5.31.2013

Thank-you!

As May comes to an end, I just wanted to say thank-you to everyone who prayed for The Man and me this month. Thank-you also for the prayer intentions you shared at the beginning of the month. I've prayed for them daily and will continue to do so.

While we aren't parents, I know your prayers got me through the craziest cycle I've ever had and helped me to be able to hear God's voice and trust Him. Again, I am grateful.

I know I've been a bit quiet on this blog and in my commenting lately, I am sorry. I have a lot swirling in my head and heart these days and I just can't seem to find the words for it all. I am reading and praying for you and I hope to be out of my funk soon.

5.20.2013

The Post I Drafted

What follows is the post I mentioned last week that was still in draft form. I started to revise it and take out some of the repetitive details, but I decided I wanted it to stand as written. The only detail that is in error is of course the line about CD1 starting "today." I had written this post on Mother's Day evening fully expecting to post it sometime on Monday when AF arrived. Well, we all know what happened to change that plan. However, The Man and I talked when CD1 finally did arrive on Thursday, and we are still in agreement and the peace I speak of is still there. And the gratitude, well, it only goes deeper now.

So, I know Adopt-a-Blogger that awesome Amy over at This Cross I Embrace has organized is meant to pray the blogger of the month over the last hurdle to motherhood and so I realize that what I'm about to say isn't exactly that, but for me, it is a huge example of the power of prayer and is proof that your prayers are working.

You see, way back last January (even before) when I had my surgery, The Man and I agreed we would  take each next step one-step at a time. Neither one of us where sure about medications for lots of reasons, but we were open to what the doctors had to say. As each next step came, we agreed that we'd go with it for 6 months. With each step we were comfortable with the plan and the length of time for the plan.

Going in to this month of being the adopted blogger, I knew that if we were not to conceive, it would be time to re-evaluate again. And while I knew you were all praying for us to conceive, I just knew when I got a UTI as a result of our peak day "date," I wouldn't be getting a BFP this month. And so I started praying for clarity and for what was to be next to become clear, and for it to become clear before CD1 so that I knew it wasn't just an emotional response.

And so, as I was driving 2 1/2 hours south to teach NFP, I found that the music just seemed too loud - whatever station or playlist I had on. So, as I often do, I drove in silence. I marveled at the beauty of my state and wondered how people live here and don't believe in God. His presence is so clear to me, and Tuesday, it was even more so. And my thoughts drifted to our infertility and what was to come next. And it was as if God was in the car with me, whispering into my left ear, "Trust me."

And so I did, and I let my mind go blank (except for of course focusing on the road) and I listened. And I was a little surprised, but immediately at peace with what came. I chose not to say anything to The Man until I was sure, and I slept on it for a few days. When I told him my thoughts, he fully agreed and said he was already thinking the same thing.

So, it is CD1. The tell-tale spotting started yesterday - yep, Mother's Day - and AF fully arrived today.

And tomorrow, I will not be taking my letrozole.

We aren't taking a break, but we are.

What that means is this:

I am not going to take meds that are really for the purpose of conceiving, namely the letrozole (Femera) or the HCG post-peak.

I am going to take meds that improve my overall quality of health and life, namely the metformin and synthroid.

We are going to continue TTC "the old-fashioned way."

We will keep charting.

I will still keep following my gluten-free diet and we are going to look at slowly adapting to a more low-carb, low-dairy diet as well.

Since most of my medical plans were for 6 months at a time, we are going to follow this plan for 6 months.

I run my marathon in October, and if I run it, it will mean we have not conceived. It is just one more example of trying to live my life while hoping for something different. Afterwards we will re-evaluate again, knowing that the recommendation will be for a second surgery.

There is a piece of me that feels like a complete wuss, and had I not experienced the peace I felt in the car, and the calm I have felt since then combined with The Man's reaction, I would worry that I was "giving up." I had even just told my FCP that I wasn't "done yet" when we spoke last week. Now I realize this had more to do with a few misunderstood beliefs I had than where I really was emotionally.

First, I had to realize that it was OK and give myself permission to still feel the pain of infertility even if we weren't taking meds. You see, before this week, I felt like if I wasn't doing every. single. thing. my doctors recommended, then when CD1 arrived, I had no right to be sad or disappointed. (And please know, this was no reflection on anyone else's choices, purely my own.)

Second, I also had to realize that just because I wasn't taking meds, it didn't mean we weren't still trying. Yes, I realize it may affect our likelihood of conceiving, but that doesn't mean we aren't trying. Or that we aren't hoping. Or that CD1 will hurt any less.

I know that the ability to come to this decision and the clarity and peace I feel with it are all thanks to your prayers. I know the month is not over, and there is a piece of me that almost said to The Man "but we have to do meds just one more month because all my bloggy-friends are praying for us" but I realized that was dishonest. I knew that this peace and new "plan" was a direct result of your prayers, and to not honor where those prayers led me would be to dishonor the prayers themselves. I would be honored and humbled if you all would still continue to pray as we take our first steps of this next plan to grow our family.

Again, I know this isn't what you all were praying for specifically, but it was an unspoken intention of mine for clarity and peace about what comes next. I have that now, and to say I am grateful to you all is so inadequate, but it is all I have. Well, that and my prayers. Please know I am praying for each of you, and especially for the intentions you left on my post earlier this month. And again, from the bottom of my heart, thank-you for yours.

5.17.2013

It Just Hurts

Well this week was quite the whirlwind.

On Sunday morning when The Man and I talked about our new "plan," I had no idea what this week would bring. How could I? I mean, I'm the girl who barely sees P+14 most cycles, with the occasional tease of a P+16.

So many reasons to not hope:

We only used 1 day before and then peak day.
I got a UTI as a result of peak day, so I was put on antibiotics.
I only took one dose of HCG on P+3 (I had forgotten to reorder in the UTI craziness, and I just didn't care, because I was sure we wouldn't have conceived b/c of the UTI).
On Mother's Day, P+14, my usual spotting started.
On P+17 I had a BFN.

And yet:

The spotting stopped.
And the cramping started. And stopped.
And I woke up on P+17.
I had blood test.
And I went to bed on P+17.
And I woke up on P+18.

And that is when it really happened.

Yesterday morning, I really let myself go there mentally and emotionally and, well, see:

When I got dressed for work, I picked out a new dress so that when I came home and got to tell The Man I would look extra nice.
I realized it was a Thursday, the day my spiritual director is in our offices and planned to tell him by asking him to do the blessing for a child in the womb.
I planned to tell my boss by telling her that the jokes we made yesterday about her needing to keep January & February clear next year were a reality.
I planned to write my Dad a letter from the point of view of a grandbaby explaining why I would still be going to Cedar Point but I wouldn't be riding all of the rides.
I thought how we'd go visit my in-laws and tell them, since my MIL reads here occasionally and I wouldn't want her to find out about a new grandbaby on the blog.
I thought back over the past 2 1/2 years and I wished I'd been a bit more open about our infertility, that I'd not kept quite as quiet as I have.
I thought about how I would text and email friends before I posted anything.

Yes friends, I let myself go there. In my mind and heart, for a few hours this morning, I was pregnant.

And then, in the middle of a meeting, AF started and I felt my heart break into pieces like I've never felt. I got hot and felt light-headed and needed to get some water, if only to stand up and be able to take a deep breath without being obvious.

When I got back to my office, I emailed my boss to update her and ask for her prayers. I replied to a couple of texts and I updated here and in the FB group. And I fought back tears like I have never fought them back before.

I went to Mass at lunch, then to a lunch meeting with a group. I laughed and chatted, while all I really wanted to do was close the door to my office and cry.

Later in the afternoon, my spiritual director stopped in and asked how I was. And while I knew he was just being social, I couldn't help it. The events of the week tumbled out of my mouth and he listened. Kindly and patiently. And when I was finished, he gave me a hug, said he was sorry and that he would pray for The Man and me.

I made it all the way until I got in the car for my commute home and then I finally lost it. I think I cried the entire hour and 15 minute drive.

I finally told The Man about the events of this week. I thought I made it clear I wasn't pregnant, but apparently I didn't right away and for a split second he thought he was a daddy. The ONE thing I didn't want to happen this week, getting The Man's hopes up and having to disappoint him, and I couldn't even get that right. While it was only a brief second, I felt so bad.

I emailed this to a friend in the midst of my P+17 hope:

I have also found that hope, even when unrealized, is good for the soul. It brings life and light to fear and darkness. At least that is my experience. I've learned to let myself ride the hope wave (while being realistic) and to accept the crashing that comes with it - for even in the crash of waves there is beauty, sometimes it just hurts.

I am grateful for the hope I felt this week, but right now, it just hurts.

5.16.2013

The Still Small Voice *Updated*

Update: I woke up to P+18. It is now CD1. AF just arrived. Sorry for taking you all on this roller coaster with me. Thank-you so much for all of the prayers and love. They were truly felt.

*Update at the bottom*

Original Post (5/15/2013, 11:00am)
Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
(Need You Now, Plumb)
The facts:

It is P+17.

I've never seen P+17 before. Ever.

I tested this morning.

BFN.

AF has not arrived.

The cramping I had yesterday is gone.

The spotting has come and gone. Most recent trip to the bathroom: gone.

I am a little lot confused, so I called the FCPs at my doctor's office.

I'm waiting to hear back, but she thought they'd order blood work.

And then there is this:
There is a post, a draft sitting in my blogger dashboard all written for CD1. I wrote it on Sunday, figuring I would publish it Monday, or yesterday at the latest.

You see, last week, on Tuesday, I was driving in southern West Virginia for work. There is a reason this state is called "Almost Heaven West Virginia" and "West, by God, Virginia," and if you spend any time on her roads, you will see it. There are few times I truly see God than when I am traveling through this beautiful state, and Tuesday was one of those days. One of the days when I was overcome with just how clear it is to me God exists, and how awesome He is. I found that no matter what music I turned on (pop, country, Christian, instrumental) it was too loud, it was noise. So I turned it off, and I allowed myself to get lost in the beauty in front of me (while keeping an eye on the road of course!).

In the silence, surrounded by God, I began to reflect on our infertility and just what was to come next. Knowing that I had a UTI as a result of our peak day "date," I had little hope for this cycle. That meant it was time to make the next "plan." In my heart, I was feeling like we were done, but not really. We were done with medications to help us conceive, but not done TTC.

As I pondered what this might mean, I heard a quiet voice, you could say, a still, small voice in my left ear, as if someone were in the car with me, say "Trust Me."

I was immediately at peace and felt calmer than I have in months.

I decided I would let this "plan" set for a few days, sleep on it, and then discuss with The Man over the weekend. On Mother's Day morning, as I told him I was anticipating my period starting that day, I then shared my thoughts. I didn't tell him about the car ride or the peace I had felt. I just share "the plan." His response?:

"I was thinking the exact same thing."

And so we agreed. We weren't done TTC, but we did need at least a break from the meds and blood draws. We agreed that since everything else had been done in 6-month increments, so too would this. We would re-evaluate in October.

And yet, it is P+17 with a BFN and no sign of AF.

Trust Me.

I am trying.

Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
(Need You Now, Plumb)

*Update as of 6:30pm, 5/15/2013:
It is still P+17. During an afternoon Mass to celebrate our Bishop's 42nd Anniversary of his Priestly Ordination, I was sure AF was coming. It was all Diocesan staff and priests, I knew I had to hold it together. I went to the bathroom after and saw (TMI warning) black spotting in my underwear, and a bit when I wiped. I was sure it was AF. I went back to the bathroom 2 hours later and nothing. In between those times, my doctors office called back and wanted HCG and progesterone levels checked with blood work. They emailed me the order and I left a half-hour early to make sure I got to the lab before they closed. I made one more stop at a rest area n my way home just to be sure I wasn't being foolish. Nothing. So, my blood has been drawn and I'll get the results tomorrow. I've had a bit of brown spotting again, so I'm not getting my hopes up. I can't thank you all enough for the prayers, texts, messages, etc. I feel them and know that my sense of peace (despite my frantic bouncing back and forth between "OMG, I'm pregnant" and "there is NO WAY I'm pregnant" all day) is all due to your prayers, so again, thank-you! Be it done unto me according to Thy Word. 

5.10.2013

Mother's Day: Setting the Record Straight

I've seen many many many posts about Mother's Day. Not surprising considering I mostly frequent the blogs of Catholic women who practice NFP.

I've seen the range of posts from Mother's Day is the best holiday ever to Mother's Day should be cancelled and everything in between and tangents off to the side. I even started to write my own post reflecting on Mother's Day, but it turned into more of a rant.

SO, I thought I'd do something different and share about Mother's Day and it's origins. You see, back in 4th grade when we were studying West Virginia History, we studied famous West Virginians and at our open house, we each had to prepare an index card of details about our famous West Virginian to share with parents. We also dressed up as the person assigned to us.

I was assigned Anna Jarvis, from Grafton, WV: Founder of, you guessed it, Mother's Day.

Oh, the irony.

Anyway, so here are the details:

In 1907, to honor her mother who had died two years prior, Anna Jarvis, held a memorial service and began a campaign to have "Mother's Day" recognized as a national holiday. She succeeded in 1914 and since that time the second Sunday of May each year is reserved as a day to honor mothers. Carnations have been used to honor mothers from that very first celebration in 1907 because it was Anna Jarvis' mother's favorite flower. It is customary that a woman wear a white carnation to honor a deceased mother or a pink carnation to honor a living mother. Despite this custom to wear a carnation, Anna Jarvis herself fought agains the sale of flowers and candy for Mother's Day. She did not want it to be taken up by commercialism. The International Shrine for Mother's Day is located at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, WV, a mere 25 minute drive from my front door.

While this obviously doesn't offer us advice for how to celebrate or get through Mother's Day (or wherever on the spectrum in between the two you are), it should at least set aside the notion that Mother's Day was invented by Hallmark (though Hallmark has sure done it's best to claim and destroy what Anna Jarvis started).

We will be hosting a "Mother's Day Tea" with my mom, MIL, and SILs to celebrate the "mothers in our family" as my invitation said. By hosting, it guarantees I will get up, shower, and put make-up on. I can't promise I'll make it to Mass, I didn't last year and this year is so much worse. But I will try. Oh, and there will be wine. Lots of wine. (Especially since I do believe AF will be arriving just in time for me to put the appetizers in the oven.)

But at least I will have set the record straight.

5.07.2013

Pittsburgh Half-Marathon Recap

This is the photo taken at the end of the race and sent to Sara saying "we're finished!"
Distance: 13.1 miles.
Time: 2 hours, 31 minutes, 48 seconds.

A little (ok, a lot) slower than I wanted, but I finished and that is always my first goal, so I'll take it! I want to recap the race, but I want to be clear that I'm not complaining or making excuses. I'm proud of my time, when I think that just 1 year ago this very weekend I wasn't sure I could run more than 6 miles at a time and then I think about each of those 7.1 miles past that point that I ran Sunday I am still in amazement.

While I ran my first race distance of 13.1 miles in October, I feel like this was my first "real" half-marathon. Running a race with 30,000 people in it in a city 90 minutes away is way different than one with 250 in it in my back yard.

When we started, I couldn't figure out a way to get a good pace going. It took about 5 - 6 miles for the pack of people to really thin out where you could run your own pace and not have to worry too much about others around you. I was also very distracted by all of the things to look at and see - there were spectators lining the streets. It was awesome. Just an example of how I had trouble pacing myself at one point I looked down and was running faster than an 8 minute-mile. I realized how dangerous it was for me to keep up at the pace and slowed myself down. About a quarter mile later I looked down and was running about a 13 minute-mile. I realized that this was way too slow and it was no wonder I felt like I was walking. When my watched beeped that my first mile was 10:59, I admit, I was really upset. I knew to meet my goal time of 2:15:00, I had to keep under 10:14 miles. I was pretty proud of myself for shaking it off and just determining to run my race and not get hung-up on my finish time.

Near the mile 3 point fluid station, I took 2 cups of water and swallowed a Gu (it's a gel that is full of electrolytes and protein to help keep energy up) just like I always do in a race. Well, it didn't sit on my stomach well. Not. at. all. I thought I was gonna vomit. I didn't. However, the feeling persisted until the very end of the race. For approximately 10 miles I was nauseous. About mile 5 when I realized the nausea wasn't going away, I just tried to push it out of my mind. I succeeded for the most part. I did opt to not eat any more of my Gus, and just drank Gatorade and water at the fluid stops.

Crossing the 4th of 5 bridges, I was starting to struggle, but I new I'd see my Uncle (my cousin was also running) just past mile 7, and that was coming up. This gave me the motivation to keep going, and when I saw him, and another Uncle too!, as I turned a corner down a hill, I was overjoyed. I high-fived them both and I think that excitement carried me through to at least mile 9 or 10.

The last 3 miles - most which were uphill. Big hills. See:

The last 3 miles. Knowing I was getting close, knowing what I had to go up, knowing that I was not going to make my goal time of 2:15:00, and knowing that I was dangerously close to not beating my first half-marathon time, I was tempted to just ease up and finish comfortably. So tempted.

But I didn't. I ran up as much of those hills as I could, and I forced myself to move faster than I wanted down the hills. As I headed down the final slope to the finish line, I'd be lying if I said my thoughts didn't go to Boston. I'd only run 1/2 of what those runners had, and to imagine that joy turned to tragedy - it made me shudder. As I finished my race and crossed the finish line, I felt that accomplishment, that rush of doing what I used to think I couldn't do and I was grateful I'd opted to truly race the last 3 miles and not just coast in.

As I finally got a good drink of water and ate a banana, and quit running - even moving - my nausea slowly dissipated and I ate my Smiley Cookie:
(after 13.1 miles, I didn't care it had gluten in it. It's times like this I'm super grateful I just have an "intolerance" and one cookie once in a while won't bother me) and allowed myself to think back over the race and this is what I determined:

It wasn't the race I planned or wanted. But it was my race and I'm grateful for and proud of every step of it.

5.03.2013

I Win!

One year ago, I took one-step forward in my goal to live the life I have.

So, my two options were:

1) I'm going to register for this race and I'm going to be pregnant or newly postpartum and not be able to run. I lose $55, but am a mommy. I win!

2) I'm going to register for this race and I'm not going to be pregnant or newly postpartum, but I will run a half-marathon. I win!

I was good with both of these outcomes. In fact it was the realization that no matter what happened, I was going to be OK.

Ironically, or not, I will not be running the half marathon this coming August.

1) First, I knew I wouldn't be running it a few months ago when one of my bestest friends asked me to be godmother to her daughter. The date for the baptism was set for the same day as the race. I'll take sacraments over sweat any day!

2) Then, last week we got an email that the Rock 'n Roll Pittsburgh Half that was supposed to be this August was postponed to 2014. We could change our registration to any other Rock 'n Roll half or get a refund. I opted for the refund.

So, it seems running that race was never meant to be a part of my life.

But, I still win in so. many. ways.

1) I didn't lose any money. (Always a good thing!)

2) I have a new goddaughter on the way.

3) I knew if I waited 18 months between registering for and actually running my first half-marathon, I would just sit on my butt until about 3 months before and not really train. So I registered for a half in the fall. I trained and I ran last October.

4) I found a release in running that I never expected. This time last year I was convinced my body couldn't go more than 6 miles. Now 6 miles is a short run. Infertility shook my confidence in my body, I felt broken and like I didn't work right. Running restored that faith in my physical being.

5) I've lost weight! My latest shopping trip found me fitting comfortably into clothes 2 sizes smaller than last year.

6) I have enjoyed running so much, that I'm registered for the Marine Corps Marathon in October.  I had to run a 17.75 kilometer race (11.03 miles) to ensure I'd get a spot and not get frozen out during the regular registration and every. single. mile. was worth it.

Today, I am heading back to Pittsburgh. I've run the 5k the last 2 years, but this year, I will be running on Sunday. I will be running the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon tomorrow. I have a time goal and not just a "finish and don't keel over from exhaustion" goal. I will be back in that same expo center. Last year, I was in awe of all of the runners around me, thinking that a 5K was all I would ever run in Pittsburgh. I said over and over again, I'm not really a runner. A 5K is it for me. This year, I feel like a runner.

The only thing missing is my friend, Sara, who is usually with me. Encouraging me and setting the bar high. This weekend, she is recovery from her breast cancer surgery. She is doing well, but obviously running a marathon isn't approved 2 1/2 weeks after a mastectomy and reconstruction.  She will be with me though. Just as when I ran the 17.75K, I will pick up her race packet (she was registered before she knew about the cancer) and I will gently peel her tracking strips off her bib number and when I safety pin my number to the front of my shirt she will run right along with me. She doesn't know it, though she might read this :), but I will wear a number of hers every. single. race. I run until the day we are standing at the start line together again. Every step I take in a race until then is offered up for her and her recovery. She will win, too!

No, I will not be running a race on Aug. 4 this year.

No, I am not pregnant or a new mommy.

No, I did not spend $55 unnecessarily.

But I win!

5.01.2013

Adopt-a-Blogger


I am humbled that Amy has picked me for the adopted blogger for May, especially since she is facing her own struggles. Amy, since I can't offer my own sufferings up for myself, I will be offering them for you this month!

If this is your first visit here, welcome and thank-you for any and all prayers you may say for us this month. Also, if you are new to our story and want the long version, click on "Me, The Man, and Infertility" under my header for a timeline, links to a few key posts, and a link to all posts with the label "infertility."

The short version:

The Technical Stuff:
The Man and I got married in 2004.
We have been TTC since September 2010.
I have been diagnosed with:

  • PCOS with insulin resistance (treated with metformin and letrozole)
  • Endometreosis (stage 2, removed January 2012)
  • Blocked tubes (opened January 2012)
  • Low progesterone (treated with post-peak HCG)
  • Infections (treated with antibiotics Fall 2012)
The Man is good.
As we near the end of our 18-month surgery window we face the question of what comes next. If we do not conceive in the next 2 cycles, we must answer this question.
Currently we are at the start of our 2WW.


The Emotional Stuff:
Where do I even start? In keeping it short, I will say this:
Infertility has taught me that I am capable of more pain than I thought possible, it has brought me to my knees. It has also taught me I am capable of giving more love than I thought possible. It has brought more sorrow into my life than any other one event, but it has also brought joy in the form of friendships and deep faith. It is a balance unlike any other. A road I would never have chosen, but that I am grateful for in that complex way that anyone is grateful for pain or struggle. I have learned to choose hope, even when it leads to pain.

Finally, if I could humbly ask, whether this is your first visit here or you are a regular, would you please leave a comment with a prayer intention of yours? I would be honored to return the favor of prayer to you. Also, if you are usually a lurker, I would love it if you would introduce yourself - in the internet-sense of doing so - an anonymous comment with a pseudonym is fine.