Thursday, April 16, 2015

Being on the Other Side of the Desk: Practitioner Diary (Vol. 3)

As a practitioner I walk with my clients through them learning CrMS and support them in whatever way I can. Most often my clients are learning CrMS to see a NaPro Dr. for fertility issues. Often times they are dealing with infertility,  miscarriages or crazy cycles. Being on the other side of the desk as the practitioner is much different than being the one learning. I remember our first few appointments with our practitioner and how lost we felt from not knowing why we could not get pregnant and why I was in so much pain. I remember wanting to shed so many tears and holding back so our practitioner didn't think I was nuts. I remember trying to understand my cycle and learn how to chart correctly all while trying to fix what was wrong. I remember how sad we were in having to switch our intention to postponing a pregnancy after Cecilia because I was at such high risk for another miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. I remember the feeling of spiraling down emotionally and physically and feeling like there was no one I could really talk to about it besides JJ. I remember it all.

Going through our own fertility issues is one thing but now I walk with my clients through their's. It really is surreal sometimes when a client is pouring their heart out about how difficult it all is. I can truly say, I know. I know the pain well. I know the feeling of your world falling apart and realizing you have no control of circumstances, just how you react to them. I remember that battle between jealousy and trying to be a good friend. Oh I remember it well because I still go through it from time to time. It has been an interesting transition though as I have moved toward peace and am crawling toward acceptance that I need to remember to have compassion for those just starting the journey or starting their NaPro journey after years of infertility. To be on the other side of the table teaching them correctly and sensing if this is all getting to be too much for them is a delicate balance.

Most recently one client took a whole cycle off of charting even though she is trying to get her hormone profile blood draws done. If you are a new user and are looking for NaPro treatment it is NOT a good idea to stop charting for an entire cycle. It slows down the process of your treatment. Well instead of lecturing her and questioning why she stopped charting I just said something like "oh ok we will just go over what we can then." After that she opened up and told me how hard this has all been on her: the charting, the Drs. appts., the diet changes, etc. So we talked about that for the first 1/2 hour or so of the appt. It was good to share my experience with her and assure her that she needs to do what is best for her sanity. I also learned that she was not doing as bad as she thought and she was being too hard on herself. I can't help but think that if I had gone the traditional practitioner route I would have missed an opportunity with her. I am pretty sure she left the appt. feeling less alone and encouraged to keep going. She even told me to write a book!

Another scenario was that I got an email from a client saying they wanted to discontinue follow ups and NaPro treatment. I was shocked when I got the email because they have been so good about charting and using the system. They were really wanting answers for their infertility when they started this journey. I had spoken with her over the phone about her upcoming surgery and answered all her questions to the best of my ability. So when I got the email I let her know I thought that she should look for answers to the pain she was experiencing. that was all of about two sentences and then the rest of the email was letting her know that I am walking with her through this. I let her know I respect her decision and that her marriage is valid whether they pursue treatment or not. I let her know she needed to do what her and her husband felt was best for their family.

I am not trying to say I am the best because I am not. I am just a toddler in the practitioner world. I just want to give an insight on what it is like to walk with these couples. I know there are some practitioners who are more stick to the script kind of people but I just can't, NOT when I know the pain they are going through. I don't just teach CrMS, I live it too. This is more than just a job for me, it is my way to give of myself and nurture women and couples. I hope my clients know I don't take their trust for granted. I hope they know I don't brush off their struggle, however they may be using the system. I hope my couples who are trying to space out their children know I care about their well being too. It is not my place to tell them how they should be using the system. That decision lies between God, them and hopefully their confessor/spiritual director.

As I sit behind the desk correcting charting, teaching about double peak, reviewing bio-markers and asking about SPICE in their marriage I am continually humbled. I learn so much from my clients and their life experiences. I get to see the good in people's marriages or future marriages if they are engaged. I also see the difficult things that come up between couples. I see when they don't talk about those difficult conversations about charting and how to use the system or if they do not agree. I accept those clients who are only coming as a marriage prep. requirement and the ones for whatever reason decide to discontinue using CrMS. I don't know everything and how to help everyone because I am not an expert. I only encourage and challenge them where I can and leave the rest to God. I have learned that I need to leave each and every client at the foot of The Cross where my expertise fails and His prevails. That is where Christ's Love will make us all whole.          

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Wading Through the Chaos

So it has been more than a month since I have posted! So much has happened in our lives and yet it all seems very ordinary. I guess that's life right? 

We celebrated Christmas with our family at our old place. We got this awesome gluten free care package from my SIL in Arkansas. We have enjoyed it so much, especially the brownies :) 

And we had one last roaring fire at the old place too! 

We went to our friend's wedding the 1st weekend in January and had our annual Epiphany party that Sunday as well. We got to bring up the offeratory gifts at the wedding which was a nice surprise and we were honored to do so! 

 We have moved to our new place that we nicknamed "the tiny" because it is a one bedroom apartment that is less than half the size of the house we were living in before. It's cozy and perfect for the two of us and we can still have a child here for at least a year or two so its not that bad. Living in an apartment again is strange after living in a house. It is actually pretty quiet for the most part and feels like a hobbit hole to us. I am unpacking a little everyday and am almost done! We got rid of a lot of stuff and it felt so good to shed what we were not using. For having to find a place quickly and move it has been a nice and peaceful transition for us. We are still within walking distance from our parish/my work as it is a little over a mile away. So it's nice that we can still walk/run in the same neighborhood.

I have to say God has been so good to us and taking care of us through this transition as well as dealing with my LUFS diagnosis. I can't explain it but it all doesn't seem so bleak anymore. I think my initial reaction to bad news is to look at things in a melancholic way and then I process it slowly. We are hopeful at this point about what lies ahead even if that means me having to do trigger shots, ouch! We have to do some blood work in February that we were suppose to do in January but we decided to hold off due to the move. Something that has been a positive is knowing that AF will come and I don't have to guess or agonize over whether I am pregnant or not because I know I am not. It sounds weird but it has given me peace. JJ and I need to talk about it more but I think our plan so far is to do the trigger shots for 4-6 months and work on saving for adoption and kick starting some fundraisers as well. It can sound crazy to do both at the same time but we are hopeful in pursuing both avenues right now. I say why not, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain right?! 

Oh and we also had the flu during all of this. Jack said it was very fitting that we both had it at the same time and it was on the anniversary of losing Cecilia. My mom came and took care of us by making us food, washing dishes and doing some laundry for us. Gotta love my mama! I had a fever of 102, full on body aches and chills. We were in bed for about 2-3 days straight. Stay healthy friends this flu is no joke! It feels so good to feel well again!

Even though we have been topsy turvy lately I really feel like we are handling it well with God's grace. I have been asking God to give me a more grateful heart so that I may see the good I have in my life. The tension of infertility is striving for the life you desire while living the life you have. I hope to write more substantial posts soon and announce some exciting things regarding work. Stay tuned, hopefully it won't be another month before I post again!    


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Let's Add Another Log to the Fire: LUFS

So they say that things always come in threes. First off I want to know who "they" are and why did they start these awful sayings and misconceptions. At this point now I feel that I must concede as we have gotten more bad news in less than a month's time period. So before Thanksgiving we got the mthfr genetic mutation diagnosis, then the 1st Sunday of Advent we were told we needed to move by the end of January and now I have been diagnosed with LUFS.

What is LUFS? It is lutenized unrupptured follicle syndrome which means my follicle is maturing but it is not releasing the egg so ovulation is not taking place. When the follicle is not rupturing it can just keep getting bigger and become a cyst or shrink back slowly. There is not much treatment for it and the treatments out there are 50/50 that it will be successful in having the patient ovulate. It is a chronic condition in my case based on my charting and symptoms. LUFS can only be detected by doing an u/s series, which we just finished Saturday. I knew before the Dr. said anything just by looking at her face as she was looking at the u/s. She said "It's still there. The follicle didn't rupture, it grew in size and there is debris inside of it." My heart sank as she said those words and as a practitioner I know the odds of pregnancy with LUFS and they aren't good. LUFS is difficult to treat and there isn't much research out there about it. It can be dangerous if the cyst grows so large that it makes the ovary flip over, cutting off blood supply to the ovary and can result in loss of the ovary. This is rare and the symptoms are severe pain so it would be obvious when it was happening and emergency surgery could save the ovary.

 I had mentally prepared myself for the diagnosis the night before the last u/s because the u/s that day was looking like LUFS and she just wanted to confirm it with another u/s the next day. I had a panic attack on Friday night and just sobbed uncontrollably which hasn't happened since we lost Cecilia. I thought to myself "I am always going to be infertile" which sent me into a downward spiral. JJ just held me and as I told him how sorry I am for him he said "I'd rather be with you and not have any biological kids than be with someone else and have biological children. I want to be with you." What a guy! I really am blessed to have him with me on this journey. 

So the next steps from here are to do some blood work to make sure it's not due to low estradiol, if that's the case there would be two medications I would have to take to try and help the follicle to rupture. If my hormones are fine then I would just do the one medication which is an HCG trigger shot on a particular day in my cycle. Either way it looks like I will be administering injections on myself soon if we decide to treat this. Yay needles! Which brings me to the point of saying....

I guess we are TTC again with medical treatment. After some conversation JJ and I came to the conclusion that this is all we can do right now to grow our family. Since we have no idea where we will be living next month we are not going to go to the foster care training we signed up for. We haven't found a place and we are open to renting a studio or one bedroom  and if that's the case then we can't do foster care. We can't start the process of adoption because of money and the living situation is up in the air so the only thing we can do is medical treatment. We may live with family for a few months and then rent a condo from some friends who will be moving to another country in June or July for a year if we don't find a place soon. We are open to whatever God wants for us but we have no idea what that is at this time. We believe in the power of prayer and know that miracles are possible so we are just praying for healing now. We pray with all of our being that God may heal my body from this.

Domine, exaudi orationem meum. Et clamor meus ad te veniat. 
O Lord, hear my prayer. And let my cry come unto thee. 

I did want to leave this post with some blessings we have encountered through this because it's so easy to not see them. I don't want to miss out on blessings even during times of trial and suffering so here they are: 

1. JJ and I got to see a couple friends while down in San Diego for the ultrasounds. We got to see our friend who moved there 4 months ago and have brunch with her. Then we got to visit our priest friend who is down there and he gave us this beautiful Shining Light OL of Guadalupe doll :) 

2. We celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary there by visiting a beautiful CA mission! We lit a candle there for our intentions and explored the grounds for free. We had an u/s that day but we got to switch our appt. for a better time with another practioner and fellow NaPro Dr. patient because she was kind enough to offer when she heard it was our anniversary that day. When we got to the Dr.'s office that morning the staff wished us a happy anniversary :) 

3. We got to have chick-fil-a twice during this week while traveling :)