She is a month younger than our marriage. Our first "big" decision made as husband and wife.

She was our "tester" - our "if the dog's still alive in 5 years, we'll consider having children." (Sadly, this was a serious statement - I'd never had anything survive that couldn't take care of itself - plants, fish, even my high school pet hamster (poor thing starved to death because I forgot to feed it)). I figured if the dog could survive, I could handle something that could make it's needs known.

She isn't our first pet. That was Pumpkin. But she is my first dog ever.

And I had no idea. No idea that those big brown eyes would steal a piece of my heart and with one wag of a tail that same piece of my heart would never belong to me again.

She's not perfect - friendly is not typically a word used to describe her, at least not until you've gotten to know her well.

She's smart. And an amazing judge of character. And a great big sister. And an amazing guard dog. And a good newspaper fetcher (yes, she will go get the Sunday paper from the porch - when it was put on our driveway, she would go get it from there too).

But in the past two years, she has been my support group. More tears have been dried by this dog's fur than I can even count. More snuggles given and hugs received (yes, she gives hugs too) amidst a broken heart than I can remember.

It is Kali who taught me to love outside myself. It is Kali who taught me to put something else's needs before my own. It is Kali who gave me the confidence to think I might actually make a good mother some day.

She has a sense about her. She knows when I am sad, sometimes before I do. She knows when I just need her to rest her head on my lap and stay close. She knows when it's hard to get out of bed and loves to cuddle until I'm ready. She knows when a few chases of her favorite toy - a football (surprised?) - is just what I need to find a smile again.

She was supposed to be The Man's dog. He'll tell you all about how I stole her from him.

But really, I think she was supposed to be my dog all along. She "gets" me. And she's expanded my heart to places I didn't know existed.

No, she's not a baby. She is a dog.

But she is mine. And without her, the fact that there is no baby would be completely and totally unbearable.


Mountaineer Monday

Well, it's been quite a while since I wrote a "Mountaineer Monday" post - but I do think it's time.

In honor of WVU's first Big XII game coming up this weekend, I have 12 things to say regarding Mountaineer Football today :) and since I'm in a picture kinda mood, I'll use some pictures too (all pictures link to their source if they are not mine)!

1. It is our first season in the Big XII - and this logo has been all over Morgantown since July. It's wonderful! However, my personal favorite rendering is the T-shirt that has the Big XII inaugural logo on the front and "Pitt still sucks" on the back - hey, some things never change!

2. As a new fan-member of the Big XII, I found myself confused on Saturday night. There was the Michigan-Notre Dame game on, a classic of old-school power houses, but then, there was the Oklahoma - Kansas State game. It was strange to be watching a game and trying to decide which team I was rooting for - and that I knew not a single player on the field. This is going to take some getting used to. I don't think there will ever be a team I hate as much as Pitt (and I really do hope we manage to get them back on our schedule again. No backyard brawl is just weird.), but I do know I will dislike other Big XII teams more than others.

3. One thing I am proud of is that WVU has the only real-life mascot. All the rest are cartoons and people dressed in giant costumes. I truly mean no disrespect, it is a simple fact. The Mountaineer even has a real gun (no real bullets though, some potential problems there).

4. Oh, and what the heck kinda circus goes on when Oklahoma scores? I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this:  Do they take that thing on the road? Wonder how the horses will react when the Mountaineer shoots his musket when we score? (Really, I need to work on my memory, I should have some recall of this from the Fiesta Bowl...unless I was so traumatized I blocked it out...)

5. This week's "Stat the scares the heck out of me" relates to Kansas State:
Most non-offensive TD's scored by a football team since 1999? - Tied with 84: Kansas State and Virginia Tech.
Seriously, this makes me shudder. And makes my nerves related to the WVU - KState game on 10/20 already on complete edge.
WVU was on the receiving end of many many many "Beamer Ball" scores (scores by Virginia Tech's defense and special teams - dubbed "Beamer Ball" after their head coach, Frank Beamer because of his emphasis on special teams). I really hope our new coaching staff is taking note of these things. Holgorsen? Are you listening?!?!

6. And speaking of our new coaching staff. What they heck do you call this? I call it a piss-poor decision. WVU is NOT gray. We are "gold and blue". We do not wear gray helmets, we wear navy blue helmets. Please remember this in the future, thank your lucky stars we didn't lose on Saturday while wearing these, and don't do it again.

7. Because, do we need to remind you what happened the last time the uniforms were messed with?

8. I didn't think so. Moving right along, and back to happier things. Big XII conference play starts this weekend! WVU hosts Baylor and celebrates homecoming. To help celebrate, we are striping the stadium, like below. I'm super excited to see an aerial photo of this.

9. One super awesome thing about WVU joining the Big XII is that Kansas is also a member of the Big XII! And that means that Michelle and I are going to have some fun being rivals :). And, more importantly, we have an excuse to visit one another a couple times a year! She and her DH are coming to Morgantown for the WVU - KU football game on December 1 and then on March 2 I'm heading to Kansas City for the WVU - KU basketball game! I'm so excited to share Mountaineer Football and learn about KU basketball with my heart-sister!

10. This Saturday will be our 3rd home game of the year. And our 3rd Noon kick-off. These noon games are killing me. Don't get me wrong, I'd be there if kick-off was at 7:00 am, but I'm dreaming of a 3:30 kick off! Plenty of sleep-in AND tailgate time - what could be better? Oh, and a night game or two...because frankly, there's nothing like a night game in Morgantown. See?

11. I feel like the last 3 games have been warm-ups for the "real" season. Of course every year you have the non-conference portion of the schedule to get through, but gearing up for Rutgers, UConn, and the rest of the Big East was getting a big challenging. It was more a paranoia over what game we might lose that we should win and being nervous about injuries. This year, it's totally different. Each game kinda feels like a bowl game - a big name team that we don't know much about. Coaches, traditions, chants, mascots, everything. It will all be new for the rest of the season. My nerves can't take much more "hype", so it's a good thing conference play starts on Saturday.

12. This week will most likely drag on and on and on. But Friday promises to be fun - the homecoming parade always is. And Saturday will bring the Big XII to Morgantown for real (we've already had volleyball and soccer Big XII games). I just know I'm ready. I'm ready for some big-time college football. I'm ready to see if this team is all that it's hyped to be or if we are over-rated. I'm ready to see if Geno Smith can continue to put up Heisman Trophy numbers in the face of conference play. I'm ready to turn the page and see where the story takes us!


Renewed Prayer

This morning started very similar to 2 weeks ago, with infertility-related insensitivity (from the same person and other things). This is the same person I wrote about here. In addition, there were about a hundred babies and 50 more pregnant bellies in church today.

Prior to the 2nd reading (that I was determined to pay full attention to), I was so distracted and wrapped up in my own head and self-righteous anger. I was completely judging at least 3 other women in Mass and I forced myself to stop and focus. Then comes this:

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.

Ok St. James, you have my attention.

Most of the time, the dominant feeling related to our IF is sadness. A deep sadness I didn't know it was possible to feel. Of course there is anger and frustration and fear and all the rest, but if I had to just pick one emotion, sadness would be it.

Except lately.

Lately it is more bitterness. And constant comparing of my situation to others. And jealousy. And self-righteousness when people don't respond the way I think they should. It's been ugly friends. And it was getting real ugly, real fast, in Mass today.

And then St. James stepped in and woke me up with a quick, sharp slap. A slap I needed. Jealousy and selfishness are not getting me anywhere. In fact, they are causing me disorder and foul practice - thank God only in thought and not in outward deed to this point.

I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but it is so extremely important to me that I walk this road with grace. The list of regrets in my life all relate to responding poorly to situations, and while I don't expect to be perfect, I do have high expectations for being intentional and receiving the grace that He wants to give me.

I've taken the answered part of the prayer I started praying 2 years ago this week for granted. I've come to expect the grace to be there and to do the work for me - to be my safety net. But, as James told us last week, faith without works is dead. Grace is a gift, a gift I have prayed, and begged God for, but He won't open it for me. I am the one that has to embrace the grace and allow it affect my life.

I am not completely sure how to do this. But I know it has to start with renewing my prayer for grace. With acknowledging the grace that has carried me through and renewing my request for it.

I don't know where this road leads, where the bumps are, or how long it goes on. What I do know is that someday I will look back and how I traveled the road will be much more important than the road I traveled. 



AF arrived bright and early, and in a "don't worry, you won't think I'm just some spotting" kinda way, yesterday morning.

Which makes today CD2. CD2 in a cycle where I am taking Letrozole (Femera). This means I had to do something I've never done this morning - POAS. Of course it was negative. And of course I waited the two minutes and when the alarm on my phone went off rushed into the bathroom hoping that somehow it wouldn't be. Yes, I realize this is absolutely. completely. certifiably. insane. (You would too if you had seen just how strongly AF was making her presence known yesterday and before the pee.)

This morning ranks right up there with my first ultrasound.

I swore I would never POAS unless I was pretty darn sure it would be a BFP.

But, since Dr. D. was firm, kind, but firm, that it was a must AND the first warning on the side of the prescription is "do not take if pregnant" I figured it was a good idea. Even if I was coming to this decision grudgingly while AF was mocking me.

If I hadn't had to give a presentation to the engaged couples at 8:45 this morning, I might still be in bed. Because if I didn't get up, then I didn't have to POAS. (Yes, I'm very mature about these things.)

So, tonight I will take my meds. I decided night time was better since drowsiness and dizziness are possible side effects and I tend to experience all possible side effects. And tomorrow I start synthroid (oops, just realizing I never updated on the rest of my labs - I'll do that soon, but here is your "sneak peak: my thyroid is not cooperating fully). And my medicine cabinet now has more prescription bottles in it than I'm pretty sure it's had in it my whole life combined (perhaps I'm exaggerating just a bit here?). And The Man is living in a house with needles in it - this is a HUGE thing, he hates needles so much he has panic attacks around them. All of the blood drained from his face when I warned him what was in the envelope from Ku.bats and what cabinet I was putting it in until I needed it. Poor man :(.

You are all always so kind, I feel I must tell you there is sarcasm, snark, and bitterness behind these words. And frankly, that scares the you-know-what out of me. At mass today, I thanked God for allowing me to keep it together while I was working, but I also asked Him to make sure that I didn't put walls back up - that I would feel the pain of all of this. I'm not sure if this sarcasm, snark, and bitterness is me feeling or me putting up walls. Only time will tell.

I'm trying hard to lead on God. To remain open, to really believe the words "Thy will be done" when I pray them. For today, I'm relying on the fact that God is big and that He is love and that just maybe, while I'm throwing my temper tantrum and screaming about how it's not fair, maybe He is holding me close and protecting me from worse things.


Quick Takes

1. If I could start these takes out by asking for your prayers for my Dad. He called last night to tell me that during his regular check-up (which includes a chest xray) they found a spot on his left lung. He will have to have a PET/CAT (he couldn't remember which) scan and a biopsy to figure out what the spot is exactly and what to do about it. I realize that we really know nothing at this point, but my brain is going to all of those dark places - only made darker by the fact that 20 years ago this month my Dad's Dad died of lung cancer. While my Dad has never smoked a day in his life, there has been lots of second hand smoke. I am doing my best to keep these thoughts at bay, but I would appreciate the prayers for my Dad so so much. (If you happen to know me IRL or my Dad, please keep this news to yourself. He specifically asked that I not tell anyone except The Man, but I can't not ask for the prayers of this awesome community. So thank you in advance!)

2. Speaking of prayers, I realize I have been remiss in telling you about the beautiful answer to the prayers for my friend Cody. After returning to WV, he was hired as the Interim Executive Director of the WV Ecumenical Council of Churches. As he finished his interim term, he met with the Vocations Director in our Diocese and after prayer discerned that it was time to reinter the seminary through our diocese. Cody is now attending The Theological College at Catholic University of America as a seminarian in our diocese. His heart is peaceful and he is so far enjoying CUA. If you all would please keep him on your prayer list, as we know life as a seminarian is not easy!

3.  2 weeks ago (seriously, if I don't get better about my football-related blogging I'm gonna lose my WVU Fan Card) WVU hosted Marshall in the season opener. It was the perfect weather all day and the game did not last 7 hours this year (like it did last year thanks to lightening and thunder storms). This year, my friend Cassie who is now family (she is my step-cousin-in-law - we decided we're just gonna go with cousin!) and her new husband will be sitting with us most of the season. So excited!!!

The Man, Me, Cassie, and Justin 
4. AND - we won!!!  In our last 2 games (the Orange Bowl and this game) we are averaging 69.5 points per game. I'll be a happy girl if this continues!!! I figure when we play Oklahoma State the first team to 100 will win.

5. So, it's P+14. I haven't seen P+14 since April. I've been sure for the last 3 days that AF was coming. She hasn't. I had a 2 1/2 hour drive today for work. I spent the entire first two hours hoping and planning and dreaming. I spent the entire last 30 minutes trying to talk myself down to earth. I'm pretty much petrified of what the next few days will bring. I'm trying to allow myself to hope because ultimately I know hope is a good thing, but I'm trying to temper that hope with the fact that it might be crushed. I haven't made it past P+13 since April. Updated Saturday Morning: It is now CD1.

6.  Of course, I am at a marriage prep weekend - which means The Man and I have to give our witness talk tomorrow and share our NFP story. I just heard one of the girls say "have twins so you can get it over with." Ah, blissful ignorance. :( Yep, I'm pretty sure AF will be here tonight or tomorrow. I really think it's time The Man and I discuss passing the baton on to another couple. Suddenly this short 1 hour talk tomorrow seems like climbing Mt. Everest. Thank God I will have The Man with me.

7. Tomorrow WVU plays James Madison University in a home-game-that's-not-really-at-home since the Redskins offered us $2 million to come play at Fed Ex Field. I have all. sorts. of. issues. with this. For now, I'm just hoping we don't pick tomorrow to be "the game we lose but should win big" and then I can move on (and probably rant about all of my issues). In any case - Let's GOOOOOO Mountaineers!!!!

Jen is busy with her reality show taping, so head on over to Camp Patton for more Quick Takes! Have a great weekend!



After a one-two punch of insensitive infertility related experiences, followed up with a homily focusing on how all things are possible with God in which my head was in total agreement, but my heart just wasn't there, I was pretty much ready to fall apart as I went to communion at Mass this morning.

Then, two things happened to lift my mood and remind me that it really is Christ who makes things new and on whom I need to lean. First, our parish uses extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion every week - we have one priest and a huge parish, not ideal, but it's what we do. Now, some of these EMHC are awesome and very reverent. Others, not so much. Today however, both the EMHC for the host and the cup were both two of the awesome, reverent ones. I breathed a sign of relief as I headed to communion.

But really, it was the second thing that reminded me that all things are possible through Christ and that, no matter how it may feel, He will never leave us. I was in line to receive the Precious Blood and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man in the line beside me bow and receive the Precious Blood with such reverence I was struck by it and I visibly smiled.

And then I realized, it was The Man.

For whatever reason, our line is always a little slow and it's not uncommon for some of us to step over to the other line to avoid a back-up. Well, regardless of how we sit, The Man is always behind me because he always lets me go in front of him when we step out of our pew (an awesome, gentlemanly thing he learned from my Pap). Because of this, I never actually see The Man receive Holy Communion, I am always in front of him. When I realized it was The Man I had seen receive Our Lord with such reverence, it changed my whole perspective.

Suddenly, my heart heard and understood what our priest had been speaking about in his homily. Suddenly, the one-two punch didn't sting anymore. And instead, I realized that all things are possible through Christ. And that yes, he opened the ears of the deaf man and made him able to speak, but it was in His words that the Truth really lies - "Ephphatha!" ("Be opened!").

Do I believe that the Lord can cure our infertility? Yes.

Do I believe all things are possible with Jesus? Yes.

But it's not the cure or the answer that is what Jesus asks of us. And when He made the deaf man able to hear, He didn't say "I've answered your prayers and made you able to hear." No, he said "be opened." And in watching The Man, especially without realizing it was him, receive communion with such reverence reminded me that we have already received this miracle. No, we are not perfect and we have much to learn both in this life and as we are purified to meet our Lord in the next. But we have already received the miracle of being opened by Christ to His will and work in our lives. And together, through this beautiful sacrament of marriage, we are continually opening ourselves to Christ in our lives. Whether it's in our intimate relationship as we physically renew our spoken vows or in the day to day ways we serve one another, it's all because of Jesus. And through Jesus, all things are possible.

I had not told The Man about these experiences (I try not to dump on him too much, he has his own pain), but I realized that I had to. I had to tell him, because I had to thank him. I had to thank him for loving Jesus more than he loves me, for having reverence for Our Lord, and for inviting Jesus into our lives. As I did, and before I told him the "rest of the story", and the tears streamed down my cheeks and he agreed that I was right to be hurt, I saw the tears fill his eyes. And, in that moment, I knew that this experience was just as much a gift to The Man as it was to me today. As I finished the story, with my communion experience, I saw the same realization cross The Man's face as had crossed mine, that it is because of Christ we will make it through this. That through our baptism, we were both given the same gift the deaf man of today's gospel was given, and in fact this same prayer "ephphata" was prayed over us at our baptism. It is in our openness that we embrace the pain and find hope in the promise of resurrection.



I've said so many many times that I want to walk this road with grace; that I want to honor both my desires for a life of parenting and the life I may be given without children. These are in many ways the most painful aspects of IF, or at least what make the hurts sting that much deeper. I know when I'm sobbing and asking "why?" and feeling sorry for myself, I am not opening myself up to His grace. But it is the other, the finding of balance between what I want and what I have where I feel I stumble the most.

There are days, when I can see our life without children so clearly. And it's OK. It's better than OK, it's beautiful and full of love and laughter.

There are days, when I can see our life with children so clearly. And it is OK. It is better than OK, it's beautiful and full of love and laughter.

Usually, as I picture one, I feel a horrible twinge of guilt to pull me back to reality. If I can picture one option so wonderfully, what does that say about my desire for and willingness to accept the other? Am I betraying my desire for children, when I see a good life without them? Am I dishonoring my marriage and our family of two when I see a good life with more than just us? I can so easily fixate on the daydream of the day, or week, or moment that to consider the other reality becomes almost impossible, temporarily. It is as if instead of an angel and a devil on my shoulders, I have a life with children and a life without them constantly throwing their best at me trying to convince me which one will be better. And the guilt I feel when wanting one over the other - there are no words.

And, then, in a matter of a second, in speaking with a friend, I realized part of the problem.

You see, in this blog world, we talk so much of miracles and answered prayers and God's plan playing out. And when we do, there is always a picture of a baby, or a BFP, or an ultrasound, or talk of a call.

But, sometimes, the miracle doesn't involve a baby, or a BFP, or an ultrasound, or a phone call. Sometimes the miracle is in the life right before our eyes. Sometimes it is in a healed marriage. In being able to celebrate the joy of new life for others. In being there for one another and witnessing to life and love. In physical and spiritual healing. In finding beauty and truth and healing from the Church.

Sometimes the "this" in "this was God's plan all along," isn't a child at all.

And that's OK. Or at least I have decided that it would be OK.

No, this doesn't lessen my desires for parenthood for The Man and myself. No this doesn't make any of this less painful. But it does help to ensure that in 10 years, no matter what our family looks like, it will still be just that, our family.

As we drawer nearer to two years of TTC (later this month), and I continue to face milestone and events that I never dreamed I'd face and I realize that no matter how sad or angry or confused or bitter I get, the milestones will still come. No matter how many times I plan for the baby to be here this time next year, this time next year will come - with or without a baby.

As I write this, lest you think I'm delusional (perhaps I am) or somehow granted some special insight, I must admit that I am sky-high with hope for a BFP this cycle. I don't know why, there is nothing to indicate that this cycle will be any different than the last 2 years, I just know it is part of this road. The hope and the disappointment; the highs and the lows; the joy and the tears.

And for today, I can only hope that some of this perspective; this understanding that life will be OK with or without children; that proof of God's love and His miracles in my life does not hinge on whether or not there is a child that calls me mommy is still around in 2 weeks to help prevent the low from going so low.