Creating my village

Blessing: my hairstylist in Austin… nuff said (all you ladies know how important a hair stylist is!)

So I went to my hair appointment this week. I’ve been seeing my stylist Lani since 2003 (that’s 17 years!!). Lani, just like every stylist, is a great listener and conversationalist. But even more so, Lani has become a good friend. She and I have so many things in common and have very similar personalities. Coincidentally, it seems like we go through similar life lessons at similar times in our lives… but in our own unique ways.

So as I was sitting in Lani’s chair, I shared with her that I was pregnant (she visualized earlier in the day that I would be telling her that when I arrived – crazy!). But then I went on share that as I’m progressing along in my pregnancy, I’m realizing that there aren’t any women in my life who are going through pregnancy at the same time. Moreover, I don’t have any friends that went through pregnancy at my age. On the flip side, my sister is currently pregnant as well (but in a far away land called Indiana). However, she has TONS of friends who are either currently pregnant or just had babies or who are undergoing IVF. As an example, my sister hasn’t needed to buy any maternity clothes because all of her friends gifted her stuff. She’s only needed to purchase a few baby items for the same reason. As a result, I’m feeling a little bit like I don’t have a village.

Lani, being astute and thoughtful as she always is, said to me:

You are a leader and a businesswoman. Find a way to create the village that you want.

Lani is so right!! My head is spinning with ideas on how to attack this but I’m eager and willing. Surely I’m not the only 40 year old woman in Austin who’s pregnant at this very moment. This will require time and attention but I’m excited and looking forward to embarking on this journey. It will be amazing to bring together (or find, if one already exists) a group of women who are of “advanced maternal age” to bond and share their experiences… and maybe swap some maternity clothes and baby stuff.

It’s a dog’s life

Blessing: training my dog on behavioral topics

I’ve mentioned it before… we have the best dog – Apache. He’s sweet, loving, a little attention-needy. He truly is the best! Except… he’s horrible on a leash. Always pulling. Zig zagging from side to side. And don’t even get me started on when he sees another dog. It’s actually kind of the cutest thing… but still annoying. When Apache sees another dog coming, he lays flat to the ground. I can’t get him back up. But I can get him to military crawl forward a little bit. But never close enough until we reach the dog. Apache always waits, just laying on the ground. Then when the dog gets close, Apache springs up and launches himself at them. He loves all dogs and just wants to sniff them and play.

Conversely, he recently seems to react to people’s fear, especially when those people are coming into our home. Apache’s hackles go up and he starts barking. Sometimes he’ll eventually calm down but still exhibit signs of nervousness. Other times, he incessantly barks. We later learned that these are signs of Apache “guarding” our home or even us.

Apache curled up on our bed, looking cute as always.

So with having a baby on the way, I decided it was time to get some professional help for us and Apache. We reached out to Apache’s foster mom, who also happens to be a positive-reinforcement dog trainer and specialist. Erin has been so informative and helpful and we’ve come so far in the few weeks we’ve been training with her. But I have to tell you… I really struggled when we first started discussing Apache’s training. I love my dog. I love his personality. He truly is a beacon of light for me everyday. He makes me laugh, feel loved and I really enjoy his company. So I was really afraid that training would change him, make him lose his playfulness and goofiness.

And then it hit me! I need to go through this now with my dog to help prep me for our baby. I can only imagine that I would have the same emotional and mental struggle when discussing how to discipline our child. So I’m incredibly thankful and feel blessed that I get to go through this now.

While our training is nowhere near “complete,” I can say that we still have the same amazing Apache… he just happens to be better mannered. And for that I’m truly blessed!

(Don’t) Be still my heart

Blessing: hearing the heartbeat of my baby for the very first time

Today my husband and I went for our first ultrasound since confirming that I’m pregnant. We got to see our little nugget today. He’s 6 weeks and 5 days along. We also got to hear his heartbeat and see his little heart flutter inside of my abdomen. What a surreal experience! (We might have teared up a little bit.)

Outside of this tender moment, I want to explore all of the other crazy stuff I’m going through with this pregnancy. I’ve hit a new low…an energy low. I take a shower. I need a nap. I blow dry my hair. I need a nap. I feed the dog. I need a nap. This is pure insanity. There are not enough hours in the day for me to accomplish what I need to and rest every time I feel overwhelmingly exhausted. I know I’m growing a baby inside of me but wtf!?!? And yes, I’m aware of all of the ways to increase my energy – exercise, keep moving, blah blah blah. But I still feel SUPER tired.

Also, totally random and I’m not sure if this is unique to my husband and so I’m curious if anyone else experiences this… my husband does the dishes but then seemingly he gets tired and only finishes the dishes part way. However, he cleans up the kitchen like everything is done. Then I’ll look in the sink and still see dishes. It’s another WTF moment for me!! Like if you’re already doing the dishes, why wouldn’t you just finish all of them?!?! I don’t get it.

On a completely different note, as you might be able to tell, I’m still trying to find my voice. I don’t want to be overly preachy and sentimental. I want to infuse humor, but I don’t want to be overly sarcastic and “ranty.” Blogging presents challenges on finding the right balance to my voice. Please stick with me… I will find my happy medium to all things soon.

Counting my blessings

So I didn’t do this in my first two posts but I want to start it now. Moving forward I’m going to share a blessing that I’ve received or experienced and that will dictate the “theme” for that post.

Blessing: I’ve been blessed with an incredible army of professional and medical women who have lifted me up, encouraged me and helped me find the faith I needed to know that I was meant for motherhood and that it would happen for me.

So by now you know I’m almost 6 weeks pregnant through the scientific miracles of IVF. While that is an extremely important and significant part of our current success, there is one particular individual who has been so energetically and emotionally transformational – Dahlia K. Rondeau, M.Ed., CTHP. During my most recent session with Dahlia, she shared this:

Heal yourself and you will help heal others. You are worthy to receive blessings and in turn, you can share those blessings with others.

Dahlia went on to discuss with me about Quantum mechanics and how we are all energetically connected. By healing myself and/or allowing myself to receive blessings, it has a ripple effect on those around me. My healing becomes other people’s healings. My blessings become other people’s blessings. This was so profound to me and opened up my heart to allow myself to receive good things in my life and not question “why me?”

Going into my most recent session with Dahlia, we discussed my pregnancy. I know she was praying for me and speaking with God and asking for this miracle to happen. And I’m so grateful. Pretty much I cry at least once a day because I’m so thankful for this little orange seed-sized miracle growing inside of me. However, I shared with Dahlia that I feel guilty because it happened on our first try with IVF. The process, from beginning to end, was rather smooth. Everything went as expected. But why should it be that easy for me when it can sometimes take multiple tries or never even happen for others?

In so many other areas of our lives, we’re told not to compare ourselves to others. We are not living the same life nor have we had the same journey. I get it. Kind of. But I was still struggling with the guilt. Rationally, I recognize that Alex and I have been trying for a long time to get pregnant. So it’s not like the road to get here was entirely easy… far from it… there was a lot of heartache and disappointment and tears…and money, lots of money for IVF. So Dahlia’s explanation provided me with peace, knowledge and the ability to accept my blessing for what it is… a blessing. Furthermore, she is convinced that my story will help someone else who might be on a similar journey.

I’m the type of person who is an open book. I generally tend to overshare. Even as my husband and I were going through IVF, I pretty much told everyone what we were doing. So when it came time to find out if we’re pregnant, so many people checked in with me that day. This is, in part, why I feel OK sharing our journey with the public… however it turns out in the end. I only know how to be transparent. In addition to Dahlia, I credit our journey and our initial pregnancy to the many people who have supported us along the way. By being open about our IVF process, so many friends, family and even acquaintances were praying for us, sending good vibes out there, and hoping for the best. And I think it helped us get to today, which is week 6, day 4 as I finish this post.

11 days and counting

Here’s the crazy thing… two weeks ago, I had no idea that I’d be writing today. I wouldn’t say that it was the furthest thing from my mind. But it kind of was… And then my whole world changed 11 days ago. Flipped upside down by one single phone call. However, it was a call that my husband and I were eagerly anticipating. It’s actually early to share the news… way too early by almost everyone’s account. But you, the public, have to know the news to understand why this blog is so critical for me and interesting for you. Eleven days ago, Alex and I found out that we’re pregnant! Today marks week 5, day 5. That’s why most agree that it’s too early to share the news but now it’s out there. Now you know.

Alex and I have been trying for a baby for over 4 years. But to be really honest, after our first few months of dating and after getting all of the obligatory STD tests, we threw caution to the wind and had unprotected sex… regularly. A lot of it. We both decided that we were so sure of each other that if we were blessed with a child, we’d roll with it.

Then after 2 years of absolutely no pregnancy scares, we decided to really try. I tracked my cycles, my ovulation days. I charted our sex like a maniac. I was overzealous to say the least. I’d even pull up my tracker to show Alex how many “hearts” we had in a month and how it correlated to my cycle. But to no avail. So I sought the help of an OBGYN in New York (where we were living at the time) and we tried the “less invasive” fertility treatment – Chlomid and timed intercourse. After 4 months of trying that while at the same time deciding to relocate our entire life from Manhattan to Austin, TX, we decided to take a break. We heard that stress can prevent one from getting pregnant and so we decided to focus on our upcoming move.

Then life happened. Alex asked me to marry him (after four years of dating and moving cross country together). So we had a wedding to plan. Admittedly I really wanted to focus on having a baby instead of planning a wedding because I could feel my baby-making years slipping away. (Plus I was previously married so getting remarried and having that “dream” wedding wasn’t really a thing for me anymore.) And if I’m really being honest, I always had this thought in my mind starting in my late teens / early 20s that I would have a hard time getting pregnant. In my whole entire life, I had two pregnancy scares (e.g. my period was days or weeks late) but alas I never, ever saw the two lines on a pregnancy test. So soon after we got engaged, I dragged Alex to a fertility clinic here in Austin to run tests.

On the recommendation of a friend, we found a fertility clinic and a fertility doctor that we trusted and liked. We did all of the tests. We were poked and prodded. I even did some elective genetic testing on myself to ensure that I/we didn’t have any genetic disorders that we’d need to worry about with a future child. Everything came back normal. (And btw, my genetic testing came back perfect. Yes, you heard me – perfect. I am a perfect specimen.) Our fertility doctor explained that all of the testing they do covers about 90% of fertility issues. But there is 10% that is unexplained or unknown until a doctor can begin the IVF process and identify any deeper, underlying issues. Alex and I fell into the loathsome 10%. For us, it was almost more frustrating to not know what was wrong rather than identify something and have all of those questions answered and then you knew what to tackle or how to address.

While kicking off our fertility testing, my holistic doctor, Dr. Tenesha Wards at Infinity Wellness Center, suggested that I read a book called Spirit Babies: How to Communicate with the Child You’re Meant to Have by Walter Makichen. In the book, Walter, a medium who communicates with unborn children in the spirit world, explains and provides stories and anecdotes for a number of reasons why couples are having issues with conceiving children or keeping their pregnancies. He also dives into delicate topics like miscarriages, abortion and adoption. I highly recommend this book if you believe in the possibility of communicating with your spirit baby. But the reason why I mention the book is that strong beliefs from the mother, father or even unborn child can influence if and when parents are able to conceive. My husband comes from a traditional Puerto Rican Catholic family (although he is non-practicing himself at this time), and while he never voiced this to me, I had a strong suspicion that he wanted a traditional family, which included marriage before having a baby. So I thought we’re engaged, let’s focus on a wedding. We’ll get married. That will satisfy his innate need for traditional family and then we will be able to get pregnant. I thought maybe this was the unexplained 10% – a deep desire from Alex to be married first and then have a baby.

However, our fairytale wedding (details for another time) came and went. When we came back from our wedding and honeymoon, we continued trying. Yet no pregnancy scares. My period was like clockwork every month. I’d see “Aunt Flow” each month and feel this overwhelming disappointment and mild depression.

So 6 months after getting married, just over 5 years from the day we met, Alex and I made the leap to begin IVF. It’s a process but I’m so thankful for it nonetheless. I’m one of the lucky ones blessed by modern science and the advances fertility has made since the first “test-tube baby” in the late 70s. And so that’s where our story begins… and how I began questioning – is it hormones, a mid-life crisis or something else?

The First of Many…

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Hello and welcome! My name is Alycia. I’m nearly 40 years old, live in Austin, TX with my husband, Alex, and our dog, Apache. (Apache is, by far, the cutest one in our family.) We are a loving, dysfunctional and generally happy family. However, Alex and I decided late in life that we wanted to build our family with children. And so at ages 39 and 47, we’re embarking on a crazy new journey – one that neither of us knows. I will share the ups and downs, elations and woes, surprises and delights, and the complete and utter astonishment of what we encounter – mostly while I contemplate is it hormones, a mid-life crisis or something else all together?