{Infertile Me} Hope Addict

I am starting to believe that just maybe unicorns, trolls, and mermaids do exist. Lord knows I am pretty much a medical unicorn. A girl with complicated anatomy that prevents her from getting pregnant the natural way. I must have been late when God was handing out the good cervixes. Because I got the broken one that came from the bottom of the barrel. Even though she’s broken, she’s mine and I wouldn’t trade her in. She’s caused me a lot to trouble and now she’s held together with scar tissue and hope.

I’ve faxed and scanned my records to more clinics than I can count. For one reason or another all of them told me no. I drove to Green Bay and was told no. The doctor waited until that morning to look at my records. I was to complicated for him. My BMI was .3 to high for him. So he sent me packing and I was defeated. It stung, the hope that I had instantly left my body and in my heart I was done.

Four hours on the road gives you time to contemplate and to organize a plan. In that moment I wanted to walk away from all of this. Yet something in my gut told me “take one more step, one more leap, we are not done yet. We can go a little bit further.” That little embryo of ours is counting on me, counting on me to bring it into existence. Embryo #3 deserves a chance to become a baby.

You can call me a hope addict. I am addicted to hope with a dash of fear. Do I regret getting fired from CCRM Minneapolis? Nope not one bit. In m my heart I always knew CCRM was not the right place for me. I stayed because I felt held to the wall without options. Did I receive good care form CCRM? Nope, my complicated anatomy and I were treated like an inconvenience. I was a lepar in their books, I didn’t fit the mold, and no matter how much they tried my fat ass wouldn’t fit in their box. CCRM’s lab is all you really need and any qualified doctor can do a frozen embryo transfer.

I think to myself “one day Embryo #3 will read this very blog and will know how hard we fought for him or her.” When you are addictive to hope you do not know how to stop fighting. When life throws you a block you curve to the left and find a solution. Google and I have become BFFs as we search for a clinic capable of taking me and embryo #3. Somewhere out there is a doctor just waiting to put a feather in his or her cap and that doctor will say “yup I will take you on.” I will continue to scan and fax until I find them. Motherhood is something I have always dream of and I am to addicted to give up.

{Infertile Me} Grace

Something told me to find my family before I attempted to transfer Embryo #3. I cannot explain it. Deep down my soul was telling me “find Grace, find your family, and go HOME.

In early September my Dad and I went home. Home to Crow Wing and the White Earth Reservation. There I touched the house my ancestors built and walked amongst their graves. I did what my Grandfather never did, I went home for him. My heart she wasn’t settled, she needed to find Grace. She needed to stand before the woman who never gave up on her children.

Find a grave. com is an amazing tool and it helped me immensely. Fate had a hand in this too. Someone had documented Riverside Cemetery in Seeley WI, Grace Geneviève Beaulieu Cox’s stone was amongst the photos. My Great Grandmother’s stone was staring back at me plain as day on my iPhone screen. When I looked it up I realized that I had driven right by her for years.

Hayward is Wisconsin’s vacation land and it’s a place I try to visit every year. The Main Street is lined with cute little shops and there are lots of restaurants serving down home north woods cooking. If you venture outside of Hayward you will see “canoe landing” signs dotted along the highways. The area is amazing for canoeing. Speaking of canoeing; I AJ canoed right by my Great Grandmother’s grave and didn’t know it. I have driven by Grace’s grave every fall on my way to Bayfield. She was there in Seeley, just waiting to be found. Waiting for us to stand before her and say her name.

She was lost, but now she’s found. My dad and I instantly spotted her grave when we pulled through the cemetery gates. My dad never got to meet her when she was alive. I watched as he laid the tobacco down and said “Grandma you’ve been found.” After Irene died I was allowed to go through their home and pick out items I wanted. Nestled in a corner covered in dust was a statue of an Indian woman with a baby on her back, I was drawn to this and put it in my box. It’s been sitting in my garage ever since and I had no plans to bring it inside. It came to me that the statue was meant for Grace. I held the statue steady as my dad squirted the glue and I stuck it to the concrete. My dad instructed me to push down and give it a little twist so it will stick. We gave Grace her heritage back.

After Grace’s children were taken she did what she had to do to survive. She got married and made a new life for herself all while still holding out hope that her children were alive. Grace reunited with my Grandfather, her son was lost, but now he’s found. I cannot imagine what that moment looked like, when he was taken he was around 5 years old and when he was found Clifford was a middle aged man. Grace was whole, her children were found. Seeing my Dad stand before Grace, his grandma was something I will always treasure. My Dad is now whole too. He got to touch the stones of his ancestors and lay tobacco down to acknowledge that because of their battles he exists.

And now I feel whole too. Whole because I stood before the grave of the strongest woman I never got to meet. The courage and determination she had was beyond measure. I relate to Grace; our lives are similar. Like her, I know what it’s like to have your life ripped to shreds. I know the strength it takes to build a new normal. To never give up fighting for your children. Dead or alive your children will always be yours and you need to fight for them.

Grace once was lost, but now she’s found and we are never letting go. My Dad and I decided that we are going to visit her grave often and I have faith that one day Embryo #3 will stand before her.

{Infertile Me} Emmett James 03/05/2018

I have been trying to will the month of September to move slowly. My heart, she is not ready for the calendar to turn to the 23rd. She is not ready for that day to arrive for her womb is empty; Emmett left this world earlier than expected.

Right now Jay and I would most likely be holding Emmett in our arms and cooing over him as he looked up at us. Due dates are not concrete, we knew that I would deliver early via a planned c-section. Jay should be out in the parking lot making sure the car seat fits just right, while our mom’s are at our house making sure bottles are washed and the crib is ready. I should be posting photos of our sweet Emmett to Facebook as friends stop by to hold him. This time should be about our Emmett, a miracle that defied the odds. But it isn’t. The little embryo that could left this world all too soon.

Life she makes us strong before she gives us what we long for. Fate called Emmett home on 03/05/2018 at 11weeks 1 day, his heart it stopped at 10weeks 3 days. His story was done before the first words were written and our hearts are forever broken. Emmett was the child that we prayed for; the child that we so desperately wanted. He is our boy and we are his.

Emmett’s ultrasound photos sit in a book on Jay’s desk. In the beginning they made me sad, but now they are a reminder that he existed. That he was apart of this world and that he will forever be apart of our story. For 11weeks and 1 day he was our entire world and for that I am grateful. Our heats were filled with anticipation and awe because the little embryo that could was our baby and no one can ever take that from us. He was a 9.4 beta that turned into a heartbeat at 6weeks 1day. Even the fertility clinic was surprised by that.

When we found out that Emmett died I asked Jay if we could do a bucket list of things that we would have done had he lived. One of those items was a trip to the North Shore. On a beach just outside of Duluth we said goodbye to our son and threw two small stone turtles into the turbulent waters. The power of the lake washed over us and as tears flowed we said our goodbyes to the baby we never got to hold. I have faith that one day we will find Emmett’s turtles on the shore, the lake she will return him to us.

We chose to have Emmett James cremated and his ashes were spread in BabyLand at LakeWood Cemetery in Minneapolis. When I moved to Colfax Avenue in 2010 I had no idea that the cemetery just down the street would be the final resting place for two of my children. I walked by it and through it quite a bit. It’s a beautiful place and BabyLand has a view of Lake Calhoun a place that is near and dear to my heart. Emmett is not alone here, Baby E’s cremains we’re also laid to rest in BabyLand. I cannot bring myself to visit BabyLand it’s to painful right now but one day I will have the courage to go and put tobacco down for my sons.

The memory of my children is alive and well in our home. We have 3 Jizo statues one for each of my sons. Red for Lucia; Yellow for Baby E; and Purple for Emmett. A sign in our hallway reads “because someone we love is in heaven we have a little bit of heaven in our home.” My Dad is working on a memorial garden at the cabin with three dogwood bushes, a plant that is sacred to the Ojibway. Lucia, Baby E, and Emmett will always matter, our babies they will always be.

Emmett was proof that against all odds miracles do happen. I have no doubt that all three of my son’s will be watching over Embryo #3 for they want him/her to live the life that they never got to see.

{Road Trip} HOME

For as long as I can remember I was told “you are the descendants of Voyagers and Indians.” A pedigree anyone would be proud of. The stories I was told were validated in my sixth grade Minnesota History class and again in college. My family, my amazing courageous family had a hand in shaping the Minnesota that we all know and love. This, this place that I love has always been my home. My roots are forever tied to this land. I am Minnesota and she is me.

For years I have heard about the Clement H. Beaulieu house in Crow Wing State Park. The park is a little over two hours from minneapolis, practically in my backyard, but I never felt the need to venture. I am a firm believer that we are drawn to locations and when it’s our time to go, we go there. This day was 35 and 66 years in the making, it was time for us to go HOME.

As far as weather goes, today was a beautiful sunny calm Minnesota Saturday. A day meant for exploring. Only I could get lost in a state park. If the arrow is pointing left, I will turn right and then wonder why I’m doing a U turn. Only me. Anyways, with a little rerouting we found the parking area for the “Crow Wing Main Street” trail, parked and headed on down the path. My Dad is one of those types who likes to stop and read all of the signs, so I trudged ahead of him and waited. He caught up to me as I spied the roof line through the trees a huge gust of wind came up and my Dad looked at me and said “He knows we are here!”

We reached the over look and began to read the plaques. I will admit it’s kind of weird seeing your last name in print and tied to the historic building in front of you. This house is simple by today’s standards, however back in its day the home was a bustling hub of hospitality and business. Clement a “half breed” was sent from Wisconsin to develop the fur trade in Minnesota. He was a well respected man who had great success. His home over looked the river and Crow Wing village.

I circled the house many times in an effort to engrave all of its details into my brain. Faced pressed to the glass I tried imaging what the inside looked like in Clements day. The interior of today is a far cry from what it looked like in the late 1800s. This house if it could talk, would have an incredible story to tell. Stories of love and loss, business deals, parties, family, and of the community that once surrounded it. My dad and I soaked it all in. This place was our place, this this home is where our story began.

Clement lived in this home until he moved to White Earth in 1873. White Earth, a place that I know of so well, but never visited. This reservation is where my Grandfather’s tale began. My Grandfather was a product of the assimilation and relocation of the American Indian. The government calls the program a success, I call it a failure. Ripping children form their parents, their language, their culture, and their religion does more harm than good. My Grandfather was taken form the White Earth when he was five years old and he never returned. Today, my Dad and I were the first ones from our branch of the family to return HOME.

Our name is present on the Reservation. There is a Street named after us and a township too. My goal wasn’t to visit the township, but to find the graves of my ancestors. Find A Grave . Com told me that Clement was buried in Calvary Cemetery. Which is a small cemetery nestled on top of a hill surrounded by soy bean fields. It was simply beautiful. As we pulled in I noticed a plot with a large fence around it and figured that had to be our family’s plot. I went to the fenced in area and my dad wandered to the very back of the cemetery.

The gate gave me some trouble, but I was determined and eventually I won. AJ 1, Gate 0. As I walked through the gate a strong swirling wind came up and I was home, my ancestors were acknowledging me, their lost family who returned HOME. I traced my fingers across their names as I read them aloud to the wind and laid tobacco down. I can honestly say I have never seen my last name on so many stones at once. Heck I’ve only ever seen it on one stone and that is my Grandfather’s.

I looked up to see my dad waving his arm and the wind carried his shouts, so I bid them goodbye, wrestled with the gate again, and walked to the back of the cemetery. He had found more of our family. Two graves nestled along the fence line. I laid tobacco down and moved through the cemetery along side my Dad. We made our way back to the more populated area and found five more sets of graves. I started to notice a few stones for babies. When I traced my hand across their names, I no longer felt alone, for my ancestors know the heart ache of child loss too. Our babies no matter how much time has passed, will always be ours.

My Dad and I got back in the car and on our way out of the cemetery I looked up to see an Eagle soaring over the soy bean field. Our visit had been acknowledge and our ancestors were happy to have us home. From the cemetery we drove to the town of White Earth. As we drove around I said to my dad “just think your Dad could have fished in that pound or played in that field!? It’s beautiful here, he got ripped from beauty and dropped in an orphanage that lead to a farm.” My dad said “Yeah,” as he looked out the window. He had done what his Dad never did, he went home for him. We went HOME for Clifford, a child of the White Earth who was once lost, but now is found.

This trip meant the world to me. It was simple yet profound and I am grateful to have had my dad along for the ride. This trip was for him as I know he has always wondered where his Dad came from and today he found his HOME.

{Infertile Me} She was lost; and Now I’m found

It’s been a stressful past few weeks. I found myself in a place I never thought I would be in. I’ve called more fertility clinics than I’d care to admit. All of the clinics in MN will not take our embryo. Between you and me; I feel like Dr. B put the word out that I am a terrible patient. Several of the clinics said it’s a liability after they found out who I was. After the last clinic said no I felt defeated. I was ready to throw in the towel and face a childless life head on.

Yet something in me was tugging away. Something in me told me to pick up the pieces and continue the fight. Geneva is a name that I carry. I carry my Great Grandmother’s name as my middle name. Now she was a warrior. Geneva’s children were taken from her during the relocation and assimilation period. That woman, that strong woman never gave up on finding her children. Even when authorities told her that they had died in transport, she never gave up hope. Geneva picked up the pieces of her shattered life and never stopped searching for the missing pieces. Geneva lived his life knowing that pieces of her were scattered and she rode the wind until they were found.

Geneva was reunited with my Grandfather Clifford. Life came full circle. June was found too, along with her other son. This woman, this patient woman was finally whole. I thought to myself “Geneva didn’t get you this far for you to give up. She fought like hell for her children and her battle paid off; she died whole.”

I need to honor this woman’s legacy of determination and grit. Knowing she walked this road before me and that I would not be walking this road alone I turned to Wisconsin. Wisconsin is in my blood and is my second home. My mom, she is from Wisconsin and Geneva is buried outside of Hayward in a sleepy little cemetery. My roots run deep in Wisconsin, so it’s the perfect place to bring our embryo. I called a couple clinics in Wisconsin and they will take Embryo #3! I got ghosted by one doctor in Johnson Creek, which is ok. My gut is leading us to Green Bay. With a little luck and a lot of faith Green Bay will be where Embryo #3 is transferred back to me. Our little embryo, this little fighter of ours will be made in Wisconsin and with a little luck born in Minnesota.

Call me crazy but, I deeply believe that Geneva is leading the way that somehow someway she is going to make this work for us. She’s been in this fight, she brought me this far and now it’s up to me to bring it home. Her blood, her fight runs through me and I know IVF got this.

{Infertile Me} Embryo #3

My road at CCRM Minneapolis had not been easy and it has come to an end. In November 2017 I had asked the clinic if I could use generic medications and they said no. I pushed and they still said no. They tried scare tactics and would always fucking say “brand medications lead to successful outcomes.” If I ever hear those words again I will run down Nicollet Mall in my underwear. Those words give one false hope. False hope of “if I use brand name meds my transfer will for surely work.” So many women just give up and go along with what the clinic wants because “they have my embryos and it’s their policy.” A policy that they will not show you because it is “internal.”

I asked to see it once and in return I was told “we find it very bold and offensive that you are questioning our doctors expertise.” Yup they said that to me and I have the email to prove it. I was told “if you don’t use brand you cannot transfer your embryos.” I gave in and went ahead with the brand name meds. We paid a crazy amount for them and we were set for a December transfer. Transfer day came, I was excited, I was so full of hope and I could not wait to bring the embryos home. The transfer did not go as planned. Dr. B ignored the referring doctors notes in regards to my complicated anatomy. At one point she thought she was in, I thank God that the embryos got stuck in the tube, otherwise they most likely would have been deposited in my cervix. At that point she should have called it a day, but instead she kept on going because “I’ve never met a uterus I couldn’t get in to.” An hour went by and I was wincing in pain, everyone saw that but her. Finally she decided to give up and I was scheduled for dilation surgery and our embryos were re-frozen.

At that point I lost all trust in the process and in her as a doctor. I tried to move to a different clinic but ran into issues. Due to CCRM’s unique freezing process other clinics will not take the embryos and CCRM Minneapolis is the only clinic in the twin cities that will take insurance. I was stuck without options and they had my embryos. So we bought more brand name drugs and continued on the path to a January transfer. If the transfer worked I could walk away from that clinic and never look back. On the day I graduated from the clinic I cried in the parking lot, I felt so relieved that I’d never have to see Dr. B again. I was pregnant and I’d never have to step foot back in there again.

Two weeks later we found out that our baby’s heart stopped. Our son Emmett made it 10weeks and 3 days. At first I could not entertain transferring Embryo #3. The thought of having to go back to that clinic made me sick to my stomach. I knew it would be more of the same bullshit, brand medications and no exceptions. Essentially their way or the highway. I’d have to face arrogant Dr. B again. Knowing no other clinic would take my embryo or insurance I sucked it up and forged ahead.

I asked the clinic again if I could use generic medications as I had reactions to some of the brands. I was again told no and they would give me something for the infection or rash. I explained again to them that generics are covered at 100% under my plan and it would be less of a financial burden. Again I was told no and “brand medications lead to successful outcomes…..” which to me is bullshit because Emmett died, brand name medications did not impact the outcome.

On the support group page I asked if women were getting generics at CCRM Minneapolis and a lot of women said “yes!” I expanded my pole and found out that all of the other CCRM locations allowed generics. The brand only policy is specific to Minneapolis. This made me angry and I wasn’t making headway with the clinic or corporate office, so I did what any woman would do, I stood up for myself. I reached out to the MN Attorney General’s office for help. On 8/15/18 Dr. B approved my prescriptions and the order was sent to the mail order pharmacy. On 8/16/18 all of the scripts had been canceled by the physician. That morning I got an email and a voice mail advising me that Dr. B wanted to meet in person on Monday instead of our scheduled phone call. On 8/17/18 we met with Dr. B and in less than 10 minutes my care was terminated. Dr. B terminated my care at her clinic because I filed a complaint.

In away I am relieved because now I do not have to deal with her arrogance. She is not God and she does not listen to her patients. Dr. B is the kind of physician that automatically expects trust and respect from her patients. I’m sorry but a doctor has to earn a patients trust and respect. Just because you are a doctor doesn’t mean you will automatically be trusted by your patients, let alone respected. She never earned our trust nor did she earn my respect. A good doctor understands their patients and realizes that at the end of the day each patient is different and that they cannot be shoved into boxes. I am not your typical patient, I come with baggage, scars, and PTSD due to past medical trauma and stuffing me in a box didn’t work for her. To be honest I don’t think Dr. B was prepared to handle a patient like me and she never will be. I learned the hard way that I need to advocate for myself every step of the way and I am not going to blindly follow a doctor because she says so. She is used to women drinking her koolaide and doing as they are told so that they too can have a successful outcome.

I’ve never been a fan of koolaide and I do not regret standing up for myself. I know my complaint will not change her outlook or the way she practices medicine. She is to arrogant to realize that something has to give and that her patients should have access to the low cost generics. Lord knows they pay enough to be there.

For me right now the only thing we can do is move forward. Embryo #3 will be moved to a cryobank and our journey to parenthood is at a standstill. I have to believe that somehow someway something good will come out of this. It may not benefit me, but it will benefit someone else. I do not regret what I did. At the end of the day I did what I had to do and it brings me comfort knowing that I ruffled her fucking feathers. And one thing I do know is this “she will always remember me, the girl who questioned her every step of the way.”

{Road Trip} Traveling with Littles

Every time I told Sophia “Papa and auntie are going on a trip,” she would ask me “Auntie when are you going to take me? I am more fun than Papa!?” I knew in my heart she felt left out and that she needed to experience an Auntie led road trip. Duluth is one of my favorite places to visit, it is the gateway to the north shore after all. And the north shore has a special spot in my heart. One because I love it and two, because it was my home away from home for four years. I went to college across the bay from Duluth at the University of Wisconsin Superior and I had the time of my life.

Enough about my love of the north shore, let’s get down to business. Friday night proved to be an awful traffic night. A major crash on HWY 61 backed up the road for what seemed like miles. With snacks in hand we powered through and slowly crept along. When seeing the state of the cars involved I said a silent prayer and hoped that at least one person walked away from it. Jack & Sophia just saw the fire trucks and police cars, which was good because I didn’t want to explain that sometimes cars don’t make it home. About an hour into the drive I learned that Sophia has to pee a lot, so she got cut off from liquids and we made it all the way to Hinkley before she needed to go again.

We rolled into Duluth around 10:30PM checked into our hotel and immediately went to bed. Well those under the age of 7 went straight to bed. I showered and went over my plan for Saturday with my mom. It got the Nana stamp of approval. We woke up around 7:30AM and were headed out the door by 8AM. Jack was super excited to start his adventure and Sophia was still a little groggy but forged along side of us. Breakfast, did I mention I love breakfast? We went to Uncle Loui’s Diner and it did not disappoint. Did I mention that I love Diners?

Uncle Loui’s has your traditional diner fair. I ordered the tailgater, my mom the country fried steak, pancakes for Sophia, and strawberry stuffed French toast for Jack. Jack didn’t know what to think of his French toast and Sophia immediately eyed it and whined that she didn’t have it too. We explained that she chose pancakes and that is her breakfast and Jack’s is Jack’s. Jack sat next to me happily munching away asking me “Auntie what’s next, what’s next!?”

Next was Canal Park. We were running ahead of schedule and had sometime to burn before we needed to be at the train station. Jack climbed on everything he could and demanded that we take his picture. We of course obliged. Our arrival couldn’t have been more perfect, I heard the familiar alarm and directed their attention to the lift bridge. The bridge was lifting up to let a large laker through, which if you are not familiar is a large ore boat. Jack was intrigued by the large ship and sat on the canal wall waving until it passed him by. The crew on the ship waved back in his direction and he was beaming from ear to ear.

Sophia didn’t really care much for the ship, she was instead trying to find a way to climb down to a tiny strip of beach. I advised her numerous times “if you were meant to go down there, there would be a path. There is no path so it’s not meant for us to climb down there.” She gave me this look and begrudgingly stopped asking about it. Sophia was amused with the seagulls and curious about the lighthouse. We walked around the park until it was time to head to the train.

Jack happily played at the train table while I waited in line to pick up our tickets. With tickets in hand I showed them to Jack in which he squealed and shouted “TRAIN” he squealed again and let out a choo choo! He was one incredibly excited little. I let Sophia and Jack peek into the gift shop before boarding the train. Each of them picked out a little something and ran over to the boarding line. I chose the short one hour ride and it was just long enough to hold their attention. If you have little ones I recommend the Lake front express ride, which as you guessed it goes along the Lake front past the Cogdon estate and returns to the station. After our ride was over we made our way up the north shore.

I mentioned that I love the north shore right!? Because it literally is God’s country and to me it’s special. Getting to show Sophia and Jack why I loved it so much was part of our adventure. A trip isn’t complete unless candy is involved. We pulled off at the Great Lakes Candy Company in Knife River. It is a cute little shop filled to the brim with delicious hand made confections. I can of course only attest to the white Chocolate confections. Which are delicious by the way. Sophia and Jack both got a bag of candy fruit slices and happily paid for their treat with their own money.

The Candy company had a sweet little sitting area nestled amongst the trees and a bear trail for the kiddos. The bear trail is adorable and includes a candy kitchen play house and bears nestled along the path. Sophia and Jack loved every bit of it and asked if they could come back again. Candy, is always a hit!

Just up the road from the Candy Kitchen is Tom’s Logging Camp. I’ve driven by it for years but never ventured in. The cost of admission is $5.00 for adults and $4.00 for kids 6-12. You do not have to do the museum, you can stroll through the gift shop aka trading post or grab a sandwich at the restaurant across the parking lot. I chose to do the museum. The sweet woman at the counter advised me that we needed quarters to buy feed for the animals and that the baby goat was not stuck. She also advised the kids to look for the red horseshoes and to tell her how many we found to get a treat. With quarters in hand we followed the path exploring the buildings and looking for horseshoes. The kids loved feeding the animals and looking for the horseshoes. We found 7 total and with that they earned a sucker.

With suckers and souvenirs in hand we hit the road again. We stopped for lunch in Two Harbors to avoid the rain and continued our drive to the black beach in silver bay. As I watched the kids play in the sand it hit me “there should be four kids playing on the beach and I should be 7 months pregnant.” Sophia and Jack have no idea that they were cheated out of a lifetime with their cousins. Sophia has no idea that she is the second grandchild and Jack has no idea that he is the third. Moments like this break my heart, yet I know that my babies are together in heaven watching over them. Their cousins they will always be. As I wiped a few tears away I looked up to see Sophia & Jack giggling happily and waving their shovels back at me. Those two were having the best time on the beach.

It was getting late and I wanted to make good on my promise to Sophia, so we packed up and headed to the car. I promised Sophia that I would take her to a waterfall, Gooseberry Falls to be exact. As a child I loved coming to the falls and climbing around on the rocks under my parents not so watchful eye. Jack is to little to navigate the slippery rocks of the falls, he stayed back with Nana and watched from the viewing area. Sophia grabbed my hand and looked up at me beaming “Auntie! This is so cool,” as we skipped over streams of water. She kept telling me “Auntie! There is a way to the edge.” I loving explained “you are a klutz like your mother, the edge is not meant for you.” She groaned and asked if we could go closer to the upper falls. Which I obliged and Jack squealed as we came into view. It was starting to get dark, so Sophia and I made our way back to Nana and Jack.

Once back in Duluth we stopped at Grandma’s for dinner. As we waited for our table I kept Sophia and Jack amused by winning them rubber ducks from the crane game. Soon our buzzer went off and it was time for us to eat. Jack & Sophia munched happily on Mac & Cheese while Nana and I discussed our plan for Sunday. The Prius decided it would be fun to make a weird noise and we promised their Daddy that we’d be back by 5, so we decided to abandon the boat trip. We would head out after breakfast. After dinner we walked around Canal Park for a bit. The bridge is lit up at night and the kids loved being out after dark. Sophia proclaimed “vacation means staying up late,” with a giggle.”

After breakfast I had one more adventure up my sleeve. Jay Cook State Park. The swing bridge to be exact. Sophia happily darted across the bridge while Jack cautiously clung to my side. The movement of the bridge scared him, yet he was brave and made it across. On the way back over he paused to look through the bridge and shouted “Auntie! Water fall,” with a smile.

Soon it was time to get back in the car and head home. Jack slept the entire way back to Red Wing, while Sophia mumbled about being stuck in traffic and asking when she could go on vacation again. I told her “Next summer Sophia” she grinned up at the rear view mirror as she twirled her coin purse in her hands.

Thirty years from now Sophia & Jack will remember this weekend and will look back on the adventures they had. As their Auntie I get to provide experiences for them and in turn make memories that will last them a lifetime. This life is about living outside of the box and creating memories that are yours and yours alone.

{Road Trip} Wisconsin Dells

It isn’t summer unless I make a trip to Wisconsin Dells. I have been going every summer for over ten years now. Over the years I’ve had numerous travel companions but for the last four years it’s been Jay. Ya know because he’s a keeper and I sort of like his face. Anyways all I can say is I LOVE the DELLs. It’s kitschy and touristy and it always changes and every time I go I discover something new to do. Your options are endless here, just be ready to pay for it all. Wisconsin Dells is what I call a money pit, you come in with a full wallet and leave with change, but it was totally worth it.

Everyone has at least one restaurant that they go to when they are in The Dells. For me it’s Mac’s Macaroni and Cheese shop. It’s amazing and I crave it all year. They have 18 different Macs that you can choose from, every thing from traditional to the three little piggies. Jay tried the hangover Mac and I tried the three little piggies Mac. Both were delicious and my craving has been satisfied for another year.

This year we decided to do a few things that we’ve never done before. I wanted to make this trip amazing and fun! If you are familiar with Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty, then you know that there is a lumberjack show right next door. Tickets are $17.98 for adults and $10 something for kiddos. The show happens rain or shine, because the crowd sits under cover. The show is mainly for kids with a few adult jokes sprinkled in for good measure. The host explains that the two camps will compete against each other in various lumberjack activities. Activities that include, axe throwing, pole climbing, sawing, and chopping. The show was good and it lasts about an hour and 20 minutes with a short intermission for the lumberjacks.

After the show we decided to stop for cheesecake which led us to paintball. Ya know because cheesecake and paintball go together. $10 gets you 120 balls with a bonus shot. The booth is small and the staff was friendly. While you pick your paintball gun the staff gives you some simple instructions, dumps your balls in the hopper and you are in business. Jay learned that I am a pretty good shot! See we’ve been together almost four years and he’s never seen me shoot before. Haha gotta keep those secrets ladies, always let them learn something new about you.

After paint ball we headed back to our kitschy motel for a late swim. We stayed at the Indian Trail Motel which is basically like staying in 1950. Hello pink bath tub! Anyways this isn’t our normal hotel. Our normal hotel Days End closed unexpectedly in early May and I was left scrambling to find us a new place to stay. The motel did fit the bill, swimming pool, fire pit, and price point. But it wasn’t the same. We still enjoyed our stay, the staff could use some customer service training and then this place would be awesome!

Since this weekend was about doing things we had never done before I suggested the Cave of the Mounds to Jay. In which Jay obliged and we set out on Saturday morning. The drive to the cave was beautiful, we wound are way through farm county and curved through bluffs. Soon we were at our destination, $18.98 gets you into the cave and the tour is about an hour long.

The cave did not disappoint. It is possibly the most beautiful cave I have ever been in. Cave of the Mounds is nicknamed the “jewel box” for the many different colors presented in the formations. Our tour guide Ariel was very sweet and informative about the cave and it’s history. I loved the fact that she paused to let us take photos through out our journey.

Once our cave tour was completed we went back to the surface, aka the gift shop. On our way in I noticed that you could buy bags of dirt to “mine” for jewels and fossils. I was determined to do this and so I did. A bag of dirt will set you back $12.99, but it’s worth it. It was for me at least. With my jewels in hand we said good bye to Cave of the Mounds and hit the road.

Wisconsin is littered with wineries. Every where you look it’s “oooo wine!” Some of the wineries are out pacing the California wineries in competitions across the globe, how cool is that? I saw a billboard for Baraboo Bluff Winery and so we went. The tasting room was very lively and the staff was knowledgeable about the wines. You can taste up to 3 wines for free, if you want to taste more than 3 it will cost you. Jay and I both dove in and tried 3 wines each. Somehow we walked out of there with half a case of wine. Ya know because that’s how I role. I do have to mention the winery is literally on top of a steep hill with a slightly less steep walking path. I let Jay carry the box down, I didn’t want to trip and break all the wine. AJ and steep paths don’t mix.

Once the wine was safely secured in the car we headed back to the Dells. We got some pool time in before the rain came and then headed off to dinner. When I was in Milwaukee my dad and I went to the Sprecher’s Brewery and I was surprised to see a Sprecher’s restaurant in The Dells. Well I wasn’t surprised, my dad told me it was there so it was more like “Whoa! Stinky Pete was right!?” Anyways the restaurant was a little busy, which is typical for dinner in the Dells. I ordered the prime rib and Jay got the rib eye, both were delicious.

After dinner we watched a Street magic show and I poked around in the shops on Main Street (really its Broadway). I’ve learned in my travels that wherever I go I am always reminded of my son’s. I was in a little shop looking at Christmas ornaments (don’t tell Jay) when something caught my eye and I had to have it and so I bought it. This was the perfect ending to a perfect Wisconsin Dells trip and I cannot wait for next summer.

{Emmett} Walk Boldly with Answers

Over the past couple of months I have been checking the boxes in preparation for our upcoming transfer. I saw the hematologist, she was very informative and shared that Lovenox does in deed cross the placenta. That information was both a blessing and a curse. A curse because it could mean that Emmett’s demise was due to Lovenox. We will of course never know for sure why Emmett died, everything is in theory.

On Tuesday I met with a new perinatologist and the first question she asked me was “why were you on 80 units a day?” I honestly didn’t know. I did what the previous doctor told me to do. Although I did question the 80 units, again I was told because of my history 80 was the dose I needed. Turns out AJ doesn’t need 80 units…….she only needs 40. 40 fucking units is all I need. 80 units was to high for someone with my history and my weight. An 80 unit dose is for someone who has a clotting disorder or a BMI of 50.

Two weeks before Emmett’s heart stopped I increased the dose to 80 units. Emmett most likely bled to death, his little body couldn’t handle the Lovenox. Only Emmett knows how he died. I only know that he was genetically perfect and there is no reason for his leaving. In this moment I wish I had fought harder to change the dose. Then again I went along with what the doctor said to do and in the end it didn’t save Emmett nor did it help me.

Am I angry!? Of course I am angry. I am angry that no one would listen to me. That the doctor didn’t take a moment to really look into my history to see what and why my blood clot happened. I am angry that she shoved me into a box and pounded me until I fit the mold. In my gut I knew 80 units was to high. I should have just nodded my head and continued on with 40 instead of 80 units. If I did, maybe Emmett would still be here and I’d be seven months pregnant. I cannot go backwards, I cannot weigh the what if’s, I can only go forward, forward with a broken heart.

My heart she is broken. Yet she is relieved that someone with MD behind their name finally listened to her. We have a plan, a very good plan and with a little luck we will bring a baby home. The new Lovenox dose is 40 units a day with no increase along with a side of prednisone, baby aspirin, and anti-biotics. With a little luck this protocol will be our ticket to a take home baby.

Emmett taught me to continue to advocate for myself and to fight for what my gut knows. Just because a doctor is a doctor doesn’t mean they know everything. I am a walking talking example of “fuck, we messed up her care!” I of all people know what it’s like to be discounted and unheard. I know what it’s like to hear the words “um Im sorry but your pulmonary embolism and stroke didn’t need to happen.” I know what it’s like to be misdiagnosed and have forged a path in the aftermath. And I will not be silent, I will walk boldly with answers and I am not going to dwell on what might have been, I can only carry hope for what could be.

{Road Trip} Milwaukee

It was late and I had this weird feeling that when we got to the hotel our room would be wrong. Well that feeling turned out to be right. Motel 6 charged my card and gave our room away. That was their first excuse, turns out they had the room but it was dirty and then it was back to “we gave it to someone else.” No one knows exactly why our room was lost but hotels.com rescued us and found us a different hotel. I wasn’t going to let this blunder ruin our trip.

Google told me that there was a chapel in Milwaukee. A chapel that originated in France. A chapel where THE Joan of Arch prayed. Well how the heck did it get in Wisconsin? Good question. After Word War I it was taken apart and shipped to a wealthy family in NY. That family donated it to Marquette University where it stands proudly to this day. They rebuilt it piece by piece and inch by inch until it was perfect.

If you know anything about me then you know I am a Frank Lloyd Wright fanatic. It’s like listed in my bio for this very blog. Google, man is she a blessing told me that the largest concentration of FLW homes was right in Milwaukee. My dad, he’s a good sport and we headed off to Burnham block, the American System Built Homes. I loved every minute of my tour, our guide was the best and he was impressed with my knowledge. I’ve seen the extravagant homes built by Wright, but these were simple and practical. The block contains two single family homes and four duplexes. One is under renovation and others are awaiting renovation. It’s a complex project that takes a lot of love and money. So if you find yourself in Milwaukee, GO!! The tour will set you back $15.

Sherri told me that she went to a brewery that had soda in Milwaukee. Google told me that place was called Sprecher’s and it did not disappoint. The tour was short and the line to get your free samples was long. We abandoned the line and started filling our case. You can buy the soda for 90 cents a bottle which is a steal. In the store you pay $3 for a bottle of soda. The flavors are endless, we got “low cal” root beer, watermelon, raspberry, strawberry, grape, and orange cream to name a few. Plus a few hard sodas and ciders.

Harley as in Harley Davidson. I have no interest in Motor Cycles. They make me nervous and don’t get me started about motor cycles on the freeways. Anyways since this trip is not all about me and my dad did willingly tag along to Wright and the church I brought him to the museum. His first words were “this is bigger than I thought it would be.” I should also mention that the guy at the ticket counter asked my dad if he needed a wheelchair because there is a lot of walking. My dad replied in the only way he knows how “do I look like I need a FUCKING wheelchair!?” Yup, that’s my dad and I’m keeping him. He loved the museum. The museum is filled with every Harley in existence from the very start to modern day. The displays are well executed and curated. If you like buttons there are lots of those to push. At the end they have an area where you can climb on a bike for photos.

Since Milwaukee is know for its high concentration of Germans and German culture I thought it was fitting that we go to a beer hall for sausages. What can I say, I am half German, thanks mom! And I love me a good sausage and German Potato salad and Spatzel. We went for the pretzel and beer hall platter. A platter our waitress called “the meat party.”

My whole reason for this trip was to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Greek Orthodox Church aka the “Jewel Box.” Now I should mention the congregation does not offer open tours. You can make a tour by appointment or you can just pack a dress and go to church. Now I am Methodist so the service was very different for me and my dad too. A wonderful woman named Denise took us under her wing and explained the service to us and made sure we were doing ok. There is a lot of standing during the service and the majority of it was in Greek and we were lost. Although lost it was a beautiful service in a beautiful church. Bucket list item accomplished.

After service we stopped for breakfast and drove onto Racine, because you guessed it another Wright building tour was on deck. But first KRINGLE! My lovely and dear friend Lisa would always bring Kringle back from Racine and it was delicious so I had to stop in at the bakery and grab like 3 of them….. don’t judge.

Trip advisor told me that the Wind Point Lighthouse was not to be missed and since I also have a minor obsession with lighthouses we went. She did not disappoint it was a perfect day on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Wingspread was my main reason for driving to Racine. Not familiar with Wingspread? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Wingspread is the Home Frank Lloyd Wright built for Herbert F. Johnson the owner of Johnson Wax now known as SC Johnson. The home was extraordinary for its time and expensive as well. The original budget was $100,000.00, Wright was famous for blowing budgets and blow this one he did. This is an extraordinary example of Wright architecture and it did not disappoint. It is after all the only Wright design that includes a swimming pool. Wright believed that swimming pools were glorified bath tubs, I tend to agree with the man.

Wingspread was the last stop on our journey. It was getting late so my dad and I headed westward to Home. Of course we made a stop in the Dells for dinner and I politely told my dad “this is your last trip this summer….” He didn’t like the sound of that and he keeps on asking me where we are going next. August and September are up in the air, when going through IVF you hand your life over to the clinic and pray for the best.