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!