Sunday, March 29, 2009

Antral follicle count and IVF success

When I had my fluid ultrasound (FUS) back in December '08, and then received my records a few weeks later, I totally overlooked the fact that they DID record my antral follicle count that day. Originally, I guess I missed it in the sea of accronymns that was my doctor write-up. So... drum roll... my antral follicle count on my one existing ovary was "15+". I don't know if that means they stopped counting at 15 or if they counted approximately 15. Either way it's indicative of PCOS. This isn't the first time I've had a doctor say I have a PCO ovary - all my OBs confirmed this as well. While your antral follicle count does vary from cycle to cycle, it's still nice to have something to go off of for now.

Below is some info I found on the web in regards to what your antral follicle count is and what is a "good" count. The Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago has an entire page dedicated to this topic and below is their chart on what are some "general" guidelines. To read their information in it's entirity, go here.

Total number of antral follicles
Expected response to injectable ovarian stimulating drug (FSH product)
and chances for success
Less than 4
Extremely low count, very poor (or no) response to stimulation and a cancelled cycle expected.
Should seriously consider not attempting IVF at all.
Rare pregnancies if IVF attempted.
Low count, we are concerned about a possible/probable poor response to the stimulation drugs.
Likely to need high doses of FSH product to stimulate ovaries adequately.
Higher than average rate of IVF cycle cancellation.
Lower than average pregnancy rates for those cases that make it to egg retrieval. The reduction in success rates is more pronounced beyond age 35.
Somewhat reduced count.
Higher than average rate of IVF cycle cancellation.
Slightly reduced chances for pregnancy as a group.
Normal (but intermediate) count, the response to drug stimulation is sometimes low, but usually good.
Slight increased risk for IVF cycle cancellation.
Pregnancy rates as a group only slightly reduced compared to the "best" group.
Normal (good) antral count, should have an excellent response to ovarian stimulation.
Likely to respond well to low doses of FSH product.
Very low risk for IVF cycle cancellation. Some risk for ovarian overstimulation.
Best pregnancy rates overall as a group.
Over 26
High count, watch for polycystic ovary type of ovarian response.
Likely to have a high response to low doses of FSH product.
Higher than average risk for overstimulation.
Very good pregnancy rate overall as a group, but some cases in the group have egg quality issues and lower chances for pregnancy.

Going off the above, it tells me it might be nice to know in the future if I really do have +15... as it seems that might be a bad thing. For now, I won't be overly concerned. I'm just glad the one ovary is still working!

I also came acoss a medical journal article from November 2006, titled "Ovarian volume and antral follicle count for the prediction of low and hyper responders with in vitro fertilization," concluded that "AFC (antral follicle count) performs well as a test for ovarian response being superior or at least similar to complex expensive and time consuming endocrine tests. It is therefore likely to be the test for general practice.

They reported the following, regarding antral follicle counts in relation to follicles AFTER stimulation: "We defined a 'poor' ovarian response as less than 6 oocytes after ovarian hyperstimulation in an IVF treatment and a 'hyper' response as more than 20 oocytes after such an IVF treatment. Among women undergoing in vitro fertilization, the chances of a live birth are related to the number of eggs fertilized, presumably because of the greater selection of embryos for transfer. The low success rate when only two eggs were fertilized reflects the lack of choice among embryos for transfer. We have in our laboratory the experience that we have an overall 50–60% chance of fertilization. Taken this together, at least 6 oocytes are required for three or more fertilized eggs. We defined a hyper response when there were > 20 oocytes. This was based on the knowledge that the pregnancy rates do not increase when > 20 oocytes are retrieved. Moreover, such cases have a significant risk of a severe OHSS."

Guess we'll just wait and see what my antral follicle count is at my next ultrasound, which most likely won't be until right around the time I start my IVF cycle (TBD).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

IVF in '09... back in the running?

Just as we think we finally have a game plan, it would seem as though God may have something else in store. As you well know by now, we have done a lot of financial analysis in these past few months to get an idea of just what we could afford with regards to infertility. One minute we were just sure we were going to sell our home - the next we weren't. Then we decided to refi... ok we've actually stuck to that and have been making some progress.

Which brings me to my first newsworthy item. Our house appraised for about 13,000 more than we had even hoped it would. Which, in turn, means we have the option to put less money down as equity when we redo the financing. And, guess what that means. We now have more liquid cash in our possession to put towards IVF treatments. Actually, the amount that we now have "left-over" is just about the same amount that my husband kept getting stuck on. The figure that we would have been able to save by waiting several additional months, which is why we were going to wait until January.

By this point in my post I should have added at least 10 exclamation marks!!!! after each sentence, but I'll save them for another day. It's not that I'm not happy, it's just that I'm being cautious. Anyone going through this knows that the higher you climb in your emotions, the harder you fall. I will say that we have a bit more talking to do and will probably try and make an appt. with our RE to talk about why he's recommending the 2 cycle package, vs. the 3 cycle/outcome based one. At this point I'm not sure he'll tell us anything new, but it will be nice to get the three of us talking. Maybe just hearing it come directly from him is what we need to firm up a direction. I will say that last night, when we sat down for a short time after my girl's meeting, I, for the first time in a long time, heard excitement in his voice about this whole thing. I think that's probably what bothered me the most about when we talked and "decided" to wait a few weeks ago. His heart just seemed so far removed from it all. I half wonder if he was being that way just because he felt it's what he needed to do in order to make, what he felt, was the right, head-strong decision. In any case, I am glad that our "everything" is back into this. Now, let's just see where it takes us. Hope to have our IVF month determined in the next couple weeks. Will it be August or January... TBD!

St. Louis Infertility Support Group
And can I add that still, after all these months, I totally enjoy and look forward to my girl's meetings! Being able to get together with other women who are battling infertility to listen to and share stories with is very releasing. I can't thank them enough! If you're reading this and are from the St. Louis area, feel free to drop me a note. I'd love to share more information with you about the dates and time we meet - anyone TTC with infertility issues is welcome!

Infertility on daytime TV, and me?
On another weird, but exiting note, I got a call from the Tyra Show tonight! A couple weeks ago I sent in my infertility story after coming across an upcoming show they're going to do. I figured the odds of me actually getting called was slim-to-none, but it was worth a shot. The woman I spoke with said that she was going to pass my info on to producers to see if they could work me into the show. We'll see if it amounts to anything. You're probably thinking - why? Why would you send your info in like that? The very idea that I could possibly share my story with other women and have them walk away feeling more empowered is just awesome. Simple things like how your cycle works, what really goes into being fertile and the things to look for and ask of your doctor so that when she is telling you to "relax" you can know that you need to move onto a new doctor. Other things like being an example of how many women need ART treatments to simply be able to have the same pregnancy chances that "normal" women do. In this past year of trying, we've only really had two cycles where we could have even had a chance, simply because I rarely ovulate on my own. Also, most of us do not have infertility insurance and, as a result, this will have a huge long-range financial impact on our families despite how hard we've worked and will continue to work to provide and save for our family. I don't think that law makers really get that. So, we'll see where that leads me!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's this? I started my period! :)

Most women, especially those trying to conceive, wouldn't be excited about this, but I definitely am. I started my cycle today - ON MY OWN!! This is huge for me. I think this is only my second cycle on my own since stopping birth control in April of 2008. During that particular cycle, it took me 67 days to start on my own, and I'm not even sure if I ovulated. It's hard to say though. I was still new to the whole charting thing (it was my first cycle ever charted when we started TTC), however, I certainly didn't write down any "symptoms" around the time that I would have ovulated, so that's why I'm so doubtful.

In my little corner of the world, this is very exciting! It's nice to see that my body WILL work, if nothing else just some of the time. Can you believe this makes for only my 2nd cycle where we've actually had the *chance* to have a baby (ie. I ovulated) in what will be almost a year of trying to conceive?!! Since I didn't know for sure I had at the time, it was the easiest 2ww ever! :-)

I'm excited, but I definitely realize that even when I DO ovulate, the likelihood of my remaining tube being able to function properly and pick up an eggie is pretty slim with all of the existing scar tissue that has formed due to my surgery years ago. Even still, I have HOPE!! For the next week, I will be reminded that I am indeed a woman - roooarrrr! :P And I will love every minute of it!!


For your viewing pleasure, here is my complete 93 day long cycle. Above is a snapshot of the very end, around ovulation . Our first cycle where we weren't actively trying, I guess you could say. That basically means, we weren't BDing every few days, I wasn't taking my basal body temps, doing any of those lousy OPKs or drugs or anything. In fact, you can see that in late December (when this cycle started), I stopped taking my metformin and, and yes I probably shouldn't have cut this one, but I also stopped taking my prenatal pills. Those things totally suck and I just needed a break.

The above chart snapshot indicates the days when I was having certain ovulation-like symptoms - starting with headaches off and on, very sensitive nipples and my ovary was sore, as in I when I barely pushed on my stomach it hurt, and then on Day 81 I just happened to check my cervix and it was open. Based on all of this, I *believe* I probably ovulated on either CD 81 or 82, but it could have been anywhere in the green outlined area I suppose. As you can see we did BD a several days prior to that, and one day right in that key time frame. Even though BD timing wasn't "perfect", it wasn't awful either. I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 maybe. Just good to note. It's always nice to test my body out and give it a chance to shape up on it's own, but I'm not holding my breath. I know God can work miracles, so I just continue to pray!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Infertility on primetime thanks to 24!!!

I'm probably WAYYY more excited about this than I should be. Tonight, on the Fox TV show 24 in a scene with the main man, Jack Bauer (aka hunk that saves the US single handedly every stinkin episode!), he's talking with a security gaurd who just got off the phone with his very pregnant wife. We're sure he's a goner (it never fails they always kill a new bit character who is in a vunerable situation like that), but as Jack is questioning why he got involved with the bad guys, he says something to the effect of "Don't take me the wrong way. I did it for my wife - for the money. They say that getting pregnant is natural, but after three long years and IVF treatments that insurance doesn't cover, it has cost us a lot of money. Now the idea paying for twins, well it is pretty overwhelming."

SERIOUSLY!! Can you believe this!! SCORE ONE FOR INFERTILITY! Ok, so a small step, but still - how awesome is that. I mean, in about three sentences he pretty much summed it all up... well most of the big stuff that a lot of the general population have a hard time understanding. What a great delievery technique :)

That pretty much made my night!! Thank you 24!

Monday, March 16, 2009

More from our RE regarding IVF

Following up to my two most recent blog posts, I wrote Dr. Ahlering on Saturday with three questions (yes, he does answer his own e-mails... not always as thorough as I'd like to receive, but they are coming from him, so I'll take what I can get for now).

My questions were:

1) Knowing that we had testing done in Dec '08, do you feel it would be detrimental to our IVF success for us to wait until next January to begin IVF?

This was left unanswered. My feeling is that, no it probably wouldn't impact us that much, given our ages and health issues. However, there is always the small *chance* that something could happen to my only ovary. This past week I have been having soreness near where my ovary is located (like soreness when I push on my stomach from the outside). Who knows what is going on... maybe I'm actually going to ovulate on this 90 day (and counting) cycle I've been on since the beginning of January. Anyway, taht type of thing always gets my nerves jumping thinking "what if" some gianormus cyst is forming on my ovary and will forever kill my only chances at conceiving. I try to block this out of my mind and pray for the best.

2) Without us knowing how my one ovary will respond to fertility drugs, what is your professional opinion as to if should purchase the 2 cycle or 3 cycle package?

To which he answered "I think the 2 cycle plan is best for your situations."

3) I also asked him about the CGH plan I mentioned in my last blog post. My question, specifically, was: Can you tell me, would this be something you would think our situation (one ovary, PCOS and male factor) could greatly benefit from?

His answer: "CGH is something to consider for anyone that has RPL (Recurrent Pregnancy Loss), or IVF failures and decent ovarian response. Or, if someone is looking at fertility preservation/egg freezing. The thing that people do not like sometimes is that one has to freeze the embryos for later transfer."

It's worth mentioning that RPL or IVF failures doesn't apply to us (not at this time, and hopefully never) and we don't yet know how my ovaries will respond, since I've never undergone a cycle with injectables. I'm not sure how the mandatory freezing of embryos would affect our situation. I know they have improved the freezing/thawing techniques so that fewer are lost in process, but if we don't respond very well and get a lot of embryos, it may hurt if we loose even one. I suppose something to think about is that they stated if you don't produce at least 5 ovarian follicles, you could opt out of the CGH plan and covert your cycle to a fee-for-fee service, which is basically like going with one of the plans we'd already been considering. I'm assuming that if you had to convert, you would be converting at the single cycle cost (not the "buy in bulk costs" of the 2 or 3 cycle plan), which would mean it would cost more if you had to do another fresh IVF cycle.

I'm still digesting all of this. I can't help but rethink things a little, knowing Dr. Ahlering is thinking about our health situations and recommending the 2 cycle to us, vs. the 3. I would think that he feels pretty positively about us getting pregnant in 2 cycles or less, otherwise he wouldn't have said it.

Not wanting to be pushy, I brought it up again with my husband via IM today at work. As you can imagine, IM isn't the best way to talk about these things, but sometimes it just has to be that way. Our conversation starts by him commenting on something else entirely, that happened to mention us in relation to IVF... (sorry sweetie, but I'm putting our convo in my blog!)

[14:25] "as we prepare to start IVF in January"
[14:25] that means that Dr. Ahlering's comment from yesterday didn't change anything, did it?
[14:26] Jay: I thought we were waiting on pricing information
[14:26] Jay: I'm all for starting sooner if it's cheaper for the risk
[14:27] well, yeah, i mean there were two things. 1) this whole CGH thing... we are waiting on pricing for that package 2) but then there's the thing where he said "with your situations, i would recommend the 2 cycle", which is seperate from the CGH.
[14:28] i mean that's his opinion and we just have to consider how much we want to factor it into how we feel
[14:28] Jay: sure, but we'd already gone over how two cycles this year leaves us in a bad spot financially if we do somehow end up with multiples.
[14:29] Jay: we can do a two-fer in january to save even more money, but that's about all that his comment really changed.
[14:31] oh... see it thought it may have changed the timing. especially if he's recommending 2, and that, or less than that really does work. (which i would assume he's betting it would, otherwise he wouldn't recommend it, but who knows). anyways, i just wanted to see how you felt about it. i still feel that if we did 2 this year, we'd have to agree to wait until some time next year to do another 2... and we haven't really even played out that scenerio financially, so who knows. i just wanted to make sure we thought about it enough, since he did give us his opinion, that's all.
[14:32] Jay: His comment basically makes me feel good that, were we to do it this year, we'd probably be successful.
[14:32] Jay: The other stuff I mentioned is really unchanged by his comment.
[14:38] i just hope you can see where i'm coming from... the idea that he believes we could be successful with less tries, just makes me wish all the more that it was happening sooner than later. i just wonder what it would look like if we got pg on the first cycle and had twins... i mean, less money towards IVF, so more money left over if i had to go on bedrest... i suppose it seems that it could even out somewhat, but i don't think we've done the numbers for that. sorry to open the can again... just want to really make sure we've thought this through.
[14:39] Jay: Doing a two-fer this year becomes viable if... a) The cost goes down substantially, b) the probability of multiples drops substantially, c) we find a way to make substantially more money.
[14:40] Jay: If CGH comes back as a reasonable option, I can see us strongly considering this year since we'd have a dramatically lower chance of multiples.
[14:41] k
[14:41] Jay: *kisses*
[14:41] :(
[14:41] Jay: Kisses are good things...
[14:56] fwiw, CGH doesn't really have an impact on multiples for us, since the most we'd ever put in are 2 (at least right now anyway, because of my age and no failed IVF history). Where it cuts down on multiples is when women have a hard time getting pg so their Dr puts in a handful, just hoping one takes. the only way it could impact us is if we did CGH and had one embryo that was "perfect" so we only decided to transfer that one. doing so, though, in and of itself lowers our chances because you're lowering the odds, so to speak.
[14:56] so yeah, i think i just shot myself in the foot
[14:56] whatever

Based on that, unless I sit down and run the numbers again and want to rehash this all, it's probably still that we're waiting until January, because we know the cost for IVF most likely won't go down and there really isn't a way for us to make more money, given our economy right now. Unless of course I win the lottery! (that I don't play, but hey, you never know!) And I don't see how this CGH thing will be cheaper, but we'll see. I'm still waiting on financial numbers for CGH cost from SHER.

Sorry for the long winded post, only to find out we're back at square one, but it helps me to write it all down, for sanity sake.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

SIRM's New CGH-Risk Sharing Plan = Increased IVF success rates!

How interesting.... The Sher Institutes of Reproductive Medicine (SIRM), otherwise known as SHER, announced on March 9, 2009 the the world’s first CGH-Risk Sharing Plan that guarantees qualified IVF patients a baby or offers a full refund of the clinic’s medical fees. Read more here.

What is CGH?
Well, the article above does a good job of describing what it is, however, I'd like to elaborate. CGH testing is supposed to be better than Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), which in the past was "the" way to detect chromosomal abnormalities. CGH is better than PGD is because they test for these chromosomal abnormalities at the embryonic stage, rather than testing just the egg (which is what PGD does), allowing them to catch defects in the embryos and transfer only the most viable ones. The somewhat new process of vitrification (the process they use to cryopreserve/freeze and thaw eggs or embryos), vs. the old and more widely used "slow-freezing" method helped to pave the way to improving this process. SHER clinics have been using this vitrification technique for quite some time now and together, with CGH, it's looks as though it could really greatly improve future IVF success rates. For more technical info on how this has all come about, check out this article written by Dr. Geoffrey Sher of the SIRM, back in early 2007. Additionally, here is a video on CGH from '07 that explains the impact it can have on success rates. As you'll see they've been working towards this for quite a long time. Personally, I think that if SIRM is willing to offer this money-back guarantee, they must have quite a lot of faith in it's success.

What does that mean for us?
Well, I'm not exactly sure just yet. Bare minimum it means that without a doubt our chances for IVF success rates per transfer go up significantly. In turn, that would mean we would need less tries, or transfers, to achieve success and bring home a baby! I suspect that the cost for this plan is fairly high... maybe as high as SHER's 3-cycle refund plan, however, it might be better to go this route because of those benefits.

As usual, I hate to get all worked up. But, I was definitely super excited to stumble on this today. We both were. We agreed, the more things you can do prior to transfer (and after for that matter) to up your chances, the better. Which means, pursuing CGH is probably very real for us. Especially since PCOS women are know for producing questionable quality eggs, which in turn often result in embryos that are less than perfect quality. My instinct is that this would help to counter act that.

How the CGH-Risk Sharing Plan would work?
The article goes on to say.... "If the patient does not have a baby after all her CGH-normal embryos (from the same IVF egg retrieval) are used up, she will be eligible for a full refund of SIRM’s medical services, as well as for a second try should she so choose. Moreover, if following stimulation with fertility drugs the participant does not produce at least 5 ovarian follicles, she can elect to opt out of the plan and convert to fee-for-service IVF."

I've e-mailed Dr. Ahlering to see if he thinks we'd be good candidates for this and to get some additional info about costs. I'm excited to hear back and will fill you in when I hear more!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Say it ain't so... looks like IVF will have to wait :(

Two nights ago me and the hubby sat down to go over, for the billionth time, finances. I could puke finances by now. The idea of money controlling my life just absolutely frustrates me to no end. Even still, my head tells me to consider it. Obviously, you shouldn't bring a baby into this world unless you're prepared to be able to feed it. After months and months of chewing over numbers - we finally laid out our options.

We are certain that we're doing IVF... it's just a matter of when. Do we:
1) Buy a two cycle package and start the first fresh cycle this August. Then, if that doesn't work, we would need to wait until sometime towards the summer or fall of 2010 to be able to buy another package...Or,
2) Do we wait until January of 2010 and buy a three cycle package all at once.

Note that in either case we would buy the stated # of fresh cycles, which also includes any frozen (FET) cycles that would come about as a result of the previous fresh cycle. Who knows if we'll have any embryos left over, but it's nice to know that those costs are included.

I thought it over some more yesterday and really feel like my heart is telling me August is the way to go. I was really looking forward to gauging what he was thinking. Let's just say it was the complete opposite of my view. He'd rather play it super safe and wait until January. Why? Well, by waiting those additional months we'd be able to save about $10k more and he feels like in an extreme circumstance where we get pregnant with twins, we'd be glad to have have the additional buffer.

So... how do I feel about this? Not sure if that question even needs a reply. It's given right?! My heart totally sank. Infertility has a way of making you feel so powerless. Here is this great big meaningful thing (adding another life into our family) and my body is completely taking away my ability to just go with the flow. And then, as if that's not enough, money is now controlling this whole situation simply because our health insurance system is screwed up and doesn't make infertility coverage available to everyone. Oh, and while I'm on my soapbox, my husband's job is playing a role too. This was a fantastic time not to convert him into an employee position AND to cut his salary by 10%.

What a strange powerless position. I guess when I heard him tell me he wants to wait until January it just was another dagger to the heart. I know that if these things weren't affecting us, he wouldn't want to wait at all, but the truth of the matter is that they DO exist and he feels that it would be best to wait. Most people who know me realize that I don't generally take no for an answer ;) (what an annoying trait), but in this instance I would feel awful trying to convince him of something he's not sure about on his own. Not this time. Not about something this major. It just wouldn't feel right.

I went to bed last night telling myself that the only way I am going to be able to make it through these next very long 11 months is to have lots of other distractions. Other things to put my energy and focus towards - otherwise, I really feel like I might not make it out of this thing with my head held high. These past few months have taken their toll on me. I've found myself not really caring at all about exercising, about going out and having fun or even doing regular things like cleaning the house. I'm ashamed to say that up until last Sunday, my house hadn't been vacuumed in 3 weeks. That is totally sick!! I wouldn't say I'm a complete neat freak, but that's just uncalled for.

I think I'll have a long talk with him tonight and lay it on the line. Things have to change. This year has to be a year of progress, fun and a chance to clear our heads and prepare for our baby in 2010.

Friday, March 6, 2009

How much will having one ovary effect IVF success?

Now that we know we're doing IVF, it's now just a matter of when, we're wondering - with me having one ovary, will our IVF success rates be lower? If so, how much less of a chance will we have?

I asked my RE and was, truthfully, hoping for a more informative response. His reply was "If that ovary has a lot of eggs, that is what matters." I wanted to know:

1) Compared to the "average" woman with two polycystic ovaries, how many eggs would you expect to retrieve from my one ovary during a fresh cycle?

2) Assuming we'll have less eggs retrieved, should we expect that it's likely we'll not have any additional embryos left over after each fresh transfer?

Not satisfied with the answer he gave, I did some searching of my own and came up with a few insightful links. One was from a study that was done back in 1998, the treatment outcome in women with a single ovary versus patients with two ovaries undergoing in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF/ET) was "comparable to those with two ovaries." (click here for a PDF of the link).

I also googled to see if there were any other personal stories of women having one ovary and doing IVF and came up with these:

A blog by a woman who has only one ovary and one fallopian tube, has never had regular cycles and has PCOS and did IVF and got pregnant on the second transfer.

And another blog who has one ovary (has half of the other after having a laparotomy, but it doesn't' appear to work well) and was only allowed by her RE to do two IUIs and is now getting ready to move her first cycle of IVF. She also has endometriosis which is why, more than anything, they are moving more quickly.

That's all I could find during the time I looked, but I will be sure to keep this post up-dated if I find any other informative links. All in all, I'm feeling slightly better about at least being open to the idea that our chances might not be cut in half, which is nice. Still not sure how many tries we'd need though to keep the odds of IVF success in our favor. TBD...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Random Happenings - Turning 27, My Great Grandma and My "Baby" Dog

Time for a real-life update... you know, less "facts of infertility" type info and more of what's been going on in my life.

Another year older!
I think I mentioned this in a previous blog post, but I'll state it again. I turned 27 this month and that's just plain freaky to hear. I suppose it wouldn't be so weird for me if it were not for the fact that I can very clearly remember my own Dad turning 30. To be even somewhat close to that really seems weird to me. I still want to be a young parent, so I'm glad we're working fairly aggressively towards getting pregnant now, rather than wait until I'm in my 30s. Anyway, overall it was a pretty good birthday. My Dad, of all people, made me a three-layered birthday cake. It was perfect - just the right amount of moisture, spice and tastiness. The icing was whipped and spread all nice and neat too, which sounds simple, but it can be tricky getting those little crumbs to not show on the surface. I really appreciated the effort - Lord knows he probably spent more than half of his day putting it together. Brownie points! :) Thanks Dad. We had my family over that same weekend, so I didn't spend my bday all alone, which is always good. Of course my husband came through big with a birthday breakfast AND dinner no less, roses, a DQ ice cream cake (yummy) and a nice toasty fire in the fireplace. I was in heaven! I'm going to be a good sport - here's to 27: May it be a year to remember!

My great grandma passed away last week...
Switching gears, I'm both sad to say my great grandma, Ella Marie Payne, passed away last Friday and today we laid her body to rest on Tuesday. It hadn't occurred to me until we were sitting in the chapel during her service that if it weren't for her, nearly half of us in the room wouldn't be here. What an amazing thing! While I didn't really get to know her until a couple of years ago (like talk to her one on one), she was always so concerned with how life was going for usI and she absolutely adored my husband. It was so cute to see the two of them watch the game show network together and I'll never forget about the time that he told her our church was holding a talk at a local brewery. As a long time Baptist, she said "oh we'd never do that!" :D I'm glad my last image of her burned into my mind is when, just a few weeks ago, I helped tuck her into bed and had the chance to look into her eyes and tell her I loved her. My heart almost broke right then and there as I just knew in my sole that was the last time I would see her. Can't wait until the day when I'll get to see her pretty smile again.

Our dog is a newborn baby?! :)
My last, somewhat random life happening is pretty off the wall, but I wanted to make a note of it because it was so totally freaky! One of my dogs, the little sassy one, Madison, woke me up in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago when she made noises that sounded exactly like - and I'm not kidding here - just like a newborn fussy baby sucking on a passie!! Seriously, I know what you’re thinking “you are a completely obsessed crazy, I can’t leave my kids around you kind of lady” But ah ha! Even my husband woke up to it. When I heard it I sat straight up in bed and started looking around the room, thinking that I had neglected some child I suddenly forgot I was pregnant with and gave birth to. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure I won’t forget something like that.

I can't tell you how incredibly weird of an experience it was. Right after I woke up, my husband woke up and thought I was asleep and didn't want to wake me. That's when I nugged him and was like "do you hear that! It's Madison!". I couldn't put my finger on how to describe the sound and he was like "it was just like a fussy baby" and I said "yeah!, like fussy, but trying to put itself to sleep with a passie in it's mouth". Anyway, it was too weird. Who would have thought - the first "baby" dream-like thing to happen for me would be something like that. Guess they really are my furry kids :)

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