Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Appointment Update

So we had our sit down with our RE (the AWESOME Dr. Dodds) this past Friday and heard basically what we expected which in our opinions was good news. My RE does not feel like we have "anything else" going on with either of us. There was a question about maybe something genetically that both Brian and I are passing on but he does not feel like that's the case. He simply feels that "our story" is typical of pregnancy in general (IVF or NOT)...with the exception of losing the girls...because 20% of pregnancies do end in miscarriage.

With our first retrieval back in February 2010 we had nine perfect little embabies. Dodds said that statistics would show that of those nine we should end up with 3-4 children. And in our case we did end up with three children (3 births). Unfortunately we lost our girls to an infection which is totally unrelated to IVF. Dodds said that we most definitely can proceed with another retrieval but his recommendations are that if it does not work this time then maybe its just not meant to be. So we are moving forward and praying that we end up with at least one more healthy child...although I would be lying if I didn't say I would love for at least two more. But God's in charge of that!!!

We're going to be somewhat more open this time around but not on public websites. So if you're thinking about us in the next few months just say a little prayer that all is going well for us!!! We would really appreciate it. It's hard for me to believe we are going to be doing another retrieval. Last time around after we knew we were expecting twins...we didn't know what we were going to do (because we had another 7 embabies in the freezer). God knew. And of those 9 perfect lil embabies he allowed me to give birth to three beautiful children...Alayna Joy, Ella Adrianna, and Mason Dale. And we are forever grateful that God chose Mason out of those 9 embabies to raise here on Earth. He is the absolute LIGHT of Brian and I's lives. And on the hardest of days he still makes us smile. It is my prayer to give him a sibling. A desire so deep in my heart that I pray God will answer. I am trying my best to give it all to God but I am after all only human.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Some Thoughts...

  • Yesterday I finally had a chance to sit down and write out the story of my miscarriage (that I posted earlier today). There were some details spared because if you know me at all I am an overly detailed person and I thought the post to be long enough already. But its important for me to journal about the loss because its a piece of MY FERTILITY JOURNEY and I don't want to forget one.single.piece.of.it. 
  • If I'm being honest sometimes I cannot believe this is my life. I never in a thousand years imagined it would be so hard to build a family.
-I would be lying if I didn't say that some days I just wish all the pain and suffering would go away and that my life would be all sunshiny and peaceful. But then I remind myself that if my life were all sunshiny and peaceful then I would have no need for God.

-I would be lying if I didn't say that some days I feel like I am the ONLY one suffering. But then I KNOW that I am NOT the only one suffering and if I am being truly honest I KNOW that there are people going through far worse things in in life than me. One prime example is of a dear coworker of mine. Her little girl Abby was diagnosed with Ependymoma (a form of cancer) this past March at 10 months of age. She was for the most part in remission when it came back this past December. Doctors have given her only 6 months to a year to live. I cannot even begin to imagine how that would feel as a parent. To be told your 18 month old daughter might not live to see her second birthday.
  • I remember the morning of implantation like it was yesterday. Praying like crazy that it would be our last implantation. My mom was over (because she was going to watch Mason) and as Brian and I were getting ready to leave I made a comment. The comment was that I either didn't want the embryo to dethaw or I just wanted it to be my take-home baby...but that I did NOT want it to be another failed implantation or worse another miscarriage. Brian thought my comment (about it not dethawing) was awful. He wanted it to have every chance possible. I clarified myself and said its not that I don't want it to not dethaw but if its going to be a failed implantation or another miscarriage I would rather it just end before it began. And wouldn't you know...worse case scenario DID happened. But even though this pregnancy ended in miscarriage and even though I am still hurting I truly would NOT in a million years change our story to the embryo not dethawing because I believe with ALL my heart that this baby will be waiting at heaven gates for me when I pass from this Earth. 
  • I said to my mom the other day that I am trying to see the silver lining in this loss. The biggest thing that I am "trying to see" is that any future child(ren) we have by IVF would NOT have been. And just as I saw why I had to endure the losses of Alayna, Ella, and Luke to get to Mason...I am "trying to see" that this child will lead me to a child(ren) that never would have been had this baby been born into my arms healthy and whole. Its a hard concept to understand but its one that helps me.
  • I am super ready to hear what Dodds has to say both about this miscarriage and what another retrieval will look like. There are so many decisions that Brian and I will have to make in the coming months and I am so grateful that we are walking through this with a Christian doctor who understands us. 
  • To answer a question (that has basically already been answered) Brian and I HAVE chosen to go ahead and do another retrieval. Before any final decision has been made we will discuss many things with our RE. But he sees absolutely no reason why we cannot continue on with IVF. And we both feel very strongly about Mason NOT being an only child and at this time adoption is not something we agree on.
  • Miscarriage stinks THE BIG ONE. No matter when (what time of the year) it happens it sucks. At first I thought that this miscarriage was by far the WORST possible timing. And as any loss does I started thinking about our other losses and the timing of our other losses. It was awful losing the girls but I was thankful that it was summer because there was lots to do and the sunshine was so rejuvenating. Then when we lost Luke in the middle of January I thought that the timing couldn't have been worse. But then I saw the plus side...January through April is my busy season at work and there are always extra shifts to pick up. So I picked up extra shifts like crazy to stay busy. And then this loss...a miscarriage right before Christmas. Could the timing be any worse? Yes Christmas was bittersweet because of the loss but on the plus side Brian was off for almost two weeks and it was most definitely nice having that time to mourn and just be together. And once again work is crazy busy (even crazier busy than it was two years ago) and since we need the extra money to pay for another retrieval it is nice being able to pick up so many extra shifts. And this is really the only time of the year that I like to pick up extra shifts because nothing is going on anyways. So long story still long...God's timing is truly the right timing...even though its hard to always see and believe that it is. 

The Miscarriage Story

The first few days after finding out that we had lost our fourth baby (simply put) were NOT FUN. But we continued on with life. I kept my play date for the following morning and Brian went back to work. Normalcy (we have found) works best for us. The one thing though that was different about this loss than all the others was that I had anger and LOTS of it. Now that I am a few weeks out I am definitely doing "better." My anger is dissipating and I am (once again) accepting that my ways are NOT always God's ways. And that in the end God's way is always the BEST way.

On December 24...five days after finding out that we had lost our baby I decided to call the fertility office to set up a D&C. I was hoping to schedule it for January 2 (two weeks from the loss). The office said that they would have to call me back on the 26th. They called me on the 26th and said that they were very sorry but that they would have to call me back again the following day. The following day was Mason's 1st birthday. We didn't have big plans for the day...the only "plan" was to spend it together as a family. We had to be out of our house by 8am because Brian's parents had graciously said that their cleaning lady could clean our house that morning instead of theirs. Big bummer when I got out of the shower at 7am and Brian said that his mom had just called and that Kathy (the cleaning lady) had gone into the hospital the night before for high blood pressure. So instead of doing anything "fun" I got to clean my house for 6 hours. (It took that long because it had not been cleaned in a good 10 weeks due to the implantation/pregnancy). Then (finally) at 5:30pm (on the 27th) the fertility office called me back and scheduled me for an office D&C for January 2. However, at the end of the conversation my nurse said...wait a second...Dodds has written down for you to have a hospital D&C. I explained why I didn't want a hospital D&C and she said that she would leave a note for Dodds and that someone would give me a call back in the morning.

Got my call back and was told that Dodds did in fact want me to have a hospital D&C. I explained to the new nurse that I preferred an office D&C and that when I miscarried last time I had had an office D&C and that I had been further along (by a few days). She said that she would talk to Dodds again and give me a call back. Got my call back and was told he STILL wanted me to have a hospital D&C. At this point I was pissed. My nurse went on to say that the person who schedules the surgeries would not be back in the office until January 2. Which angered me even more. So here I sat knowing that my D&C would not be until the 9th (of January) at the earliest.

The following day was Mason's one year pictures and his birthday party. Mason wasn't feeling well (remember we took him to the doctor on his birthday and he was diagnosed with an ear infection and a sinus infection). He cried the whole (picture) session. It was awful. He was a bit cranky at his party but did well for the most part. I worked the weekend and started looking at the schedule for extra shifts. Oh the joys. Enjoyed New Years Eve. Worked the holiday. And then finally it was January 2. Called the office since I have no patience and left a message with the surgery scheduler. She called me back and the earliest I could schedule a D&C was for January 16. (My doctor only does hospital D&C's on Wednesday afternoons). As you can imagine I was upset upon hearing that I could not have my D&C until the 16th. That would be 4 WHOLE weeks that I would be carrying my deceased child. Miserable. Unfair. Very angry. What I didn't tell the scheduler was that I had started spotting the day before. It was microscopic but it was there. Then on the morning of the 2nd I had had a little more spotting. But I wanted a D&C in the books in case I didn't miscarry on my own so I still scheduled the dreaded D&C. (During this phone call we also scheduled pre and post-op appointments).

The following day I went out to my sister's house to hang out for a bit and while there I had the sudden need to use the bathroom. THE FOLLOWING IS GOING TO BE A BIT TMI SO STOP HERE IF YOU WANT. When I wiped there were a few clots. Twenty minutes later I again rushed to the bathroom and there were some clots in the toilet. I hoped and prayed that I was actually going to do this on my own. Once home the bathroom visits continued and at a more frequent rate. Bigger and bigger clots were coming out. Brian had wanted to run out and get some new frames and I thought I could handle that. But after being in the car for 10 minutes and then standing I knew I wasn't going to last long (at the eye glass place). When I stood I felt a rush of blood and knew I had passed something. I hurried into the bathroom and was in there for a good 10 minutes. I was starting to "feel" when I passed any clots. I used the bathroom a second time before leaving. At home things continued to the point that I was using the bathroom every 5-10 minutes. I was definitely passing things...just not sure if it was the baby or not. Then at one point I felt the urge to use the bathroom again and felt a contraction and something big came out. However, since everything went to the bottom of the toilet I couldn't tell if it was the baby or not...plus everything was so bloody. Things eased up around 9pm that night. To be very honest I wanted to miscarry on my own so emotionally it was not hard and physically it was NOT painful at all. Of course the fact that it was not painful at all worried me that I did not pass everything and that I would still need the D&C.

The following morning (January 4) I called the office and explained what had happened. They asked if I had seen any white or gray tissue. My response was I have no idea...everything was so bloody and anything that had weight to it floated right to the bottom of the toilet. So we tacked on an US to my pre-op appointment which happened to be scheduled for January 7. Long story short PTL I DID pass everything on my own. What an answer to prayer!!! So my D&C was canceled and an appointment to talk about the future was scheduled. We meet with Dodds a week from tomorrow to talk about EVERYTHING. And I am more than ready to get some questions answered.

Let me quick share a funny story. When the miscarriage was first starting to happen I was at my sister's house WITH my nieces and nephews (and obv Mason). My 5 year old niece Cambrey does NOT miss a thing. Later that afternoon while doing crafts with her cousin (on the other side) she said to her mom (my sister) remember when Aunt Linnie was having all those globs this afternoon. When my sister emailed me what Cambrey had said I just started laughing. It's always good to see the humor even in the worst situations!!!

Friday, January 4, 2013


I hope to soon post an update on the happenings with me but for now more on Mason. Mason's one year pics were scheduled for December 28 (the day after his actual birthday). Like I've mentioned he came down with a fever about 36 hours before picture time. And with the fever came an ear infection, a sinus infection, and a very cranky boy. In hindsight I should have just canceled the pics and rescheduled but I didn't and boy oh boy did pictures NOT go well. We did NOT get one single smile. Well a few but not while looking at the camera. We did however get lots of tears, lots of hand in (or in front of mouth), and lots of serious Mason poses. Oh well. Praying 18 month pics go better!!! But here are a few for your viewing pleasure...
Fingers in mouth
Hand covering mouth
My Fave
Thinking about smiling
Busy playing
Sad Baby (Take 1)
Serious Baby
Cute Baby (Take 1)
Cute Baby (Take 2)
Sad Baby (Take 2)

Determination To Carry You Through

A few weeks back (December 6 to be exact) it was Brian and I's FOURTH wedding anniversary. In a card sent to us by my mom I (we) received the article below. Brought tears to my eyes in how it was just the push I needed. A week prior to our anniversary I had started spotting. And just three days prior (to our anniversary) our first US did not show us a baby. We were struggling and wondering why us and why again...

Determination To Carry You Through
A few years back, late in the month of November, I was reading a wonderful article about my favorite spring flowers-sweet peas. I learned a lot. Like why my efforts to grow these beauties had always been barely a notch above pathetic. I'd been planting at the wrong time of the year. Who knew I should be tilling the earth while humming a chorus or two of "Come Ye Thankful People Come?" Not me. But I changed my ways. The Thanksgiving after reading that article, while the turkey was in the oven, I was in the garden.

I won't insult my New England readers to even suggest that I, who live in Southern California, know two wits about the true meaning of winter. But I must admit that after I planted the seeds-and the temperature dropped to the low 40s followed by the torrential rains of December and January-I kissed my sweet peas goodbye. I doubted this planting in November thing was going to work anyway. Surely that article was written for folks in the Southern Hemisphere.

And so, in anticipation of starting all over with a new batch of sweet peas seeds, I walked back to that part of my garden, knowing I would have to face the weeds sooner than later.

But instead of weeds, I was greeted by...sweet peas! No kidding. An amazingly sturdy crop, they were already 2 feet high and blooming profusely!

Words cannot express the joy I felt at that moment. It was a priceless, unexpected gift that startled me with a jolt of joy. It was the promise of spring, the assurance that life goes on and some things never change.

As I cut the first bouquet, I couldn't help but wonder how those tiny seeds made it through the weather. How did they not wash away under the pressure of record-breaking rainfall? Things far more sturdy in my garden washed away that year. What made them stay in there and word so hard? What was worth the struggle for them to sprout, take root and hang in no matter what?

Whatever it was, I've been praying for some of it for myself. For you, too. I know that hanging in with unflinching determination--especially when the storms of life pound us like we've never been pounded before--is not easy. But it's the right thing to do. And when the conditions are the most difficult, the payoff is that much sweeter.

Perhaps you're facing a season of unemployment, a broken relationship or worse (*in our case the death of our fourth child*). Whatever it is, dig in, hang on, and ride this thing through. Grab on to those things you know to be true--things you can count on that will never change. Let the storms roll over you, not carry you away.

No matter where you are today and the challenges you face, remember this: Spring is coming. Your diligence will pay off provided you don't give up, or ever give in. (Mary Hunt at Everyday Cheapskate)

These last few weeks have been really tough. On one hand we're trying our best to be happy. After all we have a happy healthy beautiful baby boy who wants his mommy and daddy happy. But on the other hand we're mourning the loss of our fourth child. We've both had a lot of anger. We've had sad days. We've had happy days. We've had just need to get to tomorrow days. But upon re-reading this article (after our confirmed m/c) I realized something. If we hadn't dug in and hung on after Luke's miscarriage...our sweet Mason might not be here now. So we WILL hang on with unflinching determination--even though the storms of life keep trying to pound us down because I KNOW how true it is that when the conditions are the most difficult, the payoff IS that much sweeter...
(Don't mind the red upper lip...Mason took a head dive into a friend's coffee table)!!!

Helmholdt Christmas

On Christmas morning we woke up a touch early so we could make my in-law's 9:30am Christmas morning church service. After church we headed over to my in-law's house for lunch, presents, and hang out time. It was a low key day but sometimes thats just whats needed.

Family Pic

Mason and his love of ornaments...silly boy!!!

Mason with G&G Helmholdt

A new truck for Mason

Checking out his new comfy chair

Couldn't love this lil guy more if I tried!!!

And that folks wraps up Christmas 2012

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas With My Boys

I was suppose to work Christmas Eve but with everything going on when I got the 5:30(am) phone call asking if I wanted to stay home on-call for the first 8 hours of my shift I took it. And it got even better yet when at 1pm they canceled the rest of my shift all together!!! So Brian, Mason, and I enjoyed the WHOLE day together as a family...although we did stop by both grandparent's house for an hour or so each.

Family pic in front of the tree...as you can see it was a comfy Christmas!!!

We decided to put the tree downstairs this year since we knew Mason and the tree would be a bad combo. By putting the tree downstairs we could put a gate around the tree preventing any tree tipping or ornament breaking. So once the gate came down on Christmas Eve...you better believe Mason headed STRAIGHT for the ornaments.

Present time. His first gift was a Yankees warm-up outfit... 

After opening his lawn mower he was NOT interested in opening any more presents. It was play time.

Mommy and Mason
Daddy and Mason 

It was a Mason only Christmas. Meaning he was the only one who got any gifts. We didn't go too crazy being it was his first Christmas. But he did need a little spoiling!!! 

Christmas With The Vugteveens

Since I was suppose to work Christmas Eve...Christmas with the Vugteveen fam was celebrated on the 23rd. Early afternoon we packed up and headed over to my parent's house for a delicious ham dinner. This was Mason's third Christmas party and wouldn't you know he still didn't have the hang of opening presents. However, he did LOVE himself some ornaments!!!

LOVE LOVE LOVE these boys!!!

Mason loved his new hat from his cousin Austin...
 and his new tent and tunnel.

Mason with his biggest cousin Kylynn

Grandma and her two babies

And per usual the cousin pic. Yes there is only seven in the first picture because Brinley would have NO part of it. Then before long Easton took off. And to be honest the only reason Mason and Austin were still in the second pic was because they were being held (tightly) on to...both were trying to escape!!! We eventually did get a picture of all eight plus G&G...although it would never win any awards or anything!!!

Cole, Addi with Mason, Easton, Kylynn and Cambrey with Austin
G&G with ALL their grandbabies

And in thinking about Christmas' past this one was bittersweet just like the past three. Hoping and praying that next year will be a SWEET one only!!! I'm done with this bitter stuff. And in case you're wondering why I say the last three have been bittersweet here is why. Christmas of 2009 was bitter because just a few days before Christmas we found out that our second IUI had failed and that IVF was our next step. Christmas of 2010 was bitter because it was suppose to be the girl's first Christmas. However, I was 6 weeks pregnant with Luke which made it sweet. Christmas of 2011 was more sweet than bitter because I was just days away from having Mason but I sure would have LOVED to have had him in my arms before Christmas. And this year was a pretty dead even mix of bitter and sweet. Sweet because we were celebrating Mason's 1st Christmas but bitter because just days before we found out that we had lost our 4th precious child. So like I said here's to hoping and praying for a SWEET 2013. Now don't get me wrong I am NOT expecting a baby in my arms by 2013 but maybe just maybe I will be well into a healthy pregnancy!!!

Trying Our Best To Stay B-U-S-Y

This was my title about a week and a half ago and we most definitely achieved that goal. We have been crazy busy these last 2 weeks. Filling our time with fun things. We went to Frederick Meijer Gardens to pet the reindeer, played with new toys, went shopping, visited the girls, and, Mason went to Playworld with (most of) his cousins. Of course these activities are all in addition to all the Christmas parties, Mason's birthday party, a play date, and many other evening outings. We have found through all the losses that staying busy keeps us from feeling too depressed.

Petting the reindeer at Frederick Meijer Gardens...
Laughing at the reindeer with Daddy
Checking out the Christmas trees inside FMG.

Playing with his new tent and tunnel from his cousin Austin...

Shopping the hunting aisle at Meijer...

Mason was sleeping during our Christmas Eve visit to his sisters so this is the best pic you get ;)

Mason wasn't a fan of Playworld. Grandma tried to put him in the bouncy area and he wanted NOTHING to do with it.
 But he did enjoy a WHOLE piece of pizza at Playworld!!!

What...Mason is ONE!!!

Brian's back to work. I am home. Mason is sleeping. Wow this combo has not happened in about two weeks. Looking around my house I see LOTS to pick up and clean up (since I've worked three out of the last four days) but instead I've decided to blog. Lots to catch up on...Christmas parties, Mason's 1st birthday party, Mason's 1 year well-child appointment, my crazy emotions, and whats happening in the miscarriage front (among many other things).

Since my lovable little punkin fritter Mason Dale is my favorite thing to blog about...I will start there!!!
Let me start by saying he is the absolute light of Brian and I's lives. I don't know what we would do without him and I pray that we NEVER find out. It was a bittersweet holiday season for obvious reasons but overall we did have a wonderful Christmas celebrating with Mason. And we got to celebrate his 1st birthday which added to the fun. However, I will save Christmas for another post and instead share with you pictures from his (1st) birthday party and update you on his one year well-child appointment.

The later first. Today I went in for Mason's one year old check-up and I am beyond happy to say that we have one healthy little boy. Praise the Lord!!! Over the last few weeks Mason has become increasingly clingy to Brian and I and today was most definitely NO different. Staring at everyone and clinging ever so tightly to mommy. He didn't appreciate his shots but otherwise the appointment was pretty low key. Last week on Mason's actual birthday (and the day before his party) he spiked a 103 degree temp. So I called his pediatricians office first thing in the morning (on the 27th) to see if they would want to see him. About 12 days prior he had spiked another 103 degree temp and then the day after had developed a nasty cough and green/yellow boogery nose. After 12 days enough was enough so yes his doc wanted to see him. I am SO glad that we went in because Mason did in fact have a ear infection and a sinus infection...so on antibiotics he went. At that appointment he weighed (with a very wet diaper, shoes, and clothes on) 24 pounds and 14 ounces. At today's appointment he only weighed 23 pounds and 8 ounces. Which means he only gained 12 ounces in 3 months. Guess he is finally slowing down. This puts him in the 75-90% for weight. He measured 31 inches...which puts him at the 85% for height. And his head was 18 and 3/4 inches...which puts him at the 90% for head circumference. The only follow-up that needs to take place is a renal ultrasound next month to follow-up on his mild hydronephrosis. Otherwise we have a healthy healthy BOY!!!

On the eve of December 28...the day after my baby's actual birthday we partied COOKIE MONSTER style!!! Family and a few friends enjoyed pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and monster cookie cupcakes. (As well as a few other yummy dishes).


Some of the decorations... 
(And YES I made these babies from scratch)!!!

Daddy, Mason, and Mommy

Mason was so not interested in presents. Nor was he interested in the paper or boxes. He would help open ONE present and if that present was a toy...he was done. So his lucky cousins got to open up all his presents instead...

 Oops forgot the hat...
 Mason NO like hat.
Well maybe its okay... 
Grandpa and Grandma Vugteveen
Grandpa and Grandma Helmholdt

*Thanks to my sis-in-law Kristi for some of the awesome pics*

And a HAPPY Birthday most definitely was had!!!