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…

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.

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?

baby announcements

I touched a bit on this topic yesterday, but I’m going to elaborate a bit more on it today.

Last night, I witnessed my first pregnancy announcement since finding out that we are also expecting. My heart did the one thing I was not expecting, it tightened up. This couple hasn’t even been together for as long as Irwin and I have been trying to have a child and here they were just a few months into their marriage and pregnant with their child, and far enough along to “safely” announce it. At that moment, even knowing I have a little one growing inside me I had a tinge of sadness and jealousy rush over me.

It wasn’t fair that they got pregnant immediately.

It wasn’t fair to think about the worry they probably didn’t have.

It wasn’t fair that it still hurt my heart to see others so happy.

I used to love pregnancy announcements. Until about 6 months into our journey, then they became something that crushed my soul. Month after month of high hopes and negative tests, finding out you have a 0.01% chance of this ever happening naturally for you, getting into fights with Irwin over timed sex even though we both knew chances were slim. This has been my reality for the past two years, and even now that we are pregnant, I still feel the sting of infertility.

My heart got tight. It felt like the air had been sucked out of my lungs. It was a feeling I didn’t think I would have to feel again.

It only took me a few seconds to get back to reality. I calmed down and remembered our little bean which is growing inside me now and promptly asked God to forgive me of my jealousness at that moment. For those who are going through and have gone through infertility, seeing a pregnancy announcement is never going to be an easy thing to see, but each new little life is such a miracle and should be treated as such. Sometimes people conceive immediately, or by accident. Some are on this road for years or even decades before holding their little one in their arms. Some never get to hold their child. This journey is far from fair, but I do truly believe it makes us so much stronger. If you’re on this journey, know you are not alone and never ever be scared to voice how you are feeling.

send caffiene

I am so, so sleepy today guys. And it’s March 1st. Where is time going?

The dogs have decided they need to be right on top of me at all times and because of that, I didn’t get much sleep last night. I also think I was still feeling the excitement from the positive test I got yesterday too. Today is the first day in about four weeks where I have wanted coffee, but I know if I have any a couple things will happen:

  1. I will be upset with myself because I’ve been really good so far and don’t want to mess up our chances at having a healthy baby.
  2. I won’t be able to sleep tonight.

So I want caffeine but shouldn’t have caffeine. My friends that know just keep telling me to get used to being tired, which I guess I probably should heed that warning because it’s good advice.

In other news, I’m basically appalled it’s only Thursday and we are supposed to get snow overnight, so I’m definitely contemplating working from home tomorrow. My boss is heading to sunnier climates tonight and everyone else in my office is off, so if I come in I’ll be alone. Maybe I’ll just make tomorrow a shorter than normal day {while in the office at least. I work the whole time I’m awake regardless of where I’m at usually}. After work tomorrow through Irwin and I are going on a date to get pizza, which let’s be real, is the best kind of date. We plan to tell our pastor, his wife, and one of our very good friends the news of our pregnancy this weekend and we are very excited!

What are everyone else’s plans for the weekend?

think thick!

I hope y’all aren’t sick of the Friends references yet, because I have no plans to stop.

I had my lining check this morning and all. looks. fabulous. Praise Jesus!

We are scheduled for our transfer on February 23rd, and the embryology lab will call on Thursday with time we need to be at the hospital. Guys, I have so much love for these little snowbabies. They are going to be some seriously amazing human beings someday.

 

IMG_5497Last night I was feeling really anxious about this appointment. You go through a fresh ivf cycle and towards the end I was being monitored daily and could see exactly what was going on. When you are type A, like myself, this is a dream. I also did a ton of research last cycle and learned so much about this whole process. With a frozen embryo transfer, things are a little more out of your hands, no monitoring except for a lining check, snowbabies have to thaw correctly, and lots of other things that are out of my control and having to relinquish that is challenging for me. So I was sitting in the parking lot trying to kill some time before going into the clinic {forever early to everything} and my favorite worship song was playing and I opened up Instagram, which is when I saw this. It was literally the first picture I saw on my feed and I was reduced to a puddle of tears almost instantly. Sometimes no matter how many people tell me everything is going to be okay, I need that signal from God and he has never, ever failed me with this.

Irwin and I are seriously so excited and so in love with our little babies. We cannot wait for transfer day, and everything after that. We are putting all our faith in God that this will indeed work and will we have our miracles. I want to thank all of you for your prayers and well wishes up until this point – we truly feel each and every one of them and know that our baby is so, so loved.

 

It’s the final countdown

Anyone else singing this? No? Just me? Maybe I’m just letting the Super Bowl Justin Timberlake hype get to me.

It has become kind of a tradition to host a super bowl party every year. Irwin likes football, and I like parties, so it works nicely. In the past few years, we’ve had a totally packed house, but this year we had a larger guest list and more space. I love having a bigger home. The mortgage payments aren’t my favorite, but entertaining and hosting is my calling and it’s hard to do that when you don’t have space to put friends. Obviously I was really only paying attention during the half time show, but it warms my heart having a home filled with friends and family. I’m also really just here for This Is Us afterwards.

In other news, I started my frozen embryo transfer cycle today! It’s still surreal that we have eight little snow babies waiting for us at the lab. This cycle already feels like it’s going to last forever, but in about a month we’ll know if we are going to be parents! I am currently on an oral estrogen pill and I’ll have to give the fertility clinic a call tomorrow. They will schedule me for my lining check and tentative transfer date at that time *grins uncontrollably*. I’m back off of coffee for the time being and will be scheduling another acupuncture appointment for the morning on my transfer. I really kind of like this new lifestyle I was somewhat forced into, I’ve even contemplated not drinking coffee even after having our baby. I guess we’ll have to see.

I suppose it’s time to let everyone get back to their super bowl parties, and I’m logging off so I can go cry through watch This is Us. That may just be what tomorrow’s blog post is about. Good night, and go eagles!

the one with the blastocysts

Anyone else just love the show Friends? I remember watching the final episode live with my mom, and she was crying when it was all over. Some shows, even if they are comedies, will do that to you. Friends is probably my “most watched” show on Netflix {but really, I don’t want to know how many times I’ve watched the series} and to think, Irwin didn’t even like this show when we first started dating. Now it’s become this bedtime ritual for us to watch a few episodes before we head off to dreamland.

Why is this important?

Because today, we got the email from the IVF lab that we have EIGHT little blastocysts frozen in the lab. This doesn’t sound like much because they typically have two per vile so we may be down to six after our first transfer, but I know God is in control and I know that soon we will be holding our baby in our arms.

Where do we go from here?

I have my medications ready to go for our frozen cycle so I am now just waiting on good ole aunt flow. Fortunately, it’s just a couple oral medications at first, and the intramuscular injections don’t begin until closer to the actual transfer date. And then it’s just one a day until 11 weeks. It is seriously insane to think how close we are to a pregnancy. The little blastobabies are just in vials right now, but I already have such an attachment to them. I cannot wait to carry them and be a mom, and I know Irwin is so excited to be a daddy too. For those who went through a frozen transfer, any advice? I’ve read lots of avocados are good, and an order of McDonalds fries right after transfer works like a charm.

seventeen and counting

Phew, what a weekend!

My egg retrieval procedure was Thursday morning bright and early on the other side of town. I was definitely tired {thank goodness I’m a morning person} but even more so thirsty since you can’t drink or eat anything for twelve hours prior to surgery. Once we met with the financial counselor and paid for all of this, it was time to go back to the OR. We did have a couple of nurses I’d never met, a doctor I never met, and an anesthesiologist team I never met either and to say I was a bit nervous was an understatement. However, I’ve said this a few times and I’ll say it again, the Fertility Center at University Hospitals employs the best hospital staff I have ever worked with. It also helped me that both nurses said they had needle phobias and everyone was seriously SO EXCITED for us. It totally calmed me down. I changed into my gown, Irwin got a cup of coffee and snacks {lucky bastard} and the nurses came into the room to go over my medical chart and prep us for the procedure. One of our mentors and great friends called us to pray with us at this point in time and I was so happy the nurses allowed him to finish before they started with all their info.

It was finally time for the iv and my arm is still a little sore because I’m a bit of a baby so I’m not going to talk much about this. But for anyone going through this, or anything where you need an iv, listen to the nurse. They know where is best to start it and it will save you needle pokes if you aren’t stubborn like me.

I walked into the procedure room and they got me all settled up on the bed. I literally remember them asking me to put my arms and legs in the stirrups and that’s it. I’m pretty sure I confirmed my date of birth and name for like the 300th time that morning, but after that I was out. I woke up about an hour later to the sound of fixer upper which was on the TV in the recovery room. It was at this moment that Irwin told me for the first time how many eggs they were able to retrieve: a whopping 30!!! And that morning I was concerned we’d only have like 5. I proceeded to ask him and the nurse a few dozen more times how many eggs we got because anesthesia and shock got the best of me. It was at this point I was able to drink something and have a snack {I had a sip of ginger ale, water, and goldfish crackers for those wondering} and about an hour and a half after I woke up, we were given the okay to leave.

When they triggered me, it was a mix of HCG and Lupron to ward off any severe OHSS, but they told me there was still a chance I would develop it which is why the transfer was pushed back. I’m pretty sure I ended up with a mild case of it, as today is the first day since Wednesday I am not in pain from bloating. It wasn’t anything severe and I never vomited or caught a fever so we self treated. I do know OHSS can be a yo-yo though so I’m going to continue to be careful. Fortunately once my next cycle starts this will disappear.

Now to the good part, numbers:

30 eggs retrieved on Thursday

22 of those were mature

17 fertilized

AND… drum roll please…

ALL 17 embabies had divided and continued to grow as of yesterday. We will get an email on Wednesday with how many they were able to freeze! This is truly an incredible number and way more than Irwin and I were expecting. God is so amazing, am I right?

We are currently planning to move forward with a frozen embryo transfer next cycle, so I’ll keep you all posted on how that progresses and, of course, with the final number of babies we have frozen. This whole month seems to be a little bit of a blur, but I am so in awe with how amazing this turned out and I am so excited to see what else is in store.

and some panic

Yesterday we made it through day three of stimming and even a mid-injection cartridge change. The follistim only has 300 units per cartridge and it’s overfilled slightly, meaning sometimes we will have to switch it out mid-injection. This is kind of an annoyance, but Irwin and I are becoming pros at this so it wasn’t too bad. I’m at that point where it’s like what’s one more needle and a few hundred more dollars *proceeds to make it rain money which University Hospitals promptly picks up and deposits into their account*.

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All jokes aside, I did have a moment of weakness this morning and had a mini panic attack after leaving the monitoring appointment. According to the ultrasound by lining is thickening (good sign) but all the follicles I have are still under 10mm a piece (normal sign). I think in my head I was expecting this amazing growth, so even after both nurses, Dr. Google, and friends telling me all this is normal for being on day 3 of stims and day 6 of my cycle, I still had a bit of panic set in thinking what if they cancel because I’m not responding well. I was so worried about overstimulation that I didn’t even give thought to under stimulating. New curve ball I guess. I will say that on the baseline day, I couldn’t see any follicles on the ultrasound, and today I saw a lot, so I feel like there is growth, they are just growing slowly. Turtle and the hare – slow and steady wins the race.

Outside of my bout of panic and some tears this morning, I still feel really good. No major bloating (still wearing jeans!) and no true pain. I do feel some expanding down by my ovaries, but nothing abnormal or cause for concern. Trying to eat mostly healthy, but the caramel – pretzel – chocolate chip cookies I made the other day are still part of my daily caloric intake. All about balance after all, amiright?

Today I am thankful for my friends that have been there since the moment we started this journey 2 years ago. I have literally never met any of them in person, but a lot of the time, and especially with anything regarding reproduction, I feel closer to them than any of my irl friends. I guess that’s what happens when you regularly discuss Wanda, bodily fluids, and pee sticks. Love you ladies to pieces!