Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Kinda Awesome"

In the words of my five-year-old niece, Christmas was "kinda awesome".  I realize that it's now four days past Christmas, but the five nieces and nephews were keeping me totally occupied.  For the last week, I've been giving pony rides and doing flips and reading stories and playing games.  I love them all so dearly...but I admit that I was also relieved to get some quiet time when three of them left yesterday...which gives me a chance to catch up here.

I admit that Day 1 of our vacation didn't start out "kinda awesome".  The first leg of our flight was totally fine, but then our flight out of Denver was cancelled due to weather.  After waiting in the customer service line for more than an hour while my husband went to check out one-way rental cars, we decided that it would be best to fork over the $250 for the car and drive the five hours north that day (with 10% chance of precipitation), rather than take the chance of waiting for an 8:30 pm flight the next day (with the storms increasing).  My poor sister-in-law had already left to head to the nearest airport in South Dakota (three hours in the opposite direction), so she ended up driving all over to finally meet us in Gillette, WY and drive us the last leg of the trip up to Montana.  But all of the travels were totally worth it, and we had a beautiful White Christmas (the first for this California girl).

My only "complaint" (if you can call it that) is that I feel like I didn't get quality "grown-up time" with my husband's family.  Each of his sisters and his mom casually asked how I was doing, but it was never the time or place to really open up and share what's on my heart.  I thought that there would be an opportunity with one sister--she shared that they were trying again, and that she had recently had a really early miscarriage in October...and then her three kids came in from the snow and the conversation quickly changed.  And that was the end of that.  There really wasn't a good opportunity to bring it up again.  I think I may send her a note to let her know I'm thinking of her...but I've never really had that sort of "open relationship" with them.  Both sisters already have kids (one with three kids ages 3, 5, and 11 and the other with two kids ages 6 and 10), so we've been at totally different places in our lives since the day I met my husband.  My husband says that they're scared to really ask how I'm doing because they think it might cause me pain.  I guess I understand that...but I just wish that I could connect with them somehow.

All in all, Christmas truly was "kinda awesome".  Yes, it was unfortunate that our flight was cancelled, but my husband and I made the most out of it and rocked out to Christmas songs along the drive.  And though it was cold, it really was special to have a White Christmas.  I've had so many hugs and kisses and goofy smiles from my nieces and nephews to get me through till we see them again this summer.  Though my arms are still empty, my heart knows that I'm blessed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Take It All Back

Remember all of those glowing things I said about tracking my temperature?  Well, I take it all back.  Okay, maybe not all of it, but I didn't get any warning that my period was coming.  Oh well.  At least I can still confirm that I ovulated, even if it didn't result in a pregnancy (despite our multiple attempts).

It's disappointing, but thank you for your prayers for comfort.  It may also be due to getting into the holiday spirit, but I felt like I was able to accept this new cycle with unexpected ease.  I know that I wouldn't be able to handle this frustration without knowing that God has something bigger for me than I could imagine.  So I do truly appreciate the prayers.

Well, I still can't miscarry if I'm still not pregnant.  I realize that's a morbid way of considering things, but I admit that my thoughts often settle on loss.  As much as I would have loved to have given birth around my husband's birthday, I also do not want to have that day associated with any more loss.

It's a blessing today to know that I only have one more day of work before we leave to celebrate Christmas and the New Year in Montana with my husband's family.  This will be my third Christmas with them, and though I admit that I will miss my immediate family, the in-laws do a great job of making me feel right at home.  And it will be such a blessing to hang out with my nieces and nephews--who I'm sure will keep me busy and help take my mind off what I'm missing.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Going Back

So...the pain in my lower abdomen is increasing.  It's been there since Wednesday afternoon, and it's becoming more noticeable.  It's not "bad", but it's definitely there, and doesn't seem to just be going away.  And I'm still spotting on and off.  Since we leave on Tuesday to visit my husband's family in the middle of nowhere (my husband was born in the next state over because it had the nearest hospital), I figured I'd better call to get checked out before we leave.

My RE has already left for vacation (understandable), and there were no appointments available at my regular OB/GYN's office (also understandable, on short notice).  So the scheduled me for an appointment with a clinic across town from where I work for this afternoon.  I'm grateful that they were able to squeeze me in on such short notice (especially since the pain is relatively mild)...but the clinic is part of the hospital where my hold world came crashing.  It's the hospital that is nearest to my home, so it's where I drove myself when the bleeding and pain got to the point of being unbearable in my first loss.  My husband was out of state at the time, so I had to drive myself.  By the time I got there, I had lost so much blood that I passed out on the bathroom floor, hitting my head in the process.  It's a really sad place for me.

My mom says that perhaps God is trying to get me to work through issues associated with that location/experience...I think it was just more of a coincidence that it was the only appointment open.  The hospital doesn't hold any "power" over me.  I drive past it every day on my way to work.  It's just beyond the exit that I take every day getting off the freeway.  But it makes me sad and scared to think about going back there.  Couple that with the pain and confusion of this discomfort, and I admit that I'm at one of my lower points. 

As scared as I am, I realize I'm blessed that they are able to see me today.

Update:  I was in and out in less than 30 minutes.  I hadn't realized that there is an additional clinic next to the hospital; so even though I was at the same location, it was a different facility.  Anyway, the doctor said I'm not crazy for coming in since we'll soon be in a remote area...but she didn't have anything else to tell me.  She did an internal exam and said everything felt fine.  She "tried" to do an ultrasound...but either the machine was too old or she didn't know what she was doing with it.  It was a little frustrating, but I totally understand that ultra-sensitive RPL patients are probably not her specialty when she's been accustomed to working with "normal fertiles".  She praised my RE and said that his expertise and equipment would have given us a better idea of what's going on...had he still been in town.  Her recommendation is that I go to the ER/Urgent Care if it gets worse between now and Monday.  She did a urine pregnancy test...which came back negative.  It is still a bit early...but at least I didn't have to waste my last one.

I'm blessed that my sister-in-law is a doctor, so if things do get worse after we leave, then at least I'll have her there.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

100th Post

I was going to write something really sweet and meaningful about this being the 100th post and how much I appreciate the love and support that I have received through this venue.  And that is all still true.  But my body's timing didn't work out that way...and I have something else on my mind.

I think I ovulated a week ago (according to my temperature)...and now I'm spotting.  I have no idea what to think.  Yesterday afternoon, I noticed a mild ache in my lower abdomen region, and my "magical thinking" started wondering if it could be implantation.  I noticed just a tiny bit of pink when I again, started flirting with the idea that perhaps it really could be implantation.  The timing would be right...right?  A tiny bit more spotting last night and this morning (just when I wipe), along with the little twinge in the same location from time to time.  My temperature was still up this morning--in fact, even higher than yesterday.  My heart wants to think "could it be?".

But then the questions in my head kick in.  If it's not implantation, then why am I spotting already?  Is my cycle going to start early?  If so, does that mean that I could have a luteal phase defect?  I'm kicking myself for sounding so confident and sure of myself in yesterday's post.  I don't enjoy feeling like this, and I'm doing everything that I can to rein myself in.  I was doing so well for the last couple of months with keeping my emotions in check!  I need to get back to that place of peace and trust.

Please pray for me.  I know it's too early to test, and I'm not usually a patient person.  But I think that patience is one of the things that God wants me to learn through this process.  I made it five weeks without my husband recently...I can make it another week in this state of uncertainty.  But please keep me in your prayers.

For today's blessing, let me go back to the original plan of celebrating my 100th post.  I truly feel amazingly blessed to have found so much support, care, and understanding from so many women who share my pain.  You have filled a void that sometimes even a husband can't fill.  Deep down, I wish that we didn't have to "meet" this way.  But since we have, I appreciate your compassion along this journey, and I pray that I can offer the same to you.  Please know that I pray for so many of you so often.  Though we share a common sadness, I'm blessed to have found this community.  May God bless you as you have blessed me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I admit it--I'm a bit of a control freak.  When it comes to TTC, I do my best to leave it all in God's capable hands.  But sometimes (truth be told, I should say "all too often") it feels good to know what's going on.  So I guess you could say I'm an "inquisitive control freak".  And so I track my temperature.

I realize that it's not 100% accurate all of the time, but for the most part, it seems to give me the information that I need (since I can't exactly just "peak inside" whenever I want...which is often what I really want to do).  But I like the data and confirmation that I feel it provides for me.  I even like that I can anticipate if a new cycle is coming if/when the temperature drops--it's like a silent messenger who arrives ahead of time to bear the news, making it easier to cope with the emotions when the cycle does truly arrive (and sparing the heartache of "wasting" a test on a negative).  Weird sidenote--I don't actually "chart" my temperatures in a graph.  Rather, I just keep them listed, and that's enough for me.  I guess it just feels less compulsive if I don't feel like I'm tethered to a "chart".  I often put it all into a graph at the very end of a cycle so that I can (what's the right word) "admire" the data and feel good that it confirms what I experienced.  Weird--I know.

Anyway, my temperature spiked a few days ago.  I put off writing this post to see if it was just a fluke (like I said...I realize it's not always 100% accurate), but it's been staying high (today being the highest so far).  Again--it's just been a few days, so I'm nowhere near the end of my TWW.  But I feel confident that I can say that I ovulated somewhere around Day 21.  I was kind of bummed it wasn't sooner (last month was Day 16, which made me feel "more normal"), but I'll take it.  Now let's just see if they stay elevated...

So please pray for me.  I've wanted desperately to be pregnant for more than two years now...but I admit that I feel like I want it this month more than ever before.  I trust that God knows my heart, and He knows when I'm truly ready.  So please pray two "If..." prayers for me.  If I'm pregnant, then please pray that God keep this child safe and that He allow me to carry a healthy baby to full-term.  If I'm not pregnant, then please pray that God hold my heart and that I'm able to feel His presence through the emptiness, especially as we head into the holidays and the new year.

My blessing today was a good giggle.  My mother-in-law is the hardest person alive to shop for...she owns her own gift store!  How are you supposed to shop for someone who buys everything they could ever want and can just bring it home whenever they want?  So we're looking at getting her a weekend in a cabin this summer when all three kids, spouses, and five grandkids can spend some time away together.  I was researching rental properties today, and found one that suggests their facility as a great location for weddings, family reunions, fly fishing...and "procreation vacations".  I'm sure they meant "recreation", but it still makes me laugh.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Living In The Moment

My husband and I spent an amazing weekend at a fabulous resort.  It was the kind of place that makes me feel just a bit uncomfortable because it is so extremely ritzy.  But he earned two free nights from all of his travels, so we took advantage of the chance to get away.  We also treated ourselves to a day of shopping--which really gave me the opportunity to truly experience what it means to live in the moment.

For the last two years, I admit that I've been oscillating between living in the past and living in the ("potential") future, rather than living in the moment.  I often find myself going back and forth between when I was previously pregnant and desires to one day be pregnant again.  But it's harder for me to stop myself where I am, take a look at what I have, and be content with my current situation.

Take my wardrobe for example.  Since our wedding in March 2007, I admit that I put on a lot of weight.  Granted, I was looking really good for the wedding.  I joke that I never quite gained the "Freshman Fifteen", but I most definitely packed on the "Newlywed Twenty" (perhaps even more).  But since meeting with the RE in February and discovering that I have PCOS, I've totally reworked my diet and exercise plan.  In the last two months or so, it's really seemed like the weight has really been falling off.  I admit that I've been rolling the waist of my pants over to get them to stay on.  I even discovered that there is one pair of pants that I can completely pull off without even unbuttoning them.  And yet, I kept considering "but what if I get pregnant?" instead of just going out to the mall to buy new pants that actually fit.  Finally, this weekend, I allowed myself the freedom to live in the moment and buy new pants.

I didn't go overboard--just one pair of jeans and one pair of slacks.  But it's a start.  I'm living in the moment--and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I'm actually a size smaller than I had expected.  I don't think that I'm ready to get rid of the baggy pants yet.  My mind still runs away from me at times and I start wondering if I could wear them again if/when I'm pregnant.  But perhaps I can allow myself to at least push them to the back of the closet and wear something that is flattering.

It truly was a blessing to spend such an amazing weekend away with my husband.  We dined, slept, relaxed, and just enjoyed each other.  It was the perfect weekend--right in between his trip to Djibouti and the upcoming holidays.  It was exactly what we needed--a chance to both unwind and reconnect.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tightropes and Trust

All along, I've been saying that I trust God.  I do.  I trust Him.  But the other day, I had a realization that truly trusting God is kind of like stepping out on a tightrope...and I need to let go of the ledge.

I would say that I'm usually a rather concrete thinker.  I look at the facts.  I make calculated decisions.  For anyone who is familiar with Myers-Briggs Type Indicator...I'm a strong "S".  But the other night as I was considering the elements of "trust", the image of a tightrope walker came into my head.  That's not like me--I'm not the type to give any meaning to imagery (that's more my mom's style).

But it fit.  Navigating this journey through infertility and loss makes me feel like I'm on a tightrope with no harness.  I've been standing on the ledge for the last couple of months.  It's easy to stand there, safe and secure, when I know that I'm not pregnant.  Every once in a while, I take a step out--but it's never very far.  With every new cycle, I can climb back on that platform and relax in its safety for a bit.  But what if my prayers are answered and I get pregnant again?  Then I'm out there on the rope, with nothing to which I can hold.  I want to be pregnant again so badly, but yet it's also so extremely scary.  After three losses, I don't feel like I can fully rejoice in a positive test (if I'm blessed and receive a positive test).  That's when the real trust starts.  That's when I have to step out on the rope, let go of the ledge, keep my head up, and truly trust God.  But even if I do all those things, that still doesn't guarantee that I'll make it to the other side.  I could still fall.  History shows that I've already fallen three times.  It sure sucks to fall.  But yet even when I fell, God was still there.  I know that He was there--serving as my safety net--and I trust that He'll continue to be there for me.

My blessing from the other day is work-related.  We found out that one of our required courses for the Spring semester was moved to a larger classroom, so we'll be able to accommodate all of the students who were hoping to add it.  This may seem minor, but for the 100+ students on the waitlist, this is a huge blessing.  Sure, it makes my life easier as well, but I know that it's so important for my students.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How Do I Answer That?

I got all dolled up and attended my husband's Army Reserve holiday party with him over the weekend.  It was a semi-formal event, so he was in his "Dress Blues" and I fit into a great little black dress that's been in the back of my closet for years...literally years.  I even did up my hair (by myself) in more than a ponytail--it wasn't quite as fabulous as on my wedding day, but after 45 bobby-pins (yes, I counted them), I was pretty pleased with my work.

Throughout the dinner, as I met the wives of the other soldiers, they inevitably always asked if we have any kids.  How do I answer that?  How would you answer that if you've experienced three losses?  I had just met these women, and didn't know what they would think of me dropping that sort of information on them...especially after they had a couple of cocktails.  I'm so torn--I want to pay tribute to my babies and tell people about them.  I considered sweetly smiling and saying "only in heaven"--but I'm sure this isn't the type of response that they would have expected (especially after a couple of cocktails).  And who knows what "words of wisdom" they would share (again...especially after a couple of cocktails).

I find it interesting that it is so easy for me to share what's on my heart here--through this format--with complete strangers...and yet I struggle to share something that is so important to me when face-to-face with someone.  Perhaps I just think that the pain and frustration of loss is a hard pill to swallow, and people need to have the space to react on their own time.  Perhaps I'm afraid of what people might think of me.  Perhaps I'm just scared of how they might react and what they might say, as even comments with the best intentions can still sometimes hurt.

So I ask you--how do I answer the "do you have any kids?" question?  Does anyone have a tried-and-true response that allows you to honor your loss(es) while also providing the other person with some sort of refuge from the bomshell that is about to drop?  Or is recurrent pregnancy loss just not proper dinner conversation? 

On a lighter blessing for the weekend was in the form of some amazing college football games!  Talk about some crazy finishes!  And to cap it all off, my team won an upset to clinch 2nd place in our conference!  My husband and I won't be able to go to the bowl game again (like we did last year) since we'll be with his family for the holidays, but it's still a really big deal for our team, our school, and our community. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top Ten Reasons

I believe that I "should" be ovulating soon (at least from what I can tell so far).  As I look forward to what the rest of the week has in store, I admit that my mind has wandered to how great it would be to get pregnant this month.  Here are my top ten reasons:

10.  Since my husband was out of the country, we didn't get a chance to try last month when I felt like I was now I feel really ready.
9.  I feel like I am slowly but surely learning what it truly means to be patient and wait on God.
8.  I may be learning patience...but after saying goodbye to four babies last year (between me and my sister-in-law), I know that my parents are anxious to be grandparents, and I want so badly to bless them in that way.
7.  It would be the best Christmas present ever for both me and my husband to get a positive test days before celebrating Christ's birth.
6.  As for work, the Spring semester is so much less stressful than the Fall semester, so it would be a good time to experience the caution and concerns of getting through the First Trimester (then I would gladly suffer through the heat of summer).
5.  Physically--I'm the healthiest that I've been in years.
4.  Emotionally and spiritually--I'm the healthiest I've been in years.
3.  My grandparents are starting to experience health concerns, and I want more than anything for them to be able to meet their great-grandchild.
2.  My most recent loss would have been due in mid-December--it would feel really fitting to close that chapter on loss and open a new chapter on hope around that time.
1.  My birthday is three days before my mom's, and my brothers' (remember--they have the same birthday) birthdays are three days before my dad's...and my husband's birthday is in September--so to keep with the tradition, it would be amazing to have a baby three day before my husband's birthday.

I feel kind of selfish--but this is honestly what's going through my head right now.  Ultimately, I know that it is all in God's hands.  A lot of the verses in Proverbs 16 have really been resonating with me lately, especially verse 9:
"In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps."
I admit that in my heart and in my mind, I've planned it all out.  But how reassuring to know that even if/when things don't go according to my plan, the Lord truly knows each of my steps.  I need to trust that He'll continue to be there with me, whether or not this is our month.

Please pray for us.  As much as I want to be pregnant, I still am praying that we only conceive if we're able to carry to full term--again, feeling kind of selfish with my specific prayers.  If it doesn't happen for us this month, please pray for peace and comfort and understanding. 

Today's blessing was finishing teaching my class, and grading some of the reflection projects that the students submitted.  It was really great to read about all of the things that they had learned this semester, and to know that I was able to make an impact on their first year of college.  It's just a 1-credit success class, but I really hope that they were able to gain something from the course.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Confession

Let me take you all the way back to when our TTC adventure began.  My husband and I got married in March 2007, and I agreed to stay on the pill until we were "ready" to try to start a family.  I admit, I was ready the day we returned from our honeymoon.  I contemplated flushing my birth control pills and just saying "oops!" when he knocked me up that first month.  But I resisted that urge, as I truly believed (and still do) that creating a child "should" be our mutual decision.  My husband, on the other hand, wasn't nearly as eager to start.  I regret that I didn't take the time to truly understand why he was opposed to trying at that point in time.

But being the persistent (and yes, bossy) type that I am, I look back now and admit that I probably hounded him about starting a family more than I should have (actually--you can omit that "probably"...I know that I pushed him).  Finally, after watching the movie Juno, I got him to agree that I could finally go off birth control.  I clearly remember talking to him over dinner after the movie and arguing that it was all in God's timing anyway, so I might as well get off the pill sooner rather than later and let God do His thing.  I hate to say it, but when he finally gave in, he actually looked so defeated by me.  He agreed that I could stop birth control, but he pleaded that we wouldn't actively "try".  Rather, he wanted to "just see what happens" without getting consumed with "trying".

Yeah right.  Within days I was looking up meanings of baby names and buying pregnancy tests.  I sped right past "see what happens" and jumped straight into "trying" mode...and I never gave him the chance to catch up.  Sure, I don't think that he minded all of the extra "attention" that he was getting...but he knew it was because I had ulterior motives.

Fast-forward two years and three losses...I don't know what it was, but something struck me when he was gone for five weeks.  I had one of those "ah-ha moments" when I realized that I was totally 100% in the wrong for bypassing his request to just "see what happens".  I was running a race with every bit of energy I had, and he just wanted to enjoy a nice leisurely walk with his wife.

Over the weekend, I confessed to him that I was wrong to get so far ahead of him, myself, and us when I dove into baby-making-mode all by my lonesome.  For two years I've been "trying", without asking him if he's ready to move on from "see what happens" to "actually trying".  I did finally ask him if he truly feels "ready" to try.  In response, he squeezed me and kissed my cheek, and calmly shared that he felt like he's had enough time of having me to himself, and yes--he is in fact truly ready to share me with a baby.

So now I'm kicking myself for focusing on what I didn't have for the last two years...rather than recognizing what I do have.  I have a husband who loves me and cherishes me and is selfish enough to want ME all to himself (at least for the first two and a half years).

As if my husband isn't blessing enough, I was also blessed to find out that my best friend from childhood passed the bar exam!  I'm so proud of her, and she truly is an inspiration to me.  She is an amazing mom and a loyal friend...and I know that she is going to a fabulous lawyer!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Almost Forgot

While my husband was out of the country, I skipped the prenatal vitamins and folic acid.  His five-week trip to Djibouti kind of put a kink in trying, so I figured that I might as well save myself a month's worth of prescriptions.  But I was surprised to realize that I almost forgot to start taking them again!  He had already been home for more than a week before I noticed them in the cupboard and realized that I should probably start taking them again. 

It's not that I'm worried about my health--I know I've been eating really healthy.  But rather, I think that I was impressed with forgetting--because it means that I'm not solely 100% focused on making a baby.  Let's face it--babies are made all of the time without any thought of prenatal vitamins or folic acid.  Don't get me wrong--I fully advocate for proper prenatal care under a qualified health care provider.  But for me and my single-minded-thinking, to overlook the simple act of taking these supplements also equates to living my life without being totally consumed with procreation.  So yes, I smiled a bit when I realized that I had neglected the meds.

I have since resumed the case anyone is wondering.  Now that he's back--yes--we're trying again.  Please keep us in your really would be wonderful if this is a successful month for us.

My blessing today is the rain!  We live in the desert, so we'll take any rain that we can get!  This storm comes full with thunder and lightening and the most amazing smells.  My husband and I squeezed in a walk in between storms at sunset, and it definitely is starting to look, smell, and feel like winter. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Day

Yesterday morning--on Thanksgiving--my husband woke up, rolled over to kiss me, and whispered "Happy Easter" in my ear.  Silly husband.  He promptly fell back asleep.

It's always nice to start a day--any day--with a smile.  It was especially nice to start yesterday's Thanksgiving with a good laugh.  I am so extremely grateful to have this silly husband in my life.  I love him so much--even though he insisted on both a pumpkin and pecan pie when I'm trying really hard to cut the sugars (so far, so good).  More than anything, I want to be able to bless him with a child...if that means resisting two fresh baked pies, then I'm up for the challenge.

It was just the two of us for Thanksgiving, but we had the chance to speak with both of our families.  I always get just a little bit sad when the rest of my family is all together and I can't be with them, but that's life.  My family ate crab for Thanksgiving--how awesome is that?  I do love crab--but I'm even more impressed that they aren't afraid to break tradition and try something new.  I love that about my family, and I am so thankful for who they are and who I am because of them.

This year, around the Thanksgiving holiday, I'm finding it pretty easy to recognize my blessings, but I remember that it wasn't quite so simple at this time last year, so I'm not taking anything for granted.  If anyone is new to my blog, I should mention that I close each post with sharing my "blessings" from that day.  So aside from those blessings listed above, our most recent blessing is that my husband got a promotion and a 5% raise.  They were really impressed with the work that he was doing in Djibouti, and he was rewarded for his efforts.  So this is a huge financial blessing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Flippant Fertile

Last night was Monday Night Football, so we had friends over to our house to watch and socialize.  My very-dear friend (and husband) invited a not-so-dear friend and 16-month little girl (and husband).  I really struggle with this not-so-dear friend.  The first time I met her (through the very-dear friend), she announced that I should "watch out" because "it only takes 39 days to get pregnant after you go off birth control!".  To her credit, she had no clue that I was still picking up the pieces from my first loss.  Anyway, she's now pregnant with her second child (she announced it on fb the morning she took the test with simply "Guess What?", resulting in a string of responses that she let dangle...I admit that I've since "hid" her posts to avoid the torture). 

Inevitably, the conversation turned to babies, and (while drinking her caffeinated soda) the not-so-dear friend almost seemed to be bragging about how she found a new OB who will induce when it's convenient for her (she feels that she'll be "tired of being pregnant" by the time she gets to 39 weeks, and that sounds like a good time for her).  The very-dear friend is a doctor, and tried to argue that it's ideal for a mother to carry to the full 40 weeks, and how most doctors won't induce until 41 weeks (unless, of course, there is a medical concern that dictates otherwise).  I didn't wait around to hear the rest of the discussion...I played the hostess card and picked up the plates and headed to the kitchen.

Again, to her credit, the not-so-dear friend has no idea what we're going through (after her initial 39-day proclamation, she just hasn't felt like a "safe" person in which I could confide).  But it is so hard to watch someone be so flippant about her fertility!  I recognize that I have no idea what it feels like to be 39 weeks pregnant--maybe I would be begging the doctors to induce at that point as well.  But after struggling to get pregnant...and now struggling to stay pregnant--I feel like I would be willing to go to any extreme necessary to do whatever it is that would maximize my chances of a healthy pregnancy.  I know that she's a loving mom, and will be to the second child as well, but it's still so hard to watch.  Part of me wishes that I could have the luxury to be so care-free about fertility...and the other part of me wants her to know what it's like to practice caution.

Anyway, flippant fertile aside, my blessing for today is the opportunity to celebrate my dad's birthday.  I really truly believe that I am blessed with the most amazing dad ever.  My dad is a pastor, and he is the most caring, honest, and hard-working man that I've ever known.  He was such a great role model--not only for me, but for so many others in our little community.  I truly am proud to be his daughter, and I found it fitting to read this verse last night, as it made me think of him:
"Children's children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children."
(Proverbs 17:6)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Taking Notice

Lately, people have started taking notice that I've been losing weight.  The dental hygienist asked (of course, she also asked if I had a "new addition" because I had declined x-rays last time I was there when I had just found out I was pregnant), and later that day one of my students asked.  But the weird thing with the student is that I had only met with him one other time in the Spring, so for him to have noticed a change must have meant that I was actually much larger in real life than I was in my mind.

But again, I'm not intentionally trying to lose weight.  Rather, I'm trying to create a "safe living environment", should we ever experience the miracle of getting pregnant again.  I recognize that there are a lot of things with in/fertility that I cannot control, but I do have some say in what I choose to put into my body.  And although I admit that I do not particularly like to work out, I do enjoy how I feel when I'm done.

I still don't have the perfect answer for when people ask "why" and "how" I'm losing weight or eating carefully.  I usually just leave it at "Oh, my doctor has recommended some changes for my health", or sometimes I'll even go so far as to mention something about a hormone imbalance.  But I fear that they think that I'm a prude for eating my vegetables and hummus for lunch.  The "big-boss lady" at work made a joke about me moving on to a liquid diet before too long...that kind of hurt.  (And no, I have absolutely no intention of beginning any sort of liquid diet or any other extreme measures).

I'm not gonna lie--I like the changes that I'm seeing.  But again--the point of all of this is not to lose weight--it's to maintain a healthy pregnancy.  I'm at that point where I've been debating over whether I just keep rolling my pants to make them stay on, in the hopes that I'll soon be pregnant and needing that extra space; or just donate them all to charity and dive in to the holiday sales and buy myself a new wardrobe that fits (and yes, flatters) my new frame.

Today's blessings is my brothers' birthdays--as in the birthday of both of my brothers.  They are three years apart, but share the same birthday...and share so much else in common as well.  I truly adore my brothers, and I miss them so much.  I admit that I was a rather bossy big sister while we were growing up, but they tolerated me and saw beyond all that I asked of them.  I'm really proud of the men that they have become.  (And yesterday was my sister-in-law's birthday...and I'm equally blessed to have her in my life as well).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

For the First Time in a Long Time

My period started this morning (sorry--I've never been able to call it "AF"), and for the first time in a long time, I was excited (for anyone who just picked up my blog--my husband was out of the country for five weeks, so I knew that there was no chance of me being pregnant).  It was a 30-day cycle, which makes me feel like I'm getting closer to being "normal".  My doctor-friend tells me that a normal range is 22-35 days, but you know how sources talk about 28 being the "magic number".  I think it comes down to being proud of myself for managing the PCOS.  I now recognize that I was eating like crap and not taking care of myself when my cycles were so out of whack.  But I was really conscientious of what I ate and made sure to exercise each day this month, so I feel like I "earned" this cycle.  Part of me thinks it's sad that I have to work so hard to do what my body should do "normally".  But then again, God gave me this body, and I should take care of it, hormone imbalance and all.

Today's blessing is a trip to the dentist.  This may sound odd, but it gives me the chance to sleep in and take it slow because it's a mid-morning appointment.  So I'll just head into work after it...which means it will be a short day at work so the time will fly by.  And before I know it, my husband will be back tomorrow.  So yes, a trip to the dentist is a blessing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Home...and Gone Again

My husband is home!  Well...he was home.  He got home late Monday night...and then left again early Tuesday morning.  He signed up for this class long before he knew that he would be out of the country for five weeks, so he's sort of obligated to attend (and he enjoys these types of classes).  But it's still so nice to know that he's just up the road.  I thought about making the two-hour drive up to see him, but it just isn't going to work out easily with my schedule this week.

Besides, I'm kind of proud of myself for not feeling this overwhelming sense that I need to be with him every single moment, now that he's back.  There was a time in my life when I would have dropped everything to drive however far was necessary to just be near him.  But perhaps these five weeks have shown me that it's okay for me to move away from "dependency" and into "autonomy" when it comes to our relationship.  Please do not read this as "I don't love/need/want/desire my husband"--that's not it at all!  If anything, these five weeks have shown me just how much I love him and value him more than I ever imagined.  But they've also reminded me that I am who I am, independent of who he is or what I do for him.  So I'll sit tight until he returns--for good this time--and continue adding to my list of "AccomplishMEnts".

So aside from having him home for eight hours, my blessing yesterday was that the cheesecake I baked for him turned out nearly perfect...or at least it was the best looking (and tasting) cheesecake that I have made so far...and I make a lot of cheesecakes.  I've been disappointed with how the last few turned out--and I didn't even taste them because I have been trying to watch my sugar intake (dang hormones).  But in honor of my husband's return, I indulged in yesterday's Blueberry Swirl...and I was quite impressed.  I'm glad I could bless my husband with my I just need to find the strength to resist the temptation to eat the rest of it before he returns on Friday.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What's Another Five Hours After Five Weeks?!?!

I have been counting down the days and hours and minutes until 4:50 pm today when my husband was scheduled to arrive.  But unfortunately, he didn't make it through Customs in order to catch his connecting flight.  But what's another five hours after five weeks apart, right?

Bummer!  I was really looking forward to a great evening with him!  Instead, he'll arrive at 9:50 pm...and then leave again at 6:00 am tomorrow morning.  We'll make the most of this short time together, and then I'll start the new countdown until he finishes his class and returns home on Friday evening.

But it's a blessing just to have him in the country.  After five weeks of waiting on international calls and calculating time differences, it's such a blessing to just pick up the phone and call or text him whenever I want.  And it will be totally worth it...whenever he does arrive. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Five Weeks of AccomplishMEnts

I was inspired by Wendy's "Project: Me"...but I've never been good at setting goals.  Rather, I simply like to work hard, and be proud of what I can accomplish.  My husband returns tomorrow, so I wanted to reflect on what I'm considering to be my "AccomplishMEnts" while he was gone:
  • Did a ton of the extent that the trash was full of debris every single week
  • Cleaned the house from top to bottom
  • Ate healthy...with extra servings of vegetables
  • Fixed two leaky faucets in the bathroom
  • Said "yes" to every single social invitation
  • Got both cars serviced (and one of them washed)
  • Picked up three huge bags of trash along our main road
  • Treated myself to two massages
  • Found and bought the perfect pair of shoes (and a second pair on clearance)
  • Resisted the urge to pick up take-out every night (then rewarded myself with one meal on Friday)
  • Cleaned out my closets and gave away a box of clothes
  • Went to bed early (except for on nights when I was saying "yes" to excursions)
  • Bought two new pairs of pants that actually fit 
  • Watched girlie movies and cried my eyes out
  • Went above-and-beyond at work, including helping out on the weekends
  • Worked out or did yoga just about every single day
  • Stretched my wardrobe to three weeks without doing any laundry
  • Read a book that my mom suggested
Those are the highlights.  Sure, I could have accomplished more.  But I know that I was good to myself.  At the same time, I can't wait to have my husband back so that I can focus on being good to him again.  (Speaking of which, please pray for him as he's traveling back pretty much all day on Monday).

Today's blessing was great worship music at church.  I love it when God can really speak to my heart.through a song.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Out of Africa

It's Friday night for me...which means that it's Saturday morning for my husband in Djibouti...which means that he leaves Africa today...or tomorrow...however you want to look at it.  Essentially he leaves at 11:00 pm Djibouti time, or 1:00 pm my time--how's that?  He'll to Paris, well he'll spend the day, and then fly on to Salt Lake City...and then should arrive him around 4:30 pm on Monday.  Please pray that he's able to get through Customs okay in Salt Lake City, as he doesn't have a long layover, and I worry that he'll miss his flight home and then I'll have to wait even longer.  How much would that suck?

I spent the day preparing for his return.  In addition to cleaning up around the house (and getting the carpets cleaned), I also indulged in a massage and a bikini wax (okay, so I indulged in the massage and tolerated the bikini wax).  I typically don't spend the money for a wax (the last time I did was for our wedding), but I wanted things to be "nice" for him when he gets home (I apologize if I'm sharing too much...).  The massage guy totally did a number on my shoulders--apparently I'm caring a ton of stress in them...yet I don't feel stressed at the moment.  I didn't have that heart to tell him that the main source of my stress comes from my three losses and my desire to be a mom.  Like I said, I don't feel stressed about it at the moment--as I feel like I have a justifiable reason as to why this isn't our month--but maybe my body is trying to tell me something...

My blessing today is my clean carpets.  I know it sounds silly, but they truly look so incredible!  The stains were driving me crazy to the point that I had considered pulling up the carpet and piling on a new home improvement project for which we don't currently have the time, energy, or resources.  And I do realize that I could rent a steam cleaner and do it myself...but the guy did such a fabulous job that it makes it all worth it.  Let's just hope that my husband notices and agrees.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Veteran

I met my husband in a bar.  I was attracted to his shaved head (I've always loved the feel of short short hair).  I should have noticed that everyone in his circle of friends also had short hair, and should have guessed that they were all in the military.  Good Christian girls are not supposed to meet guys in bars...and they especially aren't supposed to give their number to Army guys in bars.  But I did...and I feel deeply in love with an officer.

I remember proclaiming in high school that I "didn't want to be married to the military".  Funny how things turn out.  All of those assumptions and prejudices I had in high school were washed away ten years later when I met my husband.  He is kind, dedicated, loyal, committed, and faithful.  I recognize that part of that comes from his childhood upbringing and the values that his family helped to instill, but I also know that I have the Army to thank for shaping him into the man who stood before me on our wedding day, and stands beside me through the ups and painful downs of life. 

Shortly after we got married, my husband--my veteran--left his active duty role to join the reserves to "potentially" decrease his chances for deploying; although he would proudly, willingly, and bravely leave if ever called upon to go.  Each month, he's always the last to leave the reserve unit every night of their designated weekend.  I admit that as I wait for him in the car, an hour past when he promised he would be done, I selfishly curse him and his devotion.  But when I pull myself out of my selfishness and put it all into perspective, I realize just how amazing of a man and an officer he is to show this much commitment to his soldiers, his unit, and his country.  I am proud of him, and I'm proud to be his wife.

Today, on this Veteran's Day, while my veteran is halfway around the world, I'm blessed by those who served and continue to serve our country.

Monday, November 9, 2009

One More Week

My husband returns in one more week!  It will probably be a busy week, so hopefully it will go by quickly. 

Today's blessing is the opportunity to hang out with my friends from church tonight to watch Monday Night Football.  I really appreciate these friends and the joy that they bring to my life when I'm lonely.  And on top of it, the cheesecake I'll bring looks like it turned out pretty good. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Too Much Information

I got an email this morning from a dear friend inviting me to go to a "Babies and Stress Lunch Talk" next week.  My friend (and her husband) are both in medical school, and this lunch is a part of an ongoing series that is geared towards medical students, but apparently open to anyone.  The speaker is from the Psychosomatic Medicine Interest Group, and the discussion is about Mind-Body Medicine and Infertility.  It does truly sound like an interesting topic.  (My friend will not be attending, as she will be out of town at the time.)

I kindly turned down the invitation.  I really appreciate that she thought of me (she knows the whole story), but I oscillate between wanting to know it all, and wanting to leave it all in God's hands. I think that I do a pretty good job (at this point) of managing the stress through morning yoga, my time on the elliptical, and more importantly--my daily devotional time with God. This may sound ignorant, but I find that the main thing I tend to stress about is (literally) "too much information". I start worrying that I'm doing something "wrong", when actually, the doctors have already told me that I'm doing everything "right".

To my pleasent surprise, my friend replied by saying that she is glad that I answered the way I did, and continued by affirming my efforts to prioritize and trust God.  What a blessing to have someone (who also happens to be a medical professional) who offers information, but yet applauds me when I know my limits.

Today's blessing was an "ah-ha" moment that came in the form of a reference request.  I mentioned previously that I was going through some professional disappointments.  But where one door closed for me, another window may open for a former colleague/supervisee who I totally admire.  She truly has such an amazing heart for working with students, and I really hope that things work out for her.  She is actually applying for a position that I held when I first started at this school, so it would be a cool "full circle" sort of thing...which somehow gives me hope for my own "open window" later on down the road.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

All Mine

I must warn any readers that this post deals with bodily if you're queasy about "too much information", then please feel free to skip this post...

I found the "silver lining" with having my husband out of the country.  Ever since discovering that my cervical mucus changes when I ovulate, I've often wonderered which "liquids" are "his" and which are "mine".  But I wasn't about to give up a perfectly good cycle of trying, simply to fulfill my physiological curiosity.  But since he's now out of the country, I'm left with no choice but to "abstain" this month...which means that I know, beyond a doubt, that anything that I observe is indeed all mine.

Okay...enough with the TMI (don't say I didn't warn you).

Today's blessing is the amazing weather that we're getting.  It was freezing last week.  No really--it was literally freezing at 30 degrees when I left for work.  And now it's in the 90s.  I love the desert!  This weather allows me to accomplish more in the yard.  I'm really making a dent in my outdoor projects, and I hope to make some noticeable progress before my husband returns in 11 days (but who's counting?).  I've also been able to enjoy my daily devotional time outside in the beauty of the desert sunsets, which is truly such a blessing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You're Kidding Me, Right?

My husband is still returning on November 16th...but now he tells me that he'll need to leave the very next morning to go to a class out of town for four more days.  You're kidding me, right?  God really must be trying to teach me patience...I just want my husband back!

I'll get a couple of hours with him on the 16th...and at least I can talk to him and text him again whenever I want (when he's not in class, of course).  But I teach a class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I can't just take the week off to be with him--and even if I did, I'd just be sitting in the hotel room for most of the day.

I'm not gonna lie--I'm disappointed that we can't "try" this month.  But it's not just about that anymore.  It's just lonely without him.  I'm doing as well as can be expected, and my friends and family are absolutely wonderful to me.  But I'm definitely ready to have him back.  Only 13 more days to go...then 4 more on top of that.  Sorry...I feel like I'm getting dangerously close to "complaining".   

Today's blessing was a surprise visit from one of my former staff members.  She graduated just over a year ago, hated her job, and realized that she was happiest when she was a student leader.  So she's going back to school to get her masters degree in student affairs, and tells me that she wants to do what I do.  It is such an amazing blessing to know that I had an impact on her college experience, and to know that she is going to do the same thing for future students. 

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Resisting Temptation (a.k.a. "PCOS Sucks!")

PCOS sucks.  Eating healthy sucks.  Resisting temptation sucks.

Let me tell you about the absolutely best, most amazing sandwich ever in the world...and how I resisted the temptation to eat it, all because of PCOS.  I went to dinner the other night with a friend from church, and we decided to go to this cute restaurant that serves sandwiches, salads, soups, and pastries.  They have a daily special--and Thursday's sandwich happens to be tomato, basil, and mozzarella on fresh-baked focaccia bread, with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  It's messy and oily and absolutely delicious.  And it fills my head with all sorts of conflicting messages: It's filled with vegetables, right?  So it should be good for me, right?  My doctor did tell me to up the vegetable intake, right?  Well, yes...but that inch-and-a-half slab of focaccia bread (on both the top and bottom of the sandwich) is packed full of starches, right?  And starches are essentially sugars, right?  And sugars effect my insulin levels, which in turn effect my hormone levels, right?  And unhappy hormone levels just mess everything up.

I said "no" to the sandwich.  I got tomato soup instead...and asked them to hold the side of fresh baked bread. 

I'm also saying "no" to the bag of Halloween candy sitting on my counter, waiting to be handed out to the neighborhood kids.  I just hope that we have a lot of trick-or-treaters so that I can give out the whole bag and not be further tempted by it's chocolaty goodness.

Yeah...PCOS pretty much sucks.  Although, I admit, the thought has crossed my mind to eat like crap this month so as to try to delay my ovulation until my husband returns.  But I'm resisting that temptation too.  Besides, it will be nice for him to come home to a better body than the one he left five weeks prior.

Speaking of which, he's my blessing.  I got to talk to him again yesterday (two times in a week--I could get used to this!), and we've passed the half-way point.  I just can't tell if it's all downhill from him, and the missing him will only get easier; or if I'll start to miss him more and more, the longer I go without seeing, touching, and being with him.  Whichever way, it's a blessing to know that he will be home soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


A dear friend surprised me last night by showing up at my house (30 minutes out of town) unannounced.  She knew that I would be lonely since my husband is still out of the country, and I think that she figured that I was still bummed about my professional disappointment.  So she drove all the way out to spend the evening with me watching SYTYCD...and brought me the sweetest little home-made book of pictures of my husband and me that she printed out from facebook and a gift card to a spa so that I could pamper myself while he is away.  God truly blessed me by bringing her into my life around this time last year, and I admire her so much.

It's funny that as she was driving out to my place, I was actually going through my closets to give her a bunch of items that no longer fit me.  Both she and her husband are in medical school now, so she's all about the free give-aways while all of her income goes to tuition.  Among the items were two suits--which worked out perfect, since she has four interviews in the next few months for her upcoming residency.  Sometimes God works in mysterious ways--though I still think I got the better end of the deal with her company than she did with my old clothes.

In addition to the blessing of friendship, I was also blessed to have the chance to speak with my husband last night for about twenty minutes.  It's weird to hear his voice after not talking to him for more than a week.  It almost reminds me of Spring 2005 when we first met...and then spent the next two months talking on the phone while he was doing some Army excercise out of state.  But that truly is when I fell in love with him, so it's a nice sensation to look forward to his calls that way again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


It's unfortunate that I've gotten so seasoned at dealing with disappointment.  This time it's a professional disappointment, rather than fertility related.  But after three losses and multiple career frustrations, I'm trying to decide if it's time to change plans or just try harder.

I was blessed last night to hang out with our married-couple group of friends from church.  While the men watched football, the ladies watched SYTYCD in the other room.  I did feel a bit like a "seventh wheel" last night since my husband wasn't there, but I still know that God blessed me with such a great group of friends.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

International Correspondence

As you know, my husband is out of the country for more than a month.  I definitely miss him, but I'm hanging in there.  Although I did get to talk to him earlier this week, most of our international correspondence has simply been via email. 

He's not usually the cheesy romantic type, but I did want to share part of his email from today:

"Here are the things I miss in order of importance:

Fresh air
Fast, reliable Internet whenever I want it
Not living with another dude
Not having to walk outside to take a shower
NFL Football
College Football

I love him!  Three more weeks to go...we can do this.

Today's blessing was waking up early enough to get to spend a few minutes outside watching the sunrise before getting ready to head to church.  It was just really nice to be still and soak it all in. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nothing to Lose

I shared yesterday that my temperature had dropped...and sure enough, my cycle started shortly thereafter.  So, it doesn't look like this is the month for us either.  And since my husband is still in Africa and won't get back until mid-November, I'm going to guess that there won't be any conceptions in the next cycle either.  I trust God has a plan, and although I sure wish I were pregnant, I have nothing to lose.

Perhaps it's backwards-thinking to focus on the fact that I cannot miscarry this month rather than on the simple truth that I'm not pregnant.  But I've begged God to not let me miscarry again. Although we're definitely "trying", I'd rather not conceive than suffer another loss.  So if I didn't conceive this month (despite the trying), I trust that God is intervening.

Today's blessing was a nice conversation with my sister-in-law, who I love dearly.  She's been struggling with some health issues, and it seems like they are under control at this point (though she did spend most of Monday in the emergency room).  She suffered the loss of her first baby too, so gets me when I need to vent.  I've always wanted a sister, so I recognize that Im really blessed to have such an amazing and fun person in our family now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Around this time a month ago, I shared that I was going to start tracking my temperature again.  I wasn't sure that I had indeed ovulated in the months since the most recent loss, so I wanted some sort of confirmation.  I realize that some women feel that tracking them temperature fringes upon "obsession" for them, but I really do feel like it's something that works for me (OPKs, on the other hand, are not healthy for me).  And I feel like I got the answers that I needed.  I didn't even put my data in a graph--rather, I just jotted them down in a list next to the bed.  I feel confident that I can say that I ovulated on Day 19, so I got the confirmation that I was looking for.

The other nice thing about tracking my temperature is that I don't feel like I have to waste my last HPT that still waiting so patiently for me under my sink.  As much as I wish that I could declare that my temperature has stayed high past these two weeks, I have to be honest with myself and recognize that it has indeed dropped in the last two days.  I started spotting a bit on Saturday, and although my cycle doesn't seem to have started in "full force", the combination of the spotting and the dropping temperature leads me to believe that it's due any moment now.  Without the data, I probably would have used the test by now, convincing myself that the spotting was "implantation bleeding".  As disappointing as it is to see my temperature drop, I feel like it's even more devastating to see a negative test. 

But I do have a huge blessing for which to be thankful.  I got to speak with my husband today on the phone!  The calling card cut out after about 10 minutes, but it was still so amazing to hear his voice again.  But the really amazing thing is how good to me God was this morning.  I had actually left the house and had just pulled out of our neighborhood when I realized that I had neglected to grab my phone, but I realized it before I got too far.  Two minutes later and I would have been on the freeway, with no turning back.  So I was totally blessed to have a chance to talk with me husband, and was doubly blessed that God whispered that little thought to me to get my phone.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Might Have Been

I believe that today, or somewhere near today, would have been the EDD for our second baby.  I often joke that this loss was my "favorite miscarriage", simply because it happened so quickly and without much trauma.  No, I don't really have a "favorite"--that would mean that I actually "enjoyed" it.  But if I hadn't taken the test, I would never have known.  I would have just assumed that my period was late (and if you've been following my story, you'll know that it is often later than I'd prefer).  But I did take the test and I did know!  And I still mourn for that loss...which happened on Valentine's Day, of all days.

When I try to think of how I'm doing, I just sigh.  I guess that's a good sign that I'm not emotionally devastated by the remembrance.  Don't get me wrong--I'm sad.  I've been sad since that Valentine's Day (really, I've been sad since the loss of the first baby months before that), but today's sadness doesn't feel any more intensified.  In my book, I think that's progress.  And please know that although I carry these three little pockets of sadness in my heart, I have so much for which to be joyful and God blesses me with happiness to help fill the voids.

I was blessed last night to participate in "Game Night" with some friends from church, and had a blast, even without my husband.  I love games...but I hate to lose...and I hate even more when I become competitive and nasty if the game isn't going my way.  Well the nasty competitive side of me didn't come out at all because the girls won by a landslide in a crazy game of Cranium.  And I was rather impressed with my own abilities--both in performing (spelled catastrophe backwards) and in guessing (could your illustration of tears and a cup with an arrow be "don't cry over spilled milk"?).  I'm so glad I went, and I'm overwhelmed at God's goodness to bring such amazing friends into our lives, especially at times like this when I miss my husband.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

...But Words Will Never Hurt Me

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  As I remember, I also consider the various terms that have been used to refer to my losses.

We all know that childhood saying of "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me".  I never quite got that quote.  I think it's something that we try to tell ourselves as children.  As the only girl, I grew up tough, so I wasn't afraid of the stick and stones.  But as I grew up, I realized more and more that words have the power to make a person crumble.

Words--especially those associated with loss--do hurt me.  When I checked out of the hospital after my D&C, the words "Spontaneous Abortion" were typed across the top of my forms.  Let me disect that term a bit.  There are so many negative connotations associated with "abortion".  At the same time, it's also often associated with "choice".  Then there is "spontaneous"--that's supposed to describe fun spur-of-the-moment events, like when I pierced the cartilage in my ear during my freshman year of college. I can attest to the fact that there's nothing fun or spur-of-the-moment about loss or the subsequent D&C, nor was there any choice in the matter.

Then there is "Chemical Pregnancy".  This term hurts as well--when the doctor mentioned it, I almost felt like he was saying that it wasn't a real pregnancy.  I think that the word "just" was used in there as well--as in, "it's just a Chemical Pregnancy".  But in my mind and my heart, it's still a pregnancy!  The test was positive, and I knew it in my heart.  Even if it was "just a Chemical Pregnancy" to him, it was still another loss for me.

So then the "accepted" term of "Miscarriage"--but I admit that I hate this word as well.  How many other words start with the mis- prefix?  Mistake?  Misunderstanding?  Misspoke?  Mistrust?  Miserable?  The definition* of "mis-" is "a prefix applied to various parts of speech, meaning “ill,” “mistaken,” “wrong,” “wrongly,” “incorrectly,” or simply negating".  So you're telling me that I carried my babies if I just happened to drop them...and it was all just a mistake...

So I tend to just say "Loss".  That's what I've experienced on so many levels.  I live with this constant sense of loss.  I feel lost as I try to find answers.  I lose hope from time to time.  Loss feels alone and empty and sad and confused and scared that I will lose again.  But as I write this, I also realize that I know where to find my babies--I know that they are with their Heavenly Father.  Yet I still live with the loss.

Yesterday's blessing was the chance to work with some really great students.  As I mentioned previously, we're moving in the busiest point of the year, and the days can often be draining.  But it was really cool to meet with some extremely motivated and focused students.  It's a nice reminder that the work I do truly impacts their experience.

*according to

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alone, but Busy

I dropped my husband off at the airport yesterday morning.  Day 1 down; 33 more to go.  I can do this.  We can do this.

It's weird to be home alone.  The house is too clean, and too quiet.  But if he's going to be gone for more than a month, now is the time to leave.  I'm heading into the busiest point of the semester (I feel like I've said that before--but this really is coming up on the busiest time), which will last until one week shy of my husband's return.  So if I stay late--that's okay.  If I come home exhausted--that's okay.  If I decide I want to eat apples and peanut butter and crackers and string cheese for dinner because I'm too tired to cook anything else--that's okay.

Aside from work, I'm also going to try to have a bit of a "social life" since I'm not rushing home to my husband.  A colleague across campus wants to interview me for a research project, and some friends from church want to go pick apples this weekend at a farm about two hours away.  Since getting married (and moving 30 minutes out of town), I've often turned down these invites to spend time with him.  So in the absence of him, I'm trying to say "yes" to these opportunities. 

Today's blessing is my parents, who call just to check up on me because they know that I'm lonely.  I'm so blessed to have parents as thoughtful and caring as them.

Friday, October 9, 2009


That's where my husband is headed....for 34 days.  At least it's a fun word to say...Djibouti.

He's headed there for work, and got the Yellow Fever shot and all.  He came home a couple of weeks ago saying that he might have the chance to go, but it wasn't until he sent me his itinerary today that it actually hit me.  He often travels for a week or two at a time, but it's always been in the states...and it's never been for quite this long.  He leaves Monday, so this is our last weekend together for a while.  We'll make it through it, but please pray for us as we're apart...and I wouldn't mind some prayers for distractions and projects to make the time pass quickly.

I was blessed today with the chance to leave work early today.  It's been a long week, so it was so nice to come home and just relax on the couch and watch last night's "The Office" episode...yes, it was Jim and Pam's wedding...too cute!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Desires of Your Heart

"Delight yourself in the Lord
and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:4

This verse offers a beautiful promise.  But what if the desires of my heart are not in line with God's plan for my life?  I've really been struggling with this concept since my third loss in May.

I want a baby.  I want to be a mother.  I want to experience the overwhelming flood of joy at seeing a heartbeat on an ultrasound.  I want to be overcome with emotion to feel the kicks and punches of tiny legs and arms.  I want to experience the excitement and pain of labor.  I want to see the awe in my husband's eyes.  This is my heart's desire.

But I'm trying to wrap my mind around the possibility that this might not be God's desire for my life.  For so long I've prayed that the Lord bless us with a baby.  After repeated heartbreak, I'm now trying to pray that God align my heart's desire to be consistent with His.  If a biological child is not His plan for our lives, I pray that He remove this desire from my heart.  I pray that I'm able to cling to His plan for my life.

I was blessed yesterday to have the chance to hang out with a dear friend while my husband is at Army Reserve Drill.  She is up here for a rotation for medical school, and it was really great to have some quality heart-to-heart girl time.  We usually have our husbands with us when we hang out, so it was nice to be able to talk about girl things without the boys.  I really believe that God brought her (and her husband) into our lives to be a support and encouragement and source of joy.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hello October, Goodbye IF Coverage

I posted previously that our new benefits were cutting all IF coverage on October 1st.  Well...hello October, goodbye IF coverage.

The "good news" is that we have conceived naturally three times on our own, so in theory, I shouldn't need to be too worried.  But the "bad news" is that we have lost all three said conceptions in the first trimester.  I can't help but feel a little bit alone.  I guess that even just having that safety net of knowing that our insurance would help out if needed was a comfort. 

I totally get that our state and our country are in a bit of a financial bind, but I assume that once they cut out something from the insurance, there's not a good chance that they'll add it back in.  And aside from me, who might not actually "need" the coverage, what about the countless other couples that do in fact "NEED" it?

So we're on our own now!  God was good and His timing allowed us to get the previous appointments and tests covered.  I recognize that was a huge blessing, so I'm grateful for the coverage that we had...while it lasted.  My husband and I know that we are perfectly healthy, and the rest is in God's hands at this point.

Today's blessing was a "warning" instead of a "ticket" when I forgot to switch my parking permit from my SUV to my husband's car.  I work about 30 minutes away from home, and he works about an hour away in the opposite direction.  He often shares rides with other guys in our area, but there were conflicts throughout this week, so we've been switching on and off, depending on who has the longer distance to drive.  I noticed I was permit-less as I pulled into the lot...but the Parking offices open late on Thursdays for their staff meetings.  So by the time I got a temporary permit and ran back to my car (on the other side of a large campus), I had a slip on my windshield.  But what an amazing blessing to realize that it's just a "warning" with no charge!  Sometimes it's just the little things in life that make me praise God!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Survived September

At the beginning of the month, I posted my fears about facing September.  It's now the last day of the month, and I survived the painful anniversaries.  September 17th was bittersweet.  I remembered the traumatic loss of my first baby, but I chose to focus on the joy of my husband's birthday.  Up until that day, I had cursed God that the two days coincided.  That morning, I realized that it might actually be a blessing.  I had a reason to get up that morning.  I had a reason to dress up.  I had a reason to celebrate.  I had my husband, who loves me dearly.

I didn't get pregnant this month.  In my perfect little plan in my head, getting pregnant this month would have been a perfect way to cap off a year of loss.  I could have told my husband on his birthday, or perhaps my parents on their anniversary.  But it didn't work out that way, and I realize that my perfect little plan in my head is no where near to the richness of the amazing plan that God has for my life.

My blessing is the support, understanding, and prayers that I have received this month (and beyond) through the connections that I have made through this blog.  Thank you for being with me through these challenging times.  I don't personally know anyone else who has struggled with Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, so I would be lost without those of you who have been through this and understand me.  I don't say it enough--thank you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Really?!? In the Break Room?!?

I just arrived at work, and went about my normal routine.  I turned on my computer, grabbed my lunch, and headed to the break room to toss it in the fridge.  As I turned to leave, I noticed that someone had brought in leftover baby shower plates, cups, and napkins.  I couldn't help but exclaim "Really?!?" out loud (luckily I was the first person in today).  The absolute last thing that I want to do when I am struggling with IF and loss is eat my lunch off a plate with a cute little pregnant belly staring up at me!  And I can only imagine the conversations that these items will start.  This is the same break room where "Guess the Gender" games were posted on the dry-erase board for the three women who were pregnant in the last year.  This is the same break room where my colleagues have placed bets on who is going to be next to get knocked up.

I get it--I'm sure that someone is just trying to be helpful.  I'm all for recycling, and I do admit that we often run out of plates, cups, and napkins at various points throughout the semester.  But it still doesn't make it any easier.  I know I'm being super-sensitive.  Ugh.  I wish I knew how to be more accepting.

Aside from the break room surprise, I'm blessed to have a chance to hang out with some friends tonight.  We've been slowly building up a network or young married couples at church, and the guys are getting together tonight to watch football while the ladies have some "girl time".  I'm really looking forwad to the opportunity to join together in fellowship.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Joyful, Patient, Faithful

I love one of the verses that we focused on today in church:  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12).  One of our other pastors preached on this verse about two years ago when we were first trying to start a family, and my cycles were all crazy.  I remember thinking that this verse totally applied to me at the time.  Now, two years and three losses later, I'm struck at how much has changed, and yet how much I still need to be joyful, patient, and faithful.

My blessing for today is the love of my parents.  They left yesterday, and I am just so aware of how blessed I am to have two people who love me as much as they do.  I pray that the Lord bless them with grandchildren, and I pray that He bless my husband and me with the opportunity to be the types of parents that they were to me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pre-Wedding Pants

I never gained the "Freshman Fifteen"...but I definitely gained the "Newlywed Twenty" during our first year of marriage.  My wonderful doctor chalked it up to being happy and comfortable--which I totally was.  But I did recognize that my pants were getting tighter and I was needing a size bigger when I shopped.  Then the RE had me totally change my diet and start doing 200 crunches a day and 60 minutes of cardio.  I admit that I don't get quite the full hour of cardio in, but something sure is working...because I once again fit into my pre-wedding pants.

Aside from the annual exam with the OBGYN last week, I have only gotten on a scale once since making these healthy adjustments (it was after the third loss, and I needed something to make me feel a bit better).  I'm not doing all of this to lose weight--I'm doing it all so that I can maintain a pregnancy.  I want to get pregnant and gain all the baby weight, so I don't need to be constantly checking the scale right now.  But hey--if I am losing weight and getting thinner, that's just an added bonus for now.  Besides, my husband has noticed a difference and he's impressed.

I went shopping with my mom today and fit into pants two sizes smaller than what's currently hanging in my closet.  I didn't buy them because I didn't quite "love" them--I admit they were still a bit tight--but at least they zipped up!  That was enough for me.  Now...if only I could get pregnant and stay pregnant and be this excited about gaining weight.  Oh, how I long to see the day when I can't zip up my pants.

Today's blessing was finishing putting out the huge pile of rocks that we started about a month ago.  They had been there for two years (remember, they technically belonged to our neighbor, but were on our property).  My parents helped (or, I should say, my dad helped and my mom claimed to be "supervising").  But it really looks good, and it's a huge blessing to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tempting and Temping

Why is it that when I really try to focus on eating healthy and working out...that the universe keeps tempting me with cookies?  Someone brought leftover cookies into our break room at work after they weren't eaten at a meeting, then my grandma sends the best homemade cookies to my husband for his birthday, then finally a student brings me a cookie today in her advising appointment!  I resisted the break room cookies...ate the cookie from the student (because it would be rude not to, right?)...and indulged in one of the cookies from my grandma.  Luckily my parents are here to help eat the rest of them so that I can stop being tempted by them.

Aside from things that are "tempting", I've become someone who is now "temping" in tracking my basal body temperature each morning.  I know that I have said that I'm not going to obsess about trying, but I feel like I can justify this move as "statistical data research" to confirm or deny if I have in fact ovulated.  My mucus sure seemed to indicate so last month, but yet I didn't seem to observe any other symptoms that I've typically noticed in previous cycles (namely, sore breasts).  This can be just one more piece of the puzzle. 

But I give anyone permission to call me out if I ever sound like I'm starting to "obsess" too much.  Please feel free to keep me in check as you see fit.

Today's blessing was a slow day.  Things were so busy for the last two weeks...and I know that they will pick up again.  But for right now (or at least today), my schedule was nice and open, which really allowed me to get some things done that I have been meaning to accomplish, and I was able to leave the office on time.  It's just a little thing, but it's nice to get to come home while it's still light outside.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Not This Cycle

My period started last night.  I was actually rather shocked--I hadn't expected it for a few more days.  I'm a little disappointed, but I ultimately trust God.  I prayed that I only be able to conceive if I would be able to carry to full term.  I can't miscarry if I'm not pregnant.

I'm blessed to have my parents here visiting.  It's their anniversary tomorrow, and I wish I would have been able to share a positive test with them.  But even without that good news, it's still wonderful to have them here for the week.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Today is the anniversary of the day I lost my first baby.  Today is the anniversary of the day when my world crumbled around me.

Today is also my husband's birthday.  While I will never forget this day from a year ago, today I choose to focus on the celebration of having my husband in my life.  With him, I can get through today.

Today I'm reminded of how much I am blessed by a Lord who loves me and strengthens me and helps me to get through days like today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

30 Minutes

I had my annual exam with the new OBGYN today...and I was in and out of there in 30 minutes!  I couldn't believe it!  I was prepared with a book, but didn't even get through one chapter.

The new doctor seems great so far...although I do really miss my former doctor who moved out of state.  But so far, this new doctor did a good job of listening to my story and not minimizing my experience.  She says that everything looks great and "as normal as the day is long".  When I mentioned that I think that I ovulated last week, she agreed that it was probably too early to test, with which I feel at peace.

I do feel a bit bad for the nurse...after explaining that I had experienced three miscarriages in the last year, she asked if I've ever been pregnant.  Poor thing--I know that she was just going through her typical routine...and I'm not a typical patient.

I feel like God was looking out for me, and I'm feeling pretty good today, all things considered.  It was a year ago today that my former doctor explained that it sounded like I was going to lose the first baby.  That was at a different clinic, but this office was where I had the ultrasound that showed an extremely low heartbeat.  I feared that I would have to sit in the waiting room for hours with pregnant ladies all around me, but that wasn't my experience.  Tomorrow is my husband's birthday...and will also mark the one-year anniversary of my first loss.  Please pray for me tomorrow--I fear it's going to be hard, but I know that I can make it through with God's comfort.

Today's blessing is that everything seemed to go so smoothly with the doctor's office.  Finding a doctor who cares and listens and understands is such a huge blessing.  I know that I had these things with my former doctor, who I truly miss, but I hope that I can create a healthy relationship with this new doctor as well.

Monday, September 14, 2009

To Test, Or Not To Test

With the most recent loss, my RE told me to just monitor my HCG levels with HPTs rather than bloodwork.  So I bought a three-pack.  The first was still positive about two weeks later, the second was negative after our trip to Chicago...and the third is still under the sink in the guest bathroom, just waiting for me.

My husband's birthday is on Thursday.  I would love nothing more than to bless him with news that we're pregnant again on his birthday.  But I think I ovulated around this time last week (Cycle Day 21...last cycle was 34 days) I fear that it would be too early to test.  I realize that marketing for so many tests claim that you can get results five days before your expected period.  But as much as I would like to know by his birthday, I also don't want to be sorely disappointed on his birthday.  (Besides, my breasts don't hurt...which were a clear sign in the last three pregnancies).

To complicate this calendar, I'm scheduled for my annual exam with the OBGYN on Wednesday.  I can just imagine that conversation:
  • Nurse:  "What is the first day of your last cycle?"
  • Me:  "Monday, August 17th"
  • Nurse:  "'re late?"
  • Me:  "Well, yes, by a perfect 28-day cycle, then yes, I am.  But I think that I ovulated around September 7th, which would be around Cycle Day 21...but last month was 34 days..." (and then I would probably continue about how my cycle was completely out of whack the previous year and is now better with the help of diet, exercise, and Metformin, but still not perfect--probably way too much information that the poor Nurse was expecting)
  • Nurse:  " might be pregnant"
  • Me:  "Well, maybe...hopefully!"  (and then I would probably go through this whole battle that's going on in my mind about testing now or waiting)
Part of me wants to say that if they offer to do a test, then perhaps I'll take them up on the offer and use theirs instead of wasting mine.  But part of me also has this nagging thought that HCG levels are more concentrated first thing in the morning...and my appointment isn't until 2:00 in the afternoon.  So I'm back to "square one".  Perhaps the doctor will be able to tell, just by looking inside...

I'm really trying to practice patience...and there is just something so despairing about a negative test--especially when it's my last one.  I realize that I can easily buy more tests (and I almost did yesterday), but I guess it would just feel really rewarding to have a truly positive test out of the package that I purchased for tracking the last if I can find something good and beautiful out of something that started out as heartbreaking and sad.

Today's blessing is the completion of our dirtwork.  Our backyard looks so bare without all the weeds...but it really does look good!  And no more weeds is a bonus blessing!  There is a ton of potential for some cool projects.  Now it's just a matter of deciding what to do (and coming up with the finances).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Last Time I Was Here...

Anyone who works in Education can attest to the fact that our lives often follow the academic calendar.  We see a new batch of faces each year, and yet we often run through the exact same calendar of events.  We make small adjustments and improvements each time, but for the most part, things will look relatively identical to our calendar for the year before.

So goes my weekend.  I clearly remember hosting the retreat for first-year student leaders on Saturday, and then hosting try-outs for another group that I advise on Sunday.  I even think that my husband was at drill that weekend as well.  But I can't help but think "the last time I was here...I was pregnant".  I remember it distinctly.  The spotting when I wiped had just started the week before, so I remember guzzling gallons of water, hoping on each trek to the bathroom that this time would show that the previous trips were just flukes.  I remember packing fruits and veggies to nibble on during the try-outs since I was "eating for two".  I remember going home and waiting for my husband to return from drill, worrying the whole time about how to tell him that the spotting was intensifying. 

Even though everything else around me is exactly the same, I know that I'm different.  I'd like to think that I'm a better person than who I was at this time last year.  I feel like I've grown--at least I know that my faith has grown. 

I'm blessed that the retreat went so smoothly yesterday.  We had a few no-shows, and I had to ask one of the mentors to run and get a vegetarian sandwich that apparently hadn't been ordered, but it went really well overall.  We even had overcast skies for the morning activities, which is a huge relief when you live in the desert.  No one was injured, and it seems like everyone had a lot of fun.  Seeing the joy and excitement in these students reminds me that this is what God called me to do.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Working Through the Weekend

You know that song "Working for the Weekend"?  Perhaps they should rewrite it for me as "Working Through the Weekend".  It's going to be a busy one.  I was up at 5:00 am this morning (even earlier than I do on regular work days) to prepare for a retreat that we are hosting for a group of first-year student leaders with which I work.  The retreat will be at our Associate Dean's house, and I had such a busy week that I wasn't able to fully prepare for it.  So I've been in the office for a couple of hours now, but feel like I'm mostly ready.  And I'm so thankful that our returning group of student leaders who act as the "mentors" are totally on top of things, so I can really rely on them to step up.

Luckily this retreat is just a one-day event, so I don't have to worry about coordinating any over-night activities.  But I am sad that I will miss most of the football games today.  Once this retreat is over, I'll need to help out tomorrow with hip-hop try-outs for a different student group that I advise.  I know nothing about hip-hop, but one of my students asked me to serve as the "faculty advisor" a couple of years ago, and I've stuck with it.  I totally admire their talent, and the try-outs are a lot of fun to watch.

My husband will be out of town this weekend with Army Reserve training, so at least I don't feel like I'm neglecting him.  He got up even earlier than me and then had a two hour drive, so I can't complain too much.  I still need to prepare for his birthday on Thursday, so perhaps I can muster up enough energy this weekend to do something nice for him.  Next week will be another long week at work, but my parents are coming to visit next weekend, and will stay with us for most of the following week.  So there is light on the horizon!

My blessing for today is the generosity of our Associate Dean.  It really is so impressive that she and her family will open up their home to 60 first-year students!  She has a great house, a huge lawn (a rarity in the desert), and such a caring heart to want to make this whole college experience a great opportunity for these students. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

His and Hers

I apologize in advance, as this post is a little bit "personal" and "revealing" in nature.  So please feel free to skip this post if you are queasy about bodily functions.

Okay, now that I have only those readers with strong stomachs or extreme curiosities, I have a confession to make.  I have a hard time differentiating between my cervical mucus and the "liquids" supplied by my husband.  (I know...I'm's not the most pleasant thing to discuss).  I was really trying to not obsess too much about pinpointing when I ovulate, and I thought that it happened sometime over the weekend, so we did a lot of trying over the weekend.  But then I woke up a few days later with what was the closest resemblance to "egg whites" that I have ever seen...and it was excessively "abundant". 

So now I feel like I'm completely second-guessing my ovulation detection abilities when I can't even tell what's "his" and what's "hers".  Oh well.  I trust that God always knows what He's doing, even if I don't.  And besides, an additional round of trying can never hurt.

Transitioning into more agreeable topics, I was totally blessed, honored, and humbled today by a thoughtful gift from a student.  One of my international students came in for an appointment, and brought me a beautiful hand-carved sea shell from China.  He is a great student who has really worked hard, and has been excelling in his academics.  He is now ready to transition from being a "pre-major" to starting the upper-division courses, so he'll also switch advisors in the process, and he just wanted to thank me for my help over the last two years.  His generosity was such a humbling reminder of how much my students rely on me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Joshua Lynne

Today is the first in my string of challenging days in the month of September.  Today marks the anniversary of the passing of my nephew, Joshua Lynne. 

My brother and sister-in-law would have been (and will still be) amazing parents.  Joshua was a very active baby while still safe and cozy in the womb, but apparently my brother could calm him down just by talking to my sister-in-law's belly.  I know that they love Joshua so much, and anxiously await their next opportunity to try again.  My brother is the writer of the family, and I feel like I can't do him or Joshua justice with my words right now.  But I do love them so much, and I want them to be filled with God's peace and comfort as they struggle through this time of mourning and celebration.  If I'm this torn up about missing Joshua, I can't even imagine how they feel right now.  Please keep them in your prayers.

Despite the sadness, my blessing for today is in recognizing how supportive my family is.  We were always pretty close while growing up, and I would say that we have always had a "by no means perfect, but more healthy than average" type of family relationship.  But the infertility challenges and loss faced by my brother and sister-in-law and my husband and me have brought my whole family even closer.  We need each other for prayers, comfort, and especially moments of celebration.  I truly am blessed to be part of such a loving and caring family.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hope and Faith

In a recent post, I referenced a verse from the Old Testament in which a woman pleads "Don't raise my hopes" (2 Kings 4:28).  It got me thinking more about the concept of "Hope".

The definition that I like most for "Hope", as a noun, is "the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best"*. Based on that definition, I hate to admit it, but I don't think that I have a lot of Hope. I guess it's just really hard to have that "feeling...that events will turn out for the best" when experience has shown me otherwise...not once, not twice, but three times.

But this doesn't mean that I label myself as "hope-less". Rather, I am trying to become more "faith-ful". In contrast, the definitions for "Faith" are "confidence or trust in a person or thing"* or "belief that is not based on proof"*. Now those definitions fit my experience! My "confidence" and "trust" are in God, and the "belief" that I have sure isn't "based on proof".  It's so hard to say with total confidence that I will carry a baby to full term.  But I can say with undeniable faith that I trust that God has something amazing planned for my life.

So that's where I stand at the moment--waffling between my levels of Hope and Faith.  I've come to this conclusion:  In the absence of concrete Hope, only Faith remains.

Today's blessing occurred while we were working on the yard (yet again).  As we were getting to the end of our energy levels from moving rocks all day, a guy drove by and stopped and asked if we needed any dirtwork completed.  Um, yeah!  We have a whole acre of natural desert...and weeds.  We moved in two years ago, and have been waiting for the right opportunity to move some of the dirt and make more of a defined "yard".  This guy has done work for some of our neighbors, and actually has his equipment in our neighborhood all week, so he would be able to do the work at a discounted rate.  We still aren't financially ready to do all that we want to do, but this dirtwork will definitely be a great start, so his offer really is a blessing.

* definitions according to