2012, In Review

Tonight we will celebrate the end of 2012 and ring in 2013 with dinner with my Dad at a local restaurant and I'm sure The Man and I will be sleeping long before midnight rolls around, we're wild and crazy like that.  To end the year, I thought I'd create a summary of posts from 2012, one month at a time (If you click on the month name, it will take you to all of the posts from that month, you know if you're snowed in and have finished reading the rest of the internet and are looking for something to do). Some of these are favorites and others mark important turns in our road.

I do this, not so much because I expect you to go back and reread them, but as a way to capture it all in one place for myself.

Thank-you to all of you for the love, prayers, and friendship you showed to me this year. 2012 certainly had it's ups and downs, but all of you are by far one of the best "ups".

January - I was Hoping for Hope just before my surgery.

February - Michelle and I (and many others) shared how We are the 98%.

March - I took a look at what this blogging community means to me and Why I Need Your Stories.

April - I reflected on Infertility Awareness Week.

May - It was time to take One Step Forward.

June - We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary and I reflected on the Healing Grace with which we have been gifted.

July - We moved and it was Bittersweet.

August - In Quick Takes style, I shared about a retreat experience I'd just returned home from.

September - My post about Kali is one of my favorites ever, though it was hard to pick just one from this month.

October - I ran my first half-marathon and shared my Race Recap.

November - In the month of giving thanks, I shared why I Am Thankful for Infertility.

December - After starting the month with sadness, I finally realized it was time to Surrender.

With prayers for joy for you all, I say Happy New Year Friends!


Quick Takes

1. Merry Christmas! (One of my favorite things about being Catholic is that I can be 3 days late, and not be late at all ;)). I hope you all had a beautiful first few days of Christmas and continue to enjoy this season. Now, if I can just get the 2nd round of Christmas cards out before Epiphany...

2. This Advent I was privileged to pray for Hebrews! I offered my Daily Masses for her intentions and when I got out of my funk I asked God if He would be so kind as to accept my struggling retroactively on behalf of Hebrews. I sure hope He works that way! Thank-you to any of you who also prayed for Hebrews when I was having a hard time.

3. Christmas definitely won this year. Saturday (22nd) evening I started having back spasms (not unusual for me, but usually I can hold them off or prevent them from happening at all with exercises from my PT). Despite all of my efforts, needing to be in the kitchen working the 22nd, 23rd, and much of the 24th, lead to a miserable Christmas Day. Thank goodness we were going to my Dad's house and The Man was willing to make what we were taking with us. I've spent the rest of this week on a combination of muscle relaxers and much higher doses of ibuprofen than the bottle says is safe. Finally this morning I woke up to no spasms and only the familiar pain that is leftover for a few days.

4. I'm supposed to be running a half-marathon in 8 days. I can barely walk up the stairs at this point... :(.

5. Speaking of Prayer Buddies, so many of you have posted about praying specifically for those of us who are still waiting. Thank-you for remembering and praying for us, I am more grateful than I could say here, and I do believe it was due to those prayers and my prayer buddy's prayers that helped to soften my heart and give me the courage to give my Fiat.

6. As I write this, I have CNN on in the background and they are talking all about the Fiscal Cliff. At some point representatives have become completely politicians and don't seem to care one way or the other about the people they are supposed to represent. Maybe instead of having to cut their lavish "holiday" vacations short they should've stayed in Washington until they worked out a real solution - not just a band aid that has to be fixed again in 6 months. Lord, have mercy.

7. Tomorrow is WVU's bowl game. We play in the Pinstripe Bowl vs. Syracuse, an old Big East foe. We are watching the game at one of our tailgate buddies home and we will, of course, be taking pepperoni rolls with us. The Steelers are out of the playoffs, so after Sunday football season will be over for me. It's been a rough year, so I can't say I'm terribly disappointed, but come mid-March I will be ready for spring ball to start!


Be Born in Me

Before my head agrees, my heart is on its knees.

Mrs. Fitz introduced me to this song:

While every word of my last 2 posts is true, I feel like they may be giving a bit of a false sense of how well I'm doing, of how "amazing" I am (to use Catholic Mutt's word - I didn't argue with you in your comment, you get a whole post instead ;)). Before Monday, I was truly feeling like I was at the end of my rope, overcome with sadness and truly wondering just how much more I could take. There was a sense of desperation as I walked into my appointment with Fr. D, a sense of "this session needs to be really good because it's gotta get me through Christmas and New Years."

I am completely unworthy of the gift I was given this week, a gift that really was given to me in August, I just wasn't ready to open it yet. I am questioning everything, specifically why I am granted this reprieve, this break from the sadness and a chance to experience joy this Christmas, joy I was sure I wouldn't feel.

My head is fighting my heart on this fiat every step of the way. And my heart is torn in two, one part wants to skip and jump for joy, while at the same time the other part is breaking because I want to share this joy with everyone. I want every. single. one. of. you. who is reading this to get a reprieve from your suffering, whatever the cause. I am so not worthy of this.

And I know that this joy won't last forever. It is merely a rest stop on the road. It is the calm before the storm, I suspect. But it is a much needed rest stop, yet I don't understand why it was given to me and not one of you.

On one hand, my head says that in releasing my vice grip of control, I'm giving up, coping out, taking the easy option, and my heart is on its knees.

On the other hand, my head realizes exactly what this means and insists that I continue to grasp for control, continue to avoid the pain of following Mary's yes, and my heart is on its knees.

Because if I follow Mary's yes, it leads from a stable on a cold winter night to a hill top on a dark Friday afternoon. And my heart is on its knees.

I am keenly, intensely aware of the indescribable grace I have been gifted this week, mostly because I know I am not worthy of it; that I will fail to honor it daily. It should have been one of you who was given this gift of grace, of joy. Why it was me, I will never understand. The only, potential (pathetic, grasping at straws, desperate for a reason) reason that makes sense is this:

I tend to overshare here, this place is truly my journal and there is very little in my private journal (read: unpublished posts) that doesn't get published. In this over-sharing, I have questioned the fact that those of us in the IF blog-world always talk about answered prayers, and in these answered prayers there is always a baby (be it birthed or adopted). Yet, I know there are more prayers that have been answered on this road than just the granting of children. I also know how in the darkness it seems like no prayers are answered and we are left to grasp and fight for control and cry.

So, my sad little answer to my question "why me?" is this: so that when I'm doubting and feeling forsaken I have a place to come back to where I can be reminded that we are never foresaken, and maybe, just maybe, someone, someday will read these words and realize they are not forsaken either.

All I can do is be thankful for the joy, be thankful for the grace that is so clearly a gift we cannot earn, and pray for the grace to remember this gift when the darkness comes back. My heart is on its knees.

I am not brave
I'll never be
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy
I'm just a girl
Nothing more
But I am willing, I am Yours.

Be born in me.


Humble Faith

I was at Daily Mass yesterday, a day after finally realizing it was time to surrender and I went a bit early to spend some time in prayer. I intended to pray at Mary's spot, but I got mixed up and would've had to walk across the Cathedral in my heals and I didn't want to disturb everyone else, so I just went to my usual spot. I knew I'd get interrupted with the Angelus at Noon, and I was looking forward to it. But in the meantime here was my prayer:

Lord, I meant it yesterday when I said I was surrendering to you.
Mary, I'm gonna need your help with this. I realize that by saying "Thy will be done" I am most likely also saying yes to more pain. I'm gonna need help not getting frustrated or trying to grasp control. 
Mary and Jesus, I give my yes, my fiat. I am prepared for wherever we need to go, so long as we go together.
My womb is yours, for better or worse. Whether this leads to joy or pain, it is all yours.
Please be with me.

Those were not my exact words, but that was the gist of it. Getting interrupted by the Angelus to honor Mary just seemed appropriate.

And then Mass started, and we got to the Liturgy of the Word.

How many times during one mass can the word "barren" be used? I'm pretty sure that the Wednesday during the week of the 3rd Sunday of Advent wins the award for most times. Both the Old Testament reading (about Manoah's wife and Samson, from Judges) and the New Testament (about Elizabeth and Zachariah) were about once barren women conceiving. Now, in the Cathedral for daily mass it felt like the word "barren" was echoing extra loud, almost surrounding and taunting me. I remembered being angry during Advent last year and I forced myself to focus on the miracles of Samson and John rather than the barrenness of Manoah's wife and Elizabeth.

And then, it was time for the Homily. The priest celebrating Mass was not our usual Monsignor who I love and look forward to, instead it was a newly ordained priest. Now, in general this newly ordained priest is good and it's been neat to watch him gain confidence, but today, I was dreading it. In my head, I just knew he was going to focus on the impossibility of Manoah's wife and Elizabeth's pregnancies, tie them to Mary's and focus all on how God answers prayers in His time and that all things are possible with God. (And, just to keep it real here, in my head I was thinking "blah, blah, blah". Gee, wonder why I need spiritual direction?)

And then Father gave his homily. One of his most confident, to the point homilies to date. It was so good, I grabbed my journal and took notes! He briefly touched on the pregnancy of Elizabeth, but then he turned to Zachariah and Mary, and he compared how they responded to the news from Gabriel. Each was given news of a baby that was to be. Each responded with a question, but it was the spirit with which they asked their question that made all the difference.

Mary's question was "How can this be?", a simple question of fact since she had not been with a man; a request for a bit more information. Upon being told it was the will of God, she accepted saying "be it done unto me according to Thy will." It was a humble assertion of her faith. The angel then went to Joseph to assure him it was the right thing to do to take Mary into her home, immediately protecting Mary, if preemptively.

Zachariah's question was "How will I know this?" It was a desire for control, to know and understand. It was a direct questioning and doubting of what Gabriel had told him. The angle then struck Zachariah silent, and the only way he would regain the power of speech would be to follow the will of God and name the child John.

Both Mary and Zachariah questioned the angel, it was not the act of questioning that caused the problem. It was the motive behind the question. Mary was curious and confused. Zachariah was grasping for control. Both are, of course, reasonable reactions to an angel giving you seemingly impossible news. And Zachariah follows the angel's instructions and is given his speech back after naming his son John. But Mary was much more willing to accept what the angel had told her, without need for understanding.

As Father continued with his homily he challenged us to be like Mary, to say yes to God in humble faith, especially in the difficult times in our life; to not be like Zachariah and challenge God or grasp for control.

If I ever doubted that I need to get over myself and start praying the Litany of Humility, it is now very clear that is exactly what I need to do. I was totally prepared to be annoyed and put off by a new priest's homily, and instead this new priest not only reinforced my prayer and my desire to truly say Fiat!, he also showed me very clearly what will happen if I continue to grasp for control like Zachariah. I am grateful my thoughts were only in my head because I am thoroughly embarrassed by them (yet, I put them here...again, keeping it real).

While I may not be physically struck mute, I will be unable to bring glory to God through my suffering  of our infertility. I will forever be stuck in my questioning. If I want to lead others to Christ, following the example of His Mother (the verse "Do whatever He tells you" from the Wedding Feast at Cana immediately entered my mind, from the very beginning Mary was always leading others to her Son). While we are certainly permitted to question, it is the nature of our questions that are important. Do they come from a place of humble faith like Mary or a place of grasping like Zachariah?

Then, today at Mass, the readings first told us of Ahaz in the Old Testament and how even though his words seemed humble and noble on the surface, the truth of his lack of faith was shown in his actions. Then, today in the Gospel we focused on Mary's response. Her humble "yes" with her powerful words "Be it done unto me according to Thy word."

The same priest continued with his reflection on the differences between Mary's yes and Ahaz's pretense of faith. Once again challenging us to be humble in our faith, and also steadfast. To allow our faith to guide our actions and to have faith in the Lord. To not question like Zachariah in order to control or put on pretense like Ahaz, but to have a bold, yet humble faith and submit ourselves to God as His handmaiden, just as Mary did.

It is this humble faith I seek. This ability to no longer grasp for control, but rather to be molded and grow. This ability to be truly open to the Lord and to live this openness authentically. 

Again I say, and I will probably say it often because I'm much more like Zachariah and Ahaz than I am Mary, so I will need frequent reminders: Fiat! Be done unto me according to Thy word.

Our Lady of Peace, pray for us.



Wow. Nothing like being told to "relax" by your spiritual director - and agreeing with him! I will give him full credit, as he didn't actually use the word "relax" but as I was driving home, reflecting on our conversation, that was essentially what he told me to do. And as I said, I agree with him.

Our conversation led to him asking where we were at medically (remember he was a nurse before he was a priest, and he's familiar with NaPro, so it's nice to just be able to speak and not have to stop and define every other word). After I finished answering him, he asked me a question:

Do you trust your doctor?
Do you trust your doctor, totally?
Do you, really?

At this point, I was starting to wonder why he kept asking, why he was belaboring this point and if I'm totally honest, getting a little frustrated. (And in my head, I was thinking he might have a different doctor recommendation for me and I wasn't entirely thrilled with that prospect was very annoyed at that idea.) So I asked the question, "why?"

And it was then that he said:

Stop thinking about it. Stop worrying about it. Let your doctor be your doctor.

I'm pretty sure I was stunned into silence for at least 5 seconds (an eternity if you know me). And then our conversation continued, specifically onto the two ends of a sexual relationship between a husband and a wife - the procreative and the unitive. I shared how The Man and I have worked to preserve the unitive aspect and how we are both scared that we could go backwards and undo some of the healing that took place when we learned NFP. I also shared how many months, during the fertile days I either pick a stupid fight or end up crying in the bathroom after making love with The Man because of the pressure of it all. And that is when Fr. D pointed out that this is not exactly contributing to the unity between The Man and me. While we are not doing anything to deliberately separate the unitive and procreative aspects, we are still doing just that. The pressure that is placed on the fertile days has become intense and no matter how hard we've tried to prevent it, it is having an impact.
And this is why he wanted to know if I trusted my doctor. Because if I do, then I must stop worrying about every little detail. I must take my medication as prescribed and keep my chart as directed, but I have no more control than that. I must, of all things, relax. If I want to conceive, I must create fertile ground, and not just physically. I must find a way to spiritually and emotionally relax and be OK with not having control. And as I write this, I see he was talking about much more than just conceiving a child, if I want my marriage to bear fruit, to be life-giving in all ways, then I have to let it, I can't let the weeds of my stress stifle any beauty that wants to blossom. I have to find a way to let go and let God, to put it simply. I have to remind myself, even in the midst of the fertile days, that we will be OK.

It wasn't until I was reflecting on it on the way home that I realized it connected directly back to an evening in Adoration when I was on retreat in August. Remember? The retreat where I asked God to break my heart...and He did. I was taken back to a page of notes I had taken after spending almost an hour literally sobbing before Our Lord, begging Him to see me, to hear me, to help me. I didn't need to look at the notes I knew exactly what the top of the page looked like, and the words on it:

Physical Infertility and Spiritual Infertility

What followed was basically a listing of questions, of wondering if a physical infertility was leading to a spritual infertility or vice versa? Of how one area of infertile ground could be leading to another. I asked if the silence and distance I was feeling in my spiritual life was related to the emptiness in my womb...and if so, which one came first?

It was as if all of the questions I asked back in August started to have answers now. Yes, my hardened heart and my physical infertility are connected. Yes, they are contributing to one another. And yes, I have to do something about it. But not in the sense of grasping for control and dictating what the outcome must be, instead, I must allow the Lord to create an environment in me in which new life can grow - new spiritual life for myself and The Man, new life in the form of good health for me, new life to the world in a marriage that reflects the love of Christ, and maybe, just maybe, new physical life in the form of a baby. But one thing is for sure, if I keep grasping and trying to control everything, I may end up with nothing.

And suddenly, what Fr. Jon on my retreat told me to do, that I've been resisting and fighting and struggling with, made all the sense in the world.

Give your womb to Jesus and to Mary.

And that is how I shall relax. I shall truly let go, and let God. I will put my marriage and our relationship (emotionally, spiritually, and physically) first. I will honor our duty to hold the procreative and unitive ends of our sexual relationship in the proper tension. And I will accept the outcome.

I also understand the sadness I've been feeling a bit more. It is a result of fighting so hard to control everything and losing. Of course I am sad that we are not yet parents, and I don't expect that to go away anytime soon, if ever. I also expect to continue the roller coaster of emotions that happens every cycle. But, if I can somehow gain some control, ultimately by giving it up completely I know I will be better for it, in all aspects.

I've finally realized I can't control this. I can't force the outcome of this. I can continue to try and make it worse or I can surrender. So, as Christmas draws near, I give my Fiat! and I say Be it done unto me according to Thy will and I place every life-giving piece of me and The Man, body, heart, and soul, in the hands of Mary and her Son.

Our Lady of Peace, pray for us.



I'm not sure where to start, or if I'm honest, where this will go. I do know it is one of those time where I just have to let it out.

Today marks four years of blogging for me, and I've learned sometimes I just have to write down what comes out.

It is also CD2.

Yep, there will be no positive pregnancy test wrapped up to give The Man as an early gift. There will be no fun gifts letting our parents know they will be grandparents.

Last year I wrote about how angry I was, and while there is still some anger, mostly it is just extreme sadness this year. Christmas was the first holiday to come around when we started TTC, it was the first time I planned how we'd tell our families and the first time I really felt the disappointment of not conceiving. Of course, I was disappointed during the first 2 cycles, but it was the cycle that ended in mid-December that somehow made me realize having a baby wasn't going to be easy for us. And it has surely proven to be anything but easy.

The Man is doing his best to get us both through this Advent and Christmas season. I think he suspects just how hard this is this year. He surprised me with our Christmas tree last weekend and we went to a concert on Sunday when he told me it was time to start creating our own traditions. I agreed, saying, we can't keep waiting for what might never happen. And then, when we got home, I proceeded to pick a fight and then sob myself to sleep before he came up to bed. In the middle of the night I had such bad cramps they woke me up - that never happens. And yesterday, just in time to put a dark cloud over the day my Dad and I had planned, AF showed up first thing in the morning with a vengeance.

If I'm honest, I could care less that Christmas is coming. Lovely, right? If it were truly up to me, I'd not put up a single decoration and I'd just sleep from Dec. 23 until at least New Year's. But it's not up to me, nor is Christmas about me. So, we are hosting Christmas Eve at our home and continuing to start our own traditions rather than waiting until children arrive.

In January we will have to start, once again, making some decisions about what the future will look like. When Dr. S. did my surgery last January, he told me that my tubes were only "guaranteed" to be open for 12 - 18 months. January is 12 months.

There is all of this, and there is my Nan and wondering just how long she will go until the next intestinal blockage and how severe it will be which will affect how much longer she will be with us. And there is my Dad who shared yesterday that his doctor said he could have as little as 2 years left because the melanoma will come back. He is cancer free today, but we don't know how long that will last. It could be 2 years, it could be 20, but we know it will come back. And The Man, who is working so hard his body is fighting back. He is dealing with some shoulder issues that could require him to take some time off work to let it rest and heal, and I see the strain that prospect places on him, even though he won't admit it.

The sadness and fear have settled over me in a way I've never known before. It is all so overwhelming and daunting. My prayers are despearte cries to God to hold me in His grace and begging Him to protect my marriage with the grace of our sacrament (our marriage is doing ok, but I know The Man is bearing the burden of having to give his 100% and most of mine too right now). I am doing my best to offer it up for you prayer buddy, but I feel like I'm failing miserably. So, if whoever is my prayer buddy is reading this, could you please also pray for the person I am praying for as well, I would be extremely grateful because I know what I am offering right now is pathetic.

All I Can Say
{David Crowder Band}
Lord, I'm tired
So tired from walking
And Lord I'm so alone
And Lord the dark is creeping in
Creeping up to swallow me
I think I'll stop, rest here a while

And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give
And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give, that's my everything.

Lord, did You see me crying?
And didn't You hear me call Your name?
Wasn't it You I gave my heart to?
I wish You'd remember where You'd set it down.

And this is all I can say right now
And this is all that I can give
And this is all that I can say right now, right now
I know it's not much
And this is all that I can give, yeah, that's my everything.

I didn't notice You were standing here
I didn't know that that was You holding me
I didn't notice You were crying too
I didn't know that that was You washing my feat.

And this is all
This is all that I can say right now
Oh, I know it's not much
But this is all that I can give
Yeah that's my everything
This is all that I can say right now, right now
I know it's not much
But this is all that I can give, yeah, that's my everything
This is all that I can say right now,
Oh I know it's not much.
But this is all that I can give, yeah that's my everything...
yeah that's my everything...
yeah, that's my everything...


Feeling the Emptiness

Laura Bush has written this on the subject of infertility:

The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only “I’m sorry for your loss.” But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?

I am feeling this emptiness that there are no words for in a way I'm not sure I have words for this evening. I'm sure it's because I'm tired and stressed from worrying, but it is there nonetheless. Prayer buddy, I'm offering it up for you.


Update on Nan, In Which I Mention Stupid Doctors

I could have sworn I had a post about stupid doctors somewhere in my archives but for the life of me I can't find it.

It was important because this was going to be titled "Stupid Doctors, Part 2".

First, I must thank-you all for the many prayers and kind comments on yesterday's post. I kept reading them over and over all day today as we were sitting with my Nan in her hospital room (I went with my Mom, on my Mom's request for moral support, to Pittsburgh today).

And it turns out that it is not a worst-case scenario, thank God!

The red spot on her side turned out to be an infected abscess, and perhaps some cellulitis. Hence the pain and redness (and itchy eyes - also a sign of cellulitis).

Not cancer, praise God.

Not another bowl blockage, praise God.

Not another hernia, praise God.

BUT, and this is where the stupid doctors come into play, this redness was there when she was discharged from the hospital on Thursday. She asked no less than 3 doctors and 2 nurses about it and it was completely brushed off. They thought she had a broken rib (from osteoporosis) and blamed it on that....even when she asked them to look at it, they did not give it full attention, each time brushing it off as the broken rib (that it turns out she probably doesn't have).

So, because some stupid doctors (and nurses, they aren't off the hook here) felt that they didn't need to take an 84 year old woman seriously when she said she had a spot that was red and bothering her, she ended up in the ER (because her home-health nurse took one look at it and insisted that they call her regular doctor who sent them to the ER), my Nan is back in the hospital, for another 3 - 4 days. She had to have a procedure to put in a drain and went over 24 hours without eating because she couldn't eat before the procedure.

The same 84 year old woman who has been hospitalized twice in the last 2 months for intestinal blockages.

Oh, and did any of these doctors even seem to be aware of this? NO! I wanted to ask the one that asked "why?" when my mom asked him to make sure her diet was listed as low-residue/low-fiber (to prevent the blockages) if he had even bothered to read her chart!

I understand doctors are extremely busy. I understand they are most likely over worked and that the insurance companies have a lot more say in patient care than they should.

BUT, at some point, they need to care for their patient. For the PERSON sitting in front of them expressing a need.

Thank God for that home-health nurse and a good neighbor who took my Nan to the hospital.

Thank God for good strong antibiotics that started making a difference before the drain was inserted.

And, if nothing else, I am hoping that at least one doctor or nurse that my Nan has said "I tried to tell them" to (she's told everyone who walked into the room - I don't recommend pissing off an 84-year old Italian lady ;)), will remember this, learn from it, and treat someone else with more care than my Nan got.

For now, I am done venting, and I'm going to focus on the positive. Nan should be fine from this. Yes, I sense the end of her life is getting closer, it doesn't feel as close as it did this time last night, and for that I am grateful.

Thank-you again for all of you for your prayers, I am extremely grateful.


My Nan

I really want to write about the awesome weekend that The Man and I had with Michelle and her DH.

Or about the bowl game the Mountaineers are going to.

Or about how I was "that" patient this month for my cycle review.

Or about how we are getting screwed thanks to Obamacare, so much for "those of you with insurance will not see any changes."

But I can't.

I haven't written about it so far because putting it here makes it real. But I have to now, because my Nan really needs the prayers.

A little over a month ago Nan had an intestinal blockage and was admitted to the hospital. This is not necessarily a new occurrence for her as she's had many surgeries to correct this problem that stems from a hernia she has that developed over 35 years ago.

Then she went home. For a week. And went back to the hospital for the same problem. Then home. That was Thursday. She agreed to consider an assisted living facility after Christmas (for lots of reasons, not just the intestinal problems).

Today she went back to the hospital because of a red, warm, sore spot on her side. A spot that was there when they discharged her on Thursday - what are these doctors thinking?

And when my mom calls to tell me, and ask if I can go with her to Pittsburgh tomorrow, she also mentions that a few months ago Nan mentioned a "spot" near her hernia, and her pancreas. The doctor palpated it and it didn't hurt, so they assumed it was related to the hernia. Well, this red spot, that is warm and sore on her side is also in the same area.

Nan's lost a lot of weight despite eating well. And now when they touch this spot, it hurts.

It doesn't look good. Yes, it good be nothing, but it also could be something.

We all agree (my Nan, mom, and my brother) that if it is cancer or something like that, it will not be treated. She can't take another surgery, anesthesia really wrecks her memory and chemo and radiation would just destroy her quality of life. And at 84, it really is about quality.

The only problem is, I'm not ready for this. And the anger at her never getting to be a Big Nan is already boiling up. One of our favorite things to do was take 4-generation photos of my Big Grandma, my Nan, my Mom, and me. I've dreamt of taking another one since I was the 4th generation. It's not fair. And frankly, it's not about me either. I know that. And I hate myself for even thinking about it through the lens of our IF.

I hate it, but it is time to shift my prayers from healing on earth to quality of life, whether it's 10 years or 10 months, my Nan has lived an amazing life and she deserves it. To pray for anything other than quality in her years is selfish.

So, my friends, if I could once again, humbly and with a very heavy heart, ask for your prayers. Prayers for my Nan, for quality of life, for my Mom, who, as an only child is feeling this burden immensely, and for my Nan's 2 sisters who I know can't be ready to see their big sister go, and ultimately, for God's peaceful presence to be with us all as we make decisions and try to do all the right things.


I Am Thankful For Infertility

No, this is not more of my spiritual direction homework and I've not lost my mind (that I know of :)). This is, however, something I have been reflecting on since my 3 for 3 post and E's comment about feeling bad for those who need charting to realize the Lord is in charge. It caused me to really pause and think about why it was I needed IF to realize the Lord is in charge. This led me to really consider what IF has taught me, both good and bad, and it led me to the realization that while IF has brought more pain than I ever imagined possible, it has also brought beauty, and in a way I don't fully understand, healing. It is the story of the cross and resurrection, the beauty and pain of life all mixed up together. So much of what gets recorded in this space is the cross and the tomb, but today, when we pause to give thanks, I am sharing some of the good. For each of these resurrections, there is a nail of pain that led to it. I have never been more aware of this than I am today, and I can only hope to continue to grow in this awareness.

So, without further ado, I am thankful for infertility because (in no particular order)...
  • If given the chance, I will be a better parent. I understand children are a gift more than I think I ever could have without infertility. I will be more patient, more calm, and more willing to forgive. I will not be the perfect parent, I am not delusional, but I will be better than I would have been.
  • I am kinder, more forgiving, and less quick to judge. I understand in a way I never could have otherwise that no matter how big the smile on someone's face they may be hurting more deeply than I can imagine. I see others and I wonder what their stories are, especially when they are less than kind to me.
  • I understand in a way I couldn't have without infertility that any children we may have are only ours temporarily. Ultimately they belong to God and it will be our job to raise them making sure they know to Whom they belong.
  • I've learned to live life rather than plan life. I spent so much time planning and getting ready for the next thing before infertility. It has forced me to slow down and realize that life isn't about planning, it's about living.
  • I have a faith deeper than I ever could've dreamt possible. For whatever reason, the Lord chose infertility to draw me close to Him. I'm still reflecting on what that means, but I've come to the conclusion that this was what I needed to truly learn to die to myself and to say "Thy will be done" and mean it.
  • I've learned that answered prayers come with great responsibility, and unanswered ones even greater. The grace that He has poured out on me humbles me beyond words, but it's not the grace that people are watching to see how I respond to, it is the unanswered prayer they are watching. How I react and live my life childless says more than how I live my life in His grace, at least to others. I think anyway.
  • I've learned just how much my family and friends mean to me. I've forgiven myself and those I love for things I swore I'd never forgive. I've let go of grudges, hard feelings, and negativity that I clung to like a life boat. I've embraced "forgive {me my} trespasses as {I} forgive those who trespass against {me}", like never before. When I first really considered how I forgave, I didn't like what I saw, so I changed it.
  • I've learned how a marriage without children is life-giving and I've embraced it. The Man and I have embraced true hospitality to others and no longer expect anything in return. We do our best to infuse life into the world around us. We fail daily at doing this as well as we should, but we are learning and growing.
  • I have learned that anything can change in a matter of seconds. I read this list and I think "wow, whoever wrote this sure seems all put together and 'with it'", and I realize that in a couple of weeks I may or may not relate to even one item on this list as I face yet another CD1. Time is fleeting, life is precious.
  • I am healthier. I eat better. I exercise. While this is still a work in progress, it is a huge improvement.
Last year, I dreaded today. And this year the holidays loom large and dark and my empty womb feels heavy in my body. Yet, in a way only possible through Christ, I hope and look forward. I still cannot believe that, somehow, we are still childless. But when I see this list, I see the gifts that I have been given wrapped up in infertility and I realize that I must be thankful for it and for them. The Lord knows me, and He knew that I could only learn these things (and more) if they were wrapped in infertility. Which leaves me with only one option, and that is to be thankful for infertility.

If the only prayer you ever said in your life was, "thank-you," that would suffice.
~Meister Eckhart


Spiritual Direction

One of the fruits of my retreat back in August was the suggestion/encouragement of the chaplain to seek out a spiritual director. This had been something I'd been considering for a while, but working for the diocese has presented a bit of a challenge for me. I wasn't sure at all how to approach a priest (I wanted a priest because I wanted to be able to incorporate confession) that I work with OR how I would feel about talking about struggles in my prayer life, marriage, etc with someone who is also a co-worker, even if somewhat removed. Well, turns out that Fr. Jon (from the retreat) is best friends with a priest here in WV. A priest who I already knew and who I knew I could trust to be faithful to the magisterium. While the importance of this is, I hope, somewhat obvious, it will make even more sense in a little bit.

When I got back from the retreat, I emailed Fr. D and asked if he would be open to being my spiritual director. In the email I expressed my nervousness about this process and especially that we work together, though not closely. Fr. D is the pastor at a parish nearby and I have worked with a couple of his couples who were preparing for marriage. One of the things that became clear to me at my retreat was that being accepted/fitting in/being viewed positively is one of my idols and I shared this with Fr. D, explaining that I needed to let go of this idol and by reaching out I was taking a first step.

SO, all of this said, we had our first meeting back in early October and our second meeting last week. The first meeting was, as I expected, a bit of a "get to know you" general meeting. Fr. D already knew my general story of past use of contraception and now IF (he was a nurse and in the Navy (but not a nurse in the Navy) before becoming a priest - cool, huh?). So, it was easy to get right to some of my emotions.

Leading into my second meeting, I was struggling. Really struggling. I don't often post about it here, but I have a really hard time with this question: "Did I do this to myself?" (meaning: did my 12 years of using contraception cause our IF? Did I do this (IF) to myself?) Now, I do not post this here partly because you are all always so kind and loving that I can hear your comments of love but also partly because so many of you did not use contraception and I'm sure it just rubs salt in your wounds when I share my hurts knowing that I might have, in fact, caused our IF. So, quite often I go to a pretty dark place when I start down this spiral. It is usually pretty fast and all-consuming. And because this is the place I came to process it, and I don't process this part here, the spiral is all that much faster and darker.

Just before my visit last week, I was heading down this spiral and happened to say so in an email to a friend (I was apologizing for sounding so whiny here when "I probably did this to myself."). Her response was nothing more than the hands and feet of Jesus reaching out to me. All day, when I would start down the spiral, I'd reread the email. And when I started my session with Fr. D it was the first thing I told him about - about my struggles with this issue and about the email.

Now, Fr. D's faithfulness to the Magisterium is obviously important, but because of this very issue it is extremely important to me. More important than the fact that he has not done a lot of spiritual direction and more important than whether or not we were coworkers. I needed someone I could trust to be straight with me, not let me BS my way out of things, and not sugar coat the truth when I needed to hear it. And he didn't. But I was still surprised by his answer. While I know that I know that I know that God is not punishing me, when I start down this spiral, it's hard to remember. And he walked me through some questions to determine intent and culpability and got me to a place where, at least in my head when I'm feeling very sane and very rational (which isn't often I'm afraid - darn hormones), I realize that I did not, in fact, do this (IF) to myself. That even if medically, my use of contraception contributed to our IF, it is not something I *did* to myself. It's hard to wrap my mind around, I admit it, but I trust Fr. D.

AND, while all this was important, it is my homework that is even more important. The email I received that I kept going back to is the start of it. I am to keep a binder/journal/something with things (emails, quotes, scripture, letters to myself, etc) that pull me out of the spiral. If I start going down it, I'm supposed to pull out my journal and read the things I've put in it. I have the perfect journal, a gift from Alison over a year ago, that says "Keep Calm and Carry On" on the front - see?, I told you it was perfect. I've got a bunch of things bookmarked and ideas for it so far, I just need to take some time and print them out/write them down. I'm looking forward to some time to do so this weekend.

So often, when our hormones, emotions, lack of sleep, and any other number of things that are part of life occur, it causes us, well me, to lose sight of what I know and believe. It's easier to believe that I caused our IF than to face the unknown; it's easier to believe that God is punishing me than to accept there just might not be an answer; it is much easier to slide right on down the spiral into the dark than to stop myself and claw back to the top and the light. It's nice to know that I know have a place to go to remind myself of what I know and believe.

Different conversations have come up on a couple of blogs and on twitter lately that I have responded with "have you considered spiritual direction?" and I thought it might be nice if I shared one of my experiences with it here. I won't be sharing every detail (for example, I had 4 things to do for homework after our session last week, this is just one of them) here, but when it's relevant and something I think might help someone else, I will share. Certainly, what works for me won't work for everyone, but maybe just

I'm happy to answer any questions you have about spiritual direction, as someone once did for me. You can leave them in the comments and I will answer there or you can email me (RebeccaWVU02 at gmail dot com) if you prefer.


On Hope

This is my fourth cycle on my current chart and I have to tell ya, I'm feeling completely nervous about it. The first cycle was a beauty. The 1 cycle out of 6 that my body decides to cooperate. As it was coming to its end, I found myself full of hope. Dreaming and planning combined with a bit of freaking out while trying to stay grounded in reality. The second cycle was anything but a beauty. A return to my usual weird spotting and AF arriving on P+10. The third cycle, my last one, was surprising. It was a beauty as well. And it was the one time I needed it to be it's usual short, ugly self so I could schedule the saline-sonohysterogram (I can type that word without having to look it up now - just keep it to yourself if I'm spelling it wrong :)). With all of its beauty, came all of the hope. The dreaming and planning combined with a bit of freaking out and trying to stay grounded in reality.

This hope. It is a tricky thing. You see, when I'm dreaming and planning I feel alive and full of energy. I feel joy and look forward to the future. I see beyond our current day to day circumstances. But it's always tempered with trying to be realistic, trying to not set myself for a horrible crash. These months, the crashes have come. The tears are less than they used to be and have been replaced, a little bit, with an overwhelming sense of sadness. A mourning of all of the dreams and plans I had. A mourning of the  new life that is once again not here. Only it was here, if only in my head and in my heart.

There are times I get angry at this hope. Times I wish it wouldn't come and for a while it didn't. Three cycles ago was the first time in a long long time I had allowed myself to hope. That I had embraced it rather than stifle it and relished in the dreams and plans, and even in the freaking out. And this past cycle, I feared the hope, but I cautiously let it take over. And I'm coming to understand that this hope is necessary. At least at this point on our road. While the sadness at CD1 is almost palpable, the hope that will come in a few weeks is like a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It is the light that will pull me through the anxiety of my fertile days. And it is the light that will shine, if only for a few moments, so brightly it will warm and soften my cold heart.

I often tell people that once you learn NFP you can't "unlearn" it. And regardless of where our road takes us, whether it is to parenthood or not, whether we continue medical interventions for years or for months, I truly pray that this hope continues to pull me forward during the months when we've asked God to help us create new life. No, the hope doesn't lessen the sadness. It stands as a sharp contrast to it. And the sadness certainly tempers the hope. But the ability to still have hope is one gift of infertility I want to never lose. No matter how painful the cost.


Quick Takes

1 - Latest (and honestly hopefully the last because that would mean all continues to be well) update about my Dad: He got to go home on Wednesday! He's doing really well and mostly just dealing with post-surgery tiredness and some pain at the incisions sites. It was melanoma for sure and, thankfully, the treatment for melanoma is generally to remove it. So it does not seem Dad will have to have chemo or radiation, he will just continue with regular blood work and chest x-rays. Thank-you all so much for all of your prayers, they were felt and appreciated.

2 - Dad got to go home on Wednesday and in my excitement and attempt to not run around my office high-fiving people, I sent a tweet that ended up being a bit cryptic and caused a couple people to think I was pregnant. Considering all the tweet said was "Best. News. Ever.", I can see now, looking back, how that might have been confusing. Honestly, my Dad going home and being OK really was the best news I could imagine that morning and I didn't even think how it would be received - oops! I will think before tweeting in the future (except during a football game).

3 - I'm still kind processing the election results. What it means for our country and our future. One thing I know for sure is that I will be upping my prayers for President Obama and those surrounding him. (I have a full post coming on this topic, I think.) We are quite clearly a house divided with such a close vote and that, more than anything else, troubles me.

4 - For the first time, voters voted in favor of same-sex "marriage". Personally, I am not surprised and in this instance I feel we have built our house on sand. The argument I find most persuasive for allowing two people of the same sex to marry is the one that goes something like this: Heterosexuals have already ruined marriage with affairs, divorce, cohabitation, etc. While I believe marriage is only possible between one-man and one-woman, to someone who does not share or fully understand this belief the argument mentioned is correct. I ask this question: why are we not fighting equally as hard to reform divorce laws and to create a society in which cohabitation is not an "easier" option? We have acted, as a society, like marriage is all about feeling and "love" and when you're not happy any more you can just leave. As a Church, we have done a terrible job of catechizing on the Sacrament of Matrimony and why it is sacred. All this to say, I am not surprised. Saddened, but not all surprised.

5 - This is the one cycle I needed to follow my "typical" pattern and have P+10 turn into CD1 so that I can have the saline-sonohysterogram next week and of course, it's P+14 today. It will be at least December before I can have the procedure done now b/c CDs 6 - 12 will fall when my doctor will not be at the hospital due to Thanksgiving. (As she should not be, please read zero frustration with my doctor, all with my stupid body.) I'm trying to focus on the fact that it was only 1 cycle between "good" cycles this time and not the usual 5 in hopes that maybe my body is figuring out just how it's supposed to work. But it feels more like my body is laughing at me. Ugh.

6 - I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hopeful in light of #5. These "pretty" cycles really do a number on me. I've spent most of my time in the car the last few days riding the roller coaster of hope and caution in my head. It usually goes like this: I start imagining I really am pregnant and telling people and what life will look like - then I try to reign myself back in to reality - then I panic that I might actually be pregnant - then I try to reign myself back to reality - repeat. It's exhausting.

7 - Have any of you seen the Bud Light commercial with the guys who have pre-football game rituals? The tag-line for the commercial is "It's only weird if it doesn't work." Well, as I was discussing my pre-game rituals the other day, The Man was quick to put out that they haven't been exactly working lately. A 3-game losing streak of 2 blow-out embarrassments and 1 double OT heartbreaker are what lie behind us heading into this week's WVU at Oklahoma State game. I'm not gonna lie, there's a part of me that would like to just skip tomorrow and wake up Sunday morning. (Kinda like I felt about Tuesday of this week.) I've got a few new rituals up my sleeve, including a new bracelet my stepmom bought me with the specific intention of hopefully helping to straighten things out (see? She gets me :)). I've already seen reports that it will be windy tomorrow - that doesn't help my nerves a bit. But, because I'm always optimistic and hopeful about my 'Eers, I'll be tuning it at 3:30 and cheering them on. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know what that means! :)

Have a great weekend and be sure to visit Jen for more Quick Takes!


Quick Takes (Updated)

1. Happy Friday Friends! As the custom has gone, I will include my Dad in these Quick Takes. If he only knew how famous he was :)!  Anyway, he is doing really well and would have been out of the cadiac-thoracic ICU yesterday if they'd had a room available on the regular floor for him. Personally, I don't mind him being in the ICU a little longer, the care he is getting is amazing. I know he'll be one of a few patients assigned to his nurse on a regular floor, so I'll just focus on the positive and appreciate the personal attention he is getting.

2. I started the FB Group. It is called Catholic IF - St. Gerard, pray for us. The link is here if you are interested. I'm not sure this link will work because it is a "secret" group. ETA: I was correct, the link didn't work because it is a secret group. So, if you are interested in joining and we aren't already FB friends, friend me on Facebook. ETA: Click here to go to my page and then you can send a friend request. I will accept your friend request and then add you. I know a lot of you are annonymous bloggers and one of the ground rules I created was to respect that and that "what happens in the group, stays in the group".  Email me if you run into trouble or need help :).

3.  And now I will be very vulnerable with you all. I am a people pleaser and peacemaker, if you ask The Man, it is to a fault sometimes. So much that a part of me dreaded making this group because I hated the idea of leaving people out. Now, I do not wish "membership" into this group on anyone, but I also hate the idea that some of you reading this may be feeling hurt or left out because it doesn't apply to you. I don't know what to say other than I'm so so sorry if you feel this way.

4. When I was in the elevator to visit my Dad yesterday, I had on my winter coat, a hat, and gloves. A guy asked me "what are you going to do when it gets cold?". I think my response was good: 1) Don't worry, I have more layers and 2) it was 80 degrees last week! He didn't have any more snarky comments for me. Seriously people, if winter is really here, in October, I think I'm doomed. Yes, I do have more layers, but I am so not ready for cold, drizzly rain and snow. I love the changing of the seasons and I do think the snow is pretty and I enjoy watching Kali play in the snow as she loves to do, however, I am not ready for gray, wet, cold, days. Not. even. close.

5.  Running. Hmm, I think I still do that. I really got out of my routine when taking the days off after the half to recover. I was having some ankle pain that disturbed me a bit, and then I tore my last contact so I had to wear my glasses (and I don't like to run in my glasses) until yesterday, and this just amounts to a bunch of excuses. I am hoping the weather man is right and it's suppossed to be sunny tomorrow - and I can get a run in before we head over for tailgating.

6. This weekend we get to change the clocks and "Fall Back" one hour! Yay for an extra hour of sleep on Friday Saturday (duh!) night - boo for it getting dark in the middle of the afternoon. I really need to be extra good about our meal planning now because nothing results in me on the couch under a blanket faster than getting home in the dark when it's cold out.

7. Well, it's Friday, it's football season, and WVU returns to the field tomorrow. We host TCU at 3:00pm (yay! it's not at noon!) and quite honestly if we don't play better I'm a little concerned at how hostile the stadium will be (towards our own team/coaches). I don't remember ever being as mad as I was 2 weeks ago. Not so much because we lost, but HOW we lost. It was horrible. But, we are {hopefully} moving on and learning from our mistakes. So, tomorrow at 3, I will be full of hope and nerves and sitting in my spot and rooting on my Mountaineers.

Have a great weekend and don't forget to visit Jen for more Quick Takes!


Thankful Thursday

It's been a long time since I've done a "Thankful Thursday", but I have much to be thankful for today, so I thought it was appropriate. This week, I am thankful for...

  • My Dad's surgery went very well. As I write this Wednesday evening, he is resting at the hospital, having kicked me, The Man, my brother, and my stepmom out so we could get some rest as well. (We were all at the hospital at 6:00am.)
  • The pulmonary specialist who was recruited by WVU and is my dad's surgeon. This man is awesome. He specializes in robotic surgery and that was the original plan for my Dad's surgery (to remove the bottom lobe of his left lung). But, after he had loosed the lobe and was preparing to remove it, he noticed that my Dad's veins weren't in the right place/going the right direction (I'm a little fuzzy on these details, the point is: something wasn't right). He didn't want to risk cutting one of the veins or blood vessels when removing the lung robotically, so they decided to do an incision and use traditional surgery methods. This decision most likely saved my dad from losing his entire left lung.
  • That even though it was definitely cancer (of some sort, most likely melanoma from 4 years ago returning), the surgeon said "it's all gone and out of there. end of story." Which means, recovery from surgery is all we are looking at - no chemo and no radiation. So very grateful for this.
  • A good relationship with my stepmom. Yes, we've had our bumps over the years, but we are very close and a big hug and exchanged "I love yous" at the end of the day are good for my soul.
  • Modern technology - I was able to keep my other brother (the one who lives in Texas), up to date on my Dad's progress and allow him to feel as "in the loop" as possible. He will be in town next week and I know a big hug from my dad will do his soul some good.
  • My family's sense of humor.
  • All of your prayers, text messages, comments, emails, everything. To know we were all surrounded in prayer meant so much to me all day.
  • A bit off the topic of my dad's surgery, but for safety for my family during Frankenstorm Sandy. None of us ever lost power and all made it through safely.
  • Finally, for the mountains to the east of us that buffered our town from the damage and blizzards so much of WV experienced.

What are you thankful for this week?



It's 5:50 on Tuesday afternoon and I've got some randomness to share.

Thoughts on Frankenstorm:

  • It did indeed hit. I spent most of last night flipping between the weather channel and cnn, with a few flips to the Monday Night Football to help keep me from having a full out anxiety attack. Not so much for what was happening here in my town, but elsewhere. NYU hospital, Lord have mercy.
  • I would love to share some pictures of our snow, but I'm still in my snowman PJs and haven't been outside except to clean off the satellite dish earlier this morning. Priorities people.
  • We have about 3 - 4 inches here in town, but within 30 minutes of us there is upwards of 7+ and in the mountains, there are feet of snow.
  • I've decided that it is all of the stores that have their Christmas stuff out early are the cause of all this October snow - poor Mother Nature is confused. Heck, even my Christmas cactus, Nick, has already started blooming. Silly plant.
Thoughts on Social Media:

  • It's definitely a love/hate thing, but I definitely kept up to date on storm coverage via Twitter and Facebook last night and today.
  • I've discussed my specific love/hate with Facebook groups 'round here before, but it got me thinking, would those of you on FB be interested in a Catholic IFers FB group? I know we have our blogs and I don't see the group changing my blogging habits, but sometimes i've got a question or need a quick prayer request. It can be a "secret" group - that's a technical FB term, really - that means it doesn't show up in your timeline or anything - basically what happens in the group, stays in the group :). Let me know if anyone is interested and I'll create it. (You can email me if you'd prefer that to a comment: RebeccaWVU02 at gmail dot com.)
  • I will be so. freakin. happy. when this election is over.
My Dad:

  • He just called to tell me his surgery will last 6 hours. Yikes that's a long time. We are meeting at the hospital 6am and he's scheduled for 9am. My kindle is fully charged and I'll be taking my phone charger.
  • The calm, sensible part of me says "he's in great hands, the surgeon is very optimistic, he's in good health, and it's only 1/2 a lung they are removing, you don't need 2 full lungs."
  • The panicky side of me says "but your grandpap (dad's dad) went in to have 1/2 a lung removed, ended up having 1 1/2 lungs removed, and didn't leave the hospital alive."
  • To which the calm part says again "but your pap smoked like a chimney and had major lung cancer."
  • Hmm, maybe I should have some wine before bed tonight.

  • WVU plays on Saturday at 3:00pm. We host TCU.
  • The guy who wrote the special arrangement of Country Roads for WVU's Marching Band is going to be there and at half-time they are bringing a baby grand piano onto the field and he is going to play with the band. Sounds like fun to me.
  • So far, the weather is sunny and cool. I'll take cool if it means we get sun.
  • If WVU doesn't win...well, let's just say it's probably best I don't go there.
I think that is all. Told you it would be random. This is what happens when I get a day off and I don't change out of my snowman PJs. Perhaps it's a good thing I work most days?


Quick Takes

1. It seems that my Quick Takes are becoming updates on my Dad. His first surgery went very well and the results were what we were hoping for. It is not lung cancer. He will be having his second surgery this coming Wednesday - Halloween in the middle of what is apparently the worst storm ever. They will be removing the lower lobe of his left lung. The amazing thing is they are most likely going to be able to do this through laprascopic-style incisions and, barring any complications, he will not have to have his chest cut open. This, I think, was the news that made us all the most at ease. Thank-you for the prayers thus far, if you could please continue to pray, I will be very grateful!

2. So, this storm. I've heard it called Frankenstorm and also Snoreastercane.  I'm hoping we stick more on the rain side of the wet than the s-word side of the wet. I'm not ready for the white stuff just yet. Either way, it should be pretty much miserable weather all next week, see:
3. This week has gone like this: Monday morning leave at normal time to head to airport for a 4 day board meeting at a retreat center outside of Atlanta + Arrive home Thursday evening at normal time = what feels like the longest day ever. But now, it's Friday, so it kinda feels like the shortest week ever. If you can follow this logic I don't know whether to be impressed or scared that someone else thinks like this :).

4. I am so glad the election season is almost over. It is really starting to hurt my soul. The fighting, the negativity, all of it. Somehow we have all lost sight of the fact that the people we vilify are human beings just like us. I am astounded at the lies that are spread as fact and the fact that so few people actually seem to care. I am feeling the weight of it all in ways I didn't know were possible.

5.This is a photo of the Mountaineer (WVU's mascot) atop Seneca Rocks in West Virginia. Yea, it's awesome here.

6.  I am approaching my second round of HCG injections. Last cycle's went well, except for the night I bent the tip of the needle getting the HCG out of the vial just enough that it was painful and caused a tiny bit of bleeding. I was much more careful from then on. If the random bleeding is going to return this cycle, it will be within the next couple of days as well. Such fun things to look forward to...

7. It is Friday, and it is football season. But, with a weird mix of glad and sad, there is no football game to get ready for tomorrow. We've lost our last 2 games. And by lost, I mean been beaten horribly in all aspects of the game. So, the good news of this weekend is we can't lose. The bad news is, there is no Mountaineer football and 2 weeks is a long time for the team to brood over the losses. I can only hope there are some lessons being learned.

Have a great weekend and don't forget to visit Jen for more Quick Takes!


Let's Go Mountaineers!

They're #4. We're #13.

Our season goes as this game goes.

It's a night game.

In Morgantown.

Let's gooooooooo Mountaineers!!!!!!


3 for 3

Well, I'm 3 for 3 so far, and I'm not sure it's a good thing.

The first 3 facebook groups I've been a part of, I've left.

I realize it's mostly just my thin skin and needing to get over myself.

I realize that no one means any harm by the posts.

I realize I should probably just speak up and call people's attention to the insensitivity of their comments.

I don't. I can't. I won't.

Partly because I don't want to be all "poor me, I'm IF and what you said hurt me."

Partly because I don't want to become the "IF Poster Child" of the group.

And partly because there is an innocence that I hate to ruin.

So, I leave.

I say nothing and I leave.

Frankly, I probably never should've joined in the first place - groups for Catholic women and NFP users are obviously going to be all about babies.

I think I'll just stick to my football groups...although the fact that someone in that group said Richmond was the capital of West Virginia puts it in jeopardy as well.

I started to hit "publish" here. To let this little temper tantrum stand all on it's own, but just as my mouse hoovered over the button, the question "what exactly do you expect then?" entered my brain.

So, what do I expect?

I'm not sure. I just know that so far the groups haven't worked for me.

I wish I could laugh at conversations about the perfect month to get pregnant, not having any children because I'm a newlywed, or winging it in my charting.

I wish I could be happy when someone is worried they might be pregnant and find out they aren't - even though they knew full well their behavior might create a baby.

I know this is all just normal Catholic woman with normal fertility talk.

And maybe it's more about jealousy than anything else.

So, unfortunately, I don't know what I expect, and I think that is ultimately why I leave.

I don't fit in. And even if I become a mother some day, I won't fit in, not really.

I found the club and the island to which I belong.

I wish not a single one of us were on this island or in this club, but I am grateful that I am not alone.


First Cycle Review

It's been a while since I updated what is going on with the medical side of our IF. I had my first cycle review with P+7 blood work this past cycle, so I figure now is as good a time as any (I also updated our timeline as well):

At my appointment with Dr. D. in August, she ran a bunch of tests, with results being:

Positive for beta strep group - treated with amoxicillin for me.
Positive for ureaplasma - treated with doxycycline for me and The Man.
Thyroid within normal limits, but a bit high for TTC (3.19) - treated with 25 micrograms of Synthroid/day

17-hydroxyprogesterone was normal.
Other cultures were negative.

I also started a low dose of fem.ara and post-peak HCG on P+3, 5, 7, & 9. I survived giving myself shots, with extreme gratitude to the pharmacist who taught me how to do them!

My P+7 labs showed:

The Synthroid is working, my thyroid was within normal limits (and I was not surprised by this as I've had much more energy the last few weeks).
Estrodial - 106.1 - she said this was good (anyone know the range they are looking for?)
Progesterone 18.2 - she also said this was good (again, anyone know the range they are looking for?)

Finally, Dr. D. recommended a sonohysterogram or a saline sonohysterogram to look for endometrial polyps as a possible cause for the random brown bleeding.

I sort of feel like we are heading down a rabbit hole. Prior to my surgery, I knew there was something wrong and when the endometriosis was found along with the blocked tubes, I was so hopeful and yet, I just knew there was more. Now it seems like instead of reaching the answers, there are more twists and turns than anything else. I know it's all part of the process and that it is leading us towards better health and possibly parenthood. Sometimes, it just seems like a lot.


Race Recap

I'm still waiting for "official" results and hopefully a good picture or two, but I didn't want to wait too long to recap my half marathon from yesterday.

Weather - was ab.so.lute.ly. per.fect. Honestly, if I had described the weather that I would like best for a race, I couldn't have done as awesome as what we got. Chilly enough before the start that we were walking around in our pants and super grateful to The Man for coming down before the starting gun so we could disrobe one layer and stash our cell phones. Then, the sun was out, but there were enough clouds in the sky that it wasn't a constant sunshine; the clouds mixed with the bends and turns of the rail trail along the river and the trees and hills on the other side made for a great mix of sun and shade. The breeze (while going in the wrong direction for the last 2 miles) was awesome! Cool and light for the most part. I think my favorite part was the gorgeous views of fall leaves on the hillsides and the leaves falling from the trees as I was running. I hope I never forget how awesome the weather was yesterday.

Route - Morgantown sits along the Monongahela River. There used to be railroad tracks right along the river and also heading toward the east from the river. Those railroad tracks are now what we call "rail trails" and are the only place you can find a flat place to run in this town. We started at the intersection of the two trails and headed north towards Star City, where we turned around and headed back past the starting line south just past Med Express (about 1.5 miles), where we turned around and headed back towards the starting line again. This time, we turned right and headed east until just past Marilla Park where we turned around and headed back the 2 miles to the finish line (same location as starting line). It was a nice mix of the 3 routes, while providing beautiful scenery. The one thing I will say is to date, all of my runs over 9 miles have included some hills. Initial thoughts were that was a good thing, but after running 13.1 flat miles, I have to say I'll have to add some distance training miles on the flat into my routine. As much as the uphills frustrate me, the downhills provide built in breaks and gravity to help keep one foot going in front of the other. On the flat, it was all under my power. I was really feeling it from about mile 10 on. The water stops were well spaced, though one more would've been nice at the 11.5/12 mile mark.

Awards & Swag - awesome! A long sleeved navy blue T-shirt with a giant gold leaf on the front and "Morgantown Half Marathon" with a WV on it (WVU sponsored the race). A cool teddy bear ice pack. A new reusable grocery bag. Hand sanitizer. And best of all, an awesome finishers medal hand made from pottery, see (thanks Sara, I totally stole borrowed your picture):

My Race - My goal was to finish in 2 1/2 hours. As we started I moved to the back of the pack, a bit nervous because there were only 200 racers and thinking it was possible I could actually be last. I gave myself a quick pep talk that first (ha!), last, or somewhere in the middle, my goal was to finish in less than 2:30 - that was it. I couldn't control how fast (or slow) anyone else was. As we started out, I had some issues with my iPod, I didn't wear it the way I usually do, and it was pulling off of my SPIBelt, so I had to adjust it and clip it to my sports bra. Once I got it situated, I was good to go. The first 6 miles, I felt really good and was super pleased with my pace, I also enjoyed counting the women that went past me (in the other direction as they had already turned) to let Sara know where she was in the rankings (she's been placing in lots of our races lately). As Sara and I passed we high fived and encouraged one another (it's what we do :)). As I neared mile 7 and passed the start line for the first time, I was giving myself a pep talk, because having to run past your finish line can mess with your brain. The next 3 miles I started to let myself realize that I was really running 13.1 miles and I had to keep myself focused and not think too far ahead. I approach most of my runs 1 mile at a time, watching my pace (I'm horrible at pacing myself by how I feel, my watch is crucial for this), and adjusting from there. I did get some slight pains in my left knee and right ankle, but nothing that concerned me physically, just messed with me mentally for a few yards. My mantra of "strong and powerful" comes in handy when the aches start up. As I approached miles 9 and 10 and my next pass by the start/finish line, I was starting to get excited and sore. I knew the last 3 miles very very well (many 5Ks in our town use that stretch of trail as the route), and I also knew there was a stretch that I hate. BUT, I was also heading past the place where my dad would have been watching me go by if he'd been there (quick side note: surgery went well, Dad is doing awesome, even got to go home earlier than we thought), but I knew he wouldn't be, so I decided that I was going to offer up this stretch of trail for my Dad. That when I wanted to walk, I would remind myself of his surgery and what he's facing and keep pushing through. I smiled as I went past where he would've been and cheered myself on (in his voice) in my head. Finally, I passed the last water stop and headed back for the final 2 miles. My legs were pretty much done and as I walked through the water stop (that's my personal race plan: run except through water stops, then walk so that I actually get a good drink of water and don't just spill it everywhere) I could feel them tightening up - it actually felt better to just keep running at this point. As I crossed mile 12, I crossed into new territory, I'd never run this far before. I knew exactly where I was on the trail and how much further I had to the end. Just past mile 12, I looked up and saw Sara running towards me - she'd already finished and headed back out to run in with me. She also had a bottle of water - at the exact spot I'd thought when I went by the first time "another water stop right here for the end would be nice". Mentally I was struggling, though completely determined to keep running as much as possible, at this point. Having Sara to chit chat with and some water to drink, helped keep me focused and I only walked a tiny bit of that last mile. As I turned the last corner, I could see the time clock, I already knew because of my watch that I was under my goal time, but something about seeing that clock made it real - not only was I going to finish, but I was going to be under 2:30. Sara turned off the trail as I headed the last 50 meters or so, and that is when the tears started. I was really going to do it, I was going to finish a half marathon. I'd chosen to live my life and I'd won! As I crossed the line the clock said 2:27:30. A full 2 1/2 minutes faster than my goal time. I almost started to actually sob, and quickly pulled myself together and straightened up. I got my finishers' medal, with pride and made a beeline for The Man and the bananas. I'd done it, and I'd enjoyed it.

After - When The Man and I got home, I asked him if he'd give my legs a good working over (he's a massage therapist) since I wanted to be able to walk today. Talk about pain (the good kind) and also the relief of pain - so good. My legs are still sore and stiff today, and I really think I need to invest in at least one pair of flat dress shoes, if only for after race days because panty hose AND heels were a bit challenging. I've been offering up all of this post-race pain for all of my IF sisters.

Sara - Yep, she gets her own recap category :). It is Sara I initially started doing the Couch to 5k with 3 years ago. Sara who started emailing me with races and introducing me to supplies to keep me from dying. Sara who came back out and finished a 10K with me last summer when I really was the last person. Who came and met me during the half with water and encouragement. Who lets me say "I can't do that" and then smiles when I decide I can. So much of IF is isolating and lonely amidst the beauty of life around you, much like much of this race was - I was alone for most of it. And yet, amidst IF there are friends who encourage us along the way and bring us just what we need when we most need it - just like Sara did with that water at mile 12. So much of this race and what it means is wrapped up in with IF, and so much of what made the race doable and enjoyable even at the toughest spot - having the sun on my face and a friend by my side, is what makes IF survivable. While Sara doesn't walk the road of IF with me, she does run with me and that has made all the difference. Someday I will find a way to thank her in person without completely losing it, for now I trust that she knows.

Sunday, October 14, 2012. 13.1 miles. 2 hours 27 minutes 30 seconds. I ran.



It all started with one step forward.

And it continues on Sunday with 13.1 miles forward.

 My first half marathon.

In the past 6 months there have been more miles run than I ever dreamed I was capable of; bigger hills (literally) run up than I ever even let myself imagine running up before; more desire to lace up my shoes and just run than I thought possible.

There is a company that sells running stickers and jewelry called Lift Your Sole, and they have a great Facebook page that always has inspirational photos with quotes or encouraging words on them. Most days I appreciate the encouragement, but the photos today have spoken to my heart and helped bring to the surface all of the emotions that have been keeping me going, that have made running fun and something I actually look forward to doing. I'd like to share these thoughts with you, and with myself here in this space, to remind myself just what these months have done for me and why every ache, bead of sweat, and sore spot was worth it.

This one ^ took my breath away. I barely trained for that 5k back in May, I had just had surgery in January and kept thinking I *might* be or get pregnant and then I wouldn't be running the 5k anyway. While my physical scars aren't drastic, they are there and they indicate IF. IF is tough. And it has tried to hurt me, and a lot of times it has won. But as I've trained I have proved, and come Sunday, I will prove again that this body of mine works, it is strong, and it is not useless. I cannot tell you the power behind that sentence. Days when I would be running and be tired and crampy because of AF, my mantra was literally "I am strong and powerful." As one foot would hit the pavement after the other, I willed myself to believe this. Yes, I might have some scars, but I am stronger than IF. 

This one ^ describes the emotion I felt in the bathroom at the expo center after the 5k in May and also every time I met a new goal - be it speed or distance or just going out and running when I didn't want to. I can't change our IF. I can deal with it, try to treat what causes it, but ultimately, I know I cannot change it. While I can't say I've let go of it, when I run I have let go of letting it control me. 

This one ^ has been a favorite quote of mine for a long time, but it is so applicable to my experiences of the past few months. My fears of hurting myself (I'm super clumsy), of not being able to do it, of so many things. One of these big fears was crossing the 6 mile mark. Last summer, when Sara was talking about training for a half marathon, I remember, very clearly, saying to her "I'll start and end with you and meet you and do whatever, maybe I'll bike while your run, but I just can't run more than 6 miles, my body can't do it. Each and every time I pass 6 miles or head out for a "short run" of 6 miles, I smile as I remember my fears.

This one ^ is exactly what I was feeling and hoping when I registered for a half marathon (the one next August) back in May. That I didn't want to get to next August and be standing at the finish line waiting for Sara, still not pregnant or a mom, full of regret for not living my life. Each month since May as AF has shown up right on time, I have been rewarded for my decision, for I know that I decided to live my life rather than wait for a life that may never happen.

While running isn't an extremely expensive sport, there are some costs associated, as indicated here ^. Sometimes I've felt guilty spending our extra money on new shorts or a race entry fee, but The Man is always supportive and when I look in the mirror and see a runner (albeit a slow one), I know that is priceless. Because I see a body that works (at least in some ways), that is healthy, and that has gotten so much stronger. When I catch a glimpse of myself in a store window when I'm out running, I do a double take because I don't recognize the person I see. I see confidence and courage that do not exist at any other times in my life.

This ^ wil be my mantra on Sunday. While I'm scared to death of being last on Sunday (if only there was a turtle division, I'd fit right in), I know that crossing that finish line will be one of the greatest achievements of my life. The tears are already forming in my eyes as I consider it, and I suspect they will be running down my cheeks on Sunday.
Sunday, October 14, 2012. 9:00 am. Run.

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