12.31.2013

2013, In Review

As I did last year, I thought I'd create a summary of posts from this year by picking a favorite from each month and linking to it here. Also, if you are really bored, you can click on the month name and it will take you to all of the posts from that month.

Happy New Year!

January - I wrote about the children we don't have and how I was Missing Them.

February - I only had one post, as I wrote about Entering the Desert and began a blogging and social media fast for Lent.

March - I also only had one post in March, as I reflected on Emerging from my fast.

April - As "April Fools' Day" jokes caused hurt, I reflected on My Pain.

May - After a crazy cycle I reflected on hope, and how sometimes It Just Hurts.

June - As I pondered how infertility could be a good thing, Ecce Fiat's question of "A ripple effect, maybe?" led me to realize that it is in many ways and, as I wrote, my eyes were opened as I responded, A Ripple Effect? Definitely!

July - Oh, July was tough to pick just one, and since this is my blog, I can change the rules :) and pick two :). I reflected in a 4 part series, beginning with The Barren Visitation on a retreat experience I had and I paid tribute to our sweet godson, Gregory.

August - I was Celebrating Hope, as I was determined to share the full picture of infertility, not just the hard days.

September - I realized that I had to learn to align my wants with What He Wants.

October - Of course, it is the Marine Corps Marathon Recap!

November - I got to meet Donna! And it was Just What I Needed.

December - I asked What if God Says No? and reflected on other "big" things.

12.26.2013

"For a Child is Born to Us" (Isaiah 9:6)

A house-full of people. Laughter. Conversation. Drinks. Food. Lots of food. Gift wrap and bows.

A table so long it extended out of the dining room. Out the back door and in the front door to let the pups in. 14 grown-ups. 2 small ones.

That was our house on Christmas Eve.

Just the way I like it. Full. Loud. Overflowing with people, food, and love.

Somehow though, amidst all the busyness, there were moments of sadness, when our infertility snuck up on me and I felt the heaviness. Like when opening gifts and my Nan, again, offers her thoughts on my running. I couldn't just "take it", I clearly told her my doctor knows I run and it's not a problem. Rather than apologize, she just says "oh, you heard me?" Fortunately my common sense kicked in before my anger bubbled over. She is 85. She has a different perspective from a different time. She means well. And before I could dwell, there was another gift being opened to draw my attention and pull me out of myself.

Then there was during dinner, I looked up and saw everyone around our table, The Man at the head, leading our prayer. The joy in my heart was bittersweet. I loved the full table, I loved listening to The Man pray for God's blessings, but I wanted it to be full of our children. Full of our grandchildren some day. I fought those tears hard and I won, mostly because it was time to explain what everything was and I could slip back into "hostess" mode and could not be in "infertile wife" mode.

A few times over the day I found myself alone in the kitchen and I felt the loneliness. I felt the emptiness of my body; the brokenness. Each time, something ready to be stirred or someone needing something rescued me from my tears before they spilled over.

And so the afternoon and evening went.

Around 10:00, everyone headed home and The Man and I did a little bit of cleaning up. I sat down to practice my reading for Mass. I read it three or four times and then headed up to get ready for Midnight Mass.

We arrived for the 11:30 Christmas Eve Carol Service and it was a perfect way to transition from the business of a house full of people and doing for others into the prayer of the Mass. As the proclamation of the birth of Jesus was chanted, chills came over me and a sense of calm that I'd not felt in a while.

It wasn't until I was standing at the ambo, proclaiming the First Reading (Isaiah 9:1 - 6) that the words of the reading finally sunk in (this isn't unusual for me), specifically these words:

For a child is born to us, a son is given us.

And in that split second, all of those hopes for our own miracle washed over me. The irony that I was reading those words as I was feeling the cramps that were reminding me of another failed cycle was not lost on me. The anger that once again, I, an infertile woman, am proclaiming scripture about a miraculous birth. And then, the whisper of words from my retreat this summer: mystical fertility is more important than physical fertility, echoed somewhere deep in my soul. It all happened within a split second, noticeable only to me (there are many times when my choleric temperament is truly a gift). 

As Mass continued, I continued to hear whispers, first from the second reading (The grace of Goad has appeared, saving all...to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ) and then from the Gospel (Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy...a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.) Finally, Father's homily, challenging and beautiful. And a reminder of this mystical fertility to which we are all called. Focusing on bringing forth Christ into our lives and world, that it is our responsibility to make sure Jesus is born for every generation.

I wish I'd spent this morning hiding that stick with two pink lines in The Man's stocking instead of seeing the drastic temperature drop that confirms the cramping and BB of the past two days are indeed the opening act for AF (I wasn't surprised, it was just one more reminder, just as when AF fully arrived, that I am still infertile). I wish, as I'd read those lines at Mass, I'd had the best kind of secret to be sharing soon, that a child was going to be born to us, a son or daughter. For whatever reason, those wishes are not being granted. These prayers for a child continue to be answered with a "no."

I am hearing Him very clearly, but I am resisting it. Like a child being told what she doesn't want to hear, I am sticking my fingers in my ears and shouting "I can't hear you; I can't hear you!" Except, His voice comes from that place inside me where I've invited Him in, and it cannot be shouted down or tuned out. He is calling me to mystical fertility rather than physical fertility. I don't know if it is a permanent call, but it is clearly the call for this day. There is joy in this, joy that we all share in our call to bring forth Christ to the world. There is peace in this, peace that we all share in our confidence in our Savior. There is sorrow in this. Sorrow that comes from letting go of what I want and finding a way to want what He wants, for as long as He wants it.

He is the same.

Wonder-Counselor. God-Hero. Father-Forever. Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9)

He is the same.

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord. (Psalm 96)

12.23.2013

He is the Same

God is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow.

I wish I could ignore the headache, the cramping, the spotting.

He is the same.

But I can't.

He is the same.

If AF isn't here when I wake up tomorrow (Christmas Eve), she'll be here on Christmas morning.

He is the same.

I know I could have it worse, but this just sucks.

He is the same.

As if her arrival isn't enough, I'm having back cramps and leg pain - which I haven't had for a while.

He is the same.

Wonder if these are signs that the endometriosis is back?

He is the same.

I had a good cry on my drive home from work. I suspect it is just the start of the tears.

He is the same.

Tomorrow, The Man and I are hosting 15 people and then I am a reader at Midnight Mass.

He is the same.

On Sunday, we'll head to my Dad's for the day.

He is the same.

I just want to close myself in my bedroom with a case of wine.

He is the same.

Somehow, someway I will find hope and joy in Christmas.

He is the same.

12.19.2013

Advent and Infertility: Wait or Prepare?

This Advent has been tough, in lots of ways. There is the usual sadness and dread that has accompanied all major (and minor) holidays for the last 3 years, for sure. Yet, this year there has been the ultrasound series and blood work coupled with a busier work schedule than I anticipated. There is also this: Christmas Day will be P+15 of an unmedicated cycle. I have a very strict "no testing" rule. I've only broken it once and that served as a good reminder why I don't test.

But.

To sneak downstairs to start the water for The Man's coffee and on my way past the mantel slip a test with two lines on it into The Man's stocking that hangs there. That, my friends, would be the best way I could possibly imagine to spend Christmas morning.

But.

To take that test and see only one line? To truly put to test my Advent prayer of "God is the same no matter what" on Christmas morning. Do I even dare risk it?

I will have to make a decision before Christmas morning as there are no tests in our house.

----------

When I was at Mass last weekend, you know, Gaudete Sunday? The one I've had a love/hate relationship with over the last couple of years? Yep, that one. Well, I thought I was safe because it was a small Mass for couples preparing for marriage and I trusted the priest would do a homily on, well, marriage. He did not disappoint, only he also stirred something in me that I have been reflecting on ever since.

So often we talk about Advent as a season of waiting. Those of us who are infertile often feel that this is the only part of the seasons of Advent and Christmas we can relate to, this waiting for a baby (both a physical baby for us and for the Baby Jesus). Father, in speaking to the engaged couples, focused instead on preparing. Of course this made perfect sense as engaged couples are certainly preparing for their wedding days and their marriages. But something stirred within me, a question that was almost like my soul whispering to itself: Have I been waiting or preparing over these past years?

On a practical sense, I have been doing both. Preparing for pregnancy and motherhood both prayerfully and physically. Waiting for my prayer to be answered in the way that *I* want. Each cycle my body prepares to ovulate and then I wait to see if conception occurred.

And spiritually, I have done both as well. There are times when I have actively prepared by seeking out spiritual direction or increasing my prayer life. But there have been times when I have waited. When I have sat back and said "I'm here, God. I'm waiting for You." I've been waiting for Him to let me know He does indeed see this pain I'm in; waiting for Him to work His miracle and allow us to conceive; waiting for Him to explain why we must all go through this.

And then, I started to think about that big question of "What if God Says No?" So many of you commented so kindly on my post about how this question is so much bigger than just related to infertility. That there are so many things in our lives that we ask this question about. And I started to wonder if during this time that has felt mostly like waiting, waiting for a child, waiting for motherhood, if maybe He hasn't been preparing me, and all of us, for something more?

I realized of course He has been. We are all created for something more than this life. We are created for God, for heaven. This whole life is preparation for that life. We have a choice to only sit back and wait or to only step forward and prepare, but we also have a choice to do both. To take our time where we sit back, we reflect, we mourn, we wait for Him to move in our lives but to also do our part, to step out in faith and to prepare for Him.

Infertility can teach us how to do this. How to both prepare and wait all at the same time. I've often lamented this piece of the journey, about how difficult it is to plan for one life while trying to live another. It is not for the faint of heart, of that I am sure. And yet, as I've heard the word "prepare" echo in my heart and mind over the past few days, the whisper of "wait" has been there too. Isn't this what we are all doing with this whole existence? Are we not preparing for heaven, preparing to meet God, preparing for that which we are created while waiting for it to happen?

The key, I think, to doing this is being open to this two-fold process of preparation and waiting. Of activity and passivity all rolled into one. I am struck again at how our Catholic faith so beautifully teaches us to embrace both/and over either/or.

----------

So, what will I do on Christmas morning?

Well, if I am to take my own reflection seriously, I must first prepare, so I will make sure there are tests in the house.

I will then wait.

I can't promise I will test, that will be a decision I suspect I can only make when I wake up on Christmas morning.

Yes, this Advent has been tough in a lot of ways, but I am learning to trust and believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Regardless of my Christmas morning, He has come. We are redeemed. We have Hope. He will come again.

Infertility is teaching me how to prepare and to wait in that Hope, despite the sorrows of this life.

12.17.2013

Winners!

I was a little late in closing comments and selecting winners from my blogoversary post, but here is who random (dot) org selected!

So, Stephanie, please email me your color preference and snail mail address and I will send your ornament to you.

And Susan, if you will email me your mailing address, I will send yours as well!

My email is rebeccawvu02 at gmail dot com

Congratulations ladies! And thank-you to everyone for playing :) and most importantly for reading and praying!

12.13.2013

Quick Takes


Happy Friday!!! These are truly "Quick Takes" as they are all over the place, topic wise.

1. Still hard to believe it's been 5 years of blogging for me. Before this blog, I was never a journal-er or diary keeper. Ever. While there is a lot here that is published and public, there is also a lot that isn't. I also have written journals from the past 2 years or so as well. While I sometimes cringe when going back through my archives at things I said and/or the way I said them, I love having the history and can see growth and also see the ebb and flow of life. It helps to remind me that the hard times won't stick around forever. And just in case you missed it yesterday, go here for the give-away post!

2. I survived my first semester of Grad School (again!). I got an "A-" in my Philosophy for Theologians course and an "A" in my Synoptic Gospels course. I really enjoyed both courses and learned a lot. I'm not gonna lie, my brain hurts and I have a lot to work on RE: Time Management for Spring 2013. I am taking two more courses next semester: Fundamentals of Moral Theology I and One and Triune God. I've already printed the syllabus for each course and yikes! Wonder if there is a "Cliff's Notes" version of the Summa Theologica....

3.

Football season has also come to a close. From my lack of writing about it, one might wonder if there was a football season. It was a rough year. All the way around. We lost games we should have won. We lost games we should have lost. It was just rough. Many fans are calling for our head coach and athletic director to be fired. I'm not sure that either one of those is a prudent decision. A lot of "new" has happened over the past couple of seasons and to make major changes before we can see where this "new" is taking us could be disastrous. But so could not making major changes. Only time will tell, and I think we have to give the current system one more season. In the meantime, in case you were wondering, The Man and I did faithfully use our season tickets this year - even the last game. In the cold. When even a win wouldn't get us into a bowl game. We stayed to the end. To watch us blow a 21 - point lead and lose in triple over time. See? I told you it was a rough year.

4. I'm mid-way through my FMS. The good news is that I did indeed ovulate. I am glad to say that for the first time in all of this my "gut" instinct was wrong. I usually prefer to be "right", but I'm OK with being wrong in this case. I have a lot more thoughts about this, but there isn't much order to them and the emotions run the gamut of extremes, so I'll have to get a better handle on all of it before I just start rambling. For now, I'm just trying to focus on the positive that for the first time I can cross something off the list rather than put a check mark beside it.

5.  The weekend is Gaudete Sunday. The last two years I've felt anger and overwhelming sadness. While I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hopeful for this cycle, something about *knowing* you ovulated has a way of doing that, I think my overwhelming feeling this weekend is numbness. I feel like there is an onslaught of emotions just under the surface that I'm not letting out. I'm sure they'll come out at some point, I'm just hoping it's in the form of tears and not some stupid spaz out on The Man.

6. Three years ago, I decided I wasn't buying my parents or The Man's parents any more "stuff" for holidays or birthdays. It started with tickets for my Dad for Christmas to go see his college basketball team play and has continued with tickets to ball games, gift certificates to dinners, tickets to musicals, pedicures and more. This Sunday, my Dad and I are heading to Philadelphia to go to a Beach Boys concert. They are his favorite band and I've been hoping to be able to get these tickets since I very first had this idea. The Beach Boys just hadn't been close by over the past years. But they were this year! He was so touched when he opened his birthday card back in October, he could barely say thank-you. I started this plan before we knew my Dad had cancer and it was the best decision I could have made. The extra time we've spent with our parents has truly been priceless. I'm sure I'll have pictures of our trip sometime next week!

7. Running. Hmm, I think I still do that. I'm registered for a half marathon in May (Pittsburgh again), so I'll have to do at least some training - ha! Seriously though, I haven't run since the marathon on 10/26 - that's almost 6 weeks now. I did have to put forth some serious effort to get finished with my graduate classes on time and then, quite honestly, it's just been too cold. If I had stayed in my routine of running, I wouldn't be such a wimp about it. I'm hoping for a short warm spell next week to get me going again. My CD of photos from the marathon arrived, so I expect there will be a photo dump of those on FB sometime soon as well.

Well, I'm out of takes, so have a great weekend! Don't forget to visit Jen for more Quick Takes!


12.12.2013

Blogoversary Thoughts & Giveaway

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

And, Happy Blogoversary to this here corner o' the web!

Five years ago, completely oblivious to the fact that this is a pretty awesome Feast Day, I started blogging. I was really Catholic in name only and headed down a pretty scary path. How things change....

I'm still a little surprised that there is anything here after that first post. I'm even more surprised at *what* is here. I didn't start blogging to document our "reversion" and I didn't start blogging to share intimate details of my life with the world and that's all here. I thought I'd post about football games and other nonsense that goes on in our life with a photo here and there of our furbabies, and well, that's here too. I guess I was half-right :).

I love my little *spot* on the web and I am so grateful to all of you for being a part of it. Whether you comment regularly, occasionally, or never, your presence here is a blessing to me and I am thankful for you! And to show my gratitude, as I did a couple of years ago, I have a fun give-away. Also like a couple of years ago, it's probably not on your Christmas list, but it's very "me" and I think it *should* be on everyone's Christmas list :) and I hope that when putting on a tree each year, the winner knows of the gratitude and love that is behind it for all of the prayers and support that I've received in this space.



So, if you'd like to win, all you have to do to enter is comment :). And since there are 2, I'll pick 2 winners. The first winner can pick whether they want gold or blue. I'll leave the comments open until Monday afternoon some time and then pick Monday evening.

Good luck and thank-you!!!

12.10.2013

An Advent of Waiting

So full of hope and anxiety. Wanting a miracle and wondering how I will handle another disappointment?
Trying to remind myself that my ultimate hope must lie in Him, only in Him and that is how I will handle the disappointment should it come.

It is CD 13. I had my most recent FMS this morning

(For those who are wondering: FMS = follicular maturation scans- a series of ultrasounds where they watch and measure the growth of the dominant follicle up to and through ovulation. Practically speaking it means a trans.va.ginal ultrasound on CD 5, again on CD 10 and then either every other or every day depending on growth. For me it's meant on CD 6 and CD 9 (scheduling challenges with lab) and then CD 11 and 13 and now every day until ovulation has occurred, most likely 3 - 4 more days. It could also be until a lutenized-unrupture follicle is diagnosed (LUF).)

So far, the actual process itself has been going very well. The lady who has done 3 of my 4 (and will do the rest) of my scans is a gift from God. Truly. I'm already trying to figure out what to get her for Christmas. The first day, while admitting she had never seen orders like these before, she said "but I want to get this just right for you and your doctor, since so much of your future depends on it." Um, yea. I almost burst into tears and hugged her right then. I did smile and try to express how genuinely grateful I was with my facial expression.

When she saw the follicle on CD 9, she smiled from ear to ear. I think she was more excited than I was! And then today, equal excitement as she saw the growth and gave me the measurements: 1.9 x 2.0. (millimeters, I think)

It was last Tuesday, CD 5, in the afternoon that I found myself overwhelmed with anxiety and almost burst into tears sitting at my desk. I had been thinking how well everything had gone for the initial scan, how grateful I was for Rita (oh yea, her name is Rita. There is a small statue of St. Rita on my mantel, given to me by our friend Cody almost 2 years ago. Yes, I'm asking for St. Rita's intercession.) and how this might not all be so bad after all (this is another post, why I was so resistant to the FMS for so long). But then, it came out of nowhere, the anxiety and the tears that I had to fight back. (Thank-you again to those of you in the FB group who prayed, truly, you were life savers that day.)

And so it has come and gone. This anxiety.

I can't figure out which is worse: finding out that I ovulate normally or finding out that I do not ovulate normally. I'm honestly trying hard not to "figure" at all. I'm trying hard to remind myself that God is God, regardless of the outcome of the tests or this cycle. That whether this results in our first BFP or in finding out I do not ovulate normally, that God is the same. I find myself repeating that almost subconsciously throughout the day "He is the same; He is the same; He is the same."

I could "what if" both myself and you to death right about now. I even talked in my sleep last night, for the first time in a long time according to The Man, a sure sign that I am anxious and worrying.

I am trying to not think through the ramifications of every possible outcome, of finding out I ovulate normally and conceiving; and not conceiving; and of finding out I do not ovulate normally. I'm trying to keep things in perspective, I'm on no medications, I'm almost 2 years post-op, including having my tubes opened, and the BB has been consistently present. But, then there is this: God can heal us. Yes, trying to keep it all in perspective.

This Advent has certainly become one of waiting, and it is not lost on me that, one way or the other, my waiting for this cycle will come to an end right after Christmas.

Yes, He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever.

It is for Him I wait.

12.02.2013

What if God Says No?

I've been trying to wrap my mind around a lot of "big" thoughts lately. I think it is why I've been so restless in my prayer life, so prone to tears, and feeling so lost and hopeless. Despite my insistences when I was meeting with Fr. D that I was going in circles while he was trying to explain to me that we are moving forward and we are following Jesus, which is what led to him saying I was feeling hopeless which led to tears, lots of tears because I felt he was right, I think I am starting to see that it's a little bit of both - circles and moving forward.

Some of these thoughts include:

What if God says "no"? (title of post with permission from Donna for hijacking her blog name)
As we crossed year three of TTC (I do realize many of you have been at this much longer than me, for whatever reason this "anniversary" just seemed big. I don't really know how to explain it and I'm very aware you're probably thinking I need to get over myself, I promise, I am trying.), I found myself really feeling the weight of this question, really letting it sink in and allowing it to enter my conscience thoughts and emotions. Each month during the 2WW, the hopes and dreams have become clearer and stronger, and yet I've felt like God is saying "trust me" and "give them to me", literally asking me to lay down this dream at the foot of His cross. I will admit, I'm scared to death of doing this. Scared that if I lay the dreams down somehow I will forget about them and they will never be realized; that by letting go of my white knuckle grip on them, The Man and I will never be parents. I realize this points to a lack of trust in Him and I'm working on it. Those moments of being able to picture a good life without children were disappearing, and I found myself controlled by the emotional roller coaster of my physical cycle. Even writing about Hope and saying all the right words about how hope for earthly things must point to our ultimate Hope, I now realize I was still hyper-focused on the hope for an earthly thing, for a child. If I'm honest, I still am. Which leads me to...

Am I Turning a Child Into an Idol?
Am I taking the desire that is written on my heart, in my soul for God and turning it inward into a desire for a child? I do think the desire for motherhood also comes from Him, but what comes from Him and what is for Him are two different things.  Am I allowing the disappointments that come with not conceiving to affect my relationship with God? Absolutely. This is why I resist the quiet time with God, because in the quiet I must trust Him and I must give up my idols. I cannot wear my mask when it's "just us", no matter how hard I cling to it, He sees and He knows and He's asking me to take it off. When taking our medical "break", it was easier to remind myself to focus on God most days, there weren't constant temptations in the form of a medication or an appointment that drew my attention to my desire for a child rather than my desire for Him. As I start with ultrasounds and blood draws this week, I have already allowed myself to focus intently on the child I desire, comparing my chart to my calendar and seeing that the days that should be most "fertile" are all days I will be home. Good for getting ultrasounds done and getting answers, bad for leading to a calm 2WW that should end just in time for Christmas morning. I'm hearing Him ask me to give this all to Him, I'm just not saying "yes." Which leads me to...

God's Perfect Timing
Will I only open my heart to see His perfect timing if my prayers are answered in the way I want them to be? Will it be upon finally seeing a BFP or answering a phone call that I then say "it all makes sense now?" and "all of the waiting was worth it."? Well, of course it would make sense then; it would all have been worth it, but, again, what if God says no? What if my prayers are not answered in the way I want? Will I still see His perfect timing? Most of the posts and comments along these lines always come from someone who is now holding a smiling child - or two or more. Is it only in the "after" that I will be able to see God at work in my life? And what if there is no "after", if there is no child, will I, with as much joy and peace as I would with a child in my arms, be able to say "God is good and His timing is perfect?" Will I be able to say "God's timing was never and it was all worth it?" In the moments when I'm not idolizing motherhood, this is what I idolize, the moment of peace; the moment of peace; the moment of it all making sense. Which leads me to...

Why?
This small, yet huge, question has remained hidden deep within me for most of the past 3 years. In the past few weeks, I've been realizing that I was comfortable in my circular pattern of hope - disappointment - hope because when I was only focusing on it, I didn't have to really think about where Jesus was leading me; more importantly I didn't, don't have to think about why he is leading me there. I realize that asking the question "why?" in regards to good or bad things happening in our lives generally only leads to a bad place of either pride or despair. Yet, is it not the ultimate surrender to not ask why? Is it not the ultimate sign of trust to just follow without asking where or why or how or when? I thought I was trusting and surrendering, but really, I was shoving this question of "why" away. I was following, but leaving my trail of breadcrumbs behind me, not trusting, not surrendering. Which leads me to...

Well, I'm not entirely sure. This is where I am. I'm coming to realize that there probably aren't answers for these, at least not the kind I want. I see and am grateful that I have made progress from where I was this time last year, but I'm starting to understand that with progress in this spiritual journey requires the need to go ever deeper. That there isn't really a moment of "Ok, I got this", that there are plateaus and times to rest, but we won't ever fully get it until we are in heaven. Those words are so easy to say, and so hard to live.

11.29.2013

The Medical Plan Begins

AF was her usual nasty self and arrived on Thanksgiving. I was expecting her thanks to the lovely warning of BB she gives me for a week each cycle, but still, Thanksgiving just seemed a bit unnecessary.

This morning, I figured no one would be at Dr. D's office in order to get my order for the Follicular Maturation Series (FMS) and that would mean waiting until the next cycle in January which is a bit of a scheduling nightmare. This annoyance then turned into my awesome "flight" response kicking in and starting to think maybe this just isn't what we should be doing and we should just give up all together. Just about the time I had that thought, a new email popped up in my inbox, from one of the FCPs at Dr. D's office! So, I now have my first ultrasounds scheduled for Tuesday (CD 6, the appointments on Monday/CD 5 were right in the middle of the day and I really need to go to work on Monday, but Tuesday they had morning appointments and CD 6 was an OK day, so I went with it). That was followed up by the email for the orders for my blood work/hormone panel to begin on CD 10.

As peaceful as I thought I felt in those moments where I was thinking that this just isn't what we should be doing, as soon as that first email came back, I knew that peace wasn't of God, that it was a false peace. I am reminded of my session with Fr. D. when he was talking to me about discerning spirits and that when you are in a place of spiritual desolation it is not the time to alter plans, but to continue moving forward with those already in place. It seemed that as soon as I took this step forward on the "plan" in being able to schedule the appointment I felt a little better. I'm grateful for that and for the insight from our last session.

I'm very grateful to be moving forward, feeling very much like we are starting over, as in a lot of ways, we are. I am interested to see how things are different from my first hormone panel 2 years ago, and especially the insulin resistance numbers. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high that things look better, as the BB indicates that my progesterone is still low post-peak.

With this gratitude, though, comes the mixed emotions of wanting the answers that will potentially be provided, but also knowing that those answers could be bad news, specifically related to the FMS. I am as confident as I can be that if we didn't do this test I would look back in 10 years and regret it, so we are moving forward.

I also had a message on Wednesday from Dr. D's scheduler to schedule my next appointment. I didn't get the message until after she was gone for the day, so I will be calling on Monday to make that appointment. I had been wondering if they'd forgotten about me, as it seemed like it was getting late to schedule for January, so I was glad to get the phone call.

It is not lost on me that all of this will be happening during Advent. I'm trying not to have expectations that this year will be like last; I'm just trying to focus on that moment of surrender that allowed the grace to flow and to be open to where He is leading me this year. I know I will fail daily at this and I'll be offering up the moments of stress and anxiety that I'm sure will be a part of this whole process for all of you. I am once again, renewing my surrender, renewing my Fiat. If I've learned anything in this past year, it is that is the only way I'll make it through any of this.

11.26.2013

Just What I Needed

Sometimes you meet someone and it's like you've known them all your life.

Well, that's what happened on Saturday, see?

The Man, Me, Donna!, and Himself
Why, yes, the awesome lady next to me is Donna!!!!!

And yes, you should be jealous :).

She's awesome, and so his Himself!

We met for a trolley ride through the Christmas lights at Oglebay and then dinner.

What started with a hug that was more like one shared between long-separated friends than two people meeting for the first time continued on for nearly 6 hours. Even the boys hit it off right away (good thing too, because they were in for a long night if they didn't - ha!)!

There are no words for how badly I needed this evening. More than I realized, than I think I could have realized.

Donna's blog is titled "What if God Says No" and she has said in the past she started writing to give those of us still "in the trenches" of infertility hope, regardless of the outcome. Her blog has done that, but seeing her in person, talking to her, witnessing it - as I write this, I'm at a loss for words but my heart is a little less broken, and for that, I am more grateful than I could ever say.

11.16.2013

An Update of Sorts

I'm not sure where to start nor what I really have to say, if anything (well, we all know I usually have something to say).

I suppose letting you all know that I didn't do the FMS or blood-work this cycle. I don't have a good reason, I just didn't. I've barely even been charting, I'm P+ something, but I don't know what, maybe 5 or 6?

I met with Fr. D on Thursday and let's just say it led to him saying this: "It sounds like you are in a place of hopelessness. That is the worst place to be." And then just sitting with me as I cried and sobbed because I knew he was right. We did end up talking more and working through it some, and he gave me the Ignatian guide to discerning spirits, pointing out he thought I was in a place of desolation. I agreed.

The {adjusted} plan is to do the FMS and blood-work next cycle. The Man's job is to remind me and if I don't do it on CD 1, to call and schedule the u/s for CD 5 for me. (This is because I suspect I will just not do it again. No reason, I just won't. It's what I do when I get emotionally overwhelmed, I shut down and just don't do things.)

I also want you all to know I'm sorry I've been awful about commenting on your blogs lately. I am reading and praying for all of you, I promise. It honestly just feels like too much to comment. I realize that sounds awful, IS awful, and I'm so sorry. I am following and praying for you.

Today is my Nan's 85th birthday. We gathered for lunch and cake (she didn't want anything, saying "it's just another day." Um, no, it's not "just another day" when you turn 85!). As we sat down, I heard my Uncle (at the other end of the table) tell my Nan that they were praying for us every day to have a baby. My Nan then added her own two cents about why she thinks we aren't getting pregnant - my running. I just changed my drink order from wine to a {strong} bloody Mary and tried not to cry or yell or both. (And just in case anyone is wondering, my doctor knows I run and she's not told me to stop and it also does not impact my cycle - as evidenced by my charts - and keeps me sane, so yea, most likely not gonna happen.) We took photos after, one with me, my mom, and my Nan - 3 generations with a stab of sorrow because we used to take 4 generation photos with my Big Grandma and I so badly want another 4 generation photo...


Oh and there's been my Dad's birthday (of course I had a great plan of how I'd tell him if we'd been pregnant) and then Halloween (yea, we just left the porch light off) and Thanksgiving in 2 weeks, and then of course Christmas. So, yea.

And, the Mountaineers lost today. To Kansas. It was the first time in 27 games Kansas had won a Big 12 conference football game. Even the Mountaineers are failing me. (I realize to some of you this seems stupid, and I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter, but, well, just read this: Why I Need Football and maybe it will help me seem a little less crazy.)

I find myself at Mass these days literally begging God to be near, begging Him to let me feel His presence and His peace. I've managed to find (because again, when I'm emotionally overwhelmed, I just don't do things) at least a few minutes most days to sit in silence and pray. Usually when I do it is a steady stream of tears and nothing else. Not really sobs, though sometimes those are there too, but the kind of tears that just stream from my eyes and down my cheeks, almost as if they have a life all their own.

I realize that I've said a lot here, and really nothing. Nothing new. I'm going to hit publish only because there were times I didn't have my own words and read the words of someone else and I was reminded I am not alone. If only one person reads this and feels somehow less alone then something good will have come out of this place I'm finding myself in these days.

10.30.2013

Marine Corps Marathon Recap

I am not really sure where to even start. It's actually hard to believe it's over and it went by so fast - 18 weeks of training for 5 1/2 hours of running, and it's done.

There were lots of tears as I expected, a few times I had to take some deep breaths and not let the emotions come to the surface because I could feel hyper-ventilating coming with them and, I could be wrong, but I suspected that hyper-ventilating at any point mid-marathon was a bad idea.

So, I think I'll just work through the weekend and try not to leave anything out. Feel free to skip this, as I'm sure it will be long, but I don't want to forget.

Friday
The Man and I got up, packed the car - I triple checked that I had my shoes! - dropped the dogs off at "camp" (the kennel), and headed East towards DC. We had a beautiful drive, I love entering DC on the George Washington Parkway, and arrived ahead of schedule at our friend, John's house. We unpacked and headed to the Metro to go to the Expo where I would pick up my bib (my number), my shirt, and my "clear, plastic bag" to check my items at the start of the race. I did get new compression sleeves - pink tie-dye - and exchanged my pink-ribbon charm on my shoe for a new one b/c some of the stones had fallen out.

After the Expo, we headed toward Chi.nat.own for some cupcakes. Rae introduced me to this great bakery back in March and I was so excited to head there again - gluten-free cupcakes are hard to come by in a small town! We had Sta.bucks and cupcakes and then walked the 6 blocks up to the hotel where the first timers' pep rally was being held. It was fun to see all of the other "first timers" and to get some tips for surviving.

Emily and I at the First Timers Pep Rally

Saturday
Saturday, we started our day with daily Mass at the Theological College at Catholic University with our friend Cody, who is a seminarian in our diocese. I was the only woman at the Mass - ha! It was amazing though, to see all of those future-priests and to get to celebrate Mass with them, I really couldn't have imagined a better start to the day.

After Mass, we headed to brunch with some awesome ladies, Alison, Lora, and Rae! Fortunately for The Man, Rae's husband, Josh, also joined us :). We had brunch and then yummy gluten-free desert and lots of chatter! It was awesome. No photo was taken - more on this later.

We headed back to John's after Mass and John and I went for a quick 3-mile "shake-out" run. I'm not sure why they call it a "shake-out" run, but it was my last pre-marathon run and I needed it. It helped to settle my nerves and give my legs a little bit of a workout that they were craving.

A quick shower and change into my gold and blue and we were off to a Sports Bar/Restaurant in Arlington that is owned by a WVU Alum, so it becomes a WVU Sports Bar/Restaurant on game day. We watched the WVU - Kansas State disaster. And that's all I have to say about that. My dad, stepmom and little brother arrived in time to watch it too, so at least the company and food was good!

We got back to John's and after making our plan for the morning, I went to bed at 8:30, with my alarms (all 3 of them) set for 4am.

Sunday - Marathon Day!
I didn't sleep well but I didn't sleep awful either. When I was sleeping, it was good. I just kept waking up every hour thinking "is it time yet?"

When 4:00 finally rolled around (really? 4:00am "finally rolled around"? maybe I really am crazy!), I got up and got ready to go. I had my marathon out fit all laid out and ready to go, so there wasn't much thought required. Awake at 4:00am doesn't mean "fully functioning" at 4:00am. I made myself some breakfast and made sure John was awake at 4:45 since he'd agreed to drive me to the start line area at 5:00.

My Race Day Outfit
We got to the start line and it still seemed a little early, so John and I relaxed in the car for about 20 minutes, and then I headed over.

The walk was quiet and dark. There were a few other really early runners there as well, but for the most part, I was alone to enjoy the views of the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building lit up as I walked around the Pentagon. I finally arrived at Runner's Village and had my bag checked by the marine standing there. Many times as I made this walk and checked in, I got choked up - between the pentagon and the sights of DC and all this day would mean for me, I knew these were just the first of many tears.

I arrived in time to participate in the first Ecumenical Prayer Service that was offered and I'm glad I did. The chaplain was very good and the man beside me also turned out to be Catholic, and as we caught a glimpse of each other making the sign of the cross at the start of the prayer we shared a knowing smile. After the prayer service, I headed over to use the bathroom - note: using a porta potty in the dark is a bit challenging. By this time, I was ready to check my bag and consider walking toward the start line, as I wanted to be there well before 7:30's starting ceremony. After I checked my bag and put my garbage bag on for warmth (true story: a black garbage bag keeps a runner quite warm pre-race and can easily be discarded before running). One last pre-race bathroom stop and then I met up with Emily and we shared our nerves and excitement with one another. We wished each other good luck and I headed to the start line.

I found my corral and settled in to people watch and wait. At 7:30, skydivers dotted the sky, carrying flags from each branch of the Armed Forces and 3 large American Flags. The Star Spangled Banner was performed. I cried.

Finally, from afar, I heard the cannon that signaled the start of the race. It would be about 20 minutes before I actually got to and crossed the start line.

The Marine Corps Marathon

Miles 1 - 5 (Intention: Sara)

The Man, my Dad, stepmom, and little brother (family from here on) were all planning to be there to cheer me on, as well as Lora and Alison. I had a vague idea of where they would each be and I scanned the crowd looking for them. I spotted my Dad, stepmom and brother just past the start line and smiled and waved to them. To my surprise they were wearing shirts that said "Run Rebecca Run" - I loved it!

The first of only a couple hills was in these first few miles. I was actually grateful for them because I was having trouble keeping my pace to something reasonable! I saw Lora and her DH for the first time right around mile 4 as I crossed the Key Bridge from Virginia into DC.

Also, just as I approached Mile 5 and continued through Georgetown, I heard a band playing. As I headed down the hill toward the Mile 5 mark, I heard a few notes that were quite familiar to me, but I thought: "no way!" BUT it was true - the band was playing John Denver's Country Roads!!!  I sang my heart out as they sang "Country roads, take me home, to the place, I belong, WEST VIRGINIA, Mountain Mama, take me home, Country roads" I sang loud, I waived my arms, and I'm sure the people around me thought I was absolutely nuts. I didn't care - I loved it! Oh, and I cried a little bit too.

Miles 6 - 10 (Intention: All of my IF buddies and their intentions)

I continued to struggle to keep my pace reasonable through these miles. Rock Creek Parkway was beautiful and a great place to offer up for all of my fellow IFers. I saw Lora and her DH again at the end of the parkway. At the U-turn between miles 7 and 8, I saw 2 of the wheelchair participants struggling to get up and around the hill and turn. It was one of those moments that remind me why I love running - all the runners around them stopped and cheered them on, encouraging them up and around the turn. No one was worried about their own pace/race, only supporting these wheelchair racers. Yes, there were more tears here too. It was certainly a good reminder of all that I have to be thankful for and I specifically asked God to help all of us IFers to be able to see the many blessings in our life despite the pain and hurt associated with IF. Oh, and the oranges at Mile 9 were delicious, and going past the steps of the Lincoln Memorial between miles 10 and 11 was amazing!

Miles 11 - 15 (Intention: All of my bloggy friends and their intentions)

As I neared the water stop at Mile 11, I found myself wondering "what the heck am I doing/thinking?" I had to remind myself it was WAY too early to feel this way and I'd run this far plenty of times. I saw my family at just past the water stop so they caught me walking a bit as I was trying to get a good drink. I shrugged and held up my two cups of gatorade and smiled saying "double fisting it!" These miles were around Hains Point, not too many spectators so I turned my iPod on and let my music help carry me through. Between my music and the great signs (things like: "You're running better than the government."; "1 in 100 runners poop their pants, are you the 1?"; "Run faster, the Kenyans are finished already and they're drinking all the beer."; "Chuck Norris never ran a marathon." and more!), I actually enjoyed Hains Point, even though it was the more "quiet" part of the race. I did have lots to offer up as I was really wondering "what the heck am I thinking" quite a bit here.

Miles 16 - 20 (Intention: The Man)

Just through the water stop at Mile 16, I was trying to get a good drink of water and swallow my Gu without choking. I stopped moving for about 15 seconds and as soon as I did it, my left calf started to cramp. I'm not used to cramps, so it caught me off guard. I found a curb and light post to balance on and stretched it out. It did cramp on and off the rest of the race, but thanks to a nice group around mile 17.5 I had an unexpected banana and I think that helped to keep it from being unbearable, at least for a bit. Just before mile 17 though, I saw my family and Lora and her DH (but they didn't realize they were very near each other). It was a great time to see them and get some encouragement.  Then, just before mile 18, I saw another familiar face - Alison! She came and ran with me for a couple of blocks and then headed off across the Mall to meet me on the other side. After she split off, I headed towards the US Capitol Building, as I turned in front of the Capitol, the band there was playing the Rocky Theme Song - it was great :). I rounded the other side of the Mall and just as I wanted to walk, in fact I took a few steps, I saw my family just before mile 19 - this time Lora and Chris were with them! I gave them all High-Fives and told them what perfect timing it was to see them there! Then, I saw Alison again just past Mile 19. She ran with me again for a bit. It was great to have some company :).  I gave her a big hug (sorry about the grossness of that hug, Alison!), and thanked her and continued on. Next up was Mile 20 and "Beat the Bridge." I had to reach Mile 20 and the Bridge by 1:05pm in order to be able to keep going. I'm not sure exactly what time I passed, but I knew it was well before 1:05. Also, with mile 20, came uncharted territory, I'd never run more than 20 miles before. At about mile 20.5, my body said "hey, we don't run this far, what are you doing" and, starting with my inside right quad muscle, all of the muscles in my right leg from hip to ankle cramped up at the same time. I'm sure I was quite a sight hobbling over to the side of the road to try and stretch. I squatted down, hoping I would be able to stand up again, and that it would give me some relief. Both were accomplished, but wow, did that hurt. But, there was no way a few leg cramps were going to stop me at this point, so on I went. I crossed the bridge with a combination of running and walking and stretching and then headed into Crystal City.

Miles 21 - 25 (Intention: My Dad)

The cramps continued, as I turned into Crystal City, but the atmosphere was great. Bands and music and people, a great way to get a good "pick me up" heading into the final few miles. I saw my family again at mile 22 and I knew I wouldn't see them again until the Finish Line. These miles were tough.  I was tired, my legs were cramping, and I just wanted to be done. I had a lot to offer up for my Dad, and I was grateful for that - I picked these miles for him for a reason. And yet, I knew I was going to finish. I knew I was way past meeting any time goal I had set myself, but I didn't care. I was going to finish and that was what mattered. I pushed myself, but also listened to my body so as not to hurt myself permanently. My legs cramped and I stretched them and I kept going. Marines encouraged us along the way (as they had the entire race) and encouraged us to dig deep and keep going. We rounded the Pentagon, and headed back towards where we'd started, towards where it had all began more than 5 hour before. More than a few times during these miles I had to take deep breaths and remind myself to breath, I knew if I let myself really feel all of it: the pain, the emotions, the awe of the marines, the Pentagon, Arlington, all of it I would lose it, completely. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, sometimes slower than others, but I refused to quit; I knew I would finish.

Mile 26 - 26.2 (Intention: Myself)

I was determined to run these final .2 miles entirely. Including the final hill up to the finish line. The .2 miles broke down to about .05 flat, then .1 uphill, then .05 flat to the finish. I made it almost all the way up the hill, walked for about 5 yards, and then ran the rest. I will take it. After those few walking steps, it was like all the pain went away and I felt great again. My family was in the bleachers cheering me on and the finish line was in front of me. I was really going to do it, I was finishing a marathon. I raised my arms in triumph as I crossed the finish line. I had done it. I am a Marathoner.

If you click here you can see photos taken during the race - these are the "official" marathon photos.

The After

I got my medal. A marine placed it around my neck, saluted me, and told me congratulations. Yep, more tears. I had my photo taken with him and then had my photo taken at the base of the Iwo Jima Memorial. I got my food box, my water, another banana, and my recovery jacket (helps to regulate body temperature because it tends to drop after a race). I texted The Man to let him know I'd meet them at the family link-up area for "R"s and I was overwhelmed at all of the notifications from Face.book, Twi.tter, texts and e-mails I had. I knew the prayers of so many had gotten me through.

With the Marine who placed my medal around my neck and saluted me.
After I retrieved my bag (it seemed so much heavier than when I dropped it off!), I headed to meet my family. Hugs were shared (I kinda feel bad they had to hug me smelling like I did) and I got to hear all about their day - I was so relieved they'd enjoyed it all! We took some photos and found a spot for The Man to stretch me out. A marine asked if I was OK or needed and ice and I laughed and said "I'm great - I travel with my own massage therapist! :)" He laughed and my Dad let him know it was my husband, that I wasn't that pampered! Once Dad was sure I was going to live for real, we said our good-byes, I hugged them again and thanked them for coming. They headed towards the metro to head home, and we headed towards John's car to head back to his place.

We got back and The Man stretched me out again (can't remember if it was pre or post shower, I'll have to ask him) and I caught up with all of the sweet, encouraging social media messages. I was overwhelmed. I texted my Mom (she wanted a photo of me with my medal) and tried to nap. After a couple hour nap, John and The Man had made dinner, so I headed downstairs (quite comical to witness) ate dinner and then headed back to bed for the night. It felt so good to sleep so long.

Me, with my medal.
Monday

The Man and I slept in - so nice! And then we headed to meet Laura and Caleb and January and her sweet girl for lunch. Caleb quickly decided The Man was fun so "the boys" hung out at one end of the table while the girls were at the other. Also no photos - more on this later. But first, we took my Jeep through the car wash and she was given her sticker, ready for the drive home! Lunch was amazing - gluten-free crepes!!! And of course, the friends and conversation were even better :). We headed home out George Washington Parkway and a beautiful drive home.  We stopped at a gas station for a drink and for me to stretch my legs and I'd been wanting ice cream since dinner the night before, so I checked out the little ice cream freezer and picked out a Snickers ice cream bar. I enjoyed every bite with no guilt - one perk of running a marathon! We picked up our pups and then my Mom stopped by with beautiful flowers in Marine Corps colors and a gift certificate to a local running store - it was a great end to the day. Only to be capped by a visit from Sara in which we swapped marathon stories and she dropped off a piece of gluten-free cake - yum!

My Jeep - ready for her drive home!
My Zero-Guilt Snickers Bar!
My Thoughts

I really don't know where to begin. My last post summed up what this race would mean, and all I can really say is that it exceeded my expectations in all aspects. It was harder than I expected, the atmosphere was better, the course was amazing, the emotions were intense, everything. It was an honor to run this race. I high-fived marines all along the course, thanking them for their service; I took in the scenery; I pushed myself; I prayed for all of the intentions I wanted to, and a few more - specifically all those other runners who were wearing shirts in honor or in memory of someone. Yes, I wondered at times if I could do this - both before and during the race - and I wondered if it would be worth it. I did do it. And it was all worth it. Yes, I would trade every second of this weekend for one twinge of morning sickness; for one kick in the ribs; for one contraction; for one cry; for one sleepless night; for one first smile; for one first step; for one "I love you mommy" for any one of the many things I dream of and hope for - yes, I would trade it. But, so far, none of those dreams have come true, so what I do have is a medal that says "26.2" and "Finisher" and the proof that I've lived my life. It doesn't lessen the pain any less, if anything it somehow amplifies it, but there is one less regret. One less instance of saying "I should've done..." And that my friends, is worth more than I can say and is certainly worth every tear, cramp, and pain I felt during the race. Thank-you all so much for the prayers and the encouragement, not just on race day, but throughout all of this!

October 27, 2014 - Marine Corps Marathon Finisher - 5 hours, 37 minutes, 35 seconds


10.24.2013

26.2

It all started about 3 years ago, well, it will be 3 years in January.

Then, it continued with one step forward.

Then, last year, it went 13.1 miles.

And Sunday, it continues for 26.2.

At 7:55 am on Sunday, a cannon blast (how cool is that?!) will start the Marine Corps Marathon and I, along with 30,000 of my new best friends, will start running.


26.2 miles later I'll cross the finish line, at the base of Iwo Jima


I'm nervous. I'm excited.

And I'm a little bit sad.

You see, this is the race I never wanted to run.

It wasn't until just a few days ago that a connection hit me, 3 years ago this month was when The Man and I got our first BFN. And 3 years ago in January I was so shocked to need a size of jeans that I swore I'd never need that I knew something had to change - eat less or move more. I like to eat.

And that's when Sara and I started our Couch to 5K program. I thought 60 seconds of running was going to kill me.

In 3 years a lot has happened, some good, some not so good, but include:

Sara had a second baby.
I had surgery.
Sara was diagnosed with cancer, had surgery, and is now cancer free.
Sara ran her first marathon last week in Columbus!
My dad was diagnosed with cancer. Twice.
I got a new job.
I ran a half-marathon. Three of them actually. And too many 5Ks to count.
I've done every "I'll never do that" thing I've said related to running: wear a fuel belt, run in the rain, run in the snow, run farther than 6 miles, run farther than a half-marathon, carry a water bottle, pee my pants during a race (really!), and more. (For the record, I've quit saying "I'll never do that.")

But that one person is missing.

And on Sunday, I will run 26.2 miles because I can. I know it is a victory. Running has been so healing for me both mentally and physically. In the times I've cried and sobbed because my body is broken and doesn't work, The Man has gently reminded me of what my body has been capable of; of how it has held up and gotten stronger even when I fully expected it to not be able to do any of this.

So, on Sunday, I'm sure there will be a few tears along the miles. Just thinking about lining up at that start line gives me chills. The point of the Marine Corps Marathon is mutual respect. From the runners to those who have and continue to serve for their daily sacrifice; from the marines to the runners for their dedication and commitment to train and live a healthy life. There will be marines lining the route; one will place the medal around my neck at the finish line. Yes, there will be some tears.

When I registered for this race, and spent the $99, I really and truly believed that God was laughing at me. Saying, "you silly girl, you're wasting that money." I really felt like we were coming to the end of our IF journey. We had to be, we were so close to 18 months post-surgery. We just had to be. Yes, there will be some tears.

But it was not to be. God's answer continues to be "no." I am finding this truth to be very hard to accept. And I'm truly starting to wonder if it is "never." No matter how great this whole process has felt, I'd trade every minute I've spent training and racing for one, brief "I love you mommy."


I'm counting on that last part. That somehow, this person, who is feeling defeated and broken and wanting more than anything to have the only reason I'd accept to not run on Sunday. But I don't. So, run I will. That somehow, this person is changed for the better.

And, because I need to focus on something other than all of this for 26.2 miles, I'm offering it up for different intentions.

Miles 1 - 5: For Sara. Without her, I probably wouldn't have lasted a day past that first run. She's been through so much and has another surgery (elective, but still) coming up next month.

Miles 6 - 10: For all of my infertile buddies. If you have a special intention you'd like me to pray for, please leave it in the comments.

Miles 11 - 15: For everyone else who reads this blog, but doesn't fall under the "infertile" category. If you have a special intention you'd like me to pray for, please leave it in the comments.

Miles 16 - 20:  For the Man. He's been my constant support. Always picking me up when I want to quit and reminding me of the good things in our lives. I'll be specifically praying that the Lord continue to give The Man the strength and patience necessary to be married to me.

Miles 21 - 25: For my Dad. He will be one week and one day into his chemotherapy treatments on Sunday. He's taking it in pill form, and so far so good, so he will be there cheering me on.

Miles 26 - 26.2: This one is for me. That somehow the strength that gets me through this race will get me through the rest of this infertility journey, however long it lasts.


On Sunday, I will run 26.2. I've lived my life and, while sometimes the living hurts, I will look back and smile, even if there are tears too.

10.17.2013

The Medical Plan and Reflections About Our "Break"

I wrote about "The Spiritual Plan" over a month ago, expecting the medical plan to come together soon after. Well, it finally did just yesterday when I got final confirmation from the FCP at my doctor's office about a test.

So, here it is:

My next cycle I will have the Follicular Maturation Series done (don't be mad TCIE, I need to at least try to have it done locally first because my travel schedule is already crazy enough). The plan is to do this one time and get an answer regarding ovulation - do I or don't I? Is it healthy and strong or not?

I will also have a modified hormone panel done, I get to wait until CD 10 instead of 3 to start the blood draws this time. A few less days of being a pin cushion anyway.

On P+7, we will revisit the 2-hour fasting glucose with insulin levels test.

I will see Dr. D sometime in January.

It seems like not a lot when I list it that way, but I'm already feeling it all. I know there will be a next cycle b/c a marriage-prep weekend combined with The Man's sinus infection equals no Is on "fertile" days, so there is no chance of skipping any of this. I will admit, while I didn't plan to not use this cycle, I'm OK with it, as the marathon is going to fall in the last days of what would be the 2WW, and I'm grateful to not be analyzing every twinge while trying to run 26.2 miles with some level of confidence.

So that's it. Seems so simple. Spend 30 minutes a day in silent time with the Lord and have a few tests run. Got it.

Yeaaaaaa. Riiiiiiight.

Which has led me to reflecting upon this "break." It's not a true TTC break because we were still, you know, having s.ex on "fertile" days, but without meds (and with the evidence on my charts) it was much less likely we would conceive.

Yet, even with that knowledge. I still hoped. I still dreamed all of those dreams. And here we are again, 6 months later, still not parents.

When I was hoping, so boldly and foolishly, I wondered why I was hoping. Where was it coming from? Knowing that it felt good to hope; that I felt alive when I hoped, but wondering where it was coming from.

I concluded that it was because somehow, 3 years later, I still believed God could heal us. That, should He choose, our infertility could be gone. just. like. that. It is the only explanation that makes any sense. Because, practically speaking, to hope during an unmedicated cycle makes very little sense.

And yet, He didn't. The hope gave way to tears and disappointment yet again.

Which leaves me right back where I started, to the question we all have about something or other in our lives, why? Or perhaps more accurately in this situation, why not?

And I find myself straddling another line on this road. The line between believing God can heal us and asking why he doesn't. We are trying to do our part, trying to keep moving down the road, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared about what we may find out. I think it's time I actually follow my spiritual plan so that I can make it through this medical plan with some small amount of grace.

10.06.2013

Overwhelmed

It is the only word that even comes close to how I'm feeling these days.

When I don't want to be honest I blame it on marathon training, grad school, and a busy work schedule because, well, that's certainly enough to be overwhelming. But when I am honest, I realize it has nothing to do with any of that.

The past week has been rough. The number of pregnancy announcements that started at 4 last Saturday was up to 9 by yesterday. 9 in 7 days. With CD1 right smack in the middle. As the tears streamed down my face yesterday morning, I just kept asking "when does it stop?" The passing of this cycle means we have officially passed the 3 year mark of TTC. The only word that comes close to describing how I feel about that is sorrow. Deep sorrow.

Then, there was the retreat I was co-running this weekend - for parents who have lost a child. (I was co-running it b/c I do not have this experience, but a wonderful couple who does created a beautiful ministry and was willing to bring it to our diocese.) It was beautiful, but was so much more emotional for me than I expected. It brought up emotions and thoughts that I cannot explain.

And then, there was the news from my Dad (albeit it came over a week ago, but I just really let it sink in this week) that his cancer is back. No matter how many times I tell myself "the doctors are hopeful that the drugs will take care of it. There is a good chance it will go away," the only words that keep echoing in my head are: dad, cancer, 4 spots, spleen, pancreas, rib, lungs, chemotherapy, experimental drugs, and more. Knowing the doctors are hopeful only goes so far for this worry-er.

Then, there was the fight The Man and I had last Friday afternoon. It was awful. The repercussions are still being felt over a week later. We are fine, just a little "off" our usual for now. Thank-you God for the grace of our marriage.

Yes, I am feeling overwhelmed.

I'm sure it's because of all of this and being in a more vulnerable state, but this cross of infertility feels so much heavier than it has recently. It feels like the wound that was perhaps starting to heal has been ripped open and made even bigger.

I have yet to follow-up on my "spiritual plan." If I'm honest, I don't want to. The silence scares me, especially a silence in which I'm asking God what He wants from me in regard to our infertility because what if His answer is "no"? What then? And all of a sudden a filmstrip of dreams starts playing in my head and I realize that it is these dreams I must be willing to lay at the foot of the cross. It is easy to write. Easy to say. And yet, I won't even put myself in the environment in which He might say this is what must be done. But I must. I promised Fr. D I would start this week.

I also haven't heard back from Dr. D. on the medical plan. I confirmed that they received my charts and they did, so I wait. Another cycle starting before I heard back from them has been more disappointing than I expected. This isn't normal, so I'm sure it's just because I wasn't in the "regular" cycle of patients, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated.

Yes, as I write it all out, overwhelmed is the only word for it all.



10.02.2013

Football and a Request of IF

How in the world did this happen?

What? you ask.

Well, it is October and other than a brief mention of football in before the season started it's like football season hasn't even started.



Yes, there have been a few other things going on - namely ridiculous amounts of running and reading. Whoever thought starting grad school and training for a marathon at the same time was a good idea really needs their head examined. Ahem.

But still, no football posts? I am quite seriously disappointed in myself. I shall make up for it here.

There was that small detail that I knew I was going to have to miss the second home game of the season. I KNOW! It was the 3rd home game in 11, yes, that eleven, seasons that I have missed, and I think in my head I just wasn't acknowledging that football season was going to start until after that. Not a completely bad plan on my part, as here is how it's gone thus far:

Week 1: Home game vs. William and Mary - Who? Exactly! We won. It wasn't pretty. We didn't have a starting quarterback named before the game. We still didn't have one after the game. It's gonna be a long year. Oh, and tailgating. Well, it was the tailgate for women who are pregnant. Yep. Three women were pregnant, all in their cute little "future Mountaineer" and "It's a Mountaineer" maternity shirts. While I sat there, ever aware of my emptiness. To say it was a tough day would be an understatement.

Week 2: Away game vs. Oklahoma - Wait! Why are we playing a bowl game in September? Oh, that's right we are in the Big XII now, this is a conference game. We had friends over, another IF couple, so thankfully there was no talk of babies, due dates, or any such thing. WVU lost though, so there was that. It was an ugly game and I'm just glad Oklahoma played as bad as we did, or it would've been much worse. (See week 4 for evidence of this.)

Week 3: Home game vs. Georgia State - Who? Exactly! Now, my friends, do you see why I was not quite as traumatized about missing this game as I could have been? Other than upping my number of missed games, I figured if I had to miss a game (and since it was a marriage prep weekend and that is a huge part of my job, I did have to miss it), this was the one to miss. It was a game we should easily win, and frankly if we didn't, I didn't want to see it. Thankfully we did win and the pre-cana weekend went quite well.

Week 4: Game vs. Maryland at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore - Wha? Exactly! Yes friends, instead of playing Maryland at home and having 7 home games, we trekked all the way to Baltimore to play them as it was sold to season ticket holders by our AD as a "home" game, only to find out, no, it is actually a "home" game for Maryland. (Not really home for either team, as U. of Md is in College Park and has their own stadium. Well, the Randy Edsell curse lives on, and to say it was ugly would be being nice. It was so bad, an entire 2 hours after the game, while hanging out with friends I shook my head and said "Did we really lose 37 - 0?" Yep. Worst shut-out in over 30 years. First shut-out since 2001. Not. Good. Oh, and the quarterback situation, a disaster.

Week 5: Home game vs. Oklahoma State. Finally! It felt like football season was really starting. No more missing games, no more silly neutral sites. It is time for conference football! I started the morning with a 12-mile run (I'm thinking that marathon training during football season is equally as crazy as marathon training while in grad school) and arrived at our tailgate spot by 8:15. I was showered and had my first adult beverage by 8:45 (we tailgate where The Man works - yay for showers!). By 9:30, I had received 4 pregnancy announcments. The first of which came from this lady (her blog is private, she is a fellow-IFer and has had a miscarriage before, so please pray for this sweet baby to grow baby grow and for peace for Katie and her DH) and I was super excited and it turned out I was going to have lots ot offer up for her, because within 5 minutes of her text, the next 3 came right in a row from my Mom who, while beaming from ear to ear said "Everyone is pregnant! M & J, G, and M & R! And S. just had their second, but their done." It took every. single. ounce of strength I had to not completely lose it. BUT! Oh, this is why I LOVE football. WVU went into the game facing No. 11 Oklahoma state barely expected to score. But score we did! It was a great great great game - and we won!!!! It was a great day to be a Mountaineer and for those 3 glorious hours, I thought very little of BFPs, pregnancy, baby bumps, any of it. I cheered and screamed and lost myself in this sport I love. A reminder to myself of why I need football. Oh, and the quarterback situation? Much. Better.........Except. He got hurt. Still waiting to hear if he can play this week.

So, this week, we head to Baylor for Week 6. Last year the score was WVU 70 - Baylor 63, yea it was fun! I'm not sure WVU is capable of 70 points this year, but our defense is much improved, so I'm hopeful. Well, if our quarterback is healthy.

Though, I would like to make a request of IF - please leave my football alone! Our next home game is in 2 weeks and I'd like it to be baby bump and BFP - free.  It's only a few hours on a Saturday. Is that really too much to ask?

9.30.2013

What is My Responsibility?

Updated to add: Hebrews posted a companion piece to this "from the other side" so to speak. Please go read it too :).

Ever since I started reading blogs about infertility (long before I knew I would someday join in), I noticed that often when a once-infertile gal becomes a mommy she disappears for a bit. There are some very practical reasons for this, while I can't speak from experience, I'm thinking being sleep deprived and having a new person rely on you for all of their needs while not always able to communicate those needs might just be part of the reason. Yes, I do think so.

However, so many of you have written how, in addition to sleep-deprivation and a whole new way of living, it is also hard for you to blog post-IF or childlessness (because we all know adoption cures the latter, not the former.) Often, (and I'm generalizing and simplifying I realize this), the reason for this difficulty is out of a concern to not want to hurt others with your posts and pictures of life with a child(ren).

I've written before about Why I Need Your Stories. And Thelma's words here echoed that sentiment.

In light of Alison's started series (and a few emails we exchanged coupled with other conversations I've had), I've been doing a lot of reflecting on this whole relationship between all of us infertile gals. Those who still wait, those who will never have children, those who adopt, those who give birth. While our roads are all different - from our treatment choices to outcomes to impact on marriages to more - they feel most different when we are trying to bridge that gap between being a mother and not.

What I've noticed, from both those who still wait and those who are now mothers, is that the pressure all seems to fall on the shoulders of those with children. That it is up to those who were once infertile/childless to be sensitive to those of us who still are. That, somehow, we who still wait have nothing in this. Yet, I ask is it really reasonable to expect someone whose life changed drastically in the blink of an eye when that second pink line appeared or the phone rang to not share about said change?

Will what a new mom shares sometimes stir feelings of pain for those of us who want nothing more to be a new mom? Yes. Will what is shared sometimes be hard to read? Yes.

But isn't it the same for those of us who still share about infertility? Don't our posts still stir feelings of pain in others? Are our posts never hard to read? The feelings are not exactly the same, but the answer, for me anyway, is still "yes."

This leads me, finally, to the title of this post. To the question I've asked myself and I am encouraging you to ask yourself.

What is my responsibility?

I've written before about how I realized that so often what I was blaming someone else for was really about my pain. I still have to remind myself daily that this is the case. That what I'm reading, or hearing, or seeing is usually not what is actually causing the pain, but rather it is reminding me of the pain. Whether a pregnant woman walks into Subway or not (to use Alison's example :)), I'm still sad and hurt that I'm not pregnant. Sure, I might have forgotten for a nano-second that I'm sad and hurt and her presence reminds me, but that is a very different thing than to say it causes the sadness or the hurt.

With blogging, about a year and a half ago I could barely log in to my blog or visit anyone else's. It seemed I was assaulted with BFPs and bumps and babies from every direction. But I knew that I needed to blog for my own sanity, so I had to figure out a way to do it. What I found out was that by separating my blogs into two groups (I need simple), one group of blogs by women who are not yet mothers and one group of everyone else. I changed my side bar to include titles only from those who are not yet mothers, and just blog titles of everyone else. I also carried these same groups into my reader (I now use Feedly) and I set my default "landing page" for my reader to the group of not yet mothers. When I'm not up for reading about pregnancy, or seeing adorable pictures of kiddos, I just don't check in on the other group. I know the feeling will pass and I'll wonder how my friends are doing, but by making it my choice to check in rather than just scrolling through and being caught off-guard by a ton of photos or "cutest sayings ever" (and they are - I mean that sincerely :)), I am choosing to check in for them.

With Facebook, well, it's a little more challenging, and I frequently have to remind myself that "it's about my pain." And, if I'm honest with myself, the only reason I keep my FB account is because I want "my turn." I'm waiting for the day I get to post my ultrasound picture. It seems as much a rite of passage these days as anything. If I know I'm having a bad day or rough time, I just don't log in to FB, or if I do, I quickly click in the IF group without acknowledging anything in my newsfeed.

Also, on days I'm feeling good, I make a point to catch up on "everyone else." To seek out the pictures, to post comments of love and support, to check in on my friends. I may not read posts as quickly or comment as often, but I do read them all and I pray for you every day.

Finally, I am quick to move someone from one group to the next when it's appropriate. As soon as the BFP or phone call is announced, I log in and make the change. If someone I'm reading and is listed under "everyone else" has never mentioned IF and does, I log in and make the change. Sometimes it's sad how short the list in the "still waiting" group gets, but I try to remind myself that is proof of miracles and to be grateful for it. I long for the day that list is completely empty.

I don't mean to sound like I have all the answers. I don't pretend to. This is what has worked for me (and if you aren't sure how to separate things into groups or turn off titles, let me know, I can walk you through it - it's pretty easy :)) and I hope it helps you, if you are still waiting, to figure out what works for you too.

And again, to those of you who are "on the other side" and are trying to figure out how to blog as a mommy after infertility, please keep posting (really, sleep is overrated ;)). Please remind us that motherhood is as wonderful and as hard and as rewarding and as humbling as we dream it is. Without your reminders, we start to wonder if it's all in our heads. Also, we, as you know, have lots to offer up for you.  Finally, be patient with us if it takes us a while to comment, or if we don't comment as often. Please remember it's not that we don't still love you and pray for you, it is about our pain. We'll catch up when we can, and in the meantime, if you'll offer up your struggles as a mom for us, we will feel the prayers and know the love of Christ. If this bloggy community has taught us nothing it is that our prayers are powerful and the Body of Christ is beautiful.

Updated to add: Hebrews posted a companion piece to this "from the other side" so to speak. Please go read it too :).