Jen and Vlad are two of the most original people I know. Jen is an extraordinary designer and a true friend. We loved capturing the start of their beautiful new life.
What can we do to raise our chances of being parents? What solutions are inside of me?
- Let go of other's expectations
- Be as healthy as possible
- Make room for new possibilities
- Let go of fear, guilt, anxiety
- Walking (a moving meditation)
- Stretching slowly
- Clearing out what I don’t need and what isn’t serving me
- Reading for pleasure
- Reading for knowledge
- Listening to music
- Finding activities that I take pleasure in
- Photo walks
- Eating outside with friends
- Playing with Gaidin
- Making work and lifestyle changes
- Connecting with friends and loved ones
- Eating well
- Moving at the pleasure of my soul
- Allowing time for reflection
- Art dates
- Date nights
- The Artist’s Way with Mike
- Getting more sun
- Comedies or funny TV shows
- Wild adventures
- Inspiring documentaries
- Going to the movies
- Not taking myself too seriously
- Celebrate the big and the small
- Be grateful for my amazing family and friends
- Be grateful for past, present and future opportunities
- Love and accept myself
Maybe this is where I’m supposed to be. Maybe I’ll break, but I’ve got a list of tools to get me through it. All of these tools and invitations serve me and will make me stronger and are within my values.
I can’t wish for things to be any other way, than the way they are. I can only focus on what I CAN do given the circumstances.
One day I’ll be holding my baby in my arms, laughing at everything we went through and all the doubts. It will all feel worth it.
I don’t want to regret not living the best, most amazing life I possibly can.
I love that hashtag. It took me two seconds to come up with it. I wonder how long it will take us to pull it off?
I took the second test and it still says not pregnant. I so loved uno and dos. I tried not to name them and not to get too attached, but I still cared and wished for them with everything I had.
I’m plagued with self doubt and grief. I’m trying to feel it all and let it pass through me. My natural reaction is resilience. Sometimes I switch to a more hopeful reaction before all the sadness has gotten out of me. I’m so self disciplined to look on the sunny side of the street that I risk leaving emotions inside of me, trapped and forgotten about, but latent. I’m beginning to feel like it’s a bit dangerous.
I miss them so much. How long am I supposed to stay down and take a knee before I start fighting for them again? Grief seems useless and fighting seems so much better.Although, I’m not sure if I’m moving on to the fighting phase too soon and not letting go enough.
I guess I can be healing while fighting all at the same time, similar to what we practice in yoga. Mountain pose is energy to the sky and energy to the ground. Maybe it’s okay if I stumble, as long as I keep getting back up again. Exhale letting it all go, inhaling strength to keep moving forward.
It’s so hard to accept that everything can go so smoothly and yet still not end up with the result with we wanted. How can I be a different, better version of myself in July vs. April? Supplemental changes, additional hormone herbs, a clean house, more conversations with experienced friends, finish projects and feel really good and confident about where I am.
I don’t want to be different than I am on the other side of this journey. I don’t want to be so changed that I don’t recognize myself. That’s my wish for myself on the other side of this journey. Win or lose. That I’m still this girl.
The one that has resilience filling her up while she’s still mid fall.
Negative. Ouch. It hurts. The answer is not this time. It hurts differently than I thought it would. I got to be what felt like a mom for two weeks. I'm so glad for that.
Hope is a complicated choice. Yes, I feel the fall, the heart break, the questioning. Yes, I wonder why not us. I don't believe there's a bigger plan. I've always believed I've been lucky because I chose to be lucky. No matter what happens in my life, I'll find my way out of hard times. I'll somehow turn my face toward the sun.
This journey has been so different. I feel like my luck has abandoned me. I started with such gusto four years ago, certain that we would be pregnant the first month. Over the years, I broke. I abandoned hope. I kept going through the motions, but I didn't believe I was lucky anymore and I wasn't sure why. I'm still not sure.
Our trip to Prague was incredible. It gave me back some of my faith in the universe and allowed me to hope again. Somehow this pregnancy test seemed like "not this time" vs. "no" or what used to feel like "never".
I feel like Mike and I did everything right. We took all the advice, I was relaxed and magical. And yet still no. I really loved those two weeks. I didn't take a moment for granted. Mike and I were alive with possibilities and we now know we are strong enough to try again.
I am so wildly grateful for everyone's wishes and prayers. We had so much support, we felt so loved. I'm so happy that we told everyone about the journey because I really needed all of you. It's been such a long journey that I couldn't keep going forward and believing without our friends and family.
I'm so grateful to Mike. We have grown stronger together and we are a little in awe of what we've been able to pull off. I'm so grateful to my mom for her help and all of our friends who came to Prague and stood by us. I hope one day I get to post that we are pregnant and one day post that our babies are safe in this world.
I wish it was today.
I’m feeling both strong and delicate lately.
2016 gave us plenty of excuses to have failed at our fertility vacations. Our hearts were broken over and over again. We lost so many close friends and family, and also fought cancer and won. We were distracted and broken hearted, yet somehow found the resources and perseverance to make it to the operating room, staring at two black and white embryos on the monitor.
We somehow found a way to hope again after so many years of heartache.
I’m so surprised and grateful that we could find something inside of us that allowed for hope. I didn’t expect to find hope on this journey. I knew we could find out how to get to Prague or how to try for adoption. I was committed to trying, but hope had long been out of the equation for me.
I am now full of strength and hope. Hope to be pregnant. And hope to try again if we’re not.
It feels like most parts of my life are walking around with their shoelaces untied. My heart and body feel a little discombobulated as I look out to still unpacked suitcases from Cuba, Iceland, Germany and Prague. End of the year projects are awaiting final touches. Two gravestones in New York not yet graced by our flowers and presence. A part of me still reeling from the election.
Being home has been mostly jet lag and coffee withdrawals. I’ve missed everything we had planned - an epic 50th party with our friend’s band playing, a heartfelt fundraiser, a three day artist retreat in Joshua Tree.
I feel like saying “not today” to every activity I’m presented with. I belong at the beach, curing my insatiable need to hear the waves, walking on the boardwalk and playing in the sand with my nephew.
I can’t throw myself back into work just yet and into the editing tunnel of projects in the backlog. I’m afraid I’l lose this sense of self I’ve created through photographing and walking around Europe for five weeks. I’ve done so much to stay present in my heart and body.
Don’t get me wrong, I love editing, getting lost in my work, pouring over images, categorizing and then sharing them. I love finding threads that run throughout and juxtapositions to tell the perfect story. I love discovering and re-living the memories, but there is inevitably some kind of intellectual pursuit that comes up. There are moments of self doubt as I categorize the images and I get too much in my head. The computer won’t move fast enough, my hand begins to cramp.
When I’m shooting, I’m solely creating. Everything is alive with possibilities. I’m free with no boundaries, restrictions or time constraints.
For now, I want to find order in the physical and continue Marie Kondoing our apartment. I want to stay in this realm with our little embryos inside of me because for a couple days, I’m their mom and I want to be here for it. I want these couple days to be great.
For now, I’ll walk in the sunshine and just make sure not to trip on my shoelaces.
It’s nice to be home. It’s been almost a week now, and in four more days, we take a pregnancy test. I’ve had extreme jet lag since I’ve been home, waking up between 3:15-5:15 every morning. I feel like half of me is still walking around Prague, taking pictures all day. I miss the movement. I miss charting out a course in the morning and getting lost in the different neighborhoods never knowing what we will discover next.
It’s good to be home nonetheless. I’ve been filling my sleep deprived self with energy from the ocean. The water and waves have a way with inner peace.
A couple of days ago I had some pains in my lower abdomen. I had been running a slight fever as well so I called my regular physician for an appointment. The nurse said it sounded like complications from IVF and that I should go to the clinic immediately. I then explained that our clinic was in Europe.
They gave me an appointment for later that day, but mentioned they might send me to the emergency room because these things can go wrong, quickly. It felt like the magical Prague bubble had been popped. Any concerns that I had at the clinic in Prague weren’t met with so much alarm.
I tried to remind myself that I was back in the states where emotions tend to run a little higher. I sat in the bathroom with tears running down my face, hands holding my stomach, frustrated with our alarmist nature, and mostly scared of losing my two. I can’t imagine a world so cruel. I shoved all the thoughts out of me and waited for my appointment.
My physician started asking me a barrage of questions about my symptoms and what hormones I had taken in Prague. She phrased some of the questions in the form of, “This is what we do here, I’m not sure how they do it there.” I answered all of her questions and it all seemed to be the same.
I did have this “off” feeling that there was an assumption that we do IVF better here. Since neither of us had experienced IVF both in Prague and the U.S., I found this a little irritating. We ruled out a UTI or bacterial infection and she examined my liver to make sure it hadn’t expanded which would be an indication of a more serious problem. My liver seemed normal size. She explained her concern of an ectopic pregnancy and that I would be in terrible pain if that was the case.
In the end, nothing was wrong and the pain was most likely my ligaments stretching from the hormones I’m taking. I reminded myself that there isn’t a language barrier anymore and doctors like to talk in worst case scenarios. No more strange “think positive” smiles from my Eastern European doctor. Instead, cryptic worried messages from my kind, smart, American doctor.
I sat on the couch when I got home with all of my energy depleted. I told myself that our journey is going to be a long one, and that I’ll listen to my body, ask for advice, and consider the source so I can stay calm and feel vitality.
Listening to : The Kitchen Sisters Present : The Hidden World of Girls with Tina Fey. This collection of emails, audio clips, poems, and stories travels to different corners of the earth telling stories about the hidden world of girls. I was feeling a little post vacation blues this morning and this gem cheered me up and made me feel more connected. Oh wanderlust. - Suzanne
Photographing : I'm so inspired by the Mitte district in Berlin. Life seems to be lived on the street. I felt like every apartment was empty Sunday afternoon and every man, woman, and child was out walking, biking, and lounging under the warm spring sun. It felt like a town and a city all at once. - Suzanne
Working on : I'm on a mission right now to get back into shape, on a proper diet, and back to martial arts. For the first time in 15 years I have allowed weeks to go without disciple in my categories like my diet. I notice this effects everything and I'm motivated to get going. - Mike
Listening to : Podcast by Jocko Willett author of Extreme Ownership. I highly recommend his book and podcast. I have been watching athletes and military service men in action. This always gets me motivated and grateful. Prague was an amazing chapter in our life and now a new chapter is starting. - Mike
So here we are on the last day of our trip. Four days since “uno” and “dos” have been put back inside of me. The doctor told me to avoid baths, jacuzzis, swimming pools, heavy lifting, over doing it, and uncooked meat for the first three days.
The first three days were crucial. It feels good to have made it that far. While I won’t know for another 10 days if I’ve made it at all, I still love the milestone. If uno and dos are born, I can tell them how I loved them and wished them safe passages as I walked around Prague and Berlin, putting myself in the way of beauty.
So many kind people have commented or texted their wishes to us. A few mentioned how brave we are for sharing our IVF story. Mike has mentioned several times that he thinks I’m brave too.
It’s been odd to wrap my mind around this concept. From the beginning, I decided that I was more afraid to attempt IVF in secret, than to tell everyone about my journey. The stress of not being able to keep the secret would bury me.
I don’t like secrets. I don’t think they are fun to keep.
I remember when I was a teenager and my parent’s marriage was falling apart. Times were tough, but it was important to me that it didn’t show. It felt like a terrible secret I was hiding. I got so good at hiding, that it took me a long time to be comfortable showing people my whole self. I can certainly give Mike a lot of credit for helping me bring out my light and my dark side. When we first met, I decided that if he was going to for fall me, I had to show him the real me.
Being transparent is now a part of my essence.
My brother told me secretly that he was going to propose to his girlfriend. He asked me not to tell anyone. So I called Mike (hey, he’s my husband!). Then I may have called my mom (well, she is my mom!). So if you have any good news, I’ll probably tell Mike and my mom too.
All of this to say, I couldn’t have gone to Europe for five weeks and not told you my hopes and dreams. I’m not really made that way.
Of course I’m scared, because maybe in 10 days a stick will break my heart and everyone will know.
But ultimately, I feel free that my spirit is full of truth and hope, not secrets.
Today is implantation day. April 1, 2017. Today is one of the best days of my life. We have a chance for hope; a chance to be parents. Maybe we will be parents in 9 months, maybe we won’t, but today we have the best chance we’ve ever had.
A questionnaire once asked me to list the three best days of my life. Of course there have been so many, but here are the one’s that stand out:
- The day I met Mike Ofeldt
- Our wedding day
- The day my world expanded as a 17-year-old when my dear friend Cristina explained backpacking and the endless possibilities of travel.
Today is coming pretty close.
Implantation went great. They implanted two excellent embryos and froze two excellent embryos. The procedure was relatively quick and painless. There was a point where it hurt and I held Mike’s hand tightly. I think it’s unusual for it to hurt, but I have a tilted uterus so perhaps that was the issue.
I zoned out and imagined two babies in footsie pajamas laughing and playing with Mike and I on the couch. I listened to Don Williams’ “I Believe in You” on repeat and then the procedure was over. I then took a 20 minute nap in recovery. Acupuncture right before and right after was a great choice.
Everything went as smooth as possible. In two weeks we will know more.
Dreaming of : Implantation in the next 48 hours. - Suzanne
Photographing : Prague. So many hours a day, every nook and cranny. What a daily dream; a meditation, a photo walk and holding Mike's hand. - Suzanne
Drinking: A bunch of different local beers in Prague. I'm enjoying trying to get a feel for the culture and the daily life here. - Mike
Watching: We have been to the movies on three occasions. One was an amazing film at the Prague film festival about kids during WWII. - Mike
Reflecting: It's been a roller coaster ride. Being in a different place going through this new IVF experience has taught me a lot and given me some much needed experience. It's given me time to step out of my routine and see what issues I have. I really like it here. - Mike
Suzanne & Mike
Today could have been our implantation day, but instead it will be tomorrow or Saturday. It feels scary that it wasn’t the first possible day. I’m guessing that it’s not actually better or worse which day it happens.
I wonder why I’m struggling so much. Is it the hormones? Is it because they took the eggs out? Does that make you spiral a little? Is it a withdrawal from the hormone shots? I guess I should be grateful for all the easy days I’ve had.
I’m worried about being worried. I want my body and mind to be relaxed and peaceful. The doctor said the only thing I can do to raise our chances is to think positive. Instead I feel panicky. I swivel from feeling so much power and gratitude, to feeling fear and panic. I’m sure it’s the hormones.
I have to keep remembering that everything is going so well. Seven of our 10 eggs are growing. All of our friends say that’s great.
I’m scared anyway. I meditated. Scared. I took a bath. Scared. I’m trying to write it so it gets out of me. Scared.
Finally we’ve gotten to the part in the IVF process that people complain about. I can’t help but feel overwhelmed during certain moments of the day.
Mike was supposed to fly home tonight, but I asked him to call and change his flight. I’m not ready for him to go. The next three days are crucial and with everything happening at the lab, I don’t want to be without him. Cristina arrives in an hour so I know I won’t be alone, but I need Mike here too. Everything feels more hopeful with him here.
I’m not a very needy or demanding wife. Usually I’m independent to a fault. But for a couple more days I want to explore the city via “Mike’s Walking Tour” and sleep holding his hand.
An hour goes by and I’m feeling even and calm. Mike is the best at talking the fear out of me.
“No one has friends half as good as mine or loves them half as much.”
I butchered that quote, but the people in our lives astound me and I am wholeheartedly grateful for them.
I often think we must have done something right to have such incredible people in our lives. Really incredible people like Cristina, Vanessa, Jenny and Janna who would fly out and meet us in Prague, Germany, and Iceland.
An amazing group of people in San Diego and scattered all over the world, rooting for us and our 10 eggs. Everyone has been so kind on Facebook, via text, and WhatsApp. It’s been good to share our experience. I feel so safe wrapped in everyone’s collective prayers and vibes.
I like to imagine our little eggs swaddled in a myriad of wishes and dreams; all of us collectively willing life into them. I want them to be safe and healthy and know they are loved. Four eggs growing strong, three slightly slower; seven eggs left in the race. They are small, but mighty.
While my mind is exploding with wonder, I am gently reminded of the song, “Que Sera Sera”.
Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be.
I feel grateful for the opportunity to try IVF. Some people never even have this chance. At the very least I can give it my all in the process and feel grateful for every opportunity. Grateful for IVF, for travel, for Prague, for the lower prices in Europe, for my translator, for amazing coffee, and for my handsome husband.
I woke up tired with a general low level of pain and a lingering sinus cold. The last two days I’ve had a really hard time waking up. I think my body misses the hormones. Mike thinks it could be psychological, or from the surgery, or sightseeing too much every day.
My hands hurt and my arms are heavy. It doesn’t seem coincidental to feel like darkness is slowly surrounding me from behind like a shroud. I’ve been down this road before, I can handle it. The sun is out and spring is here, but I’m not getting the usual spark from the sun.
I miss the eggs being inside me. It’s absurd because they are obviously in the most capable hands, but I really miss having them so close and wishing good things for them.
I’ll choose to be positive all the same and separate my physical self from my mental self.
Meditation is good for the soul. Whenever I remember, I use the Headspace app and it makes me feel more peaceful. Today I meditated in a garden at the Prague Castle. Real or imagined, there were hedges shaped like eggs in the garden.
It’s time for egg retrieval surgery and I’m alive with possibilities. I can almost feel the little hand of our baby wrapping his fingers around one of mine. Mike and I sitting on the couch, smiling at the cuteness. Maybe we are both holding a baby. How cool would that be? A little boy and girl.
Who knows what will happen, but today we have a chance. Today we are one step closer to the family of our dreams. One step closer than we’ve ever been. I love IFV.
The universe is unfolding in our favor.
The surgery went well. The doctor informed us we have 10 eggs and that usually a third of the eggs are viable. 16 follicles, 10 eggs, and maybe a third would fertilize; so incredible.
Now there is nothing to do, but wait. No shots, no pills, just an evening off. We went to the Communism Museum and did some window shopping around the Palladium. We took a nap and then ate an indulgent dinner at Cafe Stav.
We are both starting to get really hopeful. Why not us? Someone has to be the 10%. Why not the Ofeldts? I dream of twins. Sweet and healthy babies of our own to love. No one can take them away like foster kids. They would be ours to love forever. I still really want to adopt, I just don’t want them to be taken away. Maybe this is our time. Maybe we will be the lucky ones.
I’m holding my breath. I’m crossing my fingers. I’m loving Mike and when the fear creeps in, I’m remembering to be grateful for the opportunity and the chances we have ahead of us. Sometimes I like to imagine singing songs to the baby, reading a book, teaching him or her about the colors, and laughing in the pool. All of the glimpses into a beautiful life.
There are logistics and so many real life issues, but I feel like it’s my job to stay in dream land for a couple more weeks. Things feel delicate. I need to take care of our family and be here, now.
Good morning, Morning Pages. Getting a cold a few days before egg retrieval during an IVF vacation is about as appetizing as being sick in bed when you’re supposed to be hosting Christmas dinner. There is a never a good time to get a cold on vacation, but this feels a little worse.
Warm baths, hot tea, lemon, salt, medicine, ginger - yeah yeah yeah. I’d just prefer to feel the physical vitality that I have in my heart. C'est la vie.
I’ve spent a few weeks raising my hope levels and lowering my fear levels. Last night I took my last Purgeon hormone shot. I’m oddly sad that I won’t get Purgeon anymore. I’m nervous that the brain fog will return as I’ve been feeling a little edgier and emotional. Who knows if it’s the cold, the lack of Puregon, the new meds, or just life. I wonder what fears are real and what fears are imagined.
I love the mantra, “The universe is unfolding in my favor”. I also love Mike’s quote to me, “You are so good at following your dreams”.
Even with a cloudy head and stuffy nose, I will choose to trust this course with joy in my heart and ask questions as needed.
Tonight is my last night of hormone shots. Cheers to that! It's been slightly disruptive to our daily schedule to be near the fridge at 6pm everyday. While the hormones don't bother me, aside from immediately knocking me out for 15 minutes, I'm happy for them to be gone. 11 more days in Prague and a little more freedom after tonight.
Today we met with a third doctor and so far he is my favorite. I feel like we get passed around a bit, but it seems to be time related as my body dictates when we need an appointment. It's all dependent on when my period starts, how I respond to the hormones, how many controls I need, how large the follicles are, etc.
On Monday (two days from now) we have our egg retrieval appointment. Embryo implantation will then happen on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday depending on how the eggs grow and what the endocrinologist says. Both the doctor and Veronica, our translator, seemed pleased with the results this morning. I didn’t need anymore controls or hormones, my body is responding great. The next shot I take will be to induce ovulation.
We also discussed what type of options would increase our chances of getting pregnant. We went with the “Uterus Glue” and “Embryo Hatching” as my friend Amy had suggested. We also chose video monitoring of the eggs and Acupuncture before and after implantation.
This process has had quite the learning curve and I am still figuring it all out.
I wonder how many eggs they will find and how many are viable. I wonder what happens to the other eggs. I can't remember what we read online anymore. If we want to come back and try IVF again in the future, do both Mike and I come back? Do they save all of the eggs and sperm? Can someone else have them if we don’t use them?
I would love to have twins. If they insert two eggs, and we get pregnant with twins, that would be incredible. I keep reminding myself not to get too far ahead, but it's the flashes of future dreams with Mike and our kids that keeps me going.
Mike made it to Prague, yay! We are exploring and making the most of our time here.
Photographing : Everyday Prague; the life, the cafes, the views. It's a romantic city and we can't stop trying to reflect something back that sums up how it feels to be here. - Suzanne & Mike
Listening to : The Royal Czech Orchestra at the Charles Bridge Palace. Initially I was interested in being in the same room that Mozart once stood. Mozart! The real Mozart. And also where Milos Forman filmed "Amadeus". Milos Forman is such a cool director to me. The palace is stunning, it's so fascinating. Everywhere you look something else reveals itself to you. I was totally unprepared for the music. The six musicians who stood 12 feet in front of me blew my mind. It's rare to be in such close proximity to the musicians without anything obstructing your view. We were in the second row of folding chairs. I could see every musician's hands. 4 violins, 1 bass, 1 cello, 1 opera singer and pure magic. The skill level was beyond comprehension. Their speed and dexterity, the way they anticipated each other's movement without a conductor made my heart literally soar. As cliche as it sounds, I felt like I was flying. Sometimes fast, or slow, darker, then romantic, surprising, running, walking, waltzing...flying. It all felt like flying. It's such a small room that every person was a part of the energy. No microphones just incredible acoustics. - Suzanne
Dreaming of : Positive vibes and the stars aligning. - Mike & Suzanne
Exploring: The Torture Museum (Prague's darker side) with our friend Janna from Sweden. It was a tiny little place with an odd narrow hallway. A short walk through a weird part of humanity. Better to look toward peace. - Mike
Suzanne & Mike
This whole IVF process seems vague to me. I lower my hormone dosage slightly for the next two days and then I go into the clinic to have my reaction to the hormones tested.
I know I have an appointment at 8:30am. I also know I will have another appointment beforehand, but haven’t gotten the email confirmation yet. I think it’s for a few tests and an EKG to make sure I can handle anesthetic for egg retrieval surgery. I think next week I come in every two days, but I’m still not totally sure.
What I do know for sure is that tomorrow night Mike arrives in Prague. We will not understand it all together. We will not be prepared, not quite have enough money, not exactly know what we are doing, together.
We will hold hands and walk around Prague, marveling at our bravery and feel a mix of fear, hope, and incredulous possibilities. Maybe we will be disappointed. Maybe our hearts will break and we will have to pick up the pieces and find a way to try again.
But there’s a 10% maybe that we will be parents in 9 months. Maybe our little apartment will be filled with diapers and tears. Maybe I’ll wear one of those wraps that you carry a baby in. Maybe we will have a boy or a girl, or two girls, two boys, or a boy and a girl. Maybe we can argue over names and start the age old panic that new parents have felt since the beginning of time. Holy cow this is really happening.