If you are here for the first time, visiting from another site that shared about Infertility Awareness Week, welcome! If you are interested in our journey so far, please click on the tab above "Me, The Man, and Infertility." Please feel free to jump right in and consider leaving a comment to say hello! You can contact me using the "contact me" tab above. You'll find there is a post for each day this week, with links to the others at the bottom of each.

2.25.2012

So this is what a real 2ww feels like?

A couple of months ago, when I wrote about getting 2 nos every moth, I was really starting to hit the end of my rope with the BB. It started around P+6/7 and went until CD1 every. single. cycle.

But today, I'm on P+10 and all of my post-peak stickers are GREEN! That's right. No. brown. bleeding/spotting. at. all.

Praise God! and thank-you Dr. S.!!!!

It was the one thing I was really frustrated over - no one (even Dr. S.) seemed overly worried about all of this BB, but I knew it wasn't normal and I also was getting pretty sick of my charts being covered in red stickers and all of the practical implications of it.

So this is all great news. Except for my nerves.

It's P+10, and usually on P+10 I've already realized I'm not pregnant and even though the hope is still there, it is much more tempered than pre P+7 because consistent brown spotting is obviously not a good thing. But, today, I'm forcing myself to steer clear of Dr. Google. Especially since I have no "early pregnancy symptoms" to search for and make myself crazy with.

Yet, can I just tell y'all how high my hopes are? I've already planned how I'd tell everyone. I've calculated the due date; I've started picturing our spare bedroom as a nursery (something I haven't done in months) and we'd rearrange the other bedroom; and on and on and on.

And I'm scared.

Last year, the end of February marked one of the lowest points on this journey. Yes, we'd only been trying a little while, but it was the first month that I had truly convinced myself that all of my symptoms were pre-pregnancy symptoms (you know the symptoms I had every. single. month. prior) and that the BB was really just implantation bleeding that was lasting a long time, and, well you get the idea. So, I went out and bought a pack of pregnancy tests (for the first time in my life) and I figured out the day I would get to use one. It would be the morning after we were going out to dinner with my mom, Nan, and stepdad to celebrate Mom's birthday.

That dinner turned into my own personal nightmare with my Nan saying at one point "you can't just decide not to have children. You can't deny The Man being a father, you can't take that away from him."; with me going to the bathroom to find that I couldn't deny myself any longer, that AF had arrived; and with The Man (while I was making said bathroom trip) almost yelling at my Mom and Nan asking them "what do you want from us? Do you want us to tell you when we are trying? When we get a positive pregnancy test? What?!?"; and me returning to the table fighting back tears to an uncomfortable silence and so glad I had ordered a glass of wine to sip on (to avoid questions) because I don't think I'd ever needed a drink so bad in my life.

And here I sit. One year later, almost to the day. Full of hope I truly haven't felt since February last year. Trying to temper the hope. And still, because it is what I do, hoping that CD1 never comes.

Prayer buddy, I'm offering it all up for you!

2.23.2012

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for:
  • No headaches! That's right, 6 days of prometrium taken vaginally and NO headaches!!!! Praise God and thank-you Dr. S!!!!!!
  • Prayer Buddies. I am so stinkin' excited about my prayer buddy!!!!
  • Seeing sunshine from my desk (my cube used to have frosted glass and I asked them to unfrost 2 of the panels so I could see out the windows and they finally did it this week).
  • Lent. Leila said it best, I think, when she said The Soul Craves Lent.
  • Blogger and my stupid work PC cooperating again!
  • For Michelle and her awesome idea for yesterday's joint post. If you haven't read it yet, please do, and consider adding your own story.
 What are you thankful for this week?

2.22.2012

We are the 98%


98% is something we are hearing an awful lot in the news these days.  Unfortunately, no matter how much the media and the current administration would love to continue repeating this statistic as fact, it’s actually come out that it was a pretty bogus statement to say that 98% of Catholic women use contraception.

It is irrelevant to the current fight over the HHS Mandate whether Catholics conform their lives to the teachings of the Catholic church or not.  Sin is sin and even if many Catholics sin, the Catholic church will still teach that the use of contraceptives in order to prevent pregnancy, while engaging in the very act that naturally could result in pregnancy, is wrong.  But the statistic (even though inaccurate) still begs the question...why don’t more Catholic women embrace this teaching of the Catholic faith?  There are plenty of us out here who do embrace the Catholic faith - teaching on contraception and all, but we are oft-ignored by the Mainstream Media, Big Pharma, and now Big Government.

We are no experts, but we are two of those “98%” of Catholic women who have ever used contraception.  We are Michelle of Endless Strength and Rebecca of The Road Home.

We are products of public school health/sex education. We are children from divorced families.  We are cradle Catholics. We were sold short by our parents and Catholic schools. We were underestimated by our public education systems.  

We searched for love as the world gives and not for the enduring Love of God our Father.  We strayed from our Faith unsure of the Truth.  We began our journeys home to the Catholic church with the men God saw fit to accompany and support us.  We received Grace in the Sacrament of Marriage and miracles in our spouses.  Our hearts softened and our wills crumbled to accept and to learn God’s plan for marriage and sex.

We used to feel angry that we had to find out on our own.  We used to feel frustrated that priests, sisters, teachers and parents did not teach us the freedom of the Catholic teaching on sexuality. We used to feel lost and sad and alone.

Now we know that we are not alone.  We are never alone for the Lord goes before us always and we continue to follow Him.  

But more than that, we know there are many “98%’ers” out there.  We want to share our stories to make sure Catholic women know the Truth WILL set you free!  

We are free, no longer bound by the world’s requirements of sexuality and no longer tied to artificial hormones and barriers to the kind of sexual love God intended for married men and women.  We no longer suffer physical side effects of pumping unnatural products into our bodies.  We thrive in our marriages, looking at ourselves and our spouses with new eyes - the eyes of the Lord.  

Today, we share our stories; how our views of sex, relationships and contraception existed before and after our knowledge and full embrace of our Catholic faith.  We invite you to read our stories and then invite you to share yours.

How did you used to view contraception?
Michelle:
Age 16-19
Fear permeated my life.  I was afraid of sex.  I was afraid of my parents finding out I had had sex.  I was afraid of losing sex.  I was afraid of getting caught in the act of sex.  I was afraid of the intended consequences of sex.  So, it follows that I was afraid of condoms and then the pill.  Even though I used them, they were physical reminders of the fear I felt.  There was the underlying fear of pregnancy, of a baby, of a “mistake” running under the surface every time I popped a pill.  

Of course at the time I did not see myself as full of fear.  Only the wisdom that comes from experience can enlighten that aspect of those years.  Back then, I felt like having sex empowered me, I learned well our culture’s lesson that sex was power that women held over men.  Our culture views men as insatiable “pigs” who can not resist nor ever get enough sex.  It is just as unhealthy to view men in this light as it is to view women as though they should always be at the ready, armed with contraception, ready to be used should the moment “be right.”

Ages 19-22
My view of the pill didn’t change that much other than I viewed it as necessary as well as the fact that I still feared a pregnancy, a baby, a “mistake.”  I was in a long-term monogamous (on my end) relationship and I viewed the physical part of that relationship as a requirement to the rest of the relationship’s continuation.  I considered the man “marriage material” because he was well-established socially and financially and he had goals that matched what I viewed as something “good.”  He still used me, did not respect me or love me the way God loves me...but it was better than I had had with any other relationship, so I remained.

I finally realized that relationship wasn’t good for me either since the man had commitment-phobia, and it appeared the relationship was going nowhere.  I stopped taking the pill the cycle I broke up with him.  We had been living a long-distance relationship and on one of my visits, I got up the nerve and I broke it off.  I had the nerve, though, BECAUSE I had stopped taking the pill.  With the research I have read about how the hormones in birth control pills interact with women’s synapses and other hormones, I can see how perhaps I was thinking more clearly when I broke up with him than I had in years (I had been on the hormonal birth control for 5 years at this point).

Age 23-28
Overall, I was no longer as much in favor of contraception.  After ending the long term relationship, I spent time going on dates, but not committing to anyone.  After about 18 months, I met and began a relationship with my now-husband.  While I began using contraception again early in our relationship, I never felt at peace about it.  I was dabbling in returning to the Catholic faith and the underlying fears while using contraception were getting stronger.  When marriage entered the picture, I had a heart-to-heart with my beloved, explained that the knowledge that premarital sex was wrong was enough that I felt compelled to ask that we attempt chastity as we prepared to marry.  He agreed (that solidified my knowledge and feelings that I was marrying the right man) and for most of the next 8 months, as we prepared for marriage, my brain and body were external hormone-free and we remained separated physically.  

A month before the wedding, I began taking birth control pills.  At this point it was more of a surrender to the whole idea that we knew we didn’t want a baby 9 months after we got married and the pill was the way to avoid pregnancy.  All I had ever known about sex was a mess anyway.  (another blog post!)

When we decided to be open to a baby, we got pregnant the month after coming off the pill.  I had read that you should try to wait 3 months, but it didn’t seem to have a negative impact on my pregnancy, labor, delivery and Sarah is now a healthy, vibrant 10-year-old.

Late in my pregnancy, Craig and I discussed how we’d continue to plan our family and agreed we’d “keep doing what we’d always done.”  I was back on birth control pills the cycle after my 6 week check-up.  My reversion to the Catholic faith was in full force during the next three months and then in January 2002, I pitched the pills forever.  Now, I feel like that was the most freeing moment in my life, but it was kind of scary at the time.


Rebecca:
Prior to age 18, I didn’t give it much thought. Sure, I learned all about it in high school health class, but I wasn’t sexually active, so I didn’t really worry one way or the other. At age 18, 2 months after my birthday and 1 month after my “first time” I went for my first check-up (my mom insisted I go at 18 years of age because I was a “grown up” now. She asked if I had any questions or if I wanted her to go with me to the appointment and I said “no, I’d be fine.” I passed out during the exam and had to call my boyfriend to come pick me up. But I did get my prescription for birth control pills before I left.
A year later, I broke up with that boyfriend and started dating The Man. Our relationship moved very fast, especially if counted in days because we spent every waking minute together and at one month in we planned the “perfect” weekend and had sex for the first time. For the first 6 months or so of our relationship we had lots of great sex, and then (at about 18 months of taking the pill) my sex drive started to plummet. For the next 7 years, the #1 thing we fought about was sex...quality was never a problem, but quantity was and it took it’s toll. All I can say is he must really love me because in the midst of it all he still proposed and we got married.
For many years, I never connected the pill with my lack of sex drive. In fact, for a long time I called it a miracle drug - I lost 15 pounds when I started taking it, my breasts grew by one bra size, I had great skin, and oh yea, I couldn’t get pregnant while I was on it either.
Yet, a few months into our engagement I told The Man I didn’t want to have sex anymore until we got married because all I could think was “what if I get pregnant and have to call and tell my Dad?”
Even during our marriage prep, when the sponsor couple we worked with shared that they were infertile due to their use of contraception (an IUD), we never gave another method a second thought. If NFP was mentioned, it didn’t even make a “blip” on our radar.
Finally, I experienced headaches each month like clockwork. When I complained to my doctor and mentioned that I noticed a pattern related to when I was taking the placebo pill. The solution? Take 12 weeks of “active” pills (of a lower dose) and then one week of placebo. My reaction at the time? Nice! Only 4 periods a year. Works for me!!! Now? Shudder.

What prompted you to stop using contraception?
Michelle:  
I was already suspect with regard to contraception anyway.  As I mentioned before, the natural law present on my heart and soul was making its presence known as I grew older.  It seemed to become deafening now that I was married and had actually had a baby.  Something wasn’t sitting right inside of me about doing something artificially to prevent someone as amazing as Sarah from coming into the world.

There was an announcement in the bulletin at our parish that there would be classes available to learn Natural Family Planning and to call Penny or John and left their phone number.  I asked Craig about it on one of our drives and he agreed that we’d look into it.  We signed up for the course.  John and Penny had a daughter old enough to watch Sarah while we took classes from them.  We were unable to attend their first session, but they made time one Sunday for the first (and arguably the most important) session of the four.  This session was rich in Theology, Catholic teaching, Papal encyclicals, statistics and most importantly, we received a cassette tape of Dr. Janet Smith’s talk, “Contraception:  Why Not?”

We listened to that on our way home from John and Penny’s house that night.  We sat in the car and finished listening to it before we went inside.  I had continued taking pills that cycle because Craig and I were only going to “look into” NFP.  That night, I pulled out the insert that came with my pills.  I read the fine print.  I read what I had just heard Janet Smith say, about the abortifacient properties of the pill.  I was horrified.  I tossed my entire supply and never refilled my prescription.  

The idea that we could have unknowingly caused the death of children conceived both within and outside of our marriage over the years, weighed heavy on my heart.  Sometimes it still does.  I’ll never know until I meet God face-to-face if there were other little souls He had sent my way that I had not the Grace to accept.  

Rebecca:
After 12 years of taking the pill, I was getting kind of sick of taking a pill every day and did some research to see what our other options for birth control were. I spent hours reading about and researching alternatives. The first time I read what an IUD was and how it works, I almost passed out (and I was sitting down!). I asked some questions at my next annual appointment about the alternatives (patch, nuvaring, shot, and even the IUD) and decided that it was best to just stay on the pill. Seeing as how I was at our local health department for this check up, I also walked out of the appointment with a one year supply. For free. Convenient? I thought so.
A few months later though, I started thinking that symptoms I had been having for years might be related to the pill like my headaches were - I was always feeling bloated, I was irritable and my emotions were often irrational, I had no sex drive (to the point of really thinking something was wrong with me), I was still getting headaches, and I felt sad and disconnected most of the time. I was surprised to learn thanks to Dr. Google that all of these symptoms were directly related to the pill. I then got out my pill pack and actually read the side effects (for real, for the first time ever) and was horrified to see that the effects I was having were all related to the pill AND that the pill could act as an abortifacient. I was horrified. I told The Man what I had found out and we decided that there had to be another method. I took the pill for a few more weeks while I did some research and in that time I started reading lots of Catholic blogs and really started to learn about NFP and “real” people who used it. Though my first explanation of NFP didn’t go as smoothly as I’d have liked (The Man decided we’d just not have sex again until we were ready to have children. Ummm, not exactly what I had in mind), we did decide no more birth control pills and tossed them in the trash without a real plan.

How did you learn NFP?
Michelle:
We learned the Sympto-Thermal method from a local teaching couple through the Couple to Couple league.  The classes were given couple to couples, in a group setting and there was time set aside to review charts and discuss with couple one-on-one whatever challenges they might be facing.

Over the years, we have switched to Marquette, which uses a fertility monitor that measures estrogen and luteinizing hormone in the urine stream to establish PEAK days.  Due to my unreliable temperatures and luteal phase defect, this method has turned out to be the one that works the best for us.  We self-taught this method using the Marquette website and participating in their study on the efficacy of the monitor.

Rebecca:
We learned the Standard Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP from a teaching couple in Texas via skype. I “met” the lady of this couple via blogs and she and her husband taught The Man and I, each of us in our own living rooms 1500 miles apart.

We have recently learned the Creighton Model System of Fertility Care to address infertility. I learned via phone and skype from a Fertility Care Practitioner that works with the Natural Procreative Technology Doctor I’ve been seeing.


What differences (positive and negative) did you experience in your marriage?
Michelle:
BEFORE
Contraception added pressure to our marriage.  As a woman who had had premarital sex with multiple partners before marriage, I felt keenly the pressure to “put out.”  Even though I was now married, one would think that I wouldn’t think of it that way, but at its base, that is how I felt.  I always felt guilty that I wasn’t having sex with my husband every night that I wasn’t on my period.  I thought that was what we were supposed to do, being married and all.  Then, because I wasn’t pregnant and because we were using a method that all but guaranteed we wouldn’t get pregnant, it would seem that we’d be up for anything, any time.  We had nothing other than our jobs to stop us and in our over-sexualized culture, it seemed “natural” that we’d want to go at it constantly.  Having a baby added to this pressure because when we did actually get her to sleep while both of us were awake and attentive, it would seem that we should take every second we could to embrace and engage our intimacy.  In my warped brain, my value as a wife was directly related to how much, how good and how often I made love to my husband.  

Before we learned NFP, I worried that my husband viewed my body as though it were imperfect...especially during that time after our first baby.  I did not fit the “worldly” image of “hotness.”  I was overweight and now, after carrying and bearing a child, my stomach and breasts sagged.  I had stretch marks.  So on top of fearing pregnancy, I feared that my husband didn’t even want to look at me.  Please remember...this is how I felt and not at all anything that was voiced by my beloved husband.

AFTER
Embracing NFP opened up a whole new aspect to marriage that we’d completely missed out on in the marriage preparation and newlywed phases of marriage.  It didn’t happen immediately, but over time using NFP has helped my husband and me to see each other and ourselves and sex differently.  

I no longer see my husband as someone who can’t go a day (let alone a week!) without sex or else he will explode.  In our fight against this over-sexed culture, we never focus on how unhealthy it is to view men as objects, but when we assign an animal quality to them, we demean them as well.  I have so much respect for my husband because he practices self-control and is able to show me that he loves me without having sex.  He talks to me.  He is able to caress me in non-sexual ways that let me know that he loves me even if I’m not “putting out.”  

I can only say how it seems my husband sees me.  I feel as though he respects my whole person, fertility and all.  I feel as though he sees my body - now with it’s many “worldly” imperfections from 5 pregnancies - as more beautiful than it was the day he married me.  I feel like he treats me as though he would “do it all over again” with regards to a baby, should that be God’s will for us.  I feel like he would lay down his life for me.  This is how I feel about how he treats me.  I feel embraced, desired, respected and loved.

When we are ready to be open to God’s Ultimate Gift, it heightens our experience to places we never imagined.  When we have cause to avoid, it is a sacrifice to abstain during our more fertile time and it brings a sadness to both of us.  Even when we have been open and not been blessed, it brings a sadness that is hard to describe, but of course, as we age, the possibilities of receiving the gift of a child become fewer and father between.  And so even if we are not sacrificing through avoiding the fertile times, we are walking together, praying and learning to accept whatever God’s will for us may be.

Rebecca:
BEFORE
The only fights we ever had that kept us up late at night arguing, crying, and never reaching a resolution were related to sex. And they happened about once every 3 months. Sometimes more frequently. Just before we stopped using contraception we were both actually wondering if something was wrong with ourselves and the other. We always agreed the quality was good, it was just a quantity problem, and this was mostly due to me not having interest. Although there was plenty of “you just love my body and not me” that came out of my mouth, looking back, I realize how hurtful that must’ve been, especially considering the long periods between sex that The Man was enduring.
AFTER
This is a line that is so clear I will never forget it. The very day we decided no more birth control pills, our entire life changed. Drastically. Up to and including today, we have not had one single fight about sex since we decided to use NFP. And oddly enough {but not really}, the stress I felt every. single. time. we had sex while I was on the pill about the possibility of getting pregnant also went away, completely. Not once since we’ve been using NFP have I ever worried about an unintended pregnancy. Irony at it’s best, huh? NFP also brought us fully back to our Catholic Faith. We had been slowly flirting with coming home to our faith, we were attending mass pretty regularly, but that was pretty much it. Now, we are faithful, practicing Catholics and I even work for our Diocese as the Coordinator for Marriage and Family Life. Truly, NFP changed our entire life.

What struggles have you had with using NFP?
Michelle:
At first the abstinence was hard to get used to.  But looking back, that seems silly because it’s not like we were going at it all the time before NFP (remember we had a baby, I had body image issues and sex issues...)

I also struggled because I was coming off birth control pills.  The hormones have lasting effects on a woman’s body and my cycles were very strange.  Couple the fact that my view of sex with my husband was not the healthiest with the fact that I had always been told all of my life from age 16 on that “just one occurrence of unprotected sex in your cycle can cause you to get pregnant” and we had quite a bit of abstinence.  12 years of indoctrination took some time to get past.

I remember the first cycle where we used some days in Phase III and then I got my period.  Craig said, with a smile of relief, “It does work!”  I remember that so vividly because it was right then and there that I knew I’d have his support for this going forward.  I was unsure before that moment...and should I have become pregnant “unexpectedly”, I really don’t know what might have transpired.  But we’d followed “the rules” for avoiding and we succeeded in avoiding.

We have not struggled all that much with conceiving.  Each of our first three pregnancies occurred in the first cycle we were open.  With Dominic it took two open cycles.  With Vincent, it actually took five open cycles.  One of those was an “indecisive” cycle where we abstained the whole time because I don’t know if we knew what we wanted to do.  

One of the biggest things I miss is the mystery.  I don’t know if I can write this properly.  Basically, I find it difficult when I know we’ve hit the “perfect” days to find out we didn’t conceive. Though I didn’t experience this until I was in my mid-to-late 30’s.  I know if I have really good quality fertile mucous and I know what my ovulation pain feels like and I know if we’ve given ourselves a good opportunity to achieve pregnancy.  Because of our success early on, I start to believe I am actually pregnant, and then...when I’m not, it is quite difficult to stomach.  

Aging has been a struggle and then just going through life, knowing that I won’t know that “I’m done” with children until menopause hits...just mainly worldly concerns have been the biggest struggles.

Rebecca:
I know that not everyone can say this, but our biggest struggle was way back in our 3rd or 4th month of charting when we had learned all of the rules for avoiding pregnancy and had used some post-peak days effectively and we were now in pre-peak days and I was wanting to make love. I started to initiate and The Man shook his head “no.” I stated “but today’s an infertile day,” and The Man replied “oh no, we are NOT advanced enough for that yet!” (meaning identifying pre-peak infertile days reliably) and he rolled over! Talk about a role reversal - I’m pretty sure that was the first time in our entire relationship I was interested in sex and The Man said no! Other than that, we have been hugely blessed with our use of NFP and the lack of struggle.

I will say that we have struggled with infertility for the past 19 cycles. While the struggles we’ve experienced aren’t related to NFP, we also wouldn’t have known about some of them without NFP - for example crying in the bathroom after having sex on fertile days because of the fear and dread that most likely we still weren’t pregnant. But, I can honestly say if we had gone straight from using contraception and the state our physical relationship and marriage were in to trying to conceive and not getting pregnant right away we would most likely have either ended up divorced or in such a fractured, unhealthy relationship there might have been no hope to ever get back that “new love.” Whether we ever conceive or not, the gift of a renewed marriage that NFP gave us will be more than we could have ever hoped or dreamed.

As you can see, our stories while they follow a similar path are unique. As products of our upbringing, we always strived to make the best decisions that we could, and we wouldn’t go back and change the paths we’ve taken because they have led us to where we are today, but if we can lead someone (just one person) down a smoother, healthier, holier path by sharing our experiences than it was all worth it.

While these questions and answers can make it seem like our decisions to leave the known world of contraception into the unknown world of NPF were easy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Embracing the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality, when you have lived so counter to it, requires much dying to self, much reflection and forgiveness of self and spouse, and much opening of heart to see ourselves as our Creator sees us.

Choosing to embrace Natural Family Planning and the Church’s teaching on contraception, reproductive technologies, and marriage requires a willingness to live counter-culturally. Our society says sexual intimacy is for fun; that sex need not equal babies; that babies can be demanded or rejected; that cohabitation is a test run for marriage; and that at the first sign of marriage difficulty we should divorce. Telling someone we use NFP or don’t believe in using birth control is opening ourselves up  to comments as neutral as “well, that works for you” or “that’s great for your beliefs” to as cruel as “breeder” and “you want to set women back 50 years.”

Blessed John Paul II said “as the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” We are the 98% who, at one point in our lives, rejected the idea that sex equals babies and bonding and tried to separate the two with contraception. Based on the state of society today, it has never been more important for us to speak out, share our stories, our tears, and our hearts with one another and bring the Truth to light.

These are our stories. What is yours?

Please join us by linking your post below. This list is created as a “blog hop” so you can also include the link list at the bottom of your post and encourage your readers to write their own stories. Just copy the code below the list into your HTML editor. When you post the code into your site, any one who links up will be on your list, whether they link up here, on your blog, or somewhere else. If you need help, email Rebecca at RebeccaWVU02 at gmail dot com. :) You have until March 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm to link up with us.

2.17.2012

Post-Op Wrap-Up & Blogger Meet Up!

I got to meet Isaiah and Mr. Isaiah on Wednesday! She happened to have an appointment with Dr. S. on the same day as I did and we were able to meet up for a late lunch and a great afternoon of conversation. It's always so awesome to put a voice with the words and face behind the blog - and it seemed The Man and Mr. Isaiah enjoyed getting to chat as well. It's always so refreshing to sit and talk with someone who truly "gets it" and to share stories and prayers. I appreciate every single one of my IRL friends who asks how we are/for updates and offers prayers, but to get to talk to another IFer in person is pretty much a priceless opportunity. I always got the premise behind support groups, but now I really get them. Thank-you so much for waiting to leave town and meeting us!

As you know, I saw Dr. S. on Wednesday for probably the last time. While I'm glad I don't have an immediate appointment scheduled, and I'm glad for Dr. S. that he is retiring, I'm sad that I won't see him again. There is a list a mile long that I could create about the reasons that I know he is a Saint walking on this earth. I'm so grateful to have been able to have my surgery with him and for the hours he's spent explaining, treating, and answering questions. Those of you who know Dr. S. know exactly what I'm talking about; those of you who don't, all I can say is that you have truly missed out.

So, what did my post-op appointment glean?

  • All of the endo Dr. S. saw was removed. The biopsy's came back negative for anything but endo, so that is good. Endo was on both ovaries, worse on lefty and on my bladder...but it's all gone now!
  • During my pelvic exam, I was shocked (truly) at the lack of discomfort I felt. I had just assumed that all of the discomfort I felt during my pre-op exams was normal. Now, that's not to say that it wasn't uncomfortable, I mean, really, when someone pushes on the same spot from both inside AND outside your body at the same time, it doesn't feel good, but I had NO idea it wasn't supposed to feel like it did pre-surgery until Wednesday. I'm pretty sure Dr. S. thinks I'm crazy and though to himself "yep, this is why I'm retiring" because I kept saying over and over again how stunned I was at the difference. (And I didn't need a re.ctal exam either - double yay!!!)
  • My tubes are indeed open. There's no way to know what caused the blockage, but Dr. S. said they should be considered open unless we get to 12 - 18 months from this point without conceiving and then we should redo the HSG portion of the surgery
  • The "plan" is to continue TTC for 6 - 9 months with just the luteal phase support. If no bfp by then, schedule an appointment with Dr. D. (a partner in Dr. S.'s practice) to look into ovulation support. 
  • The only possible change we may make to this "plan" is this cycle we are trying prometrium vag.inally to see if the headaches I get are related directly to the prometrium or to the way it is absorbed into my system. (My concern was if I do get pg and need progesterone support, am I destined to the headaches - so Dr. S. said this was one way to find out). If this doesn't work and I still get the headaches, we will switch to HCG next cycle.
So, today it is P+3, which means day 1 of prometrium and the 2ww has begun. Trying to remind myself that no ones gets pregnant on the first post-op cycle. Trying to remind myself that we only have suspicions that I do indeed ovulate regularly. Trying to remind myself that while we have received many answers, there is no guarantee this road is coming to an end any time soon.

2.16.2012

Thankful Thursday


This week I am thankful for:

  • Dr. Steg.man
(Yes, I will write a more detailed post about my appointment yesterday soon.)

What are you thankful for this week? Leave your intentions in the comments or link your post up.

2.12.2012

A Mess of Ramblings

There has been so much swirling in my head and heart these days, and usually when this happens something resembling something coherent usually emerges here. But there is so much and nothing seems to be emerging with any clarity, yet I feel like I must get it out. So, please excuse the rambling and the mess that I'm sure is to follow.
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Perhaps someday I will learn to not consult Dr. Google. Perhaps, but not likely. In a frantic search to try to make myself feel somewhat better (that perhaps I did not cause our IF with the pill...because PCOS and insulin resistance can be caused by the pill, and 12 years of it is surely enough to cause some problems, right?) But I figured, surely the pill can't block fallopian tubes, right? And if my fallopian tubes have been blocked this whole time, then my chances of having aborted tiny, newly conceived babies over the past 12 years are probably a whole let less then too, right? Well, I'm glad to say that it does not appear the pill causes blocked tubes but what does cause blocked tubes? PID, STDs, and endometreosis.

Lovely.

Seriously, why do I do this to myself?

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The weight of the HHS controversy feels heavier than ever. I think because it is bringing out the worst on both sides of it all. And I hate the misconceptions about what I believe and what the Catholic Church teaches that are out there. It really is sad. Especially sitting on the experiences that The Man and I have had and being treated like I'm stupid because I don't agree with contraception. No one has said anything directly, it's just that the information that is out there equates to "if you oppose contraception, you must be stupid, brainwashed, and stuck in the 1950's" and, honestly the only word to describe how I feel about that is "heartbroken."

During mass today, I just kept asking why? Why must we be facing this? Why won't God just step in and "fix" it all? And then I remind myself that that is not how God works. He gave us free will. And yet, the burden still feels so heavy. Lord, have mercy.
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Wednesday I see Dr. S. for my follow-up. I've got my list of questions, and The Man and I are going to use the time in the car to decide where our limit is - just how far we will go. As I write those words, I feel the pressure I'm putting on myself because I'm equating "how far we will go" with "how badly do I want children" and there is a part of me that knows that's not how this works, yet it feels like it does. Like if I'm not willing to do x, y, or z I must not really want to be a mom.

Oh yea, and it will probably be the last time I see Dr. S. because of his retirement. So how to proceed is also a huge decision we have to make. Especially if follicular studies are in our future...3 and 1/2 hours for a daily ultrasounds is really unrealistic for us (enter little voice that says if you really wanted to be a mom...).
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Of course there is the new roller coaster ride. The "I"s on the chart corresponding with white baby days and the hope and the fear and all of it. That cycle "off" was kinda nice, but it seems to have made this month all that much more stressful. There is just something wrong about sobbing in the bathroom after making love to your husband...sobbing tears full of fear that there may never be a day that he gets to hear the words "I love you Daddy." 
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I find myself feeling torn between the life I have and the life I want all over again (it never really goes away, sometimes it just gets put on the back burner). I love my job; I'm considering beginning a Master's Degree program. And yet, there is the wonder "how will I possibly work full time, go to grad school, and be a mom" and the fear that I'm being selfish by considering grad school. And the fear that maybe I'm just considering it so that I have a plan "b" something to keep my busy if motherhood is not in my future. Some days, some moments, this is the hardest part, balancing on the thin line between gratitude for what I have and planning for what I want, and frankly, for preparing myself for what happens if I don't get what I want.

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I'm clinging these days. To the promise that all things are possible with God and that for everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. Clinging that it is possible we will emerge from this season, that there is a purpose for our IF, and that He will be glorified because of it. I continue to pray for a baby, but I pray even stronger for the grace to continue this journey. It is truly by grace alone that I keep moving forward and if it is the only prayer He answers, I will be grateful for it.

2.09.2012

Thankful Thursday


This week, I am focusing on things about The Man that I am thankful for...

  • patience
  • gentleness
  • willingness to let the dogs out in the cold, the rain, the snow (pretty much anything other than 75 and sunny)
  • love of our nieces
  • his Faith
There is so much more, but these are the ones on my heart today.

What are you thankful for this week? Add your post or leave your intentions in the comments.

2.07.2012

For Tonight, 2/7/12

For Today Tonight, February 7, 2012...A glimpse into my day, just an ordinary day.


Outside my window...unseasonably warm weather. I am not complaining, but I wouldn't mind some actual winter weather this season.


I am thinking...that it's three weeks post surgery and I just used my first white baby sticker for the cycle. No pressure.


I am thankful for...an awesome 3 days of travel for work.


From the kitchen...it's 10pm, so not much. But there is one vanilla salt caramel left...


I am wearing...my new, comfy, awesome, WVU sweats.


I am creating...a continuing, very long awaited Flat Stanley project. It's been done twice, mailed once (without enough postage, so it came back), and yet it's still here and I'm tweaking it again. He just went on another adventure with me and is going on one more tomorrow! Who knew WV was so fun? (That's a trick question!)


I am going...to Shepherdstown tomorrow.


I am reading...The Traitor's Wife and Witness to Hope.


I am hearing...the TV catching me up on my shows I DVR'd while traveling.


Around the house...neatness. The Man always straightens up my messes when I travel.


One of my favorite things...


A few plans for the rest of the week...travel to Shepherdstown to give a Theology of the Body presentation to the college students at Shepherd University; teach class; go to the office; and mail Flat Stanley...not matter what other fun things I might come up for us to do.


Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

Picture links to where it was borrowed from ;).




2.02.2012

Thankful Thursday


This week, I am thankful for...

  • My cleaning people. Seriously, coming home to a clean house is the best!
  • Daily mass. I know I mention this one a lot, but it really is one of my favorite "perks" of my job.
  • Warmer weather again this week. (Though I'm a little worried that winter is going to strike in a fierce way - oh well, I'll enjoy it while it lasts and then I'll enjoy the snow when it comes.)
  • Vanilla Salt Caramel Chocolates. Yea, they're as good as they sound.
What are you thankful for this week?

 

2.01.2012

Heavy Burden

With all of the talk about Contraception going on in the news, I have felt such a heavy burden on my heart. Now, this could also be due to the fact that it is CD3 and I'm not loving this 1st post-surgery AF at all, but I think it's more than that, especially since there was no chance of anything but AF this month. But it's all about full-disclosure, here, right? ;)

Anyway, this burden is twofold. One piece is that I know so so well how those who think we are just "crazy Catholics" are thinking. Just a few short years ago, I was one of them. I know how much prayer and research and opening of my heart and mind that it took me to understand. And as I sit here watching CNN, I can feel my chest tightening from the fear of what might be coming. I want to have the perfect words and the perfect answer and the perfect examples and just make everyone see and understand. And I feel the weight of this cross of standing up for what I believe and speaking it with love and living it well.

And then there is this fear and guilt. This fear and guilt that has been underlying every day since I tossed the birth control pills in the trash. Did I do this to myself? Did I bring this IF into our lives? I know that God doesn't sit in heaven handing out punishments, and I'm truly grateful. I also know that there are consequences for our actions. The state of our marriage pre and post NFP are proof of that. Inherent evil = bad things, even if you don't know it's evil. Are the scars on my abdomen and the tears on my cheeks the consequences of 12 years of birth control? I'm so angry at all I didn't know. And more, I'm so angry that I didn't look for answers myself. That I believed what I was hearing and what I wanted to believe. And I'm so ashamed of all the times I defended it all.

And when I combine these two, this burden of the Truth and the fear and guilt, I get anger and the desire to run away. Ireland is a nice Catholic country, right? And someone mentioned Malta on FB the other day. But I know this is not the solution. And as I'm so close to the edge on any given day that to step into the fight openly and face those I know IRL who feel differently brings that flight instinct to a whole new level.

I am struggling to sort through this all. On a bigger-than-me level, I'm scared of what is to come and trying to have hope and confidence that Truth will win out. Personally, it's much the same. I'm scared of what is to come and I'm trying to have hope and confidence in God's will.