Wednesday, December 17, 2014

House Updates | The Master Bedroom

Tyler and I have been so excited and anxious to start work on the house. 
We are so ready to move in now.
The house, unfortunately, is not.
During our time in Danville we've made some great friends.
Great friends come in handy when you're redoing an entire house.
Lucky for us, one of those friends wasn't busy the other night.
They demoed the entire master bedroom in just a few hours!
Plaster and lath demo.
Yuck.

Before:

(Sadly this is our only before photo)


During:



Tyler and Michael working hard!



Not only do you have to knock down the plaster and tear out the lath,
all the trim has to come off as well.
Not a huge deal if you're just going to toss it, but we want to keep the original trim (obviously).
So taking the trim off can be a very tedious process.


I love the old, thick trim.

Another plus;
the house still has the old iron vent covers, too!



Watch where you step!



Yikes!
Can you say, tetanus?

My favorite part was when I got to kick a hole in the wall.


We've got a long way to go, but we'll get there.
Eventually.


3 Month Updates!

Time for an update folks!
3 months later and we have insulation, new windows, and are on our way to having walls!









Yay for exposed brick!


The view from our room is fun because i can peer down at our [currently] ugly patio and creep out my guests.
Muahahahahahaha.

















Here we go again.....

     It's been a pretty busy (and stressful) couple of weeks. With nothing having been actually finalized, I couldn't share what was going on with all of you; but now it's official. 
     We are home owners!
     Again.

     Oh boy.
     When we purchased the house we are in now, we did so thinking it would be temporary. We would move back 'home' at the earliest opportunity, so we bought a small, cozy house and waited. Little did we know, Danville would soon become home and we had no desire to leave anytime soon. We slowly began the search for a more permanent place of residence. Neither of us thought we would actually buy anything for another 6-12 months, but we kept our eyes out anyway. After looking at a house a few blocks from us, and deciding that it was most certainly not the house for us, our realtor told us that a house was coming up for sale in a neighborhood we really liked. When we asked for details, he laughed and said, "It's a project. More of a project than anything else you've looked at!" (that's really saying something for us). 
     We drove up the road to take a look and Tyler fell instantly in love with the garage. The whole setting seemed to be what we wanted. Now we just had to get inside.
     Oh man.....it was a mess. In short, it's a gut job. About 3/4 of the way, anyway. We are demoing all of the exterior walls in order to insulate, replacing all the windows, tearing out carpet, redoing the bathroom and kitchen, etc. In the end we kind of figured, "Hey, why not?" and went for it.
    We closed yesterday and are now officially the stressed owners of a project house! I'll be recording our progress and posting photos of demo, construction, and the finished project here on my blog. If you want to live vicariously through our mistakes, you've come to the right place!










Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My heart is so tired.


BCP. NTNP. TTC. DPO. TWW. CD1. TTTC. IUI. IVF. PUPO. KU.

     So many abbreviations. First you go off your Birth Control Pill. Then comes Not Trying Not Preventing. Then comes Trying To Conceive. You ovulate and now it's Days Post Ovulation. Then the Two Week Wait. Then Cycle Day 1. After a year you move on to Trouble Trying To Conceive. Then there's the IntraUterine Insemination. When that doesn't work, and if you have the money and your cycle doesn't get cancelled, it's on to In Vitro Fertilization. If you're lucky enough to be part of the 46%, then you're Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise. You might even get to be Knocked Up.

The acronym I never thought would apply to me:
CFNBC
child free, not by choice

I'll admit it.
When friends have told me that they were 'taking a break', accepting their childless status for the time being, I judged.
I thought to myself, "You're giving up? Really? I couldn't do that until I'd tried everything first."
I finally get it. I really do.
You can only subject your heart to so much.
So I guess for the time being this blog will simply be our lives, day to day.
Because that's what you do; you live.
One day at a time.




"We need never be ashamed of our tears."
Charles Dickens






Monday, September 22, 2014

"Be happy with what you have!"

Dear friends,
     I struggled for so long about whether or not to write this post. For a long while I didn't, mainly because I was angry and bitter and was afraid of saying something rude or hurtful. I'm still saddened by this phrase ('be happy with what you have'), uttered to me by so many, but I don't feel bitter or angry about it now. I realized that if I was giving out what I thought were words of encouragement that was hurting my friends, then I would want to know.

     Numerous times during our journey with infertility and loss have I been told by well meaning people that I need to just "be happy with what I have". That phrase has paralyzed me. I stopped sharing with the ones who said this to me because I was so offended, so saddened, so taken aback. Made to feel guilty for my hurt. Upset by the fact that they seemed to think that my longing for a child meant that I wasn't happy with the rest of my life. This simply isn't true. I love my husband and I cherish every moment we have together without children. I appreciate the freedom that our childless life gives us yet long for a baby in my arms at the same time. I enjoy the long bike rides, spontaneous trips, and last minute dates that not having a baby allows us, but this doesn't mean I don't want a baby. Nor does wanting a baby mean I'm not thankful for those things.

     One of the key phrases here is "well meaning". These two words have become an excuse for so many things in our society today. It's a subconscious way to justify saying something inappropriate, and yes, I've done it, too. So many hurtful things have been said to me and others with good intentions by well meaning people. Meaning well does not make this ok.

     The longing for children is a longing that God placed in our hearts. It's as natural and good as the longing for a spiritual family or church. So why is the sadness of infertility and loss something you should just get over? I would ask if someone has the answer to this but I don't believe there is one, because it's not true.

     Take Hannah from the book of Samuel for example. She was a devout and godly woman but wasn't able to have children. She cried, went without food, bargained with God, and prayed. The bible presents her as a woman of faith who had an intense reaction to her situation. Never once does the bible shame her for how she reacted. Hannah's feelings of loss associated with infertility were normal.

     Next time you are about to say something like "be content", "be happy with what you have", "enjoy the time you have alone together", I encourage you to consider Hannah. Ask yourself if you truly believe that the person you're speaking to doesn't appreciate their spouse or the life they've been given. Are they not allowed to grieve the children they don't and may never have?

     Another interesting thing about this phrase is that it has only been said to me by people who have children. Never once did someone who had gone through infertility or loss say this to me.

     The pain of infertility is not always a deep, dark hole you find yourself thrust in to and unable to climb out of. Sometimes it's a small, subtle ache that doesn't go away. It's not always so bad as to keep you from functioning or enjoying parts of life, but it's always there, and you never forget.

     Know that it's ok to be happy with what you have while mourning what you don't.




"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."
Romans 12:15









Sunday, August 24, 2014

A little twist on the ice bucket challenge....


I was nominated by my mom to do the ice bucket challenge. Not for ALS (a great cause!) but for two disorders than personally affect our family. The ice bucket challenge has gathered so much wonderful attention and created much needed awareness for a devastating disease, but we've decided to stray from the trend a bit and challenge friends and family to donate to The Myositis Association (for me) and TheEpilepsy Foundation. So instead of dumping water over my head (mainly because, due to my autoimmune disorder, my skin reacts adversely to being wet and I would probably be in pain for a while after), I've decided to write down the main parts of my story and share them with you. Hopefully, with your help, we can remove the stigma of epilepsy and garner the same amount of awareness for my rare disease as we have for ALS! I encourage you to share this post as much as you can, with whomever you wish. Every donation puts us that much closer to a cure!

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I suffer from Dermatomyositis which causes severe skin and muscle inflammation. It's one of the three types of Myositis; the first being Myositis, second Dermatomyositis, and third, Polymyositis.

My symptoms began in September of 2010 with a small rash on my right index finger. I thought I had gotten into some itch weed, but it didn’t go away. In fact, it quickly began to spread. When it reached my cuticles and caused painful inflammation, my mom decided it was time to see the doctor. He initially thought I had a Staph Infection, so they put me on some antibiotics. I didn’t get better, in fact, I got worse. At this point the rash had spread to my nose, and my face had begun to swell. Next we tried a Dermatologist. He looked me over and almost immediately decided it was one of three things: Lupus, Lichen Planus, or Dermatomyositis. He was a good enough doctor to admit that he was not confident enough to diagnose me himself, so he referred me to a Rheumatologist in Iowa City. 3 months, more rashes, and multiple tests later they decided in December of 2010 that I had text-book Dermatomyositis.
   At this point I had been preparing to attend college 8 hours away. We asked if I should decline and stay near home, but the doctors encouraged me to go and live a normal life since I had nothing but an annoying rash at the time.
               Not long after I started the spring semester of school the weakness and fatigue began creeping in. I didn’t notice it at first, I thought it was just the stress of college life and being away from home. Eventually I found myself sleeping 14 hours or more and still having trouble staying awake in class. Dressing myself in the morning was a struggle, working was a nightmare, and I had to rest after each set of stairs I took on my way to and from my classes. The rash had spread as well, causing my chest to become raw and at times even bleed. It also covered my elbows, knees, hips, and shins. I had finally reached my worst.
 At my worst I was disabled. I couldn't get up from a sitting position, so I would choose to stand instead, even though it exhausted me to do so. I chose the exhaustion over the embarrassment of asking passing strangers to pull my dead weight up off of the ground, since I had no strength to do it myself. I couldn’t undress without asking my roommate to help me, since my arms physically could not stretch over the top of my head. Bending down to put my shoes on was as much a chore as anything I've ever done, and tying them was out of the question. The rash that had once been confined to my knuckles had crept onto my palms and inside of my fingers, rendering me nearly completely helpless. I couldn't open a ziplock bag without biting my lip to keep my mind off of the pain, as the tips of my fingers had become nothing more than what felt like raw and exposed nerve endings. The steroid cream they gave me to help with the rash made my skin so thin that putting my hands in my pocket would cause tears and rips in my flesh.
The real curse of this, if you ask me, was that I looked relatively normal. Professors didn’t understand why I was late to class and then couldn't keep my eyes open. Supervisors rolled their eyes and sighed at me when I asked for help opening packages, didn't have the strength to do dishes, and told them I simply couldn’t carry a bowl of soup across the room without dropping it (I had been assigned to work at the restaurant on campus). Even friends became exasperated at my helplessness. I couldn’t explain what I was going through, I barely knew myself. All I knew was that I hated how dependent on others I had become and how despicably helpless I was. I had always been so strong. If something needed done that took some level of strength, people looked to me because they knew I could deliver. I had strength, stamina, and determination. Now all of that was gone. I still haven’t gotten all of it back, and that's a reality I struggle with daily.
               After a few months, I don’t know how many more tests, and one new doctor later, I was finally improving. I left school after that first semester, and continued to get better at home. When I visited again in the fall, some people didn’t even recognize me anymore.
               It’s been 4 years since I began this journey, and I’m sure it will be several more before it’s over. I hope to go into remission someday and my doctor said that she thinks I’m a very good candidate for it. I have continued to progress, slowly but surely, and only hope that this trend continues. The rash on my body has all but disappeared, all that's left is the rash on my face and hands. I'm much stronger than I have been in years and the exhaustion is all but gone.  Every year I go to Johns Hopkins for my follow up and every year there is a new treatment being researched. That research is possible because of donations, grants, and general awareness and interest in this disease. Please share my story and encourage others to do so. The more people know, the more people care, and perhaps, the closer we'll be to a cure. 



Below is a side by side comparison of my face.
(Click to enlarge)


Summer 2010            Spring 2011                 Spring 2014


(I do not have any photos where you can see my rash because I simply refused to have it photographed as a result of being so self-conscious.
 I am wearing the same brand of makeup in all three photos, though.
You can see how swollen my face was, as well as how much my medicine had thinned my hair, brows, and lashes.)


_________________________________________________________


                There is so much more to my story than I was able to put in this little post. If you have any questions, or want to know more, please feel free to contact me, I’d love to speak with you!

_________________________________________________________


Update as of February 28 2015
Rare Disease Day

My doctor and  I decided to reduce my does of Imuran last August since  was dong so well.  I have since had a relapse. The rash is back on my hips chest legs and elbows. I'm tired more often and have a harder time catching up on my sleep. As a result I am back on my normal dose and already feel much better. Hoping that we can try the reduction again soon!






Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It Was Never Mine To Hold [Everything Is Yours]

When all the world is blossoming
When everything around is bursting into life
And I don't have to strain to hear the beat of Your heart

Oh, Oh

When all the world is under fire
and the skies are threatening to thunder and rain
And I am overcome by fears that I can't see

Oh, Oh

If everything is Yours
Everything is Yours
If everything is Yours
I'm letting it go

No it was never mine to hold

No, never mine

Who could command the stars to sing
Or hold the raging seas from breaking through the doors
Until the fragile roses wear the very same hand

Oh, Oh

If everything is Yours
Everything is Yours
If everything is Yours

I'm letting it go

I am, I'm letting it go

Letting go, I'm letting it go

Cause everything is Yours
Yeah everything is Yours

If everything is Yours, God
If everything is Yours
If everything is Yours

I'm letting it go

Let it go, let it go, let it go
It was never mine to hold
No, It was never mine, never mine

No.







Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Anniversaries Aren't Always Good.

    I'm currently waiting for this cycle to end. I had a promising chart this month, very promising, but I can feel that the end is near and it's hitting me harder than I thought. After 27 cycles you learn the signs and know when to stop getting your hopes up. 
The end of this month marks 2 years. 
Yes, many have tried much longer than I, but it still hurts. Sadly, this pain can't be cured by ice cream and wine, even though I try every month. 


    I don't know what we're going to do. We've met with some friends who are adopting to get some first hand information and discuss fears and apprehensions. 
 My follow up appointment to discuss test results and treatment plans is on Monday.
 My birthday.

    A positive pregnancy test would have been a really nice birthday present. The last two birthdays have had a cloud over them. If I had known that it was going to take this long and be this hard, I never would have started trying for a family the same month as my birthday.


    It's also been exactly 1 year and 11 days since my miscarriage.

Time for more ice cream.

    I haven't been good about talking to God about the pain. I don't know why I'm not, I really don't struggle with bitterness towards Him
. Yes, I often wonder why terrible people have children, while deserving ones go through the silent struggle of loss and infertility. It would be strange not to. But I don't blame Him for my loss, and I don't blame Him for my infertility. He grieves with me, I know.


   I will still trust You.

    

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cheesecake, Lemonade, and Jewelry!

Sound like the recipe for a perfect weekday girls night?
Well you're right, because it is!

My wonderful friend, Bethany, hosted a Lia Sophia party at her house last Tuesday.
I was asked to bring cheesecake and cupcakes.
The theme was pink and yellow.
I promptly broke out my KitchenAid and got to work.
The result?

Strawberry Irish Creme Cheesecake



Lemonade Cupcakes
(with straws, of course!)







It was my first Lia Sophia party and I had so much fun. I can't believe I hadn't gone to one before.
My jewelry is going to be delivered this week and I can't wait!



Photos taken by Bethany Burt of Rose Colored Glasses Photography.
If you have a wedding coming up you seriously need this husband/wife team in your life!
(Bonus: She does some incredible Boudoir Photography, too!)




Saturday, May 17, 2014

Just Keep Holding On

In my post, Oceans, I wrote about the power of song. When I'm having a horrible day, I can hear a song that makes me feel a little less alone. Sometimes it doesn't make me feel much better, but it just speaks to me, verbalizing everything I feel and can't express. 

______________________________________________

All the signs of life
They’re all around me with every heartbeat
I feel so alive,
I am joy and sadness,
Peace and madness
If only I can fight just a little longer
I know It’s gonna make me stronger


I just keep holding on to what I believe
Oh, I believe in you
Give me the strength to fight
And the heart to believe
When it’s hard to believe in you


Oh and these are the times when doubt’s tryin’ to creep in
And I need a reason that’s larger than life when hope seems hard to find
If only I can fight just a little longer
I know it’s gonna make me stronger


So I just keep holding on to what I believe
Oh, I believe in you
Give me the strength to fight
And a heart to believe
When it’s hard to believe
I’ll just keep holding on, holding on, holding on
Give me the strength to fight
And the heart to believe
When it’s hard to believe in you
Oh oh oh oh oh
When it’s hard to believe in you
Oh oh oh oh oh
Oh, I wanna believe

If only I can fight just a little longer
I know I’ll be stronger


So I’ll just keep holding on, holding on, holding on
I’ll just keep holding on, holding on
I’ll just keep holding on to what I believe
Oh, I believe in you
Give me the strength for the fight
And the heart to believe
Cause I’ve got to believe
I’ll just keep holding on, holding on, holding on
Give me strength for the fight
And the heart to believe
'Cause I’ve got to believe in you
Oh oh oh oh oh
Yeah I’ve got to believe in you
Oh oh oh oh oh
Oh, yeah I feel so alive.







"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10 







Testing | The HSG

It's been one of the crappiest weeks I think I've ever had in my entire life. This is my excuse for posting an update so late and I'm sticking to it.

My HSG wasn't too bad. Well...ok, it was bad. It was pretty painful at first, but the pain only lasted for about a minute and then was over. I had some cramping for about three days, and they were annoying, but nothing any girl who's hit puberty hasn't had to deal with before. The dye didn't hurt at all, which is the part that I had been warned about. Anyway, the strangest thing was being able to feel the dye filling up my uterus, it didn't hurt but it kind of freaked me out. The test didn't take long at all, which was almost disappointing considering that I was in the waiting room for over 2 hours.


And that's why you bring a book. 


(I highly recommend this book by they way.)

Moving on . . . once I got in, the procedure only took about 8 minutes. We saw that my fallopian tubes are clear and my uterus looked normal, then we were done. Pretty straightforward.

I'm waiting to hear back from the doctor for my results from my HSG, as well as the tests that I had last week. She's based out of a town about 3 hours away, and only comes to my hospital once every two weeks. It's hard to wait for answers, but I'm glad that there's an RE here at least some of the time, or else I would have to drive 3 for one test!
Now we are just waiting on getting the rest our tests completed and getting a diagnoses and treatment plan in place.





"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Romans 12:12









Monday, May 12, 2014

Testing | The Plan and The 'Easy Stuff'

    Our first appointment with our RE went well. I wasn't blown away by my doctor, but she seems competent and was very nice (she's also the only one within 200 miles...). She answered all of our questions, we went over family and personal history, discussed medications and tests, and here we are! My first two tests were last Thursday (ultrasound, cycle day 3 bloodwork), and my HSG is....tomorrow!
    My ultrasound wasn't too bad, just a little uncomfortable, but the tech was great and there wasn't any pain. She even laughed at my lame "you really should buy me dinner first" joke.
    I'm getting pretty nervous about my HSG. It's uncomfortable for most people, painful for some, and then others hardly feel a thing. Hopefully I'm the latter. I'm still going to take my prescribed 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen, though.
    Part of me wants them to find something (that's easily fixable, of course), but part of me doesn't. At least if they find something, they know what to fix, but if they don't, well, I'm still not pregnant, so they'll have to just try different things and hope they work.
    If we are diagnosed with unexplained infertility, our recommended plan of action is to take Femera (helps ovulation), an HCG trigger to control when I ovulate, and an IUI (intro-uterine insemination). It won't be as expensive as IVF, but it's still not going to be much fun.

    What the heck. Making babies is supposed to be 'fun', people! I'm a little bitter (and unapologetic) here.
    Ok, moving on...

    Anyway...the worst thing right now is that the antibiotics they have me on (to protect from infection during my HSG) are making me feel like crap. Headaches and nausea and just UGH. So if this post is a little hard to follow and painful to read, I blame the meds.
   That's about it...so I guess next time I check in I will have a nice photo of my ute.














Saturday, April 12, 2014

Famous People Struggle, Too

Last July Jimmy Fallon and his wife welcomed their first daughter, Winnie! He also revealed that he and his wife struggled for 5 years to conceive. Here is his an article I borrowed from Parade.com:

It’s hard to imagine comedian Jimmy Fallon feeling somber, but the late night host and new dad to baby girl Winnie Rose has admitted that he and his wife’s long struggle with fertility left him feeling dejected.
“We’ve tried a bunch of things,” Fallon told Savannah Guthrie in a Todayshow interview that aired Tuesday morning. “Anyone who’s tried will know, it’s just awful.”

Last week, in a preview of the same 
Today show interview, the Emmy-nominated host, 38,revealed that he and Juvonen, 46, had used a surrogate.Fallon revealed that he and his wife, film producer Nancy Juvonen, spent five years trying to have a baby before welcoming daughter Winnie Rose on July 23. “We tried before, we’ve told people, and then it didn’t happen, and it’s just really depressing. It’s just really hard,” he said.
The couple decided to keep the surrogacy process under wraps, Fallon told Guthrie. “This time, we said, ‘We’re not going to tell anybody,’” he said. “It’d be just more fun if it was just private between me and my wife. And then we get to introduce her to everybody.”
When announcement finally came, it was “so emotional,” Fallon said. “You call everybody, tell them in happened, and it comes out of no where. They’re like, ‘What?’ And then everybody starts crying, and it’s just really happy because we tried for a long time.”




During the interview, Fallon turned to face the camera and offered advice and encouragement to other couples struggling with infertility. “I know people have tried much longer, but if there’s anybody out there that’s trying and losing hope, just hang in there,” Fallon said. “Try every avenue. Try anything you can do, because you’ll get there. You’ll end up with a family, and it’s so worth it. It’s the most worth it thing. I’m just so happy right now, I’m freaking out.”
Fallon also revealed the origin of his newborn daughter’s name—and it wasn’t inspired by the character Winnie Cooper from the 90s TV show The Wonder Years or the famous cartoon bear, as many had suspected. “It’s not Winnie the Pooh at all, even though I love Winnie the pooh,” Fallon explained.
Instead, the couple drew inspiration from Juvonen’s family lake house on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. “We went there every summer as we were dating, and we got engaged on the dock of Lake Winnipesaukee,” Fallon said. “You don’t want a name that’s been done, and you don’t want a name that’s so weird people are like, ‘What?’ And ‘Winnipesaukee’ is a little long. So we went with Winnie.”
Plus, there’s a special hidden meaning in the name, Fallon added: “She’s a win for us.”
The beaming new dad also told Guthrie that his baby daughter “turns me into mush. She’s a little angel. She’s so cute and she’s so fun … little girls, especially, unlock something in a dad’s heart.” 
_________________________________________________________________

Anyone who's gone through infertility would never wish it on anyone else, but it sure is encouraging to hear about other people who know what you're going through.




Why Miscarriage Matters When You're Pro-Life

A friend of mine posted the link to a blog, The Lewis Note, and this article that she wrote about  miscarriage and those who are pro-life. This article is everything I feel put into words. I'm going to share her words, and add the link to her blog below:






What Not To Say To Someone With Infertility

"You can always do IVF!"

Firstly, IVF is very expensive and isn't usually covered by insurance, much like adoption. We have even discussed, if it came to IVF, would we spend the money on adoption, instead? One cycle of treatment can cost anywhere between $12,000 and $25,000, and one cycle is rarely enough. Most couple need multiple cycles, if it ever works at all. One study found that the average cost of successful IVF is $61,377 ($72,642 when using donor eggs). The total cost including the multiple cycles needed for success.

    Secondly, IVF isn't a cure all. Even if a couple can afford it, it may never be successful. Women under 35 only have a 39.6% success rate per cycle, which varies depending on the cause of their infertility. Success rates for women 42 - 43 is only 11.5% per cycle. Some couples infertility diagnosis includes poor egg or sperm quality, which makes the price of IVF go up even more. Donor eggs, sperm, embryos, and surrogates are substantially more expensive, raising the cost even more.

    Thirdly, not everyone wants to go through IVF. It's emotionally draining, physically invasive, and not without risks. IVF is not for everyone.


"Just adopt!" 

    Adoption is a beautiful, important, wonderful thing, but it's not a decision that should be made lightly. Suggesting adoption as a cure all for infertility is ignorant and insensitive. It's just as emotionally and financially draining as invitro-fertilization (IVF). On top of that, adoption is not always possible. Couples have to apply and be approved, and just like there's no guarantee that IVF will be successful, there's no guarantee that everyone who wants to adopt will pass the screening process (not passing the screening process doesn't mean that someone can't or isn't a great parent, it's far more complicated than that.)
    Adoption also doesn't cure or take away the pain of being unable to conceive and give birth to a biological child. It doesn't replace the children an infertile couple has lost or been unable to have, but is instead another way to build a family.


"Be glad you don't have kids!"

    We're not clueless. We've been seated at the restaurant next to the loud messy family with the screaming disobedient children. We've sat on plane rides with the toddler that constantly kicks our seat, seen the mom who hasn't had more than 3 hours of sleep for the past 5 months. We know they're messy and loud, that they cry and puke, that our lives will change drastically when (if) we have kids. Please don't downplay our loss by making your blessing sound more like a curse.
    Also, don't make this comment in front of your children. I know someone who constantly tells me as she gathers up her kids for dinner or the drive home "You're so lucky you don't have kids." If I had ever heard my mother tell someone over and over "You're so lucky you don't have kids." I would have been hurt beyond words.


"Be glad you get to sleep in!" or "Enjoy the time you have to travel, go to dinner, etc"

    This is like telling someone whose father just died that they're lucky because they no longer have to buy father's day cards.


"Just relax."

    My' favorite'. One of the the cruelest, most ignorant comments a person can make (honesty here people, there's not enough of it. Sorry I refuse to just 'get over it' and say, "Well they mean well." BS!).
    Stress does not cause infertility. One study looked at 3,000 women from 10 different countries and found that high levels of emotional distress before a medicated/treatment cycle did not negatively affect the outcome. Let me repeat that:  high levels of emotional distress before a medicated/treatment cycle did not negatively affect the outcome. 
    To put it bluntly: stress didn't cause my miscarriages and stress isn't keeping me from getting pregnant.
    You should also consider what came first; the stress or the infertility. I wasn't stressed about getting pregnant until I saw that it wasn't happening.


"Maybe you're not meant to be parents" or "God doesn't want you to have kids [yet]."

    This one really hurts. Common sense should tell you that this doesn't make sense. If it's true, how can you explain why truly evil and abusive parents manage to have children? Sadly, being qualified for the job is not required.
    Please don't play God by telling us why we haven't conceived.


"As a parent, I think that....."

    These few words are so hurtful. They are said out of ignorance more so than malice, but I wish you knew how painful they are. Not only are they a reminder that we don't, or can't, have children, but it's a not-so-subtle way of saying that I'm ignorant and not qualified to join in your conversation or disagree with you simply because I haven't had the experience of giving birth. If someone is struggling with infertility, that means they've been trying for more than a year. During those many months we've researched pregnancy, motherhood, symptoms, labor, and hospital vs home births. We have a secret wish list on Target with the stroller and crib we want. Our nursery is ready to go on our private Pinterest board and Etsy list. I know what "crowning" means and I understand the controversy behind public breastfeeding and society's obsession with celebrity's postpartum baby bodies. I want to chat with you, to be involved in the conversation. To preface your comments towards me with, "As a parent..." you are telling me that my opinion is void and meaningless because I'm not physically capable of becoming a parent.


Don't complain about your pregnancy.

    I, and many others, would give almost anything to be pregnant. I think about being a mom every single day and mourn the children I cannot have. We also understand that not all pregnancies were planned, and not everyone squealed with joy when they saw that second line, or are excited about the huge life change that will be taking place in just a few short months.
    That being said, please don't complain about your pregnancy to someone when you know that they're having trouble getting pregnant. Don't sit across from us at the table and go on and on about how you're "trying so hard to actually be excited about this pregnancy", or "I cried when I found out I was pregnant, I really didn't want to have another baby", or "I'm so mad that it's a boy when I wanted a girl [and vice versa]", or "I don't know how we managed to get pregnant! We were using protection and everything, God must really want us to have a baby!" (This one really hurts because you're telling me that being infertile means God really doesn't want me to have a baby.)
    I understand that you may say these things to people that you don't realize are having trouble, and unfortunately that happens. But when you know the pain that someone is going through and you chose to sit there and talk about the curse of your fertility anyway, that's really hurtful. It's also ok to feel that way, but again, have compassion when speaking to someone who wants so badly to be a mother or father.


When someone says something about struggling with infertility, don't complain about being fertile.

    I recently put an article on Facebook called "It's None of Your Business How Many Kids I Have". The result was mothers with 4 + children talking about how much they hate people asking them why they have so many kids, if they're going to have more, etc. Yes, that is frustrating. But do you realize you just hijacked a post by someone who CAN'T have children? Who posted that article in hopes to stop the painful questions? Again, it's not that you aren't allowed to feel that way, but think about who you are speaking to before you say it. I don't complain about marriage being hard to a friend who wants desperately to be married, and you shouldn't complain about your kids to someone with infertility. I could go on and on, but instead I'll just leave you with a comment written by a dear friend of mine: 


"There is a HUGE difference in how the question is received by women who currently have children and by those who have experienced a loss or have not been able to conceive. Yes, as one who is already a mother, the question comes across as judging or quietly condemning. 
But as a woman who is trying to conceive, who is struggling every day, who may have had failed IVFs or miscarriages, that question isn't just invasive, it's PAINFUL AS HELL. It rips the bandage off the wound and exposes it. And how do you answer that question when you've had losses? How could you possibly answer that question in a way that won't create uncomfortable conversations or pitying looks? There isn't a way to respond that doesn't hurt, that doesn't ache. 
We need to never ask these questions. We need to be mindful that infertility is COMMON. And isolating. And sad. And it's none of anyone's goddamn business unless we want it to be (and quite frankly, we often choose to not share because people say the wrong things)."



"But you're so young!  You have time!"

    Actually we have a medical diagnosis of infertility. Meaning; no amount of time will give us a baby. Stop saying this. It's not encouraging and it hurts. It also comes across as negating the time that has already passed. 3 1/2 years is 3 1/2 years regardless of whether you are 23 or 43.



"At least you already have a child!" or "Be thankful for the one you have!"

    Secondary infertility. Infertility that comes after you've already had a child is a big deal to the women who face it. I don't personally suffer from this (now, though I may in the future), but I know that having a child or children wouldn't take away the pain of being unable to have more. And before you tell them to "be grateful" for the children they have, don't assume they don't. Couples who suffer from secondary infertility truly know what a blessing it is to have had a child. Believe it or not, but it is possible to be grateful for what you have and mourn what you don't at the same time.


"It could be worse. You could have cancer or something."

    This is about as comforting as telling someone who's mother just died that, "It could be worse. Both your parents could have died."
Interestingly enough, research has found that the emotional distress that women with infertility experience is not dissimilar to the distress experienced by those with cancer, HIV, and chronic pain.


"Don't give up! It will happen!"

    This seems like a reassuring thing to say, but it isn't. The problem with this is that it makes it sound inevitable that everything will work out in the end, but the truth is, it may not. "Don't worry, it'll happen," tends to be translated to "Stop complaining, it's not a big deal anyway."


    And finally, when someone's had a miscarriage:

"At least you know you can get pregnant!"

    It's sad that I even have to address this one. Do people not realize that it doesn't matter if you can get pregnant if you can't carry the baby to term? My own doctor said that to me after my miscarriage last July. It didn't make me feel better, in fact it broke my heart. Even if I can get pregnant again, I lost a child. I will never get that baby back. And I will carry that child with the fear that it could happen again. A woman at church told me that it was in fact good I had a miscarriage because the left over hormones will be good for the baby when I get pregnant right away, again because that's what happened to her. I haven't been able to speak to her since.
    There's not much more I'm going to say on that comment, because I shouldn't have to. Please use common sense.

_______________________________________________________



    So what should you do if you have a friend that is going through infertility?

Use Google.
    Do some research about what they're going through; medications, IUI, IVF, sperm morphology and motility, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies, or even just the basics of reproduction. It's sad how many people truly have no idea about how their body works.

Act Interested.
    Some women don't want to talk about infertility, but some of us do. We're going through hell, and we want you to be genuinely interested in our ovaries, how it feels to give ourselves daily injections, what the fertility drugs are doing to us, our emotions when we see another pregnancy announcement on facebook, and how we deal on a day to day basis.
    You might have no idea what progesterone is, what an HSG is, what IUI stands for or entails, how medications work, or how to track your ovulation and luteal phase, but we're happy to explain it to you. Others wanting to know helps us feel normal and less alone.
    Ask me how I'm doing, and mean it.

Don't offer advice unless I ask.
    This one's important. Just read the above list and you'll know why.

Let me know that you care; listen, and let me cry.
    I cried in the middle of church yesterday while I was holding a friend's baby. My husband and my pastor stood with me and just let me cry. They didn't rebuke me or tell me to get over it. I was embarrassed, but I needed it, and I'm so thankful that I have people in my life who will let me cry without making me feel like a lesser person.

Light a candle, say a prayer.
    National Infertility Awareness Week is April 20-26. Light a candle for your friends, and keep praying for us. We need it.

    It really all comes down to common sense and courtesy. Think before you speak. You might just be saving someone you care about a lot of pan.



"A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in a time of need."
Proverbs 17:17


Friday, April 11, 2014

Oceans

Music speaks to me in a way that nothing else can. I love that God gave that to me.
 I feel closer to Him in song that I do at any other time.
I want to share the songs that give me hope, the songs that represent so well the way I'm feeling right now.

_______________________________________________

Oceans by Hillsong United

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine







Monday, April 7, 2014

20

20
     It's the number of months I've been trying to have a baby. I hate the number 20, and next month I'll hate the number 21. It's the number of months I've felt alone. The number of months I've endured the question that anyone struggling with infertility dreads; 

"When are you guys going to have kids?"

    It's the number of months that I've thought of lies and witty retorts designed to discourage that question. 

"I don't know, how's your sex life?"
"We don't want children."
"I have a dog, that's all I need."
"I don't want anything I can't lock in a dog crate."
"9 months after I get pregnant."
"Kids are gross."

And the answer I contemplate using:

"I don't know if I can even have children."

    But I know that if I tell the truth, I'll be met with awkwardness, silence, pity, and the stories about your mothers, sister's, nieces, cousin's former roommate who tried for 6 years and finally got pregnant because she 'just relaxed and rolled in the wet spot' (no, I'm not being dramatic. This has been said).

Just relax.

    Oh how I hate those two words. I don't know that there are two more hurtful words than those. No, that's not true, there are. But not many make me as angry. I've never before felt the level of anger as I did when a woman with 6 [unplanned] children in 8 years told me that I needed to relax.

"Just relax. You're too stressed out, that's why you can't get pregnant."

    Well guess what? I did relax. For the first year I was relaxed, having fun, and enjoying the thought of starting a family within the next few months. I told myself that it's ok, it can take up to a year. This is normal. Well we aren't normal. 

     And it's not our fault. We're not infertile because we're tense. We're not infertile because we drank a soda yesterday. We're not infertile because our chicken isn't free range and our veggies aren't organic. We're infertile because we have a disease. A disease that can't be cured by a spa day and massage. 

    Maybe we'll conceive naturally with enough time. I hope so. The thought of more medicine, invasive procedures, shots, and expensive doctors visits sound like more than I can handle right now. Last night I felt ok. Peaceful. Today I've lost hope. It's a lonely journey, but I know that God grieves with me. He didn't kill my baby and he doesn't keep my children from me. It's the product of an imperfect, fallen world and He grieves right along with me, just like He will rejoice when I finally hold my baby in my arms.


The Pain

The pain of seeing another ultrasound, gender reveal, and newly decorated nursery.
Another pregnancy announcement, another baby shower, another reminder.
A reminder that I should have a baby in my arms, but I don't.
I'm not even pregnant.
Sometimes I think it's unbearable. 
Trusting God is hard, and a lot of times I don't. The times I do are the best. I feel such peace, love, trust. 
I'm ok. 
Until I'm not. 
Like today.
Today I'm not ok.
I really shouldn't stalk people I used to know on facebook. Let's face it, this is the time in life when everyone is starting their families, and I'm bound to see ultrasounds everywhere I go. I want to know, but I don't.
It hurts.
It physically hurts.
Sometimes I think I can feel my heart actually breaking.
There are days when the tears don't stop, and days where I think I'm ok.

It's not the kind of sadness where you cry all the time, more like the sadness that overwhelms your entire body, leaving your heart aching and your stomach empty.
 Making you feel weak and tired.
 Yet you can't even sleep because the sadness is in your dreams, too.
It's a sadness that you can't escape.

It's harder when people don't understand. When they blame you, without realizing it. When they try to relate to it and all you can do is think, "Really? You think that's what this is like because you're past you're due date and you just want that baby out of you?"
You have no idea.
I remember when we were at about 8 months of trying. I thought it was so hard. Ha! 
That was months and months ago.
 I had no idea.

There are so many people who have cried more, tried longer, and hoped harder. Sometimes I feel guilty for being so sad, but the thing is, it's sad no matter what. The pain is always there when you know it won't happen easily, if at all.


I want to trust God. It's easier when I do. 
But today I'm losing hope.
Tomorrow will be better.

__________________________________________

This is the last cycle before our 2014 baby slips away. Sure, we could get pregnant, God can do all things, but we probably won't. It's hard, knowing we won't have a baby this year. 
But the months pass, and now our hope turns towards yet another year.
 2016.
It goes on and on.
The hope hurts, and you start to wonder if it's worth it.
Feeling broken.
Always broken.

"You can only come to the morning through the shadows." 
J.R.R. Tolkien



The Story of Me

   My husband and I were married in 2011, and ditched the birth control in August of 2012. We were so excited, and a little scared. After all, we were going to get pregnant right away! Yeah right. Life has a funny way of turning on you.
    As the months began to pass us by I started to worry. "It can take a healthy couple up to a year. Right? Yeah, that's what all the articles say. There's nothing to worry about!" That thought didn't always end the pain of another failed month, but it did keep me from running off to the doctor seeking premature treatment (which I'm still glad I didn't do, regardless of where I'm at today). Month 11 finally rolled around and I was so discouraged. I began researching local Reproductive Endocrinologists and fertility clinics, dreading the appointments to come. We decided to visit home that weekend and my sister in law, knowing that we were trying, gave me a test and told me to take it because she didn't need it. If you're trying to get pregnant, a good rule is to never turn down a free test. The next morning I decided to use it. "My period is due today anyway and it's not like I'm pregnant. I hate having tests lying around, mocking me. I'm just going to use it and get it out of my sight."
    Well what do you know? It was positive! Faint, but obvious. I was in shock, thinking that surely this couldn't be real. All the sadness of the past year was worth it, I was going to be a mom. No, I was a mom. Anyone who's been pregnant can tell you, that once you see that test, whether it results in a baby or not, something in you changes forever, and you will always be a mom.
    Tyler was away and wasn't going to be home until the next day, and I wasn't about to break this news over the phone or a text. I rushed to Target (because, duh, Target) and picked out a little onesie, a card, and another test to confirm. I had been cramping a little bit that afternoon, but lots of people cramp when they're pregnant, it was nothing to worry about. I had already called my best friend because I just had to tell somebody. We gushed and squealed and did happy dances.
    As I drove to my grandparent's house to eat dinner and then go to a movie with my dad, the cramping got worse. Not 30 minutes later I began to bleed. I called my midwife, who reassured me that many women spot during pregnancy, it was probably fine, and to keep her posted. The pain continued to increase until it had me doubled over in my grandparent's bathroom, struggling to compose myself. I knew it was over. I texted Tyler and my best friend, letting them know what had happened and asking for prayers.
    After I had cleaned myself up, I put on a brave face, got in the car, and went to the movie with my dad. It was so hard, but none of it had really set in yet. I guess that was kind of a blessing.
    Tyler got home the next day and carried on as if nothing had happened. I was so hurt and confused. He didn't understand the term 'chemical pregnancy' (which I now think is so stupid. It's a miscarriage. I was pregnant, my baby died, it doesn't matter how early it was.) and thought that it meant the test was faulty and I was never pregnant. I didn't understand why he wasn't upset, why he didn't seem to care. I came to him in tears and asked why he couldn't care less that I lost our baby. He finally understood and held me all night long, letting me cry until I didn't think I had any tears left, and then cry some more.
    The next morning I got a call from another one of my close friends. She had some really exciting news for us! She was pregnant, and her due date was the exact same day that mine would have been. I realized that weekend what a good actor I was. I guess I really missed my calling in life. As she gushed about their news, I rejoiced with her, asking how she was feeling, what their plans were, how her husband was feeling about the whole thing (it was unplanned, more salt in my wound). I didn't mention the fact that I was currently losing my baby because I didn't want to darken her day, and she was so excited. I didn't blame her, I would have been, I had been, too.
    I won't pretend like the pain went away, but it has gotten easier to deal with over time.
   
    Fast forward to December 2013. I didn't make an appointment with the RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) after my miscarriage because we got pregnant once, surely we could get pregnant again. After all, everyone was telling me how much more fertile you are after a miscarriage (let me just say that this is a really stupid thing to say to anyone, let alone someone who just had a miscarriage. I did tell you I was going to be real with you, didn't I?) Well, it's not true, and we didn't get pregnant again. As eager as I was to be a mom, I was just as scared to make the call. When I finally did, I was astonished at how fast they got me in. I was beginning to get really excited! At my appointment I talked with the PA and she scheduled some blood work. I was so happy! We were finally getting the ball rolling and going to find out what was wrong! After I got my blood drawn and the results came back normal, a nurse called me and said that there was nothing more they could do for me. "What? I'm not ignorant, I know that there are many more tests that need run. How can this be it?"   
     Well, it turns out that you have to wait at least a year after your last pregnancy, regardless of whether you carried the baby to term or not, to seek help from a doctor. I was stunned. I couldn't even speak, so I just hung up the phone and cried. The next day I called back and asked if there was something we could do, something we could work out. After all, 17 months with one miscarriage isn't normal, no matter what insurance wants to say to get out of paying. You know what that nurse said to me? "Sorry, you're out of luck."
    Out of luck.
    I didn't even care that I was still on the phone, I cried like I had never cried before. That morning two friends had told me that they were pregnant, and now I was being told that we had to wait until our 2 year mark to even seek testing.
     For the next 4 or 5 weeks I was in a major funk. I didn't leave the house, didn't speak to my friends, and didn't go to my Wednesday bible study that I looked forward to every week. Eventually I got out of it, I've learned to accept the fact that I'm 'out of luck' until August and some days even find the positives in having to wait, but deep down I know that I would give up everything I have to distract me this summer in order to have my baby.

    My due date was March 29, 2014.

 
But if not, He is still good.