See ya pancreas

Thankfully Griffin was able to get a surgery date relatively quickly. On our way to the hospital, an over 10 hour drive, the doctor called us to say they had to cancel the surgery because he had a rash on his body and did not want to cut into the skin with the rash. Understandably frustrated, we foraged on and were able to get a spot in the local Ronald McDonald House upon arrival. With Violet in tow we were grateful to not have to stay in a hotel.

A day later the rash had improved and surgery was back on! He had a specialized scan that only two hospitals in the United Stated could perform which revealed he would need most of his pancreas removed. We had taken him to the only surgeon in the country who does this surgery.

News of our twiblings traveled fast around the hospital. It seemed like every time a new person talked to us they had already heard our story.

During the surgery Griffin had to have 80% of his pancreas removed that had been affected by a genetic condition that caused it to be overgrown. With an overgrown pancreas his body was having trouble keeping his blood sugars high enough. After the surgery he made an extremely fast recovery and his blood sugars have been stable without any further medication. During the surgery a feeding tube was placed, which is standard practice for this type of surgery.

His discharge from the hospital came quickly for us and before we knew it we were preparing for the long drive home with two infants, one with a feeding tube. It was surreal to finally leave the hospital with him in our double stroller. We didn’t look back!

Every three hours on our ride home we had to stop, check Griffin’s blood sugar levels, breastfeed him, give him tube feedings for whatever he didn’t eat, keep him upright for 15 minutes, then change his diaper before we were on the road again. The drive home took much longer than the drive there and was quite complicated taking care of his feeding tube in the car. I should mention that I sat in the back seat of our SUV between their two car seats for the whole ride, during which I also pumped breast milk.

Once at home we discovered we did not have all of the supplies we need to take care of his feeding tube. The home care company from out of state took a week to get us the correct supplies, meanwhile leaving us scrambling to get what we could locally. Troubleshooting the tube feeds took up quite a bit of our time as well.

Taking care of an infant with a feeding tube has been challenging as he spits up easily when every calorie counts. He has a long tube coming out of his stomach which constantly gets in the way and at times I’m afraid he will accidently pull on it.

We are hopeful that soon he will no longer need the supplemental nutrition from the tube and it can be removed.

Even though we have to check his blood sugars multiple times a day, we haven’t had to intervene with medication because it has been out of range. This may change as he grows, but for now we can say the surgery was a success.

We have been busy with follow up appointments and getting into a routine at home. Violet continues to be a good baby and is ‘talking’ up a storm these days.

I spend a lot of time holding Griffin, remembering the times I wasn’t able to hold him at all or the times it took three medical professionals just to place him in my arms. We are exhausted but I think doing well for what we have been through.

17 days

When I announced that twiblings were on the way, Baby V and Baby OMG’s due dates were 3 months apart.

I never could have predicted that they would be born 17 days apart, but here we are again, riding out this rollercoaster as it throws us for another loop.

I had just made it to 31 weeks in my pregnancy and had been having swelling in my legs and feet for a few days. I went to bed on a Sunday and woke up because it felt like something was going to trickle out of me. I jumped out of bed and started walking to the bathroom when there was a rush of fluid that I couldn’t stop. I stood there and said to my husband that “something was leaking out of me.” I knew in the back of my mind what this seemed like but I couldn’t believe it yet.

It was too early.

I called the OB nurse on call who suggested I come to triage.

Our 2 week old was sleeping soundly in her bassinet. Our dogs were on our bed with no plans to stay anywhere. My hospital bag was not packed. I didn’t have a birth plan in writing. I had just talked to my cousin about ideas and dates for maternity pictures. Tom was set to go back to work the next day after taking time off for Violet’s birth.

We weren’t ready, but we had to move.

I grabbed a towel, my ID, and my phone. Tom grabbed Violet and put her in the car seat where she continued to sleep. On the way to the hospital we were stopped by malfunctioning train tracks, because of course.

Once at triage they confirmed my water had broken and told me I would be admitted to the hospital until I delivered the baby, ideally at 34 weeks.

Three weeks of bedrest at the hospital? It was hard to imagine. I wasn’t prepared to leave my life or my house for that long.

I was started on a medicine that would produce surfactant in the baby’s lungs to make them more developed. They told me I was having contractions which made me realize I had been having contractions for weeks but I just thought it was the baby stretching out. I wasn’t dilated.

The next couple of days I rested in bed while the doctors were unhappy with how long the contractions were and baby boy’s decreased heart rate after each contraction. A couple times in the middle of the night all the doctors on the unit ran into my room to check to make sure everything was okay.

On one occasion several doctors barged into my room while I was sleeping and Tom was up feeding Violet a bottle. One doctor put the head of my bed up, the other strapped oxygen to my face, a couple put my legs in the air while one checked to see if I was dilated any more. The rest of the doctors were watching my monitor. I wasn’t dilated and baby’s heart rate returned to normal after a minute of the contraction being over.

During those first couple days in the hospital I had two 12 hour long doses of magnesium sulfate, which basically feels like you are being pulled into hell. I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom while on this drug and they eventually placed a catheter. I couldn’t eat, my vision was blurry, and I was loopy. I was burning up despite a fan blowing right on me, I had a bad headache, and intense sinus pressure. The swelling in my legs only got worse and I had to wear the wraps on my legs that mechanically squeezed them every once in a while to prevent blood clots.

After a couple ultrasounds the doctors still didn’t have a reason why the baby’s heart rate was dropping from the contractions, but they determined he might not survive labor and that he should be born via C-section as soon as the 48 hours of the drug to mature the baby’s lungs was over.

I was fortunate enough to have my friend’s mom as my nurse during day shift those first couple days. I was also relieved to hear that my OB would be the one performing my C-section.

I was so hungry from being NPO for days that I told everyone I wanted pizza and a chocolate malt when I could eat again.

I was relieved when it was finally time for my C-section. As soon as they gave me the epidural I couldn’t feel my legs anymore and they quickly laid me down. I remember getting sick during the procedure and turning my head to the side to puke into a bag. The procedure seemed quick and as soon as my doctor pulled out my son she said, “This is a good size baby!” She showed him to us quickly before he was sent to the NICU. 4 lbs 7 oz, not bad for 31 weeks I had thought.

His name is Griffin.

Recovery was a small room with Tom by my side. I was shaking violently from the sudden drop of hormones they told me. I couldn’t stop the shaking and the nurse kept telling me not to fight it. I finally communicated to Tom to push my shoulders down toward the bed, which provides relief for about 5 seconds before I needed a break. Eventually they let me start eating ice chips which were a dream with every bite.

Once the shaking stopped and my blood pressure returned to normal, they wheeled my bed to the NICU so we could see Griffin. He was in a plastic box with lines coming out of him but seemed to be healthy.

The next day I showered and dressed myself for the first time in days. When I went to see Griffin that morning the doctor seemed worried about something and told me that they had reached the end of what they could do for him there and that they would be transferring him to the local children’s hospital where Tom worked. They couldn’t get his blood sugars to stabilize and were talking about something called hyperinsulinemia. It was over my head a bit. The ambulance transport happened quickly and made me nervous about how he would do on the drive over. My nurse and doctor started the process of getting me transferred as a patient to the same hospital since I had one more day of recovery in the hospital after the C-section. Tom and Violet joined me that night and we were able to visit Griffin in his private NICU room at any time.

Griffin was doing well except for his blood sugars which were very very low. They were pumping him full of sugar basically. Over the next week we learned that he had a condition called Congenital Hyperinsulinism.

It seemed like every day when we visited the NICU that there was always a gift waiting for us. One day there was a bag with candy, trinkets, and an empty envelope that appeared to be decorated by a child.


‘omg baby’ it clearly said. With rainbow hearts. My jaw dropped open and I couldn’t stop staring at it. I hadn’t told anyone at the hospital that my rainbow baby Griffin was known as ‘baby omg’ before he was born. I asked his nurse who made the envelope and she said volunteers leave most of the gifts at the bedside.

I couldn’t believe it. How could there be such a coincidence?!

As always I took it as a good sign.

The following week we learned that Griffin’s condition was the result of a genetic mutation and he would need to be taken by jet to a hospital in a different state in order to receive treatment and surgery. He remains there now, stable, awaiting surgery on his pancreas from the only doctor in the country who does this type of surgery.

I can’t wait to hold him in my arms again and am thankful I have Violet to keep me busy during this time.

I finally had pizza and a chocolate malt last night.

Fatherly instincts, take one

New parents… Determined to protect their children from harms way.

Or at least that’s how Tom felt.

We had to make a Target run to get a few things for the baby. I wanted us to take a family trip to Target but Tom was hesitant, (what about germs, other people, what if she starts crying, etc). He eventually googled “bringing a newborn to Target” and after I reassured him we would be fine together, he gave in.

We drove to Target and Tom was going over all the scenarios in which this would not go well. He was extremely anxious. We get out of the car and start walking through the parking lot and Tom is visibility nervous, perhaps taking his surroundings in a little too much. I’m pushing Violet in the stroller, a step ahead of him.

Next thing I know, Tom walks face first into a handicap parking pole.

Face. First.

I wanted to double over in laugher. He grabs his glasses and puts his hand to his face and says he is fine, but then says “No, I’m bleeding.” I look over and blood is just gushing down his face. His hands are trying to stop it but it’s coming so fast he needed first aid.

I remembered I had a first aid kit in my car so we ran back and I had to wipe as much blood off as I could, give him gauze to hold to the wound, which looked deep to me, and help him back in the car.

He told me to just go in real quick without him, so I did, which was very un-adventureous, as Violet just slept the whole time. We got what we needed, and came back to the car. I couldn’t stop laughing to myself the whole time.

When we got home he washed it out but he could tell he needed stitches, so he drove himself to urgent care where they gave him 3 stitches between his eyebrows.

I was still shaking my head as trying not to laugh too much hours later.

It’s apparent he is going to have to relax a wee bit.

She’s here!

This was taken moments after our gestational carrier, Tina, gave natural birth to our perfect, healthy daughter.

It was surreal that when she was placed in my arms she already had her eyes open staring up at me. The rest was a blur.

Tina and the baby continue to be healthy and well.

Throughout our infertility and pregnancy journey I tried to hold on to superstitions and little signs that we were on the right path.

We had the name picked out for our little girl for years. As I’ve mentioned before, Tina and I were serendipitously brought together as co-workers. I can’t mention the name of the workplace, but I can say we have a color that represents our work place and family.


We wear it, call it out in meetings, and otherwise identify our workplace with the color purple.

Violet is the name we had picked out for our daughter.

I took the Violet/purple coincidence as a sign that we were on the right path.

It couldn’t have been more perfect.

I’ve heard the word perfect used dozens of times now to describe Violet, and I couldn’t agree more.

We are forever thankful to Tina and hope the feeling of giving a family the greatest gift in the world will never wear off.

More than a dog mom

I call this look, ‘more than a dog mom!’

The dogs get a walk daily, weather permitting. Determined to still be able to do this once the twiblings come, I found a hands-free double leash from Riddick’s Products.

It has an adjustable waist strap for human, although I may end up putting one side over my shoulder if I find it hits on the baby bump too much. Each leash is a bungee to limit the tug factor on human, which is nice. I attached their Gentle Leader Headcollars, which are always attached to their leashes anyway so they don’t pull me too hard during a walk.

So, my hope for the future as a dog mom and mom-to-be of twiblings is to be able to take the whole clan for a walk – Dogs safe and attached to me while my hands are free to push a double stroller. *Insert bicep muscle emoji here*

Pregnancy updates:

Tina is 39 weeks along with Baby V and we are ready knowing she could come at any time!

I’m 27 weeks along and thankful to have a discomfort-free pregnancy so far. I passed my glucose screening and baby boy appears to be growing right on track.

Twibling nursery

We decided to paint the nursery Brave Purple by Sherwin Williams when we thought we were only having our baby girl. When we found out we were having a little boy we wanted them to share a room and thought there would be no need to change the paint color. Our biggest problem was where to place two cribs in a room competing with a large closet, two windows, built in shelving, and a door to a bathroom.

Ultimately we had to block the door to the jack and jill bathroom with one of the cribs.

She wants that stuffed animal.
Closet is full of clothes!
Glider, nightstand, toy bin

Stacks of cloth diapers ready for action.

Dresser with changing top
Dudsberry creepin’

The art we plan to put on the walls will be personalized, so those are to come!

Vegetarian protein

I have been vegetarian for several years now and make a conscious effort to consume enough protein. Especially being pregnant I know I have to make sure I’m getting enough protein for the growing baby, which can be a challenge. At the beginning of my pregnancy I made a list of snacks and foods that I like which would give me protein. As someone who has limited cooking skills and tends to go from content to HANGRY in a matter of minutes, I stuck this list on my fridge and have been referencing it ever since.

For my fellow vegetarians or anyone looking to get more protein in their diet:

  • Peanut butter granola – I eat this every morning and never get sick of it. I should really buy it by the case.
  • Poached egg on toast
  • Lentils and cheese on nachos – Kind of Mexican, right?
  • Peanut butter on toast or bread – I used to eat this daily for lunch until I got pregnant
  • Apple with dip – My lunch lately. Dip is one part peanut butter, one part greek yogurt, and half part honey.
  • Fake BLT – This fake bacon is better than the real thing!
  • Nuts
  • Protein bar – A daily staple for me. Chocolate salted caramel is my favorite!
  • Peanut butter and jelly on crackers – Like I said, I have limited cooking skills!
  • Canned chili – The only kind I will eat, just heat on stove.
  • Black bean tacos – Now this is more of a complicated meal for me.
  • Smoothie with peanut butter or protein powder
  • Greek yogurt – Must be greek for the extra protein.
  • Egg salad sandwich
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Black bean soup – Homemade, but only once in a great while when I’m feeling confident in my cooking skills.
  • Cottage cheese – Although I haven’t felt like eating this during pregnancy AT ALL.
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich, toasted. If it was good enough for Elvis, it’s good enough for me.

It was meant to be

We were driving home from the embryo transfer October 2017 when Tina turned around in the car and asked me, “What if you get pregnant now?

I looked at her like she had 3 eyes.

To me this was such an impossibility. Not even on my radar.

“Well,” I replied, counting the impossibilities on my fingers, ” First I would actually have to ovulate. Then, my lining would somehow have to be thick enough to allow an embryo to implant. THEN if all that happens, odds are that I would miscarry again after miscarrying five other embryos previously.”

I was 100% confident in my answer.

Now that we are both pregnant at the same time, I feel as if it was meant to happen.

I continue to have no regrets.

As our surrogacy pregnancy is nearing the end,  I know this experience will be something Tina will feel good about for the rest of her life.

I have been reflecting on aspects of our life that have allowed Tom and I to be successful in this journey.

  • We moved to the metro Ann Arbor area where we have access to some of the best doctors in the state and allowed me to cross paths with Tina.
  • My husband and I are in medical fields which have allowed us to more easily understand the medical background of infertility.
  • I make decisions easily, and during fertility treatments there can be difficult decisions to make.
  • I have a flexible job, which has helped with the many doctor appointments and surgeries I have had.
  • During my third pregnancy I attended a small informational meeting where the presenter was a mother who had used a surrogate for both of her children. I was pregnant with triplets and didn’t think I would ever need a surrogate, but yet something told me to be there and gather information.

Perhaps the only way we could have had a daughter is through Tina.

Perhaps all along I was meant to carry THIS baby boy.

I finally feel as if I can look back and say, this is how it was meant to be.

Summer reading

I recently finished Little Fires Everywhere  by Celeste Ng and was shocked that it included aspects of infertility, recurrent loss, adoption, abortion, and even surrogacy. Highly recommended to someone looking for a good book to dive into this summer! I listened to the audiobook version which was enjoyable and only made the novel more addicting.

Has anyone else read it?

Motherly instincts, part 2

Motherly instincts, part 1 here.

I was recently taking my dogs for a walk (hah, it always starts this way) one evening through our subdivision. It was warm and we were enjoying a brisk pace when suddenly, 3 houses ahead, I saw and heard a commotion.

A mama duck was quacking loudly while flapping her arms around. Several baby ducks surrounded her in a flurry. Within pouncing distance there was a housecat, eyeing the baby ducks.

I took a second to take in the scene and then lurched forward with my dogs, ready to help this mama duck. As we got closer I could tell the cat had turned his attention away from the ducks and toward my dogs. The mama duck continued quacking, sounding to her little ones to follow her to safety. She started crossing the street and the majority of her babies were headed in the same direction.

I was focusing on my dogs and making sure they weren’t going to pounce on any of the baby “chikins” either. (We always refer to anything close to chicken meat as “chikin” in the presence of the dogs as we imagine that is how they would pronounce it.)

In the process of keeping the dogs the appropriate distance away from the baby ducks while still trying to be a threatening presence to the cat, I realized there was one baby duck that was not following his mom at all. Instead he was following me and the dogs every time we would scoot back a few feet.

“No ducky, you are supposed to follow your mommy!” I said out loud to the duck while simultaneously swearing at my unfortunate circumstance.

I briefly glanced behind me to see the owner of the neighboring house standing in his front yard watching this spectacle.

The duck kept hopping toward my dogs and I kept backing them away.

“Did the cat attack the duck?” The guy asked me.

“I think so,” I replied, distracted.

“Ducky, go follow your mommy!” My attention back on the mission.

The dog leashes were wrapped around my hands and wrists in a mess. I dropped the poop bag I was carrying by accident and yelled to the guy watching, “I’ll be back for that bag!”

I pulled my dogs bit by bit into the street in the direction the mama duck had gone, baiting the baby duck to follow.

“We have to get you to your mommy!”

A family rode by on their bikes and a little boy exclaimed, “Look mom, those dogs are afraid of that baby duck!”

No little boy, not even close.

The baby duck continued to follow my dogs across the street and down a sidewalk flanked by the fronts of houses on each side. I was amazed at how quickly this ducky could move with just his little hopping. He didn’t even seem tired!

We reached the end the sidewalk after going past several houses with no mama duck in sight. Across the street from us now was a big park, crowded with families. Here I was… sweaty, 20 weeks pregnant, and looking frantic. I considered for a brief second yelling out to the people in the park, “Did anyone just see some ducks walk by?”

But I didn’t. Because I’m slightly less crazy than that.

I decided to leave the baby duck where it was, hoping the mama duck was nearby and would come back for it. The baby duck was quacking so I figured if we left maybe the mama duck would come rescue her baby.

I left with my dogs in a hurry back to the house where I dropped the poop bag. The homeowner was still outside.

“Did you find the mama duck?” he asked.

“No,” I said frowning.

“Those ducks have nested in our bushes for three years now, but this is the first time they have had babies,” he told me.

“No!” I exclaimed. Stab to the heart. If only this guy knew how much I empathized with the mama duck at that moment.

“Yeah,” he continued. “We think the father duck is dead because we saw a male duck that had gotten run over by a car a little further down the street.”

“No!” I said again. Another stab to the heart. “Well, I hope that little guy makes it,” I said to the guy before continuing on our walk.

I replayed the scene in my head over and over the rest of our walk, wondering if I had done the right thing.

Situations like this would only happen to me.