Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Change of Subject

Tired of hearing about shots, estrogen and follicle counts? Me too! Let's change the subject.

Life marches on in spite of IVF injections and frequent doctor's appointments. Here's a little of what's been going on:

I was missing my Valentine's Day tulips, so I treated myself to a bouquet from the grocery store. Tess picked out a lovely purple bunch. We got home to find Ryan home early, with what else in hand, but a bunch of lovely white tulips!

Tess saw the white flowers and said, "Two flowers! Purple!" I had to explain to Ryan that I had bought myself the same gift. I don't know how he knew exactly what I wanted, but now I'm rolling in tulips! It's almost like spring!


"Self" is Tess' new favorite phrase, right after "Tess' turn" and "Mine." Tess wants to do everything herSELF. She likes to try and get dressed herSELF--pants, shirt, shoes and socks.

Tess is starting to have clothing preferences. She found this pair of strawberries bloomers from an old summer outfit and started calling them "beach pants." It's a little chilly for beach pants, so I let her wear them under her pants. You never know when the beach may beckon.

Tess loves to help me in the kitchen. One of her favorite things to make is "Pizza Pie." I don't know where she heard that term, but whenever I mention pizza she yells out "Pizza Pie!" I have to make sure to have plenty of toppings on hand because she usually eats her fair share before it makes it into the oven.

Tess is a good resource to tap when you don't know what to have for dinner. When I posed that question to her the other night, she came up with: "Corn. Peas. Fries. Popcorn. Strawberries. MM's dessert!" I went with the corn, peas and M&M's. Fries, popcorn and strawberries will have to be for another night.


Whether it's eating, sleeping or playing, Tess loves to have company along, usually in the form of babydoll or stuffed animal "friends."

Her bed is more of a toybox/bookcase than a restful retreat. Every night she insists on sleeping with her bedtime story, and she won't let us clear out any of the old stories. In addition to books, she has to sleep with 4 blankets, at least one water cup and several "friends." Whatever gets her through the night!


We've been spending a lot of time on puzzles lately. We check them out of the library and she practices all week. I'm impressed with Tess' skill and persistence in doing puzzles.

This is a pretty tough puzzle, and I was proud of her pushing through and finishing it. This is typical Tess behavior when she gets frustrated, but she's pretty well mastered this puzzle now.


Tess loves to draw several times a day. Her favorite subject is still faces. She absolutely cannot resist an open circle--if she sees one, she is compelled to draw eyes, a nose and mouth. Sometimes I draw circles so I can watch her eagerly finish them off. She also likes it when I draw a variety of monsters and leave the faces for her to fill in.

She has started pointing out that everyone has a "circle head." We'll be in the grocery store and she'll point to some unsuspecting old man, and Tess will say, "Look, Mommy! Circle head!" Then she'll draw a circle in the air like she's tracing the outline of his head.

Line down, line on top

Tess had a breakthrough tonight! I've been teaching her about the letter "T" for the past few days. I've been showing her how to draw a "T," with a line down and line on top. She could do the line down part, but she wasn't get the line on top. Tonight she broke out her markers and started filling the page with "T's."

That's enough distraction for one night. Shots are done & my mind's off it--until tomorrow morning at least.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bump It Up

I had my first monitoring appointment on the stimulation drugs today. Not much progress at this point. A rise in estrogen levels indicates that the follicles are beginning to grow. My estrogen went down.

Again, not much of a surprise. I didn't respond well to the drugs last time either, and I ended up having to do injections for longer than normal. I had hoped things might go more smoothly this time, but I didn't have any real reason to think they would.

So we bumped up the meds tonight. 300 units Gonal-f and 150 units Menopur. Appointment again Monday morning (reminder to self--find someone to watch Tess).

That Menopur burns going in. I don't remember it hurting so much last time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I finally got the go-ahead to start the stimulation drugs. Never thought I'd be so happy to get the news I can start stabbing myself with a needle twice every night.

Actually, Ryan still does the stabbing and it's really not all that bad. I'm just hoping the drugs do their job. Just in case I ever need to remember, I'm doing 225 units Gonal-f and 75 units Menopur.

The revised schedule is now tentatively:
  • shots through March 4th, with monitoring appts. every 3 days
  • "trigger shot" on March 5th (final shot that "triggers" eggs to mature for retrieval)
  • Egg retrieval (surgical procedure under anesthesia) on March 7th
  • Embryo transfer on March 10th or 12th
That's assuming everything goes as planned. Which it never does. So we can pretty much be certain that none of those dates will actually apply.

But you get the point. (Bad joke.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2010 Peeps Diorama Entry: "Butterstick Comes of Age"

A bit of background for the Washington Outsiders. This little guy has been Washington's sweetheart since he was born in 2005. He's named Tai Shan, but was dubbed "Butterstick" at birth because he weighed about as much as a stick of butter.

Per the Zoo's contract with China, Tai Shan was shipped to China this month to be a permanent installation of the country's panda breeding program. The Washington Post printed this article about Tai Shan's ominous fate.

My diorama depicts the panda parents' (both are Zoo residents) reactions to the article. Mother Mei Xiang is distraught. Father Tian Tian takes a practical approach in teaching Tai Shan about "The Birds and the Peeps."

Pandas are bunny Peeps covered in white and dark chocolate.

It hasn't been a great day for parenting, but a mighty fine one for diorama-making!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


My Peeps Diorama is going to be FABULOUS!

Monday, February 22, 2010


I'm still waiting for my estrogen and progesterone levels to drop low enough to start the stimulation phase of IVF.
I had an appointment on Fri.--too high.
And one today--going down, but still too high.
I'll go in again on Wed. to see if they've leveled out.

I'm not surprised, but a bit discouraged by my ultrasound results at this point in the cycle. The stimulation drugs don't "create" eggs (all of a woman's eggs exist at the time she is born--isn't that amazing?). The drugs only stimulate growth of the eggs you already have.

The ultrasound shows the number of antral follicles in each ovary, which is a good indicator for estimating the number of immature eggs that can potentially develop in the future.

A normal antral follicle count is between 15-30 follicles. My antral follicle count is 9, which is definitely on the low end of things.

Not really a surprise--my numbers were low last time around too.

The more I dredge up the details, the more I remember what an absolute miracle it is that we have Tess.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mommy Kiss

When Ryan leaves in the morning, he makes sure to give Tess a goodbye kiss.
After his kiss, Tess instructs him: "Mommy kiss."
She watches to make sure I get my Daddy kiss too.
Thanks for looking out for me, Tess.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hot Dog Snacks

Thanks, Laura, for noticing that an otherwise completely orange meal can be nutritionally balanced by the addition of Mickey's Clubhouse fruit snacks.

There's a story behind the fruit snacks, though.

While Tess was watching me on the computer last week, she pointed out an advertisement on the sidebar with a picture of Mickey Mouse. I was a little surprised when she recognized Mickey. We don't watch much of the Disney channel. She's seen The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse a handful of times--usually on a Saturday morning when PBS is showing Charlie Rose instead of Curious George.

But clearly she was familiar with Mickey, or so I thought until she started pointing to him and saying, "Hot dog! Hot dog! Hot dog!" over and over again.

"Yes, Tess, that's Mickey Mouse."

"Hot dog! Hot dog! Hot dog!," she repeated with emphatic pointing.

Hot dog? Hmmm. She started having hot dogs for lunch recently and she really likes them. Maybe she remembers eating hot dogs while watching Mickey?

Maybe Mickey & Minnie visited a hot dog stand in an episode?

Pluto kind of looks like a hot dog. So does Goofy, for that matter. Was she making some kind of insightful connection between processed lunch foods and corporate cartoon mascots?

It wasn't until the next Saturday morning that I put all the pieces together. When this came on the TV, it was like a light bulb went off in my head.

So, when Tess spotted these in the store and started pleading for "Hot dog snacks! Hot dog snacks!," I couldn't help but give in.

Tess won't eat them (she doesn't like fruit snacks). I just like hearing her say, "Hot dog snacks!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Red + Yellow = Lunch

Tess' lunch today.
No, this was not intentional.
Tess didn't seem fazed by my limited color palette.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

About Face

Last week when Ryan was home, he asked me if I'd ever seen Tess draw a face. A face?

I was skeptical. I'd never seen Tess produce more than some artistic squiggles and dots. "Weird," said Ryan. "I could have sworn I saw her draw a face--two eyes, a nose and a mouth. It kind of creeped me out." Problem is that Tess was drawing on her magnetic eraser board, which she quickly erases between scribblings.

Well a couple days later, I saw it for myself. Two eyes, a nose and a mouth. Sometimes frowny and a sometimes happy. Yep, that would be a face.


(My video editing software is acting up, so sorry this is longer than necessary.)

Happy Tess: A Self Portrait with Hair

IVF Irony #2

The birth control pills didn't work. And, no, that doesn't mean I'm pregnant.

Warning: The following may be too much information (TMI). Read at your own risk.

They use birth control pills before IVF to control your cycle. They want to make sure your ovaries are "quiet" when they start the stimulation. My appointment today was an ultrasound and bloodwork to make sure all's quiet on the western front.

Well, turns out the birth control pills didn't work and I'm ovulating right now. I can't start trying to grow new eggs while I'm releasing them.

So long story short--I have to stay on the suppressive meds for a few more days. I go in again on Fri., and hopefully I'll be able to start after that.

At least that's what I think it means.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Giraffe Validated

Inset: Hearts' Heart

Brilliant, Laura! Simply brilliant!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Cupid's aim has been on target today! Love is in the air at our house!

Tess helped me decorate this surprise Valentine Candygram for Dad. She was very excited to show him his surprise. Tess has been pointing it all day long, saying, "Daddy treats! Surprise!"

Ryan and Tess gave me a beautiful bouquet of tulips. Tulips are my favorite flowers because they remind me that spring is coming! They are dynamic flowers that open and close and respond to light. I love how tulips are both graceful and effortless. Toss them in a vase and they basically arrange themselves. Tulips make me happy!

We let Tess pick out her own Valentine's Day gift at the store. In a flashback to our Christmas- ornament shopping experience, Tess eschewed anything pink, red, soft, fuzzy, glittery or covered in hearts.

So we left the store with a gift of Tess' choosing: a Valentine's Giraffe that she's named "Hearts."
In Ryan's words, "It could be worse."

This Nana dress is supposed to be for next Christmas--I'm hoping it will still fit by then! It's a little big still, but Tess looked like a special Valentine in it today.

After several weeks away from church, Tess was very excited to go to Nursery today. I love how she tells me what she did in class on the way home from church. "Class. Bubbles! Bubbles on head. On shoes! Catch them! Friends. Toys. Snack. Nom! Nom! Teacher. Songs. Snowman. Popcorn! Books. Puzzles. Fun!"

Sweet treats for the sweethearts! "Look, Daddy, look! Cake!"

Happy Hearts Day from Ryan, Miriam, Tess &
The Giraffe!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Shiver Me Timbers

We've finally finished digging ourselves out of all this snow. After clearing the 2 feet of snow from our first storm, Ryan let me know that any additional snow was mine for the moving.

Just kidding--I'm sure Ry would have helped me if I would have let him. Truth be told, I desperately needed to burn off the countless extra calories I consumed during that storm. Shoveling is a good workout, but I don't think it put a dent in what I needed to burn off!

Ry was back at work today, and we missed having him home. Tess has visited Dad at work so she knows that he works in "C.D." (she can't seem to get the syntax right, no matter how many times we correct her). All day long, Tess kept pointing things out for Dad to see: "Look, Daddy, look!" Then she'd remind herself. "Daddy work. Daddy C.D." Good thing Dad has a 3-day weekend for some more Tessie time.

Now that we're slowly getting back to normal and coming out of hiding, my mother has none-too-subtly informed me that she wants more Tess pictures. You mean to tell me that we narrowly survive the storm of the century, and you've had your fill of snow pictures? Tough crowd!

Well, if cataclysmic weather patterns don't excite you, the following news should rile you up: Tess had blueberries for dinner. So naturally we taught her to give the pirate hook, squint one eye, and say "ARRGGH!" like Bluebeard the Pirate.

Pretty good, huh?

All this pirate talk quickly devolved into a series of funny Tess faces. Blueberries will do that to a girl.