Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Every New Beginning...

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end..." (-Semisonic, Closing Time)

Here we are... the end of 2014!! I don't know how we are here again; I swear every passing year seems to pass by faster than the one before. Eek! Another reason why I'm always trying to remind myself to slow down, pause, and LIVE IN THE MOMENT... Life is way too short to spend it wishing time away, being upset, or waiting for things to happen. NOW is when things are happening. 

My big theme today is new beginnings. Closing one chapter to open another. Leaving behind the roller coaster of a year that 2014 was, and skipping into 2015 with renewed hope, excitement, and energy. New obstacles, new triumphs, new stresses, new rewards... I'm sure it'll prove to be a crazy one, but hopefully the good kind of crazy. :) 

I know a new year isn't always a surefire sign that bigger & better things are going to happen... but it sure is fun to hold onto that possibility. It's a good reason to start new/redo some things that haven't gone well, yet keep the things going right. I feel like it's going to be a big year in terms of our fertility journey, our marriage, and our home, and other fun stuff. 

~*Our Fertility Journey
   This is kind of an obvious one, I'm sure. I'm HOPING it will be a big year for Team Ricci & our pursuit of a pregnancy. 2014 sure was a doozy- but an eventful one!! We found out Scott was infertile within the first week (UNhappy birthday news to him), finally got to start up with the IUI process, did 2 cycles, one of which took and then we miscarried a week later. Tried 2 more cycles and then decided to take a break from the stress and chaos. 
   Our plans for 2015 are to start up again with IUI at some point (ironically it'll be similar timelines to last year- without giving too much away, those who have been closely following might be able to decode that hint and figure out for themselves when we will start back up without actually asking). Before starting up, I need another HSG to make sure my reproductive system is up to par.... but then hopefully we will be cleared to roll shortly after that. 
   My hopes this time are to not really change anything... Last time I took weeks off from exercise. But that didn't get me anywhere except a first class ticket to depression, stress, and weight gain. The Drs never really said NOT to do anything. I took each cycle and tried to relax 100% while on meds, and during the 2week wait. Although mentally that's nice, and I was worried about shaking things up in there, it really only hurt me in the end I think. I don't want to go crazy at the gym but I DO want to keep doing what I've been doing. There's no reason why I can't do what "ordinary" mamas do- keep going. Most "ordinary" girls don't know they're pregnant or might be pregnant in those early weeks, and continue on as normal. I want that for myself. I've been working out consistently for about 4 days a week lately and want to keep that up. It won't be pushing myself to anything new, or pushing myself to exhaustion, but keeping healthy is not a bad thing. So that's one major change I plan to make this time around. 
    As far as acupuncture, I'm still going on avg every 4-6 weeks, just to keep it somewhat. When we start up another IUI cycle, I'm still a little torn on what to do. I believe in it's benefits whole-heartedly, BUT since we don't know of any issues lying with me, I wonder if it's really helping extra or not necessarily. I have been debating taking one cycle off, or just doing a general treatment and not a fertility-specific one. If anyone has thoughts either way, please let me know. It's a lot of money and cutting back a little wouldn't hurt if it's not imperative that I go 3-4x during a cycle at $100 a pop. Again, thoughts on either end are welcomed (preferably with something to back it up- like being a patient yourself, knowing something about acupuncture to begin with, hehe) :)

~*Our Marriage 
    2015 will be a big year for Scott & I in terms of our relationship/marriage because of his new schedule. Having him home more has been FANTASTIC!! He's home for dinners, and home EVERY weekend. It's everything I've ever wanted. Finally! :) We celebrated our first real Christmas weekend together in 14 years without him having to waste away working retail hours. We went to NYC on Christmas Eve and stayed over for 2 nights, just us. It was great. He was so laid back and relaxed, it's how everyone should feel on Christmas. I love having him home. I feel like we can finally be a real married couple. We can make dinner plans with friends, go to family parties and all kinds of get-togethers, etc. We have dinner plans with another couple this weekend & it seriously makes me so happy because for YEARS it was always "sorry, Scott's working..." for everything. No more! He took a pay cut for his new job, but we knew it would be a positive in the end because quality time together is more important than making more money and never seeing him. We are able to do more together, go places on weekends, and hopefully take some weekend/overnight trips soon (hint hint if you're reading this, Scoot! ;) hehe). Hoping it'll be a fun adventure this year in terms of together time!

~*Our Home
   This may be a big news announcement to MOST of you... but we could see ourselves in a new home in 2015!! We plan to put our house on the market in a few weeks (gasp). EEEK!! We plan to move back to the other side of the river, about 30 mins away. Nothing major, still in the Hudson Valley, just over the river and through the woods. This  is a scary thing in a sense because I don't always like change, but knowing me I've weighed lots of pros/cons in my mind. It would benefit us in a few ways, so I'll start with the PROs.

Pros of moving across the river:

- No bridge toll to work ($1.50 bridge toll each day... I have EZ Pass & I think it's $1.25 for the commuter plan, but still it adds up as a minor thing. And I don't always drive over there just for work... LOTS of our friends are on that side of the river, and Dad, so we're always over there).

- No more driving over the mountain, 2x daily... To get to work, I drive over Storm King Mt (a major pain in the winter months, so I often take the longer route across the river), which really kills my car in gas and regular wear/tear.

- Lower taxes (HOPEFULLY)... Taxes are lower in theory, but seem to have sky-rocketed in the last year... hmm. So this one is still debatable. 

- More land... There are plenty of properties over here with more land too, but they're further from work, and some of those taxes are really insane. So where we want to go (Dutchess county, NY), is a little better. 

- Lots of friends nearby... We are often over in Dutchess visiting our closest friends who are like family (and their kiddos!), and we like to go to a lot of restaurants over there... so instead of 25-30 mins, it'll be 5-10 mins :) 

- Closer to work... sort of. Might be about the same commute, but flatter terrain, no mountains or rivers to cross, and lots of coworkers nearby any of us are in a jam. 

- Closer to the fertility clinic... This is more of an added bonus. Instead of 50 mins, it would be more like 30! Score! 

- Not right on top of neighbors, no telephone poles in our backyard, no trailer park behind us with kids constantly cutting through our yard. 

- Looking for a bigger yard for our future child(ren) to play in. 

Cons (whines) to moving...

- I ADORE our house. It's so cute & charming, and I just absolutely love it. I wish we could pick it up, make a few layout changes, and plop it on a bigger lot. If that were possible, and free... haha. I get easily attached to things, and I will really miss this house. It's not my absolute dream house but is really darn cute. So I've been having separation anxiety. But then again I did feel that way when selling my car... and now all is good. LOL... so I know it'll be fine here too. I know a house is what you make it... so no matter where we end up, so will all of our stuff, and I'll still be able to transform that space into our own. That part is kind of exciting & exhilarating actually. A new blank canvas to work from is fun to me. I LOVE decorating. :) So it'll turn into a pro. 

- I'm worried about settling for a house I don't love. I know I won't find the perfect house bc it doesn't exist (wait, yes it does... but it's not in our price range by any means.. haha!). So I'm worried that houses now available which I adore will be sold by the time it's our turn. But new ones will be available, so it'll work out I suppose. Fear of the unknown, drives me crazy... so I have to have faith that an amazing house for us will show up. 

- Moving in general just plain SUCKS... I am kind of dreading the packing/moving process. And the closing process... It's all just stress, stress, stress. I remember. And, actually, we will be moving and closing 2x, so double the stress and chaos. Let's prolong it as much as we can. hehe :) We actually plan to move to an apartment in the area we want to move to once we sell our current house. This will allow us to test out living there, not settle for any house but take our time searching for the right one, AND save some money by downsizing for a little while and paying rent that should be close to half our mortgage. That would be nice and balance costs of IUI cycles and save a nice chunk of change each month. This prob sounds so weird but I'm oddly excited to downsize to a small space with Scott. It might (hopefully) force me to be more organized and clean out things I don't really need. 

- Leaving our friends on this side of the river... But we won't be far! I have been going to the gym 4x a week on average and really love the classes I take there. My workout buddy has been such a good motivator for me, and she teaches Zumba there. We've done training sessions with our fav trainer, also the instructor of another class I take, and I don't want to give that up. (Plus my membership fee is too good to pass up! Not a fan of trading that in for a bigger, scarier gym with higher fees). So I'm trying to think of the practicality of maybe keeping the membership and trying to make 2 classes a week. It would pay for the membership and not be a crazy commute. I can't leave them, I've been doing so well! So that part saddens me, but I really want to make it work.... plus, the house isn't even ON the market yet. It could take forever to sell (but I hope not). 

So yea.... In the end it's a good thing, but it kind of stinks to leave something you love. It's bittersweet. I love the house and I'm not looking forward to packing up ALLLLLLLL the stuff we have. BUT I know it'll be rather exciting, give me a good distraction to the fertility stuff, and be a fun new adventure for Scott & I. Hoping only good things will come from it in the end. 

~*Other Fun Stuff
    2015 brings possibilities of seeing people we haven't in a while, and spending more time with them. Kind of ties into Scott's new schedule/free time, but also other stuff. His best friend, Manny, & family just moved back to the states after being in Germany for 3+ years. Manny's wife, Staci, is in the military (We met them while they were stationed at West Point... Scott & Manny both worked at Best Buy and we lived in Highland Falls, right next to WP). They've been besties since then (5+ years maybe??) and they just moved to Maryland. We are so excited to only be a 4-hr drive away and can't wait to see them more often. 

Prob other fun stuff too. Who knows... we'll see what the year brings. 

One thing's for sure... I'm ready to start fresh, have some distractions, spend more time with my best friend/hubby, and just enjoy living in the moment. Here's to a new home, new adventures, new fun, and maybe even a pregnancy along the way! 

My wish for us, and all the other TTC sisters out there, is for peace of mind and a positive pregnancy test... one that leads to a healthy & happy baby/family in the end. Hope, Wish, Dream, Believe. Our time is coming, ladies! <3 

Everyone be safe today/tonight! 


Here's to new beginnings... 

Stace <3

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sometimes Life is All About Balance...

It may come as no surprise that I'm a Libra... My life is all about balance. 

I almost always see 2 sides of a situation and therefore would make a horrible debater. I can never pick sides in an argument, especially when it's between two people I like. I can't make simple decisions on what to eat, wear, etc. I'm so indecisive and am always weighing pros and cons. I'm easy swayed and persuaded. Scott and I are polar opposites in a lot of ways... and the same in others. I love yoga and balance is always my favorite part- especially Tree Pose... Yup, my life is all about balance. 

What does balance have to do with our infertility struggle and journey to a baby? When life kicks me down, I am ALWAYS looking for a reason to get back up. I can't stand being miserable (who doesn't?). I'm always needing a positive to balance out a crap situation. 

December has a new meaning for us this year... but it's well balanced with good/bad so I'm somewhat ok with that.  Some of you are aware that our 2nd round of IUI, back in April, was somewhat successful. If I hadn't miscarried, I would have due on December 27th of this year. Being that this chapter closed in May, by now I have come to peace with it, or so I thought... December 1st hit last week and I was an emotional mess. Maybe not to outsiders, but on the inside I was. This month ALSO marks 3 years since I came off the pill and we decided to start trying for a baby. 3 long years... 3 stressful years... 3 emotional years... 3 tough years.... 3 roller-coaster years. (Yup, more like it!). 3 years and no baby bump. My favorite time of the year QUICKLY turned to the worst and saddest time of year.

... Or is it?

Obviously we are still saddened by the trials and stress of the situation, and I often wonder what I would have looked like being 37 weeks pregnant this week. But in true Stace-fashion, I need a positive to balance it out. I need a silver lining to get me through with a genuine smile on my face and a wave of calm in my heart. So here it is- 

Scott has a new job (as of 2 months now) and the best part is, HE'S OUT OF RETAIL!!!!!!!!!! 

How is that a happy balance?? He's home practically all the same times I'm home! We have NEVER experienced this in our entire relationship. Scott has worked retail since 2001, when we graduated high school. Since then, he's worked practically every weekend, holiday, and night. All of my time/days off became his work time. Holidays were sacrificed for YEARS. The only weekends we would get were typically vacations when we went away in the summer. I can't even go into all the craziness because it just plain stunk. 

This year, Scott didn't have to go to work on Thanksgiving or at the crack of dawn Black Friday, or even for the whole weekend. He worked 8-5 office hours on Black Friday and had the ENTIRE weekend off!! He's home every night well before I go to bed. He's home the entire weekend. He gets to celebrate/enjoy holidays now. Did I mention he's off for the ENTIRE weekend??! (Ok he has to do 1 half day Saturday a month, but that's a piece of cake! Who cares!). We have never celebrated a true Christmas season together. I always have about 10-12 days off from school for holiday break and in the past Scott would be home on Christmas and MAYYYYBE 1 other day, but that was pushing it. This year, he's home for 8 of my 12 days off.... 

Talk about a true Christmas miracle! We actually get to spend it together, like never before. The last Christmas when he wasn't working retail, we were 17 and dating. So it wasn't even real because we had to go to separate homes at the end if the night. This year, when we need each other's love and support the most, we get it. So to me, I truly think that's a fair balance and that's my Christmas miracle. We would have loved to be expecting a baby any day now, but the fact that I FINALLY get my best friend/husband back for the holidays is a fair trade balance and I'm over the moon thrilled about it. I feel just as giddy as when we got married. I'm so excited for more quality hubby time, and to see Scott happy and relaxed on Christmas. 

One of my FAV Christmas songs is "All I Want For Christmas is You".... and this year I've got it. 

We will always wonder what could have been if the little miracle had stuck around until now, but I also have to believe he/she gave us an equally awesome gift at the time we need it the most. 

It'll still be a tough day when my would-be due date rolls around in a few weeks, but it's definitely more bearable with Scott by my side. Team Ricci, in it to the end. 

On another note.... My dear friend, Linzy, now has a photography business and was recently back home. I somehow convinced Scott to let her do a photoshoot for us, and here are just a few of the amazing pics she took. 

If you're near Kileen, TX, check her out!! If you're near me, she comes home occasionally to the Hudson Valley area. Check out her work:

**Amazing side story regarding Linz below the pics. <3

Life throws you curveballs sometimes...
A few days after I received our photos from Linzy last week, I received another package from her. Super confused, I opened it and found an envelope and a cute wooden sign with a fun quote (the girl knows me ALL too well!), a wine quote (even more up my alley) that says "Santa stops here for wine tasting". Cute, I thought! Then I went to the envelope/card and inside was a donation for our baby fund and a sweet, heartfelt note that made me cry. Linzy had started a secret fund for us a few months back, trying to raise money to help us with fertility costs. *(Even though insurance currently covers IUI and Dr. visits, it doesn't cover all of the additional costs involved in a cycle and we were paying about $1000 a month for sperm, meds, etc.... IF we need to move to IVF in the future, insurance doesn't cover any of that, so it'll be about $10K, per cycle, on top of the $1K a month I've already mentioned.) The fact that she thought of us just blew my mind and I was speechless. Full of appreciation. And just plain blessed. We've been very fortunate to have some great support around us, and I just had to give her a shoutout on here. Thank you, Linz!! You rock and I just am so completely grateful for you and our friendship. *Note- This is not a pitch for people to donate to us. I am so weird about asking people for things, even favors. We've tossed around the idea of starting something if we need IVF, because we won't be able to cut it. But we can handle the IUI treatments and although much appreciated, this is not a sales pitch! Just spreading awareness to the realities of the underground infertility world. Many don't have any insurance coverage for even IUI. We are lucky to have at least that.

Fertility Treatment Update: We are still on a break. Honestly, I'm kind of loving it, for the moment! I'm finding time to get back to the gym and take classes I love (Zumba, Yogalates, Circuit), and even signed up with a friend for a few personal training sessions. I'm finally getting back in shape and gaining confidence again. I've got more energy and I'm happier. Scott's home more and I'm loving that daily! I don't miss hormone pills that make me crazy, I certainly don't miss blood draws, ultrasounds, and self-injections, OR inseminations. I don't miss waking up at 5am to drive an hour to the clinic THEN an hour to work. I don't miss any of it. It stinks we can't get pregnant without going back... but I'm honestly enjoying the break. We'll get back there soon- maybe in a few months or so.

But until then, thanks for sticking with us!!
And always remember...

P.S.... It's late & I'm tired, so not editing or proof-reading. Sorry! :p

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Turn Down for GUFS!

I'm on YouTube!! :)

*Scroll all the way to the end of the post if you just want the YouTube link* 

Those who know me best know that I am a very shy person... It takes me a while to open up and I only do so if/when I feel comfortable with them. I was never a performer of any kind~ I never took a dance class (even thought I really wish I had bc I love to dance) and I never liked to act. I have major stage fright, yet now I'm on YouTube. Insert super-surprised face! Here's why!

My school doesn't have talent shows often. In my 10 years working there, we've maybe had 3 that I can remember. They happen every few years or so, and only when there is some amazing volunteer willing to help coordinate the entire thing. I love going to talent shows and even though I don't have any talents to write home about, I always admire those who get up to share their talent and perform. My favorites are always dance routines. I love to dance. That doesn't mean I'm good at it, I just said I love to dance. I have ZERO rhythm. Again, never took a dance class as a kid (prob should have. Sports really were never my thing. I think I would have loved hip-hop and all those other kid dance classes). When Zumba came into my life 4 years ago, I fell in love immediately. I have no rhythm, but I CAN pick up moves and follow others. Coordinated dances were always my fav (Macarena, Cupid Shuffle, Cotton-Eyed Joe, Cha Cha Slide) because I didn't have to make up my own moves. The more I took Zumba, the more I loved it. I love music and I love dancing, and this was the best of both worlds. I dabbled in becoming a Zumba instructor, but the shy factor really didn't work for me. I would rather blend in with the crowd and have fun than be in the spotlight teaching solo. Nope.

Anyway, back to the talent show (now that you know my feelings on music/dance). In the last few years, I thought it would be cool if a group of teachers did a coordinated dance to a popular, upbeat song at the next talent show. Teachers at the neighboring school have done it quite a bit and I envied them for it. "How fun!! I want to do it!", I thought. Well, as soon as I heard we were having a talent show this year (back in July, because I happened to be coordinating our school calendar this year), I emailed all my coworkers and told them to save the date of 10/24 because I wanted to organize some sort of teacher dance. I didn't know what, but knew it had to be upbeat and popular. Go big or go home, this had to be something worth talking about. I wanted to earn some cool points with the kids and have a little fun. I was thrilled to get willing volunteers at school (Our staff seriously rocks, I love those people!! Thank goodness for fun coworkers!!) who were willing to have fun and make fools out of ourselves if necessary, AND give up a Friday night. In the end, we ended up with 9 of us total. More were interested but couldn't for all kinds of totally valid reasons (next time, for sure... Yes, there WILL be a next time!).

Then came the act... what in the world would we do? We threw around a few song ideas but nothing really seemed to feel just right, until one night I was surfing YouTube and looking at teacher talent show acts for ideas. I realized quite a few groups had done one version or another of the Evolution of Dance. If you don't know what this is, Google it, but basically a guy named Judson Laipply first created this back in 2001, where he mixed together parts of 12 popular dance songs in chronological order and danced to each one. It was both genius and hysterical, and obviously has evolved in the past 13 years. There are a zillion different versions out there and after seeing positive crowd reactions to them all on the internet, it was like a lightbulb went off... this was our answer! I absolutely wanted this to be our act, one way or another.

I started sharing the idea with the interested group and got some mixed reactions at first. It was overwhelming and scary to some but also was exciting and fun to others. Knowing it was really just for fun and totally on a volunteer basis was my basis for defending myself.  I wasn't forcing anyone to do it, but this was my idea and this is what I wanted to do in the end. I was all in and there was no changing my mind once I knew this was the answer. Thankfully, the group stuck with me!! It was certainly hard convincing them it would be worth it, it would be FUN, and that the kids would love it, but I'm glad I somehow convinced 8 people to get on board. (THANK YOU!!!) :)

Now here comes a big shout out to my coworker, Kim. Even if she never reads this, I owe a big part of the success of the act to her. I had the initial idea, but I had no idea where to go with it and don't have dance experience or expertise. Kim does. She comes with years of dance and cheer experience, and was just as enthusiastic about the idea as I was... Thank Goodness!! :) :) There were moments I wanted to back out and was like "Why did I bother?" when little things were stressing me out, but Kim's equal enthusiasm and positive energy kept me going. We met for hours before introducing it to the group. We watched different versions of the dance, listened to different songs, came up with our own list and the order they would go in, and choreographed what we would do for each song.

And now a big shout out to SCOTT, too!! He put ALL of the music together for us. He collected all of the songs, put them in order, and cut them into short segments to the exact parts I wanted. We only used about 10-15 seconds of each song and I wanted it to be specific parts. It was nothing short of a tedious job. Thank you, hun!!! *He also recorded the live show AND uploaded to YouTube for us. :)

The final product:
27 songs... 5 minutes and 55 seconds. Our own version in the end.

Yes I said 27 songs. 27 songs with specific dances for each song. Some were no-brainers (The Macarena... The Chicken Dance... etc). Others we had to rack our brains for, search dance videos for, and come up with something that worked. Then came lots of practice, practice and more practice, then we had to convince the group that it would be fine (when they stared wide-eyed or laughed at us!). "It'll be fine! Just do whatever! The kids will love it!" Ha! :) We set aside about 4-5 practices after school to whoever could make it. We tried the best we could and promised that however it turned out, it would be great. Each practice, everyone got it more and more, and in all honesty, it came together really quickly and easily. I was so proud of everyone involved for jumping right in and catching on!

Did I mention this was also a SURPRISE act in the show??!! We were in the program simply as a Surprise act by the Teachers... oh boy!!! Suspense building...

Finally, the night of the show arrived. Butterflies were fluttering in my stomach and nerves were setting in big time... What was I thinking?! What if there was a glitch in the music? What if the songs were out of order? They were downloaded onto an iPod for the performance and there was no way of checking since the songs were numbered but not labeled. Our only backup was my $20 CD player that skipped every time we practiced. PLEASSSSE let this work, I thought!

Needless to say, if you watch the video... it was a HUGE hit!! The only glitch was that the music started before the curtain opened (TWICE!!!.... But, hey, I'll take it!). Once we got going, adrenaline kicked in and we fed off the energy from the crowd. It was the best run we had done, the crowd LOVED it, and it was so much fun. The lights were incredibly blinding, my mouth was desert-dry, and I couldn't stop laughing!! ALL I could see was a few kids in the front row laughing hysterically that their teachers were on stage dancing. As the routine went on and songs started to become more and more popular, the crowd got more energetic and responsive. By the end, the kids were singing along to the newer songs we threw in, and we were all having a blast.

The crowd reaction at the end was priceless. My goal was that we would hit the entire crowd somewhere along the line, whether it be older songs or newer songs. We did just that, and more. Kids were screaming with glee. Parents were cheering. We got SO many compliments afterwards that it was incredible. A mom told me that she loved every second and wanted so badly to jump up on stage with us. We heard that the entire crowd of middle school kids jumped off the bleachers to get a better view. We even had a standing ovation from the entire crowd! It was an incredibly fun experience and we really impressed and shocked a lot of people. It was all in the name of fun and it exceeded all of my intentions. It put us out there as a fun group of teachers, which we are. I've always known this, and  now others do too.

Our last song was Turn Down for What, and we ended by shouting "Turn down for GUFS!!" (GUFS is the acronym for my school's name.)

Without further adieu, because that's my style to go on and on and on... Here it is. Our own version of the Evolution of Dance~ 2014.

Garrison Teachers Rock!! :)
*P.S... There's a video on YouTube called "Garrison Teachers Rock". It's the same routine, but videoed from the pov of one of the 2nd grade boys. You can hear the kids giggling and screaming the whole time and at one point saying "I can't stop laughing... I can't stop laughing!". This is one reason I love my job. Our one short act, all 6 mins worth, was so appreciated by so many. Mission accomplished!!

Click the link below! 

Garrison Teachers Evolution of Dance~ 2014

I initially embedded the video... But for fun, I want to see how many views we can get. Embedding takes away all the fun in that, so just click on the link or search it! :)

That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles...

A little disclaimer...
Always a bridesmaid, never the bride... I think the saying goes something like that.

Here's my version...

Always an aunt, never the mommy...

I just counted and currently 5 of my friends are pregnant. (That I know of.) There's always the chance of another announcement just around the corner. Don't get me wrong, it's super exciting stuff and I am genuinely thrilled for all of these people and that's just life. But it gets me thinking how I really need to sort out my emotions and get them in check quickly. That's quite a few baby showers in the next 6 months. I likely won't be pregnant by then (although I suppose it may be possible, just barely) and will need to figure out some ways to stay sane through all of those highly emotional times. Quite a few baby showers I can't bail out on (but if I do, PLEASE understand my need for doing so. Sometimes it's honestly just too painful and I don't want to be "that girl" off pouting in a corner. Some days it's easy, some days it's just plain rough). Quite a few baby showers that I might need to station myself at the mimosa station for or need a DD for. 

Frustration is a constant underlying emotion in me lately. Pregnancy is a part of life and the fact is that the majority of people I know are perfectly fertile. Lucky brats. Kidding, Kidding! In all seriousness, it's true. It's a natural life function/process (in most cases). It's life. I have to deal with it. I'm just bitter that we don't fall into that category. The frustration for me is constant and always there. I can be dealing with all of this really well or really badly. You just never know when it will come and how it will show its face... but the end result will always remain the same: 

I can ONLY get pregnant with assisted reproductive technology (fertility treatments). 

End of story. 

Let's face it.... that sucks. It just plain sucks. It doesn't seem fair. It's not fair. When I dwell on it, it makes me want to scream and cry. It's frustrating. 

We are still on a break from trying. It's probably in my head but I do feel like I've gotten a few looks here and there at my belly (at different places/with different crowds of people we know). If it looks bigger, it's only because I'm gaining unwanted weight. Stress can do that to you. No baby weight, just stress weight.

Still on a break. Not trying for a few more months still. We stopped for a few reasons. Mostly because the stress was getting to be too much. Also because each month was really adding up financially. Also because we were losing focus on each other and on ourselves. It's AMAZING not having my life governed by hormone medication, fertility drugs/injections, early wakeups to drive to the clinic before work, blood draws, ultrasounds, insemination procedures, agonizing over every imaginary symptom my body is experiencing, negative pregnancy tests, tears, etc. It's nice just going back to being ME. My focus is on me, Scott, and work. That's kind of it. It's nice.

When I really think about it, though, it does make me sad. Because the time will come when we do decide that we want to try again, and the stress will all start back up again. All of the above will become factors again. And that's where the jealousy creeps back in. Jealousy of all those couples who can conceive naturally, no meds involved. No timed injections involved. No perfectly timed 1.5 hour drives to CT to get a vial of sperm placed in your uterus. No needles. No spending $1,000 a month for a 20% chance of it working. Jealousy of the way it's supposed to work, but never will with us.

Where's the romance in that? Sometimes it makes me not even want to try this way. Sometimes I wonder if we even should have kids. Sometimes it makes me wonder if we should jump right to adoption so we don't have to keep doing all of this. And that's where Scott jumps in and makes it all better, putting it all into perspective and bringing the sweetness back into it. (He's so good to me.) I recently had one of these rants (via text message, while he was away recently...)

Me: blah blah blah (going off on another emotional rant) Maybe we should jump to adoption. It's a waiting game either way. And it would put us on even playing field with genetic ties, and I wouldn't have to put my body through any more hell. Just becoming more open to the idea I guess.

Scott: Ok, I have no problem doing that, after we have exhausted our options. (*Note: We had previously agreed on trying everything we could with me before moving to adoption, so I can experience pregnancy.) I really want to go through pregnancy with you. I want to be able to sing to/talk to/rub your bely. I wanna go to those stupid classes with you so we can giggle when they throw out silly terms and funny/gross things. I know there is a lot to go through for you but when it happens, and it will, we can go through it together.

It's stuff like that that makes it all better. It makes the struggle worth it. The possibility of all of those fun times ahead.

It's just the frustration of wondering when and what if, in the mean time. Will it ever happen? When?

I am such a believer in "Everything happens for a reason." Things happen when they're supposed to, and all that jazz. But man this is frustrating.

I want to live in the moment, and have been more able to lately. But it also would be nice if I knew for sure that this was going to work eventually. We don't have any reasons as to why it's not, other than the fact that there's only about a 20% success rate for each IUI. Just the way it goes. But good golly, Miss Molly... it's almost heartbreaking.

I think I am somewhat scared to start up again. I am a sucker for believing in things whole-heartedly and having my hopes up WAYYYY too high. Positivity is a good thing but I go overboard and then when things hit the fan, I fall hard. I crash and burn. I think I now have a wall up and each failed cycle has added another layer to the wall. No house made of sticks and twigs here. This baby's made of bricks and steel. I don't want to be hurt month after month again. I need to go into the next cycle (whenever we decide that to be) with a much more "whatever' attitude. But when I'm being shot up with fertility meds and gambling our money each month, it's freaking hard not to.  I wish one isolated encounter, involving JUST Scott and I, could result in baby-making success. But that's just not the case. Can't change it, can only change how I deal with it, how I react, and where I take it from here.

But all I keep coming back to is: It's just frustrating.

I don't really know the point of this post. Just venting some frustration I think. Not trying to sound like a whiner and a cry baby, even though I'm aware that I do completely sound like both. 

As Christmas approaches faster and faster, I know the reminder is going to hit harder and harder. For about a week, I believed I was pregnant and having a baby around Christmas. December 27th would have been the due date, to be exact. Early miscarriage or not, it was still a hard loss for us. Christmas marks the 3 year mark since we started trying officially, off birth control and ready to jump right in. Christmas still marks that, and now will also mark the point of what could have been. Instead, this Christmas, we will have an angel looking down on us. We will also FINALLY have our first non-retail Christmas season in what feels like forever. For the first time since 2001, Scott is no longer working in retail. This was well before we were married, so this will be our first REAL, NORMAL holiday season. We've dreamt about it forever and it seemed like it would never happen. But it's finally here. No black Friday shifts. We are starting to experience what weekends off together are really like, and we are excited to spend the holiday season 100% together, no holiday shifts in place. I guess that's a good trade-off, since we will need each other's support more and more. 

Needless to say, we won't be starting up the IUI process again until after the new year. Time to be determined still. Not exactly loving the thought of having to drive an hour to the clinic early before school AND with crummy winter weather on the way... so we shall see what we end up deciding when January rolls around. 

As always, thanks for reading. We are always touched by the love of our supportive family & friends.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pieces of Me... IUI Cycle #4, in Photos

"The most difficult times cause you to grow the most." 

So we all know round 4 of IUI failed, and we are taking a break from fertility treatments for a bit. 

A break from medications that make me feel crazy, give me intense headaches, and make me miserable. A break from self-injections and facing my needle fears. A break from taking these meds at a specific time each night, no matter our life plans (Thankfully I was able to do all while home so far, but if we kept going this month, I would have had to do an injection at the Shakespeare festival, I would have had to miss the first day of school, and who knows what else). A break from driving 50 mins to the clinic multiple times, all between the hours of 7 and 8 am. If a school morning, that means getting up at 5, leaving by 5:45 to ensure I arrive at the clinic around 6:35 to try and be the first person (1st come, 1st serve- they open at 7), so I can leave no later than 7:20 and drive 50 mins to work and pray I make it in time. Doing the walk of shame and walking into school at the same times as the kids, or even 1-2 mins later is a very stressful situation, as I am usually one of the first people at school, a whole 20-30 mins before we need to contractually be there. A break from wishing my life away in 2-week increments. Each cycle was measured by 2 weeks that I wanted to fly- the first two to fly so IUI time could arrive... the 2nd two to fly so I could see if I was pregnant or not. The whole summer was that way, and now it's long gone, a distant memory. 

A break from stress. A time for Scott & I to rebuild our relationship and focus on US... Just the two of us, and nothing else. Only things that serve us and make us happy (individually and together). 

Almost a month after the last failed cycle, I've experienced all kinds of crazy emotions. Denial. Anger. Near-depression. Frustration. Deep sadness. Confusion.... then finally acceptance and positivity. Positivity that we will be okay. We can take this time to build on ourselves and become better as a couple. Take time to have fun and kind of start over again. Not letting this ridiculous infertility ride define us and consume us like it was. Learning to not take every coincidence as a sign of something certain. A rainbow is just that, a really cool sight and something beautiful in the sky. It doesn't mean a positive pregnancy test is happening right now. Hopefully it's coming, but I can't allow myself to be all-consumed by the coincidences in life. Smile at them, acknowledge them, and then let them float on by. 

Anyone that knows me, knows I take a ZILLION photos... really. Sometimes a zillion in one day. haha. I drive my friends and family crazy with the things I take pictures of, I've been the selfie queen since before the selfie trend was even a thing. I've documented each IUI process in pics, (meds, things I've done, day of, etc.) hoping each time would be THE time, and I could keep these pics as souvenirs and memories of the journey. But each time it fails, I'm asked what I'll do with the pics. Keep them or trash them? I can't part with pics of anything, so for now they're all stored on my phone or computer. Maybe some day I'll share them all, but I thought I would def share those of this past cycle because it was the most intense. 5 nights of injections, and much more. 

So, here we go... a recap of the 4th and most recent IUI process, in photos. They're all in order, from pretty much the whole month of August. Enjoy! 

Welcome to the big leagues... Meds, meds, and more meds... 1st time getting the monster sharps container~ EEEK!! 

Rx of Femarra (Letrozole)... Headache city. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually tolerated Clomid better in terms of physical effects and moods.

Motherload of Sharps containers... No hiding this bad boy!

Gonal-F Redi-ject pen... Follicle Stimulating Meds. 4 nights of this!!! 

A sign from my mama sits on our kitchen windowsill, as a great reminder. :)

Day 1 of injections~ Here we go!! 

HAHAHA!!!! It's true... Now this isn't just a fun Zumba/dancing song, it's my anthem for getting pumped up before injections!!! #loser 

This bad boy is empty... One step down. 5 pills done.

I was feeling pretty excited about keeping my toned muscles that I worked so hard for prior to this cycle.... *Spoiler alert: Little did I know those freaking meds and my emotions would cause me to gain those pounts right back, faster than I took them off. (*Sigh*). No pic now, it's just chub-a-lub. But this is motivation. :) I'm working on getting it back. Don't judge- I'm little, 5-10 pounds can make or break me and the way my clothes fit. 

Self-explanatory. Our rainbow will come. 

Some sources of inspiration... my good luck charms. 

Up-close look at the Gonal-F needle... Really tiny, I know. It honestly isn't that bad. But every time I see this and have to stick it in my belly, I scream and shout inside, and it makes me super nervous!

Day 2~ Gotta laugh it off. Only fair. 

Heard this is a good fertility food (drink). So, drinking a glass each day became a part of my routine. I love pom-flavored stuff, but man this stuff is strong. 

Not a fertility food... but a HIGHLY recommended emotional/Happy food! :) 
DELICIOUS stuff... every flavor is simply incredible!

HAHAHA.... A little inside humor with the TTC girls and guys, as they are probably the only ones who know the meaning of this. ;)

Amen.... And silly us. "Insurance covers unlimited IUI..." This is only partially true. We realized that we still had to dish out between $1,000 and $1,500 a cycle. Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful my insurance plan covers the bulk of it. But here's what's NOT covered and what we spent each cycle: *
*1 Vial of sperm (2 needed on hand each cycle, 1 as a backup): approx. $750
*$20 copay each visit (blood draws, ultrasound, etc)- approx. $60+
*Sperm thaw: $75
*IUI copay: $25
*Co-pay on all meds: $50+
*Acupuncture: $100/visit (about 3-4 visits a cycle)
...Not to mention all the money we dished out on Scott's urologist appointments, surgery, procedures, semen analyses, blood draws, follow-ups, testosterone treatments, etc. 

*This is in no way a plea for help. We are financially stable and I'm so fortunate Scott is so money conscious, smart, and thrifty! If I was in charge, we would surely be in debt. Let's just say I like to spend money. :( I am getting better though!! :) :) 

So, a break from IUI also means SAVING MONEY!!! :) :) YAY!

I try to turn anything into a photo-op! :) 
Attaching a new needle cap to my injection pen. 

Day 3! Getting better each time! Becoming a pro!! :)

Amazing book I started reading during cycle 3, in July. The Two Week Wait.
I recommend it, even to you naturally fertile people. It's a good read. :)

Day 4!! :) Grow, follicles, grow!
(I went for an ultrasound that morning~ they initially said 3 days of shots, but the Dr. wanted my 2 follicles to grow one more day. So another round of shots it was!)

Fingers crossed!! Please let this work.
*Photo-bombed by Kokopelli, fertility god.
(I don't think he likes me too much)

Trigger shot time! My old buddy, Ovidrel. I had done this shot 3x before. Piece of cake each time!

Even though I had been the most used to this shot... I FREAKED this time. It was about 4x as much liquid than the ones I had done earlier in the week, so suddenly it seemed way harder! I also had to jab myself almost twice because I tensed up and it didn't go in at first. 

Stick a fork in it~ that's a wrap!! At the time, I was celebrating and hoping this was THE last time I would need any injections for the baby-making process... #fool. Shame on me. But pretty cool pic of all the needle and needle caps. 

Scott is my rock. He's been SO good on shot nights, Every. Single. Time. 
Always patient with me. Always supportive. Thank you. <3 

Holding the Ovidrel and ready for go time.
Super freaked out! But these pics pump me up and make me feel strong. 
(See the bloat kicking in... damn you, meds. I miss my semi-flat stomach)

*~* A little advice. *~*

*IUI DAY... on the road to Norwalk, CT at like 6:30am*

*Go-time!! "Just keep swimming..."
The procedure itself takes literally 2 minutes. Then you lay there for about 5 mins, and you're good to go. 

Rocking my new custom #TeamRicci tank... <3 <3


Fresh pineapple & pineapple core is always a staple for the first 5 days of the two-week wait. The core is said to have an enzyme that makes your uterine lining somewhat sticky, helping the embryo attach. I love pineapple anyway, so always figured it couldn't hurt.

One of my closest friends (and coworkers- lucky me!!) painted sand dollars with her son while on vacation in FL (during our two-week wait... little did she know), and she painted the one on the left in honor of Scott & I, and the rainbow baby we are so patiently waiting for. Love you, Jess! <3 #blessed

During the 2-week wait, it's best to stay busy!! I spent a weekend at my aunt's house in Long Island, hanging with some of my fav cousins. 2 of them surprised me with this new addition to my Alex & Ani collection, because it's a symbol for fertility. Thanks Janine & Britt, I love you guys! <3

A few days later came the Big, Dark storm cloud. I felt like Eeyore with a cloud following me wherever I went. I was not my usual perky, positive self... 

Totally how I felt. Like I (we) hit rock bottom. 

My cousin, Heather, sent me this in a text. I know she LOVES Starbucks and shopping... so this was super cute and sweet! <3

EXACTLY how I felt... Grrrrr. Screw you, baby Nazi. 

My sweet, sweet, friend, Gemma (an IG sis from Australia!) sent me this as a wonderful reminder and pickup. It really sums it all up perfectly. We have been trying to be parents for just about THREE YEARS soon... and a lot of friends are becoming new parents, having more kids, getting pregnant right away, and I keep feeling left behind in the dust. BUT, it's not how far we still have to go, it's where we've come from, what we know now, and how we'll move forward with it. 

My horoscope 2 days after knowing the cycle failed... Ironic how spot on it was. 
By this time, I had realized that the blessing in disguise was putting everything else on hold, throwing it all in the backseat, and focusing on my relationship with Scott. It's like this is what we needed in order to not lose ourselves together. 

We had a BBQ with some close friends, already scheduled. The last thing I wanted to do was be around anyone, but I allowed myself to drink a lot and just feel the emotions. My BFF, Alli (& her hubby/daughter) brought us these beautiful flowers. Nothing like some best friends to show support. It turned out to be just what I needed. 

My lesson in all of this. Scott is the one who will always be there, front and center, for it all. 15 years strong, it's always been, and always will be, just the two of us. Even after we've had our baby(babies) and they've grown and moved on, Scott is the one who will, God-willing, be there at the end of the day. LOVE comes first. All you need is Love~ Love is all you need. 

I have been blown away by the support circle around US (me~ a lot has been focused on me, which I think is only human nature. Scott feels a little left out at times when things are geared only to me and not us, or to him, as we are experiencing this together). With that being said, there still has been a lot of amazing support, for both of us/and for me. Regardless of what kind it is, it's been 1000000% appreciated and all unexpected. 

One day, I came home to this gem in the mail. A little package and sweet note from my sister-in-law. It's upside-down in the pic, but it's an angel wing. "Everyone should have an angel wing", to protect and watch over us, and to bring good luck. It's hand-crafted and is from her friend's gift shop in FL. 

Came across this and my heart just breaks for Scott whenever this happens. He has SUCH a big, caring heart, and a special spot for kids. My heart is so full seeing him with our friends' kids, or with nieces/nephews, but man does it also break at the same time. I want nothing more than to be able to give him a baby of our own. It still doesn't seem fair that we can't make babies together, but I have to keep hoping that this is his super power. His amazing heart will allow him to accept and love our baby, no matter its biological makeup. 

Amen. Pure truth. Nothing more. 
We fight hard for our marriage. We don't always see eye to eye. We argue. We have ups and downs. But at the end of the day, we are so in love with each other and want nothing else. That's commitment. <3

Knock me down, but I always get up. Fall down 7 times, get up 8. 

Whether that rainbow is in the form of a baby or a stronger, happier marriage (or both!), I know we'll be okay in the end. 

This was always a song I LOVED from the instant I first heard it (on the USA gymnastics team commercial for the summer olympics 2 years ago), and I always thought it would be THE perfect pregnancy song "I'm gonna make this place your home" (as in, my uterus... haha).  As much as that will still apply when the time comes, I'm now applying it to Scott & me. Sticking together and making our marriage our home. Staying together as we roll down this crazy, winding, sometimes scary road. 

Finally.... CRAZY, HAPPY, ZUMBA. I started it over 4 years ago, and even though I'm not as 100% into it like I was when I started, it's still my first love when it comes to exercise and fitness. It gave me confidence, rhythm, burns crazy calories, and makes me happy to dance like a fool. No more being held back from working out by fertility meds and taking forced breaks. That only got me extra chub in my problem areas (trust me, I have them). Time to get back to me. Stress relief. Fun. Movement. 

The End... for now. :)