs, which differs from the 50lb limit we were used to.  The two bags for our group of 4 were both over 40 lbs, so we had to rearrange stuff to just make one of them overweight (you only get to bring on a personal item for free, not a carry-on, so we couldn't use that outlet for help with the weight redistribution).  That cost us another $25.  Overall, we paid $81 EACH WAY for our bags.  Wow!  Wanna know the best part?  They failed to put Kim and Mik's bag on the flight for some unknown reason.  WTH?  We landed at 9:30pm, and were the last flight in for the day, so they told us they'd put it on the early flight the next morning.  Since they didn't have toiletries or clothes or anything for that first night and next morning, we had to find the closest store that was open 24 hours.  That happened to be a Walmart.  We had to drive ten miles to get there, but it might as well have been 800 miles because it felt like we stepped into Haiti.  Quite an experience! Anyway, Spirit said they'd have it delivered to our hotel shortly after the flight arrived at 9:30am the next morning.  By the time noon rolled around, and we hadn't even been called to alert us to an impending delivery, we just decided to drive back to the airport ourselves and pick it up.  Sure enough, it was just sitting in the baggage office.  Thanks, Spirit, for the awesome baggage service!  That was kind of a bummer that it put a damper on our first few hours in Fort Lauderdale, but we shrugged it off and made the best of our remaining time.

We stayed in a 2-room oceanfront suite at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort.  I have to say we were really impressed with the hotel.  The location on the beach was unbeatable.  A lot of the hotels in Fort Lauderdale are across the street from the beach, so you're stuck walking across and looking for room on the public beach.  Our hotel had a private beach that was literally a few steps from the water.  The view from our balcony was awesome in every direction.  The hotel also had a great pool and lazy river.  We ate some of our meals on the back balcony of the hotel and it felt like we were in a magazine.  Just take a look for yourself:

   The view below our balcony

Truly beachfront

I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real

We traveled into Miami and South Beach a couple of times, but honestly Fort Lauderdale was more our style.  We did check out the shops and restaurants and spent a little while on the beach there, though.  

  South Beach

Couldn't resist reppin' the Mavs in Miami!

 Had to grab some Cold Stone!

Dinner at PF Chang's in Downtown Miami

When we weren't relaxing on the beautiful beach outside our hotel, we checked out Ocean Avenue, did some shopping at Dolphin Mall, and visited McCarthy Wildlife Sanctuary in West Palm Beach.  If you're in the area, I highly recommend giving that last place a visit!  It's $20/person for a guided tour through their facility.  It was totally worth it.  We got to get really close to their amazing animals, and learn a lot of really neat background info and facts about them.  Our guide interacted with the animals, and even let us in some instances.  It was awesome!  

 Me holding a Kinkajou.  I wanted to take it home!

Mik with the Kinkajou.

Jer holding a 12 ft. albino python

Kim and the python

Everyone got a turn with the tarantula

After all of our adventures, we ended the trip with an unforgettable dinner at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse in honor of Kim's birthday.  It was a great trip!

 Happy 19th birthday!