The Bump Goes to Disney!

1st time photoA moment I had been waiting for – taking my baby bump to my “happiest place on earth”.  Walt Disney World!  So for Easter weekend we decided to risk the holiday crowds, weather and other craziness to experience our first visit with little Elise along for the ride.

In preparation for my first trip to Disney while pregnant, I did my usual internet searches and found a few blogs with tips and pointers.  But as usual, nothing really prepares you for how different you will feel once you are in the parks.  Normally I am able to walk for miles without stopping, but I found out very quickly that stopping to rest and keeping fed and watered were constant staples of our visit.  Fortunately, we have been to Disney enough times to know where all the restrooms, benches, and shady places were prior to our arrival.

One note I did not see on many of the blogs I read was that you can request a cup of water from any quick service stand for free.  This is something we found out about a couple of years ago, and while I still carried my water bottle with built in filter, sometimes a cup of ice water is always a welcome change.  The other thing I noticed was that many Disney cast members were extra diligent when they realized my tummy was a baby bump.  While hitting the restroom before the Indiana Jones stunt show, I had multiple cast members direct me, ask me if I needed assistance, and seeking assurance that I was “A-ok!”

The highlight of the visit was meeting Mickey and Minnie.  You may laugh, but I never tire of this experience as I am always taken back to childhood.  But this time was a moment seen only in my dreams.  I entered the Character Spot at Epcot bright and early on a Saturday morning and immediately found myself face to face with The Mouse.  Sporting my “Mouseketeer onboard” maternity shirt mama and I had found on Pinterest, the cast members and characters quickly noticed my little Elise bump and with that, everyone was ready for my sweet girl and I’s official first Mickey photos together.  Upon finishing the character rounds, I found myself overwhelmed and shed a few happy tears that something I had given up on ever happening had actually come true.

A few other quick tips for anyone else traveling to Disney at twenty weeks pregnant:

  • Pack a light backpack with granola bars and trail mix.  While there is plenty of food in Disney, not all of it is healthy and you will find that you are waiting in a line when you need a quick snack.
  • Bring a water bottle with built in filter.   The water in Florida does not always taste the best, even from the quick serve counters, so I find I cannot live without my Brita water bottle.
  • Rest every hour or so.  I made sure to get off my feet for a few minutes about every hour to drink water and to prop my feet up.  This due diligence kept my ankles from swelling and I suffered hardly any aches and pains at the end of the day.
  • Catch a show.  There are so many fabulous shows in Disney and what better time than when you are not riding the headliners.
  • Give yourself a treat at least once a day.  With so many goodies, I selected one item a day to splurge on.  This kept me from having too much of a good thing all at once and kept my weight on track.  Mickey Ears ice cream and the cream cheese filled pretzel are two of my favorites.
  • Go early and take a nap in the afternoon.  The best time to be in the parks is at  opening since you can usually ride most rides without a fastpass (especially in the Magic Kingdom since the kiddie rides are pretty much the limit).  Also, you can be back at your hotel prior to the afternoon sun or heat settling in.
  • Wear a hat and sun screen.  I’m not sure about others, but my freckles have been really pronounced the past few weeks with pregnancy, so I was extra diligent with the hat and sunscreen.

Disney fountainMost of all just take in the experience.  While we are fortunate to have been to Disney more times than we can count, no matter if it will be your first or your 100th visit, my motto is to always just enjoy being there.

Disney is something special.  There is no place like it.  Everyone can be young and silly.  And yes – dreams can come true there!  See you real soon, Mickey.

Tickled Pink

Bump shirt 2Someone needs to pinch me.  There are still days that I cannot believe all of this is happening, that I am now 19 weeks pregnant and carrying a healthy baby girl.  I count my blessings every day;  say my prayers every night;  and  try to remember just how lucky I am.

At 19 weeks, I am really excited with my progress.  So far I have gained about eight pounds (there’s a ninth one that hasn’t quite hung on yet), am feeling great throughout the day, able to walk about 1.5 miles each afternoon, and am eating like the food is going to run away.  I am still not having particular cravings;  I pretty much just want food all day long.  I know little one is growing, as is my belly, but this hunger is something else.

I try to keep healthy options in the house such as fruit, veggies, hummus, etc.  But if I have had a craving it would be potato chips.  As with much of my pregnancy, salt has been my go to, which is very different than my pre-pregnancy cravings that would have included anything sweet.  I buy as much all natural, organic and veggie chip/snack options as I can.  But I know I’m only fooling myself – chips are still chips whether they are made with organic potatoes and sea salt or not.  But at the end of the day, they are just yummy and now I’m craving some.

This month has been both exciting and nerve wracking.  As a thirty-nine year old woman, more tests are run to monitor little one and her health.  I know that not many women talk about this as it is a very scary and private journey.  All any of us want is a healthy child.  But the process has been more overwhelming than I ever imagined.

Based on my age, we already knew we were going to have a different journey than we would have had in my early thirties, but I just was not prepared for all the tests. Baby girls foot - 4-8-14 Fortunately, my sweet husband is always so wonderful and supportive.  And so as with everything we have encountered, I am trying to focus on the positive outcomes of the tests.  For example, our ultrasound this week was to check for fetal abnormalities.  While I admit I was my typical worrisome self, by the time we got there, had received our counseling, and were in the ultrasound room – my fears began to subside.  As we once again saw those beautiful images of little one, they were completely gone.

We had already decided we wanted to know what little one was (I’m a planner), but when the moment struck and we heard the words, my heart became overwhelmed.  It is a girl;  we are having a daughter; she is healthy and quite a bouncy little thing.  While I have been feeling and connecting with our child from the beginning, now knowing what she is and calling her by her name, makes her even more real.  Hearing my husband talk about her, and say “daddy’s little girl”, brings tears to my eyes.  It’s not because of wanting a particular gender – but just the reality of knowing, dreaming, and planning.

As many of the comments on social media announced, we are now going to live in a “pink paradise”.  Her mother is already a pink-aholic, and now, I’ll have to try to contain myself with all of the temptations around me.  All I know is that with twenty-one weeks left, it’s time to start planning, buying and preparing.  The McFee’s are having a girl; our lives will never be the same; and we absolutely cannot wait!

A letter to the bump.

My Dearest Little One,

cakeToday I celebrate my thirty-ninth birthday, and yet because of you I am feeling younger everyday. We have now completed seventeen weeks of our journey together and on Wednesday, March 19th, I felt your tiny movements for the first time. Now I look forward to you making your presence known to me as there is nothing more comforting than your flutters reminding me you are there.

Everyday we have together has already been such a gift, but the next year is what I am most excited about. Because of you, this last year of my thirties will be one of the best of my life. Because of you and all the adventures ahead, I cannot wait for my forties. You have already changed me in so many wonderful ways, and I know I will never be the same.

For once in my life, I welcome getting on the scales each day and seeing the number go up. I look in the mirror and don’t see wrinkles, but see the face of the woman that will care for you. At work, previous stressful situations do not seem so complex because I look at things with a different perspective. Everyone around me even seems to be impacted, as conversations always lead to you and your progress. Yes, you are my dearest gift.

Your Nana also has seen a huge change in her health since we found out you were on the way. A year ago she could barely walk after breaking her back and this past week she walked everyday with us to the beach. Making sure you maternity storeand I got our exercise. Nana and I also thank you for the journey we are getting to share as mother and daughter. I’m sure you heard and felt all my belly laughs the other day as we tried on clothes at the maternity store with a fake bump, imagining what you and I will look like in a few months. These are special moments and our first moments with you in our lives.

Your daddy and I have also shared some special memories with you already. I hope you have heard him speaking to you, that you know he rubs and kisses mommy’s belly and that, while we do have the normal fears of first time parents, we cannot wait for you to get here;  to love you, to teach you and to make more memories with you.

Yes, my dearest little one, you are so loved. And as your mommy, I already feel so honored. I promise to do the best I can to care for you now and in the future. I vow to cherish every moment we are given together. And more than anything else, I will love you now and for all the birthdays I have left.

So let’s go eat some cake and get to celebrating.

All my love,
Your Mommy

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Are you going to…wait, what was I saying?

applesAs I am heading into week 16 (baby the size of an apple/orange), I have started noticing more of what I consider the funny pregnancy symptoms making their presence known.  I am already learning to laugh at myself more than ever, as these other symptoms come forward and I find myself sometimes baffled at what I’m doing or saying.

First, let’s address this “pregnancy brain” issue.  I have heard friends speak of this during their pregnancies in the past, and I’ve always been a little forgetful (just ask any childhood friend or sorority sister), so this has caught me a little of guard to be worse.  My husband and family will say I have a selective memory, but I prefer to call it a passionate memory, meaning I only remember those instances that have a huge impact on my heart (both good and bad).  Whatever it is, my previous memory issues have been related to my long-term memory.  Now I find my short-term memory beginning to be impacted.

I just can’t seem to remember anything.  What’s really interesting is being mid-sentence and completely losing my thought.   And I mean the thought is gone, blank, black hole.  When this happens, I just laugh.  I can’t help myself.  To me it is hysterical, strange, but because I know why it’s happening, I have a little giggle while rubbing my belly knowing that little one is worth every lost thought.

The second symptom I have noticed recently are the cravings.  Early in my pregnancy it was all about food aversions, especially meats and hot vegetables.  Thankfully, I only have one protein that still hasn’t made it back completely into my diet, chicken.  Now for most individuals this would not have a major impact, but since I have a food allergy to red meat and pork, this really has limited my variety of protein.  My sweet husband and mother have both been brain storming as to how we can hide chicken in dishes, as we have discovered as long as I cannot see it, then I can get it down.  Again, I laugh as I feel like a little kid, that as long as I don’t know it’s there, I can eat it.  Let’s just put it this way, I’ve had my fill of eggs, spinach and cheese.

On the flip side, last week I finally had my first real craving.  While I have craved a few things, mostly salty foods, nothing has been specific until last week when apples became my food of choice.  Now again, their is irony in this discovery as I have never been a big apple eater.  My sweet husband used to cut up apples so I would eat them, so now that I can’t make it through a day without one, it is quite laughable.  But at least I’m craving something healthy, for now.

pillowAnd finally, the pregnancy pillow has made it’s way into our bed.  Now that I am sporting more of a bump and my hips and legs are little more achy, I broke down and made this “major” purchase.  I could not believe how many different types of pillows there were out there and so I took my time over a few weeks, researching.  What I have realized is that this was nothing compared to when we start purchasing strollers, car seats, etc.  So the fact that it took me 3 weeks to purchase a pillow is a sign that I may need to get to work on these baby items.

After all, I only have 25 more weeks until baby time.

Well Hello Second Trimester…glad to meet you!

I cannot believe it’s been a month since I last wrote in the blog.  That I am a month further into this wonderful journey.  That I am now in the second trimester!

While lucky with suffering only heavy nausea for a few weeks, I still welcome the second trimester for so many wonderful reasons.  First, yes, the nausea has nearly subsided and now only rears its ugly head when I’ve waited too long for a snack (which is very rare); and secondly, I am feeling more energetic and have resumed my walking hopeful to get my sore legs moving.  But the best reason for entering this wonderful next phase is the comfort of knowing that the risks continue to be less and that little one has definitely made itself at home.

photo 1Yes, little one is stretching out as is my little belly.  I laugh when I see photos, as to me my bump feels huge, as if it’s sticking way out.  But when I see a picture, I cannot believe what my tummy looks like.  Prior to IVF, I was blessed with having a waistline and relatively flat stomach for a few years now – everything seems to always settle in my hips and thighs.  So now that my middle is thick and I definitely have a tummy, it feels massive.  But again, I am not complaining, quite the contrary, I cannot wait for it to get bigger.  According to our scale, my weight gain has only been between 2 -3 pounds (depending on the time of day), so I know this is nothing compared to what is ahead.  I have included a photo comparing week 12 to week 14, so you can judge for yourself.

Another symptom that has come forward lately are the dreams.  While I’ve always been an active dreamer, I normally dream of random stories with people I don’t know.  Lately, while I can’t remember the dreams, they are filled with people I know and are usually something completely crazy.  Like going to the meeting with my staff members last week and they were all faceless, or sitting in an airport with no planes and not being able to remember where I am going.  Most of the time I just wake up knowing I dreamt something odd, but not certain what it was.

My favorite dreams that I can remember, include my angels, our family members that have left this earth.  I have always had a tendency to dream of family members for up to a year after they pass, interacting with me in passionate discussions.  Now I dream of them with our little one or talking about what little one will be like or what gift they have bestowed.  No matter what your beliefs, these are fabulous and comforting and make me feel that those we have lost are here with us now in our journey.

So little one and I continue to grow, to get out and do our daily walk to keep the blood pumping, and to continue to try to eat as healthy as possible (with a donut or Girl Scout cookie thrown in every now and then).  My hips are expanding, bringing some pain, so a pregnancy pillow is in my future this week and when my mother comes for my birthday the end of the month, I’m hoping we can take a spin through the maternity store.  As you can tell, I’m excited about every symptom, eager to welcome anything new no matter if it’s comfortable or not.  Everything is a sign of little one and my body doing what they need to do.

expectantI AM an expectant mother.  I am expecting aches, but I am also expecting exciting times ahead.  I am expecting tears and smiles, but most of all I am expecting the most fabulous journey. Buckle up second trimester, I am ready for an adventurous few months.

Welcome to our story

Welcome to where I share our journey to family.  This blog was created as a way for me to tell the story of infertility and IVF; a place where I could be honest;  give my perspective and hope that this might assist others that go through this process.

Please keep in mind that the blog starts with the most recent entry and goes back to the first, which begins on November 25th, so you may want to scroll to the end and read them in order to understand the full story.

Also, this is told from my heart, so is transparent and holds very little back.

Our journey ended happily, and we know how truly lucky we are to now be in the second phase of our adventure.  I hope our story inspires others to believe in each other, to give something scary a try and to trust in the power of love.

Wishing everyone happy endings!

Steph sig

P.S. – To jump to the beginning, click here. From there you can click on the November archives.

What a difference a day makes

Ten weeks.  I will say it again, ten weeks.  I’m ten weeks into this amazing journey and still cannot believe it.  So much continues to happen and change.  I feel as if I am outside my body looking down with wonder each time something twinges, grows or moves.  Lucky.  That’s all I can say.  I’m so very lucky.

Last week, though, I was afraid that my luck had ended.  What I am about to share may not be easy to read, and it wasn’t easy to experience, but it is yet again, something else I have overcome.  At our eight week ultrasound with the fertility clinic, the doctor pointed out something he saw and mentioned that I would experience some spotting in the future.  At the time, I was so distracted by the heart beat of little one, that I didn’t pay much attention.  I inquired with my OB at my first appointment on Monday last week, but the nurse seemed to indicate it was normal.  Described some things to watch out for and to call them if I was worried.  But what happened on Tuesday morning was enough for me to think my world was ending.

My reason for documenting this is for the women that come after me.  That hear “spotting” and think of that one way, while the experience can be so much more.  So I will call it what is was in my experience, bleeding.  Yes, on Tuesday morning at about 10:30 am ET, I began to bleed.  Desperate in the moment, I was lucky as always that my dear husband was at my side.  He remained calm (at least on the surface), called the doctor and within minutes had us on the road to the hospital.  The entire time talking me through it.  Reassuring me, all would be well (whether he believed it or not).  By the time we arrived at the hospital, things seemed to have calmed down.  And by the time I was back in the ER with the doctor, it had nearly stopped.  What we came to find out was that I was experiencing “spotting”.  That over one-third of pregnant women have it, that they also saw what my fertility doctor had seen, but that most  importantly little one and I were both perfectly fine.  After all the poking and prodding, the bleeding continued on and off until about  9 pm that night and then it was all over.

Despite reassurance, I was still a nervous wreck.  My OB agreed to see us on Wednesday, and by that time, with everything back to normal for me, I was starting to believe we were both going to be ok.  Thankfully, the doctor was wonderful, comforted me, shared her own experience and assured me that for many women, this was normal.  Later that day, I shared my episode with two other women, who confirmed they had been through the same ordeal.  While it is not something to ignore and it is terrifying, call your doctor and take a deep breath.

By Thursday, we were back at the OB for IMG_20140206_1_9our second ultrasound, and I will never be able to express my jubilation at what we saw.  On the screen was our little one.  Wiggling, kicking, moving it’s hands.  Putting on a show that took our breath away.  Not a white speck, but a little “cupie doll” staring back at us.  It was the most precious moment of my thirty eight years of life.  From the desolation and fear of Tuesday to the overwhelming joy and happiness of Thursday.   My heart was full.

And so another week is behind us, and soon we will be past the twelve weeks.  Past the first trimester.  On to the next phase.  While I know there may be more ups and downs in the future, for now I stare at the images of our little one and smile.  I am amazed by it’s sweet nose and little feet.  I thank the universe for the gift of this pregnancy, and I enjoy each day as it is given to me.  From this day forward, not a day will go by that I will not worry about our little one.  Every day for the rest of my life I will wonder if I am doing my best for our child.  I understand now, more than ever, that I have already become…a mother.

The 3 week countdown…

It’s been almost a month since I have posted and so much has occurred.  Today marks nine weeks into this new journey, with only three more weeks left until the end of the first trimester.  I am approaching pregnancy much as I have each stage of this process – one step at a time.

Each day has brought something new, and I continue to be amazed at how my body is responding.  While the nausea has continued to increase, I am so thankful that I have yet to go beyond just the feeling of being sick.  I will not lie and as I have said before, I have so much more respect for pregnancy than I ever did before.  Yes, it’s an amazing journey, but there are days that lifting my head is more difficult than I ever imagined.  Days where eating feels more like a chore than a reward.  But each time the symptoms take over, I rub my growing belly, speak sweetly to my little one and know it’s all for an amazing cause.

Earlier this week the morning sickness kicked it up a major notch causing me to keep my bucket very close at hand.  On a work call the other day, I nearly lost my breakfast and at the same time was being asked a question.  I ended up in laughter as I realized my little secret and the hysterical image I must have made with my head in my bucket, my headphones on for the call, and my hands on my laptop trying to keep up with the conversation.  Oh the things that we do for the love of a little one.

Yes – our little one is growing as is my belly.  Last week I was amazed when I realized my stomach muscles had started to tighten, and that I now have an upper muscle that prevents me from bending over completely.   It’s the most joyous feeling on earth.

mcfee_babyOne week ago we finally had our first look at our little miracle.  When the image appeared on the screen, I was overcome and tears streamed down my face.  When the doctor turned on the sound and we heard it’s sweet heartbeat, I didn’t think I would be able to keep my composure.  There it was, our little one.  While only a small speck on the screen, we could actually see it’s fluttering heart.  A moment I will always remember.  Thursday, January 23rd was the first time we met our child.

So here we go with the final countdown of the first trimester.  Not only am I excited for the hope of the end of the nausea, but more importantly for the time we can announce to the world our coming joy.  I cannot wait to tell our secret, to share this next journey with everyone that we know.

For now, I grab the crackers, drink some ginger ale, and rub my sweet belly – letting my little one know how much it is already loved.

The symptoms have landed!

Three weeks since the transfer, nine days since the news, and every day with more symptoms.  I am beginning to believe that I am pregnant.  You may laugh at that revelation, but my poor internal organs have been through so much the past few weeks, that I actually think I have finally felt the shift and am now in full blown “pregnancy land”.

I want to begin by informing that I am by no means complaining.  To the contrary, I welcome each and every symptom as a sign that things are progressing.  It is fascinating after so many years wondering what pregnancy was like, looking at pregnant women with Jan coldjealousy and excitement, that now I have a new respect for every woman that has gone through this.  Especially those that have had to actually go in to an office during this first trimester.  I struggle enough with the nausea and bathroom breaks while working from home and cannot fathom what that must be like in an office setting.  I count my blessings that I can do all of this from my home, in my comfy baggy clothes;  stretching out and taking a brisk walk when necessary to relieve my aches.  (Here is a photo from Monday, all bundled with our 40 degree weather and sporting my college team logo for the football that was later that day.)  Yes, I am a very lucky lady.

So here I am, once again playing a waiting game.  With two more weeks until the ultrasound, wondering how far along I am and how our little one is progressing, I have delved into the world of Google.  Fortunately, there is a wealth of information out there on what is happening each week, helping to explain each twinge and new symptom.  I have actually been able to find peace in my current research and based on my findings, feel I am probably entering my 5th week.  Of course, we will not know for certain until our visit on January 23rd, but for now I am content in this conclusion.

While I remain positive and ecstatic at my fortune so far in this journey, I will admit that this phase is pretty tough.  I am waiting for my sweet husband to throw his hands in the air about my eating, or lack thereof after he’s made something I cannot stomach.  We may have to start buying two bulk packages of toilet paper at the warehouse store each visit with all of my stops in that room of the house;  and I’m getting creative incorporating walking on rainy and cold days by doing laps in the house to keep my blood flowing to support building my little one’s home (while trying to not get dizzy).

barfbag2I found something funny on Pinterest the other day, which may soon be a staple in our house/car.  Maternity Barf Bags.  I am not kidding.  And as today has shown me, I may not be too far off of needing these (a little cuter than the bucket I carry around right now).  The irony in the nausea is that I’m also starving at the same time.  I wonder at things that say “remember you are not eating for two”.  Well, all I can say is that this is more than I normally eat and my stomach is constantly growling for even more.  Perhaps my little one is just a good eater like his/her mama.  Perhaps it’s because I am eating only healthy, organic, low processed food and my system is in shock.  Either way, I feel as if I’m eating constantly, but quite happily if that is what little one needs.

Yes, the symptoms have landed.  Yes, I admit, I feel like crap some days.  And Yes, I’ve never been happier in my entire life.  So Houston, there is no problem here.  This is one happy, nauseous pregnant lady.

A new chapter begins

It’s only been 4 days since receiving the official news, and yet the world looks completely different.  While the concept of pregnancy is still sinking in, the symptoms are making their presence known loud and clear.

What was only minimal nausea two days ago has turned into an all day event.  Leaving me sitting alone for five minutes will quickly lead to closed eyes and a nodding head.  And I never thought my bathroom trips, which have been frequent throughout the entire process, could get more common, but they have.  Mind you, there are no complaints from this pregnant lady.  I welcome each and every symptom with an open heart and a smile on my face.  They are all signs of my body doing its job, and for that I am proud and thankful.

Yesterday was a follow-up blood test to ensure my numbers were increasing indicating a healthy early pregnancy.  While I’m not sure what the numbers mean, I was thrilled with the enthusiasm of the nurse and the assurance that things were going well.  I also welcomed some quick pointers regarding nausea, sight and smell treatments.  These are the trickiest of symptoms for me to understand and manage.  One minute I’m eating a fish sandwhich like a starving person, and the next I’m having my husband take it off my plate – no longer able to stomach it.

The hardest thing for me to control is my need for information and constant research.  I’m trying to not be a crazy person with regards to what I should and shouldn’t be doing at this stage, but we’ve worked so hard to get here and I want to continue to ensure I’m doing all I can to support our little one.  Aside from the food and drink changes I had already made, I discovered the need to change out face, hair and body products.  My cabinets are now stocked with a variety of all natural, organic, and paraben/sulfate free items.  Again, I’m trying to not go overboard, and am actually glad for the “ah ha” at the junk I’ve been coating on myself over the years.  This may just lead to a permanent change, and I must admit it all smells and feels wonderful.blog photo 1

Embracing every moment for what it is, a gift, I took the opportunity to visit a maternity store for the first time.  Unfortunately it wasn’t just to dream, but out of necessity as the constant barrage of drugs and procedures has taken a toll on my little tummy and I am still sporting my pretty large pouch.  Aiming to add more than my two pair of stretchy pants back to my wardrobe, I purchased pant extenders.  While a small purchase, it was exciting to chat to the lady at the counter, think of the possibilities and again be reminded how blessed I am with this new chapter. (Yes, I look like a drowned rat in the photo thanks to two days of constant rain.  But a very happy  one!)

So here we go with the next stage.  And like the first chapters of this journey, we will take it one day at a time; one stomach leap, one bathroom break, one tear or smile.  Let the next chapter begin.