Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ella Was Right

(I pray that I not cause anyone pain through this post. If you're not at a good place to read this now, I completely understand, and I pray that you feel God's comforting hand today and always.)

My mom claims that intuition runs in the women in her side of the family. My mother-in-law also claims that the women in her family are intuitive. Ella must have gotten a double-dose of intuition, because I still can't explain it, but she indeed knew I was pregnant four days before I tested.

Yes, my two year old was right. I am pregnant.

And I'm still in a state of disbelief.

I really didn't think that it was possible this month. I even picked up Starbucks for myself for the first time in more than three years on Thursday, the day before I tested, in defiance (and in need of a pick-me-up for a busy end-of-the-semester day at work). By Thursday night, I had developed a cold, and desperately wanted to take some cold medicine to get me through the last day of work before my vacation. I tested on Friday morning, just to be safe, convinced that the relief that would come from the cold medicine would be a nice consolation for "wasting" a test.

Oh my God. Oh my God!! As I watched the line vividly pop out at me as the liquid moved across the test, that was all I could think. Oh my God!! Followed quickly by Thank You God!! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You God! There was no second-guessing the results this time. There was no holding it up to the light and tilting it just the right way to double-check and see if there was really anything there. This time, the test line appeared darker and earlier than the control line. Ella was right. There was a baby growing in my tummy. Oh my God!

When I got to work, I called my doctor's office, and was told that they would prescribe me progesterone, but that they wouldn't test betas. A moment of panic ensued, but then I started thinking that perhaps they were right. My betas doubled with all four of my previous pregnancies--including the three losses. Betas really don't tell the doctors--or me--anything. Sure, they give me some initial reassurance, but I know, as so many other women know, that even doubling betas can end in heartbreak.

Aside from telling my very-dear friend and some other women whom I trust and asked to pray for me, I managed to keep my news a surprise from my husband and my family through the weekend and all the way up until the very last gift on Christmas morning. A pregnancy test fits perfectly in a pen box, so I wrapped it up as the last gift for him to open. Never having peed-on-a-stick before, it took him a moment to recognize what he was holding, but the joy on his face was priceless when he figured it out.

For my parents, who arrived on Christmas night, and my brothers who arrived yesterday (and later today), I unwrapped the calendars of Ella and my niece, added a sticky note in August saying "Anticipated Due Date of Baby", and rewrapped them. My mom noticed the announcement right away but kept her excitement subdued while my dad skipped over August, citing that we don't have any family birthdays that month. My husband had to coach him a bit to help him find the neon-green post-it. My sister-in-law found it right away yesterday...we'll see if my youngest and most oblivious brother picks up on it later today.

I'm sorry that I waited so long to share my news here. I know that so many women are hoping and praying and wishing for me, and I am so appreciative. Thank you for understanding that I wanted this chance to have a little fun surprise for once.

I know that many women wait for a heartbeat or some other confirmation before telling friends and family, but what do I have to lose? They know my history and love me just the same. I'm no longer afraid of the stigma associated with loss. I need all the love and support, prayers and understanding that I can get.

I didn't do a true due-date calculator. With my track record of losses, I don't want to know an exact date. It was right around this time last year that my very-dear friend found out she was pregnant with my godson, so I'll use his birthday, August 22nd, as an estimated due date. My very-dear friend, by the way, claims that she knew that I was pregnant when I was with her in Florida (days after I must have ovulated) and is also convinced I'm having a boy. Perhaps intuition runs in her family too.

My first appointment is January 2nd. I believe I'll be six weeks. I don't believe they'll be able to see anything quite that early. A tiny part of me hopes that my really-light cycle in November wasn't actually a cycle at all and that they'll discover I'm actually ten weeks pregnant...but I won't hold my breath.

I am hopeful, and I have a peace that passes understanding that I'll be okay, no matter what happens. I've been feeling rather crappy lately. I don't know if this is pregnancy, psychosomatic, or just nerves. I don't remember feeling like this with Ella. And I still have the cold.

I'm blessed to have the chance to try this all over again. I'm blessed that God heard my prayer and created life within me. I'm blessed that He can create miracles when I think things are impossible.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

According to Ella...

According to Ella, there's a baby growing in my tummy.

I don't know what prompted her to make this declaration this morning, but she seems to think that I'm pregnant.  Maybe it's from hanging out with my very-dear friend's baby, or maybe it's because we've been talking a lot about the birth of Baby Jesus.  Whatever it may have been--she very tenderly told me, three times this morning, that there is indeed a baby growing in my tummy.

I, on the other hand, doubt it.  It's still too early to test, and I can't even tell you if or when I ovulated.  I spent almost a week in Florida around the time when I may or may not have been ovulating, so I wasn't focused on anything other than enjoying my vacation time with my very-dear friend and her boys.

If she is right, it would be an amazing Christmas miracle (who of us hasn't dreamed of wrapping up a positive test for our husband?).  If she is right, I'll let her pick the numbers in the next big lottery (though maybe I should wait until she can count higher than 16). 

Today's blessing is the chance to bake.  We're having our office holiday party tomorrow, and I'm excited to make my mom's coffee cake wreath.  I have fond memories of helping my mom, so I look forward to having Ella help me.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Reunited


Ella and I took a trip to Florida to visit my very-dear friend and her boys.  You may remember that her older boy is two weeks younger than Ella, and her new baby had some health concerns while in utero and during the first couple of months of life.  You may also remember that she asked me to be his godmother, which was the most touching request I've had in a long time. 

It was so wonderful to be able to spend time with her. She is one of those few women (Ella's namesake being the other) with whom I feel that we can have a true and deep friendship, regardless of our flaws.  In a weird way, she and I are struggling with opposite problems.  I'm still struggling with getting pregnant again, while my professional life is flourishing; and she's struggling with balancing her professional life now that she has been blessed with two little ones.  I love that we're in completely different places, and yet still get each other.

It was equally wonderful for Ella to spend time with her "best buddy".  When we were pregnant, I stenciled the words "Best Buddies" on onesies as a gift for my very-dear friend's baby shower, and we did our best to get some cute photos of them together.  Two years later, she suggested a "then and now" photo shoot with our toddlers. 

I also got in some quality snuggle time with my godson, who is 3-1/2 months and as sweet as could be.  He is such a sweet baby; and dare I say, he seemed so much easier and more content than Ella at that age.  But maybe that's just because I've had more sleep and (finally) know a little bit more about how to care for an infant.  At the same time, it was also a very good reminder of just how much work a baby can be.  I've said all along that I trust God--but I guess I had one of those little "ah ha moments" when I realized that God indeed knows what He's doing and He knows my limits better than I may think I do.

It was such a blessing to be able to visit and help out my very-dear friend.  I admit that Ella kicked me out of bed each night, and refused to nap on the plane, but it was still a wonderful trip. I'm also equally blessed to find out that she's going to come home for Christmas to get some rest and continue to work on her work-life balance.  So I'm so blessed that I'll be able to see her again soon as well. 


Monday, December 3, 2012

We Have to Wait For Our Turn

We're trying to help Ella learn the concept of taking turns.  It happens daily--whether it be playing a game, turning into traffic, or saying prayers at the dinner table.  She seems to get the concept--and tells me (and even sometimes signs to me still) that we need to "wait". 

It dawned on me this morning that I could still use a toddler-lesson in waiting my turn.  I want to be pregnant again, I want to have another baby, I want to join the growing list of moms who are expecting their second child...and yet, we have to wait for our turn.

My most recently cycle quietly appeared the night before Thanksgiving as we were packing, on Day 31.  I say "quietly" because it was the lightest, strangest cycle I've ever had.  I kept waiting for it to turn into something more substantive, but it never did.  You know me--I hoped it was a "fake" and that I was miraculously pregnant, but a test at my doctor's office during my annual exam confirmed I was not. 

I brought up my concerns with my doctor, but she cheerfully assured me that it's completely normal to go a year without conceiving.  I tried to argue that it had been two years--but she doesn't count the year that I was nursing Ella (which is understandable).  When I was pregnant with Ella, I totally appreciated my doctor's cheerful enthusiasm.  Now that we're trying again...I don't appreciate it nearly as much.

But she's right--I'm having mostly normal cycles, I'm keeping a healthy weight through diet and exercise, and I'm still on the Metformin.  She cheerfully believes that we'll be able to conceive on our own again--but invited me to come back in 5-6 months if it doesn't happen by then.  I know that I could go back to the RE and advocate more strongly with my doctor--but part of me just says "she's right--we have to wait for our turn". 

My blessing from this weekend was that I got into a little accident, but the woman was completely forgiving.  It wasn't even a "fender bender"--it was really just a tiny scrape, and I think that I was more at fault that she.  But she assured me that it was so minor that she didn't want to complicate things.  It could have been so much worse, but God is good. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Go Away, Mommy"

I realize that I will probably get plenty more in the years to come, but I got my first "Go away, Mommy!" last night. 

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend away with my family in Northern California, and overall, Ella did really well.  She got a little naughty here and there, which we tried our best to address, but was mostly a pretty well-behaved little girl.  But apparently transitioning back to a regular routine has been a bit harder for her, and she wasn't so cooperative on our drive home yesterday.  After giving her a couple of chances to climb into her carseat herself, I finally had to force her into her chair.  Ooh--she was pissed!!!  I haven't heard her scream that hard in months!  And then she told me to go away. 

Ouch.  

It stings to hear the child that you prayed for, hoped for, yearned for, cared for telling you to go away.  I know that she was upset with me--I totally get it.  But it still hurts.

It hurt to drive home with her screaming and crying in the backseat, so I pulled over and asked if she wanted me to hold her, to which she blubbered and nodded.  We had a little cuddle and a little talk.  I told her it made me sad that she told me to go away.  I told her that I loved her, and that I would always love her.  She calmed down, climbed into her carseat, and we headed home.

Last night, when she went to sleep, I picked her up and cuddled her again, and again told her just how much I love her and how I will always be there for her, even when she tells me to go away.  We're bound to have disagreements in the years to come, but I hope that I can help her to believe that I will always love her, always want her, always cherish her--they way I knew and believed that my parents felt about me.

Despite my hurt feelings, my blessing yesterday was how awesome my husband was in understanding me and standing by me to convey our concern and disappointment to Ella.  He made dinner for us, and met me at the door to have a little talk with her.  There are plenty of times when he frustrates me; but he was a huge blessing last night. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ella-isms (Vol. 6)

My most recent posts have been a little gloomy lately, haven't they?  I figured it was time to brighten things up with an update on the latest silly and sassy Ella-isms:

The Family That Prays Together
Ella has been more than willing to hold our hands to say prayers at dinnertime for the last year or so.  Our prayers are "unscripted", in the sense that we just thank God for the food and tell Him whatever else is on our minds.  We've never "expected" Ella to bow her head--nor do I think that we've ever even encouraged her to do so--but she picked up on our cues, and has started to bow her head all the way to the table during our prayers.  And lately, she has insisted on saying the prayers herself, which consists mainly of "Dear Jesus...thank you...food....AMEN!".

"I Do It!"
Let's just say that she is becoming more and more and more independent by the day.  I try to wipe her bottom and get "I do it!".  I try to pour her a glass of milk and get "I do it!".  I try to pick up a toy that she dropped and get "I do it!".  I try to wipe her nose and get "I do it!".  I try to put on her clothes because we need to leave the house and get in the car and drive to work and get "I do it! I do it! I do it!".  I'm trying to appreciate her independence...but I admit that it did seem to make me late to work nearly every day this week. 


"I No Like Lettuce"
Ella will eat nearly anything that we present to her, but for some reason, she doesn't like lettuce!  I swear I ate my healthy share of salads when I was pregnant with her!  In fact, I requested that we go out to dinner at a salad bar place the night that I was induced!  But apparently it wasn't enough--because any time a meal has lettuce in it, she is quick to remind us that she doesn't like the stuff.  And on the occasion when she does ask for a bit of our taco or hamburger and ends up with a piece of lettuce in her mouth, she quickly spits it out, hands it to me, and insists "Mommy eat this".


Taco Tuesday
Speaking of tacos, have I ever shared that my husband insists on eating tacos every Tuesday?  It's silly, but I'll admit that I like them too.  As for Ella--she would be more than happy if every day of the week were Taco Tuesday.  She does, however, like that the garbage truck comes on Wednesday, but she would be okay with having Taco Tuesday every other day of the week.

Ice, Ice, Baby
Any time that Ella gets a little bump, she wails for ice.   Not kisses, not cuddles, not band-aids, just ice.  Even the smallest, lightest bumps result in a plea for ice.  Her pain and misery are quickly relieved, but I end up with little puddles everywhere.  She also insists on ice in her water--though neither my husband or I ever really put ice in our waters at home.  We live in the desert--so I get that she wants her water cold during the summer, but we'll see if she keeps up the trend now that it's starting to get cooler (as in, mid-80's today). 

Food Friends
A colleague recently asked if I ever look at clouds with Ella and try to find shapes.  We haven't yet; but last night she found an owl in her open-faced grilled cheese-bread.  She then proceeded to eat a little more, and then show us that her owl was flying.  This morning, she told me that he hard-boiled egg was a piggy.  I admit--I don't see the little animals in her food as she does, but I love that she is developing such an amazing imagination!

"Jesus Helps Me"
I don't know quite how or when it started, but I think it was when we were going through a rough spot with putting her down at night.  For a while, she fought her bedtime, so I tried to convince her that Jesus could help her stay safe.  Since then, whenever she's having a meltdown, if I ask her what would help her to feel better, she always answers "Jesus".  And so, we'll say a little prayer and/or sing "Jesus Loves Me", and we're good to go again.  It's quite amazing!  And it's such a tender reminder that He can indeed help me to have patience with her in those frustrating moments as well.  I just need to remember how to encourage this reliance on Him without "abusing" it.

She amazes me with something new every day, but I'll leave you with those little tid-bits for now. 

Today's blessing is a reminder of the understanding and encouragement that I get from this blog community.  I know I've been a little frustrated and gloomy recently, but I really appreciate those of you who get it and have been here and continue to root and hope for us.  Please know that your words mean so much to me. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Not Meant To Be

Well, either the OPKs were wrong...or perhaps I've developed a Luteal Phase Defect.  Either way, my cycle started with spotting on Sunday, only a week or so after the tests tell me that I ovulated (though other signs would lead me to believe that I ovulated sooner...thus further confirming that I really have no idea what's going on in my body).  So, 34 days...not nearly as text-book as it was last month with my perfect 28 day cycle, but hey, it's relatively regular for me, so I guess it's acceptable.  I feel like I'm constantly trying to convince myself that anything within 35 days is "normal". 

I'm starting to feel like maybe this just isn't meant to be--at least not now; perhaps not ever.  I'm really trying hard to not play the "woe is me" role.  That statement isn't coming from a place of pity, but rather, of a place of acceptance.  Since getting my hormone imbalance relatively under control with diet and exercise, this is the longest I've gone without getting pregnant.  Yes, we tried a full year before our first loss, but that's when my cycles were crazy.  Since then, my three subsequent pregnancies (and one live birth) were never "easy", by any means, but they all happened within a couple of months of trying.  We're now going on ten months of actively trying--on top of a year of hoping that I would somehow mysteriously and beautifully end up pregnant while nursing.

I'm not going to lie--I'm kind of tired of trying so hard.  I'm tired of eating all the right things and doing all those crunches and feeling like I always have to be so darned careful.  I'm tired of trying to guess at interpreting symptoms.  I'm tired of thinking about it.  I'm tired of wondering.

My mom says that I have an "all or nothing" approach to life.  I don't think I know any different, especially in the world of in/fertility.  I've asked my husband to pray about what he thinks God wants us to do.  When I tried to convey to him, through frustrated tears, what I was feeling when my cycle started, his immediate response was that we could just take a break.  That's not necessarily what I wanted to hear.  But continuing to try wasn't quite the response I was looking for either.  For once, I didn't want his immediate opinion.  I want God's direction, and I think I'm a little too wrapped up in it to hear Him clearly.  So perhaps my husband can do some listening for me.

Then again, I have days like I did yesterday when Ella and I had a hard time getting out the door on time, and I was left wondering how I would even manage to survive if I was indeed blessed enough to have another child.  I know I'd find a way to make it work, but maybe that was God whispering, ever so gently, that it's not meant to be...at least not now.

I'm blessed this weekend to go to the football game with Ella.  Since we live in the desert, so many of the games are evening games, and it's past her bedtime.  My parents did bring her to a late game the night before her birthday, but they left at halftime.  She's been talking about the football game ever since then, so I'm really looking forward to a "mommy-daughter date" with her tomorrow while my husband is out of town. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How Did I Get So Lucky?

I'm getting dangerously close to that point in our journey of trying to add to our family when I go from "patiently waiting" to "desperately frustrated".  I'm not quite there yet, and I keep trying to push those feelings away.  But it's leaving me wondering "how did I get so lucky with Ella?". 

I know "luck" really has nothing to do with it.  I am reminded daily that she is such an amazing gift from God.  And yet I still catch myself trying to think back to December 2009 to see if I can figure out what went right that month that allowed me to a) ovulate with a good egg, b) conceive, and c) carry to term, thus resulting in this awesome two year old that I have today. Was it something I ate?  I know that I started the cycle with pizza as we helped our very-dear friends move in to their new place.  I remember trying to eat healthy while we were celebrating Christmas with my in-laws in Montana...but I ended up snacking on some pretzel and jello casserole (sounds crazy but that salty and sweet combination was awesome).  Was it my workout routine?  I'm still doing the prescribed 200 crunches (well, at least on most days), but I replaced the yoga with running.  I'm waking up at 5:00 am as it is...I don't know if I can make it any earlier.  Besides, I have to remind myself that I conceived Ella right after winter break, when I wasn't working out nearly as often.  I know it's crazy, but I find that I'm even trying to remember what shampoo and toothpaste I was using at the time--as if that could somehow recreate whatever chemical balance I need. 

Remember that 28 day cycle last month with which I was so pleased?  It seems it was a fluke.  I was hopeful that I was finally on the right track, and I did all the right things, but it didn't happen again this month.  In fact, I opted to try OPKs...but with a history of PCOS, I don't know if that was such a good idea.  According to the tests, I may (or may not) have ovulated last weekend around Day 24...when my husband was at Army Reserve Drill.  Drat.

I keep reminding myself that Ella is awesome.  Being a mom to her is amazing (and yes, challenging at times too).  I'm trying not to lose sight of what I have in her.  I'm trying to swing back to the "patiently waiting" side of the pendulum.  But gosh it's hard when I don't get what I want. 

This morning's blessing was being able to comfort Ella when she woke up crying.  When I ask her if she had a nightmare, she told me "Mommy left Ella".  I don't like her to be sad, but yet it was also so sweet that she was concerned that I would leave her!  It's nice to be needed. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Camping

We brought Ella camping for the first time over Labor Day weekend.  Yes, I realize that Labor Day was over a month ago, but it's been a busy month and I finally have a quiet Saturday morning to capture the moment.

We opted to just go for one night, so that my husband could make it back in time to go to the football game.  We left after work on Friday, and my husband drove fast enough to get us up the mountain before the sun set...but we did discover that Ella can get a little carsick on windy and bumpy roads.

Here are some of my favorite memories:

Waking up and starting breakfast.

Going exploring while Daddy slept in.

Discovering a field of wildflowers on our little exploration.

More flowers.

She LOVES the little camp chair we got for her.
The highlight of the trip, at least for me, was staying back at the camp to do my quiet time while my husband brought Ella for a little walk.  They came back a little later with her on his shoulders, carrying a bouquet of wildflowers that they had picked for me.  That definitely constitutes as the most beautiful, fragrant, thoughtful flowers I have ever received!

Flowers for Mommy.
My husband and I love to camp (he initially tried to propose on a camping trip...but his plans were foiled because it snowed on us and cut our trip short), and I'm so glad that Ella enjoyed her first trip so much.  We're looking forward to more camping trips in the future.

Yesterday's blessing was the chance to go out to dinner with Ella and my husband yesterday.  He just got back from an out of town work trip, and then left for Army Reserve Drill this morning, so it was nice to have some quality family time together with both of them last night.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Ella-Girl!


Thank you for your condolences and well wishes on the passing of my husband's grandmother.  Though we hate being away from Ella, it really has turned out to be the best plan for everyone.  Ella has been enjoying a fun weekend with my parents, and we have been having as well as can be expected weekend with my husband's family, saying goodbye to a strong and determined woman.

It was very strange to be without our child.  In a way, it was "nice" to be able to make the trip without worrying about snacks or dashing to the potty or missed naps or nighttime stories.  We were able to go out to dinner, attend the homecoming football game, mourn at the funeral, and then celebrate at the wedding without trying to keep her occupied.  And yet, I missed having her with me, holding my hand, sitting in my lap, needing me.

I'm sad I didn't get to spend this day--her second birthday--with her.  God-willing, there will be many, many more to celebrate.  Her name--Eleanor--means "light".  Oh, how she has brightened our world during these two amazing years with her!

Though I miss her dearly, it was a blessing to come home with my husband to celebrate.  It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster to go straight from a funeral to a wedding, but I was glad that I could be there for him, with him.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Missing Ella's Birthday

My baby will turn two on Sunday...and I won't be home to celebrate with her.

My husband's grandmother passed away over the weekend, and he would like for me to go with him to Montana for the service on Saturday morning.  When we got the call, my parents were already on their way down to spend a week with us, and I wasn't about to take Ella away from there.  I also wasn't too excited about the thought of a two hour drive, three hour flight, three hour drive to get to his parents' house--especially when we would have pay for her return flight on Sunday, which happens to be her birthday.  So it was decided that my husband and I would go (he actually already had a plane ticket purchased so that he could go to his friend's wedding that night), and leave Ella home with my parents.

We'll celebrate her birthday a couple of days early tomorrow before our flight, and I know that she doesn't understand that her birthday is actually Sunday (in fact, if anything, I think that she thinks that this whole entire month is her birthday--at the rate that she has been asking me to sing "Happy Birthday" to her), but it still makes me sad that I won't be here to truly celebrate with her on her actual birthday.  Our flight gets in at 8:00 pm, but we'll have a two hour drive back, so she'll definitely be asleep by the time we get home, but you better believe that I'm going to pick up my big two-year-old for some middle-of-the-night birthday snuggles as soon as I can.

Today's blessing is having my parents in town to visit and help out.  Ella clearly adores them and is having so much fun with them.  We only get to see each other three or four times a year, so it's so great to be able to have this quality time with them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Call It What You Will

Normal.  Ideal.  Regular.  Textbook.  Perfect.

Call it what you will, I just experienced my first normal, ideal, regular, textbook, perfect 28-day cycle!  I don't know if I've ever in my entire life had a normal, ideal, regular, textbook, perfect 28-day cycle!

Okay, so I admit that when I started spotting yesterday, on day 28 of what I was expecting to again be a 35-day cycle--with which I was "happy enough" because it had at least been consistent for two consecutive months--I was hoping that it was implantation bleeding instead of the start of a new cycle.  And I admit that I do still wish that I were pregnant, but this is definitely the next best thing.

I also admit that, like so many of us who have struggled with in/fertility, a little bit of doubt and worry starts creeping in, despite my relief to be joining of the "normal cycle" crowd.  Thoughts like--what if my cycle was shorter than I expected because there is something wrong with my luteal phase?  Or--we have now been trying for nine months...what if I'm facing secondary infertility?

I trust God has a perfect plan for our lives.  I keep on reminding myself that this is my opportunity to enjoy my time with just Ella and my husband, and I want to spend my time being happy with her, instead of being saddened by what I don't yet have.  And her kisses and hugs and giggles sure help to restore my joy and remind me over and over again just how blessed I am to have her in my life.

Today's blessing was getting an early birthday package from my grandparents in the mail, which included my grandma's chocolate chip cookies.  She swears she just "follows the recipe of the back of the bag and adds a little extra flour", but there's something so amazing about my grandma's cookies.  Although I'm going to try really hard to resist the temptation (I attribute part of my 28-day cycle success to eating and exorcising better this month), the smell alone brings back great memories.  I'm so glad that Ella now gets the chance to enjoy my grandma's--her great-grandma's--cookies.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Honored

I was surprised and honored beyond belief when my very-dear friend called me recently to ask if I would be the godmother of her new son.

What an honor!  What an honor to be able to pray for this little boy as he grows.  What an honor to be asked to be a spiritual guide in his life.  What an honor that my very-dear friend, knowing just how much I long to be a mother again, chose me.  What an honor!

I will participate in his baptism, which will be scheduled sometime in the next two years.  Since the godfather, the daddy's cousin, is from Germany but now lives in Spain, we're all kind of fantasizing about the possibility of having the baptism overseas (especially since we never took that trip to Scotland in 2010 because I got pregnant with Ella).  Until that's scheduled, I'm just looking forward to meeting him (and seeing her), hopefully some time in December (they now live in Florida). 

You may remember that he is facing some health complications, as my very-dear friend, a Pediatrics Resident, was exposed to Congenital CMV while she was pregnant with him.  He continues to take an anti-viral medication and undergo tests, most of which have come back indicating that he is healthy.  But they did get results back yesterday indicating that his white blood cell count has dropped into a "bad" range.  They  have spoken with specialists, and have been reassured that his body is designed to fight, but they would still really appreciate prayers that his body increase its production of white blood cells so that he can properly fight any infections to which he may be exposed. 

Yesterday's blessing was sitting outside with Ella after dinner to watch the rain.  I love how curious and adventurous she is these days. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Toddler-Like Prayers

Prayer is something that is very real for me.  I still firmly believe that Ella is an answer to prayer.  And as more and more time has gone on since I got my cycle back in January, I've been praying more and more.  And it dawned on me this morning--I wonder if I sound like a toddler to God with my incessant prayers.

We work on manners with Ella, often reminding her to say "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me" and "sorry".  And yet, when she wants something...she wants something!  It's not uncommon for her to repeat her request over, and over, and over until she gets some sort of response from me.

Milk!?  Milk!?  Milk!?  Milk!?  Milk!?

Monkey!?  Monkey!?  Monkey!?  Monkey!?  Monkey!?

Towel!?  Towel!?  Towel!?  Towel!?  Towel!?  (Yes, my daughter has developed a security attachment to a towel...more on that later.)

Typically, she's not crying or screaming or throwing a fit in rage or even frustration.  Rather, it's typically just reminding me--over, and over, and over again--that she's still waiting on whatever it is for which she's waiting.

I wonder if that's what I sound like to God?

Baby!?  Baby!?  Baby!?  Baby!?  Baby!?

I wonder if He tires of hearing me ask for the same thing--over, and over, and over again.  I wonder if "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me" and "sorry" make any sort of difference to Him.

As an educator, I'm always looking for those "teachable moments", and use these opportunities to talk with Ella about waiting.  I wonder if God is trying to do the same thing with me--getting down on my level, looking me in they eye, helping me learn patience. 

I can usually respond to and fulfill Ella's requests...but sometimes we're out of milk, sometimes the monkey is in daddy's car, and sometimes the towel needs to be washed.  In those moments of unfulfilled desires, there are often tears as she expresses her disappointment in the only way a toddler knows how.  And I respond the best I can--assuring her that I love her, sharing her disappointment, and helping her find something to fill the void. 

What if God's answer to my incessant request for a baby is "I'm sorry, Laura, there are no more babies left for you.  We're all done."?  Would I be able to hear His love and compassion for me through my disappointment and tears?  Would I let Him assure me that He really loves me?  Would I accept His offer to help me carry my burden and disappointment?  Would I allow Him to fill this desire with other passions?

I know I'm not alone, and I know that God is big enough and patient enough to tolerate my prayers and so much more.  I may get frustrated with Ella's requests, but it's a good thing that God is more patient with me.  All I can do is try to be more like Him.

Today's blessing is feeling like I'm more caught up at work today than I was yesterday...or the day before...or the day before.  We're in the middle of our busy selection process, but things seem to be falling into place.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Daddy's Hopes and Dreams

My husband also participated in the "Hopes and Dreams" project that is going on at Ella's school.  He wrote (or more accurately, "typed", and asked me to write for him):
Eleanor, I hope that you become a caring, thoughtful, and intelligent woman who loves Jesus and who uses your wisdom and many talents to improve the world.
 I love him.  And I love how much he loves our little girl.

Today's blessing is that it's finally Friday.  I've had two very long, busy weeks with the start of the new year, and I am so ready for the three-day weekend. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hopes and Dreams

There is a new coordinator at Ella's school, and she is really putting forth an effort to get the parents involved.  Yesterday, she had little hand cut-outs at the Front Desk, with a request that each parent was to fill write out our "hopes and dreams" for our child.  The hands would all be compiled as part of an art project to be displayed in the hallway.

I have so many hopes and dreams for Ella--where would I begin?!  I thought about the standard responses--I hope that she knows how much I love her; I dream of her name being called at graduation; I hope that she's happy; I dream about how beautiful she will look on her wedding day.  There is nothing wrong with these hopes and dreams--and they are indeed what I hope and dream for her.  But I also wanted something...more.  Something more personal.  Something more lasting.  Something more deep.

And so the words written on my little hand were:
My hope is that you will have the chance to experience the depths of joy that I have experienced in being your mom.
That's my hope and dream for Ella--that she know and experience the joy that I have known in becoming her mother.  This isn't to say that her life will always be happy and easy--I know that she'll have valleys to go through.  But I hope that someday she will truly feel joy.

What are your hopes and dreams--for you, and your child?

Today's blessing is that my husband doesn't have to travel this week.  I'm not opposed to his little trips for work and his Army commitments, but I have to work late two times this week, and it makes things harder when I have to figure out child care arrangements for Ella.  So I'm just really glad that he's here to take care of her while I work. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

That Could Work, Professionally-Speaking

Well, Tuesday was the start of another cycle.  I was a little sad, but ultimately I was pleased that it was a 35-day cycle.  In fact, it pretty much showed up just as I was expecting--which made me feel nearly normal for the first time in months. 

I didn't despair when it showed up, but I do admit that I started doing some mental calculations to figure out what my due date would be if I were to somehow conceive during this new cycle.  Late May?  Early June?  That could work, professionally-speaking.

Part of my job includes coordinating a big admission process for selecting the students who are eligible to enter our major each semester, meaning that I'm pretty busy at work from late-August to mid-May.  My supervisors are very supportive and totally accommodating, but let's just say that they would be beyond thrilled if I were to be so blessed as to take maternity leave over our slower summer season so that I could continue with my regular projects. 

Yes, I'm completely aware that it's rather silly to try to plan like this when you have a history like I do.  And I would be happy to conceive and give birthday at any time during the year!  But one of my strengths is my sense of "responsibility", so I can't help but think of these kinds of things. 

I know this is all wishful thinking.  I know that I'm totally getting ahead of myself.  And ultimately I know that my sense of timing is nowhere near as perfect at God's.  And so I wait and pray and hope that I might someday understand His plan for our lives. 

Yesterday's blessing was learning that my very-dear friend's baby boy was born just two days shy of his due date and appears to be perfectly healthy.  You may remember that she was exposed to congenital CMV during her pregnancy, so they were really worried that he might have complications.  But praise God, the tests have come back normal!  I'm hoping to visit them in December, and it's breaking my heart that I can't go sooner!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Her Child Will Always Be The Child Who Peed On My Carpet

Here I go, competing again.

Ella's little friend, Madelyn, is just three days older than her.  While chatting with her mom last week, she mentioned that Madelyn was doing really well with potty training.  I immediately went into internal panic mode, thinking "She's three days older, so I have three days to catch up!". 

I know, I know, I know that I don't need to be competing. I know it's not necessary, I know it's not healthy, and I know that every kid develops differently.  It still didn't stop me from thinking of cancelling our weekend plans to go out of town with Madelyn and her mom to pick peaches because I was ashamed that I would have the child in diapers and she would have the child in big girl panties; but I put my pride aside and agreed to go because it was the right thing to do.

But I will confess that I gave a little happy dance when Madelyn had not one, but two accidents in a twenty-minute span during lunch!  Turns out she and Ella are pretty much at the same place--they will both go potty when placed on the potty and told to do their business, but they are both having a hard time knowing how to listen to their bodies much of the time.  I just choose to avoid those accidents when we are out in public, and Madelyn's mom is willing to put up with them.

Which means she is also willing to let her daughter have an accident on the carpet in my house!  Now, I will be the first to admit that Ella has had her share of accidents at home, and I'll also be the first to admit that I hate our carpet and look forward to ripping it up and replacing it.  Yes, I totally recognize that accidents happen.  And I'm fully aware that we might face similar situations when we are indeed brave enough to venture out in public in our very own big girl panties.  But until then, I do take a little satisfaction in thinking that her child will always be the child who peed on my carpet. 

(I'm a horrible person, aren't I?)

This morning's blessing was the chance to listen to Ella talk to herself from her bed when she woke up entirely too early for a Saturday morning.  I'm still hoping that she'll go back to sleep, but it was pretty sweet to hear her just chatting about her teachers and singing songs to herself. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Lalu Mommy!"

As she often does, Ella requested to use the potty after I had already put her down to bed tonight.  I knew it was a ploy to get just two more minutes before going to bed, but how do you deny a child the chance to use the facilities when you're trying to encourage them to learn how to listen to their body?  So we gave it another shot.  As I was putting her diaper back on her, I told her that I wanted her to give me a kiss and then go night-night.  She leaned forward to give me a kiss, and then proclaimed "Lalu Mommy!", and made the "I Love You" sign (or, to be more accurate, she made the "L" sign, which is as good as her little fingers can do at this point). 

She loves me!  She has repeated the phrase back to me plenty of times before when I've said it to her, but this was the first time that she herself declared her love for me on her own!  Oh, how sweet to hear those words from my child!

Everyday, I recognize just how much I am blessed to have the chance to be her mommy.  I prayed so hard, for so long, and I know that God has blessed me so much more than I could have imagined.  Wanting another child helps me appreciate just how amazing it is to be a mother.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review: Brain Rules for Baby


Brain Rules for Baby

My best friend from grad school was this cool guy who I believe is still the most articulate, thoughtful, well-read, critical, and accepting person who I know.  So when I saw a picture of him reading Brain Rules for Baby to his newborn son, I knew that I needed to buy the book.

In the book, author John Medina essentially answers the question "how do I get my kid into Harvard?".  By no means am I pushing Ella to go to Harvard, but I do want to help her to be curious, happy, and well-adjusted (besides, my tuition discount only works for our in-state schools...and her uncle went to Yale instead of Harvard).  Medina is a development molecular biologist, but yet he is able to tune down the science in a way that even I--with my educational background--can understand.  He uses a lot of personal stories as examples to help clarify and explain the research findings from a variety of tests and experiments--thus turning rather complicated topics into a fairly easy read. 

Medina offers these various "rules" or "pointers" for parents on how to raise a child who is smart (ie, praise the effort instead of saying "you're so smart!"), happy (ie, helping them to recognize and name their emotions), and moral (ie, kids respond better when the rules and expectations are explained).  I also really appreciate that he starts with the pregnancy (ie, no products claiming to boost a pre-born baby's iq have been proven to work, so don't buy them), and also addresses the significance of the parental relationship (ie, hostility between parents can effect an infants development; but making up in front of them after fights occur is vital to the child's emotional development as well).  As I read through the book, I found that I could give myself a pat on the back for some of the things that I had been doing all along (ie, breastfeeding), and cringed a few times at areas where I now see that I can make some changes (ie, no tv before the age of two...oops). 

And yet I love that in the conclusion, the author states:
"A family based on every suggestion in this book is fantasy.  The real-world experience of parenting ranges from waves of exhaustion to oceans of love and ripples of laughter."
I was left with a sense that I learned some new tricks for how I care for Ella--along with the science behind them--but that it would still be okay if I missed the mark on some of them.  We have definitely applied some of the ideas--like helping her to identify and verbalize her emotions, and it seems to be "working", in the sense that she's handling disappointment really well (like when Mommy didn't know that the swimming pool apparently closed on August 1st...whoops!). 

Would I be thrilled if she went to Harvard?  Absolutely!  (I don't know how I would pay for it, but that's beside the point).  But ultimately, all I have ever wanted is for her to be curious, happy, and well-adjusted--and I feel that Brain Rules for Baby addresses each of those points, and so much more. 

Today's blessing is that Ella has been talking about the "Army work" that my husband does.  He had Army Reserve drill this weekend, so she and I talked about why he was away from the house.  I know that he is proud of his service, and it's even more special to him now that his daughter can understand a bit of what he's doing.  On that note, he also just learned this weekend there is a possibility* that he might deploy in Fall 2013, so please be praying for us as we look ahead to what that might mean for our family.

*This is not the first time that there has been a "possibility" that he might deploy, and I have learned not to get too worked up about anything until he actually has orders.  Though I dread the thought of him being away, I know that this is important to him.  I trust that God will provide for us.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Losing Focus and Running Away

I don't know if it's due to getting ready for a busy time at work with the start of the new year, or simply enjoying my time playing with Ella, or watching too much Olympics, but I find that I'm losing focus just a bit on the whole "hurry up and get pregnant" plan that I was feeling earlier.  After that crazy long cycle in May-June, I think that last month's minimalist approach was exactly what I needed.  I'm glad I listened (for once) to that still small voice telling me to let go a bit.  Don't get me wrong--I desperately want to be pregnant again, but I feel like God has given me peace for where I am right now.  It feels...healthy, to want something and yet still be happy with what I have.

 Have I mentioned that I have started running?  I've always hated running, and I still can't say that I enjoy it.  But it's healthy, right?  And I want to be healthy--mainly int the hopes of getting pregnant again; but also so that I can be a good role model for Ella.  My RE wanted me to be doing an hour of cardio every day--he's going to have to be happy with a quick 15 minute run around our neighborhood.  I know that 15 minutes is hardly anything, but I admit that I'm quite proud of how quickly I have built up my endurance and can now push Ella around our "big block" in her stroller without too much effort. And since I'm trying to become a runner (or at least someone who "pretends" to be a runner"), I figured that I needed to have some new running shoes.  So these are my new favorite purchase:

I know they look silly, but I love them!  (And I love, love, love my little running buddy in the background).  Who knows--perhaps my RE is on to something with increasing my cardio.  My last cycle--when I really started to try to make an effort to run--was much shorter than the last (when I was simply trying to eat healthy and do my crunches and pushups).  It certainly can't hurt--if anything, maybe it's actually helping me to shift my focus a bit. 

Today's blessing was the chance to sleep in to 6:30!  I know that still seems so early, but my normal time to wake up is usually 5:00.  It felt good!  And Ella is apparently also sleeping in this morning as well, which gives me a chance for some much needed "me time", followed by a run...whenever she wakes up.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I'll Take It!

After last month's crazy-long 46-day cycle, I'm happy to report that this last cycle was 33 days.  That's the shortest (or "most normal") cycle I've had since it came back!  Sure, I wish it had resulted in a pregnancy, but I'll take it!

I will, however, admit that I ate like crap...which doesn't make any physiological sense as to why my cycle would be long when I was careful about my glucose intake and short when I had a month-long pity-party and ate every morsel of sweetness in site (keep in mind I have PCOS/insulin resistance).  I recognize that I need to find my "happy medium", where I make healthy decisions without going bonkers and getting too consumed with my hopes and dreams of being pregnant again.

I had considered checking in with my RE again to confirm that we stick to the protocol we had been on when we were waiting for Ella.  He started me on the Metformin and charged me with changing my diet and exercise routine in February 2009, when I was 40 pounds heavier than what I am now.  If my cycles had continued in the 40+ range again, I think I would have called him.  But a 33-day cycle gives me hope, so I think I'll just keep on doing what we've been doing for a little longer.

My husband and I also had a pretty long heart-to-heart about "carrying the emotional burden" involved with trying to get pregnant when confronted with in/fertility issues.  Physiologically, the woman clearly bears an unequal share of the work.  Conception is dependent on her body's ability to regulate its hormones and properly present an egg in an ideal environment.  She then needs her body to continue to carefully regulate those hormones as a new life begins, and then carry and nurture that new and growing life for nine more months--only to go through the agonizing pain of childbirth (followed by sleepless nights and being tethered to a breastfeeding baby).  Her partner, on the other hand, can make a quick donation, and his task is (physiologically) done.  But I need more from my husband.  I need him to be going to God in prayer.  I need him to be aware of my cycle.  I need him to lovingly remind me that I don't really need that cookie after dinner.  I need him to give Ella a bath so I can go for a quick run.  I feel that we're now on the same page, so all we can do is hope and pray and trust God.

Today's blessing is more yardwork.  My husband rented a tractor so that he can tackle some of the bigger projects that he's been hoping to do, and then we'll order another load of rocks.  It's so much work to make this space look nicer, but I really feel good about making it a nice space for Ella.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ella-isms (Vol. 5)

As I promised, another update on our most recent "Ella-isms":

Sharing is Caring
We're trying to help Ella learn to share with us, her friends, her cousins--everyone.  I happy to report that she really seems to be getting the hang of it.  But it took a while--last week, she asked for cookies after dinner, so I happily obliged.  When I ask how many she wanted, she said "1, 2, 3!".  So I brought her three, and one for myself.  I put them all on the table, and asked her to share with me.  She happily gave me her water, with a big smile on her face.  Okay, so she did share something with me--but it wasn't quite what I wanted.  I asked again, and she put a cookie in my hand, and then quickly plopped it into her mouth.  I expressed my disappointment, but she went right on eating her cookies.  By the time she got to the last cookie, I put on my bed sad-face, but she already had it in her mouth.  As I pouted and shared my sadness, she paused, and then reached her little grubby finger into her mouth to pull out a tiny morsel, which I accepted.  We tried the experiment again last night, and she very proudly shared her cookies with both daddy and mommy.

Cuddle-Bug
When my husband spent three weeks away, I tried to make my time at home with Ella somehow more special.  We started reading our books outside after her bath, and then I suggested that we cuddle and watch the sunset.  Sounds nice, right?  Except, Ella couldn't get the hang of "cuddling".  She wiggled and squirmed and wanted to climb up and down the steps.  I put up with it the first couple of nights, and then instituted two ground rules:  1) no talking, and 2) head on the shoulder.  Now that she has these rules in mind, it's made all the difference in our bedtime routine.  For the last week or so, she has gone down without a sound!  She also likes to cuddle at various times throughout the day as well, and it's such a sweet, sweet thing to hear her request "cuddle?".

Bookworm
I think I've shared before that my 2012 New Years Resolution was to read to her every night.  Now, whenever I finish a book, Ella insists on reading it herself--complete with an "Ella read it!" exclamation.  I'll admit that she has the book upside down half of the time, and today she thought it would be a good idea to put her book in a bucket of water (I caught her before she did too much damage), but for the most part, she is very happily point out pictures correctly. 

"Can You Say ________?"
We're definitely in that vocabulary explosion period, and Ella repeats nearly everything I ask her to say--and surprises me every day with new words that she is developing on her own.  And she's also starting to put together words and concepts into sentences.  For example, after returning from the trip home to see my family, she and I were playing outside when an airplane flew by.  She excitedly looked up and exclaimed "Ella!  Airplane!  Sacramento!!".

Sympathy Points
We're trying to help Ella develop empathy, and it warms my heart that she is indeed a very caring and conscientious child.  When she hears a baby crying, she always points them out to me, saying "baby, crying, sad"--and is visibly concerned for the child.  Recently, her best friend Maddy got a pretty bad burn on her hand from touching the stove.  Whenever Maddy's name comes up, Ella reminds me "Maddy, burn, hand, hot, owie, no touch, hurt, cry, sad".  In fact, Maddy's mom said that she thinks Ella "is going to be that smart and pretty girl that all the other girls want to hate, but can't because she's so nice" (I think I'm supposed to take that as a compliment, but I really hope that no one hates my daughter).

I truly am having a blast being her mom.  I love her dearly, and look forward to every new little thing that she learns.  It's not easy keeping up with her (or keeping her entertained, for that matter), but it's totally worth it. 

Today's blessing is that Ella was such a trooper while I pushed her in the stroller for about two miles, picking up the trash along the road into our community.  We collected three giant garbage bags full of cans, bottles, condom wrappers, a pregnancy test box (not mine), and even a roller blade (just one).  She was such a good sport for keeping me company while my husband slept in.  I don't think that I picked up trash along our road since before I was pregnant with her, so I guess it was about time!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Long Time Gone

Where do I start?

I think this was the longest break that I've taken between posts since I started this blog.  It's a mixture of having a busy summer and being at a loss for words on where I am (fertility-speaking).  Let's start with the busy summer--because that's more fun.

Okay, so I posted about our trip to California to visit my family.  It's was the perfect way to break up the three-weeks with my husband, but Ella and I stayed busy with swim lessons as well.  My husband came back towards the end of June, and we jetted off to Montana the following weekend to surprise his parents for their 40th wedding anniversary.  It would have been a perfect weekend--if we hadn't been so scared about a huge 200,000+ acre wildfire that was raging about 20 miles away from their house and moving quickly in our direction.  The sky was grey on our drive in, with ash falling at the party.  It left us without power for most of the weekend, but my father-in-law is an amazing man who always makes sure that his family--including six grandkids--are well cared for.  Not only did he keep a generator going nearly the whole time we were there, but he also hooked up the trailer and brought the kids down to the river to swim (I should note that the Powder River, which runs along their ranch, only came up to Ella's waist at the very deepest point).  Ella reconnected with her Montana cousins, and got to meet her three Wisconsin cousins on the trip (she's the youngest of the six grandkids on my husband's side of the family).  As in the past, Ella was a wonderful traveler, though I'm sure the two hour drive-two hour flight-three hour drive (plus one hour delay on the return) wasn't really all that exciting for her. 

We got back on Monday, worked on Tuesday, celebrated the Fourth of July on Wednesday, worked on Thursday, and then headed out to Palm Springs on Friday to meet up with some friends and their 16-month little boy.  Again, Ella tolerated the six hour drive as well as I could have hoped, and napped for the last two hours after our lunch stop.  We enjoyed a hot but relaxing weekend, and probably spent more time in the pool than on dry land (we definitely got our money's worth out of our $2 swim lessons!).  Ella is a little fish--to the point that it's almost scary!  By the end of the weekend, she was pushing off the steps to me...but hasn't quite gotten the hang of "kick your feet and move your arms and blow bubbles simultaneously", which meant that she typically just started sinking to the bottom, eyes and mouth wide open in utter excitement.  She would just spit out the water and do it all over again without a care in the world--but we have a long ways to go before I'll feel as "comfortable" with her being around water as she apparently is.  It would have been a nearly perfect weekend--if the air conditioner in our car had not gone out as we were leaving Phoenix, while it was 105 outside.  We had a two-hour drive in the heat, and Ella kept requesting "No wind!" because she (and my husband) were not fans of having the windows down.

But we made it home last night, despite the heat, and enjoyed a slow morning before heading to Ella's first dentist appointment.  She was such a great little patient!  This was just the initial "sit in the chair and get used to the noises of the office and count your teeth" sort of appointment, but they said that everything looks great so far!

So I think that catches you up on our busy summer, which means I might as well turn to where I am--emotionally speaking--in regards to my in/fertility.  If I were to sum it all up in three words, it would be:  "I don't know".  I think I got carried away last month, so I'm trying the complete opposite approach this month.  I'm trying out a "I'm not going to think about it at all" style for this month.  No more temping.  No more checking for phantom signs.  No more calculating.  I'm literally trying to change the subject with the internal conversations that are going in my brain.  On occasion, my mantra has been "not gonna think about it".  Perhaps I'm acting like an ostrich by burying my head in the sand, but whatever I was doing last month by being super healthy and exercising regularly clearly wasn't working for me because I ended up with the longest cycle I've had since I stopped breastfeeding.  I recognize that I got caught up (again) in wanting so desperately to be pregnant--maybe the tardiness of my cycle really was stress related.  So this month has been a good experiment in self-discipline as I try to not (over-)analyze anything related to my fertility (or possible lack thereof).  Don't get me wrong--I'm not completely oblivious.  I remember that my cycle started when I was home in California, and that was around the middle of June...but I'm not going to pull up a calendar or count back the days. 

As for how I'm feeling about it all--I'm just trying to enjoy every moment that I can with Ella.  She is such a delight.  If this is the only chance I get to parent a 21-month old, then I want to live it up.  I love her dearly, and as much as I would love to get to do this all over again, I am so blessed to have the chance to be her Mommy.  I just wish my body would work correctly...

So there you have it--our busy summer and my update on where we stand for trying to add another one to the mix.  I can't promise I'll write daily, but I definitely do need to share some more "Ella-isms" soon. 

Today's blessing is the beautiful desert!  If you're unaware, we actually get monsoons here in Southern Arizona.  We came back from our trip to Palm Springs to bright green ocotillo in our backyard.  It's hard to imagine when it's 100+ outside, but it really is beautiful.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wait, Hope, Pray

I'm happy to report that my very dear friend is doing well--or at least as well as one can when trying to balance the fear for her unborn child with caring for a toddler and maintaining a career.  The quantitative tests came back with small numbers, essentially indicating a "small exposure" or that her healthy body "fought it well".  Late last week, she had an infusion of medication that would cross the placenta and get to the baby to help him fight the infection as well.  More tests will need to be run when he is born.  The doctors are pleased with how things are looking on the ultrasound, and my very dear friend and her husband are pleased with the positive but conservative approach that the doctors are taking.  But for now, we all just wait and hope and pray. 

As for me, my waiting and hoping and praying is over--at least for my most recent cycle.  Day 1 came on day 1 of my vacation at home with Ella and my family.  I'm sad, but I'm not as devastated as I thought I might be--thanks to friends and family lifting me up in prayer.  If anything, I'm just relieved that it did finally show up.  I'm hoping this was just an anomaly, perhaps due to a more stressful time at work with the transition from the academic year to summer.  Or maybe I just got too caught up in my own selfish desires, and this is God's way of gently reminding me that He is in control.  Whatever the case may be, I'm back to where I was before:  I wait, I hope, I pray.

We had a lovely time at home with my family, though it ended up being hotter in Northern California than it was in Arizona!  We visited both sets of great-grandparents, went shopping, swam, played at the park, went to the zoo, and visited with friends at my dad's church.  Ella thoroughly enjoyed her time with my parents and her cousin and aunt and uncles.  I'm so glad that she was able to spend some quality time with them.  My parents will come again in September, and then the whole family will spend Christmas with us here in Arizona.  Here are a few shots from our trip:


Ella (20 months) and Brooke (16 months) at the park
Ella and Mommy at the park
Brooke and Ella at the Zoo
Ella (acting as a monkey) and Uncle Peter
My blessing yesterday was that Ella slept peacefully for the first leg of our flight.  All my family got together for lunch of Father's Day, right before we had to leave for the airport, so Ella was so wound up that she skipped her nap.  But I knew she was tired, and it was such a blessing that she fell asleep in my arms as we were boarding the plane.  She woke up as we were landing, and was a happy traveler the rest of the way home.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bigger Concerns

I'm on Day 43, and got another negative test this morning. I don't understand what God is doing with my cycle, so all I can do is trust that He has an awesome plan for my life, and I just need to wait on Him. But I have a bigger concern--for my very dear friend and her 29-week baby, Henry.

My very dear friend is a Pediatrics Resident who was recently exposed to CMV. Her initial screening after the first exposure came back negative, but her recent test after a second exposure came back positive. If she did contract the virus during her pregnancy, then the antibodies that her body would be producing could be harmful to the life of her baby (or at least that is my understanding of her explanation). She is under the care of a wonderful doctor and will begin working with a specialist. She will undergo some more test--this time that are quantitative, rather than just negative/positive. As a pediatrician and a loss survivor, she is acutely aware of the fragility of life. Please pray for my very dear friend, and for the baby boy who is growing inside her. It situations like these that make me appreciate Ella that much more. My insecurities, wonder, and concerns about my cycle going crazy again seem so little in comparison to what she is going through. She is a strong and beautiful woman of faith, and I trust that she believes that God has a plan for her and this child. I just wish I could do more to bring her comfort and assurance at this time--she has been such a blessing to me through my journey to start--and build--our family. I appreciate your prayers for her--it's the least I can do.

 My blessing today was the chance to stop at the park with Ella on our way home from church. I love watching her confidence grow--she has mastered the tall slides, but is stil nervous on the swings. I'm glad that I could spend this quality time with her doing something that she enjoys.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Here We Go Again

I envisioned myself starting a post with a "Here We Go Again" title with a disclaimer about a pregnancy announcement.  But alas, that is not the case.  Rather, I feel like I'm on the "Here We Go Again" roller coaster because my cycle is--once again--not cooperating.

Today is cycle day 38, my temperature is still high (going on 20 days now), by boobs still don't hurt, and the test this morning was negative.  I'm not going to lie--I'm disappointed.  I'm disappointed about two things.  First, I would love to be pregnant.  But more significantly, I'm disappointed that my cycle seems to be going wonkers again--and during a month when I was trying to be so careful!  Before getting pregnant with Ella, my cycles slowly but surely started to improve.  Don't quote me on these numbers, but in the months leading up to conceiving, my cycles were something like 36, 35, 33, 32, 30.  So when my post-nursing cycle lengths went 42, 39, 36, 35...I was hopeful that I was again seeing improvement.  Which leaves me bummed, disappointed, frustrated...and wondering.

And wondering, in the land of baby-making, can be a bad thing.

I can feel myself going back to that place of over-analyzing and calculating and becoming consumed, and I don't want to be here.  I don't want to think about egg quality and whether or not I got in enough "attempts" before my husband left for three weeks of Army annual training.  I want to just enjoy the perfect and amazing gift of Ella, like I told myself I would.  I want to trust God's plan for our lives--which I know is just as perfect and amazing--without my own dreams and desires getting in the way. 

Ugh.  I found a problem with my "hoping to conceive" attempt at building a family.  The problem is that you actually begin to hope.  And hope is a powerful thing.

Today I am blessed with the chance to bring Ella to swim lessons.  We did swim lessons last year when Ella was just 8 months, so it will be so different this year now that she is 20 months.  She loves the bath and her water table, and it is super hot here in the desert these days, so I'm really hopeful that she'll enjoy the lessons this year.  We'll be at a new pool right across the street from her daycare, and I signed her up for the whole month of June, so I'm hoping that this will be a good distraction while my husband is gone.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

So Different, and Yet Still So Similar

I'm finding myself where I've been so many times before--counting down the days until I think that I'm safe to test.  Except for this time, I have the perfect distraction--in the form of a silly and sweet 20-month old bundle of energy--to make the time go by.

Today is cycle day 35.  I was committed this month in terms of what I ate, how much I worked out, and when I encouraged certain marital interactions.  Ever since I stopped breastfeeding and started "hoping to conceive", my cycles have gotten progressively more regular (42, 39, 36, 35).  So in theory, I should be ready to test, right?  Since I've gone back to "old reliable" and started tracking my temperature again, I know that it's still elevated.  So in theory, I should be ready to test, right?

And yet, I put it off a little longer.  I think there is nothing less discouraging than a negative test, and so I wait.  I tell myself that it's now the weekend, and I wouldn't be able to make contact with my doctor's office until Monday anyway.  I poke at my breasts one more time, to confirm that no, they really don't hurt at all--which was my first true indicator with Ella (and my previous pregnancies).  And so I wait a bit longer.

But the waiting is so different this time.  Having a child is the perfect distraction from obsessing about having another one.  And no, I don't mean that in the "birth control" sort of way, though I guess it could be interpreted as such.  No, I simply mean that I still feel so amazingly blessed to have Ella in my life, and if she's the only child that God has planned for us, then she's already more than I could have ever imagined.  God filled the deep desire of my heart in making me a mother to her.  I long to experience the joys of pregnancy again, and I would love to give Ella a sibling, and I really want to give my husband the little boy that he desires; but I finally feel that I can live my current life without obsessing about building a future life. 

I don't know if I'll ever be one of those women who just "falls pregnant" without a worry or care in the world.  It's my nature--and my experience--to worry.  So part of me will always wonder and flip through mental calendars to find ovulation dates and then try to do the mental math about possible beta doubling times. But like a toddler who leaves her coloring when she hears the word "snack", I'm learning to leave my worries and wonders when I hear the word "Mommy". 

Today's blessing was waking up early and having the chance to sit here and write a bit.  I know that I don't post nearly as ofter as I have in the past, or as much as I would like (I guess having a child changes your blogging life as well), but I still really appreciate this community and enjoy following the lives of so many women who continue to be so important to me in my journey. I really am blessed to have this blog, and to have made these connections.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Jealous

Ella has wanted nothing to do with me lately.  She only wants Daddy these days.  I'm not going to lie--I'm a little bit jealous.

It started a couple of nights ago when she wouldn't let me read her a book.  She only wanted Daddy.  That's sweet and all, but even after he read her one book, she wouldn't let me read another one. 

The last couple of mornings, she has woken up asking for Daddy instead of Mama.  That would be fine...if my husband were the type to get out of bed before me.  When she sees me walk in instead of him, she gets all mopey and insists on seeing him. 

I know that it's good that she's so in love with him, but it's going to make for a couple of long weeks when my husband heads to South Dakota for his Army Reserves annual training.  I worry that everything will be a chore without Daddy here.

Or perhaps she'll forget all about him and will go back to thinking that I'm the most important person in her little world.

As jealous as I may be, I'm so blessed that my husband enjoys playing with Ella; and her with him.  It's so endearing to watch a grown man lay on the floor and help her Little People wash their hands before they eat their meals.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ella-isms (Vol. 4)

I'm probably due for another round of Ella-isms to share all the silly things she is doing now:

Hello-phone
Ella caught on pretty quickly to the concept of a telephone, but she seems to believe that they are called "hello-phones" (makes sense, right?).  There was a little phone that came with one of her toys, and she loves to play the "Hello? Goodbye!" game as we're driving. I sing "I Just Called To Say I Love You" whenever she "calls" me.


Mama's Little Helper
Ella loves chores...at least at this stage of her life.  Whenever she sees me start working on something in the kitchen, she comes running, yelling "Help!  Help!  Help!".  She climbs up on her little stool and tries to help with whatever it is that I'm doing.  And she's catching on beautifully to all the little tasks, like putting the discarded produce into the counter composter without any direction to do so.  Prepping meals takes a little bit longer with her "assistance", but it's much easier that having her run around under foot.

Miss Independent
My little baby who was once so dependent on me for absolutely everything is turning into her own little person who wants to do things all by herself.  Whether it's putting on her shoes, getting dressed, wiping after using the potty, or climbing into her chair, she wants to try to do it without any assistance, and yells "Ella do it!" or "Ella do that!" with each attempt.  She's not quite there on most tasks, so will allow us to pull her pants up in the back for her as she pulls up from the front, but we're getting there.  Part of me is sad that she doesn't need my help anymore, but mostly, I'm looking forward to the day when she can dress herself (and better yet, wipe her own bottom).

"Dash"
I think it was The Incredibles movie that had the little boy with the super powers to race everywhere, right?  (Shows you how many movies we watch around here...)  I made need to start calling Ella by the same name here soon because she is always running everywhere!  To help with dinner, to go to the bath, to brush her teeth, to pick out a book, to give Daddy hugs and kisses--wherever she goes, she is running!  And it's the sweetest little thing, with her arms up near her chest for balance.  She takes a tumble from time to time, but just jumps right back up and keeps running.  Her dad and I both hate running, so it will be interesting to see if she keeps it up.

Bed Head
Ella was nearly bald when she was born, and it's slowly, slowly, slowly been coming in.  Her hair is really fine and soft in the front, but turns into quite the little rat's nest in the back when she sleeps on it or when she rubs her head on her carseat.  I can usually tame it down easily enough, but it was extra wild yesterday morning: 


Hop Into Bed
I often sing a little "walking-hopping-running-stopping" song to get Ella moving.  Lately, she's really been trying to hop and jump, though she hasn't quite figured out the mechanics to actually get her body off the ground.  Two nights ago, as I was trying to put her to bed (a routine that she has been resisting lately), she started hopping.  So I picked her up under the armpits, helped her hop towards her crib, and then "hopped" her right into bed.  To my amazement, it worked like a charm!  I tried it again last night--and again, success!  Let's hope this hopping trick continues to work! 

Watermelon Queen
My undergrad had a silly "Watermelon Queen" tradition, and Ella is apparently training early for the title, because she could probably eat her weight in watermelon.  I can't stand the taste, but she gobbles it right up.  I have a feeling she'll ask for it to be part of every meal this entire summer.  

Today's blessing is the chance to celebrate my supervisor, who was honored with an award from our college for her outstanding work.  I really admire her, and am so blessed to have such a positive working relationship with her.  It makes leaving Ella during the day so much easier when I feel like I really am blessed to work with amazing colleagues, supervisors, and students. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mommy Day

My Mother's Day started at 12:00 am, on the dot, with Ella calling "Mama! Mama! Mama!".  I kid you not--it was exactly 12:00 am.  I think she had a nightmare or something, but it was a nice little reminder that she needs me just as much on Mother's Day as any other day of her life.  It took almost an hour to get her back to sleep, but she woke up bright-eyed as ever.  My husband taught her how to say "Happy Mommy Day" while I was in the shower.  I don't know if I've ever heard a sweeter greeting.

In church, our pastor shared in his opening prayer that Mother's Day is not always easy for everyone.  I appreciate that he had this sort of sensitivity.  Although I sat there with Ella wrapped in my arms, there have been Mother's Days that have left me feeling empty and alone.  I don't know which years were worse--those when I was struggling to conceive and didn't yet consider myself a "mother"; or those after my losses when the rest of the world didn't recognize me as one but I did.  Yesterday was happy for me, but I know that it wasn't for everyone, and my heart and prayers go out to those who wait to hear "Happy Mommy Day" from their little one.

My blessing this weekend was the chance to work with my husband to put the finishing touches on our backyard by planting some grasses and flowers and moving some big boulders into place (without getting bit by the rattlesnake that was less than a foot away from my gloved hand).  I'm so pleased with how it all turned out.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Transformation

Our backyard went from...



to...



We are really enjoying our new backyard.  We've been immediately going outside as soon as we get home each evening after work, and Ella and I spent the morning play outside today.  I'm so glad that she now has a safe and fun place to play.

And just for fun, Ella and her Daddy...




Today's blessing is finally being home for a weekend!  I really enjoyed traveling the last three weekends, but it's so nice to be able to spend time at home with Ella.  My husband has Army Drill this weekend, but it's great to be able to spend some quality time with Ella at least.  I'm looking forward to next weekend when we can truly have some family time.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Maybe May?

With the amount of traveling that I did during April (three different cities in three consecutive weekends), I wasn't too horribly surprised or disappointed to get my new cycle on Sunday (35 days--one day shorter than the last cycle).  (I should clarify--after going through bouts of amenorrhea prior to Ella, I'm never truly disappointed to get a new cycle, as I recognize that it's a necessity for healthy fertility).  But I'm also not too disappointed because I'm secretly hoping to conceive in May and have a February baby.

I know, I know, I know...I'm getting ahead of myself.  And if I've learned anything at all through this entire process, it's that God has 100% control and I have 0% say in the matter.  Sure, my husband and I will have to do certain things at key times, but the rest is up to God. 

Ella was born in September, just a week or so after my husband's birthday.  If we were to conceive in May, that baby would be due in February, a week or so before my birthday.  I know it's silly, but I would love to be able to share my birthday-month with a little one, the same way that my husband shares September with Ella.  Silly, I know, but a girl can hope, right?

I admit that I kept cheating on my healthy living plan, and found ways to justify doing so (it's easy to indulge when you're traveling to fun places like Chicago, New York, and Seattle).  So for the next couple of weeks, I'm committed.  I'm committed to eating healthy; I'm committed to working out; I'm committed to getting enough rest.  But mostly, I'm committed to trusting God and putting my hope in Him.

Yesterday's blessing was the chance to spend the evening with Ella and some of my amazing students at our annual awards banquet.  Ella was wonderfully behaved, albeit a bit clingy at first.  I really am blessed to be able to work with some amazing supervisors, peers, and students; and I'm very appreciative that they are welcoming to Ella when I tote her around with me.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Absolutely Not!


We’re coming up on the five year anniversary of moving into our house, and I’m happy to report that we have finally done something with our backyard…or at least part of it.  We bought our house shortly after we got married, and thought—at the time—that it would be a good idea to buy an acre lot.  Looking back, I think that we probably bit off more than we could chew.  But here we are, five years later, and we finally made some real progress.  Don’t get me wrong—we have been working on developing our desert space on and off for the last five years, but now, we finally have something to show for it.


Since we live in the desert, we decided to put down artificial turf.  Many of you might be wrinkling your nose at the idea—and I know that my husband initially did as well—but I just couldn’t, in good consciousness, throw away the amount of water that would be needed to keep up a nice lawn here in Arizona.  I admit, it’s a little “crunchy” to walk on, but overall, we are so pleased.

(Sorry...I seem to run into problems with turning pictures from my phone)
That tree you see in the corner?  That is the tree that we planted the week that Ella was born.  We had been wanting to add a tree, and it just made sense to plant it at the same time as Ella’s birth so that we could marvel at the growth each year (though I admit that I never got around to taking a picture of her in front of the tree on her birthday).   
(I apologize again for not knowing how to turn these pictures)
 If you look carefully, you’ll see that the placement of the brick patio didn’t end up perfectly in line with the tree, so the path narrows a bit in that corner.   It shouldn’t be a big deal because—like I said—it’s artificial turf, so it’s not a big deal if you step off the path to walk around the tree. 
 
But my husband—bless his heart—had the nerve to suggest that we cut down the tree—the “Ella tree”—so that we could fix the corner to look like the others.  My response:  “Absolutely not!”.  Perhaps the tone of my voice made him reconsider his proposal, because he didn’t push the subject.  I recognize that my “magical thinking” isn’t real, and that cutting down the “Ella tree” doesn’t mean that we would be causing her any sort of harm, but it just feels so entirely wrong to even consider doing such a thing.  Who cares if the path isn’t perfect?  She’s not going to be perfect either, and we will most definitely love her anyway!

I’m very excited to have this new space for Ella.  She came home yesterday and immediately walked to the backdoor pleading “Outside? Outside?”.  We’ve been having amazing weather in the evenings, and I’m so glad that she has this new space outdoors in which to play.  I look forward to playing catch and soccer with her in the future, but for now, I’m totally enjoying her fascination with moving the rocks and picking up flower petals.

Today’s blessing was the chance to go out to lunch with my supervisor and our “big boss lady”, who shared a really nice compliment with me and told me that I’m doing a great job of balancing being a mom and a good employee.  She can be a little on the critical side, and is never afraid to share her mind, so I feel that I must be doing something right to get such a compliment from her.  I really am blessed to have two amazingly strong women (and mothers themselves) as professional role models.