Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Some Good News!

 I went to see my naturopath this week and the inflammation in my body is down and my hypoglycemia is getting under control! Woohoo! Thanks to the cohort of supplements and herbs I take on a daily basis plus my hardcore nutrition plan. The nutrition plan includes no sugar, corn, peas, white rice, potatoes,  milk dairy products accept butter and eggs, or gluten(which I have been gluten-free for awhile now). Basically I am eating real whole foods mainly veggies, nuts,  and protein; even my fruit intake has been limited to green apples and berries.      
When I went to the naturopath a couple of months ago I really was not doing well at all and my primary Dr. would not refer me to a specialist of any kind. I almost did not make it through EPII, the second phase of my Creighton training. My supervisor was almost going to send me to the emergency room. There was only so much my NaPro Dr. could do because she is not a pcp. My friend had told me about this naturopath that she went to and really helped her out. My husband and I were at the point where we were willing to do almost anything. So we decided to take some time off from cycle plans and TTC so that we could focus on getting me healthy again. 
The first appointment with the naturaopath was not to my liking because even though I was eating healthy there was a lot of things she took away from me, like potatoes. She wanted to address the hypoglycemia head on which meant no sugar even agave or honey. I have to admit I was not wanting to go to the second appointment because I did not feel like I was doing a good job and that I was still sick. She gently pointed out to me that she thought I was being too hard on myself. She reminded me that my body has gone through major transitions in the course of a year from surgery to pregnancy to miscarriage and that it was going to take time to get back to normal. She said that she was really pleased with my progress and that getting hypoglycemia under control was not an easy task on top of having PCOS, especially since prior to the miscarriage I had never had hypoglycemia.
I realized that I have been too hard on myself and I had been secretly blaming myself for the miscarriage. My husband also allowed me to see that it was big deal that my hypoglycemic reactions were not as frequent and that I did not have to take any pain medication for my cramps this cycle. After that discussion and during my prayer time I knew that I needed to start celebrating the little victories. Then I looked up at my wall and saw this and I knew God was telling me to rejoice!     

So here I am rejoicing in God and the grace He is giving me to do this! There is coconut milk chocolate ice cream in the freezer that I would really like to rejoice with right now but it is God's grace that is keeping me from devouring it. There will be a time to have that ice cream and rejoice in that way, for now I will rejoice in homemade applesauce and almonds :)     

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dream a Little Dream

There have been a couple of times in my life where I have had dreams of my future children and most of the time when I woke up I payed no attention to them afterwards. Since the miscarriage I have had three dreams where we had a child. The first dream was about a month or so after the miscarriage and the baby was a girl who was about a year old. I got to hold her and I remember saying in my dream "mommy loves you." When I woke up from that dream I wept and wanted to go back to sleep to that dream to continue holding my baby girl. I did not like having that dream because I knew that it was just a dream and the reality was that there was not a baby in the next room. I know this is probably sad to read but hey I never promised a happy all the time blog. Infertility and miscarriage is a tough topic that is often sad or frustrating.

The second dream was a couple of months ago. Again the child was a little girl about 2yrs. old and we were getting ready to go to Mass. We had a tough time getting her dressed and we were going to be late to Mass. We rushed out of the house and when we got to church she wanted to be carried because she was sleepy, so my husband carried her up the stairs of the church and then she wanted me to hold her. As we were walking in the church, not late btw, everyone was looking at us like they did not know we had a kid. Which made me think that this child was probably adopted and it was our first time taking her to Mass. This dream I did not mind so much, anything is better than nothing I guess.   

The third dream happened this weekend. This time I knew for sure the children were adopted because it looked like we were at an orphanage. This time there were two children, one was a boy about 2-3yrs. old and a baby boy. We were in the process of adopting the older boy and wanting to adopt the baby as well.  The older boy hugged my husband and called him daddy as I was holding the baby boy. When I woke up from this dream I was so serious and my husband asked if I was ok. I told him about the dream and he hugged me and said ok let's do it, let's adopt. I was very focused and contemplative when I woke up from this dream but I also felt a sense of urgency, like our child was out there and I needed to find them. Then when we were more conscious and not so groggy we talked about it more in depth.

Before the miscarriage, well before we found out we were pregnant we started to look more into adoption. I had contacted a couple of agencies and we were going to get more info. and go to an informational meeting. After the miscarriage we put everything on hold for obvious reasons but also because my body was not bouncing back to normal at all. Since then we have not looked into it further, though I have not forgotten about the desire to adopt. When I think about adoption my heart fills with joy, I don't know how to explain it. I always have to examine my motives because I don't want to adopt just to fill this selfish need of mine for children. If and when we adopt I want us to do it for the child's best interest.

So after a lengthy conversation my husband and I decided to pick up where we left off. We are going to look into more information about adoption and just get to know the process a bit more. We gave ourselves a time limit so that we don't just stay in a state of doing nothing. At this point from the little we know about the adoption process we know that it is expensive. We are not rich but we try to be as thrifty as possible. I am hoping this latest dream is also a motivation for us to save more because I know we could be saving a lot more of our income. We do not have any debt so we could be saving more than we currently are. Any suggestions on adoption agencies? Any tips about the adoption process? Helpful ways to save money? 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Princess and the Pea

The past six months I have allowed myself to go into that place of self-pity, you know at the bottom of the pit where we all feel like we are at our lowest point and are asking "why me God?" I started to tell God all of my good deeds and say that I did not deserve to suffer like this. I also demanded that God fix my body pronto(yes I demand things from God, don't worry we are cool like that). I was tired of having fertility issues and being sick all the time and missing out on going out w/ my husband or missing events with friends because I was sick. My biggest question to God was "why am I so weak!? Why can't I be strong like you Jesus?"

As I was communicating these frustrations to my husband on one of our many long drives home from the Dr.'s office he asked me if I had ever heard of the story The Princess and the Pea. I looked at him like he was crazy and said "no, never heard of that story." If you don't know the story I highly recommend looking it up. He then told me the story of a prince searching for his princess but she needed to be a real princess. Long story short he tested his princess by putting a pea under 20 mattresses and 20 blankets that she slept on. The next morning when she said she had a bad nights sleep because there was something hard in the bed the prince knew that she was a real princess because she was so sensitive and delicate. After the story my husband said to me "see, don't you get it, you are a real princess. Your sensitivity is what makes you a real princess." Then I started to see that the things that I saw as a weakness in myself like my physical and emotional sensitivities were actually just how God made me to be. Instead of trying to be so strong and failing miserably at it I needed to use my weaknesses.     

So I took this new found perspective to prayer and I felt like God whispered, "Don't waste your weakness!" These are the words that have been echoing in my mind the last few months. I do not want to waste a minute of my life whether I am weak or strong. I do not want to waste my weakness on self-pity. Instead I will milk my weakness for all its worth, by lifting it up to God to be purified or just simply endured. Whether your weakness is an illness, a trial,  or a character defect God wants to use it for His glory. You can offer up your weakness as a humble sacrifice for others or for your own sanctification. Beware if your weakness is something that you can control like a bad habit don't be surprised to be challenged to change it.

I have realized that my delicate and sensitive nature is a reason God called me to become a FertilityCare practitioner. I am able to be compassionate toward my clients whatever their situation, whether they are there because they are required or voluntarily, whether they are trying to achieve or postpone a pregnancy, or whether they are there because of infertility/subfertility or are going through a miscarriage. So next time I start to wallow in self-pity I pray that I am reminded not to waste my weakness!     

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Seventh Station

This week would have been the due date for our little one who we lost to miscarriage back in January. I had been preparing myself since the beginning of the month to get through the day of the baby's ETA. I kept telling myself that it is probably going to be a hard day and that it is ok if it is tough, God will get me through it. I warned my husband that I might be more sensitive that day. I did not schedule follow-ups with any clients on that day so that I was free to grieve in my own way. The day turned out to be not as difficult as I thought. During my prayer time God gave me an overwhelming sense of peace and thankfulness. I am so thankful for that little life that was created and that I got to be pregnant even for a short amount of time. I know many of my sisters dealing w/ infertility may never experience that.

It was quite amazing how we found out we were pregnant. I was at Peak+17 and still no CD1(cycle day 1), so I decided to take a test. I am no fan of pregnancy tests, I will wait until I absolutely have to before I take one. My husband called me from work and asked if I had taken one yet and I said no that I was going to wait until he got home. Well he was running late and I could not wait so I drank a very large glass of water and took the test. The test came out negative and my heart sank like it usually does around CD1. My husband got home and asked if I took it, I said yeah and that it was negative. He asked me how I was doing and I said "surprisingly I am doing ok, I know we will be parents someday just not now I guess." He hugged me and said we should call Dr. Awesome to ask what is going on and if we needed to go see her. We left it at that but I was curious of when the best time to take a pg test was so I looked it up online. Turns out I took the test at the wrong time, the best time to take a test is right in the morning upon waking.

So the next day which was the feast of the Epiphany Jan 6th, which also happened to be our 6 year anniversary of being together and our 5 year anniversary of engagement, I decided to take another test to confirm that it was negative before I called the Dr. Well that time the test read positive and I squinted just to make sure my eyes were not playing tricks on me. Then I thought it was wrong so I took another one a couple hours later and it was positive again. My head was spinning and I was thinking "wait a minute, this doesn't happen to me i don't get pregnant. Do I?" I called the Dr. and she immediately orders blood tests because I was a high risk pregnancy. I talked to  my husband at work but I did not tell him over the phone, so I said I had an Epiphany/anniversary present for him. I made him a card w/ his favorite St. Joseph prayer in it. When he got home he read the card and could not believe what I was telling him. We hugged and rejoiced, then I told him we had to hurry to the lab to do the blood draws.

A couple of weeks later we were met with sorrow as I started to miscarry in the early hours of the morning. I will not go into detail about that day or those weeks that followed. All I can say is that season of Lent that came shortly after, I really experienced it and united myself to Jesus and let him and my husband be my comfort. Here is some reflection and writing I had done during that time:  

     "The death of a child no matter how early in their life, whether in the womb or out, is a tragedy. As the thoughts of “it could be worse” and “count your blessings” clashes with the authentic emotions that I am trying to feel I am left confused for what to feel and think. The unauthentic thoughts of “count your blessings” and the other phrases of that nature when we are going through tragedy do not and cannot bring us closer to the sufferings of Christ. If we do not work with the very nature of intellect, will and emotion that we were given then we will never truly know the love of God in all its glory. Emotions are a tricky part of our nature to navigate; we must fight with our intellect a lot to scratch the surface of our emotions. I am doing that very thing as I write this. Anyhow enough intellect for now. I told my husband the other day that I feel so empty. I do not feel empty like there is no meaning in life for me. I physically feel empty, though I was only 5 ½ weeks pregnant and even though the baby was the size of a sesame seed, I felt so full for that short time I was pregnant.  
     There is usually a period of time in our lives where we go through a period of awkwardness when we feel we are not good enough or less than. This usually occurs as we go through puberty. For someone struggling with infertility, the less than feeling never quite goes away. There are always those days, despite your rational reasoning, that you feel not good enough. It is a woundedness that hits us deeper than anything because it hits us at the core of our masculinity and femininity; the ability to produce life. God said “be fruitful and multiply” well we’ve been trying that for 4 years! Every time I hear bible passages like that or people talk about having their “quivers full” I feel embarrassed or like a reject because that is not our situation. 
     It is times like these when I feel less than feminine. God created women to carry and bear life. Infertility sometimes makes a woman feel less feminine and more like a hybrid species. Losing our baby to miscarriage has only made this feeling worse. Sometimes I blame myself and my body because for so long I could not get pregnant and when I finally did I failed to nurture and grow the life within me. I also feel like I am not a good enough wife because of it like I get an “A” in cooking class of wife school but I get an “F” in fertility class. Rationally I know this does not make logical sense but it is how I feel sometimes. I will say that God has drawn me so much closer to himself in all this. I feel like I am tucked under His arm and that the taunts of the enemy no matter how loud they are, He manages to fight them off for me. My heart continually emanates the phrase “O, Lord you are my rock and salvation. In you I seek shelter, in you I find comfort.” I love that our Trinitarian God is so powerful to dispel the darkness of “less than” and allow us to be His."

That Lent I did a couple of stations a day from the Stations of the Cross. The station that always stuck with me was the seventh station, Jesus falls the second time. The reflection in my missal says:
     " I am afflicted and greatly humbled, I roared with the groaning of my heart. My heart is troubled, My strength hath left me, and the light of my eyes itself is not with me. Thy burning wrath has swept over me, thy terrors have confounded me. They have encompassed me like water all day long, closing around on every side. Thou has put far from me friend and neighbor, leaving darkness as my companion. In thee, O Lord! I have hoped, thou wilt hear me, O Lord my God! For I am on the verge of ruin, and my sorrow is continually before me. Forsake me not, O Lord my God, do not thou depart from me. Attend unto my help, O Lord, the God of my salvation." 

This scripture and station helped me to get through those dark days following the miscarriage. Uniting myself to Christ and His sufferings helped me to put it all in perspective and allow me to draw closer to Him. I am so thankful that Christ does not leave us alone in our suffering and that our suffering has a purpose as it sanctifies our souls. There is a church in New York called Holy Innocents and they have a wonderful organization there where they help heal and bring closure to those women who have gone through a miscarriage. They will email a certificate w/ your baby's name on it and write your child's name in their book of life and lift them up at their special Mass once a month. We miscarried so early that we did not have a funeral Mass or burial so this brought peace to my restless heart during that time. Every time I see that framed certificate I thank God for the life I got to carry.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Birthdays and Blessings

This past week was my husband's 30th birthday! I asked him if he wanted to have a big party to celebrate the festivities and he said no. So instead we went out to dinner on his birthday with some family which was a lot less stressful than a big party. My husband is very low key and I was not that surprised that he did not want to make a big deal out of it. However, I still had to do something so I made him a Happy Birthday banner and some chocolate covered strawberries. I also found him a neat  card made by my friend who has her own card/invitation making business.

I am so thankful to be sharing my life's journey with such a wonderful man and I am so thankful for his life. Sometimes I really can't believe that I am so blessed to be his wife. No matter how tough things have gotten for us and how many times I have been irrational he is there being his patient self. I have learned so much from him about God and unconditional love. There have been times where I have apologized to him because he got a "broken" wife and I have not been able to give him children. He lovingly reminds me that he would not want to be married to any one else and that God is the ultimate giver of life. Going through infertility is hard enough so it is a humbling comfort to know that God would see fit to bless me with such a holy man. I could go on and on about my husband but I will spare you the details.

Sunday we had a table at our Parish's ministry fair. We met some nice people and talked about Creighton and Natural Family Planning. We had fun but were ready to relax and watch some football when we got home that afternoon.

It is always awkward when we go to church functions to promote NFP, I feel like people are expecting us to have x amount of kids. Our parish is a conservative pro-life parish and is very family oriented. There are at least 4-5 fifteen passenger vans in the parking lot for the time we go to Mass and there are a  lot of big families that attend other Masses. We actually don't park in the parking lot anymore, not because of the vans, but now that I think about it, it could be a subconscious thing. We have been there for a few years now, so it is getting better. 

I wish that those couples with children would invite us to dinner or something instead of just awkwardly saying hi or starring at us. I wish that they would remember that they were once w/out children during some part of their marriage whether it was for 9months or years. If they invited us into their family life they could probably get us to babysit for free sometimes and that is a win win situation all around. These are times where I would like to live in a small town where everyone knows each other and everyone brings a potluck dish to Sunday dinner...ok back to the big city reality of smog, traffic and getting ignored when you say hi to someone on the street.

When we first got there and wanted to do NFP ministry I think people thought it was odd that a couple w/out children wanted to teach NFP. It was awkward for us as well, we thought we would have a child by now! It is interesting how God calls the unlikely people to do the unlikely. There are times where I can just feel people pitying us because we are "that couple, you know the infertile one." I really hope instead of just feeling sorry for us, they pray for us. We could use all the prayers we could get to carry out God's will in our marriage.

Sometimes I think that people who do not know us or know our situation are judging us thinking that we use contraception or are using NFP to avoid a pregnancy for the wrong reasons. People thinking that we contracept stings more than the other scenario because the very thought of contraception in our marriage makes my stomach churn. It also hurts my pride because we know, love, and preach church teaching. I guess being falsely judged by others comes with the territory of being a disciple of Christ. The blessed Mother was judged falsely because she was with child before she was married. I am sure she did not scream from the rooftops "People, you have it all wrong!This child is from God and was conceived by the Holy Ghost!" Her humility is so beautiful, I pray that I can have an ounce of her grace and acceptance of God's will!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Doctor

I interrupt this blogging story to tell you about our Labor Day weekend. Friday night we went to a hip hop fundraiser concert in which two of my husband's favorite artists performed, Manchild and Playdough. We had a great time and two of our friends Paul J. Kim and Casestudy also performed. Saturday we did housework, which sounds boring but it was so nice to do it together, we also got to sneak in watching some episodes of The Waltons. Sunday we went to Mass earlier than usual and went to a Dodger game with some friends, the Dodgers won in an exciting 9th inning. I am not a Dodger fan but it was fun to go and be with friends. I would have posted pictures if I took any, I am not very good at taking pictures at events. Monday I studied with my practitioner intern partner in crime for a few hours. We got an unexpected guest during dinner which was a very pleasant surprise! Then we went to a friends house for game night and did not end up playing any games because by the time everyone stopped socializing to play games, we had to go because of our early bed time for work the next day.

Ok, back to the story...  

As we prepared to meet with this new Dr. we anticipated having to fight for them to listen to us as we had done with the other Drs. we had seen. On the other hand we were very hopeful because we knew that this Dr. was at least Catholic and would respect our beliefs regarding A.R.T and artificial hormones. We were willing to pay the out of pocket expense and drive the 1.5 hrs-2hrs. just to see if we could start getting some answers. I have to admit I was a bit pessimistic going into the appointment thinking that this was just going to be the same routine of disappointment of no answers or the answers were going to be grim, I am a melancholic and we tend to imagine the worst case scenario.

As we were driving into the town we noticed that the town was small and passed a homemade, or as my husband likes to say ghetto Ron Paul for president sign nailed to a tree. We were thinking, where the heck are we? We finally get to the Dr.'s office and are met by a smiley receptionist. She hands us the paperwork to fill out and some of our fears are calmed by the Dr.'s mission statement, which is totally Catholic. As we waited for the Dr. in the exam room I was expecting a woman around 40-50 yrs. old. I was surprised as a pregnant woman that looked like she was our age came into the room. I was taken aback by the fact that she was so young and around 8 months pregnant! When I first saw her I thought "Sure, rub it in we are not pregnant and may never be"(there is that pessimism again).

We were surprised at how well we connected with the Dr. She was attentive, answered all our questions and looked at our sympto-thermal charts. She was also very cool and humble and did not give off that prideful, I went to medical school and you didn't vibe that we get from other Drs. She advised us to start taking Creighton classes because we were already coming in with infertility issues and she needed a clearer picture of what was going on. She explained her infertility work-up process and she said to come back after we had 2 months of good charting. After that appointment we felt comfortable with her and decided to try and get her covered under our insurance. It took us awhile to get our insurance to cover our treatments with her, I will not go into those details here but if you would like to know how we did it you can email me.

We have been working with this Dr. for a little over two years now. In those two years we have discovered that I have PCOS or PCOD (polycysctic ovarian syndrome/disease), my thyroid is a bit off and I had pelvic adhesions that were causing me so much pain. I had also been suffering from severe PMS from the lack of progesterone that my body was not making. I have to say that I have the most supportive and patient husband who has loved me through this all. There would be times where I would be having a very bad PMS episode and he would pray for me and just hold me. What this Dr. diagnosed was a very different picture than that of "fine" my previous Drs. had painted!

I am so thankful that we have at least gotten some answers after not having any for so long. During the hormone profile, I told my husband that if everything comes back normal I should go into intense therapy because that would mean I really am crazy.  After I had done my hormone profile and we sat down with Dr. Awesome she showed me that I probably have PCOS(boo) and that my progesterone level post peak was way low, like not even on the chart. Science lesson for today: before ovulation a woman's estrogen should be higher than her progesterone, after ovulation a woman's progesterone should be higher than her estrogen. Well in my case my estrogen was always high which makes for crazy cycles and a not so happy woman not to mention not a good place for a baby to make a home.

I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. You mean I am not crazy?! There really is something wrong?! After that appointment we went on cycle plans to try and conceive that included post peak bioidentical progesterone. Yay for progesterone!