Thursday, April 26, 2012

Three Years Ago

Almost exactly three years ago this week, Matt and I met with the doctor that would finally make our dreams of becoming parents a reality. With Amelia just turning two, that makes this year's National Infertility Awareness Week even more poignant. While we were open once we started an IVF cycle, we were already about three years into the process. It's an unbelievably hard and expensive road to go down and we were lucky to have the resources and support to do it. Even with Amelia's arrival the pain, the sadness and the loss we felt over the years has forever changed Matt and I. As I sit here I am starting to tear up thinking of a baby that we lost and the gut-wrenching weeks and months that followed. Of course if we'd had that baby we wouldn't have Amelia, but there's only so much that helps. UPDATED: I should have added Matt's original nickname for Amelia - SCIENCE!

Looking back at the journey, and especially the pregnancy, I know that it was the road we had to travel. Also, we really should have known that Amelia would be so full of life. In the first weeks of a pregnancy IVF patients get regular blood work counting your beta levels. For the first reading the doctor wants to see at least 200 and then have it double roughly every 48 hours. Amelia started at 650 and quadrupled every 48 hours for about 2 weeks. We were fairly confident that we were going to have twins. Even after we saw that there was only one baby I was pretty convinced there was another one hiding for about another month. Thankfully it wasn't twins, but Amelia does sometimes seem to have the energy of two children. She also had great timing in kicking her foot out so you could see if from the outside while I was in staff meetings and creeping out the guys I worked with. I'm not even going to start about the irony of a child that can't sleep past 6:30 to save her life being over two weeks late and having to be yanked out. I lost track of the number of times she kicked Teddy in the head, but thankfully Teddy still loves her and there's a mutual affection.

In short, please take a minute to read about the statistics and what you can do. 1 in 8 couples will suffer from infertility, including secondary infertility. It's a rough road and those traveling it can use all the support you can give. This election year, it's also become a political issue. With attacks on abortion, IVF and similar procedures also are affected. Our own state would have outlawed the procedures that brought our little munchkin to us, but finally rewrote those parts of the law. I don't care what your stance on abortion is, when you think life begins and what is the "right" thing to do. Those are all deeply personal issues that each person and couple needs to decide for themselves. What you think God is okay with is your decision; please don't make the decision for me. There is no one answer and I think it's always better to have options than to be told how you have to handle something.

In somewhat related news, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot do it all. While we already have help (house cleaners, dog walker and day care as the primary examples) the past year pushed the limits of what we as a family can sustain. Changes needed to be made and I was lucky enough that my office was willing to work with me. I will be going to a consultant position working roughly 60% time starting on July 1. The biggest impact that will have is that I will be traveling MUCH less. Of course the day I went to Chicago to attend a committee meeting and finalize these details, my flight coming home was delayed so much I ended up spending more time at O'Hare than in the office and got home at 2am. I'm am very happy with the change and I think it will allow for much more family time and a saner Alicia. While I appreciated making Executive Premier last year, I will be happy to give up all that flight time. I'm also hoping that I can cut down the number of times I lose my car in the airport parking lot to zero. Fingers crossed for a better 2012.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Camp Memere and Pepere - The VA Edition

This past weekend we had Matt's father and step-mother (Pepere and Memere to Amelia) visit for a few days. As usual I totally forgot to take out the camera, so I have zero pictures. They came in late on Friday, so Amelia didn't see them till she woke up. It took about five minutes for her to warm up to Memere, and about a day to fully warm up to Pepere. Once he allowed her to use him as a jungle gym, she was totally in love. Amelia made them play with her new Legos she had gotten for her birthday. There were a couple of sets she got, so occasionally the elephant went on top of a cupcake, but for the most part she kept the sets separate when she played with them even though we had dumped them all in one bucket.

Everyone (minus me) went out into DC and visited the new monument to MLK Jr, the Library of Congress, the new Capital Visitor Center, among other things. They also went past a Tea Party Rally and Pepere wanted to go talk to them, but decided to stay with the others instead. I don't have a fully itinerary of where they went because I was out of commission on Sunday with a sinus headache and then was in Chicago on Monday for work. Tuesday Pepere tried to see the space shuttle from our yard, but unfortunately couldn't catch a glimpse of it. I was working on and off during they day, so they got to spend almost the whole day alone with Amelia. I think they were ready to go back to RI on Wednesday to get a little rest.

Amelia had a cold the whole time they were here, but we didn't think much of it. At one point she complained about her ear, but the next day it was fine. Of course after sending her to school we got a call to come pick her up because she was complaining about the ear and had a fever. So, we were back in the doctor's office less than a week after being there for her physical. Thankfully she didn't crack her head open, but she did manage to meltdown for about 15 minutes in the waiting room. Because the appointment was in the later afternoon, most of the other patients were high school kids. I'd like to think we did them a service by providing visual and auditory birth control.  After an ear infection diagnosis, we were on our way to pick up the antibiotics. I told Amelia that we had to stop and get her medicine, and she said "Ok, go to CVS." I think we may spend a little too much time there.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Totally My Fault or Official 2 Year Stats

I completely jinxed Amelia. After mentioning multiple times how she has somehow avoided going to the ER or getting stitches she feel off some plastic chairs and onto the corner of a wooden chair and got a nice cut on her forehead in the waiting room of the pediatrician. At least we were in the right place for it to happen. And it bumped us up the list for getting in. There were clearly at least 5 kids ahead of us, but because they wanted to check her cut, we jumped to the top of the line.
It didn't require stitches, but it bleed for about 20 minutes and really intrigued Amelia. She kept pulling the ice pack off so she could see the blood on the paper towel. She will also tell anyone who will listen that she hit her head at home and got a boo-boo. She also had to get some blood work done and thought it was really cool that the nurse could get blood drops out of her finger. The band-aid to cover the finger prick didn't last an hour before Amelia pulled it off. 

She did very well for her exam. She has a little doctor set at home, so she knew what the doctor was going to do since we'd done it at home. She also very helpfully pointed out where she poops and pees from for the doctor. The doctor was impressed with her vocabulary, her fine motor skills and with everything in general. At one point she needed to name what one of the five objects on a piece of paper were. She got four and made the noises for each one, plus told the doctor she has a dog named Teddy. She couldn't get the person but once the doctor mentioned that some kids say Daddy, Amelia told her that Daddy is on a trip in Boston. Freak child. I also asked about her continual multitasking (it's impossible for her to do one thing at a time) and if we should be looking out for ADHD or ADD. (I'm uber-sensative about this because I have a family history of both, plus Asperger's, which she definitely doesn't have.) The doctor said no, she just thinks Amelia is really smart. I'll take that.

Her official stats -
Weight: 28.1 lbs (67%)
Height: 36.25" (96%)
And one of the most verbal 2 year-olds you'll ever meet. Plus she's pretty cute too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Amelia's Second Birthday

On Sunday our little Snarf turned two. We kept the day very calm and didn't do anything big because it was Easter, and with everything the day before the meltdown potential was high. Amelia didn't seem to mind. She has been saying she's two for a couple of months and spent part of the day repeatedly singing "Happy Birthday" to herself.

Amelia's current favorite food is blueberries, so we started the day off with blueberry pancakes with a side of blueberries. She also kept taking the hat on and off all day. Most of the time when she put it on she looked like a unicorn. I believe that the Today Show is capturing her attention.
I had asked Amelia if she wanted cake or cupcakes for her birthday. She said "real cake" in chocolate with chocolate frosting. To cut down on the potential mess, we did go with a boxed mix, but she was very helpful. She counted out the eggs, poured in the oil and water, and helped stir. When we were done Matt taught her about licking the bowl and the beaters. She was confused at first, but then got really into it.
Later we decorated the cake together. I had put the chocolate icing on while she was napping and then broke out the tubes of icing (I will break out homemade stuff when she can appreciate it and not make the kitchen a disaster area while helping). She wanted "Happy Amelia" written on the cake, but I convinced her to add Birthday. Then we used the purple icing around the top and on the sides. After purple came sprinkles. Amelia is a veteran of sprinkles and went to town. The didn't really stick to the cake, so we had to do a little dam building to keep the sprinkles on. After it was deemed to have enough sprinkles, Amelia wanted to add the pink in any areas not already covered. I think it came out perfectly for a two year old designed birthday cake.
After Amelia's favorite dinner (chicken fingers, french fries and chocolate milk), we sang to her and tried to get her to blow out the candles. No luck with that, but she really dug into the cake. She was especially fond of the icing. Once she was cleaned off, it was time for bed because all the sugar from the weekend started a pretty vicious sugar crash. 

She goes to the doctor on the Thursday, but I don't need the doctor to tell us that she's a special child. She's incredibly smart, has an amazing memory, a great vocabulary (complete with a few words we wish she didn't know), fantastic gross and fine motor skills and is off the charts in social skills with a concern for others. While all that can make her exhausting to deal with, we couldn't be prouder or happier with her. She's got her own incredibly magnetic personality and loves to be around others. She also loves her books and has at least 25 at her bedside at all times. Twirling, dancing, singing, jumping and chasing Teddy are some of her favorite things to do and she has somehow managed to make it this far without a trip to the ER despite her complete lack of self-preservation. She starts at a new preschool in a few weeks and I have a feeling she's going to be queen of the classroom by the end of her first week there. 

We love you Amelia. You're turning into a big girl but you'll always be mommy's baby and daddy's munchkin.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter 2012

Since her birthday and Easter are the same day this year, we treated today as Easter. My aunt invited us to her club where there was an Easter Egg hunt, visit by the Easter Bunny and a petting zoo. Amelia had a great time and passed out in a sugar coma on the ride home.

The Easter Bunny had left an egg in Amelia's room. We thought Amelia wouldn't notice it until we pointed it out. Silly us. She had not only found the egg, but eaten the Peep before she woke us up. She followed the trail of eggs (placed where she could see them but where Teddy couldn't get them during the night because Teddy doesn't need Peeps) and found her Easter Basket.
The Peeps were a big hit and I think she ate four before we realized that most of them were gone.
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups were also a big hit.

She even figured out how to unwrap them herself.
Amelia and Matt's Easter Baskets
Thankfully a Thomas the Tank Engine electric toothbrush was the most exciting thing in the basket.
Trying it out.
Then it was off to the egg hunt.
At first she only grabbed red eggs, but ended up with a good haul.
She and Erik managed to stay out of each other's baskets this year.
After breakfast, we went out to see the animals. Amelia wasn't sure about the baby goat. She was expecting the Billy Goats Gruff.
The baby chicks were a bigger hit.
Looking into the chick playpen. There were also ducks and bunnies that she petted willingly. She quacked at the ducks repeatedly.
There was a pony ride and we weren't sure if Amelia would like it.
She did get on and rode around if I held her.
Towards  the end she started to hold on by herself. She neighed at the horse for most of the ride.
We were very unsure about the Easter Bunny because Amelia had NOT enjoyed Santa. But the moment the Easter Bunny came out she went after him.
She wouldn't pose for a picture with him, but she hung around him for awhile.
In the end we got the egg hunt, breakfast, playing with animals, a pony ride and a meeting with the Easter Bunny all in with no sugar crash-induced meltdowns. We timed the car ride home perfectly and she slept in the car, plus a little more when we got home. Today has also had sidewalk chalk drawing and playing with bubbles. All in all a very good day and we're hoping tomorrow goes as well.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Almost Two

Amelia turns two on Easter Sunday. Since she's already here I think the opportunity to nickname her Bunny has come and gone. Besides, there really is only one Bunny.
Happy belated birthday Bunny.

It's amazing that our little girl went from this,
 to this,
 to this, in two years.

While she's a total ham in person, the moment you break out the camera, or more likely, phone, she's more interested in playing with that than smiling for the camera. She loves the iPad and iPhone and knows exactly where all her games and stories are on both of them. While we're not getting her an iPad of her own, when we upgrade our iPad, she will get the old one with a case that makes it hard for her to break it. I think if there was any doubt left, giving a two year old an iPad in the next six months officially makes us yuppie parents. I'd prefer to think of it as parents who travel with their child and need to keep her entertained. So that means the case will have to be M&M-proof, because that's the other key to traveling with her.