Egg Retrieval Day

We spent so long waiting for this day to arrive and it has come and gone before we could even realize it. Krystal did amazing for her Egg Retrieval and all the nurses and doctors were fabulous as usual at RMA. Krystal’s mom, Diana, came with us since I was going to have to work on Tuesday and they wanted her to stay overnight.

The whole procedure took about 20 minutes from the time they wheeled her off to the time she came back. Diana and I got to watch the whole thing on two screens; one for the ultrasound and the other was a live feed of the embryologist microscope. It was pretty cool. I’ve attached a clip below in case you are curious.

This is a picture after the procedure, I told her to smile in the background and she said, “I can’t… hold on, let me try. ” She also asked repeatedly if I had gotten a picture of her socks (literally 20 + times). She has had to take it easy and has been in some pain and discomfort, which our doctor said was to be expected. So now it is on to recovery, no more needle pricks or crazy hormones for her.

As of now these are our stats on Day 2. When is the Transfer of Embryos you might ask. Well we have made the decision to keep that process between s till we know if the pregnancy was successful. This is because it is something we want to share with the two of us as well as we don’t want to be bombarded with questions if we are pregnancy when we do not know. So I will keep you updated on our egg status and hopefully we will have some good news to report in the future.

Resources:

Socks from PkvPrint Shop on Etsy

Letterboard from LetterBoardCompany on Etsy

Suppression to Stimulation

For those of you who are curious below is a typical timeline for an IVF Cycle. Keep reading to see our progress.

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Suppression:

(Attempt 1 – Day 28) Krystal’s suppression phase got off to a slow start. After starting birth control for the suppression part of  the IVF Cycle. We discovered at her baseline scan that she had already developed one follicle. So instead of us being able to mature and retrieve multiple follicles, if we continued on, we would only be able to retrieve one follicle which may or may not survive to the embryo stage. So she started on a different birth control with a higher estrogen level and will start injections towards the end of the month.

(Attempt 2 – Day 12) Krystal’s blood work came back after being on the new birth control for a couple of weeks and everything looks great to proceed. Tonight (Monday) is her last birth control and she will have her Baseline Ultrasound later in the week.

(Attempt 2 – Day 15) Krystal’s Baseline Ultrasound came back really good, lots of follicles. So good in fact she is starting injections tonight instead of tomorrow. Onward to Stimulation Phase!!

Stimulation:

(Attempt 2 – Injection Day 5) Krystal’s injections have been going well. Unfortunately I was only able to give her day 1-3 and had to go to Houston for Mama Sampson’s knee surgery. Krystal did say I was better at it then her Dad (who is a firefighter). *Insert hair toss.* She was also a pro at giving her three injections a day to herself!

(Attempt 2 – Trigger Day) Krystal had her last ultrasound on Saturday and that evening we gave the trigger shot, in the Top Golf parking lot because that is where we happened to be at 10:30p.m. When we had to give it.

Saturday night was also an eventful night. Looking back Krystal should not have played Top Golf with all the twisting and turning. She woke up at around 4:00 am.in a lot of pain and we were concerned that her ovary had twisted. The pain subsided but we went in Sunday morning for an ultrasound and everything was great, but it gave us peace of mind.

Next update will be of Egg Retrieval!!

Free Little Library – A DIY Project

At the end of the semester when work had finally calmed down I put my amazing scene shop to good use. I have always wanted a Free Little Library; for those of you who don’t know what this is, below is a short video explaining.

I decided to build one featured on DIY Network. It took me about an afternoon to build and then another to stain, paint, seal and install hardware. Because I was able to use some scrap-wood and supplies I already owned it turned out to be rather inexpensive (about $50.) I purchased a charter sign ($40) and then ordered all my succulents on Amazon ($30); who would’ve thought Amazon sold plants?! The libraries on their website range from about $250-$500 and I built mine for about $120 *insert hair toss here.*

I am so thrilled with how it turned out and FINALLY put it in our front yard at our new (to us) house. I put a canister of treats for any passing puppies. Come to find out we will be one of only three in the Corpus Christi area. Within 24 hours people were already starting to put books in and stop by for a visit. If you need a summer read feel free to stop by and pick one up!

Every Adventure Requires a First Step

Krystal and I have spent a lot of time soul searching on what the best pathway was for us when creating our family. For awhile we choose IUI, mostly for financial reasons. After many conversations, tears, and budget spreadsheets we have decided to begin the process of Reciprocal IVF. (If you need a reminder of what exactly that is, check out this post.) What this means for us is that we will use Krystal’s egg with a donor sperm to implant an embryo that will *hopefully* result in pregnancy which I will carry.

As you can imagine this was a hard decision and one that we both feel despite the financial implication is the right path for our family. It is the path that allows us both a part in the creation and gives us each a unique connection to our child.

So what’s the next step in this adventure?

We contacted RMA and there were a few things we needed to do.

  1. Get updated Infectious Diseases labs for each of us
  2. I (Madi) will need a Saline Ultrasound/Mock
  3. Have a session with their resident counselor
  4. Begin the legal process

We were able to get our labs done locally, hassle free and covered by insurance so it only ended up costing us about $20 each.

I went for my ultrasound and came back with a perfect bill of health. My uterus is healthy and normal. The mock, which is basically them inserting the same tube that they will insert for the transfer was very smooth and went off without a hitch. So all good reports!

With any medical procedure there is more than just a physical impact there is also a mental impact. Because of this RMA requires that you have a session with the resident counselor before starting any fertility treatments. This was our second session with Mayu (we had one at the beginning of this process). She definitely asks questions we hadn’t thought about as well as provide us with resources and expectations on how the process will go.

The legal process is a little different from IUI. In addition to a second-parent adoption, we will also have to complete a Reciprocal IVF Agreement. This basically states that Krystal, although she is donating an egg, is not intended to be a donor but a parent. It also states that although I will be a gestational carrier I am not acting merely as a surrogate but as a parent. Once the pregnancy is further along we can begin the second-parent adoption process for BOTH of us to legally adopt the child and be considered by the state as a legal parent (even though it is biologically Krystal’s child and she will be listed on the birth certificate as well as myself). We are working with Christina Molitor and so far we have been very pleased with her services.

After reading this 11 page agreement, I was incredibly sad. The agreement outlines everything from Krystal being present in the delivery room, her name being on the birth certificate, her presence in the appointments. Even what should happen to the eggs, embroys before and after implantation should we be seperated or divorced. It’s sad because these statements are what a doctor’s office needs to grant our relationship (or transactions) validity. Do these same requirements hold true for heterosexual couples? We just need to remember that this is for the safety, security and stability of our child and not our own comfort.

Since signing we have completed our education modules that outline the process of IVF, which was super informative. I would have loved to have this a lot earlier on in the process! We have purchased sperm. Krystal has also started on birth control to suppress her cycle and prepare for hormone injections which we will begin in the next couple of weeks.

We are extremely excited about this next step in our marriage and we look forward to sharing this journey with you!

One Year of Happily Ever After: Part 2

The day of our actual anniversary was spent brunching, watching our wedding video,  exchanging our anniversary presents, and paddle boating.

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Sound Wave Print from Artsy Voiceprint Vows from Grace Stone Designs

We stayed with the traditional anniversary gift; paper. Our coordination for gifts is impeccable! There is always a little piece of me that is scared when we exchange gifts that we got each other the same thing.

We also enjoyed our cake, it was not as bad as a thought it would be but very dry…. Krystal says it was delicious at our wedding; I didn’t get any.

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Cake Topper from Heather Boyd Wire Knife Set from Tiny Love Treasures

Allow me to make a public service announcement. It is so refreshing to be able to go to Etsy find an item that I want that fits Krystal’s and I’s relationship. There are so many times, especially shopping for occasions like this one, where I find something cute but have to pay extra for customization or heterosexual options are the only ones available. This was the problem I found when looking for anniversary cards. I looked on Etsy found the card I wanted and was prepared to message her for a customization AND THEY HAD LGBT OPTIONS ALREADY AVAILABLE! I messaged her ( Beckamade. ) to tell her how thankful I was and she said something that I wish all businesses would adopt, “Love should always be easy to celebrate.” They also have LGBT Valentines Day cards…. just an FYI.

Cheers to all the adventures year two will bring.

P.S. The pictures at the beginning of this post were taken with my super awesome selfie stick. Awesome. I know.

One Year of Happily Ever After: Part 1

Before we get into all the mushy stuff of celebrating our anniversary lets re-cap our first year of marriage with a few of the highlights.

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We celebrated a weekend early by taking a road trip to San Antonio. We splurged and stayed at La Cantera Resort & Spa and adventured at some tourist spots that we hadn’t been to.

Krystal and I have made it a goal in our first year of marriage to branch out, go on adventures together, and just generally do fun stuff. Since we are typically boring home bodies sometimes this is a stretch for us. We had a blast having new adventures in San Antonio, some we hadn’t experienced in years and some brand new.

We are adults so the is a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Don’t judge us!

I hadn’t been to the Tower of America’s in years and Krystal had never been. And the opposite was true for the boat rides on the Riverwalk so we become tourist Sunday morning.

Krystal would like me to state that I didn’t not take her to the zoo… in the 60 degree weather. Also, I was an extreme tourist with my new selfie-stick that drove Krystal insane but at the end of the trip approved she the purchase. I will say it is pretty bad ass and worth the money if you are searching for the perfect one. I can’t wait to use it in Cancun and it will come in handy on trips that are just us two.

 

Valentine’s Day in a Box

Krystal and I have always struggled with Valentine’s Day, it always seems to fall in the middle of the week, during the busiest season of the year when neither of us have any energy to fight the crowds for a romantic evening. This year I decided to take over or shall let DateBox take over.

Awhile back while scrolling through Instagram I ran across an ad for a monthly subscription box called “DateBox.” It is a monthly subscription box tailored to you and your partner that you receive on the 15th of each month.

You start by picking your plan. They range from a digital only date for $7.99 a month to a monthly box from $32.96-$39.96 a month depending on serious you are about the subscription.

Once you’ve picked a plan you answer a brief questionnaire about what you and your partner are looking for in a date and what you enjoy doing. Since I was keeping this a surprise I filled it out on my own for the first month, but it is something that Krystal and I can go back to and answer together. The dates vary from “in your home” to “in my city” depending on your answers to the questionnaire.

Here is some pictures from our date last night from DateBox. We also have been slacking on printing/hanging up wedding pictures around the house, so I surprised Krystal with one we had pick out together and finally hung it above our bed (and a cute pillow from Ross – I couldn’t resist).

Now the question I know some of you are asking… Is it same-sex relationship friendly? Last nights date had no hint of hetronormativity in it. Although much of their marketing pictures hertrosexual couples, their language on their blog and website does not use heterosexual vocabulary and seems (to me at least) to try and avoid using vocabulary that would alienate same-sex couples. So stay tuned if dates in the future bring this into play.

If you are interested in trying this out, click on this link and let me know what you think. Do you have a monthly subscription box that you just can’t get enough of? Comment below!

 

5 Tips to Changing to Cruelty-Free Products

Over the past several months I have begun the process of changing a variety of our household, beauty, and skincare products to Cruelty-Free products. In addition to searching for cruelty-free I also tend to gravitate towards vegan/all natural products merely as a side effect. Why? Honestly, it just seemed like the right thing to do. I am one of those movie-watchers that closes their eyes and stuffs their fingers in their ears when it looks as if the animal on the TV is going to get hurt. So why would I tolerate using  products that endorse this behavior in my house or on my body. Here are 5 tips I learned along the way and a few suggestions for products if you are interested in making the switch yourself.

1. Don’t Throw Everything Away

The last thing you want to do is go on a binge and throw everything away. Not only is that wasteful its also very very expensive. I would only replace the product if it needed replacing. For example, when we ran out of our run-of-the mill shampoo and conditioner instead of replacing it with whatever had a coupon I replaced it with a cruelty-free product. Not only was this more cost effective it also allowed me to research specific brands for each type of product I was looking for and not get overwhelmed by researching for ALL THE PRODUCTS.

2. Know What to Look For

Most products are tagged with one of the following logos however sometimes its just as simple as a “this product is not tested on animals” written in fine print on the back. Many will say that the Leaping Bunny is the “gold standard” that actually holds its companies to specific guidelines.

Image result for cruelty free logo

3. Do Your Research

I recommend doing your research on each brand and company you choose to buy from to make sure they are TRULY cruelty-free. You will be surprised by some of your findings. For example, some companies outsource their testing to third parties or they are owned by a parent company that does testing on animals.  So what I do is I find products recommendations on pinterest or blogs and cross-check them with the companies website. Of course things fall through the cracks and not all my products and the companies that own them are cruelty free but its definitely a step in the right direction. My Beauty Bunny is a great place to start because they list some great information and let me tell you… they do their research! Here is how she suggests you find cruelty-free brands and links to some great resources.

4. Don’t Break the Bank

There is absolutely NO REASON to break the bank or even spend more than what you would on your regular products. Doing this switch will most likely save you money you just have to know where to look. First, Home Goods/Marshalls/TJ-MAXX all carry hair products and a vast majority of them are cruelty-free brands and they are much cheaper and usually bigger than what you get at the grocery store. Sometimes these stores even have things like counter top cleaner, laundry detergent, or dishwasher detergent for several dollars cheaper; you just gotta look. Second, Amazon. Is there really any other reason to look elsewhere? Not only is it cheaper (most of the time) they deliver it to your doorstep. If you have a Dash Button you don’t even have to log on to a device you just push a button or hell tell Alexa to order it for you (she’s gotta do something to earn her keep).

5. Find Products That Do The Job Better & Right

Just because you are doing the universe a favor and lending Mother Nature a helping hand does not under any circumstances mean that you should skimp on what you want/need. If a product is just not cutting it, drop it and find another. The options out there are endless and each product brings something different to the table. And Hey! No one is going to judge you if you try and nothing beats that “other” product. You are taking strides in the right direction, give yourself a pat on the back for that.

Below are some products that we have integrated into our home that we love!

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Christmas at the O’Briens

My favorite holiday of all is right around the corner! No it’s not my favorite because it happens to be so close to my birthday or because I get two weeks to drink hot coco, watch TV and sleep in… or maybe that is the reason it’s my favorite.

It’s our first Christmas as a married couple and also the first Christmas we won’t have to travel. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to waking up in my own bed and opening our gifts under our tree ON CHRISTMAS MORNING. It seems unreal.

Our traditions continue, some old some new. Krystal will receive her 5th and 6th photo books this year; one for 2017 and one for our Wedding. We always open this gift last cuddled up under the tree while reflecting on the memories and adventures we have had over the past year.

We also splurged and bought an ornament to commemorate our first, married Christmas. We got it at a little kiosk in the mall called “Santa’s Pen” and of course we couldn’t forget our little fur babies.

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Our final traditions, which always seems to be the crowd pleaser is our wrapping theme. For those of you that are new, each year I wrap the gifts in a universal theme. Previous years have included: chalkboard art, Santa’s belt buckle, and a few more that picture proof of seems to have vanished. This years theme is RUDOLPH because honestly what is cuter than a reindeer? Especially one with googly eyes and a red pom-pom nose (all courtesy of Amazon.-  see below)

I am running out of wrapping ideas and so is Pinterest. Any ideas for next year?


Wrapping Supplies:



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The Great Blizzard of 2017

Our first Christmas as a married couple and South Texas got graced with the first snowfall in 13 years or as some people are calling it The Great Blizzard of 2017 . We were so giddy with excitement that we got bundled up at 2 a.m. and went outside to witness it. Waking up cuddle up together with our dogs and watching the snow fall out of our window was probably the best morning of the year.

Resized_DSC_1776Unfortunately, my district did not cancel or delay school, but I’m not as bitter as I was upon leaving the house, because as soon as I arrived I joined all the theatre kids in a snowball fight that continued through my first period class. As a teacher, I am all for getting the most productivity out of my classes but I also know more memories are made and lessons learned on days like this. Days where the kids can pelt the teacher with the biggest snowball known to man and not get in trouble for it but get a return of snowballs thrown in their direction. Lets just say before I returned to the classroom I had to shake off the layers of snow. Above is a picture that a student took of me after I pelted his camera with a snowball right on the lens.

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It was also the first snow our little puppies witnessed. They were not in the least bit amused and Harper told us so by pooping on the living room floor.

I still get giddy thinking about what a fun day it was in the snow, but true to Texas form we were walking around without jackets by 12:00 p.m.