HHS Mandate - Lord Have Mercy

So, since contraception is considered preventative care (to prevent a woman from getting pregnant who does not want to) and the Obama Administration says all preventative care must be covered, well then...

Infertility treatments (that prevent a woman from not being able to get pregnant who wants to) must also be covered without having to jump through hoops and find doctors who know special insurance codes, right?


And treatments that can help prevent cancer (like removing endometreosis and treating PCOS) should be covered for free too, right?


Oh, I must have missed something.

And I was pretty sure I'd read this somewhere:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of  religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (emphasis added).

Yea, I know that one is true.

Sure am glad I signed this petition.

There is so much more I want to say, but my heart is heavy and mostly it has all been said here and here and many other places.

Lord have mercy on us.
St. Michael, defend us.


Thankful Thursday

This week, I am thankful for...

  • Unseasonably warm weather. The snow will come, but 55 degrees on Monday was enjoyable.
  • The Man. Apparently, I'm not as tough as I thought and on Monday when I got home from work all I had the energy to do was change from work clothes into sweatpants, grab a blanket and head to the couch. His patience is amazing.
  • An unexpected day at home yesterday. (Everything was OK, my travel plans changed at the last minute.)
  • Daily Mass. It's been almost 2 weeks since I've been able to go and I am so looking forward to lunchtime spent with Jesus today.
What are you thankful for this week? Leave your intentions in the comments or write your own post and link it up below!


The Difference a Year Makes

As I was traveling to Charleston for the marriage preparation weekend, I couldn't help but reflect on just how much has happened in the past year. This same weekend last year, The Man and I gave our very first witness talk about NFP. At that time, I was planning to leave my existing position to begin working with children with hearing loss again. Many things happened to prolong my staying at my then-current job and many things I wanted to happen in regards to working with children with hearing loss didn't. But what did happen was we told our story for the first time. We answered tough questions about the difference between NFP and contraception. And we were invited back.

Since this weekend last year, we have shared our story many times, but we've also been to and from Texas as we became a teaching couple and as a result of sharing our story, I was called into ministry. A year ago, I had my "plan" and sitting here today in the same pastoral center as last year, I can't help but look at the "then" and "now". This year, The Man is not with me (something silly about having to work since he had so many days off this week ;). Why oh why must we have money?), but the couple who is giving the NFP is witness is wonderful and I know they will reach the couples in the room. And while a part of me will always miss the classroom and my sweet kiddos, I am comfortable in my own skin professionally in a way I never knew was possible. I can't describe it, but The Man has said I am more self-confident than he has ever seen me. I'll take that as a compliment thankyouverymuch.

I also can't help but think about the differences and similarities regarding our TTC journey. It's strange how similar the feelings are today as they were last year, especially considering how far away from these feeling I felt for so much of the most recent months. Last year, I felt like we were sitting on a huge secret and I was still planning each month just how we could tell our families that we were expecting. We were 5 cycles in and still in that phase of almost pure hope, though I always just *knew*. This year it's not such a huge secret, but I found myself going to those plans again as I drove yesterday. Thinking of and planning for sweet ways to share the news that we so hope to share one day soon.

The difference in the planning, was the innocence of it all last year. The feeling of *just knowing* this was going to be the cycle and having the "plan" for sharing the news all ready down to the details. This year it is more a general, "we'd get to tell them on x holiday or y holiday." There is a temperance to the hope that I'm somewhat glad for because it shows I've learned something and can somewhat protect myself from the crash that may come as I come down off this post-surgery high.

Just over two years ago we put our marriage totally in God's hands. We dug ourselves out of the depths of doing it "our way" and opened our hearts to His way. When we share our witness, we stop at this point. We talk specifically about how our marriage has gotten stronger and how much healthier I am. What we don't share is what has transpired over this past year. What we don't share is that without learning NFP and surrendering to God, we probably don't make it to today with our marriage intact. When I consider what the last year would have looked like without the year prior, I physically shudder and I see only the mercy and grace of God.

For 5 years, we were unaware of the harm that contraception was causing to our marriage. For one year, we saw, almost immediately, the healing that came to be when we removed contraception. And for the past year, we have seen the fruits of this healing amidst the deepest struggle and heartaches of our lives. What a difference a year makes.


Surgery Wrap Up

To say that everything went smoothly this week would be an understatement. It is Friday morning and in a couple of hours I go back to "the real world" when I head south for a Marriage Preparation Weekend. I was fully prepared to not be able to make this trip today and to be feeling pretty miserable.

But I don't. I actually feel really good. I do get tired a bit faster than usual, but I've been napping and taking it easy when I do. I also have a few naps planned for this weekend as well to make sure I don't over do it.

Surgery has proved to be all of the things you all promised it would be: easier than I expected, healing, hope-providing, answer-giving. I won't know the full details of the "plan" from here until my post-op on the 15th, but I do know that for today at least I am endo-free and have open tubes. A few questions remain, specifically related to the BB and low progesterone...was the endo contributing to one, both, or neither of these (there was endo on at least one of my ovaries)? If not, what can we do about them?

I have only positive things to say about H.oly Sp.irit Hos.pital and everyone I came in contact with there. From the very first nurse who walked me back to the outpatient surgery center in the morning to the volunteer who pushed my wheel chair out the doors in the afternoon, everyone was kind and caring.

The moments that Dr. S. took to pray with me before we went into the operating room and {trying, they took my glasses} to focus on a crucifix on the wall while waiting for the anesthesia to kick in were the two moments when I knew very clearly that this path was the correct one for us. In fact my only tears of the day were saying good bye to The Man and when Dr. S. and I prayed together.

I remember when I was just waking up and a nurse was giving me pain meds and then Dr. S. came over to talk to me. I don't know if my eyes were open or not, because I remember thinking "pay close attention to what he says so you remember" and I remembered almost all of it. I only had to get clarification from The Man on whether or not he was able to clear the partially blocked tubes. Considering I have a hard time remembering auditory information when I'm coherent, I'm pretty proud of myself.

I think the most important thing for me is that Dr. S. felt this surgery was needed and will give us a good chance of conceiving. This was my biggest worry, mostly because when The Man and I were deciding what to do, we agreed that if Dr. S. were not retiring we would have probably opted for a few more months of the meds I recently started (Met.formin and prometrium (switching to HCG)) to see if they would "fix" the problem without surgical intervention. But, when factoring in the news that in a few more months, if the meds didn't "fix" the problems we would be having surgery with someone else we weren't willing to risk a "should've done" situation. We went NaPro because we were confident in surgery with Dr. S. So, to have our concern confirmed, that no amount of time would have removed the endo or cleared my tubes we are so grateful to have proceeded as we did.

So, where does this leave us now? Hopeful. So hopeful that I have tried to temper this hope because I know this ride may not be over. I am actually more hopeful now than I was the very first TTC cycle, how weird is that? I have that "we're gonna get pregnant on the first try" feeling and while I'm grateful for it, I'm also scared of it. I don't want to set myself up for disappointment, but I also don't want to be negative and gloom and doom. I'm searching for some middle ground here and trying to be realistically hopeful. I do think it is a good thing that there will not be any "trying" until after my appointment on the 15th and that will help to keep me balanced.

Thank-you again for all of the prayers, emails, texts, FB messages, calls, everything. I tried to explain this whole blogging thing to The Man on the way to Harrisburg on Monday and I've just come to understand there is no way to explain it. You either "get it" or you don't. Thank-you for allowing me to be a part of the blessed ones who do.


Thankful Thursday

This week, I am thankful for oh so much I am not even sure where to begin. This will probably be longer than usual and a little rambly, but here we go...

  • Safe travels to and from Harrisburg.
  • A successful surgery that did indeed provide hope with endo removed and tubes cleared.
  • Family who traveled the almost 4 hours to be with us...my Dad who was waiting for us at the outpatient surgery center when we got there at 6:30 am and my in-laws who stayed Tuesday night to help us with anything we needed. I will never be able to tell them all how grateful I am.
  • For Dr. S. A doctor who prays with you before surgery and entrusts you to the care of Mary, that is a special man. As I said to my dad "It's such a blessing to have a doctor who doesn't think he is God, but rather asks for God's help."
  • For endo removed.
  • For clear tubes.
  • For hope.
  • For bloggy friends who drove from near and far to see me. Humbled doesn't even begin to describe it. Thank-you TCIE, Polkadot, Ania, and E (my FCP). (Ania has a beautiful recap that I'd just like to say "ditto" to :)).
  • For The Man. He is my rock. He's witnessed and experienced things no husband should be asked to experience and done it without batting an eye.
  • For Jenny offering to post an update for me. Thank-you so so much.
  • For the pre-op pep-talk from Hebrews.
  • For the texts and love from Alison.
  • For the prayers and sweet comments left on this blog.
  • For no bad side effects from anesthesia.
  • For the sweet nurses who were so kind to me from start to finish; specifically for Linda who held my hand while the anesthesia was being administered.
  • For getting to wear my own socks.
  • For new sweatpants.
  • For phone calls and texts from Nicole.
  • For dinner with C. and her family the night before.
There is so much more, I could probably go on for days. I will write a more complete wrap up tomorrow. For today, I am thankful. More thankful than I thought it was humanly possible to be. For once, the tears are happy tears and there just aren't words for how good that feels.

What are you thankful for this week?


Surgery Update!!!

Hey Everyone -

This is Jenny from All Things with an update on Rebecca's surgery!

The surgery went great!  Dr. S. removed Stage II Endometriosis that was found in about 7 spots.  Rebecca also had partially blocked tubes, that are now clear!  Whoo Hoo!!!

She is feeling ok, but very sleepy (and feeling a bit hopeful, too)!!! Please keep her in your prayers as she continues to recover from surgery!


Hoping for Hope

I think it was a good thing that my surgery got scheduled so quickly, because I've been so busy that I've barely had time to stress out too much about it and now it's tomorrow and we are on our way to Harrisburg for all of my pre-op appointments.

The few times I've had to stop and think about the surgery, I find myself feeling a little panicky about the surgery itself. I know that it's really not a major surgery, but since this is my first experience with any type of anesthesia I am nervous about that. My control freak self is in full-out mode worrying about it all.

I did buy myself a new pair of sweatpants to wear though. Of course they are WVU.


But when I consider the surgery, what I'm most hopeful for is hope. So far, nothing they've found has been the "ah-ha! that's IT". A very mild case of PCOS, some insulin resistance, low progesterone and some slightly low morphology for The Man. But nothing that says "yep, this is why it's taken 19 cycles and still no pregnancy." While I know that the combination of these factors may be the "ah-ha!" it just doesn't seem that we have the answer yet. And no one has yet said this either. (Maybe they don't ever?)

So for tomorrow, I'm hoping for hope. The kind of hope that will come from Dr. S. saying that everything does look good and that the meds I am on just need some more time to work. But, honestly? I'm scared. Down in that part of my stomach where worry resides and is usually proven to be true, I'm worried. That there is more to this puzzle.

I'm afraid to have actual hope that we will get purely good news. All I can do at this point is to hope for hope.


Thankful Thursday

This week, I am thankful for...

  • This exchange on FB messenger with my MIL (um, yes, there were tears when I read this):
    • MIL: Don't want to intrude, but if you guys would like, we could come over to wait with The Man on the day of the procedure. This is a good opportunity to get some good information/answers.
    • ME: No intrusion at all. I will leave that up to you guys and The Man...I think my Dad is also planning to come over as well...I'm sorry this is such an inconvenience and not closer to home.
    • MIL: Not an inconvenience. Repeat after me, "what an opportunity."
  • This exchange with The Man via email after geting his se.men an.alysis back (it was mostly good news) (and yes, there were tears when I read this too)
    • ME: I love you...it seems most of our problems lie with me...I'm sorry I'm broken.
    • The Man: Not broken! God made you perfect. He has a plan, we're only human. Not meant to know the big picture for our lives.
  • A friend offering prayers for "faith, hope, and joy amidst all this crap." If we can remain faithful, hopeful, and joyful no matter what the outcome we are blessed beyond measure. I am grateful for these prayers.
  • Oh yea. Good SA results! Count, motility, and grade all well above average (yes, The Man totally did a little "I'm better than average" cheer.) Morphology slightly under average, but Dr. S. has a plan and will share it with us on Monday.
  • Getting to meet TCIE, Polkadot, and my FCP in person next week! Too bad I'll be a day post-op and probably won't be tons of fun.
  • Most importantly this week, for all of the encouragement as surgery comes next week and for family who is willing to rearrange their lives to drive 4 hours to sit in a waiting room with The Man.
  • AND...comment threads on blogger!!!! Yay! Yay! Yay! (Click here for directions.)
What are you thankful for this week? Link up below or leave your thankful intentions in the comments. As always, thank-you for joining me!


Why NaPro?

A while back Rae wrote about why she was not choosing NaPro for her fertility care treatments and it really made me think about why we were choosing NaPro for ours.

As I write this, I almost feel like I need to give it a Can of Worms label and prepare myself for the backlash, but I'm not writing it for that reason. I'm not writing it to condem anyone's choice that may be different from mine, whatever it may be. I'm writing this because I want to remember why we made the choices we've made; I want to share the whys behind our journey thus far.

Back when The Man and I decided to learn NFP, we had no idea that we would have trouble conceiving. In fact, we were petrified of NFP 'failing' and ending up pregnant. Oh, those were the days - ha! It wasn't long before we were 1) confident in NFP that the fears went away and then soon after that 2) realized that my charts weren't exactly 'normal' and that something might be 'off.' My charts weren't crazy enough to cause us any real alarm though and we went along charting and postponing until one month when we decided that we no longer had just cause to postpone and that it was time to open the door a little further and to use our fertile days.

Well, you know the story from there to today: fertile days used --> fears of not getting pregnant realized.

And so we were faced with choices as to how to move forward. Some choices were not for us, for many different reasons and others we spent time looking into. Sweet Rae even tried to help us out by looking for a Catholic doctor closer to us. She realized that I'm not kidding when I say we don't have many (any?) resources here.

And so, the day came when my 'regular' doctor's office could do no more for us and were referring us on to a specialist. We were faced with two choices:

1) Go to the specialist and advocate for what we were and were not willing to do ourselves.
2) Go to a doctor who we knew would respect our wishes.

Now, if I were going with a friend and advocating for her - no problem. Let's go. I'll explain why she wants to do things this way or that and we'll figure out a plan together.

But this was for me and when my 'fight or flight' response kicks in, the only part that really kicks is the flight response. I knew where our lines were, but I also knew that I did not have the energy to fight for them. I knew that if I was asked to cross the line the only response I would have would be to just disregard the doctor's advice. No explaining. No asking for another way. No advocating.

I'm outspoken and talkative, but this IF journey brings me to my knees. It causes me to want to curl up inside myself and wish for it all to go away.

So faced with the 2 choices, we decided it was time to go to a NaPro doctor; to learn Creighton; and to take the next step. The reasons for this choice include:
  • If surgery was in my future, Dr. S. is one of the best and has an amazing reputation. He is also conservative and surgery is not his automatic first step.
  • Of the other Catholic, but non-NaPro, doctors that were close (meaning drivable in less than a day) to us, Dr. S. was closer.
  • Billing is done in such a way that the insurance covers most things since the goal is to heal whatever is wrong rather than 'just' get pregnant. While I wish  money had nothing in this, it does. If our insurance wasn't covering Dr. S. we wouldn't be seeing him.
  • The Nurse Practitioner was willing to see me with my almost 2 years of Sympto-Thermal charts and just 10 days of CrMS charts.
It was that last one that was one of the biggest "selling" points. I know there is value in my ST charts to have that respected was important to me. Learning to chart CrMS was stressful and I would have been totally lost were it not for my ST training. I still don't like not having temps each month, but I've been a good patient and only charted CrMS since we started.

With surgery right around the corner, and realizing that if we had waited any longer it would have been impossible to be a patient of Dr. S, we are glad we went down this road. I will say that were Dr. S. not retiring, we might have decided to wait a few more cycles before surgery, but seeing as how we can't go back in time, we are moving forward with the best decision we can make based on the information we have. We are at peace with this decision and are praying for good results.

I wish that the decision weren't NaPro or no-NaPro but just good health care. I wish that the WVU Center for Reproductive Medicine didn't have a reputation for producing multiples and an answering service that gives IVF as it's first option right after "press 1 if you are calling from a doctor's office." I wish that this amazing reproductive technology were accepted by main stream medicine for it's ability to heal rather than being rejected because it is "Catholic" (or perhaps because it is not as profitable?).

Mostly, I just wish that my body worked right and I could get pregnant "the old fashioned way." And NaPro is giving us the best chance of that.


Quick Takes

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!
Happy Friday!

1. How was my week learning Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility from Janet Smith? Um? A.maz.ing! Factor in daily mass, prayer, adoration, reconciliation, and more and it's indescribable. I am so blessed to have a job that allows me such amazing opportunities. I head back home today.

2.  Wednesday night gave me proof that God does indeed care about the small things! I was distraught (not an exaggeration) that I wasn't going to get to watch the Orange Bowl with WVU playing Clemson. The Man was even kind of surprised that I didn't change my plans for the whole week (I decided that would have been a violation of the whole "thou shalt not have other gods before Me" detail). BUT, after adoration, I sat down to get ready to listen to one of our local radio stations online and thought, I'll just check one more time and see if I can watch ESPN live here. WELL, while our internet provider at home does not support ESPN live streaming (stupid Comcast!) the one here (in the middle-of-nowhere, PA) did! So, I got to watch the Orange Bowl. God does love me! Here's a screen shot before the last TDs were scored:

3. AAAANNNNND....WVU won, 70 - 33 was the final score. Yes, that was a football game! I'm pretty sure my fellow classmates think I'm totally insane, but I'm OK with that :). It will be a great offseason to be a Mountaineer!!! (Though I am a little nervous our defensive coordinator may leave :(.)
4.  Sorry about the Linky on yesterday's post - I thought I had it all set to work when I scheduled the post... apparently I was wrong :(.
5.  It seems like weeks at the TOB Institute coincide with big news on the IF front. Last time it was my first visit with P. (the Nurse Practitioner (NP) that works with Dr. S). This time it was getting a surgery date! January 17. That is in 11 days. I know in my head that this surgery is really no big deal, but I am pretty freaked out about it. It's a lot of logistics to work out and so soon and just, well, a big deal I guess. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to mass within 15 minutes of getting the surgery date, and while I walked in on the verge of tears and could barely sing the gathering hymn, I was blessed to receive the peace of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It was a profound moment in my understanding of how we are called to draw our strength through the sacraments.
Picture links to source.
6. So, as it relates to my freaking out: if I could ask for your prayers for a sense of peace and not fear about this. I'm sure it's just a fear of the unknown as it relates to the surgery specifics, but I also know that it is a fear of what it is unknown about the results and what it will mean for our future TTC. There is also a sense of anger and, really, an extreme sadness that we are at this point. I know many of you have walked a road much longer, and some of you are just at the beginning, but I'd like to think that when faced with these milestones, these "next steps" that we all feel similar in the sense that "all I wanted to do was make love to my husband and make a baby." You know, do things "the old fashioned way." We long ago passed that, but each time there is such hope that "this" will just be it. That the only next step will be picking out names and decorating a nursery. 

7. One thing I am grateful about is that I will be having my surgery and follow-up with Dr. S. before he retires. I did know of his retirement when I had my appointment (he told The Man and me at the end), and I'm so extremely grateful to have taken the steps we took and being able to have Dr. S. do my surgery. He was the only reason I was comfortable moving forward with NaPro and getting in for the surgery is such a blessing I am grateful for. The date will make things a bit challenging for work, so if you would please also pray that it goes smoothly on that front as well.

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


Thankful Thursday

This week, I am looking back at last year and being thankful for...

  • Reading through the entire bible in 90 days.
  • Seeing the light and becoming truly pro-life (not just "for myself")
  • Traveling to Texas to become NFP Teachers (and getting to meet Alison in person for the first time!).
  • My godfather's amazing recovery.
  • A new job working for the Diocese.
  • ESPN College GameDay came to Morgantown!!!
  • Our goddaughter.
  • Learning Creighton.
  • Getting some answers about why we are IF.
  • Seeing Dr. S.
  • WVU Football (even if it will be the death of me).
What were you most thankful for last year? Link your post below or share your thankful intentions in the comments.


Orange Bowl

Let's goooooooooo Mountaineers!!!!!!


Prayers for Life

Back in October a Priest directed me to offer up my pain of IF for those victims of abortion. TCIE has also written about doing this and both times it made such sense to me. I would like to say I have been consistent in offering up my pain, but more often than not I offer it for my fellow IFers instead. I'm not exactly proud of this, but it is the truth.

With all of that said, I am going to begin a 14-day prayer for life to end on Monday, January 23 - the March for Life day and I thought I would ask if anyone would like to join me.

My basic plan:
To pray a rosary and a divine mercy each day with intentions for the ending of abortion, for the conversion of those who believe the lies they are told, and for the healing of those affected by abortion.
To pray the prayer to St. Michael each day, if we ever need protection from the snares of the devil, it is in this fight.
And to attend mass or adoration as much as possible (each day to do at least one is my goal).

I will post more details on Monday, January 9, including a button if you'd like to join me. The 14 days will be January 10 - January 23.


December Appointment with Dr. S.

So, have I mentioned I went to see Dr. S. a couple of weeks ago? (Hehe)

Well, it was a lot to process from all of the technical information to the emotional stuff, but here is my best shot at it.

Technical Stuff:

  • Appointment was at 7:30, scheduled for an hour, we left at 9:30. More on this below.
  • My FCP was right, that was the most thorough pelvic exam I've ever had, including a re.ctal exam. (TMI? sorry!).
  • Recommendations for a laprascopy early this year to determine if there is something physical causing our IF.
  • Recommendations to switch from prometrium to HCG (I experienced horrible headaches reminiscent of my days on the pill the first month but wasn't completely convinced it wasn't all of the junk I was eating. Dr. S. was supportive of trying the prometrium one more month to be sure it was the cause. As my headaches have been worse this go around (one more day, thank God!) I will be switching to HCG next month. Hmmm, going from never even having blood drawn to giving myself shots in less than 7 months...
  • Lots of questions by Dr. S., agreement that there is most likely PCOS factoring in and (my own impression) some mild surprise that I wasn't showing obvious signs of endometriosis.
So, overall, not a ton of answers but I guess I really didn't expect any more than I already had without surgery. I'm just waiting to get a call from the surgery scheduler and I'll know more.

Emotional Stuff:

  • I have never in my life had such a good experience with a doctor (even considering bullet point #2 above). The Man (who works in a rehab/fitness center as a massage therapist) was extremely impressed as well with everything about Dr. S. and his whole staff. I am grateful for the time and care that was given to us.
  • Even though I wasn't really expecting more answers, there was a small piece of me that was hoping for a "oh, well, here's your problem! do this and you'll be pregnant in no time!" So, that was a small disappointment, but I know it was an unrealistic expectation.
  • Some major validation that the headaches I used to experience were totally related to the pill and just how horrible I felt, but had gotten used to while on the pill. So glad that there is another option for getting increased progesterone in my body.
  • Scared to death about having surgery. I've never had anything stronger than Novocain as far as an anesthetic goes, so being completely out is frightening, not to mention that it is 4 hours from home in a completely unfamiliar hospital. (My mom is a nurse and I am extremely comfortable in the hospital where she works, other hospitals freak me out though.)
  • A weird mix of fear and hope about what the surgery will show, coupled with the wish that I don't need it.
We are glad we went and are at peace with the way things will move forward. We are grateful for good health insurance as without it, none of this would be an option for us right now.


Happy New Year!

I should probably have some deep reflection on 2011 but I really don't. I'm neither extremely happy to see 2011 go or hopeful about 2012. The year will be what it will be and we will travel the road before us. That sounds much more depressing than I feel about it, it's really just a neutral statement as far as emotions go.

I am looking forward to starting the year at the Love and Responsibility course and the opportunities for learning, prayer, and reflection it will provide. I figure it's as good a way to start a year as there is.

I've got a couple of posts scheduled for this week, and Thankful Thursday will be a thankful post from 2011.

Happy New Year friends, thank-you for sharing your lives with me.