Sunday, June 30, 2013

Adopt-A-Blogger July!

I am so honored and blessed to have been chosen to be July's Adopt-A-Blogger.  I feel like I won an Academy Award or something! I told JJ I was chosen and he kind of shrugged and said "great, what does that mean?"  then I told him that it would mean people we may not even know would be praying for me/us for an entire month, then he got really excited. Welcome to those who are finding out who I am for the first time and thank you so much for the prayers!

I am Kat and I have been married for 5.5yrs to JJ(as he is known on the blog). Here is a brief history of our story as a couple and here is our TTC journey. We have been TTC for 4.5yrs and we miscarried our Cecilia back in January 2012. We are being treated with NaProTechnolgy for our fertility issues. We were that couple during marriage prep. that firmly wanted a large family to show the world that large families are the best, we talked about having no less than 5 children but we really wanted 10! I see now how God has humbled me from thinking that I have control over this. I have learned so much from this journey and have been broken down and humbled so many times. 

We started looking into adoption earlier this year and then stopped because of lack of funds, I did not want to get my hopes up for something I knew we could not start to pursue at this time. JJ and I had talked about adoption when we were engaged so it has always been at the back of our minds, we just thought it would be after we had a few biological children. We are not open to going through foster care at this point, but maybe someday. I am trying to figure out what God wants us to do with our marriage if it is not to raise our own children, so I am in a time of discernment right now. I am a CrMS practitioner intern who just took my final in May and hopefully passed. I became a practitioner because of this IF journey so it has brought about some things in our lives that never would have happened without it. 

Prayer is such an important part of my life and who I am it is also an important part of JJ's life so we are so humbled and blessed by your prayers. Being chosen this month is so providential for a few reasons: one, my 29th birthday is July 16th; two, we are renewing our Marian consecration on July 16th feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel; three, we just moved into our new place as of July 1st which is a crazy leap of faith for us; four, we recently decided to stop all medical treatments for our subfertility at the end of the year; five, JJ has not been working since the end of February which has put a hold on all adoption savings and pursuits. So we have a lot going on right now and these prayers are coming at the perfect time! Thank you all again for your prayers this month, know that I do not take them for granted and I will be soaking in the graces. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Weddings, moving, baking and cycles!

So life has been a bit insane around here! 

 We are trying to move out completely by tomorrow plus we have our friend L's wedding on Sat. of which I am baking a simple allergy friendly cake. We also have another wedding next Sat. I am excited for the weddings and look forward to enjoying them fully! As we have had so many weddings it has given me more of a zeal to pray for my single friends in real life and here on the blogosphere. I am starting to realize how hard it can be for those who are single who want to be married to be around this summer wedding season. My heart goes out to them and can identify with them during this season of waiting. 

So as we are packing I just want to give up and throw everything in the moving truck and not worry about packing, I mean we are moving about 5min. away driving distance. As I was taking our pictures down, I was reminiscing about where and when they were taken. Packing is never fast because you go down memory lane with almost everything you have. I also realized that I am not attached to much of our stuff as I have felt like just leaving it all and starting over again. If we don't move everything by tomorrow we still have until the 1st so we will take all the time we need. We have also been trying to help our landlord find new tenants by referring people who are looking hopefully encouraging her to return our full security deposit. JJ has done a lot of the repairs around here and only charged her for the cost of materials not the labor. We gave her a detailed letter plus we have the receipts so I don't think it will be an issue. Instead of packing on Tues. JJ and I decided to go see the new Monster's movie, I loved it! 

We are suppose to have record breaking heat around here so baking and frosting a cake is not going to be pretty. I think I will ditch the frosting for fear of it melting and just dust the entire cake w/ powdered sugar and place fresh strawberries on top. It isn't the main wedding cake but I do want it to be pretty. I didn't finish my book club book, Persuasion, but I am going to go the meeting tonight anyway. I got through chapter 5 so far but I will finish by the July meeting for sure. I have had so much to think about that I do not want to read when I sit down I want to play on the iPad and read blogs.  

I am so glad aunt flow came last week so that I don't have to worry about it with all this craziness. My last cycle was completely dry, my Dr. said that sometimes after the trauma of surgery the body can go into shock and it may take a few cycles for you to see improvement. Ugh, I don't want to be doing this much longer I am so over my cycles. I am sure all this acute stress is going to do a number on this cycle so I have almost given up before the fertile time has even started. I would love to move onto adoption but we are further from it as we have stopped saving for it as JJ has not been working. Why does non foster care adoption have to be so expensive? The thing is that you can't really figure out exactly where your money is going other than lawyer fees. I would love for an agency to give me a print out of exactly who the money goes to and to where it goes. 

All this to say that it is quite busy around here and I have been seeing clients this week along with other volunteer meetings as well. I am so excited to be moved in already and start to unpack and place things where I want them. I wont get to paint the kitchen until next week or the week after because of all the business. My next post will probably be all in pictures from the wedding and the new place! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Marriage and Infertility

This post should really be titled Sex and Infertility but I did not have the guts to title it that. Hey, I still have some modesty! Most people think that people trying to have a baby have so much fun as they have sex anytime and hope for the best. It must be so nice to have so much sex right? Wrong! This is just another misguided philosphy that feeds our world's disordered view of sex. Marriage is not just about sex or procreating, if it was then JJ and I would have a really sad marriage. There is much more to marriage than having sex. Don't misunderstand me sex is more than great, it is supernatural and when you realize that there is a possibility of creating new life it is mind.blowing. There is a wonder and awe about sex that is out of this world, especially the procreative aspect.

Imagine this wonder and awe fading slowly as you realize the possibility for new life diminishing cycle after cycle. That is what it feels like when you go through infertility/subfertility. There is a part of sex that feels like it is missing. This becomes a challenge and a struggle to subfertile couples in their marriage, in particular their physical intimacy with one another. It can become so mechanical and just about the act of procreation. As they chart and try and time intimacy for the most fertile and optimal time it can become more like a routine. Now routines are not bad like wake up, pray, breakfast, workout, shower, go to work, come home, dinner, sex... Haha, I threw the last one in to see if you are still paying attention! I have to admit in the beginning of TTC it was fun to carve out time for intimacy, making sure we did not have any scheduling conflicts or skipping out on things we were invited to because it was during our "fertile" time.

After about a year or more of this same type of routine spouses can start to feel a laundry list of negative emotions connected with sex. You can start to feel the pressure and not want to disappoint your spouse if pregnancy does not occur or you can become angry with one another because your dreams of becoming a parent are slowly fading and this is where the blame game can come into play. Another thing that can happen is that one or both spouses become tired of having sex, yes you heard that right people can get tired of sex! Spouses can get into a routine of only having sex during their fertile time and not during other times. These situations create discord that effects all other aspects of their marriage. Not to mention spouses can start to go through feelings of guilt if they have used contraception before or had sex outside of their marriage. They may start to blame themselves for their infertility or think their infertility is a punishment for their past sins. Even if they have gone to confession they still need to work on forgiving themselves for their past mistakes and allow God to redeem that aspect of their life. Needless to say infertility/subfertility can be a HUGE roadblock in the physical aspect of a married couples life.

Then there are those who have miscarried and when you add that to the mix it becomes a big heap of crap that the couple has to deal with. After our miscarriage I started to associate sex with death and was afraid that if we conceived again, that baby would die too. There was fear in my heart and it took God's perfect love to drive out that fear along with my husband's imperfect love and saintly patience. I imagine this fear and anxiety is greater for those who have miscarried multiple times.

The Church says using sex just for its unitive aspect without the procreative aspect, i.e. using contraception is a grave sin because you are separating sex from its procreative aspect. Well the opposite is true as well, using your spouse just for the procreative aspect is wrong too! You can not separate the unitive and procreative aspect of sex, they must always stay together. This can become a struggle and hidden sin in a subfertile couple's marriage. Plus it is not so romantic to say cycle after cycle "Today is probably peak day honey, let's procreate" (I just realized that no one has probably actually said this). I know there have been a few times where we have abstained out of obligation for the "use days of greatest quantity and quality" rule. Don't get me wrong it is an instruction that increases the chance of conception and I give this instruction to subfertile couples that I teach but as the pirates say "they are more like guidelines than actual rules." In the beginning of TTC I would encourage couples to stick to the guidelines but after 6months or a year it can get frustrating so in my opinion I think it is ok to bend the rules a bit, don't tell my supervisor I said that ;)


There is an aspect of being a CrMS practitioner that I really love, it is when I get to give my couples the SPICE Index. What is this you say? It sounds so risque. Well SPICE stands for Spiritual Physical Intellectual Communicative and Emotional which are all aspects of the couples sexual contact with one another. You see sex is more than just the physical act, it involves the entire person and not just when they are having sex. So in other words the couple should always include the SPICE element to their marriage even if it is a time of abstinence. The couple should work on the spiritual, physical, intellectual, communicative and emotional aspect of their marriage all the time. I have my couples, whether they are tryng to achieve or postpone a pregnancy, write down some ways that they can inhance SPICE in their marriage. When JJ and I first started learning CrMS we thought we were NFP rock stars knowing so much about Church teaching and great charting skills from sympto-thermal then we filled out a SPICE index and we saw the areas in our marriage that we needed to work on. The areas that we did not know how or what to talk about which the good ol' index had easily pointed out were now staring plainly at us.


Some couples are uncomfortable with the SPICE index because they think it is a judgment that the practitioner is placing on their marriage. Well that is not true, the practitioner is just a facilitator the couple is the one that it effects I just add up the scores and start the discussion. There have been times where JJ and I are not sure how to talk about a subject or we are having trouble communicating so I have pulled out a SPICE index from my filing cabinet and had us fill one out. Yes I know, I am such a practitioner! Things like incorporating SPICE elements in their marriage help infertile/subfertile couples to not just focus on trying to create new life. It can help them to not pull away from each other at times where they need to cling to each other the most.

There can be so many feelings of guilt, shame and disappointment that come along with infertility but I believe that God wants us to be healed from these even in our intimacy with our spouse. Being open to life means being open to the possibility that a child may not or may never come from the sexual act that a husband and wife have. It is echoing Mary's Fiat and Jesus' words "Thy will be done." It is hard to surrender to that possibility but with God ALL things are possible. The IF couples sexual act is no less redeeming or fruitful than that of a fertile couple. When there is a complete giving of oneself no holding back there is a miracle that occurs, it is the miracle of self gift. When we say to our spouses with our bodies "I love you completely with all that I am and will continue to for the rest of my life even if a child never comes from this" we are partaking in a supernatural act where God's grace abounds. Fruitfullness will come from an IF couples sexual act, it just may not be the physical fruit we are used to seeing as a result of sex.

So next time you know of a couple who is trying to conceive don't just pray that God would give them children, pray for their marriage first for it is by their marriage that they will be sanctified. Pray that their marriage is fruitful in however God sees fit. If you are an IF couple, know that your marriage has value and worth just as much as a family who has 10 children. "Marraige is the greatest of all friendships" as St. Thomas Aquinas said and a wise priest once told me that I needed to treasure, safe guard and nurture my marriage first! I need to make sure my hubby knows that he is enough for me in this life even if children never come, he is my vocation. God has given me the amazing privilege of being married to JJ, I pray that I do not take him for granted.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said in February 2012, “I would like to remind the couples who are experiencing the condition of infertility, that their vocation to marriage is no less because of this. Spouses, for their own baptismal and marriage vocation, are called to cooperate with God in the creation of a new humanity.…There, where science has not yet found an answer, the answer that gives light comes from Christ.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Quick Takes 12

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

Yes, I know that I have been doing mostly Quick Takes lately but I promise I will write something more substantial soon. It has been pretty adventurous around here so I have not been able to sit and write for a long period of time.

So...... we got the house that I was talking about last week! We picked up the lease yesterday and will drop it off signed with the deposit today and we will get the keys on the 22nd and hopefully move in by July 1st. I am so excited! I can't wait to paint the kitchen. I will post before and after pics as well as show you my favorite part of the house, the fireplace. I was telling JJ I am so excited to spend Christmas there in front of the fireplace. I have always wanted a fireplace and to live in a house, I grew up in apartments and duplexes all my life so I am ready to take on the challenge of a house. We get to have a dog here so we will be looking into getting a dog probably after we come back from Alabama. I would not want to leave a dog alone for a whole week! We will need to find a washer and dryer for the house which will be costly but we are also going to look into a hand me down from people we know or craigs.list. We are thinking of getting just a washer first and trying a clothes line for a little bit or just going to the launder mat for the first couple months. 
I have been on a smoothie kick for the last couple months, I have one pretty much daily. Our freezer has been stocked with frozen fruit. I am hoping to go tot the farmer's market soon to pick up an abundance of blueberries to freeze them. My favorite combination has been blueberries, cherries, mango, spinach, a splash of pomegranate juice/water and a splash of coconut milk. I have tried to put a protein powder in there but I can't get past the graininess. I also tried putting sunflower seed butter and that wasn't too bad.

JJ is still not back to work. He went in for a couple days last week and then they had him sitting at home again. So he went in yesterday to ask for his lay off papers so that he could go back to the union hiring hall and get work through another company. We are hoping his number is called soon and that he starts working steady again! It feels kind of crazy to be moving into a house w/ JJ not working but we are surprisingly at peace about it all. Prayers would be appreciated for work to happen soon.


The IF support group has been going great! At our meeting last night we talked about Saints that are related to IF. Everyone brought some great info. and put  a lot of effort into it. It is so nice to have a group that we can go to on a regular basis, share with one another and pray for one another. The couples that we have met through this group are such wonderful people.


I have been a bad book club member. I have only read the 1st chapter of the book we are reading this month and I was the one that suggested it! We are reading Jane Austen's Persuasion which I have not read before but I have seen the movie. I really like the story line but I have not been able to get my head in that academic space, I may have bit off more than I can chew this month especially with all the other stuff going on.

Tomorrow a good friend and fellow blogger will be getting ordained to the priesthood! Woohoo! We are so excited for him. He and JJ have been friends for a very long time and had a hip hop group together back in the day. My heart is over joyed for him and the Church for gaining such a wonderful holy man to be a priest. I have to go find water proof mascara for tomorrow because I know I will cry.

I forgot to mention last week that I had the privilege of meeting this lovely blogger! JJ and I got to go to lunch with her after our NaPro Dr. appt. She was in town for work and it all worked out. It was so nice to meet her in person! This was my first ever blogger meet up and I can't wait for more. If any of you want to come to SoCal you are more than welcome!   

Monday, June 10, 2013

Weekend Round-Up aka Quick Takes (11)

Well I am too late to do a Quick Takes this week this post will be in the same fashion. This weekend was full of fun stuff and many decisions made.


Making play dough and cupcakes for my goddaughter's 2nd birthday! Here are the chocolate strawberry cupcakes with hidden zucchini in them, yup I like to sneak my vegetables in.

                           Yup, they tasted as good as they looked!

I am going to use this same recipe and this frosting recipe for a mini-cake for my friend L's wedding at the end of the month. The groom's sister is gluten free as well as one of the priests plus us so they asked me where they could get a gluten free cake, naturally I volunteered to make it. I am so excited! 

The day of the party I put the finishing touches on the cupcakes and then JJ and I went early to help set up.
JJ took a picture of me in my fav. hat before we left for the party. I am thinking "Hurry up we are already late!" I am so glad he slows me down to enjoy life!
My goddaughter K's older sister M was a big help in getting the decorations and centerpieces up and she is only 4. Then I got to help the girls get ready for the party which was surprisingly a breeze. I thought getting a 2yr. and 4yr. old dressed and ready would be more of a struggle but they were so cooperative, I thought "Wow I must have the touch! I am the child whisperer!" As I was patting myself on the back for a great job done my friend T informed me they usually cooperate when getting dressed because they like to get all dolled up. Whomp whomp there goes my career as the next "Super Nanny". Then JJ entertained the girls in the bounce house while I watched because I would not be caught in a bounce house ever. Constant unstable motion + me = not pretty. I realize that I should have taken pictures of the party instead of just the cupcakes and me but I left the camera and iPad at home plus I am pretty sure my friend T is not OK with pictures of her daughters on the internet. By the end of the day JJ and I were tired and we slept so well that night. I guess the recipe for a good night's sleep is exhaustion. 

We started Sunday off by going to the LA Arboretum, one of our favorite places. The peacocks were out in full bloom and we had fun taking pictures. Then we went to Latin Mass which was beautiful as usual. We had a coupon for a free meal at our local diner so we went out on a dinner date. We took a good amount of pictures at the Arboretum, we usually forget the camera but we remembered it this time.
Isn't he gorgeous? This is why no one ever takes a picture of the girl peacocks.


Peacock feather JJ found.


Serious modeling picture.

Me @ the top of the waterfall after climbing all those stairs.

Us @ the base of the waterfall. The sun was in our eyes.

I took a picture of the girl peacock, I felt bad for her with all the attention on the males. She is good looking, right?


We have been making some major decisions lately. It was hard to finalize the decision and give ourselves a more concrete time frame. It feels so freeing though to know that I will not be on the TTC train forever. I am so glad that NaPro exists and if we want to pick it back up again we can. It looks like my body is still healing and/or not cooperating with me because this cycle is so out of whack. I am not sure if I am still pre-peak or post-peak which is tough because I have no idea what to do about progesterone. I am a practitioner and I can't figure it out. Bah.   
We decided to try and rent a house near our church. We saw it for rent and really wanted to go for it so we are. We are waiting to hear back from the guy. It is 2bdrm 1ba with a back yard and they are OK with us having a small/medium sized dog. Most of the places we have been looking at this past 6 months are not OK with pets which takes them off our list. The house is in a nice area so I am sure they are considering other applicants. Did I mention that it is within walking distance of our church? If you could send up a prayer on our behalf on this intention I would really appreciate it! We are trying to have detachment but we also have seen so many places and we really like this one the best. If we don't get it then God must have something really spectacular planned. When our landlord heard that we were thinking of moving she offered to lower our rent, not by much, if we would sign a 2yr. lease. I don't know that I would want to stay here another 2yrs. especially with our upstairs neighbors. They are great people but their kids run around a lot which we understand but it can be annoying at times. We also just want a back yard so we can have a garden and I want to paint a room so badly I am tired of white walls. Hopefully we will hear back from the guy soon so we can move on!
Thanks for your prayers! JJ went back to work on Friday! He worked on a small project Friday and today and will be starting on a huge project on Wednesday. Thank you Jesus and the intercession of St. Joseph.
I am trying to decide on a profile picture for my sidebar. I was thinking the one close-up that is above or the one with me near the waterfall.  JJ likes the head shot one but I don't know, is it too close to my face? I didn't erase it from the camera which means I like it but I like the one with the waterfall too because of the background. Hmmm, what do you think?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Calling It Quits...

After much prayer and discernment JJ and I have decided to stop NaPro treatments at the end of the year. We are going to give it six more months and then we are going to move on to pursuing adoption full force or not pursue anything. It is a tiring journey to go through medical treatments to have a family. We feel like we have been at this much longer than we have and I feel much older than I am. We were originally thinking that the surgery would be the last thing we would do but after talking we decided that we still want to hold onto having more biological children.

I went to confession the other day which then turned into a private Mass that JJ and I got to go to with one of our favorite priests. Well I turned confession into a little bit of spiritual direction because I was so desperate for some spiritual counsel. I brought up the confusion on whether to continue with NaPro or to give it up. The priest, who knows our story very well, said "I don't think you are ready to give it up just yet. From what I know of you and JJ you really want to live out your vocation with children. The fact that you were able to conceive before shows that there is hope for more biological children.  There is no harm or sin in stopping NaPro but maybe you should give it to the end of the year." His words were confirmation on what we have been thinking! Then we had Mass which we were one of the intentions and he prayed that God would bless us with children. It was such a blessed time and exactly what we needed to get us through the next 6 months of treatments and hoping to have more biological children.

So that is our plan and hopefully by our 6 year anniversary in Dec. we will be pregnant or have some direction on what God wants from us. We are going to not take anything to help me ovulate for 2 cycles to see if the wedge resection helps me to ovulate on my own, then we are going to try Fe.mara again for 2 cycles and then our last resort will be 2 cycles of the dreaded clomid. I figure I am willing to go all in for the next six months knowing that there will be an end in sight. I will not do endless cycles of drugs, it is just too hard on me and my body. We will also still be doing a gluten and dairy free as well as low sugar diet plus our supplements and exercise.

I don't know if after the six months we will stop NaPro forever or just take a break for a year or more but God will let us know in time and it is nice to know that we can pick it back up again if we feel inclined to.

Please pray for us! This is a very trying journey. We are both feeling tired and weary probably more so me than JJ as I am the one whose body is going through all of this. I feel like I am on the last leg of a marathon and I need to dig deep within me to find the strength to finish strong. I was never an athlete but I know what endurance is and I feel like I need some of that right now. I will be stepping it up in my prayer life or at least trying to because His grace is what is going to get me through. We are praying for a miracle this next six months and above all we pray God's will be done in our lives!