Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Still here....

So, another 6 weeks have gone by it seems and I've been negligent here, again.

There hasn't been much going on around here. I've been knitting a baby blanket for a friend's daughter. Baby came 3 weeks early and is healthy but because of this, it wasn't ready, so I decided to take my time and just give it to her when she comes in December. I'll post a picture when it's completely finished. I do have cupcakes and a cake to do for her "Welcome Baby" party being thrown when she's here, so I'll post those pics then as well.

I was reminded that Christmas is 44 days away...can you believe it! So, that means I need to get cracking on updating and sending out my Holiday Cookie Boxes flyer. I don't think it's changing much really, perhaps a different cookie than the biscotti I had.

I also have to start thinking about Christmas cards and actually get them out in early December. Last year I ended up mailing them when we were in Florida on vacation. This year I vow to do better. :)

It looks like we're aiming for February for the FET. V has a plan to deal with the various obligations we have. And he's confident we'll be able to go ahead then. This is okay with me and it gives me 2-3 months to try and get rid of a little of this excess weight.

Anyway, I think that's it for now. I'll leave you with some Halloween treats.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

I started blogging 6 1/2 years ago. I had figured that by the time I reached this point in time I'd have anywhere from a toddler to a 5 year old. Apparently I was wrong.

I used to believe the adage V would say "I may not be where I want to be, but I am where I am supposed to be". I don't believe I'm supposed to be here.

Anyway, today is just going to be a quiet day. Nothing special. We'll probably go out for dinner on the weekend or something. I did take the opportunity to make a cake though. :)

It's a banana cake with homemade caramel filling and a chocolate butter cream. It was totally awesome!

I haven't given up on the idea of some sort of raffle for either baked good or knit goods. I just am not sure how to get past the "pa.ypa.l police".

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Should I or Shouldn't I?

So, I've been doing a lot of thinking about this last cycle we have planned. It probably is on my mind off and on during every day, probably because I just don't know when we're going to be able to do it. And I suspect with my birthday two weeks away, that's weighing on my mind as well, wondering when we can do it. I hate the waiting, and more I hate the delay because each month goes by could mean that our chances of success drop as the embryos are frozen, I'm getting older etc.

I've been trying to figure out how I can resolve this because really the delay is financial. With the unexpected expense of my FIL funeral, and some other unavoidable financial obstacles, it just doesn't seem feasible any time soon. I know DH is trying to make the numbers work, but I can't let my hopes up. So, I was thinking if having a raffle here, on my blog. I'm still not sure of the logistics and would have to emails some other bloggers who have done something like this, but I know it's do-able.

In my day job, I'm an IT professional. But in my off time, you all know I bake cakes, cookies and brownies. But what you may not remember is that I also knit. There are some pictures I think on this blog from a couple of years ago of items I knitted for some fellow bloggers new arrivals. So I'm thinking of holding a raffle for some blankets. I say some, because depending on the response, I'd probably knit up 5 baby blankets. I'd do sweaters, but they take way too long. ;) And I hate doing socks. I'd have to coerce my friend, Red, into doing them for me as she can whip them off super fast. I'd also consider putting in a couple of prizes of my "world famous" (in my world anyway - just ask The Smart One and MyReality) brownies. They may only be available for local winners as the cost for shipping them may be prohibitive but I'll have to look further into that. I'm thinking $5 would get you an entry into the raffle and multiples of $5 get you multiple entries.

So what do you think?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Uhm, is this thing still on?

Uhm, hello, my name is Pam and I'm a very bad blogger.

(Hello Pam)

I've been blogging for 5 years and 4 months. I don't think I ever imagined when I started this blog that we'd be no further along in our journey now than we were then. Since July of last year when we had our last failed cycle there's been a lot or not much going on, depending on how you look at it. It took us 6 months to get through the clinics screening process to be able to move forward with donor embryos. But due to finances (or the lack thereof) and other work/family committments we had to make the decision to delay actually doing the cycle until after July. Well, July has come and gone and with it much family heartache with the loss of my FIL. At this time, I can't say when we will be able to go forward with this cycle. And yes, this will be the last one. Due to finances, and more importantly my age, this really is our Hail Mary cycle. I turn 51 in 5 1/2 weeks. I really can't believe how quickly this year has passed, but more importantly, I'm going to be 51?!?!!??! I really don't feel it. Nor apparently, do I look it. ;)

Our clinic will work with women up to the age of 52 with donor embryos. I really do not want to be still cycling then. I had hoped to be doing all of this will still in my 40s. I hadn't imagined being that person that people might say "I can't believe she's over 50 and pregnant"....and yes, people do and will say that. Some will be my family (not the immediate siblings/parents) but we all know that family can be some of the harshest critics. And there will be some "friends". Recently a friend was talking to V and I about his wife and their kids and how his wife wanted one more and he made the comment that at her age it's too late for her, or something similar. All I could think of was what will he say when he finds out about me (if/when our cycle works). Probably nothing, because he's not that kind of guy, but still...

I haven't told V but I really want to cycle before the end of the year. By my birthday is not possible as we just won't have the money by then. It's not a lot in the grand scheme of IVF but with other committments, we can't do it. The only thing I have told him is that I'm concerned that time will slip away from us and I can't let that happen.

I've been on Wei.ght Wat.chers for the last 7 months (on and off) and have managed to lose and keep off 15lbs. I had hoped to do better and plan to get back on track now that the summer is coming to an end and hopefully lose another 15 before we cycle.

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and say I'm still here. And for those few of you still reading, thank you for checking up on me and hanging in there. Hopefully I'll be able to give you more positive news by Christmas.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Farewell, Dad

The world became a little less bright as one of its lights was extinguished last night. After a lengthy stay in hospital, V's father passed away with his family and friends by his bedside.

Mr A. was one of kind. He was warm, friendly, always had a kind word, and could make me laugh. We had a mutual affection for the lottery and we would daydream together about what we'd do with the winnings when we hit it big. As a former mechanic, he would be able to listen while riding in my car and tell me that something wasn't right, and what it was.

I remember one very cold winter day about 10-11 years ago, my BIL was up in Bar.rie about 90 minutes away and his vehicle had broken down. So V, Dad an I were going up to help him out except that my FIL's minivan had no heat. None. This was probably one of the first times I'd spent any real time with him. By the time we got up there we were all frozen. During the ride up I quickly built up a thick skin to the family wit. ;) I had been warned but I came prepared. I think I won him over on that trip by being able to hold my own with him.

For anyone who knew him, he was a huge player of the lottery here, both the scratch tickets and the draws. One of our lotteries is called 649. What is ironic is that my father in law passed away at 6:49pm. So Dad, you had the last laugh. If you get an inside edge on the upcoming numbers, send me a sign. :)

Rest in Peace Dad.

Monday, July 04, 2011

It's July already!?!?!?

Wow, time flies...and if one could say they were having fun it would be okay. It's been eight weeks since I last blogged. I've been reading and occaisionally commenting on other blogs, but I've just not found the time, desire or material to blog....that really sucks.

Anyway, it's July. That means the trip to Vegas for my conference has come and gone (two weeks ago actually) and V and I can start to plan for when we are going to do the final DE FET cycle. I don't want to wait any longer than we have to as I'm not getting any younger. As I said to him the other day, it's a matter of biology. So, I'm really hoping we'll be able to get to it either July or August...hopefully before my birthday in September.

So what's been going on since May 10th? Not a whole helluva lot. Really. So little in fact I can't think of anything specific.

The only thing really going on is my FIL. On June 1st, in the middle of the night, he took a tumble down a flight of stairs. Thankfully V's cousin lives with him as his caregiver and was able to call for an ambulance and get him to the hospital. Some of you already know the details, but out of respect to him and other members of the family I won't go into detail here of his injuries. Suffice it to say, what started out as a fall and some broken bones has become a much more serious situation and we are trying to be optimistic for a postive outcome. Prayers would be welcome.

One thing about tragedy/accident is that it can bring a family together. And if I can say anything positive about this situation it would be that it has brought V and his siblings and mother together and much closer. As I said to him a few weeks ago, it was the first time, in the years that I've known him, that I think I had seen the 5 of them together in one room. I wish the situation could have been different that gathered them together.

So, hug your families, those close to you or call someone you haven't seen in a very long time and just say hello and see that they're okay.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's May

And that means it's almost two months since I last posted. But what does one say when there's no IF news and life is just going along as normal on a day to day basis? I guess one thing of note is that we decided to finalize our embryo donor choice so that we were ready to go when we had the funds after July.

What else has been happening? Not much really. It's the usual day to day stuff. With the ever increasing price of gas the commute is making me think more and more of wanting to find something closer to home. But because I'm in a somewhat specialized field, it's not so easy. Meanwhile, I continue making cakes when the opportunity presents itself. And when it doesn't I make them anyway to try out new recipes. Recently I made a family favourite from my childhood. Our birthday cakes were always the same. A chocolate cake with chocolate icing, and of course chocolate ice cream. Not for my Mum, mind you, who really doesn't like chocolate. (I know! Sacrilege!) But for my Dad, me and my brothers that was always the choice. It's been years since I've had that cake because V isn't a big fan of chocolate either. So I made that cake a couple of weeks ago along with a yellow cake I wanted to try. I then paired both of them with a new chocolate ganache filling I wanted to try. And then finally, I made a new swiss meringue butter cream to which I added some of the ganache. OMG! It was amazing. If you've never had it, swiss meringue butter cream is a silky, smooth, not overly sweet icing. Fantastic! It's unlike the typical American butter cream we usually see on bakery cakes. The final verdict for these cakes? Definitely on my cake availability list as well as the ganache. And the icing is now my go-to icing, unless I need something that will crust, in which case I have a great American butter cream recipe.

So fast forward to this past weekend. Somewhat in honour of Mothers Day but not really since my Mum doesn't like chocolate, I wanted to try something new. I've made red velvet before, but I wanted to try out another recipe. And this time I wanted a cream cheese icing that could be piped on a cake and didn't have a really strong cream cheese flavour. Did my research and made 2 dozen cupcakes. With the extra batter I made a single 8" cake layer because I'm going to make some red velvet cake balls this weekend.

Below is a picture of the cupcakes. They really turned out awesome, and the icing was soooo good and not overly sweet. Oh, and I added white chocolate to the icing too. Only thing is the recipe makes 12 cups and I forgot to cut it down. So I now have 9-10 cups of white chocolate cream cheese butter cream. At least I can freeze it. :)

There's not much else going on. We're planning for our first BBQ of the season on the Victoria Day weekend (that's the week before Memorial Day for my US readers). I'll be making some sort of cupcake or cake balls for that event.

We traded in my Grand Caravan last week. It was kind of long in the tooth and I'd racked up the miles with my commute. So I'm am now driving a peppy Do.dge Jou.rney. I liked the van, but I really like the Journey, and its back row folds flat (like the minivan) so cake deliveries will be easy too.

Oh, and finally, I decided that since we weren't going to be able to do our last FET until the latter part of the year, I was going to try and lose some of the extra weight I'd put on over the last year or so. So, I've been doing the two W's since March and I'm down 13. I wish it was more, but I'm okay with that. We're off to Vegas in June for a conference (for me) and I'm hoping I can lose another 10 by then. If I can be down by 25 by the time our cycle rolls around, I'll be very happy.

So, that's all for now. Thanks to those still reading. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An update of sorts

So as you may recall V and I had decided to pursue the use of donor embryos at our clinic. This required a counseling session which we had in mid September. It took until the first week of January before we got confirmation that the report had been completed and received. I figured, great, we should be getting profiles shortly since she said she would keep an eye out for potential matches. (Remember, we were told we were top of the list an they had embryo donors in place, at least as far as we knew.) No such luck. Because V and I weren't in a rush to move forward due to other financial commitments I didn't bug the coordinator at the clinic. That was January.

However, it's now March. In fact it was exactly six months less 6 days since we had our counseling session when I decided I was tired of waiting. I figured I'd give her a poke to remind her we were still here. So I sent a friendly email asking where we stood on donor embryo profiles. It was 5 days before I received a reply which contained two profiles. I was actually considering calling the clinic to see if she was still working there.

The first profile contains two documents outlining the personal/medical history of both the sperm and egg donors. Both in their early 40s three years ago. That in itself isn't a big deal as it is all in when the embryos were created. What I did notice was that they had three children - a 6 year old and 3 year old twins one of whom has Downs Syndrome and couple of other medical issues. My guess were that the eggs were retrieved when the woman was 35-36 as she was 42 at the time form was completed.

The second profile contained only one document which we assumed to be the female. (The coordinator had removed "Wife" and "Husband" off the forms but due to my queries is considering putting them back on".) It said she was 41 with a 6 year old, no medical issues for anyone and again, my guess was that she was 35-36 when the eggs were retrieved.

Obviously if we're going to use donor embryos we would like for the eggs to have come from someone younger than mid-thirties, or at least I would.

So, my email back was to thank her for the profiles and ask the ages of the women at the time of embryo creation and where was the medical information for the sperm donor in the second profile. Her reply a day later confirmed one thing for me. ED#1 was 36 when the embryos were created. ED#2 - the profile turned out to be for the husband because an egg donor was used who was 28 at retrieval.

So, we had been leaning to #2 for other reasons but the age of the egg donor definitely was more favourable to me. I did think, though, that the donor couple should have been able to provide some medical history for their egg donor as they would have had it when they were choosing her.

So I told V that we're not in a rush, we don't have to accept this donor (#2) and we can ask if there any other profiles. I also am considering asking if there is medical history for the egg donor.

We won't be in any position to move forward until after July some time. I'm taking advantage of the forced delay to lose some weight which I know is good for me regardless.

I just wonder if all clinics work this way for embryo donors or am I expecting too much from her?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

And so the journey begins....

Today, V and I drove Michael and his wife to the airport for their trip to the Ma.yo Clinic.

Until his condition made it impossible to continue, Michael has DJ'd at a local community radio station, for a lot longer than I have known him. He has helped out when the station was doing a funding drive for themselves. He's been there to help raise money for other things. When the station said they wanted to host the funding drive to raise money, he was humbled. Little did he know the impact he had had on the West Indian community of his city as well as the city in general He found out soon enough during the afternoon of the radio show where friends and colleagues led a show and spoke of him. The people of the community rallied and came together and with the help of the station, another station and several other events, helped raise enough money for Michael to the clinic and make that appointment on Monday.

I want to thank anyone and everyone who helped with a kind word, a prayer or a donation. We are truly honoured and humbled by your generosity. This is just the beginning, but what a beginning!! There will be other fund raising events over the next several months once we find out what's in store for Michael. We are sure there will be additional visits to Minnes.ota and hence the need for the fund raising events. I know that V and I have discussed a bowling night and silent auction.

So, if anyone locally is interested in hearing when we have these events, please just drop me an email and I'll be sure to keep you in the loop.

Again, thank you.

Now, let's hope that House is on duty this week and fix Michael!!!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Call for Help

I realize I haven’t blogged since the beginning of December, and with my first post of 2011, I’m asking for your help instead of updating. I promise I’ll post an update in a later post.

Asking for financial help, regardless of how much, is something I find difficult to do. As much as I wanted to do some sort of fundraising for V and I when we were in the thick of TTC, we didn’t. I felt that we should be able to figure this out ourselves. I guess my pride got in the way.

However, today I’ve put that pride away. I’m asking today for help for my brother in law, Michael, V's brother. Michael is 37 and is the father of two young boys, ages 3 and 6. I’m going to paste here the letter that his wife wrote and sent out to friends and family. I know how hard that must have been for her and I’m proud of her. She’s doing everything she can to help her husband, to save his life.


Dear Family and Friends,

As many of you may already know, I am actively involved in fundraising for my husband’s medical treatment of Rhabdomyolysis at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. I am contacting you on behalf of my husband Michael Assivero and family to request your support in the form of a financial donation toward his medical treatment.

What is Rhabdomyolysis and how did we get here?

For those of you who are not familiar with Rhabdomyolysis, it is a potentially life-threatening syndrome resulting from the breakdown of skeletal muscle fibers with leakage of muscle contents into the circulation. Approximately one third of adult patients with Rhabdomyolysis develop renal failure if not adequately treated. My husband has suffered severe effects tied to this disease for the past “7” years (2 or 3 major episodes a year). You can get a better grasp of Rhabdomyolisis on the following websites. Michael suffers from the non-trauma, infection related version.

At this time, the Ontario medical system has determined they are unable to cure the effects of this disease and are unable to identify next steps in his treatment. Through research we have identified that the Mayo Clinic in the US is willing to explore alternate treatments.

Michael has been seen by many doctors in Ottawa and as far as Barrie and London, ON regarding this issue over the past 7 years. After fighting (and thankfully winning the fight) with colon cancer in 2009 we noticed that his ability to battle back from an episode of rhabdomyolisis was decreasing and the pain was no longer going away in between hospital visits.

In September of 2010 he was hospitalized for 9 days. During this episode his creatine kinase (CK) levels reached 88,000 (the highest it has ever been – normal level for a male is under 400), and since then he has not fully recovered. The various specialists he has seen to this point have reached the end of their collective knowledge base and have taken to “treating” the episodes by admitting him to hospital, flushing his system with IV fluids, giving him painkillers and waiting for the CK levels to drop to a non life threatening level rather than looking for an overall cause and/or solution. Meanwhile, Michael is still in pain and continues to deal with the deteriorating effects of the disease.

The Mayo Clinic’s Patient Estimating Service has forecasted the following expenses for the initial visit;
- Testing - $15,000 USD
- Transportation/Accommodation - $ 2,000 USD
The initial visit is for testing and hopefully diagnosis. Once the testing is done, the Clinic would be in a better position to provide details on possible treatments and their associated costs.

While transportation costs for the initial visit have already been donated, I am sincerely asking for your help by contributing financially towards Michael’s medical treatment. Please understand that any donation amount will be welcomed. Funds raised in excess of what is needed for his treatment will be used to start an education campaign in Canada for doctors and the general public to hopefully stop anyone else from having to suffer needlessly in a similar situation.

I am not sure if I can put in to words how much this disease has affected our family. Michael puts on a brave face when he’s out and even fought through the pain to help at CHUO’s annual Christmas fundraiser. What most people haven’t seen is the 3 days it takes to recover from a day like that. Most people haven’t seen the tears in his eyes when he can’t hold Nathaniel in his arms for more than 30 seconds or not being able to play soccer with Matthew-Michael. There are days where he literally doesn’t get out of bed. I wouldn’t say he is anywhere close to giving up, but it really has taken its toll on him mentally and physically.

Michael is scheduled to visit the Mayo Clinic March 7, 2011, so if it is at all possible, please forward donations on or before February 20, 2011.


If you knew Michael, you know that he will have exhausted all his resources before asking for help. If you feel you can help, a bank account has been set up in his name. Please contact me directly and I will send you that information.

You can also donate online via Interac e-Transfer at participating banks utilizing my address.

Even if you feel you can't help financially, please keep Michael and his family in your thoughts and prayers that they are able to find a way to beat this.