April 30, 2015

A Month Can Make a Difference (Thank You)

For everyone who has stopped by and prayed for me this month as a part of Adopt-a-Blogger hosted by Conceiving Hope, thank you.  You have been in my thoughts and prayers.  Before the honor goes on to another blogger, I just wanted to wrap this month up with thanks and a little bit of a recap.

On the medical front, we started the month near the end of a cycle that I was sure was anovulatory, and that meant we would have some tough decisions to make.  Amazingly, the cycle was not only ovulatory, but I ovulated from both ovaries, craziness.  Even though that cycle ended without pregnancy, the ovulation success gave us some much needed hope that we aren't quite at the end of the road yet.  As we reach the end of this month, I'm at the end of another cycle.  It was, of course, another wonky cycle full of plenty of weird symptoms that I don't know the meaning of. We'll find out on Monday what happened, so I'll be updating then.

So what does that mean for our discernment? Well, right now we're sticking with the medical route.  As long as the medical route is the easier and more affordable, we'll probably keep with it, though we do take each month one at a time, just in case it looks like a break might be needed.  We do however want to start looking into adoption, and have been talking about it quite a bit.  Right now, finances are our biggest barrier. After we bought our condo last year, we learned that owning would cost quite a bit more than we thought it would, and that, along with financial emergencies like having to buy a car and having surgery, have set us and our savings back quite a bit. It looks like we're finally getting them under control though (I hope I'm not jinxing myself), and are starting to build savings again.  Our goal is to get a couple bigger bills paid for, then move on to saving up for a home study, and then figure out how we would move forward from there.  Then plan is to get there in 6 months, but you know what happens when you make plans...

As for fruitfulness, well, one minor effort was infertility awareness week.  I don't know if it did any good, but I did quite a bit of writing, and hope what I put out there filled some sort of need.  On our bigger efforts, I'm happy to let you know that our infertility ministry for our parish (and eventually the diocese, I hope) got approved!  Now the hard part starts, we have to actually get it off the ground.  We're in the process of getting our first meeting set, getting all the advertising materials together, and trying to figure out where to advertise for maximum exposure.  I'm a little worried it'll flop and no one will show, but if God has brought us this far, I think He'll take us where we need to go.

Also, I didn't really talk about this on the Adopt-A-Blogger post, but it has been the subject of a number of my posts this month, the employment front.  I don't want to go into too much detail, but things have been looking up a bit.

So, a lot has happened this month!  I know your prayers have been there and helped us through a lot. There have been many difficult moments this month, but with each difficulty I also found grace and peace, and I think that is a direct effect of those praying. As part of that, I've been becoming more and more open about my infertility journey in my life away from here, which has been a little terrifying.  But almost every time I put myself out there, I'm met with kindness and love, which greatly outweigh the small annoyances like the unhelpful things and platitudes people say.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.  I hope you stick around to follow our story.  But most of all, I hope you join me tomorrow in praying for whoever the next adopt-a-blogger may be!

April 29, 2015

Check Out This Article

Well, it's a blog post, but reads like a professionally researched, thought out, and written article.  Conceiving Hope (yes, I'm a big fan of her blog, how could you tell?) wrote this article on Why IVF is Wrong (spoiler alert: there are many, many reasons).  Please take the time to read it and consider sharing it, this is such an important topic that so many people don't know about.  My own take on the subject is here, but is not nearly as developed or well written.

April 27, 2015

Weigh Day Vol. 4

I really thought about not writing this update. It's hard to admit a fail, even a (relatively) small one. But I'm doing this to keep myself accountable, so here goes nothing.

First, the positive. Last week I actually did well. I was down 1.6 lbs for the week and closing in on 15 lbs lost total (I was at 14.8). That was great.  Unfortunately, as the pattern has been going, bad week followed good again.

I have noticed that I save my extra points up for Sunday then would pig out, which I thought was a bad idea the day before weigh in. So, being super smart, I decided I'd use my extra points earlier in the week to avoid that problem. It started off great, except I didn't slow down the eating as I started running out of points. I don't think it helped that I was stressed out all week due to various things, and I am most certainly a stress eater.  On Saturday, I made the mistake of eating before I had checked the point on food (always a bad idea).  I ended up eating a cookie that was 12 points!  Ugh.  Then on Sunday we started with a brunch buffet and the day went downhill from there.

Long story short, I was up .9 lbs today. Ouch.  It may not seem like a lot, but that's a hard fought pound, and a wasted week.  All I can do is pick myself up and try again this week, so that's what I'm going to do.  Here's hoping I'll be down the pound and then some next week.

April 25, 2015

Infertility Awareness Week: Seven Things I Wish I Knew Earlier

So, I've talked a lot about infertility this week.  I've got one last post before I'm done though.  I've done some thinking about what the experience of infertility has been for me over the last almost four years, and I've thought of some things I wish I had known earlier.  This may just be for my own satisfaction, but maybe it will reach someone earlier in their journey and help them out.  So here goes:

1. How Important NFP Would Be To Me

I've mentioned before, I was (very wrongly) informed that NFP would not work for me because  my cycles were irregular.  I heard this from my Catholic Ob/Gyn, who tried to push birth control at every visit. I heard it from friends who were practicing NFP themselves.  I was surrounded by a Catholic, NFP loving culture, and no one was able to tell me that NFP would work for me and could actually help me.  Granted it could have been that I wasn't listening or looking hard enough.  We didn't plan to avoid pregnancy, so I didn't see the point of learning NFP. Seems pretty silly looking back on it now.

Luckily, a few months into our marriage (when I was already getting impatient that we weren't pregnant yet) I found that the sympto-thermal method could help me track my crazy cycles. It took a couple more years before I learned about the creighton model system, and how it would show me so much more, and help my doctor with medical treatment.  I kind of want to sing its praises everywhere I go (and I kind of do).

2. That NaPro Technology Existed

Ok, this one is my fault.  Like I mentioned in my post on how I found NaPro, there were pretty big signs and breadcrumbs along the way letting me know about it... I just wasn't really paying attention. I mean, Dr. Hilgers spoke at my college graduation, I should've been highly aware of NaPro a way long time ago.  That would've been pretty nice too, I would have loved to have had a doctor who actually wanted to treat me and wouldn't even mention birth control earlier. At the very least, I am glad I found my doctor when I did, it has been life changing.  I know NaPro doesn't work for everyone, it hasn't even worked for me yet. But the knowledge and care of my doctor is so great, I would say it's 100% worth it, and then some.

3. To Take Comments With A Grain of Salt

I've mentioned before, I don't know any other people in real life currently struggling with infertility.  So a lot of people in my close circle of friends and family were pretty unaware of it, and what to do with or say to a person dealing with it.  That means I've heard a lot of insensitive comments, received a lot of unsolicited advice, and had some people just ignore the situation altogether.  I can't really fault them, before I dealt with infertility myself, I said some of those things you shouldn't say too.  Sometimes it's well meaning (which I try to assume), sometimes it's out of ignorance, and sometimes (though the minority I would say) it's just someone being malicious.  Some people will listen when you try to explain, some people will take some time to get there, and some people never will understand.  I wish I had known this earlier so I could've been more tough and not to let things effect me so much.

4. That There is a Supportive Community of Catholic (and Catholic Friendly) People

For the first three years of infertility I felt so alone.  I didn't know any one else in person dealing with it, and all the online communities I found were secular, with people touting IVF and other Artificial Reproductive Technology treatments all the time.  I remember when one of the bloggers I followed, after years of struggling with infertility, got pregnant with multiples through IVF, and then "selectively reduced" all but one, because she only wanted one child.  That was heartbreaking for me.  I ran away from that online community and never (well maybe only occasionally) looked back. Years later, when I was googling NaPro treatment, I found some catholic (and Catholic friendly) bloggers! And that led me to the Facebook group mentioned in this post.  It's such a beautiful and vibrant community, that is so supportive and full of faith.  I'm so much better for having found them all.  My only regret is that I didn't find them sooner. So seriously, if you've stumbled across this blog and are feeling alone, email me and I can provide you with information about it.  No one should be alone in this journey.

5.  That It Would Change Me (Both In Good Ways and In Bad)

For a long time I tried to avoid dealing with infertility and facing the emotions it caused, but eventually I had no choice, and that experience has changed the very person I am.  I fought against that change for a long time, but the fact is, change is inevitable.  Some of the changes have been negative: I am much more emotional (sometimes at the wrong times), I struggle with envy and anger more than I ever had before, and I have to fight against secluding myself in my own little bubble so that nothing offensive will reach me.  But there have been good changes too:  I'm less judgmental, more compassionate, more open about my feelings (yes, this goes on both lists).  I'm sure as this journey goes on I'll keep changing. It's a part of who I am and I just have to accept that.

6. That It Would Effect My Marriage

Infertility is hard on a marriage.  You can be sad, angry, confused, and hurting.  You are vulnerable, and sometimes it's hard to let another person see that side of you all of the time, at least it is for me.  I used to pride myself on being independent and reason based, and it was hard for me to face the fact that wasn't true all the time, that I might need someone else, and that sometimes my emotions get the best of me.  Sometimes in my frustration I have lashed out, sometimes our communication fails, and sometimes issues take months or years to work through.  But just trying to work through them makes us stronger.  And having the support of each other down this road has been invaluable.  My husband drying my tears when I cry, listening to me when I need to vent, being patient when the meds make me a crazy person, and even charting every night to take some of the stress off of me, makes me love him so much more than I could have imagined before.

7. That It Would Effect My Relationship With God

This has probably been the biggest effect of infertility.  I am a cradle catholic, born and raised in a catholic culture going to catholic school by fervent parents my whole life.  I knew the faith, and followed it, but sometime after college I lost my passion, I lost dedication to it.  I put my relationship with God on the backburner.  I went to Mass on Sundays, confession a couple times a year... and that was about it.  I didn't even pray often at all. I knew it wasn't right to make it such a low priority, but I had so much else going on.

Then the realization that we were infertile hit, though it was a little bit at a time. Somewhere in there I think there was a choice, be angry and bitter at God and reject Him, or cling to Him with all that I have because I knew I couldn't get through this alone.  Luckily, I was given the grace to go with the latter.  It's undeniable that this experience has tested my faith beyond measure, but also grown it beyond measure. Yes, I still get angry, I still struggle, I still ask why, but I try to trust and I try to accept (and keep failing and trying over and over again).  I still have a long way to go and a lot more I could do, but at least I'm trying.  My prayer life could always use work, but it's there, it's exists, and it's a daily thing! I pray the rosary along with a CD on the way to work almost every morning, which is kind of hilarious.  As a kid my Mom would always play rosary CDs and I hated it.  How dare I be forced to pray! My sister was shocked when she learned I had my own now, lol.  God works in mysterious ways and through mysterious things I guess.


So there you have it, those are the things I could think of that I wish I knew about sooner.  Anything you can think of?  Thank you for following along this week!  

April 24, 2015

7QT: Infertility Awareness Week

This week this little blog went overdrive for infertility awareness week.  I think its an important topic so I'm going to sum up the week here.


I'm going to start with a little recap of my posts.  First, we talked about my favorite posts already written on the topic.  Next, I gave you a home tour of infertility.  I then shared a beautiful post written by the collaboration of 430 catholic men and women on the Catholic Perspective of Infertility.  After that I gave some tips on the care and keeping of an infertile friend.  I'll be wrapping things up with a post about what I wish I knew earlier.  I also shared quite a bit on twitter (I've got a little twitter addiction problem going on right now).  Whew. This blogger is going to take a little break on writing now


Conceiving Hope's infertility awareness week series has been beautiful (literally and figuratively) and enlightening in so many ways. I would recap it, but it wouldn't do justice, and she has her own summary post with links.  Head on over there to see it for yourself.


Most fun post in my opinion was this one, with some infertility memes.  Maybe my brand of humor just pairs with a dash of snark, but I loved it.  Here's my favorite for you:

Credit here

Melody's Harmonies had some great posts too.  My favorite is the faces of infertility. It's both heartbreaking and beautiful to read the wide range of stories.


A surprise entry in my favorite series of posts this week was Mama Needs Coffee.  I love the empathy showed to the infertile community by this sweet mommy blogger, and I loved reading the posts each day.  They were all great posts, though I'll have to say this post was my favorite, such a great story and perspective.


There's really no way I can cover all of the great things that happened and were posted this week, but here's some of what I could think of.  Lucky as Sunshine shared her kindness and her story,  An interesting discussion on an article (in the comments). A courageous post. A beautiful success story. An honest view of secondary infertility. Some solidarity. And I finally mentioned infertility on my personal Facebook page and received the support of friends.  All in all, a good week.


Tomorrow I'm going to the Catholic Women Blogger's Network Conference in California (say that three times fast).  I'm pretty excited, though a little nervous because I think I'm the only infertile blogger going, so I'll be a little out of my element with no safety net.  Here's hoping it goes well and I have some great tips to bring back to this blog.

Thanks for stopping by.  As always, for more great posts, check out Kelly's at This Ain't The Lyceum.

April 23, 2015

Infertility Awareness Week: The Care and Keeping of an Infertile Friend

I feel like I've seen a lot of these types of posts, what to do and not do, or say and not say, and they're probably much more thoughtful and well written than mine (This one is my favorite so far this week).  Also, the last post of a Catholic Perspective of Infertility covered this much more thoroughly. However, as there seems to be a bit of confusion among people, so I thought I'd add my two cents.  So here's my take on the care and keeping of me, as your infertile friend.*

What Not To Do:

Just a little note on these: I do get that people are human, and I try to assume they are well-meaning as often as I can (unless there is obvious malice, which is very uncommon).  I won't hold it against you if you do one of these things, but you may get an earful on why you should not going forward.  So I'm saving the time and getting it out of the way in advance :).

1. Give Unsolicited Advice (With Judgment).  This one might be personal preference, but it certainly applies to me.  I've been researching infertility for years now, actually for ten years, since I learned I have PCOS.  I know what's available, what works for me (not much), what doesn't (almost everything), and what I am or am not willing to try.  Offering me advice when I'm not asking for any (i.e "You have to do acupuncture", "I just heard of this vitamin...", "You should do IVF/IUI/ surrogacy") is really not necessary.  At minimum, it's redundant, and at worst it brings up painful memories of failed treatments, or is offensive to my morals.  It only adds insult to injury if you are then upset/judgmental/giving the stink eye when I dismiss the idea as something I'm not into right now, and it is only creating a larger burden on me.

2. Say Unhelpful Things.  There are definitely better lists compiling these.  Go here and here for some of the worst offenders. For me, these are the absolutely worst:
  • "Just Relax." Actually, relaxing won't help my medical problem. Would you tell that to a cancer patient? (One time someone actually answered yes to that though)
  • "Maybe God doesn't want you pregnant right now," "just let go and let God," basically anything along the lines of suggesting that the speaker knows God's will or that God is doing this to me. God is all good, not evil. Infertility is not inherently good, but an evil, it is a disease.  God is not causing me this evil, but He can choose to bring good out of it, one way or another.  Here's my favorite post addressing this. Main point is though, only He knows what He's doing, so it's best not to suggest that you do.
  • "Just adopt" or "once you'll adopt you'll get pregnant." Adoption is a long, oftentimes expensive, and difficult process.  It is a calling of it's own, and there is no "just" to it.  Statistically speaking, the second statement is untrue, regardless of how many anecdotes you've heard.  Adoption is not an infertility treatment, will not heal the wounds of infertility, or the pain of knowing that my body doesn't work. And children through adoption are not lesser than children that join the family through conception as the latter statement implies.
  • "You're so young" and/or "you have plenty of time." Something along these lines was said to me by the nurse, in post op, right after my ovarian wedge resection.  I couldn't believe someone could be so insensitive.  I guess it could be meant to be reassuring, but it really has the opposite effect.  I might be in my 20s, but that does not mean that I "have plenty of time."  If I can't get pregnant while I'm young, in my more "fertile" years (hah), and if fertility declines with age (as it does), imagine what will happen as I get older (more of nothing, I guess).  
Bottom line, all of these are unhelpful, and can be deeply hurtful.  Put some consideration to what you're going to say before you say it.

3. Force Interaction. 9 times out of 10, I will see friends when I might not be feeling like it because I value friendship more than my own discomfort.  Many times I have gone to see friends, knowing I will end up crying in the car on the way home, and curling up with my husband and a bottle of wine the rest of the night (I wish that was hyperbole).  However, there are times I have to avoid people and situations when I know I can't emotionally handle it.  So, if I'm trying to gracefully back out of something, please be understanding.  Along the same line, please don't force me to do anything (like fell the baby kick, hold a baby, change a diaper, etc.) because "I need practice" or the like.  If I'm feeling comfortable with that kind of thing, I'll offer.  If I haven't offered, or I've already turned down your offer once, please let it be. I'm doing my best to hold myself together.

4. Avoid or Exclude Me. This might at first seem contradictory to the above, but it isn't really.  Like I said above, I value my friendships over my own issues most of the time, unless I'm really in a place of mental/emotional/physical distress.  I don't want to be left out of your life just because we are in different places, like you being single, pregnant, or having children.  I will take alone time or back out of events if I need to, but most of the time I will not, so feel free to talk to me and invite me to what you have going on in your life.

5. Pity Me.  I am no fan of pity.  You and I both know when you are saying things out of pity rather than out of care or friendship. For example, if you're in the middle of a conversation about children, don't ask me about my dogs, or worse, tell your child to ask me about my dogs (again, this might be a personal preference thing).  I know my dogs are the only thing I have experience raising, but even I know dogs aren't the same as children (Just don't look at my pile of dog toys or doggie wardrobe). It's clearly pity and trying to fit me into a conversation that I just don't fit into. So, pity, just don't.  It's not helpful.

That being said, there are some basic things that will help our relationship:

What to Do:

1. Be Understanding and Supportive.  Instead of suggesting what to do by way of treatment, adoption, or whatever, be supportive.  If what I am doing is in the moral bounds of the church (if you have doubts, feel free to bring it up, I can quote the catechism for you), please just be supportive, know this action (or inaction) has taken a lot of deliberation, and know that my husband and I are doing what we think is right for us right now.

2. Listen.  Carrying the burden of infertility alone gets difficult.  Sometimes I could use some help in carrying the burden, and you can help by just listening and being there. Heaven knows my husband is probably tired of hearing about it and could use some reprieve too.

3. Do Something Thoughtful.  Look, attending baby showers, newborn hospital visits, and baptisms can be painful with infertility.  Heck, even weddings can be hard. I love celebrating with you, and believe that every new life deserves to be celebrated, but these events are also reminders of my pain and failures. They also remind me of how very few people send anything or visit me when I have procedures, surgery, or am having a bad day.  I know, it might stem from envy, and comparison is bad, but being forgotten hurts.  It doesn't have to be a big gesture, just asking how I'm doing, or giving me a hug, cup of coffee, and/or bottle of wine (are you sensing a theme here?) would be so nice.  Actually, the best thing you could possibly do is redirect me or a conversation when it's obvious that I can't handle a situation anymore, and that comes for free!

4. Let me know I have value.  For anyone dealing with infertility, knowing your body doesn't work the way it is supposed to is hard to deal with.  It can be heartbreaking, and it can make you feel worthless (though that is not true of course).  This is even more highlighted when you are single/pregnant/have children and I am/do not.  Don't shut me out, but let me know my friendship means something to you, and that I have some value. Even if I can't commiserate about dating/pregnancy/ raising kids, I can listen (and I'll try my best to not compare them to my dogs).

5. Pray.  It might seem uncomfortable, but offering to pray for the situation (and following up on that) is always comforting and helpful, even if it seems awkward.  You don't even have to pray that I will have a baby, just for comfort, strength, guidance, or whatever (Not patience though, that one always backfires on me). If you don't pray, offer good thoughts or something.  It's the thought that counts.  (Well not really, but it's a start!)

*Experiences of infertility vary widely, so I make no claims that these apply to everyone, or anyone else, just me. Also, I do get the irony that this is an anonymous blog, and won't actually be shared with my friends "In Real Life" but what can you do.

April 22, 2015

Infertility Awareness Week: A Catholic Perspective

I belong to a group of catholic men and women experiencing the various forms of infertility who have created this post to share for this week.  I'm honored to have been included as a small part of the process and to be able to share the post with you here.

One in six couples will experience infertility at some point in their marriage. Infertility is medically defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months of “unprotected” intercourse or 6 cycles using “fertility-focused” intercourse. A couple who has never conceived has “primary infertility” and a couple who has conceived in the past (regardless of the outcome) but is unable to again has “secondary infertility”. Many couples who experience infertility have also experienced miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

This week, April 19 – 25, 2015 is National Infertility Awareness Week.

We, a group of Catholic women who have experienced infertility, would like to take a moment to share with you what the experience of infertility is like, share ways that you can be of support to a family member or friend, and share resources that are helpful.

If you are experiencing infertility, please know you are not alone. You are loved and prayed for and there are resources to help you with the spiritual, emotional, and medical aspects of this journey.

The Experience of Infertility

In the beginning of trying to conceive a child, there is much hope and anticipation; for some, even a small fear of “what if we get pregnant right away?” There is planning of how to tell your husband and when you’d announce to the rest of the family. It is a joyful time that for most couples results in a positive pregnancy test within the first few months. However, for one in six couples, the months go by without a positive test and the fears and doubts begin to creep in. At the 6th month of trying using fertility-focused intercourse (using Natural Family Planning), the couple knows something is wrong and is considered “infertile” by doctors who understand the charting of a woman’s pattern of fertility. At the 9th month of trying, the month that, had they conceived that first month, a baby would have been arriving, is often the most painful of the early milestones. At the 12th month mark the couple “earns” the label from the mainstream medical community as “infertile”.

As the months go by, the hopes and dreams are replaced with fears, doubts, and the most invasive doctors’ appointments possible. As a Catholic couple faithful to the teachings of the Church, we are presented by secular doctors with options that are not options for us and are told things like “you’ll never have children” and “you have unexplained infertility”; by our Catholic doctors we are told to keep praying and to have hope as they roll up their sleeves and work hard to figure out the cause of our infertility, with each visit asking, “How are you and your husband doing with all of this?”

We find it hard to fit in. We have faith and values that are different than our secular culture, but our small families, whether childless (primary infertility) or with fewer children than we hoped for (secondary infertility), make us blend in with the norm. We have faith and values that are in line with the teachings of our Church, but our daily life looks so much different than the others who share those values and that makes us stand out in a way that we would rather not. We are Catholic husbands and wives living out our vocation fully. Our openness to life does not come in the form of children; it takes on the form of a quiet “no” or “not yet” or “maybe never” from God each month as we slowly trod along. Our openness to and respect for life courageously resists the temptations presented to us by the secular artificial reproductive technology industry.

Often times our friends and family do not know what to say to us, and so they choose to not say anything. Our infertility stands like a great big elephant in the room that separates us from others. Most of the time, we don’t want to talk about it, especially not in public or in group settings because it is painful and we will often shed tears. We realize it is difficult and ask that you realize this difficulty as well. We will do our best to be patient and to explain our situation to those who genuinely would like to know, but please respect our privacy and the boundaries we establish, as not only is infertility painful, it is also very personal.

One of the hardest experiences of infertility is that it is cyclical. Each month we get our hopes up as we try; we know what our due date would be as soon as we ovulate; we know how we would share the news with our husband and when and how we would tell our parents. We spend two weeks walking a fine line between hope and realism, between dreaming and despairing. When our next cycle begins – with cramps and bleeding and tears – we often only have a day or two before we must begin taking the medications that are meant to help us conceive. There is little to no time to mourn the dream that is once again not achievable; no time to truly allow ourselves to heal from one disappointment before we must begin hoping and trying again. We do not get to pick what days our hormones will plummet or how the medications we are often taking will affect us. We do not get to pick the day that would be “best” for us for our next cycle to start. We are at the mercy of hope, and while that hope keeps us going it is also what leaves us in tears when it is not realized.

Some will experience infertility with a complete lack of cycles. Some couples won't even get to experience the benefit of being able to really try to conceive because of this harsh reality, which is a constant reminder of brokenness for those experiencing it. The pain and anxiety that comes from a lack of reproductive health can be crippling.

And yet others, despite hormonal dysfunction and health issues, will experience the cyclical nature of infertility through conception itself (or recurring conception). These couples go on to lose their children (early, full term, or shortly after birth, and anywhere in between) either once or many times. If you know that we've experienced a loss (something we may or may not have the courage to share), know that we are grieving. It wasn't "just" a pregnancy or "just another" pregnancy that was lost; it was our living baby that died. And we are more likely to be traumatized by the cyclical nature of our infertility because of our losses. We do not get to choose that our cycles will mimic our losses. We are at the mercy of hope.

Our faith is tested. We ask God “why?”, we yell at Him; we draw closer to God and we push Him away. Mass brings us to tears more often than not and the season of Advent brings us to our knees. The chorus of “Happy Mother’s Day” that surrounds us at Mass every year will be almost more devastating than the blessing of mothers itself. We know that the Lord is trustworthy and that we can trust in Him; sometimes it is just a bigger task than we can achieve on our own.


* Pray for us. Truly, it is the best thing that anyone can do.

* Do not make assumptions about anything - not the size of a family or whether or not a couple knows what is morally acceptable to the Church. Most couples who experience infertility do so in silence and these assumptions only add to the pain. If you are genuinely interested, and not merely curious, begin a genuine friendship and discover the truth over time.

* Do not offer advice such as “just relax," “you should adopt," “try this medical option or that medical option” – or really give any advice. Infertility is a symptom of an underlying medical problem; a medical problem that often involves complicated and invasive treatment to cure.

* Do not assume that we will adopt. Adoption is a separate calling and should be discerned by every married couple irrespective of their ability to conceive biological children. Infertility does not automatically mean that a couple is meant to adopt.

* Do not assume that if we try to adopt that the process will be successful. Many adoption attempts fail and don't result in a couple receiving a child placement (temporarily or permanently). Some couples are flat out rejected from attempting to adopt by different agencies and governments. Just like adoption is an incredibly intrusive and emotionally charged issue that is part of a separate calling in the journey to "parenthood", it isn't always a possibility for infertile parents. Do not assume we can. And be gentle if we are trying. It's extra painful to be infertile and not be able to adopt. And we are likely so hurt that we can't bear to share the details with everyone.

* Ask how we are doing and be willing to hear and be present for the “real” answer. Often times we answer, “OK” because that’s the easy, “safe” answer. Let us know that you are willing to walk through this tough time with us. Frequently we just need someone who is willing to listen and give us a hug and let us know we are loved.

* Offer a Mass for us or give us a prayer card or medal to let us know you are praying for us. Just please refrain from telling us how we must pray this novena or ask for that saint’s intercession. Most likely we’ve prayed it and ask for the intercession daily. Please feel free to pray novenas and ask for intercession on our behalf.

* Be tolerant and patient. The medications we take can leave us at less than our best; we may not have the energy or ability to do much. Please also respect us when we say "no, thank you" to food or drinks. We may have restricted diets due to our medical conditions and/or medications.

* Share the good news of your pregnancy privately (preferably in an email or card or letter and not via text, IM chat, phone call or in person) and as soon as possible. Please understand that we are truly filled with joy for you; any sadness we feel is because we have been reminded of our own pain and we often feel horrible guilt over it as well. Please be patient and kind if we don’t respond immediately, attend your baby shower or don’t “Like” all of your Facebook updates about your children. Again, it is really about us, not you.

* Help steer group conversations away from pregnancy and parenting topics when we are around. We like to be able to interact in a conversation to which we can contribute meaningfully.

*Do not exclude us from your life because you think we may be uncomfortable. It is actually more painful to be left out because of the cross we're carrying, and we know that doesn't make a lot of sense to our families and friends. We will excuse ourselves from events or situations if we must, and please let us do so gracefully if the circumstance arises.

* Do not ask when we are going to “start a family” (we started one the day we got married).

* Do not ask which one of us is the “problem” – we are either fertile or infertile as a couple.

* Do grieve with us if you know that we've experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death (or many). You may not know what to say to comfort us, and that's ok. Let us grieve at our own pace and on our own schedule without guilt or explanations, even if we have living children. Do not offer platitudes for why you think it happened, how you think it's part of God's plan for us to suffer, or any number of things you think might have been wrong with the child. It was our living baby that died. Let us grieve, pray for us, and if you can, let us know you care by being there for us in our grief. Let us know that you remember that our baby lived, no matter how short of a life.

* Do not say things like "I know you'll be parents some day," or "It will happen, I know it will!" Along the same lines, please do not tell us stories of a couple you know who struggled for years and went on to conceive or to "just adopt and then you'll get pregnant" (this one actually only happens a small percentage of the time). Only God knows what our future holds, please pray with us that we are able to graciously accept His will for our lives.

* Do not pity us. Yes, we have much sorrow. Yes, we struggle. But, we place our faith in God, lean on the grace of our marriage, and trust that someday, whether here on earth or in heaven, we will see and understand God’s plan.

Because this topic is so difficult for so many women and men, the best thing our friends and family can do (and indeed strangers we encounter who may be aware of our struggles) is pray for us. We are grateful for those who offer their prayers and support in a gentle way. Your support is invaluable to us.

Lastly, remember that compassion means "to suffer with". We didn't sign up for this to happen. We can't control whether we overcome this. And we're doing our best to navigate the murky waters and maintain our sanity and our faith and our relationships with our family and friends through it all. We truly need your support and love to accomplish that. Please, please suffer with us and be Christ to us. No other understanding of our cross will be more merciful or more loving than if you put yourself in a situation to sympathize or empathize with us. The pain of infertility is exacerbated by the fact that it draws us into ourselves. We need your help to remind us in the most difficult moments that we aren't alone, God didn't forget us, and that we have something precious to offer through the fruitfulness of our marriage even when it isn't manifesting in the children we so desperately want to hold. Together, we can offer up our shared suffering for Christ. It's a powerful witness to both of our faiths to travel this road together and we'll manage it better with your help than if we have to travel it all alone. 

This post was made possible through the collaboration of 430 members of a "secret" facebook group of Catholic women and men struggling with the pains of infertility in all of its forms. Together we are stronger. And in having the conversation, we are breaking the silence. If you are Catholic and experiencing the pains of infertility and would like to join a "secret" facebook support group, please send me an email at tomato (at) tomatosvine (dot) com and provide me with your email address and we will happily add you to our discussion.

April 21, 2015

Infertility Awareness Week: An Infertile Home Tour

As part of preparing for Infertility Awareness Week, I've been thinking about how infertility impacts my daily life because, well, it does.  Specifically I've thought about the reminders around my house.  So in case you're wondering what my particular brand of infertile home looks like (although I doubt you have), here you go (as always, please forgive my poor photography skills, an artist I am not):

1. The Medicine/Vitamin Shelf.  It started out as a corner on the kitchen counter, but eventually grew to be too big.  Then I moved it all to an edge of a shelf in my pantry, now it takes up over half (you can see what remains of my baking shelf behind some of the bottles), and I'll probably be needing to clear more space soon.  In case you're wondering, I would say at least 90% of this is fertility related, with the other 10% being things we take daily for general health, or were intended for that and then discontinued (like the women's one a day, no folic acid allowed for this MTHFR defect haver).  Cold/flu/miscellaneous illness medicines and remedies fit in a nice little drawer of their own.

2. The Kitchen Counter.  Of course I didn't completely clear off the kitchen counter.  It still harbors (going right to left ish) both the Hubs's (on the bottom) and my (the blue one on top) pill organizers (because we're officially 80 years old), my cycle calendar (to more easily plan what meds to start and stop when), which is stacked on top of my cycle plan and medicine list for ease of reference, droppers/ measuring tools for one med that gets diluted in water, a couple vitamins I keep out to remember to take with me during the day (I don't have a lunch pill case yet), and the large bottle with the measuring spoon is a vitamin in powder form that also goes in water... so complicated.  Lastly, my bottle of Tylenol, since I avoid any other kind of pain killer for fear of causing LUFs, ugh.

3. The End Table.  Ok, kind of a cheat, but the end table holds the books I'm attempting (or intending) to read right now.  Right now the book about St. Gerard that the Hubs gave me for Christmas is hanging out waiting for me to get through it. The Creighton manual has also been hanging out there for my perusing if when my cycle gets confusing (though I do put it away when company comes over).

4. My Dogs.  Well, this one was following me around as I took pictures, so I figured the dogs should get an honorable mention.  Again, not strictly infertility related, but we probably wouldn't have the dogs if we weren't on this journey.  That reminds me, I should share the story of how we got the dogs, but that's a story for another post.  So anyways, the dogs occupy the 3rd bedroom/ den during the day and then get to run around in the backyard when we're home (we're extra cautious because of coyote issues in the neighborhood).  Silly dogs have all sorts of fun.  

Not pictured due to mess/laziness, but here's a cute dog :)

5. The OPK/HPT Stash. (under the bathroom sink).  Ah, what would any TTC household be without these.  I have to have my Ovulation Prediction Kits (OPKs) and Home Pregnancy Tests (HPTs) available just in case.  Since starting charting with Creighton I actually haven't used these much, to the point that they have expired before being used up (except for the more recently purchased first response tests). Oh well.

6. The Shower. While we're in the bathroom (that's where the Opk/Hpt stash is) check out the shower. Yep, that stuff is all natural, and fragrance, phtalate and paraben free (at least supposedly, I just recently check the brand and apparently there are some issues, I'll be switching when they run out). No, I'm not crunchy (though I have nothing against crunchy people). My doctor thinks it helps egg quality, so in with the natural stuff. (I do keep the good, chemically stuff around if I want to feel super clean, but I try to keep it to once a week or less). And I always have my handy razor around, as any PCOSer dealing with hirsutism might :(.  

7. The Guest Bedroom.  This one isn't as obvious as the others.  This room what we hope one day will be the nursery.  For a while after we moved in, it solely functioned as storage.  We resisted for a while, but finally re-purposed it as a guest bedroom(/storage still).  I was hoping we could skip this in between step, but eventually I had to accept that we had to use it as something for now.  Its was difficult, but what can you do.
Again, not pictured due to mess, here's a poorly taken picture of the door instead

8. The Night Stand.  The Hubs's night stand to be precise.  That's where the Creighton chart stays, along with the folder/stack with most of our fertility related medical records.  This makes it easy for the Hubs write down my observations at the end of (most) days.  

So there you go, that's what infertility looks like in my home.  How does it look in yours?

April 20, 2015

Infertility Awareness Week: My Favorite Posts

This week is Infertility Awareness Week.  This week is what this blog is all about, sharing experiences and building a community around those dealing with infertility.  Now, I know that if you're a regular reader of this blog, you're probably pretty aware of infertility, and chances are you're experiencing or have experienced it yourself. However, in case you're new to this site, or in case you haven't experienced infertility yourself, I have some posts planned that detail more of the experience of infertility, my experience in particular.

Before getting to those though, I thought I'd share some of my favorite posts about infertility that have already been written, both by myself and others.  They are listed in no particular order, and don't begin to cover the plethora of topics involved in infertility, but I do feel like they highlight some of the emotions and struggles that go with it. I think that's a good place to start before diving in with new posts, so here we go:

Written By Me:

These are posts that have a special place in my heart for one reason or another.  It would be an awesome bonus if they were are a help or comfort to anyone else.

  • In the Middle - Where I feel that I am most of the time (and my theme song).

Written By Other People:

There are also a lot of other great bloggers, and really great writers, better than me for sure.  I really love the diversity of voices and the great community they have built.  It's so hard to choose, but here are just a few of the blog posts that have hit home with me.  I really love all of these blogs in general (and many more), they're definitely worth checking out.

  • Tales From the Valley: He Cried More- A beautiful reflection on God's plan and infertility.  This post has really helped my relationship with God in light of infertility. 
Like I mentioned, these are just a small sampling of some posts I've loved that I came up with more or less off the top of my head.  For more great infertility blogs I follow, check out my left sidebar. Also, for bloggers who've moved on from primary infertility, they're over in my right sidebar, along with Other Great Blogs I Follow. Feel free to share your own favorites in the comments!

April 18, 2015

Our Story: The Road to Happily Ever After

Last time I left off in this series, we had just gotten engaged.  It's been bugging me for a while, because that's obviously not the end of the story (and two posts is not enough for a series, in my opinion, lol).  So even though this time the post isn't tied with any particular date (I tried to think of one but failed miserably) you get to hear the next step in our story :).

So, back to the story.  Getting engaged wasn't the final step, not by a long shot.  Getting married was going to take some effort, to say the least.  First we had to figure out where, and then we had to figure out when.  You see, we got engaged in December, and the Hubs was supposed to graduate the following May.  After graduating law school, you usually go and take the bar in the state you plan on practicing in.  Problem was, although we had agreed to live in California, I still would have a year a school left in Florida.  But staying in Florida wasn't an option for the Hubs if we were going to move, because you don't want to waste thousands of dollars on bar prep for a bar in a state that you aren't going to stay in, and if you don't take the bar you can't seek legal employment, and well... we would need someone to support us.  

We could've decided to date long distance for a year, but a) we didn't like that idea, b) that still would be tough for the Hubs, would he move to California by himself?  So, the remaining option was for me to attend my last year of law school in California.  It's a tricky procedure, you can't just transfer after two years of law school, no one will take you.  You have to "visit", i.e. attend a different school but get your degree from the original school.  You have to convince the school that you have justifiable reasons, and then convince the other school to take you.  Then there's a lot of going back and forth to get every little thing approved.  But I did it, and it worked!  I found a California law school that would take me and both of them agreed to the situation.  

Since I was already subverting regular procedure, I figured I might as well go off the beaten path some more.  Ordinarily, law school takes three years, you start one summer (August for me) and graduate your third May.  Well, I reasoned that it would be best if I finished school early, so I could take an earlier bar exam (its only offered twice a year) and get a head start on job hunting.  So instead of completing the normal academic year, I decided I would take classes over summer and finish up with the fall semester, a half year early.  The only problem was that a limited number of classes were offered and allowed over the summer, considering that the summer semester was half as long as a regular semester, so classes met more frequently and for longer. That meant I would have class all day every day in the summer, and have to double up on classes during the fall in order to finish.  Yikes! But, being an insane person, I decided to go ahead with it.  What does this have to do with anything you ask?

Well, although we had a living location and the school situation figured out, we still had to, you know, get married.  We decided sooner was better than later, for crazy people reasons, and picked a date in August, meaning our wedding would be 8 months after we got engaged.  We would be getting married in California, but had to figure out how to do pre-cana in Florida.  We found a great priest at the parish we attended in Florida who agreed to it, and after some convincing my home parish in California agreed to it too.  

But not only did we have to prepare for the wedding, we would have a lot of other things going on too.  I would be double timing it with school and the Hubs would be busy finishing up school and then studying for the bar, up until the wedding really.  This meant that Hubs would take the bar two weeks before the wedding and I would finish school for the summer the Wednesday before, and had to go back to school less than two weeks later.  That left one week of spring break, the week between the regular school year ending and summer school starting, and the weekish before the wedding to plan.

 Oh, and somewhere in there we had to make the cross-country move. I had lived in Florida for 6 years, so I had amassed quite a bit of stuff, and the Hubs had to relocate stuff from both Florida and New York, including his car.

Oh, and on top of all that, we kind of had to figure out a living situation, and how to support ourselves, considering neither of us had jobs.  The Hubs wouldn't be able to start looking until the fall, and I wouldn't be able to start until after I took the bar exam the following February.  See what I mean about us being crazy people.  Looking back I can understand why people thought we were being hasty or that we should wait until I was done with school, but that option created other problems, and we really just wanted to be married.  

Thankfully, my parents were huge helps and really supported us.  Before we were married I was going to live at home with my parents, but while we had extra rooms, my parents didn't want the Hubs to be living in the same house.  So they let him stay in a house they were trying to sell, that was completely empty except for the bed and table they brought in for him.  There wasn't even hot water, I would transport him up to my parents house to shower, lol. After we were married they said we could move into the guest apartment in their house, which had a bedroom, bathroom, and small living room and kitchen of its own, so it would be perfect, even though it was tiny (600 sq/ft max). How we would support ourselves was still a mystery, the Hubs had dwindling savings and I had none, but we kind of overlooked that part (because, crazy).

To say that the months between our engagement and our wedding were stressful would be an understatement, but somehow it all worked out.  I visited home over spring break, where I got all the bridesmaid stuff and vendors figured out.  Back at school, I had my roommates help me put together save the dates and I worked on planning during nights and weekends.  Over the summer, I delegated out as much as I could, and again, worked nights and weekends to get little things like invitations and seating charts done.  We didn't get some details finalized til the last week, like who was going to do hair and makeup, or the day of, like my friend's husband finishing the slideshow we put together, or another friend filling our car with gas so we'd be able to leave the reception.  

I have no idea what we were thinking, or how we did it, but somehow, after many sleepless nights and through the help of family and friends, it all came together.  We got married on August 13, 2011, and it was definitely the best day of my life so far :).  I just remember so clearly the love and presence of God I felt on that day. And there we were, two crazy kids in love, about to embark on the even crazier journey of marriage.

I'll tell you what my second favorite memory of the day was, the first being the ceremony of course.  After the ceremony and reception (the wedding was early, so the reception was over by 7 pm), we went to a nice hotel for the night.  After we got out of our fancy duds, we realized we were hungry, so we changed into some casual clothes, hopped in the car, got some fast food cheeseburgers and shakes, and went and ate them by the beach. It was so low key, but such a great moment, I'll never forget it.

The first year wasn't easy, but God definitely provided.  The generous gifts from the wedding and the party the Hubs' parents held for us on the east coast, along with the help of my parents and cashing out the Hubs's old 401k (not a move I would suggest but we were desperate), was just enough to tide us over until the Hubs got a job.  Really, we were down to our last one or two hundred dollars when he got it.  I somehow managed to finish school as planned, took the bar exam, and found a good job (at a time when the market was really bad).  At the same time, we were figuring out how to join two lives and be a married couple, which is tough! As crazy as we were, and as hard as it was, God gave us everything we needed.  Looking back, I wouldn't have done it any other way!

April 16, 2015

When God Says No

Wrestling with God's will is something I've been doing a lot of lately, both with trying to figure it out and trying to accept what He's given me (probably something I'll always struggle with).  I've been thinking about how listening to Him is a lot easier when He shows his will through yeses and open doors.  That's how He worked with me most of the time, for most of my life, up until recently really.  When there was something I clearly needed to do, the doors would swing wide open, with neon signs lighting the way.  Where to go to college, where to go to law school, who to marry, where to work, all brightly lit open doors.

One of my favorite examples is our story, it was one thing after another that brought the Hubs and I together.  Another is how I chose law school.  I applied on the very last day, to only one law school, and it was a long shot considering my average gpa and lsat score. Yet I got in, got a scholarship on top of that, and really excelled once I started.  I felt deep down in my heart that it was what I was meant to do.  I took for granted how easy it all was.

Lately, instead of yeses I've been getting nos, and lots of them.  The most spectacular example is in regards to a job I was interviewing for lately.  Everything was smooth sailing, I was onto the third interview, references checked, everything teed up for the move.  I wasn't sure if it was the right choice, but I knew I would take it regardless. So I asked God to throw up barriers if this wasn't the job I was supposed to take, and the barriers came pouring down.  The final step was one last phone interview... which was cancelled 8 times over two weeks.  I asked my contact if this was happening to everyone. "No, just to you" was her reply.  Finally, the day before yet another rescheduled call, I was informed that the position had been filled (there were three available positions when this all started).  

Clearly, that job was not meant to be, as much as I really would have liked the move (and the pay). I don't know why, all I know is that He said no.  And that's been the interviewing process all along, one no after another, four months in a row, exhausting.  The problem is, the same thing keeps happening at my current job, every time I ask for something that would make it more livable, and that would make it easier to pay my bills, the answer is no. I don't get it.

That's obviously been the answer in our infertility journey so far as well.  Every new cycle feels like another no, or at the very least, not now.  I've even asked for clarity, over and over again, if no to this, then what do you want, what are we supposed to do?  But I don't feel like there's been a clear answer yet, or maybe I'm not listening.  I once felt certain that medical treatment was the right road for us, and that God had led us to this doctor, and I guess I still do, but what's the point if the answer is always going to be no?

Its hard to wait, and accept no as the answer over and over again. I try to trust, I do, but its hard.  People say that when God closes a door he opens a window, but I don't see the window yet, just one closing door after another. 

I was thinking about it the other day, and wondering if I'm just kind of on hold, waiting for the right pieces to fall into place.  Perhaps other people need to do other things for my puzzle to come together, if that makes any sense.  Like dating, in a way I guess.  

I remember when I was single how upset I was that no one had come along, how sad each failed romantic endeavor was.  Oh the stories I could tell you about some of the breakups, or failures to even get off the ground.  I went to a small catholic college, a lot of people met there and married right after graduation (sometimes even before).  Watching everyone couple up, I felt passed by, alone.  Looking back it makes sense.  There was no way the Hubs and I were going to run into each other earlier, being from two opposite sides of the country.  The timing was just right.  Everything fell into place, and it took all the previous nos to get there.  But looking forward without knowing what the future held was painful.

I suppose that is similar to the situation I'm in now.  The difference is, that was one part of my life, I still was able to move forward in other areas, like school.  Right now it just feels like everything is on hold, I'm waiting to move forward in so many areas of my life, and I've been unable to do anything about it.  Its a frustrating situation.

 Maybe someday I'll look back and it'll all make sense.  Maybe I'll see how God perfectly lined everything up.  Right now, its just feeling like a lot of doors slammed in my face, which is painful.  I hope one day I'll be able to say it was all worth it.

April 14, 2015

Weigh Day Vol. 3

Back for your friendly weight update!  The last two weeks have been interesting.  The week before last I was nearly perfect, which was great.  Unfortunately, my doctor's appointment last week kind of conflicted with my weight watchers meeting, so I don't know how much I lost that week, just over the last two weeks. Weighing in at the doctor's appointment was fun though (since the scale is different than my weight watchers' scale, I'm won't count that weight here).  The nurse who weighs me noticed I was down about 10 pounds since my last appointment and was really excited for me. That was nice, and good motivation to keep going.

Last week was, well, the start of a new cycle, so it didn't go as great.  I still tried and mostly stuck to the tracking, but there were definitely some comfort eating moments. There also may have been some half off Easter candy to blame for that.  All in all, it was one of those weeks where I was just happy if I tracked some to most of my food.

Luckily, the two weeks evened each other out or something, I was down 2.8 pounds, which brought me to having lost 5% of my weight so far. That's a good milestone in itself, as I've read that the health benefits of weight loss can start with losing as little as 5 to 10% of your body weight. I also keep noticing small changes in how my clothes fits.  Its probably not noticeable to anyone else, but its nice to me at least.

One hitch in the weight loss so far has been that I've been relying on processed, packaged, and fast food. Its just easier to keep track of points that way. Those aren't always the best or healthiest foods though, and last time around I had trouble with this same thing.  I have two weight watchers cook books and, you know, the whole internet at my disposal, so I'm hoping I can pick up cooking again.  Now if I could just figure out how to meal plan and keep it affordable too. Oh well, I have to start somewhere!

Here's hoping that the losing keeps going! Thanks for stopping in this week.

April 8, 2015

On to The Next One...

Just in case anyone was following the last cycle review post, I didn't want to keep anyone in suspense.  That cycle has ended and today is definitely the start of a new one.  I was in a little bit of denial with the cramping, but then I started spotting yesterday and I knew it was likely over.  I got another negative test this morning (this time on an unexpired test, hah), and we've moved beyond just spotting.

I'll admit I'm a little sad, it's been a roller coaster of a few days.  But the Hubs keeps reminding me to be patient with my body, and take it one step at a time.  We've got the ovulating going (hopefully), and that's a big victory!  So now we wait and see what happens next cycle. Thanks for following along!

April 6, 2015

Cycle Review 6

Well, its that time again.  I had my follow up with Dr. S today for the last month's cycle review.  But first, a recap of this cycle so far.  This was another clomid cycle, same dose, just for a couple more days.  Everything else was the same except for adding back a supplement and I was supposed to add in a fertility massage too, but forgot (and/or didn't believe the premise so didn't want to spend my money on it). Hey, I'm usually a pretty good patient (nowadays at least), so a one time lapse isn't so bad. I will try to remember to do it next cycle.

This cycle, emotionally at least, wasn't as bad as the last. I got a little emotional and had a few bad days, but nothing like the full week from last time.  My cycle itself was weird though.  The clomid seriously dried my cm up up, even with being on like ALL the mucus enhancers, so I had a record high of 5 green days this cycle.  Seriously, never heard of.  With that, my fertile window was down to two days.  Not  a great thing.

Before the appointment, I wasn't sure whether or not I ovulated, there were some symptoms indicating either scenario:

In the "maybe I ovulated?" category: I did have some sort of build up, rather than just peak type mucus on and off the whole cycle.  I also had  some cramping in the general what-I-assume-is-ovary area a couple days before peak day that let up completely on peak day itself.

 In the "there's no way I ovulated" category: there was no L this cycle at all and my CM didn't dry up right away after peak, both of which are usual for me, but different than the one with the confirmed ovulation.

In the "I'm so confused" category: I didn't have breast tenderness right after peak (again, happened in ovulation cycle, and previous times before Creighton that I suspected I ovulated), but it did show up around p+6, so I had no clue what that meant, just a side effect from the progesterone maybe?  I'm breaking out like crazy, possible sign of my testosterone getting even higher (most likely, and would point to no ovulation), or maybe something else going on with my hormones?  Also, the clomid side effects, the dryness is new but could totally be blamed on the clomid, and the lack of side effects is more similar to my ovulation cycle than my last non-ovulatory cycle, but I still did have some, which means absolutely nothing really, but still confused me. Basically, anything I'm used to made me think I didn't ovulate, and anything out of the ordinary made me think something is going on with my hormones, so maybe  I did ovulate.  Yes, I way over-analyze everything.

Also getting to me was the liturgical timing of my cycle (Ah, things only an infertile Catholic would say).  I'm trying not to be superstitious, I really am, but I couldn't help look at the timing of my cycle and the feast days the fell during it and wonder if it was a sign of something, or if the extra prayers could help at least. Our St. Joseph's Novena and St. Joseph's day fell pre-peak. It looked like ahead of time that my peak day would fall between the annunciation and palm sunday, and it ended up being the day after the annunciation. And then P+10 fell on Easter.  P+10 is the earliest day my next cycle could start, as my post peak last cycle was only 9 days (the latest it could be based on my wonky cycles is next Sunday), and the earliest I could possibly get a positive pregnancy test (so of course I took a pregnancy test on Easter which of course was negative, ugh).  And of course, almost the whole cycle took place during lent but it's ending in the Easter season, so... who knows.

On to the doctor's appointment, finally.  First of all, my hormone levels were good, better than ever actually (except for testosterone, the number wasn't in yet). But we still had to do the ultrasound to confirm.  First we checked my right side and after what was probably a few seconds but seemed like eternity, Dr. S announced that she saw a corpus luteum.  Last time I ovulated it was out of my right side too, so I joked that it's just my left side that doesn't like working.  She said "well, we'll see." And then proceeded to check out the left side.  I was waiting to hear that there wasn't anything there, or maybe some cysts, instead she found a corpus luteum there too!  So in case all this gibberish doesn't mean anything to you, my doctor confirmed ovulation, and from both ovaries.  What!  As for the new plan, since apparently the Clomid is working with my body now, we're gonna go ahead with it for another cycle, and just add another mucus enhancer for the drying out issue. And that was it, appointment done.

You guys, in my heart I was so sure that this medicine, this cycle wasn't going to work, I had already counted us out.  I even wanted the Hubs to come along on the appointment so he could be there as we discussed our remaining options.  To his credit, he usually tries to be there anyways, but it does get difficult to take a half day off of work and drive the hour and a half drive there and back, though he wouldn't complaint.  Although he did come along for this appointment, the poor guy waited in the waiting room during the ultrasound, and since we did most of the talking during or right after it, he didn't even get to participate in the appointment.

It's still blowing my mind that instead of being out, we're actually in our first two week wait ever.  For the first confirmed ovulation, our timing was really bad, so I didn't even consider pregnancy possible.  But this time (and for pretty much the first time) our timing was really good.  And there were two eggs available! Ahhh!  We freaked out in the car a little bit at the what ifs, and what would we dos.  We've been trying for over three and a half years, and this is the first time there was a confirmed chance.  Crazy!

That being said, I'm really trying not to get my hopes too far up.  Like I said, I already got a negative pregnancy test yesterday, and with the wonkiness of my cycles, my period can't even really be considered late until next Monday.  I have started cramping too, and getting some stretchy cm, which is usually a sign of impending period, so I just  keep trying to remind myself of that.  In the meantime, I'm just going to be sitting over here, celebrating my crazy double ovulation and trying not to symptom spot, don't mind me.

*ETA* I wrote an update post here, but in case you don't want to click over, we're onto the next cycle now.

April 3, 2015

7QT: Holy Week Edition

Welcome back for another Seven Quick Takes.  Since this is Good Friday, I'm going to keep this post focused on holy week.

photo credit: here


Palm Sunday was a roller coaster of a day.  It started out with the events of this post, not really a high point for me.  But when we got to mass (we go to evening mass) things turned around. We were asked to bring up the gifts, and as simple as that was, it was a whole lot of healing for me. I finally felt at home in our parish, and felt like I had something to offer, beyond all my brokenness. Sometimes its the small things that make all the difference.


Ok, so maybe not a holy week event, but Tuesday I went to a talk by an amazing priest, Fr. Robert Spitzer, about happiness and suffering, which is mentioned on his website here.  I had never heard Fr. Spitzer speak before, though I had heard great things about him, and I can say he lived up to what I had heard and then some.  The talk really made me look at some things in my life, and was really helpful in considering suffering too.  I'm really glad my sister dragged me along to it :).


On Wednesday, the Hubs and I went to confession and holy hour.  There is an awesome Norbertine abbey close to us, St. Michael's Abbey, which offers adoration and confession ever day during their night prayers.  Attending is always a beautiful experience.  This one was no different.

The wait for confession was pretty long, an hour and a half, and I'll admit I got impatient at some points, but in the end I consigned myself to the fact that God wanted me there.  Having adoration the whole time was beautiful.  The first half hour, maybe 45 minutes, was easy, as I counted up my sins, got ready to go, and said prayers for anyone I could think of.  The rest was more difficult, but good.  I took a good hard look at the sins I was bringing to confession, and made sure I was actually sorry for them, and was going to do something about avoiding them in the future. Then I just spent time in silent prayer until it was my turn for confession.  It was a wonderful experience.


After confession I felt awesome.  The next day (yesterday) I felt like I was bouncing on a cloud of grace for the first half of the day at least.  I always know confession is good for me, but I don't always get the happy clean soul feeling, as I think of it haha, so that was nice.  Of course, as the day went on it got harder and harder not to slip back into the usual routine of being irritated at people, gossiping, and the rest of it. I did my best though.


Last night we went to the Holy Thursday service at our parish.  Again, it was a beautiful mass.  Growing up it actually wasn't something we would traditionally do, so going has kind of been a new tradition the Hubs and I have started.  I will admit that sometimes I do get impatient with the long masses (anyone catching the fact that I have an issue with patience? lol) but I love being more immersed in the liturgical year, and especially the happenings of holy week.  It also makes me appreciate our parish, our pastor and priests, and the community there more too, you can really sense the reverence and care that goes into everything.  After mass we picked up pizza at the same place we ate at on Ash Wednesday.  Not so much a symbolic intentional gesture, really just because its one of the closest places to our church to eat and I was hungry!


God has made pretty clear that I should be clearing my distractions for Good Friday.  My boss gave us the whole day off for Good Friday, which is a first.  I will give him credit, the last couple years he would give us the afternoon off if we asked for it. I also had a phone interview that was supposed to take place at 12:30 that I was feeling uneasy about.  Yesterday it was cancelled (due to the position being filled).  So, I guess that leaves me free and clear.


That leads us to today, Good Friday. Having the day off has been a nice way to slow things down.  I'm going to try to make more time for prayer and meditation, especially during 12 and 3 pm.  A few church near me have services, so maybe I'll catch on now or later when the Hubs gets home.

Thanks again for stopping by.  I hope you are having a blessed triduum. For some great conversion stories (I love conversion stories) and more great posts, check out Kelly's at This Ain't The Lyceum.

April 1, 2015

April Adopt-A-Blogger!

When I learned that I was going to be the blogger chosen for Adopt-A-Blogger for April, I was so surprised!  I have loved following along, praying for, and learning about a new blogger each month, and I'm shocked and humbled that its me for this month.  Thank you for stopping by here, for your prayers, to Conceiving Hope for hosting this, to the previous host TCIE, and continued prayers for last month's blogger, Casey at My Love is Too Little. Ok, that's probably enough for my acceptance speech, lol.

To give a little background on me, I'm a 20-something cradle Catholic, a crazy dog person, and, last but certainly not least, have been married to the most wonderful man (or the Hubs as I refer to him on here) since 2011.  We met in/right before law school* and its been pretty much happily ever after since then :).  To hear more about our love story, you can check out these posts.

My story with infertility stretches back to when I was a teenager and diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), its been a long (wow, ten year) road.  You can read more about it if you'd like on the Infertility Journey page, which has links to more detailed posts too.  Another lovely part of PCOS is weight struggles, so you may notice that I post about my weight journey a bit too, and you can find a summary of it on my Weight Journey Page.  We knew before we were married that having children might be difficult, or might not happen, but have been open and hoping for them from day one of our marriage, without any success.  I finally started medical treatment with a wonderful NaPro doctor last year, where I picked up some more diagnoses, and have been through quite a few different treatments and procedures, including an Ovarian Wedge Resection in December of last year (which you can read about here).

Unfortunately, right now its not looking like the surgery worked, as my body is not ovulating on its own or (other than possibly once) responding to meds to try to make it ovulate. (The Hubs doesn't think its surprising that my body does the opposite of what I want it to, apparently it's stubborn like me).  We have one more medicine to try, which I should be starting this month. As much as I hope it works, the doctor wasn't very confident about that possibility.  If that medicine fails, we hit a fork in the road: we can continue on with medications that are much more expensive (like thousands of dollars from what I understand) and harsh on the body, end treatment and consider pursuing fostering and/or adoption, or maybe something else we haven't thought of, I don't know.  We are weighing those heavily right now, and would appreciate your prayers for our discernment.

*ETA* I just wanted to update, I actually did respond to the meds last month and ovulated!  For more details you can check out this post.  So we're actually sticking with the same medicine, not even switching, and things are looking a little brighter over here.  Those prayers are working fast!

We are also trying to be more fruitful in other ways (This blogger has a great series on that), and so right now we're trying to get an infertility ministry approved and off the ground at our parish. We'd appreciate prayers that it is successful, if that is God's will.

Thank you again for stopping by, and for your prayers.  I look forward to facing this month with your support. If you have any other questions (or want to see a picture of my dogs :) ) feel free to check out my About Page, comment here or anywhere, or send me an email at tomato (at) tomatosvine.com

*yes, I'm a lawyer, I hope that doesn't change your opinion of me, we're not all bad