Sunday, November 30, 2014

And the Tour Begins....

This morning we had to be ON THE BUS by 6 am.  Bags needed to be outside of our hotel rooms by 5:15 and breakfast was waiting for us in the lobby at 5:15.  Ugh.  Keeping deer hunting hours on vacation was not what I was expecting.

Everyone was actually in the lobby on time and we left at 5:58.  Our tour guide for the next week was Jelle (pronounced Yell-a rather than Jelly as we were joking that it was).  Jelle said that he would talk for a little bit and then be quiet for most of the day so that we could get some sleep.  I immediately like Jelle.

We had a 2 1/2 hour drive to Dover where we caught the ferry across the English Channel to Calais.  The white cliffs of Dover were barely visable through the heavy fog.  Unfortunately today was the start of the week of rain and fog that followed us along our tour.

The ferry process was interesting.  We had to be there at least an hour before our trip scheduled for 10 am.  Despite being there an hour and a half before, we actually only had a short break to grab some breakfast and coffee before they started boarding.

Once in Calais we boarded a new bus and met our driver for the week - Mossimo.  Our driver in London was Mario.  I think that all tour bus drivers are Italian in Europe.

After a few more hours on the bus we stopped at Vimy Ridge to admire the monument there.

After a few more short hours on the bus we (finally) arrived in Paris.  We had a quick check in at the hotel and were back on the bus for a sightseeing tour an dinner right on the Champs-Elysees.  It was beautiful.

After dinner we took a cruise on the Seine.  Mark and I grabbed a demi of champagne to enjoy with the ride :)

After our cruise off to bed to get some sleep for a big day tomorrow :)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

London Calling

Today we had a half day London tour and got a taste of what the upcoming bus tour will be like.  The bus was supposed to leave our hotel at 8 am.  Mark and I were on the bus by 7:57, and this was even after Mark had to run up to the room to grab his tour pass.  But yet the bus did not leave at 8 am as promised, oh no, since half of the bus wasn't there until 8:10.

I admit that I am generally not a timely person.  I am pretty much always 5 minutes late for everything.  But I vowed that for this vacation I was going to be on time - the rumor is that you will get left places if you are not on time.  Unfortunately this is not generally true.

We got a nice driving tour around town and stopped by Westminster Abbey for pictures.

We were told to be back on the bus no later than by 10:40.  We were told that the bus leaves at 10:40, that the changing of the guard happens at 11:11 whether or not we are there and that the tour guide would rather we were there.  At 10:45 we had to leave, and we left a couple behind.  It would not be the first tme that we had to wait for this couple.

After the tour we decided to go back to Westminster Abbey after a quick lunch.  You see, I kept passing up going to Westminster Abbey the past two days since I knew that we would be close due to the tour today.  What I did not realize was that the Abbey closed early on Saturdays - and that we were in line just late enough to miss the last entrance :(  I was sad about this but Mark assured me that there would be a lot more interesting churches on our tour.

Mark placated me by taking a cruise on the Thames :)

After the cruise we ended the evening with yet another great dinner.  I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by the food that we have had the last few days.  Everything has been very good :)

Tomorrow we meet up with the tour and start on our way to Paris.

Friday, November 28, 2014

"Black Friday"

We found it very interesting that people were referring to today as "Black Friday".  We thought this was strange since yesterday was definitely NOT Thanksgiving here.  Somehow the "tradition" of Black Friday has leaked out of America and is now celebrated all over the world.  Weird.

Instead of shopping, we headed to the British Museum.  I think that Britain has more artifacts from various parts of the world (Egypt in particular) than the home countries have.  They even had Native American artifacts!  After most of the day I think that we hit the highlights, but definitely had not seen everything.

We did a little walking around and saw Picadilly Circus.  I don't know what I was expecting, but this definitely was underwhelming.  I somehow buitltit up more in my head.

We also stopped over and saw Trafalgar Square.  It was great people watching and a few interesting street performers.  We especially liked the blue rooster.

As the sun set we headed down to the waterfront and checked out a cute winter carnival before going up on the London Eye.  The whole ride took about 20 minutes and gave breathtaking views of the city.

We wrapped up the evening with dinner at a great restaurant in Notting Hill Gate.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks in a Different Way

We arrived in London about 8:30 am.  We both tried to get some sleep on the plane, but it was sporadic and poor quality at best.  Needless to say, while we are excited to be in London we are also very tired.

After about an hour ride we get to our hotel only to find out that we were booked in a twin room, they are full so they can't make any changes (unless we want to spend an additional £69 - that's like $104 - per night to upgrade).  We decided that we can sleep in separate beds for a few days, but sent a message to our travel agent to try and get that fixed for the rest of the trip.  We were also told that the room wasn't ready.

Ack!  All we want is a shower and a nap right now.

We decided to walk to a nearby coffee shop, admire the nice neighborhood that our hotel was in (Kensington) and get some lunch and some much needed coffee.  We also had to get a photo in front of one of the many, many, many red telephone booths in London.

When we got back the room was ready so we freshened up and started our day in London.  We decided to head to the Tower of London.  Luckily the London Underground is pretty easy to navigate since our hotel (while nice) isn't really close to anything.  Unfortunatley the London Underground is actually quite expensive - it cost us about $15 each way for two fares.

We seemed to arrive at a good time - we caught a tour right as it was starting and we even saw the changing of the guard.

By the time the Tower of London closed it was getting dark - a perfect time to see the Tower Bridge!

For dinner we stopped at a pub near the hotel.  We were disappointed to find that dark beer isn't really that popular in London and we ended up drinking Guiness.  We were hoping to drink beer that we couldn't get at home....

All and all it ended up being a good day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bon Voyage!


Voyage - means good journey in french.  I thought that this was very appropriate since we will be visiting Paris in a few short days.

I feel like I am ready to go - I have packed without over-packing (I actually have open space in my suitcase for souvenirs), the dogs are taken care of, and things feel like they are in a good place at work.

We are currently at MSP waiting for our flight to board.  For lack of anything better to do while waiting I am looking at the Wikipedia page on MSP airport.

Did you know that MSP is the third largest Delta hub and that part of the movie "Airport" was filmed there?  Fascinating.  I should have another $16 glass of wine while I learn more about MSP.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Is It Still Our Babymoon?

While not an actual picture of me packing, this is a pretty accurate representation of me packing.  I am a notorious over-packer.  I generally come home from trips with half a suitcase of unworn clothes and unworn shoes because I try to pack something for every possible situation.

Well, I am going to have to change my packing habits.  This is a long trip and my suitcase is not that big.  If you are anything like me you are thinking right now - why not just bring a bigger suitcase, or several suitcases?  If only I could.  We are traveling on a coach tour, and they have guidelines on the size of, and how many suitcases are allowed per person.  Unless I buy an extra ticket for my clothes I need to suddenly become a smart packer.

In order to have enough clothes for vacation and still have room for souvenirs I will need to pack less clothing than normal, but clothing that can be worn 2-3 times in a new combination - thereby making several "outfits" out of a few pieces.

To accomplish this goal, I have spent the last few weeks planning my vacation wardrobe.  I have been visiting sites like - two weeks in Europe in a carryon bag, and packing list for Europe, etc. etc. and using their ideas for outfits using key pieces.  Believe it our not, I actually have everything packed, including a lighter coat and gum boots, and still have 1/3 of my suitcase free!

Although I am ecstatic to be leaving for our fabulous Europe vacation in a few days, I am also a little sad.   We booked this trip a long time ago - this spring actually.  We booked this trip thinking that it would be our last big trip for a while, that it was our last hurrah as DINKs.....that it was our babymoon. 

When we booked this trip, we thought that our friend would be her second trimester carrying our baby to be.  We didn't know then that our world was about to be turned upside-down, that we would be traveling halfway around the world to use a surrogate in a strange foreign country, that we would suffer yet another loss, and in the end, not even be pregnant while on our trip.

Is it still our babymoon?  Will we have a baby someday?  Right now I am less hopeful than I was just six months ago.

I have decided that I will spend this vacation in the moment, enjoying the time with Mark and the great experiences that I am sure that we are about to have.  Hopefully it will be a vacation from thinking about our fertility woes, work woes, and remodeling woes.

Carpe Diem!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

No Deer Were Harmed In the Making of This Picture...

 Second Week of Deer Camp
Da Yoopers

Its the second week of deer camp
I got A swollen head
I'm lying with the dust balls
Underneath my bed

An icy breeze is blowing in
Through the tongue and groove
My pants are frozen to the floor
And I'm too sick to move

I didn't drink too many
Only thirty cans of beer
It must have been that last shot
That put me under here

It's the second week of deer camp
And all the guys are here
We drink play cards and shoot the bull
But never shoot no deer
The only time we leave the camp
Is when we go for beer
The second week of deer camp
Is the greatest time of year

I remember playing poker
That weasel musta won
He's wearing my new swampers
And sleeping with my gun

He's snoring like A chain saw
The camp smells like A dump
Someone's dirty underwear
Is hanging on the pump

Mukku'S in the wood box
Eener'S passed out on the stove
His flannel shirt is smoking
I wonder if he knows


Vito'S crawling through the door
I think he got frostbite
He passed out in the outhouse
And he's been there since last night

Then goofus stumbles through the door
He says he got A buck
He was coming from the wayside
And he killed it with his truck

Then muusti cracks A beer and says
Its time to celebrate
Goofus got the first buck
Since 1968

Pretty much sums it up....

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I'm Pretty Sure I Lost My Chance For a Happy Pregnancy a LONG Time Ago.....

The saddest thing about losing a pregnancy is not just that you have lost a pregnancy, too often you have lost a hope, a dream, and your sense of innocence and joy towards pregnancy itself.

I read an article today about how a prior pregnancy loss affects how a woman views pregnancy thereafter.

If you have never experienced a pregnancy loss, I hope that this article helps you to realize how lucky you are, and how you can be more understanding for someone who has.

If you have experienced a pregnancy loss and are feeling some of these some feelings, I hope that your realize that you are not alone, and that you are very normal for feeling the way that you do.

One of my greatest struggles with my husband is that he does not understand my feelings.  He thinks that I am just being a pessimist, that I am just a "glass half empty" kind of person.

He was getting very frustrated with me when we got back from India.  He was convinced that since they transferred four embryos that we would have twins.  Wouldn't twins be so much fun?

I, on the other hand, kept warning that we definitely shouldn't expect twins, and maybe should not expect a baby at all.

When the first Beta test came, I was fully expecting it to be negative.

When the first Beta test was low, I was fully expecting the next one to be lower and then nonexistent.

When we were told that the Beta was finally negative I was not surprised - I already knew that this was going to happen.

When we do finally (hopefully) have a strong Beta test, I know that I will worry about every Beta test thereafter.  I will worry that the gestational sac isn't forming, that the heartbeat can't be found, that our baby has some genetic abnormality, that it will be born too soon....or not at all.  I will worry until it is finally (hopefully) born at least after 30ish weeks and has a chance to survive.  Once it is born, I will worry that something will happen, I will worry until that child is safe in my arms here at home.

I hope then I will stop worrying excessively, that then I will feel safe that my baby is finally mine.

I know that I am not alone in this worry.  I have had the opportunity to talk with other women who have suffered pregnancy loss and we all feel this way.  We have lost our pregnancy innocence.

Pregnancy is supposed to be one of the most joyful times in a woman's life.  It is supposed to be a time when you dream about what your child will be like, when you delight in picking the colors and furniture for your nursery, and get to buy cute little onesies and stuffed animals and other adorable baby toys. 

It is not supposed to be a time of sheer terror that the next time you go to the bathroom that IT is going to happen, that one day the baby just won't kick, that the ultrasound will show that your baby isn't normal....or not even there at all.

Once you have lost a pregnancy, too often you have also lost the joy that pregnancy is supposed to bring.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Surprising Side Effect of Infertility Treatments

The allergist's office called today to talk about my future allergy shots.  They wanted to know if I had a chance to go over my insurance benefits.

I had to admit that I hadn't, but figured that the shots were probably covered.

The nurse said that they ARE usually covered by insurance, but did not want to go forward with creating the serum unless I knew that they were for sure covered by insurance due to the cost of the serum and shots.

She said that they have had some people be unpleasantly surprised in the past, and now they make sure that everything is OK and covered before proceeding.

I said that even if the serum and shots were not covered, it was worth it to me to pay out of pocket since this will make my allergies better.  I also figured that they most likely weren't THAT expensive.

The nurse then spoke tentatively, "Are you sure?  The serum is $780."

I started laughing.  I started laughing so hard that I almost feel out of my chair.

I explained to the surprised nurse that I have gone through rounds of infertility treatments, and that $780 for something that works well for most people vs. thousands of dollars for something that works less than 30% of the time for most people sounds like a great deal.

 $780?  The medication alone for an IVF cycle is usually 4-5 times that?!

What an interesting side effect of fertility treatments - so many things seem so cheap comparatively.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

And Now For Someone Completely Different

Now that I am starting to think straight again after our loss last week I realized that India told us that the next transfer would occur in 10 - 15 days.

Wait a minute.....

That seems a little soon doesn't it?

Since I have never been through the transfer process myself I looked to the infertility boards for the answer on this.  Everything that I have read says that the you are supposed to have at least one normal cycle in between a loss and your next transfer attempt.  Your body needs a chance to get back to normal to ensure that the next transfer is done under optimal conditions.

It took some nagging, but I finally convinced Mark that we should express our concerns to India that this transfer seems to be happening a little too fast.

We were told that the reason that they do not need to wait a cycle in between is because it is a different surrogate.

Ummmmm.......doesn't that kind of void our surrogate contract?

Technically yes.  India said that we will need to sign a new contract once the surrogate becomes pregnant.

In some ways, this may be good.  I doubt that the surrogate was the issue with our loss, but I guess that by changing surrogates you can potentially rule out surrogate issues in the future.  It also may be good that we will be doing on transfer on this person's natural cycle.  I did worry that the fact that I only stimmed for 7 days vs. the normal 10 days could mean that the transfer happened at a less than optimal time of the surrogate's cycle.

India must have a whole line up of surrogates at the ready to step in whenever needed.

I wonder if this was part of the reason that we didn't feel like we were encouraged to meet our surrogate?  They don't want you to get attached since there is always a possibility that the players may change.

I hope that our original surrogate will get another chance with someone else.  I would hate for my bum eggs to ruin someone else's chance at changing their life.


Monday, November 3, 2014

The Itchy & Scratchy Show

With so many things going on in my life and especially my body that are out of my control, I have decided to focus on things that I can control.  One of those things is my allergies.  This has been a pretty terrible year for allergies in Minnesota.  We had a late spring, and everything seemed to bloom all at once.  I spent most of the spring, summer, and fall wiping my nose and feeling miserable.
I decided that I am tired of this bullshit and I am done with allergies. 
I suppose that I shouldn't complain, I have actually been pretty lucky as far as allergies go.  I didn't grow up with allergies and I spent a decent portion of my adult life without them.  For some reason, I developed allergies around the time that I turned 30 and have been miserable ever since.
It has been 7 years since I had an allergy test, and I have not been in to see an allergist for a while - Target minute clinic works just fine if I need nasal spray or have a sinus infection and you can get most allergy medication over the counter.
So, I needed to find a new allergist and also have my test redone to see if my allergies were the same.  For anyone who has never had an allergy test it is not a good time.  You get to lay on the table with your back exposed, the nurse then proceeds to poke you in the back 46 times with various potential allergens and leaves you to lay there for 15 minutes, trying not the move around and scratch your back that is now itching like crazy, and wait to see what you are allergic to.
But, this test is often not clearly definitive for most things, so then you get to move on to the shots.

Luckily I only needed to have 14 shots - 7 in each arm.  Those you only need to wait 8 minutes for them to blow up and start itching.  Mine, for the most part, hurt more than itched.
I was glad that I had the test redone, as two things actually fell off from the last time, but the things that remained got worse.  The big 3: Mold, Ragweed, and DOGS.
The allergist recommended that we stop letting the dogs sleep in the bedroom with us.  He has obviously never seen the sad eyes that Penny gave us when we told her she can't sleep on the bed anymore.  He also said that these are all things that could be treated with shots, and that shots should be very effective.  I decided that I am ready to be done with allergies and will start the shots in a few weeks.
It is a definite time commitment.  The treatment actually lasts for 5 years - it starts at once a week for 6 months, and then starts to increase time in between.  You just need to go into the office, get your shot, and then wait there for 30 minutes so that they can monitor your reaction.  Unfortunately, you will react for a while, but it gets better as time goes on.
The allergist also spent some time looking at my throat, nose and ears.  He immediately asked about my sinus surgery.  He commented that my surgery looked "thorough".  I am not sure if that is good or bad, but I think that I am glad that I can't see up my nose. 
When I was 18, the summer between high school and college, I had sinus surgery.  After having recurrent sinus infections since I was in elementary school, and recurrent ear infections as a child, a new doctor at our clinic noticed the size of my medical file and decided to get to the bottom on things. 
I went to the allergist - no allergies.
I then went to the ENT where the truth was discovered.  While everything looked straight on the outside, the inside of my nose was as crooked as a politician.  And my ethmoid sinuses were full of air bubbles.  He recommended surgery to fix it.  He pointed to things on the CAT scan and described generally what he was going to fix.  Staring at a scan, these things didn't sound that bad.  It is also hard to related a scan into flesh, nerves and bone.
I don't remember much of the week after my surgery.  I spent most of the time sleeping - only waking up briefly to take my mega pain pill.  My face was so swollen I could barely open my mouth, and my nose was so full of packing you could fit nickels in my nostrils.  Or at least I think you could - we didn't actually try it.
As bad as it was, I now only get sinus infections once every one to two years (twice in a year if things are really bad) instead of every other month as I did as a child. 
Thank you for being thorough Dr. Alt.