Monday, January 28, 2013

Ode to JJ

As JJ was leaving for work at his usual before the sun comes up hour I had a new found appreciation for him. He was kissing me goodbye and asking me to pray for his work day as it was going to be more difficult than usual. He wakes up for work at 4:30am and sometimes 3:30am so it is amazing that I was even awake to see him off. We said are gushy goodbyes and I prayed for him as he was leaving.

After he left I thought about how our children are going to be so blessed to have him as their father! This is coming from a girl who didn't have a relationship with her father and when I did it was rocky at best. JJ reminds me a lot of what I think St. Joseph was like. Honest, just, hard working, contemplative and self sacrificing are traits that JJ possesses. JJ will also hopefully be an adoptive father like St. Joseph was. If I were JJ I would complain about having to wake up so early for work and drive 60 miles round trip daily to go to work but he doesn't. Sometimes he wants to stay home in bed and sleep until the sun rises but he doesn't, he goes to work knowing he is supporting us with the work of his hands. He doesn't like to ask me to rub his feet or back because he doesn't want to bother me, which I tell him he isn't and that I want him to ask me to do stuff for him.

Knowing that our children will have him as an example as they grow up feels my heart with joy. He will one day pick them up when they fall off their bike, dust them off and give them the love and confidence they need to try again until they get it, that is something I never had. Parents are always trying to give their kids the things they never had, it usually means material things but for me I want my children to have JJ. I never had a "JJ" growing up but I am so glad my children will. The best of all thing that my children will get from JJ is they will see what it is to know, love and serve God.

It is interesting that after I wrote this portion of the post I had a dream that some woman was trying to steal JJ away from me. I have these dreams once in awhile and in my dream I go into a ghetto mode of "girl, get away from my man or I will beat your butt!" I admit this is not the most Christian response but hey it's in my dreams I have no control over it! This is all from the fear that I will lose JJ which at its root is the fear of abandonment. When we first got married I feared that I would be left a widow early in our marriage. While this is a normal fear to have it would give me anxiety. Then when facing IF I had a fear that JJ secretly resented me or regretted marrying me. Then the fear progressed that he would leave me for a woman who is "fertile". With each layer of different fears God has been healing this wound. Through all of my crazy fears and doubts JJ is there with his faith in God and readiness to love me.

IF can really test a marriage and drive you apart if you let it. JJ could say that it is too much for him at times and distance himself from me but he doesn't. He could complain that we eat too healthy or that we drive 1.5hrs to see our NaPro Dr. but he doesn't. I am not trying to make it sound like it is so horrible to be married to me, hey I am a fantastic cook and baker! It is just hard to be a Catholic married couple now in days and deal with IF.  

Throughout this IF journey JJ has been by my side. He has been there when my PMS is bad, when we stay home and cancel our plans because my cramps are awful, when I am sad that we are yet again not pregnant, and when people ask if we have any kids he puts his arm around me. He has not left my side or made me feel like a failure once during this whole time. He has shared with me his deepest disappointment and grief when we lost Cecilia. He has led us in prayer and to seek God's will even when I am reluctant to follow. He reminds us to do our family prayer and go to confession regularly. He is a constant reminder to me that God is love and never leaves us. I am in awe of God's blessings that I get to be married to him.

No JJ is not perfect and neither am I, we are in need of God's grace and mercy daily! I am just incredibly thankful for JJ and who he is. If we don't get to have any children here on earth biological or adopted I am still called to live out my vocation by loving JJ. It is so easy to see the negative things in each other when you are married because you are in such close proximity. God can give anyone the grace to have a holy marriage if you are open to it, frequenting the sacraments is always a good idea. I am very thankful for JJ and pray we have many more years to come to live out our vocation!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Practitioner Diary

As a Creighton Model FertilityCare practitioner, you run into interesting situations, especially when people ask me what I do for a living. So I was not that surprised when one of these interesting situations happened recently. You know the ones where you know God was working and put you in the right place at the right time.

The other day I was walking into my blood draw lab for my usual monthly blood work, I noticed a woman who could not have been older than 25 sitting on the curb with her head down. I noticed the band around her arm and figured she just had her blood drawn and was feeling a bit dizzy. I went inside to sign in and felt this need to talk to this woman, a motherly pull to make sure she was okay. Her mom was with her outside to make sure she didn't faint and her husband was inside watching their stuff. They came back inside and took her to the back room so she can lay down.

When her mom came back in the lobby I just had to ask if her daughter needed food or sugar in her system, which I offered. As a recovering hypoglycemic I always carry food in my purse. She said she was doing a fasting blood draw for the next 3 hours so she couldn't eat anything. I asked if she was hypoglycemic and they said that is what the Drs. are testing her for. We started talking about the symptoms of hypoglycemia and during the conversation I asked if she had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Realizing that I may have gotten too personal, I felt embarrassed. Her mom and husband looked at me and said " how did you know?" I explained to them that I have PCOS and hypoglycemia and that they are very common to have together.

I started telling them about my treatment and recovery process, then dratz my name was called! Thank God for my wonderful husband JJ who has gone to every blood draw with me because at that point he took over the conversation with them. I went into the back room so the vampires could take my blood and I identified with the woman laying down. She was laying there in her sickness and probably embarrassed by her weakness. I know I have been embarrassed by mine many times. Trying not to stare I said a prayer for her as they were taking my blood.

I went back into the lobby and jumped back into the conversation. As the conversation progressed the woman came back in the lobby and sat next to her husband, her ears were probably burning because we were talking about her. Her mother told her that I have the same condition that she has. I started to explain my journey and the woman started to cry because she could identify with the struggle I have gone through. I explained that the Drs. I went to thought I was crazy, that my illness was all in my head, and they wanted to put me on anti-anxiety medication and birth control pills. She said she was on an anti-depressant that her Dr. prescribed her and that they were going to put her on the pill to start her cycles. I explained to her why I refused the Drs. protocol. It was because I knew there was something going on and that there had to be a way to fix it or at least make it manageable without just putting a band aid of medication on it. As I was explaining my journey the woman kept nodding her head and saying that's exactly what the Drs. told her.

I told them about my naturopath and my awesome NaPro Dr. They seemed very excited to hear that there can be a better way of managing PCOS. Then I went into my practitioner/science geek mode of explaining PCOS and how to treat it. JJ told them that I could help them by having the woman start to chart her cycles. I gave them my information and Dr. Awesome's card so they can look into more information. I hope and pray that they at least have one appointment with Dr. Awesome, I know they will not regret it.

At different points in the conversation I noticed the woman's manner changed from embarrassment, to sadness to anger then to relief and empowerment. Why, so many different emotions? Well embarrassment and sadness come from being sick and having your hormones out of whack. Anger comes from the fact that all these years you thought the problem was all in your head and it was not! Anger comes from Drs. not giving you the time of day and paying them just to tell you they have no idea how to help you only by giving you a medication that is a class 1 carcinogen and can cause cancer! Relief comes from knowing that you are not alone in this battle and that others have gone through similar situations. Empowerment comes from the knowledge about your fertility and femininity.

With Creighton we say that every woman has a right to know about her fertility and her cycles. She has a right to know what her body is doing and to get medical treatment if need be. When a woman has this knowledge she sees her fertility as a gift; not a disease that needs to be destroyed by artificial hormones. She becomes more feminine, confident and beautiful. This is why I do what I do and I love my job! I love working with women and being a detective to help uncover the mystery of their fertility. Being a support on each client's journey, I am humbled that my clients allow me into this part of their life. I understand that it is not easy for them and I don't take it for granted.

I love that God doesn't have to show me why He has me where He does, but He does anyway!

Attention: Pro-Life Community

The pro-life community needs to be talking about adoption and miscarriage! The Archdiocese has services for those who have experienced an abortion but none for those who have experienced a miscarriage. Absolutely ridiculous! This is one of the biggest archdiocese in the country and nothing for those who have miscarried or are experiencing infertility on any level. That is unacceptable! Good thing this lady  moved to my neck of the woods so we could put our heads together to start something.

There is a ministry through the respect life office, dedicated to helping those women who have chosen abortion to start the healing process. What about the women who lost a child not by choice?! Don't get me wrong I know these women need help to heal, after all they did lose a child. There are so many aspects of abortion that I don't claim to understand and I fully support a ministry that aids women in a crisis pregnancy and who help families heal from an abortion. I just think that we as pro-lifers need to support families who have lost a child through miscarriage. So when we have masses and prayer vigils for the unborn who have died we should include those children who were miscarried or stillborn.

In the hunt for an adoption agency and adoption information I contacted a couple of pro-life pregnancy centers whose aim is to encourage the mother to choose life. They direct the women to either raise their child or give their child up for adoption. I hear that they rarely choose adoption and choose to parent or abort. As someone who is trying to be an adoptive mama, this saddens me. I am happy when women in crisis pregnancies choose to keep their baby because it means they are NOT choosing abortion but I can't help but wonder if adoption would be better for these women, especially teenage girls.

Pro-lifers need to start talking about adoption in a positive light. We emphasize so much on saving the baby from abortion, which I am all for, but what about after the baby is born. Adoption is an option that these women should hear about. Pro-life counselors should educate themselves on the adoption process to help ease the fears that women may have and give them correct information about common adoption misconceptions. I commend the women who know that in their heart the best thing for their child is adoption. They are displaying sacrificial love and as someone who will hopefully adopt someday, I thank them!

A lot of the times adoption is looked at like it is a sad thing whether you are adopting or have been adopted. Why is adoption such a bad word in our society? When telling people that you are adopting they kind of give you a funny look somewhere in between sadness for you and wonder of why you would want to do this. Well you wouldn't give that same look to a couple who is pregnant after having struggled to get pregnant would you?! No, you would be excited and happy for them! JJ and I are excited about having the chance to adopt and I just wish that others around us were excited for us too.

That is my rant for today!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Adoption on the Brain...

These two books have been on our nightstands the last few days. We have a conference call with an agency tomorrow, please keep us in your prayers. I know this is going to be a long process and we are going to need to learn many things. I am so excited!!! I am still cautious but I am hopeful about this avenue and we really like the agency we are speaking with tomorrow.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pregnant Part 2

In the first part of our reflections we covered the state of emptiness. If you missed that one you can read it here Pregnant Part 1  The emptiness that we feel whether it be physical because of IF or on a spiritual or emotional level exists so that The Christ Child can fill it up and move within us. This part will reflect on the growth of Christ in us, in a sense the gestation part of pregnancy. The quotes are taken from the book Reed of God. During pregnancy the baby growing inside gets all of its nourishment from its mother and in turn lowers her immune system response. That is why a pregnant woman grows more tired as the pregnancy progresses and why pregnant women are careful in what they eat and who they come in contact with. Everything that affects the mother will affect the baby, even emotions.

During gestation Jesus was completely dependent upon Mary.

" For nine months Christ grew in His Mother's body. By His own will she formed Him from herself, from the simplicity of her daily life.... Working, eating, sleeping, she was forming His body from hers."

This gives a whole new meaning to the fact that we are Christ's hands and feet or that we are His living breathing tabernacles. When we receive the Eucharist at Mass and as we walk back to our seats we are carrying the Christ with us! We entered the Church empty and leave with an incredible gift that we must continue to nourish as we go through our daily tasks. We take Christ to our homes, jobs, the grocery store, the mall, the bar, and even to the deepest part of our hearts. When women are pregnant they are very careful with making sure they do not over exert themselves for the baby's sake or go to dangerous places because they have to think about the safety of their unborn child. We must do the same by trying to avoid those near occasions of sin or knowing ourselves well enough to know our habitual sins. Mary knew the incredible gift she carried in her womb, she could have rested or hidden herself away her entire pregnancy instead she went in haste to see Elizabeth. She took Christ into the world in which needed Him desperately.

The gestation period is necessary for growth in suffering and joy. The suffering part is the uncomfortableness that we feel as we grow and expand our capacity to love. Pregnant women don't have it easy, as much as I long to carry life within me, my NaPro Dr. reminds me that pregnancy is hard on the body. Pregnant women get cramps as the uterus is expanding, morning sickness, and the woman's body will never be the same after the pregnancy. When we encounter Christ we should never be the same. When we allow Christ to grow within us we will encounter suffering as we become sanctified. Sometimes we shake our fist at God as we suffer, which I have been guilty of, or we become bitter, or we become numb.

This stems from our impatience in our suffering.

"People sometimes get disheartened because they have read that suffering ennobled and have met people who seem to have come out of the crucible like pure silver, made beautiful by suffering; but it seems to them that in their own case it is quite the opposite. They find that however hard they try not be, they are irritable; that astonishing stabs of bitterness afflict them, that far from being more sympathetic, more understanding, there is a numbness, a chill on their emotions: they cannot respond to others at all; they seem not to love anyone any more; and they even shrink from, and dread the very presence of, those who are compassionate and who care for them....The truth is that they are too impatient to wait for the season of Advent in sorrow to run its course;"

This passage cuts me deep because I have been here comparing the way I am suffering to others. I would look at others who have been suffering with IF or miscarriage and would think "oh no I am suffering wrong, these people seem fine or despite their suffering they are not complaining like me!" Yes, I like to do things perfectly even suffer. The truth is that we all experience suffering differently. These feelings of anger, bitterness, and sometimes numbness are a normal part of the process for Christ to grow in us.

Often when we go through sorrow, we may shun joy. We think that it is not the time for it or that the dark sorrow will not allow any light to seep through. Well Christ will dispel the darkness even if for a moment that we may experience joy. I remember shortly after the miscarriage I felt guilty for laughing with my husband or feeling happy when receiving the Eucharist. I thought that I should be mourning the loss of our child more or it wasn't time to move on yet. We need to allow our emotions to run their course and be a part of our person but that does not mean that they have to rule our life. We are intellect, will and emotion not just one or the other.

Pregnancy has the joy of knowing you carry life within you and the anticipation of holding that new life. For those of us who have not been able to do that we must allow Christ to occupy that space. Christ must become our main priority just like the baby in the womb is a mother's priority; growing in feminine virtues so that your life bears fruit whether or not you have children, that is real joy. How do we bear fruit if we cannot give human life? That is much like the question that Mary asked the Angel of how is this possible? We must echo the Fiat of Mary in our daily lives in order to experience joy.

How do we live this practically? One thing we can do is to stop grumbling about our daily duties and tasks. I am not talking about the things that bother us and need to change, I am talking about us nitpicking at every little thing in our lives that we don't like. I am talking to myself on this one especially. Making our daily tasks a prayer is another practical way. Staying in constant conversation with Christ will allow us to know that we are not alone and for those of us who are not able to carry a baby in our womb this will make us feel pregnant in a sense. I will cover more about motherhood in the next reflection which will be taken from JPII's Letter Mulieris Dignitatem. Stay tuned.....