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You Say Hello and I Say Goodbye

First things first: Very proudly, happily, and belatedly announcing the arrival of Daphne Helene, born on November 8, 2011 at 4:19pm and 7lb7oz!.

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The birth went incredibly well, yet was oddly similar to our first delivery experience despite popular stories of the second time around being easier and/or faster. The we-just-birth-those-babies-after-18-hours-of-active-labor team of mom and baby have been healthy and in all ways wonderful since little Daphne joined us. Miss Daphne showed us from day one (when she slept from 10pm to 6am – what? – don’t worry, she didn’t do it again) that she is equally delightful yet very different from her big sister. She nurses, eats, sleeps, plays, and learns in different ways than Nola ever has, which is without a doubt one of the most entertaining and joyful things of having another baby and parenting sisters.

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Daphne and Nola also happen to be alike in several intriguing ways, such as their looks, somewhat shockingly advanced gross motor skills, never-ending enjoyment of social interaction, vocal volume, and ability to poop or pee on any cute outfit within an hour of it being put on. Put them in old or already stained clothes and somehow those diapers hold up just fine. But the best things about being a family of four are how it feels like Daphne has always been a part of our family and we were waiting for her without realizing it, how she makes us want at least one more baby (there is still one embryo “in the freezer”), and how these little girls LOVE each other. If we could successfully exterminate the ants that have taken up residence in Nola’s pants, I swear we could leave the two of them alone together for long periods of time and they would both enjoy the heck out of themselves. In short, we are happy.

And seriously, who wouldn’t be with a cute baby like Daphne?

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Second things second: This is my last blog post. Somewhere toward the end of a seriously impressive How I Met Your Mother–athon Constance realized that this blog had become that completely nice, attractive girl the guy dates and then stops calling after they finally round third base. He genuinely liked her, but not enough to take any more serious steps than he already had, so he thinks he’ll call her later because he’s got a lot of other stuff going on and really just wants something else right now. He might even subconsciously keep her on-the-hook (for those HIMYM watchers) because he’s just not sure, but he is sure enough to wait. This all results in an awkward amount of time going by for which he feels kind of bad about but still doesn’t call because he already knows he’s that guy-who-didn’t-call.

Now, hopefully in this analogy, the girl runs into this guy in a nice, public setting where she delivers a few mentally-prepared killer verbal punches she’s been saving for that moment, thus restoring the balance of power and decency. When the girl is a blog, however, she’ll be on-the-hook forever if I don’t suit up and just say it. So here it is. Writing this blog on a regular basis, or even just again, doesn’t comfortably fit into my life and work and hasn’t for some time despite our family’s collective soft spot for it. Since a blog is something that should exist so long as it enhances the writer’s well-being, it’s past time to bring things to a close.

With all sincerity, we have loved having this blog and its readers be a part of our lives – it was an honest and relied-on source of community and comfort when there was much need for both. It gave us a book (wow!), friends we met and many we didn’t, and saw us through years of infertility to parenthood twice over. Thank you. We remain ever grateful and wish you much love, joy, fulfillment, peace, and freedom from anyone or anything that’s got you on the hook.

Sincerely and with thanks,
The Miller Family (of Four)

9 Weeks To Go

Constance suddenly is feeling huge. It’s that point in the pregnancy when underwear is getting snug, sleeping is becoming a battle of comfort and hips are popping out of place. She looks stunning, however - pregnancy doesn’t just become her, it enhances her.

Daphne, our soon-to-arrive daughter #2, will be here sooner than even we can fathom. This pregnancy has been a lightening strike compared to the marathon that was the first go-round. Other than that nasty hip issue, Constance is feeling rather well. She is not overly excited to go through labor again, but we both have been excited to begin readying our home and lives for the arrival of our second daughter. When we were prepping for Nola there were countless nesting activities with which we occupied our weekends, but this time there’s less to do. Instead, we spend our time savoring the last bits of solitude Nola’s naps and strict bedtime routine provide. I’ve read three books in the last week alone because I know that come mid November, books will be on hiatus.

The end is nigh. Again. And I can’t wait.

Our major breakthrough has been locating the double stroller of our dreams. A beauty of such lingering perfection that it’s not even in existence until the end of September. A double running stroller that isn’t double wide. I won’t have to feel like an asshole running through the streets of Chicago, pushing unsuspecting passersby out of my way like a baby-filled dump truck.

As a family, we are trying to get Nola acclimated to the idea that a baby is on the way, but she’d rather listen to Lady Gaga than to her parents tell her about the baby sister soon to rock her world. She has proven to be quite acrobatic, teaching herself somersaults and trying to vault, flip and cartwheel her way off every surface.

In a word, we are happy. A bit nervous, but happy. Daphne is coming and we are filled with love and anticipation for our daughter.

All’s Well

Constance has been very sick during this pregnancy, but aside from her constant bouts of nausea and swirling dizziness, all is going according to plan. We’ve finally been able to relax. Graduating from infertility treatments to a more regular pregnancy has done wonders for the tension levels in our home.

On Monday, Constance was finally able to quit all medicines. Almost immediately she felt more like her old self, although it takes a while for all that gunk to get out of your system.

And no - I am not quitting blogging for good. I realized that I want to blog, but I don’t want to write THIS blog any more. I am going to be starting a new blog in the coming weeks that shifts the focus away from infertility. I need to a place to write where, when I come to it, I feel as though it represents where and who I am now. Something that inspires me creatively right now. There is a lot of emotion and history I experience every time I sit down to write here, and it is getting harder all the time to keep up.

We writers are such babies, but it’s true nonetheless. Thank you all for your continued support. I will keep updating this blog until the new one is up and running.

Graduation Day

Today, after another top-notch ultrasound, we graduated from our infertility clinic to the midwives, from weekly trips to downtown Chicago to infrequent trips across the neighborhood. At 8 weeks, our soon-to-be-fetus’ heart rate was 170 bpm and measured at 16mm. Or, as the nurse told the trainee who was also in the ultrasound room, “It’s perfect.”

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And, so as to get used to not to play favorites, here is a picture of Nola and her new haircut. I did it myself, and save for slightly uneven bangs due to her failure to sit still whilst I clipped, I am pretty pleased. And, I saved a bundle. Seriously - $20 for an infant haircut? Not cool, Chicago. Not cool.

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Can You Feel My Heartbeat When I’m Close to You?

One-hundred and eighty degrees for last Monday was today, a peaceful, easy morning at the IVF clinic. Unlike our hour-long wait to get into the ultrasound room last Monday, this morning we showed up 10 minutes early and were escorted right into the ultrasound room where our favorite nurse, Peggy, sat waiting for our moment of truth.

It really did feel like a reckoning of sorts. Despite our best efforts to be calm after last week’s no-heartbeat/no fetal pole look at what was to be our baby, we spent 6 off-kilter days refusing to admit that our here-and-there bickering was a result of worry. I was worried that today would be bad news. Thankfully, there was not such news to be delivered.

The embryo’s heartbeat was 130bpm, which is quite strong for a little one! In fact, according to our nurse (and me and Constance) it looked perfect in every way, which isn’t to say there’s nothing left to not worry about. But we’re not really the worrying type. Now we feel good, lighter than last week, and optimistic for the weeks to come.

If all checks out good at our appointment next Monday, we are done with the IVF clinic and on to living life as a normal pregnant couple. Huzzah to that, my friends.

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Ultrasound #1, Baby #2

Oddities were in the air today at our fertility clinic. We waited nearly 45 minutes after the scheduled start time of our ultrasound before being called back to the examination room. It was a family affair, Nola reading Charlie & Lola books and constantly hoping she wasn’t going to be involved in the scrim of doctors and nurses. The prolonged waiting room stay was difficult with Nola in-tow, and our wait time grew, my impatience and sense of urgency grew along with it.

Our nurse was nice, but also a bit vague when doing the ultrasound. She lacked the reassurance infertile couples need when going through this process. At 5 weeks 6 days, they were yet to detect the heart beat or the fetal pole. You could see it, fleetingly, but she couldn’t get a clear enough picture to measure it. She said it was normal, but the words coming out of her mouth didn’t match her tone.

We have a lovely gestational sac and a perfect yolk sac that have both been confirmed and documented. After the ultrasound, we met with our doctor who performed the transfer and he said everything was normal, and that it’s very likely we won’t see the heartbeat or fetal pole until the next week or so.

It’s nearly impossible not to worry when they are looking for something and don’t find it - even when it’s very early and nothing is wrong. Constance and I have done the research (everything IS normal!) and have reassured each other that we won’t worry about it until there’s something to worry about, but I find myself worrying nonetheless.

Next week should tell us more. Here’s hoping the picture is a little clearer 7 days from now.

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Onward and Outward

Constance’s blood tests revealed that her hCG levels are more than doubling every 48 hours and her progesterone levels just keep getting higher and higher by the shot. In fact, at this point everything falls within the normal or above-normal range. Our concerns have by no means gone away, but with every week and every positive test result, we exhale a little more completely and relax a little more fully.

As with our first pregnancy, Constance is an early show-er. Almost 6 weeks pregnant and there be a bump.

“Oh my god, this is some people’s 4 months pregnant!” Constance exclaimed on our walk home last night. “Seriously, it’s not fair. I’m not going to be able to hide this much longer.”

As my wife always does, she researched the “problem” of showing very early and discovered that most likely her uterus is very close to the front. People who tend to show later have uteri that are either in the middle or closer to the back. Showing early isn’t that bad or anything, but it can lead to awkward glances and questioning looks.

Fat or pregnant? Such a fun game for a hormonal woman to have played in her honor. At least Constance can rest easy knowing it’s the latter, even while folks assume it’s the former until we’re ready to spread the news far and wide.

Picture Perfect

Nola popped out the photo of Constance from this cheapo IKEA frame and then proceeded to walk around for 20 minutes as a not-so-still life. It was, in a word, adorable.

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Double Up

As the news of our pregnancy was shared with our inner circle, I found myself repeating the phrase, “But it’s really early, so anything can happen,” over and over again. And while it is a scientifically true statement, it also, I realized, was largely due to the fact that I feel like this all came too easily.

It’s not news to anyone that we had to work really hard to achieve our first pregnancy, but I don’t think I realized how jaded to the process I had become until now. It’s not that I expect something to go wrong, it’s just that my mind and body have been infiltrated by constant worry because my experiences with reproduction have clouded my judgment. I worry about Constance and the embryo without end.

When we got the good news call from our IVF clinic, we also found out the Constance’s progesterone level was a little low. “This happens sometimes with frozen transfers because the body isn’t producing as much as it is after a fresh cycle,” our nurse said. All it meant was we had to drive to Lincoln Park to pick up progesterone shots that I must administer, intramuscular shots, every other day.

Nevertheless, I latched onto this news with constant concern and spastic abandon. The first night’s shot was hectic to say the least. I was so frazzled I couldn’t even get the medicine loaded up into the needle.

“You realize you’re about to inject me with air, right?” Constance asked, noticing that the needle was indeed without progesterone.

“Fuck,” I shouted, shaking nervously. “I’m not trying to kill you, I swear. I just can’t seem to do this.”

“Here, let me,” Constance said, taking the needle from my trembling hands and filling it up without hesitation.

Then came her time to freak out as I prepared to bury a 1-1/2″ needle into her backside. I drew a target on her lower back with a green Sharpie, drew back the plunger and bingo! Success.

“That was awesome,” Constance said. “Do it just like that and it won’t be an issue. Mess up though, and it will be all your fault.”

Today, Constance went into the lab to have her blood work done again and both her hCG and progesterone levels have doubled. Which means I will worry a little less. That is until Monday, when she goes in to get them measured again.

Can we just skip ahead to the second trimester already before I give myself a bloody ulcer??

It’s Lucky For Us

For many reasons, we are in luck. We are, at this moment, pregnant for the second time. One month pregnant, to be exact, which means it’s also lucky for us that we know how to be cautiously optimistic as the weeks tick by so we can become a little more comfortable that it will indeed all work out in the end. That this pregnancy will yield our second child.

First and foremost, we are over the moon. Really, really over he moon - if not a bit shocked. A deep part of me didn’t think it would be a positive result because it worked the first time. But who says lightening can’t strike twice?

Did I mention we are over the moon?