May 2015 Recap

May has been an exciting month for us!  The most exciting thing has been sharing the secret we had been keeping since March with our family and friends!  It was a joy to share the news in person at my parent's Mother's Day party since both my mom and dad's families were there.  We were also able to tell Ryan's grandma that morning at brunch. :)
The next weekend, we went to Chicago for Shae's wedding.  We enjoyed ourselves that evening at the beautiful Beverly Arts Center.  It was fun catching up with friends.  On the way home, we stopped at IKEA and picked out and purchased some nursery items.  Saturday night, we headed up to Dubuque for a dinner reception Ryan's grandma was being honored at.  Another great weekend in the books! 
The week of May 18th was when I finally had my post-first trimester OB appointment and as mentioned in a previous post, it was scary one at first!  But all is good.  I also have my first interview for a teaching job in the fall! It was not my best interview, but it was also not the best school, so I was glad to get the dreaded first interview out of the way.

That weekend, Ryan left for a bachelor party, so Emily, Alex, and I headed to Des Moines for a sibling weekend!  We left around noon, so when we got to Des Moines, we checked into our hotel and wandered around the neighborhood.  Then we got some swimming in at the hotel before grabbing dinner at Legend's and catching the Iowa Cubs game!  We ended the night with some more swimming, Alex's request. :)
The next morning, more swimming after breakfast (this time I passed), then we went to Trader Joe's and did some other shopping that morning.  We totally stopped at Buy Buy Baby and I found some great little Cyclone clothes for Baby H!  We took Alex to SkyZone so he could enjoy some trampoline fun and then we waited FOREVER for lunch/dinner at Zombie Burger.  
On Memorial Day, we spent the day swimming at Mom and Dad's.  This past week, I had another interview and have another scheduled for next week!  This weekend, we're doing more nursery painting (the doors and trim this time), I'm spending the afternoon with Hannah today, and I'm grabbing coffee with Steph tomorrow!  May was fun, looking forward to more fun in June!


100 Days of Pregnancy

Today marks the 100th day of my pregnancy.  I don't know why, but this feels like some sort of milestone for me, so I want to celebrate it!

This week (the 14th week of pregnancy), baby is 3.5 inches long and weighs 1.5 ounces.  Baby might be sucking its thumb already...this blows my mind!  Baby can squint, frown, grimace, and pee. Weird!

My pregnancy has been fairly easy.  No puking, just a little nausea and loss of appetite from time-to-time.  I do pee all the time, like 2 times in the middle of the night!  I am still pretty tired, though not falling asleep in the middle of the day tired anymore.  I just go to bed crazy early, like 8:30.  I'm not really showing yet, but I have large hips with lots of room for baby to grow before he/she starts pushing my belly out.  No aches or pains to note, except occasional headaches.  Honestly, I don't feel pregnant yet, and I suppose I am lucky for that!

I had my 14-week check-up on Thursday and my mom joined me (she wanted to hear the heartbeat).  Basically, I experienced one of the scariest moments of my life when the midwife couldn't find the heartbeat.  She used the doppler all over my belly for about 2 minutes and all there was was the sound no mom-to-be ever wants to hear...white-noise.  It was awful.  She seemed like she wasn't worried though, maybe just confused, and said she would go get the little portable ultrasound so she could track down baby.  Praise the Lord, we were able to locate the little stinker.  Basically, it was moving like crazy so it never stayed still long enough for her to find the heartbeat.  On the little ultrasound, I could make out baby's face and arms and belly and saw it moving around like crazy.  So on a second try, she was able to use the doppler to find the heart beat and I recorded it on my phone.  What an amazing sound. My heart melted...

I'm simply just feeling so grateful for this little, albeit stubborn, human being that I have been blessed to carry.  I feel much more confident about my pregnancy going forward, knowing that I'm officially out of the first trimester.  I can't wait to feel baby move, though that could still be 4-6 weeks away.

My next appointment is June 18th, my 18-week check-up.  Still won't find out the gender at that time, so I'm not sure if I'll be in for a 20-week ultrasound or if they'll make me wait for my 22-week check-up.

On another note, we started painting the nursery last night!!  I'm so excited to get started on that project...we're basically overhauling the entire room, so it's nice to make a dent in the super long to-do list.
Happy Saturday friends!  Have a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend.  I'm heading off to Des Moines to enjoy a weekend with my siblings! :)


Wedding Weekened Recap 5/15/15

The day went far too quickly!  Ryan and I drove to Chicago last Friday for my dear friend Shae's wedding...and the time just flew by!  I was greeted by some great friends from high school offering up their congratulations to us.  The setting for the wedding was glamorous and I definitely shed a tear or two...or seventeen.  It went too fast, as I'm sure Shae can attest to!  Here's a little recap in pictures (the best part).
Wedding Selfie
Unity Wine!!
My beautiful, MARRIED friend! :)
So Thoughtful...warm fuzzies were had. :)
Grateful for these girls in my life.
I just wish we could do it all over again and again and again!


Bless The Broken Road

It was honestly beginning to feel like this day would never come.  After two years of trying, and many more of dreaming, for a baby...it's hard to believe that our dream is coming true (we hope!).  This journey has not been easy, and our story is not short.  We've been through too many months of high hopes and crushed spirits.  I've cried behind closed doors and ached to ease the pain somehow.  I've doubted my faith, my friendships, my ability to be a good wife, my worth as a woman, and my love for myself.

Let me start at the beginning.  As a teenager, I dreamed of becoming a mother someday.  I had this aspiration to have 8 children (crazy, I know!), four of my own and then adopt four children later.  As I got older, met the love of my life, and got married, my dream grew more realistic...all I knew was that I was excited to start a family with Ryan, when we were both ready.

In February of 2013, I stopped birth control and we were ready to start trying in March.  In our hearts, we knew it could take a few months...though when you make the decision to have kids, you basically wanted them yesterday!  My hopes were elevated when my monthly visitor didn't come on time...but my pregnancy test was negative.  I waited a few days, tested again...negative.  I waited, and waited, and nothing happened.  For 90 days, I was in limbo, mentally exploring all possibilities.  Could I be one of the rare cases where I AM pregnant, but the tests don't detect it?  I spent those months analyzing my symptoms and it quickly became an unexpected obsession.  I finally saw a doctor, who didn't question it much other than to say it can take up to 6 months for cycles to return to normal after birth control.

Ok...give it more time.  I took progesterone to induce a new cycle and we finally got a fresh start to give it another go.  Another 70 days before my next cycle, and another 75 days after that, and I finally had a doctor pay attention to me.  Turns out I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, aka PCOS.  Without going in to too much detail, this basically led to our discovery that we would likely need some form of assistance with my fertility. 

2014 was filled with many more prayers, 5 rounds of Clomid (a medication that makes you ovulate), 2 IUIs, lots of blood work, changing diets, starting Metformin to regulate my cycles, trying any "tricks" I've read about, and a lot of emotions.

I had friends start trying, announce their pregnancies, and have their babies all in the time AFTER we had started trying.  I started to feel so alone in this journey.  Why was it so easy for everyone else?  What did I do wrong in my past?  What is the lesson I'm supposed to take from this?  Side Note: It is NOT easy for everyone else, their journeys are just different then mine.  I know people who tried much longer than we did.  I know people who adopted (what a glorious miracle that can be!).  And I sadly had friends lose babies, too...an experience I would never wish upon anyone.

I got on Facebook and saw complaints of morning sickness and swollen ankles; I saw comments like, "I can't wait for this pregnancy to be over," and "Well, surprise, we're starting a family before we planned to!"  Each negative comment about pregnancy was like a knife in my heart.  How I longed to be the one "suffering" from the symptoms of creating a miracle baby.

In December of 2014, our conception journey went into high gear when I was referred to a reproductive endocrinologist (finally) to get some serious intervention for my fertility!  I was scheduled for an HSG in January, which was slightly painful, but a pretty quick and easy procedure.  The test came back with clear tubes and I was officially diagnosed with "unexplained infertility."  On one hand, we were glad nothing serious was discovered, but on the other hand, there were still no answers for our struggle.  There was no explanation as to why this hasn't happened for us yet.

As we approached our two-year anniversary of trying, we were ready to jump straight to In Vitro Fertilization.  God's timing allowed us to use my cycle that started right at the end of January.  We ordered our medications and tried not to get overwhelmed!
On Friday, February 13th, I began giving myself injections.  It started with one each night, a few days later it was two injections each night, and eventually, it was three injections a day.
On Thursday, February 26th, I had my egg retrieval.  We drove up to Iowa City during a snow storm.  I was under anesthesia for the procedure and when I woke up, I was in an unreal amount of pain.  The codeine wasn't touching it, and the heating packs barely helped.  The doctor came in and explained that he nicked a blood vessel during the retrieval and I lost a bit of blood, and he had to stitch my ovary up.  I eventually got some morphine and had to spend several hours resting before we could finally leave.

On the plus side, he was still able to retrieve 9 eggs.  We found out the next day that 7 fertilized!  My recovery from the retrieval was pretty rough, I had a fever and lots of pain.  On top of this, Ryan had to start giving me progesterone injections every single day (the needle was long and the location was not a spot where I could inject myself).

On March 3rd, we were back in Iowa City for the embryo transfer.  We found out that we had a great quality embryo to transfer back in, plus four more that would be frozen for future tries.  The transfer was a much smoother process than the retrieval, quick and painless!
Baby Hackbarth's First Picture
We had a long "two week wait" until our blood test, which was to be done on Friday, March 13th (Friday the 13th has always been a favorite day of mine)!  I did cave and test a couple days early.  I was certain it didn't work.  I didn't feel any symptoms...and let's be honest, it hadn't worked for us yet, so why would it would now?  I took a test...
I was pretty much in disbelief.  I went crazy.  I took test after test after test.  I even took more after my blood tests confirmed HCG was rising like it was supposed to.
This isn't even all of them...
It's happening, it's real.  Baby H is due on November 19!  But there's this whole back story that led to the creation of this miracle.  And just because my dream is finally coming true, the pain of the past does not just disappear.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  Do I wish my journey was different?  No way.  This is the baby we've been blessed with and I love him/her so much already...I can't imagine a different story.  But can I just forget everything I've been through?  Can I let go of the pain, the regrets, the feeling unworthy, the jealousy I felt towards others, the strain on my marriage, the questioning of my faith, the moments when I doubted my future as a mother? I don't think so.  I think it will be another long journey to consider myself an infertility success story.  But what I can say is that the promise of this baby gives me this whole other dimension of love and hope and joy.  I doubt I will skate through the rest of my pregnancy without fearing what could go wrong, but I will try every day to choose joy.  
I have been given the gift of motherhood and I can't imagine a better gift, other than that of my amazing husband who has supported me in ways I never thought I'd need him to.
I recently read this blog post that was a letter to infertile women...and it broke my heart.  I could identify with almost every single struggle she mentioned.  If you have time, please read this post from The Courage In Me.  It's a long one, and if you don't have time after reading the novel I just wrote, I think the most important take away for me was the very last paragraph: You are not broken. You are not less-than. You are worthy of love. You are whole. Forgive yourself because you’ve done nothing wrong. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are deserving of acceptance and belonging. Be kind to yourself and love yourself. Know that you are enough. You matter greatly. You are loved. You are not alone.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with infertility, going through fertility treatments, or just needs someone to talk to...please email me or call me.  I felt very alone in my journey for a very long time, I wish I had known someone I could talk to.  If I can be that person for you, I would love to!