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Monday, October 31, 2011

Consider this post to be today's "treat"

I’d like to start by making a correction to my last post: I am now taking THIRTEEN pills/supplements every day. I forgot to include my thyroid medicine when I originally counted. I take 7 of the 13 pills (along with the 4 ounce shot of green goo) all before 6:30 am, and if you didn’t think that was punishment enough for my body, then you should know that Total (my newly mandated breakfast) tastes like cardboard.

As you can imagine, my mornings just got much less enjoyable. Which is why I couldn't help but laugh when, immediately after braving my bowl of Total and finishing my round of pill-popping the other morning, I opened up my e-mail and found one of those daily coupons offering me discounted admission to a "Mom Expo" in town. Oh, and we got the latest issue of Pottery Barn Kids in the mail that same day, which we definitely did not sign up to receive. Conspiracy? I think so.

And now onto relevant news: Halloween!

Sadly, I will not be dressing up this year because (a) being an adult is lame, and (b) I interview people for a living, so even if my company did allow costumes, I'm not sure walking into the interview room dressed as a cow or chocolate chip cookie would really get the message across that we are a professional company and should be taken seriously. Although if any candidates were to stumble upon my blog (which I'm sure they have done before), then any hopes of being taken seriously would already be gone, but that's beside the point.

I did, however, get to (sort of) dress up yesterday. In case I haven't mentioned it, my new Junior League placement (the one that I was assigned to after I failed my TB test and was banned from volunteering in medical facilities) is the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Sugar Land. It really worked out perfectly because it is much closer to my house, AND there are dinosaurs there, which, as you can imagine, is a big hit with our own Baby Dinosaur (PS- please don't tell him the ones I volunteer with are dead).

Anyway, the museum's Halloween "Spooktacular" was yesterday and I volunteered to help with the kids' activities. We were supposed to wear scary/creepy costumes, but I don't have anything scary on hand (I suppose I could have dressed up as an angry woman dealing with infertility... that's fairly terrifying:), so I went with a classic:

Get it? DQ + the tiara? Yep, that's right, I dressed up as Dairy Queen. And in case you are counting, yes, I do own 2 Dairy Queen t-shirts. I'm guessing you're not surprised.

I happened to have this gem of a costume on hand because back in college, Brian and I went to my sorority's Halloween date party ("Owloween"- hootie hoo!) dressed as Dairy Queen and Burger King. Here's proof:

(This is also proof that Brian once weighed about 10 pounds less than he does now and I weighed about 10 pounds more. Oh, and for the record, we swapped crowns on purpose for this pic.)

Anyway, when I first arrived at the museum and asked where I could be of help, the director asked me how I am with cockroaches. Um. Is this a joke? Did she read this post or maybe this one and decide to play a trick on me? Unfortunately, she was not kidding. Fortunately, I had the option of saying no, and although I hate to be that annoying girl who is too much of a pansy to touch bugs, I had to decline her offer to be the one in charge of cockroach racing. Yep, for real:

Instead, I got to spend the next 3 hours in the room where kids stuck their hands in boxes to try to guess what (fake) organs they were. We had a liver (wet sponge), eye balls (some type of jelly water balls), intestines (water balloons), brain (no clue), and a heart that actually pumped (which meant I spent 3 hours manually pumping a fake heart). It was actually pretty entertaining, and fun to see all of the kids in their costumes.

For the record, it was not as fun as seeing this kid in his costume:

I know, I know- don't you want to eat him for dinner?

So that about wraps up my Halloween excitement. I did make chocolate chip pumpkin muffins (easiest recipe ever) for my office's annual Halloween potluck breakfast, so that's also worth mentioning. And I also want you to see some of my favorite Halloween decorations from our house before I go, since they will be getting the boot from our house shortly. Enjoy!

Fact: Chi Omegas love Halloween.
Also a fact: I love candy corn (thanks, sis!). And fall-smelling candles.

Some pumpkies in our dining room

Happy Halloween!
(PS- I spy two cute puppies in this one.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I am from Austin, after all

This week was annoying. I was in a slump and couldn't seem to climb my way out of it until yesterday. Thankfully, I did not blog during that time so you didn't have to experience my misery with me. However, that does not mean this post will be devoid of mopey thoughts from your favorite sub-fertile blogger, so don't breathe that sigh of relief just yet.

In examining my charts on recently, I realized that I have only ovulated twice (possibly three times, but I'm pretty sure only two) this year. TWO TIMES IN TEN MONTHS. Do you know how aggravating that is for someone that is trying to get pregnant?

The good news is that one of those two times, we actually ended up with a fertilized egg! The bad news is that it ended up being a chemical pregnancy, so I'm not really sure we can count that one as a victory. But still, so far we have a 50% success rate for fertilization in 2011, which is pretty impressive.

I think my body's absurd infrequency of ovulation really is my biggest source of frustration... while it would be discouraging to have repeated failed cycles every month, it would be nice to (a) have an opportunity to conceive more than twice a year, and (b) know that, even when one cycle didn't work out, I wouldn't have to wait 50+ days for the next one to begin.

I expressed my frustrations to my acupuncturist at my first appointment this week. And by "expressed my frustrations," I mean that I basically dumped on her for the first 15 minutes of my session. Fortunately, I was in a much better place when I went back for my second appointment yesterday.

She had apparently sensed my desperation and had a plan of attack ready for me when I showed up for round 2. Not only did she put together my own specially-blended bottle of herbs for me to start taking, but she also had some more nutritional guidelines for me. She gave me a list of what's included in the herbs (and no, Erika, it's not weed), but because I've never heard of of any of the items on that list (ligusticum root?), I am going to assume you haven't either and will refrain from sharing it with you.

You will, however, have to hear about my new nutritional suggestions:

1. Raisin Bran is getting the boot. Remember back when I made a resolution to find a new breakfast cereal? Well that didn't so much happen. I did briefly substitute Multi-grain Cheerio's, but after a month or so, Raisin Bran was back on the shelf. What can I say? Old habits die hard.

But apparently I'm going to have to power through it because I have now been instructed to eat Total. Just plain and simple Total... no raisins (in fact, she said to avoid dried fruits), no happy sunshine man on the box- nothing. In fact, on the instructions she gave me, she wrote, "cut out breakfast cereal - eat protein instead," but I think she opted for a less harmful cereal option instead in order to avoid me going into a sudden state of shock.

2. Avoid milk and yogurt. Avoid bread at night. This won't be too hard because the only time I ever have milk is with my cereal. And the only time I have yogurt is... never. So I just have to make sure to avoid bread at night, which I think I can handle. Good think she didn't mention anything about tortilla chips! :)

3. Eat lean, organic, hormone-free meat. I told her that my biggest battle with changing my food habits (other than my gag reflex) will be my frugality, and this is especially true for this guideline. Meat is expensive as it is, and even more so if you get the "fancy" kind. Yep, that's right, I just used the term "fancy" to refer to "healthy" food.

My biggest concern was about my turkey sandwiches, because I didn't want to have to give an arm and a leg for deli meat. However, according to Brian (google), it is actually illegal to treat poultry with growth hormones in the USofA (and has been since the 1950s), so apparently the Boar's Head turkey I have been eating is already hormone-free. Hooray!

So we'll see how this goes. She assured me that my herbs will help me to feel better and should help to speed up the whole process of getting my system in working order, so even though I am resistant to taking NINE pills a day (in addition to my prenatal vitamin, calcium, and fish oil supplement... so make that 12 pills a day... plus 4 ounces of green goo), I'm going to give it a shot.

Oh, and to answer the question on everyone's minds, no, I am not turning into a hippie. Although for the record, if that will help us get pregnant, then pardon me while I go hug some trees.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My hope is in You

Continuing with the (unintentional) Christian music theme this week, I want you to go watch/listen to this music video. The song is called "My Hope is in You," and it's by Aaron Shust. Don't worry, it is nothing like the "Good Morning" song in case you were not a fan. (Also, my friend, Alexis, found this magical zumba video featuring that very song, so you definitely need to check it out as well.)

Ok back to the Aaron Shust song/video. In case you were too lazy to click on the link and watch it yourself, (spoiler alert) the music video is about an older couple whose daughter was apparently in some kind of accident. In between the artsy (and irrelevant) scenes of Aaron Shust's piano solos, the video follows along as they rush to the hospital, pray in a chapel, and sit in the waiting room waiting for news on their daughter's condition.

Admittedly, I got sucked into the story line very quickly, much in the same way that I do with Sarah McLachlan's SPCA commercials. But I thought SURELY the girl wasn't going to die (just like I think SURELY that one-eyed puppy was adopted by some loving family). No way would someone make a music video that depressing, and besides, the couple was so faithful and full of hope, so OBVIOUSLY they would be rewarded by finding out that she was OK.

And then the doctor came in to the waiting room. And he did not have a happy look on his face. I started to panic. He shook his head to confirm that the girl did not, in fact, make it, and just as the mom collapsed in tears, my heart sank just as if I was a close, personal friend of this fictional family.

The video went on to show the couple at the cemetery after burying their daughter, and I just shook my head in disbelief that the director of the music video would allow that girl to die! After that sweet old couple had PRAYED for her and waited patiently for God to save her! THE NERVE!!!

It was not until the video was finished and the words of the song were playing over again in my head that I suddenly figured out why it made sense for them to end the story that way. Because just like the story in the video didn't end up how I wanted or expected it to, real life doesn't always end up how we want or expect it to. And yet still, we are called to hope in the Lord.

My hope is in You, Lord
All the day long
I won't be shaken by drought or storm
A peace that passes understanding is my song
And I sing
My hope is in You, Lord

Just like God didn't "reward" the couple for their faithfulness by saving their daughter, God doesn't always "reward" us for our faithfulness by doing whatever we want or ask. Case in point: 25 months and countless prayers later, we are still not pregnant.

Ultimately, God is not always going to do what we think He should, or when we think He should, because He knows better. He is always going to do what is best for us whether we understand it (or agree with it) or not.

And so the challenge is for us to place our hope in Him anyway. And just as the couple in the music video did not lose hope when their prayer wasn't answered in they way they expected, we, too, should continue placing our hope in the Lord when our prayers aren't answered the way we expect them to be.

I realize this is a pretty elementary truth, but it has been on my mind and on my heart lately, and the music video obviously hit it home for me, so I felt compelled to share. For Brian and me, no matter how many failed cycles or unsuccessful fertility treatments we endure, we continue to hope in the Lord, and we will not allow our ability (or inability, as the case may be) to have children to define our hope, our joy, our identity, our worth, or our God. For you, whatever drought or storm you might be experiencing right now, I pray that you, too, will not give up putting your hope in the One who is able to do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." - Hebrews 11:1

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

True story

Have any of you heard the “Good Morning” song by Mandisa? They play it on KSBJ (the local Christian radio station) on a fairly regular basis (read: every single morning during my commute), so I have become quite familiar with it. I admittedly hated it at first—as is the case with a lot of songs on KSBJ, it was a little too cheesy for my liking and it was a little hard for me to tolerate at 7 am. (If you don’t understand why, then just go listen to it and I think you’ll see what I mean.)

However, the more I heard it, the more I started to warm up to it and the less it made me want to throw myself out of a moving vehicle. In fact, I have warmed up to it so much that I now call Brian every morning when I hear it, half so that he has to listen to me sing along to it (because who else will?), and half because I think Baby Dinosaur really likes it.

As you can imagine, this song ends up stuck in my head most mornings and because I don’t want to be humming (or loudly singing) along to it on my own, I have been trying to get one of my co-workers to listen to/become unintentionally addicted to it as well. We don’t have access to music/video websites at work, though, so she hasn’t been able to listen to the song in all its glory yet. So this morning when I heard it come on the radio, I decided to text her to tell her to turn to KSBJ. My text simply read: “89.3”

A minute later, I received a response from her that said, “Does that mean the puke drink works??? :)”

Um. What? I knew what the puke drink was because I just told her about it yesterday, but I had no idea how that was related to the “Good Morning” song on KSBJ. And then—just as she sent me a text saying, “Nevermind. I just got that”—it suddenly dawned on me: she thought I was texting her to tell her my basal body temperature from earlier this morning.

And that, my friends, is when you know without a shadow of a doubt that you probably need to spend a little less time talking about your fertility issues. At work.

We had a good laugh about it once we both got to work, and I was especially amused at the fact that she thought 89.3 sounded like a GOOD temperature (since it’s about 8-9 degrees below normal), but she did clarify that she got 89.3 confused with 98.3, which makes much more sense. And also in her defense, she is NORMAL and doesn’t have to wait for her thermometer to finish beeping before she can get out of bed every morning, so I wouldn’t expect her to know what’s ideal and what isn’t.

Anyway, I hope you appreciated that small glimpse into the life of a crazy person… as if my blog exists for any other purpose anyway :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

On a more serious note

I'm not sure how I failed to mention this before now, but I thought you might all be interested to learn that my aunt is now the part-time receptionist at my acupuncturist's office. Yep, that's right, my world just got a little smaller.

I recently saw on my acupuncturist's facebook page that she was looking for part-time help, and so I re-posted it on my own facebook page in case anyone I knew in the area was interested. My aunt responded that she was actually thinking about picking up a part-time job, so she got the contact information from me and applied. A few days later, she had an interview and was hired!

When I went in for my next appointment after that, my acupuncturist assured me that she would still maintain patient confidentiality in case I was worried about my aunt suddenly knowing all of my "business." Clearly she is not aware that I broadcast my "business" on the internet for all the world to read, so this was of little concern to me!

When she made me try the nasty-looking green stuff on Friday, she and my aunt both actually took a drink of it with me. And it was in that moment- where I found myself taking non-alcoholic shots of pureed broccoli/spinach/garlic/blue green algae/etc. with my acupuncturist and aunt on a Friday afternoon- that I thought to myself (for the millionth time since beginning our battle with infertility), "Is this really my life?" Yes, yes it is.

And for those of you that are counting, that battle has now lasted for 2+ years (25 months, to be exact). We went off of birth control in September 2009. Do you know how much has happened since then?

In some ways, it feels like we are light years beyond where we were at that time... we live in a different house, one of us has a different job (2, actually), we have a new niece and a new nephew, we have been on 5 different vacations (none of which resulted in us getting pregnant, for the record), one of our sets of parents has moved to a different city, we're part of a new church, and yet for all intents and purposes, we are no closer to where we wanted to be than when we first began.

As you might have noticed, I have had a much more positive attitude about this whole situation since beginning acupuncture. With a new form of treatment has come a renewed sense of hope. But despite that, every day that goes by that we are not pregnant is still HARD.

As I know I have mentioned before, one of the hardest parts about infertility is that everyone else's news that is cause for celebration seems to be cause for sadness for us. It seems that every small victory or step in the right direction we take is answered by someone else's pregnancy announcement. While I'm bragging about getting my period without the help of medication, I get on facebook only to find that yet another couple is "lapping" us (as in, they have already had one baby since we started trying and are already pregnant with a second). And suddenly our good news doesn't seem so good and their good news seems like the worst thing in the world.

Anyway, as I said, I know I have already rambled on about the overwhelming feelings of jealousy and self-pity that come along with infertility. Really, the point I wanted to make (for the sake of those of you that are still in our same boat) is that this is still a struggle for us. Even though I laugh and make jokes about the strange foods I'm supposed to eat and the other seemingly ridiculous lengths we are going to in order to get pregnant, most days, I'm still sad. And even though they seem to occur less often, there are still days when you'll find me crying in the corner, wondering when, if ever, it's going to be our turn.

And on that incredibly upbeat note, I'm going to go enjoy the rare sound of rain falling on my roof and the not-so-rare sound of my husband yelling at the football game on TV. Thanks for listening/reading!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dear Brian, thank you for not dying.

Well hey there, friends! I know it has been over a week since I last posted, and I figured what better excuse to update my blog than a last minute trip to the ER with my barfing husband, so now you're in for a treat!

Brian's boss asked him to stay late every day this week, so imagine my surprise yesterday afternoon when he called me around 5:15 to say he was on his way home. At first I thought maybe they had gotten their work done and were being rewarded by getting to go home early. And if you consider "getting his work done" to be throwing up his lunch, and the "reward" to be feeling like crap, then I was right on the money!

I actually got home first, and when he showed up, he went straight for the shower and spent a good deal of time just sitting on the floor of it with the water running on him. I came in to check on him, just in time for round 2 of his barfing to begin.

He eventually dragged himself to the couch to rest, but was so dehydrated that he could barely roll himself over and started getting muscle cramps in his legs. He had also turned a special shade of green at this point, and after my 10th offer to take him to see a doctor, he agreed that he should probably go get checked out.

After one last stop to throw up in the front yard (you're welcome, neighbors!), we headed to the 24-hour Emergency Clinic in Sugar Land. Fortunately they got him in and pumped full of fluids relatively quickly, and despite a low fever and the chills, he started feeling better almost right away.

He mostly slept for the next 2 hours while I filled out paperwork, played on my iPhone, and stole candy from the front desk (I know it's not really stealing if it's free, but saying I stole it makes me feel more rebellious). It was during this time that I also noticed this picture hanging on the wall in the room we were in:

Now please observe the following picture of our TV room:

Notice any similarities?

Nothing makes you feel confident in your decorating abilities quite like discovering that the same piece of "art" (albeit mass-produced) hanging on your TV room wall is also hanging in the room in which your husband was handed a barf bag and then hooked up to an IV.

Regardless, it gave Brian a good laugh, which was much needed at the time. It also gave him a good laugh that the nurse kept talking about how athletic and tall he was. Good thing I remembered to put my wedding ring on before we left the house so she didn't get the wrong idea or anything.

Anyway, we eventually made it home and he was able to get some more (a whopping 2+ hours) sleep. He had a rough night, but after some medicine, Gatorade, apple sauce, and crackers, he is feeling much better. And being that I received an e-mail from Netflix while at work asking me about the picture quality of "The X Files: Season 2: 'Blood,'" apparently he found a way to keep himself entertained while his faithful nurse was away for the day.

And because I haven't talked about myself enough in today's blog, I also wanted to give you an acupuncture update. No exciting food recommendations to report, but perhaps even better, today she made me take a "shot" of this. And because that link doesn't do it justice, you should know that it looks like this:

I know what you're thinking, but the answer is no, I did not accidentally post a picture of Brian's vomit. This is legitimately what she convinced me to drink.

Fortunately, it tastes like a smoothie. Unfortunately, she has strongly suggested that I purchase this special beverage and consume 4 ounces of it every day. And once again, I find myself painfully jealous of those of you that had no trouble getting pregnant.

She also informed me that we are going to get a little more "aggressive" with treatment after this cycle, since my reproductive system seems to be a little on the lazy side. So we'll see how that goes. Oh, and one more thing, she also told me that when I start my next cycle, she wants me to STOP TRACKING MY BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE.

When she told me this, I wasn't sure if I should hug her or cry. Taking my temperature every morning is really very easy, but I admittedly have a hard time not letting the number on the thermometer screen dictate my mood for the morning. So it is somewhat of a relief to be "ordered" to stop doing it.

However, with my cycles being as LOOOONG and unpredictable as they are, it is going to be hard for me to let go of the one semi-concrete sign/symptom that I am able to keep track of. And besides, what are and I going to be able to talk about every day?

Somehow, I'm sure I'll manage, but God, if You're reading this, I just wanted to point out that it would be a lot easier for me to manage if I could just go ahead and get pregnant, like, tomorrow. Thanks.