Friday, December 31, 2010

Halcyone's First Christmas


Opening a gift from Grandma J.


Sleeping in her new fuzzy quilt from Grandma J.

We had a fun Christmas with Halcyone. I'm not sure she cared about much more than the Christmas lights on the tree... she loves to stare at them!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snowy Leavenworth

Last Saturday we finally made a Christmas Leavenworth trip! We'd been talking about how we wanted to do this ever since we got married, but somehow never managed to fit it into the busy season. This year our friend Scott had the sense of mind to put it together before everyone's schedules filled up. We drove over in our full Subaru, enjoying the views along Highway 2 and the snow on our way.





We arrived at lunchtime and decided to eat at Gustav's. We decided we'd just order what sounded good and get German food for dinner. Hmm, we had amazing fish and chips which meant we ended up too full to have that dinner. While we were eating it started snowing. We walked through the town, stopping in a few shops. The hat shop and the cheese shop both had lines. We skipped the hat shop, but the cheese shop was a must. How did Tom and I not know that it was there?! We got some garlic cheese and some amazing Gouda! We stood in a 30+ person line at Starbucks, visited the Australian shop and the Gingerbread House, and watched the tree-lighting ceremony.

Haly did great! She slept on me in her Moby wrap for most of the day, only crying when she got hungry or needed a diaper change.

On our way home we stopped at the Alps candy and chocolate shop. How does one choose from all those options? We ended up finding a few gifts and some mints for ourselves.

2 Months

Here are the 2 month pictures! We almost forgot to take them, which is why she is sound asleep!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

8 Weeks Already?!

It seems like the last 8 weeks have flown past! Halcyone is growing so quickly and discovering new things each day! Below are a few picture of the past couple weeks. Sorry we haven't updated the blog more!

What has Haly been up to you may wonder? Well...
  • Visited Snoqualmie Falls during the flooding with Dad, Mom, and Uncle Dave
  • Gained 3 lbs since birth
  • Started giggling in her sleep
  • Grabbed a Christmas light on our tree
  • Took a 7.5 hour nap?!
  • Discovered she likes to sleep in the Moby Wrap while Mommy sews or makes dinner
  • Read Mommy's favorite childhood book with Daddy




Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful

I know this is a day or so late, but here's a list of things I'm thankful for this year. First, a picture of Halcyone's first Thanksgiving!
  • Jesus who gives grace that saved me
  • Tom, the best husband
  • Halcyone, the sweetest little girl
  • Good health for all of us, even with Haly's low white cells
  • 2 great friends who I spend a lot of time with, Heather and Rebecca
  • Caffeine Free Coke, tastes good and helped calm a lot of morning sickness
  • Arty-crafty things
  • Music, Plumb and Owl City are my current favorites
  • Our bed! Hospital beds are so uncomfy... who designs those things?
  • Books to read while pumping in the middle of the night. Currently I'm enjoying the second to last Narnia book and Treasuring God in Our Traditions.
  • Snow, so pretty!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

1 Month

Yesterday was Halcyone's one month anniversary of her birth! Today we went in for her one month check-up. Below is a picture (in which she's not too happy to be awake) and some information we gleaned from her doctor.
  • She now weighs 6 lb 6 oz - 3rd percentile, but a good gain from her low of of 4 lb 5 oz a few days post-birth.
  • She measures 18.25 inches - 3rd percentile for height, also confirms they included her cone shape in her initial birth length of 18.5 inches.
  • She should be spending at least 15 minutes playing on her tummy each day so that her strength keeps up with her rapid weight gain.
  • Her white blood cell count is back down again to 1100 - The doctor says this is ok, but still low. So... she's still not supposed to be around people who are sick. We'll get a recheck next month.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Busy Haly

Halcyone had a weekend of firsts!

On Saturday, she went to her first sit-down restaurant.  Spaghetti Factory!


Not terribly impressed.

This coincided with meeting great-uncle Rod and great-aunt Rita for the first time!


She also went to her first book store, and her first fire station.  At the fire station, they confirmed that she is now big enough to ride in her own car seat!


Testing the new seat into Redmond, we visited the Day's for games and TV.  Another first was 'playing her first game': She helped hold daddy's hand of cards.

Today, she got her first real bath.


Rounding off the weekend was a trip to church.  On the way home, another first: a screaming car ride.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Surprise!

My sister, Kelly, surprised us with a visit to meet little Halcyone this weekend! My brother emailed us last week asking if he could bring someone over he wanted us to meet for lunch and a game of Carcassonne on Saturday. We said sure, thinking he must have met a special girl. When the doorbell rang, Tom opened the door and there he was with Kelly! We had a great afternoon of nachos and table games, followed by a fun dinner at my parents' house that evening. Everyone got a little Haly snuggle!




On Monday Kelly and my mom came over and we decided to try a trip to Bellevue Square to walk, look at a few things, and get lunch together. I pulled out our stroller, figured out how to use it, and we were off. Haly seemed to like the stroller... it put her to sleep. Kelly and I enjoyed looking in a few shops. I was looking for a couple more preemie outfits for Haly. Penny's doesn't carry that size! We saw some super cute outfits at Janie and Jack, but decided to keep looking due to the price. On our way through Nordstrom to meet my mom for lunch I decided to look in their baby girl section. They had a section of preemie outfits for $9.95 that were slightly longer than the ones she's been wearing. Perfect! After lunch and looking through the Brass Plum and the preemie outfits again, Kelly needed to head to the airport. It was a great surprise visit. We can't wait to see her and Alex again in a few weeks!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

11 Day Update

Today we took Halcyone to the pediatrician for her 1 week follow-up appointment. As Tom put it, this was more of an assurance check for the parents than a check-up for Haly! She has gained back most of the weight she lost after birth. She started at 4lb 10oz, dropped to 4lb 4oz, and is now at 4lb 9.5oz! Her doctor said this is good progress. We had to get another blood test done and got a little education on dealing with diaper rash. Other than that, nothing big happened.

The past few days have been so good, being back at home and having a little freedom. I can do so much more now that I'm not on bed rest! It was great to be able to vacuum, clean the bathroom, and make dinner this week. I've also ventured out to Target and the grocery store with Haly.

A few things Haly has done this week:
  • watched her first movie: Iron Man 2
  • rolled from back to tummy
  • got a mohawk, styled by Daddy
  • did not eat bacon, even though Daddy talked to her about it
  • went shopping at Babies R Us
  • went to church
Below are a few picture we've taken over the past few days. Hope you enjoy them!





Saturday, October 23, 2010

Here's How it Went Down

After being told on Friday that they were going to try to keep Haly growing on the inside for at least another week, the plan changed on Saturday morning. The hospital needed me to meet 2 risk conditions to consider sooner induction. I had high blood pressure that was somewhat manageable with medications, but was still feeling awful, and was having a hard time sleeping because of all the extra fluid in my neck. By this time I almost couldn't walk because all the fluid in my legs and feet meant I almost couldn't bend my ankles or knees. On Saturday morning I reviewed my insulin usage and discovered that it had been cut in half for the previous 2 days... not a good sign. This is generally an indication that the placenta is starting to shut down and stop feeding the baby as it should. When Dr. de Regt came in to check on things that morning and found out about the insulin usage, she said we needed to start an induction in half an hour.

I was moved across the hall from a smaller room to a labor and delivery room. The nurse started my IV with fluid, petocin, and magnesium at about noon. The contraction monitor started showing that I was having contractions, but I was unable to feel them. Every half hour they would dial up the petocin dose. Dr. de Regt came to check on me and suggested breaking my water at 7pm. Tom and I them started a movie, but about half an hour in my contractions were becoming pretty uncomfortable and I couldn't concentrate. Instead we went for a little walk. While it was probably helpful, it wasn't any more comfortable!

Back in our room I spent the next few hours sitting in a big purple easy chair, working through the contractions as they got more intense. It helped to have a cheery nurse who was talking with Tom about people they both knew from school. Having something to listen to with my eyes closed seemed to make the time go by faster.

Eventually I thought I couldn't handle the contractions any more and started trying to talk both myself and Tom into asking for an epidural. I didn't really want one because I knew it would be much healthier for Halcyone if I didn't get one, and the recovery would be better for me as well. I was under the impression from our birth class that if I didn't start getting sick and being unable to communicate or think well that I wasn't approaching the transition stage (8-10cm of 10 total). I wasn't feeling sick and I was still very able to answer questions and think through what I was doing, especially regaurding my insulin pump. (I opted to continue using my insulin pump instead of getting insulin through an IV for labor because I was more confident in my ability to control my blood sugar than someone who doesn't live with diabetes every day.) I thought this meant that I was no where near the peak of what the pain could be. The nurse checked my cervix and said I was at about 8cm. Tom suggested using a small amount of narcotic instead of an epidural. This worked enough to very slightly dull the pain that I didn't feel quite like I was dying every 2 minutes.

Up to this point Tom had been reminding me or checking my blood sugar every hour. So far things were going really well. My numbers were staying around 90-110. I kept cutting back my insulin rate each hour as well and was being allowed to drink juice if I felt like the number was falling too quickly. I had also been allowed to eat lunch and drink a Jamba Juice that afternoon, something I had been told would likely not happen. Apparently doctors don't like it when you have that much food in your stomach. I knew I wanted to eat because I would need the energy. The doctor told us that labor burns 1000 calories an hour and is comparable to running a marathon!

It was probably less than an hour to get from 8 to 10cm, but the last bit was hard to get through because it felt like I needed to push Haly out already. About 2am Sunday morning the nurse verified that I'd reached 10cm, they wheeled me to the operating room where Dr. de Regt was waiting. Apparently it is hospital policy that anyone at 35 weeks of gestational age or less has to deliver in the OR. They would have more room for Haly's team of doctors to evaluate her and be in the right location if at any point she became stressed and needed to be delivered via c-section. The OR was so cold and bright compared to the labor and delivery room... 63 degrees! The nurse told me they keep it that cold to keep germs from growing.

After slightly more than 2 hours of pushing Halcyone arrived! Her heartrate never got unhappy during pushing, something that seemed to surprise the doctor. The doctor let me hold her for a minute before her team of NICU help took her across the room for evaluation. Her APGAR score was initially an 8, but went up to a 9 at 5 minutes. The doctors were expecting her to need oxygen or some other sort of continued NICU care for a few weeks because she arrived 5 weeks early, but she didn't! Tom went up to NICU with Haly for her required 4 hour evaluation. He fed her a couple bottles, talked with her, and helped her get her blood sugar and PKU checks.



My doctor stitched me up and finally got my bleeding to slow down, then sent me back to my labor and delivery room. Our doula stayed with me until my mom arrived. I slept for about 50 minutes. Tom got to come back down to our room with Halcyone after 4 and a half hours. When he gave her to me she smiled when she heard my voice and we finally got a nice snuggle.



I had to stay on my petocin and magnesium IV for another 24 hours to control my blood pressure. It seemed to have stabilized, so I was discharged on Tuesday. By Friday my blood pressure was running high again, so a visit to my doctor was in order. She prescribed more medications and said to call in over the weekend if it didn't get better.

Haly's blood work showed that she had a high bilirubin level on Monday, so we ended up in the pediatric unit with her under the bili lights for about 30 hours. It was so hard to see her sad and crying but not be allowed to pick her up. We discovered she's a baby who loves to be held and suggled with. We got to take her out for about 20 minutes of feeding time every 3 hours.Haly got to leave the bili lights at 2am on Wednesday. She had a follow up blood test that allowed her to be discharged around noon on Wednesday. Along the way they discovered that one of her neutrophil/white blood cell count was super low. This meant that she was at high risk of infection. A follow-up blood test on Thursday showed that these cells had tripled. She's still pretty susceptible to bacterial infections, but at least getting better at fighting them! We had to borrow a friend's car seat that can safely hold a smaller baby than ours, but Haly passed her car seat test and we were on our way home!

It's been so nice to be at home! I realized that yesterday was the first day I've driven or made dinner in a long time! It feels so good to not be on bedrest anymore. We're both loving taking care of Haly and spending lots of time cuddling her. We thank God for her health and life all the time. She's just perfect for our family.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Halcyone Has Arrived!


Halcyone Marie
Born Sunday 10.17.10, 4:16AM
4 lb 10 oz, 18.5 inches

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The latest from Floor 2

It seems we are in residence at Evergreen until Halcyone arrives!

On Thursday, Stacy and Haly had a checkup.  Because Stacy's blood pressure has been climbing again, the doctors decided to keep them for monitoring.  As Stacy got settled, I retrieved the luggage packed for just such an occasion and we turned in for the night.

After a good rest, today was quite busy.  A number of care providers came and went: Maternal-Fetal doctor, Primary doctor, NICU charge nurse, Diabetes care specialist, Dietitian, and Social worker (I am probably forgetting a few...).  The most eventful thing that happened was the removal of Stacy's cerclage.  It's always exciting when a doctor says "This should be easy. Hopefully we wont need an epidural!" before you are even in labor.  Thankfully it was indeed easily removed with relatively no residual pain.  During the down time between visits from staff and family, Stacy was able to sleep a bit too!

Over the past day and a half, the doctors have gone back and forth about what course to take.  As of dinner time, we were told that the current plan was to induce bright and early in the morning, pending test results.  After the tests came in at 10PM, there was a new plan: Because Stacy and Haly are doing so well, considering, we will not be inducing tomorrow unless something exciting (read: Bad) happens.  We don't know if this mean that Sunday is a go for sure, or if we are just on a day-to day basis.  More on this as we learn of it...

Perhaps the best part of this visit has been the diabetes care. Between Stacy's diligent glucose management (much helped by assistants Dexcom and Ping), and a new draft hospital protocol, the doctor's orders allow her full management of her own care.  In the past we have had to deal with everything from being awoken every hour (or less) for a glucose check that was unnecessary due to the Dexcom, to arguing with nurses about how much insulin Stacy needs at any particular moment (not comfortable when the dose they are insisting on would cause harm).  This time she has been able carry out her own diabetes management: allowing the nurses to focus on Haly and blood pressures and Stacy to sleep/rest peacefully.  We may need to change plans quickly depending on the direction labor takes, but for now, the freedom the new policy allows has been FANTASTIC! (Can you tell I'm enthused about it?)

So, Stacy is asleep: resting up for what has been a, and undoubtedly will become more, busy weekend, and I should do so as well!

Goodnight!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Haly and Me

Here we are at 34 weeks!


Friday, October 8, 2010

33, Going Much Better!

This past week has been a much better week baby-wise! I got to be home all week, with 3 doctor appointments.

The current set-up is to have a beginning of the week appointment with my delivery OB, Dr. Chien, who does a non-stress test to make sure Haly is doing well. Then at the end of the week I follow up at the Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic for an ultrasound, another non-stress test, and a doctor chat. This week I also had my third trimester eye check to make sure I'm not showing any signs of diabetic retinopathy, and I'm not! The doctors are now saying they will induce me at 37 weeks if Haly isn't here by then and that if I go into labor before then, they won't try to stop it again. I'm back on bed rest because my blood pressure is still being a little silly and to help minimize the foot swelling. So far it hasn't been bad. I've been working on a few sewing projects, the same knit sweater I've been plugging away at for the last 4 months, and putting together our baby announcements and Christmas cards. Below is a picture from today's ultrasound at 33 weeks, 6 days.


Last Saturday my cousins threw a fun baby shower for little Halcyone at my Mom's house. Haly is going to be one well-dressed little newborn! She also got her first doll from my Grandma.



Friday, October 1, 2010

What a Week 32 Has Been...

Last weekend marked the start of week 32 for baby Haly. It also became the start of a few multi-day hospital stays! On Thursday when I went in for my maternal-fetal-medicine appointment everything looked great except for my blood pressure, which was a little on the high side. The doctor I saw prescribed a medication to reduce both blood pressure and stop contractions that I may have. I started the medicine on Friday night and woke up Saturday with a horrendous headache and pain in my eyes that made it feel like they were going to explode. We called our doctor who said to go to the hospital and get checked out by labor and delivery since headache, eye pain, and my (still) high blood pressure are all signs of preeclampsia.

While I was in the triage area they hooked me up to a contraction and baby heartbeat monitor. Haly's heartbeat was happy, but at some point I started having contractions that I was not able to feel. They decided that since most of the blood pressure and anti-contraction medications are not great for a diabetic they would give me an IV drip of magnesium and start the 2-injection course of steroids to help develop Haly's lungs in case she came early. They also gave me morphine to help control my headache. That magnesium is some crazy stuff! They started me off on a big dose that helped get things under control, but also made me feel super warm and rubbery. I could hardly walk a couple steps without help for the next few hours and needed a fan blowing directly on my face from a foot away.

On Sunday morning I started having contractions again, although I was able to feel them a little this time. They decided to give me another bolus of magnesium and finish the lung steroids that afternoon. Because of the fuzziness the magnesium gave me, I can't remember exactly when, but at some point they became concerned about how dynamically Haly's heartbeat would change. They decided on Monday to keep me so they could continue monitoring her.

By Tuesday I was starting to feel a little more "normal" and they were happy with where my contractions were at, my blood pressure, and Haly's heartbeat. They let me go home! However, I started having regularly timed contractions that evening that were getting more intense and had to go back to the hospital. The contractions continued getting worse for about 7 hours. The doctor on call determined they weren't really doing anything and that it would be best if I could sleep. He gave me some sort of relaxing drug and morphine. I did sleep as the contractions started to ease up.

On Wednesday they did an ultrasound and decided they were right about the contractions not doing anything even though I was still having them. They put me on another form of the same medication for blood pressure and contractions that initially gave me the massive headache, but kept me to make sure I wouldn't react negatively.

On Thursday I got to go home again! That night was a success; far fewer contractions, lots more sleep, and better food! I'm back on bedrest to keep my "irritable uterus" happy. (Yes, that's really what they call it!)

Today I went in for a maternal-fetal-medicine check-up. Again, my blood pressure was a bit elevated, but everything else looked great! They asked me to increase my medication and keep checking blood pressures at home. Now we're hoping to get through the weekend without incident. One of my doctors said our goal should be to get Haly to at least 35 weeks. Below is one of the pictures from today's ultrasound. The tech says Haly has chubby cheeks and hair on her head! She's estimated to weigh about 4 pounds and 3 ounces. Thank you to everyone who has been helping us and praying for us!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall Soup

I've been planning to make soup with some squash and other veggies I picked up earlier this week. Yesterday the doctor told me that I need to cut sodium out of my diet for the sake of my blood pressure, so Tom and I decided we should look into low sodium broths at the grocery store on our way home. Interestingly, Campbells, Progresso, and a couple other "main" brands that carry low sodium options still have about 25% of a person's daily intake value in one cup! We found that Safeway's Organics brand has only 6%!


Recipe:

Use any veggies you want, really. Below is what I happened to throw in.
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled & seeded, cut into about 2" chunks
  • 1/2 delicata squash, peeled & seeded, cut into about 2" chunks
  • 2 red potatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 yam, cut into about 2" chunks
  • 1 large onion, sliced like an apple
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled & crushed
  • 3 large carrots, peeled & cut into 3" segments
  • 1/4 adobo pepper from a can - These things are HOT. I tried using a whole one once, but we couldn't eat the soup. Now I open a can, cut a section off for the soup, and a freeze the rest for a later date. For some reason the freezing also makes them hotter.
  • 2 32oz. containers of chicken broth (Veggie would work too!)
After all the peeling, washing, and slicing is done, place everything in a large pot with the chicken broth. You pretty much want it full of veggies, no extra room in the liquid. Boil for about 20 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree everything. Boil lightly for a while longer to get the consistency you want. The longer you boil, the thicker it will get.


Serving suggestions: add sour cream if it's too spicy for you, add salsa, add pesto if you want a greener flavor, or Tom's favorite: cilantro.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Embryo Adoption Luncheon

This Sunday, the church that supports our adoption agency held a service and luncheon to showcase embryo adoption and provide a chance for people considering, or in, the adoption process to meet and visit.  There were several cool aspects to this event.

In attendance was Dr. Theresa Deisher of AVM Biotech in Seattle.  She is an expert in stem cell therapy and an advocate for ethical stem cell research.  She spoke briefly on the ethics, economics, and issues in her field.  Of particular note was the amount of money and time spent on adult vs. embryonic cells, and the availability of treatment.  Apparently, the US has spent quite a bit of money and time on embryonic cell research, and has very little to show for it.  Conversely, in less time and for less money, other counties have performed clinical human trials with adult stem cells showing marked success.  I will attempt to do more research and write more on this as I learn.

King 5 was also there, and they produced a short news segment.



The part with me talking came out a little out of context.  Stacy and I howled with laughter when we saw it the first time.  We have had great number of ultrasounds, which as been a very cool opportunity to see Halcyone growing up.  At 9 weeks, she was the same size, and looked very similar to a gummy bear (actually, according to Wikipedia, she was pretty much exactly the same size).  We had seen a heartbeat on ultrasound several weeks before, but at the gummy-bear appointment she was waving her tiny arms and legs, hence my amusing 2 seconds of animated camera time...



The most fun part of the afternoon was meeting people in various stages of the adoption process.  A couple that just had a baby flew out from Chicago for the luncheon and to dedicate their son.  Another couple, looking to learn more, drove up from Tacoma on short notice after hearing of the event.  Also at our table were a pair of 6 year-olds that were adopted as embryos, one of whom has still been 'born' for fewer years than he was in a freezer.  Several fast friendships were made and we all exchanged contact info to follow up on how everyone is doing in the future!

Thanks for Cedar Park Church and Pastor Fuiten for hosting and facilitating the speakers, event, and the adoption agency.
Thanks also to Maria Lancaster for putting the event together and running a program that is making an excellent impact in the lives of both parents and children.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Peach Scones

On our anniversary trip back in July, we stayed at a bed and breakfast that served us peach scones for breakfast. Since then, I've been keeping my eye out for a good recipe that would taste similar. After lots of googling and looking through various recipe books, I decided to mix a couple different recipes to get what I wanted. Tom thought a recipe that was based with heavy cream would be good, so that's what I started with.

Recipe:
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp.
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh peeled and chopped peaches
Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Prepare peaches and set aside. Mix cream, eggs, and vanilla together, then add to dry mix. Mix lightly until blended, gently add peaches and fold in.



On a floured surface, place 3" to 4" balls of dough. Flatten slightly, then slice into fourths. Place on baking sheet. Brush tops with heavy cream and sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Enjoy! (My batch made about 28 scones.) I served them with whipped cream and lemon curd.


How Our Family Started: New Beginnings

This is part 3 of 3 in a series on How Our Family Started.



On November 9, 2008, Embryo Adoption Services of Cedar Park (EASCP) was founded. On the 14th. they appeared on a local TV station, and on the 20th of the same month were featured in the Seattle Times.
~~~~

It's cool how chance (or Divinely ordered process) can totally alter your life: We were filling out paperwork for a local adoption agency and had stalled a few times. A relative saw the TV interview and showed us the newspaper article. After reading it, we were amazed: this seemed perfect! God had already prepared our hearts (and minds) for adoption, the method of doing so was now laid clear.

In considering why to choose this type of adoption over a standard one or IVF, the best analogy I have is the following: Suppose you encountered two shipwreck survivors. One is cold, wet, and in a lifeboat. The other is drowning in the water. Which would you throw a life-ring to? Any orphan or foster child is in a tragic place; They desperately need someone to love them, provide care, and pilot their desolate lifeboat to calmer waters. For an unborn child though, they will surely die without being adopted and cared for, choosing to throw them the life-ring was the obvious choice for us.

The next day after we saw the news article, I talked on the phone for a while with Maria L., the director of EASCP. Shortly after that, Stacy and I were able to teleconference with her to continue to get more information about their program. Praying for confirmation and certainty was almost synonymous with praising God for His grace in providing this opportunity for us.

It seemed as though the months were fllying past. After the holidays, we met in person with Maria to go over the process and complete more paperwork. In April, someone come out to do a home-study. In May, we did even more paperwork, including background check requests, reference letters, and a family profile. June saw the completion of the home-study. In July, we recieved exciting news: We had been matched with a family that had 6 embryos they wanted to donate.

Depending on the families participating in adoption, there is a varying level of contact between those donating and adopting. In our adoption, the donating parents want to remain anonymous to us. We were able to see pictures of the donating family, they also provided some medical information, and we will send a birth announcement to them through EASCP, but that is the extent of our contact.  We will see what the future holds.

In September we completed the next step: signing the adoption contract. Once the contract was complete and notarized, the embryos got packed into a cooler and traveled to SRM's cryo tanks on Lake Union (oddly enough, into the same building as The City, where a number of friends work).

During this time, there was a multi-cause delay. Our Dr. at SRM did an MRI to scope things out before doing the transfer. She suggested based on the MRI that Stacy have minor elective outpatient surgery. This was to correct something that might increase late-term miscarriage. Shortly after the MRI though, the DR went on maternity leave herself!
~~~~

November 2009 came. It had been one year since learning about embryo adoption.

~~~~

The soonest that Stacy could have her surgery was January. The procedure was uneventful, but required a two month timeframe to allow her to recover. After the two months were up, a significant drug regimen was begun, to prepare Stacy for the transfer. This included hormones administered orally, through patches, via subcutaneous injection, and intramuscular injection. Adjusting to giving these (Eeep!) and getting them (Ouch!), took some time, but was not too bad.

At the beginning of March, the drug cycle had reached 0-hour, and the first two embryos were thawed. Shortly after that, Stacy went in for a blood pregnancy test (POSITIVE!). We had already tried just about every test available from the store, each time just as pleased with the result.

As a side note, I tried geeking out on the hCG test levels each home pregnancy test was capable of registering, corresponding those to the clinic-measured blood hCG levels, and doing a curve fit to monitor progress and try to guess if both embryos had implanted.

An ultrasound soon showed that both of the embryos had indeed implanted. However, several weeks later, it became apparent that one of the twins would not survive. For the first ten weeks after the transfer, the drug regimen continued, and we waited with baited breath to see on ultrsound how the baby was growing at each clinic visit. Blogs of the pregnancy can be found atluceends.

It is now September again, Stacy is in week 31 of a tumultuous, but good pregnancy.  With God's grace, it will continue to go well.
~~~~

In November 2010, our daughter will be born.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How Our Family Started: Questions and Answers

This is part two in a series of three on How Our Family Started.

Normally making babies the standard way is inexpensive, straightforward, and fun. Any deviation from the norm raises a number of convoluted and difficult questions.

Now what?

Perhaps the most obvious question to ask next was: should we no longer plan to have a family? For some people, the answer to this is yes. For us, this was not really an option. We feel called to raise and care for children...

How do we proceed?

Medically, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was the only remaining choice. The process is pretty straightforward scientifically, but can be a scary glimpse into human nature. IVF is expensive; depending on your insurance it can be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Expenses aside, it is an ethical minefield. Usually, many more eggs are fertilized than a family would ever use. Often the embryos are "discarded" based on arbitrary standards. Finally, parents are encouraged, Gattica style, to screen for "optimal" genetics and/or gender. The only fathomable reason for us to choose IVF over other options was "to carry on the family line," a selfish and prideful proposition.

Adoption was the other possible choice. It too is expensive. Depending on the type it can cost less, or much more, than IVF. The process is long; scary legal issues can crop up. Overall it is a sure ticket for an emotional roller coaster. For these and other reasons we had reservations and concerns, but nevertheless started researching...

What type of adoption?

The three main types of adoption we considered were international, birth parent, and foster-to-adopt. The names are pretty self explanatory. An excellent local organization called Antioch Adoptions facilitates birth-parent and foster adoptions. Because they are local and subsidized we started looking into their program. We attended a class and started compiling and filling out the mountain of paperwork required.

Meanwhile a relative brought to our attention another, new, adoption agency. This one was offering something we had not heard of: Embryo Adoption...
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This will be continued in part 3: New Beginnings

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How Our Family Started: Prologue

This is the first installment of three on How Our Family Started.

Stacy and I met in High School. I had been praying fervently that I would meet my spouse soon, and in His divine and perfect irony, God granted my prayer: Both of us attended classes at the same co-op, but never spoke. Then Stacy graduated.

Two years went by...

We re-met at church. We had several mutual friends, which allowed us to strike up conversation. The conversations lead to a friendship, the friendship a relationship. After dating for 4 months and being engaged for 3, the relationship led to marriage.

While we were dating we attempted to discuss everything with full disclosure (Communication is a KEY component of a marriage). Stacy brought up that, for medical reasons, it might be difficult for us to have "our own" kids. This lead to us agreeing that, if this was the case, we were ok with adoption and that we both were interested in adopting, even if we did have "our own" children. While this was a true sentiment, we both did not grasp fully the implications or weight of either infertility or adoption.

After getting married in 2005, we did not immediately try to start a family. It wasn't until several months later that, between a better understanding of God's will and a convicting talk (ironically enough: about abstinence) at a high school retreat we were staffing, we changed our minds (It must be noted that abstinence was not the birth control method we were using...).

It was soon very clear that difficult was an understatement when it came to the chances of our getting pregnant. After a workup at the doctor and more than a year of trying low-key treatments, the physician indicated that the only option they had left to offer was IVF.

This left us confused, sad, and unsure of what to do next: infertility and miscarriage bring a pain that is hard to explain or deal with.

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You grieve for the children you might have had, or were carrying and lost. You grieve for feeling alone, or useless, broken, or to somehow to blame. You grieve when others who have children complain, or take them for granted. You grieve for the uncertainty of the future, the starkness of the present, and the dashed hopes of the past.

Frequently the pain is brought up sharply: "If you don't have children, get busy." "You've been marrried how long? Where are all the kids?" "I knew someone that ____ and then they found out they were pregnant!" Conversely, some people suggest that you are "not supposed to have a family," or even twist scripture to indicate that you are being punished.

Other times the trigger is subtle: Attending a wedding, and then the though of never giving away a daughter. Watching a sports game, and then the thought of never playing soccer with a son. A friend joyfully (and rightly so) announcing that they are expecting a child. Baby furniture received as a gift, still sitting empty.

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All that is you, your faith, identity, and being are tried and challenged.

Through this time, we did know that God still loved us and His plan for us had not changed, but it was still hard to always find joy in Him. Admittedly, the reponse to the pain of infertility easily turns to anger, jealousy, or defensiveness. Though sinful beings, hopefully Stacy and I have weathered the pain well and, through Jesus grace, to His glory.

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This will be continued in part 2: Questions and Answers

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thanks Mom!

My Mom sewed these cute cradle goodies for Haly! We got the cradle the day before I was admitted to the hospital a few months back. The plan had been for me to make a bumper and some sheets for it, but bed rest did not allow that! My Mom volunteered to sew them for us! I think it's the cutest cradle set I've seen!