Thursday, May 28, 2015

Baby Blankenship Update

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- So many emotions in the past few weeks that I couldn't keep up with my own brain.  On Wednesday May 6th we had our first round of in vitro with our gestational carrier.  In case you haven't read some of my previous posts let me explain.

I was born with a rare syndrome and do not have ovaries or a uterus so I can't have children.  My beautiful, wonderful sister has decided to carry a baby for me, so my husband and I using a donor egg and his sperm are going through in vitro fertilization where they transfer embryo's into my sister's uterus and hope they take.

I told myself that I would not get upset if round one did not take.  I know that this will work eventually, and the Dr we have been seeing even said our odds are very high and there's no real reason it shouldn't work within three rounds.

Even though I told myself this and even told other people this, it didn't stop me from feeling like someone punched me in the gut when I found out that round one did not work.  I felt a sadness that I didn't even know existed.

Jim came home from work after the call and stayed with me because I was virtually inconsolable.  When people tell you this journey is long I now understand, everything that was exciting about it vanished when I realized it wasn't a snap your fingers process.

In case you are new to this procedure let me give you some background on how it works:

1. My sister does rounds of hormone's to get her body ready to carry a baby that isn't hers.

 2. When she's ready we go to the clinic where they take 2 embryo's they have created from a donor's egg and Jim's sperm and transfer them to her uterus.

Jimmy, Me and Dani before the procedure

This is a picture of our two embryo's before transfer!

3. We go into a room where the Dr. basically does an exam on Dani's uterus, and then through a catheter inserts the two embryos.  While they do that someone has an ultersound going so Jim and I can actually SEE the two embryos going into the uterus, it is WILD to say the least.

That tiny white line, that's the embryos!

4.  Now you sit and wait... 10 days after the transfer they can tell you whether you have a successful pregnancy or not.

I got the call on Monday the 18th at around 1:30, the nurse sounded so nervous that I knew something bad was about to be said.  It didn't work.  As I mentioned earlier, nothing can prepare you for that phone call because each round you go in so positive thinking THIS will be the round, THIS is when it is going to work and we'll be parents. 

After I rested for a few days and tried not to think about it we had an appointment with our Dr. for a followup.  Dr. Young explained that this is very common and can honestly be a number of variables, he said typically it's due to having a thin uterine lining, meaning my sister would probably have a "lighter" period that month (because that is what you are shedding, your uterine lining). 

He told me that 90% of the time this process works within 3 rounds and for us to not worry that it's perfectly normal for it not to work the first time. 

The hardest part for me about sharing my story and our journey to parenthood is the questions I get.  When it didn't work I had about 1 million texts from friends and families asking if it worked, I had to relive my sadness every time I wrote someone, "no it didn't take this time." 

That doesn't deter me from telling our story though, mainly because I hope someone else going through this process or one similar reads it and says "YES, I understand!"  Maybe they will feel not so alone. 

So we are going in for round 2, it'll probably be about 5 weeks until we can try again, my sister has to take another round of hormone drugs, and then they have to create the embryo's lots of science going on here... I have high hopes though that round 2 will be my round.  Stay tuned....

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Key West Vacay!

KEY WEST, Florida-- This is year 3!  What does that mean?  Well 3 years ago the company that Jimmy works for (Data Strategy) started an annual Presidents Club.  Basically for sales people who could sell over 110% of their yearly goal.  These people get to go on a trip to Key West all paid!

It's year 3 of the club and year 3 that my awesome husband qualified.  We have grown to love Key West and being that it is very small we know the area very well.  I ate way too much Angelina's Pizza, and I drank one too many beers over at Durty Harry's while I sang (screamed?) along to the "Durt Bags" who play each night.

We arrived on Thursday, May 14th at around noon.  The trip is short so we cram a lot in, in just a few short days.  We had lunch at the bistro outside our hotel (The Westin) which put us off to a great start considering the food is delicious!

After that we basically went in and laid by the pool all afternoon.  It was very warm in Key West which seems like a no brainer but actually the last few years when we went it was a little chilly and rainy so the change of having beautiful, 85 degree days was amazing.

That evening we did a scavenger hunt.  They broke us all into teams and we went around Key West doing photo challenges that we would email from our phones to the scavenger hosts.  It was crazy how quickly the hunt got out of control!

One of the challenges was to come up with a creative team name with a picture, so of course we were the "Banana Hammocks" and yes that is my husband in a thong speedo...

In case you couldn't tell we may or may not have had a few drinks at this point ;)  We ended up turning in our photos and then WON! It's not like we won anything but I am pretty competitive so we were happy to have won, especially after making Jim sport that speedo!

The next morning I decided to go for my run with a running group that meets every Friday at 7:30.  We ran a 4.5 mile loop that took us all over Key West.  We got to see a ton of different historical sites, and ran along the beach.  It definitly made for a nice change up in my run.

At the southernmost point during my run!

 Later in the day we took a massive yacht on a 5 hour cruise.  It was beautiful and they served some delicious food, we ate a lot on this trip!  When we got back we all dolled ourselves up and spent the night on the town, hitting up "Aqua" the drag queen bar for a show, then even going into "Garden of Eden" the nude bar... which was pretty weird.  I kept all my clothes on but there were some people just standing around, or dancing buck naked!  For some reason all the people that chose to be clothesless were not the youngest either...

The next morning each couple went off on different excursions, ours was a snorkel trip.  It was really wavy and choppy on the water so it visually wasn't the best but it was fun to get on the boat and make our way out into the ocean and then go swimming in it.

Now we are at Saturday night, the last night in Key West.  We took a boat to a small island where there was a restaurant called, "Latitudes."  We ate our fill on lobster, and steak before heading back to our hotel where we all changed and then went out dancing.  It was a rough morning the next day considering we had to leave at 6AM to catch out flight!

At dinner on the island

Having some fun dancing with Jenny and Josh

 Needless to say the weekend went to fast and while I'm glad to be home I wish I could be "island Jackie" for a little longer.  Let's just hope that Jim has a good year and we can make it "Year 4!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Race Recap: 5/3 River Bank Run 5k

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- I am an idiot.  I said after Boston I would not race for a few months and let my legs fully recover, blah blah blah... well then my boss asked me to do the Tulip Time 5k so of course I had to do it.

I didn't do half bad!  It was the last race for in in the 25-29 age division and I finished in 20:46, much better than I originally thought I would do!  Especially considering Boston was 2 weeks earlier and in the two weeks leading up to the 5k I ran like 3 times.

After that race Jimmy mentioned a few guys from work were doing the 5/3 River Bank Run 5k and he thought he would do it.  Well crap... that meant I had to do it, because I couldn't let him go race when he NEVER wants to run and then not run!

So I registered a couple days before and figured why not. Well it was a rainy, crappy morning so I went in with a negative, awful attitude.  The very thing I tell the kids I coach NOT to do.  I warmed up in the misty, humid rain and begrudingly did strides all the while telling myself how awful I was going to run.

That attitude is not at all conducive to running well, I can tell you that right now.  I lined up right on the front of the start line because the 5k here isn't especially fast and I didn't want to spend all my first mile passing, and dodging people.  A girl turned to me when I lined up there and said something that really pissed me off.

"Oh, this is like a really fast start... see that sign it says for people who run 6:30 pace..."  She pointed to a pace marker sign and I stared at her and just responded with a nod.  Why would this 'B' say that to me?  Do I look super slow or something?  I mean yeah like all women I struggle with the idea that I am "too big" but I don't think I look like slow runner.

The race is about to start and she lines up next to me, I am figuring this girl must be super fast because she made that comment like she is some all star running with Meb in her spare time.  The horn blows and that signals the start of the race.

We take off and she just flys off the start, I started what I THOUGHT was a little more conservative with a high school girl I used to coach (who is awesome!) We cross through the first mile and I see that conservative was NOT how you would describe the first mile I ran...

6:02. Damn that was stupid, that girl from before was ahead of me and I could see her stupid braid bouncing back n forth.  We make it about a quarter mile into mile 2 and I catch her and pass her, she is really dying. 

I didn't see her again until the finish line but I'll get to that in a bit.  So mile 2 comes and I have slowed down A LOT.  I come through in a 6:31 which isn't surprising I mean I took off at a pace I hadn't done since college. 

There isn't very many hills in the River Bank 5k, but mile 3 does have a few small gradual climbers nothing crazy, but when you go out like an idiot you will feel them, as I did.  I tried to not let myself slow down but there was really nothing I could do.  To be honest all I could think about was stupid braid girl and not letting her pass me back.

I passed a few more people who went out too fast, and then cruised through the finish line in about 20:40.  4 seconds faster than Tulip Time, so although I raced like an idiot I wasn't really disappointed.  I waited for the girl I used to coach to cross the finish line, and while I was waiting, there came braid girl, in 21 something or other.

The story really doesn't go past that I just was a little too happy to see how much I beat her by.  Anyway Jim did pretty good for not having raced or ran for that matter in a really long time, He finished in a 22:59. 

Lastly, this was my first race in the 30-34 age bracket and that means I can cross off goal number one from my list of things to do when I am 30... because I won my age group!

Just to wrap this up, I think I may do some more speed work because I should be running back in the 19's easily....and if you ever take advice from me its this, go into a race or really anything you do, with a positive attitude because you will do better.  I probably would have been 20 seconds faster had I mentally been in the game.  


Thursday, May 7, 2015

15 things I want to do while I am 30

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- It's my  birthday! 30 years ago today I was born in Lansing, Michigan at Sparrow Hospital.  I feel like I have crammed in a lot in 30 years between marathon running, getting my degree, switching careers, getting married... but there is still a lot more I want to do.  That said here is 15 things I would like to do this year, the year of 30.

  1. Win a race in my new age group!- I have moved from 25-29 age bracket in road races to the 30-34 age bracket, so I want to win my age group in this bracket!
  2. Volunteer more- I would like to work more with couples who are battling infertility.  Through my journey with infertility I have been surprised by the amount of emails I have received by people going through the same thing, I would like to be able to talk more with couples on a regular basis.
  3. Pick up a new hobby- I have always wanted to learn to sew, I am pretty creative and I think I could make some sweet threads if I just new how to sew... 
  4. Stretch more- I had multiple injuries in 2014 from not listening to my body.  I need to make sure this year that I stretch, stretch, stretch, and don't over do it!
  5. Take a ballroom dancing class- Jimmy and I said for our wedding we would take dance lessons and we didn't, I still think it is such a cool art form I want to at least try one class.
  6. PR in my marathon- 3:23 is great and all.... but I want to be faster, I am looking to do a 3:15
  7. Clean out my car and keep it clean- I feel like a 30 year old shouldn't have so many water bottles and pop cans in the front seat of their car... mine is really bad!  So I should probably get on that...
  8. Become more organized at home- we keep our home pretty tidy, but in our room we have a master bathroom with a walk in closet inside.  That is the "Jackie lair" where all my stuff is all over the counters, and the floor.  I want to organize my jewelery and my clothes so I can see everything more clearly! 
  9. Stop caring about what other people think- I have a bad habit of caring WAY too much about what other people think, from when viewers say mean things about my hair or voice to when the kids I coach are in a bad mood and get snappy at me, I take it too personal and I want to learn to let go.
  10. Help Jim more around the house- my schedule is really wacky and I have a lot of hobbies, so I have a tendency to let Jim do everything around the house and it isn't really fair.  I need to start taking more initiative, especially when it comes to cleaning and doing laundry!
  11. Win another pageant- I said that my last pageant was Mrs Michigan but I really like them, so I think I am going to try to win one in the year of 30.
  12. Upgrade my motorcycle- I have never been good at saving money but I want to try and set aside some every month and put it toward a Harley!  I love my suzuki but I am ready to upgrade from a 650
  13. Eat cleaner- this one sucks so hard, I love naughty foods, I am like the fast food queen and I probably won't stop eating what I eat but I need to incorporate some better nutritious food as well.
  14.  Do something new- Something that is NOT running related, maybe biking? Who knows just another form of physical activity!
  15. This one is last but it is my biggest one, I pray everyday... to have our baby! =)

What are some things you are looking to accomplish this year?  Comment below!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Baby Blankenship: Update

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- So much has happened since we began this journey to parenthood that I don't even know where to begin.  We started off with some fundraising efforts because the costs to do this with a gestational carrier were very steep.

We started a go fund me account and put our story out there, between that and the fundraiser we held at Pal's Diner we earned 5,657!  Our goal was 10,000 but we don't need anymore!  The amount we earned was perfect to help us pay for our donor egg and offset the costs of our procedures.

We paid everything off and that was one of the greatest feelings.  For one the stress that lifts when you pay off a huge payment like that is always insane, plus it made Baby Blankenship seem so much more real. 

Just a few weeks after we came up with the money we found out that we were already up on the donor list.  There are two ways to get eggs, one is called "fresh retrieval" where we pick our donor out of a data base and then they go into the clinic when they are ovulating and they take their eggs out and  make the embryos. 

The other option is frozen eggs.  This is relatively new to the Grand Rapids area they only started offering it about 5 months ago.  This is where potential donors go through all the screening process and then go in and donate their eggs, they are frozen and left in an egg bank until someone chooses them.  Because this is a new procedure the data base doesn't have very many people in it.

The costs are greatly reduced when choosing from the frozen egg bank mainly because we don't have to pay the costs of the donors hormone shots, and the procedure to retrieve the eggs.  We thought about it for a week or so and decided that, that was the route we wanted to take.

The next step is choosing your donor.  This is crazy hard!  Let me tell you there are so many amazing women on here that have each a story about why they chose to donate and help families in need.  The choice was a tad simpler for us because in choosing from the frozen egg bank there was only 4 current donors in the system (because like I said it is relatively new to the area.)

I wish I could share more about our donor but all that is kept secret for their privacy.  I can say that we had so much in common it made me cry!  She is a runner and was a college tri athlete for her university.  She keeps herself busy with tons of different hobbies and interests her bio sheet went on for pages of interesting facts about her and her family. 

Jimmy agreed immediately that she was the match for us and we chose our donor.  When you choose it is on a website that is password protected.  You login with a password they assign you and after hitting "choose as my donor" the donor's file is pulled from the site and you are immediately locked out as to not be able to look through other donors or try to choose more than one. 

My sister now has had to begin her daily hormone shots.  She got a package in the mail of about a million different drugs that all do different things that help get her body ready to carry the baby.  After a few weeks on the hormone medication we had an ultrasound to make sure that it was all doing what it's supposed to be doing and luckily for us things were going very smoothly!

That brings me to today, Monday, May 4th.  on Wednesday we have our embryo transfer.  An embryo transfer is when my sister, Jimmy and I go into the clinic and they take 2 embryos and implant them in her uterus.  The procedure is quick and painless (according to her after her "Mock transfer" she said she felt nothing!) 

9 days after the transfer we do a blood test to see if we have a pregnancy.  9 days!  How insane is that?  Now if we do have a pregnancy that doesn't mean we are out of the woods, as any mom knows a lot can happen before the end of that first trimester but I have put in every prayer I can that this is going to work out. 

My last day of being 29 years old (my birthday is the 7th the day after the transfer) we get to hopefully create this baby!  The best birthday present I could ask for!