Why I’m Writing a Book

In less than one week, I get to add another “feather to my cap” and list author on my resume. This feels (and sounds) like a HUGE jump from my normal life and I’ve dealt with a lot of impostor syndrome feelings in the months we’ve been working on writing, editing, and now preparing for the launch. In being completely transparent with you, writing a book was never something I had considered or thought of being apart of. The gremlin that lives in my head always told me I never had a story to tell. And then I was introduced to Colleen.

When we initially started trying to conceive back in 2016, Irwin and I decided to not say anything to friends and family, in hopes we would be able to surprise them with a cool, Pinterest worthy pregnancy announcement. So I turned to the internet to find some strangers walking through this same time in their life to let out some of my worries, hopes, and stare at one too many pregnancy tests. It was this group that supported me the most through our infertility journey and even still today. And it was one of these women who introduced me to Colleen, a publisher of a multi-author books who was just beginning to dream of a book discussing all things fertility.

I met with Colleen over zoom shortly after out initial introduction and she was quick to tell me that I indeed have a story to share. A few months later, she had pooled together a group of women – both those who have experience with infertility and those who help woman (and men) struggling with infertility get pregnant – and we got started on writing our book.

Going back through our journey was difficult, at best.

Initially, the words came pouring out. I started writing shortly after all the contracts and legal documents were signed and got about ten pages in before I hit what others lovingly refer to as writers block. It’s not necessarily the journey leading up to pregnancy that was difficult to talk about, it was the after. The section of my life I have barely opened up about to anyone outside of my immediate circle. At the same time we were celebrating a miracle, we were mourning the loss of our seven other embryos. And I did not feel that I was allowed to grieve because we were pregnant. We had exactly what we signed up for. To date, I still don’t feel like I am permitted to have that grief because of the circumstances that ultimately came out of our IVF cycle and the events that followed. But if I put everything good that came out of our journey to the side – it sucks. It was lonely and scary and exhausting. And outside of my sweet little internet group, I didn’t have many people who knew what we were going through. So I started speaking out.

The amount of women that came out of the woodwork when we opened up about our fertility journey was astonishing. People we would’ve never known that had a struggle, those who never had kids because it was against their faith to pursue treatment, friends we had in elementary and middle school that we hadn’t spoken to in over a decade – they came forward with their stories and journeys and some even asked for advice. All of a sudden, this journey we were navigating didn’t feel so lonely anymore. It was at that moment that Irwin and I decided we wanted to continue to share our story and talk through the fertility process with other couples.

Enter the book opportunity.

Again, never planned to write or be a part of a book. But this opportunity jumped out and felt like the right fit for this moment in time. We have some big, really exciting dreams for the future regarding fertility, but this is a good stepping stone to get us where we want to be a few years down the road.

It’s been quite the whirlwind of the last six months, from conception to an actual physical book, but it’s a process I will always look back fondly on and who knows, maybe someday this will open up the door to more books. One thing is for sure, my hands are open to whatever God has for me.

(In)Fertility – Secrets, Struggles, and Successes will be available digitally on Amazon on May 7th! Paperback copy will follow in the coming weeks.

introducing Cora Elise

Hello!

It’s been awhile.

Since before I gave birth in fact.

But I am back to work now and have more face time with my computer so here I am! I’m going to try to condense this post as much as possible, but it’s been the craziest eight weeks of my life so I’m just going to apologize to you now for keeping you here for the next ten minutes to read this post.

Cora Elise Caraballo joined our family unofficially on February 23rd, 2018 – the day I transferred her in embryo form. She officially joined our family on November 14th, 2018 via a birth that was nothing like I planned but everything I needed it to be. I am a planner, so naturally, at my 39 week appointment, I scheduled an induction because the thought of going into labor and/or being on the hospital on Thanksgiving or my husband’s birthday was stressing me out. I know I need to work on this, but planning life out literally two years in advance is what I do for a living so it’s a hard habit to break.

November 13th, 2018 – Induction day!

6:00am – alarm goes off and we get out of bed. My contractions have been regular since the night prior, but definitely not strong and definitely not close enough to go in on my own. As we are walking out the door the hospital calls to let me know there aren’t currently beds available, but to call back around 10am and they will update me.

6:50am – Irwin tells me to take a nap. I laugh to myself at the thought of sleep.

10:04am – I call the hospital to get an update. I am informed they have a c-section at 11am, but once that is through they will call and I will likely be able to come in at that point.

10:30am – my contractions are getting stronger and I am in a bit of pain, they seem to be closer together so I start timing them

11:00am – the contractions have now been 4-6 minutes apart for 30 minutes. We decide to leave for the hospital at 11:30 if they keep up.

12:00pm – we arrive at the hospital as the contracting picked up and was regularly at 4-5 minutes apart for a minute a piece. I can still breathe and talk through them but it hurt to move during them. We got a room and changed into a hospital gown. They checked and I was only at 3cm and 50% effaced. They sent us to walk the halls for an hour and then they would check me again.

1:27pm – we get back to the room and are hooked up to the monitors. Contractions are coming every 3-5 minutes but I’m only at a 3 1/2 and 50%. They give me the option to go home and labor naturally through the night or start pitocin. We decide to start the pit drip thinking it might speed things up.

4:00pm – the nurses come back to get the iv and medication started. The pit drip starts at 1 and goes up to 20 – which they increase every 30 minutes. I am also hooked up to the monitors which turn out to be the most annoying part of the whole labor.

7:00pm – shift change! I loved the nurses that had been working with us up until this point. Not so much a fan of the night nurses.

8:30pm – the night nurse lets me have a sherbert! This was the best thing I had ever eaten and gave her a few brownie points.

9:30pm-7:00am – we try to sleep. Between the IV fluids making me have to pee every 45 minutes and Cora kicking the monitors every 15 minutes, I barely slept.

7:30am – Shift change! We meet the new nurses. I am still only dilated at a 4 and 60% effaced. Irwin’s dad visits and brings coffee and breakfast for Irwin. I eat my second sherbert and a hashbrown from Dunkin’ Donuts that will make another appearance later.

8:30am – Our friend and Cora’s godfather visits to keep us company for a bit.

9:30am – my doctor arrives and decides it’s time to break my water. I get up to go to the bathroom and clean up a bit while they change the bedsheets and while I’m there my contractions begin to get so strong I can hardly breathe through them.

10:30am – my mom arrives to check on us and offer moral support. I ask the nurses about pain management options since the contractions have been a minute apart and strong for the last hour. We ultimately decide to get an epidural.

12:30pm – sweet freedom – the epidural was placed {on the third try} and kicked in almost immediately. Irwin and my mom were not permitted in the room while they administered this, but by the time they came back I was cracking jokes with the nurses.

1:00pm – I took a nap. Like full blown asleep nap.

2:30pm – I wake up as the nurses were in the room to check me. I am at an 8 and 90% effaced. They told us we would likely be pushing in the next hour. We make our phone calls/texts to family to let them know Cora was on her way and would be here that night

3:00pm – I feel pressure. Like “I need to push now” pressure. Irwin calls for the nurses and I am at a 10, but still only 90% effaced. The nurse does something that gets me to 100% and it’s go time.

5:00pm – I am tired, exhausted even, and can’t bear to push anymore. I want a csection at this point because I get to a point where I just can’t anymore. I threw up – which is when the nurse inspected my vomit and likely saw the hasbrown I had earlier. My doctor comes into the room at the request of the nurse {which I found out later was because I was tearing pretty bad} and he tells me “I am going to help you, but I need you to not give up”.

5:30pm – our sweet girl, Cora, is born into the world kicking and screaming. She weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20 inches long. I ultimately needed an episiotomy and they had to use the vacuum to reposition her as she got stuck in the birth canal and her heart rate was dropping. Once those things happened, everything went really quick. I could feel when her head and shoulders were out and that’s when I opened my eyes to see Irwin watching the whole thing and crying in amazement. He later told me it was the most incredible thing he’s ever witnessed.

I ended up with the episiotomy, a second-degree tear, and fifteen stitches.

I wanted a completely natural birth, but honestly, I couldn’t have imagined it going any differently than it did. I felt strong, empowered, proud of myself for adapting and doing what was needed to get her here safely. The whole experience of getting pregnant, being pregnant, labor, and childbirth taught me life is never ever going to go as planned – and that’s okay because the end result is still beautiful. I’ll stop writing now and give you all the thing you came here for – the photos. Enjoy!

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All photos courtesy of Ashley Sasak Photography. Believe it or not, Cora is even sweeter now than she was then. More to come…

inducing labor

39 weeks and I am ready to get this baby out.

As of my appointment on Thursday, I was right around two centimeters dilated and 50% effaced. My doctor said there was a strong possibility the baby would be here before my next appointment {which is in 3 days} and yet here we are, still pregnant. We’ve tried just about everything we can – spicy foods, walking, acupressure, bouncing and figure eights on an exercise ball, and even sex. Nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m having contractions, and they are getting stronger as days go by, but they aren’t strong enough or close enough to even consider going to the hospital.

On Thursday the plan is to strip my membranes and talk about some other induction options if that doesn’t do anything. My doctor will let women go to 42 weeks as long as everything checks out okay, but I couldn’t imagine being pregnant for that much longer so we plan to ask for an earlier induction. As much as I want a totally natural childbirth, I’m getting antsy waiting for her to get here. Plus I really don’t want to be in the hospital over the Thanksgiving holiday. I also kind of feel some pressure to not have the baby this weekend as my dad is going to be out of town. I know ultimately he will be happy once she is here regardless of if he is local or not, but I also don’t really want him to miss out.

So for now we wait and I am going to try my hardest to just enjoy this last little bit of time with just Irwin and me {and the dogs} knowing this will likely be the only time I get to carry a child unless we opt for another IVF cycle down the line. Pray for my family and friends because I’ve had a bad attitude lately and don’t see that letting up. Also, PSA for everyone who tells pregnant women “just x number of days left”… stop. It only annoys us more.

thirty six weeks

We are just about four weeks out from d-day! I can hardly believe it and am having a hard time suppressing the feeling of wanting Baby C to be here right now. I feel like we are mostly ready from a physical standpoint – all her clothes are washed and neatly organized, diapers are stocked {though I still need to make up my mind if I’m going to stick to cloth wipes or move to disposable}, and our hospital bags are half packed. I bought a bunch of summer maternity clothes but didn’t buy much for cooler weather, and now that it’s finally cold, I don’t really want to buy much more. So my bags will likely stay half packed until I go into labor.

I start my “maternity leave” on Monday and I am so excited! I’ll still be working from home up until I have the baby, and then again once we are a bit settled but I am so looking forward to not having to go into the office every day. I get winded walking around the building, but it hurts to sit at my desk chair for hours at a time, so being able to work from the comfort of my couch will be so nice. Plus, Beau and Buster will get to go on more walks and have some additional attention before their sister gets here!

I’ve been horrible at posting much since finding out we were pregnant, but I’m hoping to start posting a bit more, and writing about things other than our fertility journey {I just spent my whole day on Saturday making some freezer meals for the holiday season that I’d love to share recipes for!}. Obviously, I’ll do a nursery tour and give you guys a look at sweet Baby C once she is here too!

Five months later…

Hello lovely people!

It’s been well over five months since I last wrote anything here, but lately I’ve been feeling a tug to start writing again. To update you as quickly as possible:

  • I am 29 weeks pregnant with a little GIRL! To say we were shocked was an understatement. From the day of our embryo transfer I was pretty certain this baby was a boy and even referred to her as a him.
  • I started mentoring a couple women who are going through the IVF process and just talking to them and listening to their stories. The whole process is so draining and it’s nice to have someone there who not only fully understands what you are going through but knows when to just shut up and listen to those much needed vents.
  • We lost all our remaining embryos in the storage tank malfunction I mentioned back in March. According to the hospital, none of them are viable, which puts us back at square one if we ever decide we want more children. We’ve discussed adoption opposed to another round of IVF but haven’t settled on anything just yet. We are currently working with a lawyer to determine our rights and help us through this.
  • I’ve been pretty busy with work, which isn’t too surprising, and I’m sort of nervous for maternity leave and coming back to chaos at the beginning of next year though. The company I work for is incredible though and I know they wouldn’t let that happen. We also slow down with events as the year comes to a close so there won’t be as much happening once we hit December.
  • We just got back from our babymoon trip last week! We did a week in Florida, split between Orlando and Clearwater Beach. Highlights would include a boat ride to spot dolphins, a trip to the spa, and walking around Disney with our “I’m celebrating” pins. Everywhere we went seemed to give us a small gift for baby C or congratulated us making the trip very special. Next year we already have a trip to Europe planned, but we can’t wait to take her down to Disney when she’s old enough.

I think those are the highlights. Ultimately, I’ve really enjoyed being pregnant. I’ve had the queasiness, insomnia, heartburn, and general discomfort that most women experience. I’ve been poked for too many blood draws to count (thank you thyroid and anemia issues). Yet I know I’m going to miss being pregnant. I love feeling and seeing her kick, I love the excitement Irwin gets when he also feels or sees her move, I have even learned to love my body and all it’s capable of {even though it’s not that “perfect” size 2}. I’m sad this season is coming to an end, but I also know that the next season is going to be full of baby snuggles and watching her grow up which will just be so rewarding. It’s crazy how much we already love this little girl and I cannot even fathom what we will be feeling on her birthday.

 

what a weekend

My guess is you can hear me yawning all the way where you are. Work weeks should be two days and weekends should be five, right?

Saturday remained pretty uneventful, but yesterday was a whirlwind. We went to the early service at church as we were hosting Irwin’s family for Easter. Unfortunately, that didn’t exactly go as planned. As we were leaving the church I went to the bathroom and saw blood. So what’s a girl to do except panic and as soon as I got in the car I told Irwin who promptly took me to the emergency room to get checked out. The whole way there I am worried because we had 20 people arriving to the house in an hour and a half and I knew this was going to take about that amount of time. I didn’t even have a ham ready to go at that point, what were people going to eat?

We get checked in at the emergency room and I’m just sitting there worrying while Irwin makes arrangements for his parents to hold down the fort until we can get home {God bless that man because I swear he is an angel}. They finally bring us back, grab my vitals, and we wait some more. We hear a knock on the door and were excited that the doctor was finally going to see us, except it wasn’t the doctor, it was our pastor’s wife who was exactly who I needed to see to calm me down. We prayed and talked for a bit while we waited for the nurses and doctors to do what they needed. They ended up taking multiple vials of blood and as she was finishing up another nurse walked in with an IV bag, to which I said no way hosea, my arm was tapped haha. We then waited awhile longer and then it was time for my ultrasound. The transport nurse went to wheel me back to radiation and Irwin started to follow and that’s when we learned that no visitors were allowed, including husbands. I bummed a little bit because I wanted him to be with me, but the nurse kept me calm. It was really chilly in the ultrasound room so I was shaking a bit. Then the nurse told me to be as still as possible and turned the monitor and that’s when I saw our little beans heartbeat for the first time. It was magical and I swear my heart exploded in that moment. I cannot wait for next Monday when we get to see him or her again.

After about 4 hours, we sat with the doctor and she said everything looked great and not to worry. We were both super relieved to have a healthy little bean and headed home to a house full of people. Fortunately, everyone was really happy the baby is okay and ended up leaving not too long after we got there giving us time to relax, I think we were showered and in bed by 6pm… oops.

Back to work today and I feel like it’s going to be a long week. Here’s hoping it goes somewhat fast.

exhausted

I worked from home yesterday which was a much-needed break from my office. I had a higher than normal level of energy on Wednesday, but that quickly caught up with me and I couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed yesterday. I ended up even taking a nap before noon rolled around and felt a bit more awake after that. I needed to get to the store though as we are hosting Irwin’s family on Sunday, so I threw on some clothes and put my bangs back with a headband {aka: I looked like a bum} and went off to Target and the grocery store.

I ended up starting to have some very light spotting last night, which obviously has sent me into the tailspin of internet searches. It hasn’t been red blood, nor has there been a lot of it, but seeing bleeding when your only 5w5d is a little unnerving. I kind of wish my ob would just get me in for an early ultrasound, but alas, he is not concerned. This means I shouldn’t be concerned either, right?

playhouse

My inlaws have had season tickets to Playhouse Square for basically as long as I can remember, and at least definitely before Irwin and I got engaged. I’ve seen a handful of plays at this point because of that, some great, others I wouldn’t recommend to an enemy. I believe they have eight or so shows a season, some are more well known than others. I like to go to the ones that are well known, so I have a premise on the plot before I walk in. I also do some research on the other shows for the season and decide if I want to go based on the storyline. I’m just not into some things you know? Especially when those things happen at 8pm on a Tuesday and I have to be at work early the next morning.

Last night, they had tickets to see Rent. This was one of the shows I didn’t want to miss, even though I was supremely tired. Irwin and I stopped at Starbucks before heading downtown because I couldn’t be bothered to make dinner after I took a nap {pregnancy is making me really lazy due to being exhausted all the time} and I spent $15 dollars on just me. FIFTEEN. I got a sandwich, a beverage, and then chocolate covered almonds, which I was hoping were going to be like jordan almonds, but ended up being a closer resemblance to peanut m&ms.

Anyways, we ran a bit late, but only missed the first song or two, and as the play went on I realized that there wasn’t really dialogue, but songs. It had been awhile since I saw the movie, which I didn’t remember being only songs so I appreciated this. It made time go by a little bit quicker. The show from start to getting out of there was about 3 1/2 hours and I enjoyed just about all of it. Some of the songs were a little out there for my taste, but overall I really enjoyed it and plan to rewatch the movie sometime soon.

The next show they have tickets to is Humans, which I don’t believe we are going to, but in May, we have tickets to Aladdin, and I am excited for that one! How about you? Any playgoers, and if so, what is your favorite show you’ve seen?

second beta

I waited ALL DAY yesterday for a call from our nurses about our second beta draw. I am currently 5 weeks and 1 day, so still very early, but we had a great beta number a week ago, so the nurse and I were expecting a number somewhere in the couple thousand range.

At my last blood draw, I got the call with my number around 10:30, so I was feeling pretty calm until 10:30 came and went yesterday, then panic started to set it. I did a split day at the office yesterday, so I got to leave at noon, which was really good for my sanity since I just kept staring at my phone. I got home, did the dishes, made some lunch, and tried taking a nap. My nap efforts, as tired as I was, were futile because I could feel my heart racing about these beta numbers. So 2:30 rolls around and I called the clinic like the crazy person I am. The nurse was with a patient, but the receptionist said the results were good, she just needed to chat with me.

Finally, five minutes before I need to leave to head to work, the clinic calls me back. I was expecting my beta levels or progesterone to be low, but I was wrong. My beta came back at 14,300!!! I was in shock. The only reason she needed to speak with me is so we could set up our ultrasound with the doctor and to make sure I knew about the malfunction of the storage tank and to be expecting a call from the doctor to discuss our options.

Our ultrasound is set for the 26th, and I am so, so excited to see our little bean for the first time.

weekend recovery

This was a pretty big weekend for Irwin and me. We told our parents and some of my extended family that we are having a baby! I, unfortunately, didn’t get a video of anyone finding out, but everyone was really excited and it was super special. Even my brother was home from college for spring break, so he got to partake in the news sharing too (even though he already knew).

We also found out this weekend that our embryos were in the tank that malfunctioned and may have possibly lost our remaining 7 embabies. This was a really hard pill for both of us to swallow, but we also just put our hands on my belly and prayed so hard and so fervently for our little miracle. Had one thing gone differently in the whole process, we could’ve lost all our embryos and had to start over {something that I don’t even want to think about currently}. We have been praying so hard since finding out our embryo took and we are going to continue to pray for our little bean. He/she is our miracle baby, and we are praying for both the health and safety of our baby, and for us as parents that we do a good job and raise them to be a man or woman of God.

So this weekend was full of high points and low points and ended this morning with my second beta. We are praying for good results so we can schedule our ultrasound and our first prenatal appointment with our ob. It honestly still feels so surreal to me that we are pregnant, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.