Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful - picture post!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I spend weeks planning and preparing, days cooking and baking... and gain a lifetime of memories. This year my partner in crime, Jen, spent the week over at our house, preparing and helping me get everything ready. Couldn't have done it without her!

The menu was quite extensive: 23-pound turkey, Honeybaked ham, to-die-for mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry jello salad, biscuits, corn casserole, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, pasta salad, appetizers (meat, cheese, crackers, candied nuts, fruit) lots and lots of ALCOHOL, made-from-scratch apple pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pecan pie, Hershey pie... and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Talk about food coma! 

Brother Brian, Cody, and Michelle

Bro in law James and sister Nik
 
Table decor

The clan!
 
FOOD!

Cute Kelli :)
 
I could eat his cheeks!


 
Cody and JJ

I'm thankful for him
 
Love my siblings!
 
Puppy love

 

... and I totally slept for 13 hours the next day, but it was worth every second of preperation and moments of exhaustion.

We took on a few little projects around the house before Thanksgiving.
First, I made these little candle holders from an idea I got on The Chew (thanks Clinton Kelly!)


Eric installed me a new kitchen sink! YAY!



Finally, what Thanksgiving weekend is complete without setting up the tree?!?


  

  

My cute Santa's helper!

Now, it's time to think about the Christmas menu. ;-)

In the meantime, I'm trying out some Paleo recipes in an attempt to eat healthier and get a jumpstart on my new years resolutions. This morning, I made this triple chocolate protein shake (yum)! Seeing that I don't like veggies, this will be an adventure in planning and conjuring up recipes that I like to eat. Here are a few of my favorites so far:

Simple Blueberry Muffins (where do I buy almond flour?)

As you can see I have a limited number of approved recipes so far. :-P I plan to have some salmon, sweet potato fries, lots of roasted potatoes, and turkey burgers.

Anyone ever eaten Paleo? I'm not going crazy, and not doing it 100% purist, but if I even cut back on my processed carbohydrates (hello, pasta almost every day of my life) by half, I'd be doing good. Any good recipe suggestions?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Shine

What does it mean to shine? What comes to mind when you think of someone who "shines"?

I recently listened to a song from the show Nashville, (which I don't watch... just heard the song) called "Undermine". A part of the lyrics, "it's a whole lot harder to shine, than undermine" got me thinking.

At first, I was sort of guilty, thinking of all the times I have wanted to talk bad about someone, or when I held a grudge against someone who had hurt me and wished horrible things upon them. We've all been there at one point or another. That word, undermine... its almost like digging a hole underneath someone and allowing them to fall in. Vindictive. Calculated. It's easy to imagine someone like this that we know, or even how we've acted that way towards someone else.  And the lyrics are correct by indicating that it isn't difficult for us to fall into this unattractive behavior.

What's harder for me is to think of someone who truly shines. I think we'd all like to think we shine... we wear pretty makeup, get our hair done, have a rocking body (or at least we work hard at it!), or wear trendy clothes. People might notice our outward appearance often; we may get a lot of compliments that make us feel good. We post cute pictures on Instagram that make us feel good about ourselves. Maybe we exude confidence, and feel like we can conquer the world. We do a good job at work and get kudos from the boss. Maybe some of these things make us feel like we're "shining". We're in the spotlight, if only for a moment.

But to me, when I think of someone who shines, I think of none of those things.

To shine. So, what the hell does that really mean?

To me, someone who is truly beautiful shines from the inside out. As cliche as that sounds, it couldn't be more true. The attractive physical features, nice clothes, confidence, or success is the last thing I think of when I think of someone who shines.

Someone who shines can often be broken inside. They often think of themselves last, and put others first. They talk about their struggles, not to seek pity, but out of a desire for transparency. Because of their transparency, they attract others with similar features. They often lack confidence, and continually struggle with insecurity and self-doubt. The last thing they think of themselves is as someone who "shines" or even someone who has anything to offer.

But one thing is for sure: they shine.

I only know a handful of people like this. In fact, I can count them on one hand. But the ones I do know are near and dear to my heart. Sometimes, when I think about them, I want to cry, simply because I love them so much and can't imagine losing them. It's not that I go around analyzing people I know (ok, sometimes I do ;-), but they simply stand out. Well, they shine. How appropriate.

Turns out Hayden Panettiere was only partially right. It is much harder to shine than undermine, but I don't think she's thinking of the same kind of shine that I am. I'm partial to the kind that's found very, very rarely, in the most unassuming people... in the most unexpected way.

"Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." Brené Brown

Shine on.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This is your life.

I'm not sure how this became my life.

A life of doctors appointments, pills, shots, and procedures. A life filled with a basketcase of emotions, mixed in with a pinch of hope that is only lost a few short days later.

How did I become this person? The person that has friends who I haven't seen in forever, to only have them ask about how "the whole pregnancy thing" is going as a means of making conversation. I'm "that" person, the one who can't get pregnant, who writes long, emotional blog posts. The person that gets so angry at my husband for not understanding what I'm going through, so frustrated because I feel like I'm doing this by myself sometimes, that I'm making all the decisions. The person that feels hope slipping away on a daily basis, becoming resigned to feeling empty and angry.

The person who hopes for good news every month, while preparing for/expecting overwhelming disappointment. Simultaneously. Try that on for size, see how you like it.

At least this time, I saw it coming. A negative pregnancy test on Saturday and I prepared myself for the barrage of emotions that were sure to come, feeling like a failure, and hard decisions of what to do next. Another negative on Monday and I just held on for the ride. Here we go again... I know what to expect. I'm becoming an expert in disappointment.

So again, I ask myself... how did I become this person? How is this my life?

I decided its time for a change. As much of a change as I have control over anyway, which isn't much. But it's something.

I decided to take a break until next year. I say that I decided, because my husband said "do whatever you want" and because he doesn't have to do any of the "work", it doesn't affect him. I'm not happy about that, but we're working on it. So much of me wants to keep trying, to just continue to shove down how I'm feeling and not deal with it. To pretend this doesn't bother me, that I'm as strong as people want me to be, and just move on to "next time". To just jump into IVF, screw the money. But I know I just can't do that... I know better.

This is why I also decided to see a therapist. Our agency has infertility therapists that incorporate a "mind body" approach, teaching you coping techniques, yoga, stress relieving practices, and therapy. I'm not much of a hippie or naturalist, but I figure what the hell. They say this program has been "clinically proven to reduce the distress associated with infertility and may increase pregnancy rates". I just want someone to talk to, to tell me I'm not crazy, and to help me and my husband find a happy medium on our issues. I emailed the therapist today. We'll see.

I know that this is stressful and hard, and I shouldn't minimize it. I should deal with how I'm feeling and not ignore it. But sometimes people make me feel crazy because they don't see it the way I do. Be strong, have optimism, stop being so stressed out, relax, eat healthier. Thanks for the advice, but kindly STFU. I'm not asking for people to wallow in self-pity with me, but neither do I need your ignorant, unsolicited advice. I have friends who listen, who know me, and that's all I need. I truly appreciate the friends who offer support in positive thoughts, "bump dust", and prayers. I love you all for that.

And for myself, I need to be in a better place. The last thing I want to do is bring a baby into my life when I am in a bad place emotionally. I can't expect it to just magically change if I get pregnant. So whatever that means, whatever it takes, I'm going to try. For a student going to school to be a psychologist, I feel so lost sometimes on how to handle my own problems. Might as well start somewhere.

This is my life, and this isn't who I want to be. The good thing is, I DO have control over that.

The other good news is, I can drink as much as I want over the holidays!

See, there is always something to be thankful for.

Monday, October 1, 2012

... the waiting begins today.

"Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy -- the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.

Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." Brené Brown

When I say this is a roller coaster of emotions, it's true. A couple of weeks ago, as you know, I was upset, depressed and frustrated. Today, I feel like I'm climbing back to the top, anxious, nervous, and daring to be excited. Stay tuned to see what next week holds. ;-)

So as you may (or may not) know, for the past week or so, I've been doing FSH shots every other day to "stimulate" my follicles, in addition to Metformin, Clomid, and the Ovidrel trigger shot. We decided not to do an IUI this month, which the doctor didn't think was necessary either.

The "pen" looks like this:


There is a wide range of complications that can come out of doing this shot, including ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, ruptured/twisted ovaries, and of course, multiples. :-) I didn't really expect to feel any different with this new shot, but I really can feel my ovaries hurting, like they are swollen.

This past Saturday, I drove to Orlando for my follicle scan ultrasound, and was anxious to see how the FSH worked in producing better follicles (therefore better eggs). As a comparison, I had ONE good follicle last month when we did the IUI, which of course was unsuccessful.

So during the ultrasound, I'm watching her find and measure the follicles, and there is one, two, three, four... five, six, seven ...!! and even more. I lost count. And they were a good size too! I couldn't believe it. In the end, there was probably around 12 follicles. WHAT. (no wonder I'm hurting! lol) The nurse asked me if we were doing IVF because there were so many! (it kind of made me wish we were!)

I was so excited. I know most people are only excited for me because I'm excited talking about 12 follicles, even though they don't know what they are excited about exactly! Hahah. Quite honestly, I don't know all of the details either, like how many eggs are in each follicle or whatever, but I just leave that up to the doctors.

Later that day, the doctor called me and told me to do one more FSH shot that night, and then to do the Oviderel trigger shot the next day (last night). They told me they determined there would be two follicles that would release this cycle, so I get the mandantory disclaimer that this "could result in multiple births" etc etc.  and to only proceed if we are comfortable with that risk.

That just makes me smile. I would be thrilled with one, and I would also love twins. ;-) Lets get this show on the road!

The two-week wait begins today! I'm anxious and trying not to get ahead of myself.

Here's to owning my story, choosing to be vulnerable, and being brave.

Keep your fingers crossed.

P.S. I got my hair cut! (and I got Instagram (new iPhone 5 baby)! Follow me @ mrsstrodtman)


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Living in the moment

This isn't easy.

Maybe I thought it would be, but to date, this is one of the most emotionally trying times in my life. And I just have this feeling that it ain't gettin' any easier.

I was all excited a few weeks ago, going to Orlando to have my first IUI (Inter-uterine Insemination). You always think the next time is gonna be "it". Trying something new has got to be the ticket. Switching things up. Sticking a tube up you-know-where and injecting clean, happily swimming sperm directly into my uterus. Seems foolproof and ridiculously easy. Oh, and mind-numbingly expensive.

Then, it's the wait. The dreaded two-week wait. Do I have some wine or not? Do I feel pregnant? Question everything. Is anything different? Eventually, I'm convinced I'm gonna have my period. Eric isn't so convinced, but I remind him I'm the expert on this subject, after all. No more questions.

I was right.

I took a pregnancy test a few days early because I couldn't stand it (and I read somewhere online about a woman who did an IUI and tested 6 days later... pregnant). I figured it had been 12 days, why  not give it a try. It was negative. Of course, I think, it's too early.

Test again on the 14-day mark, which happened to be a Monday, and it was still negative.

Eff.

Truly, that was one of the worst Monday's ever, and there have been some real shitty ones. I call it my "$600 period" because I could feel that money we spent on the IUI and shots just flushing down the toilet. Tears my heart up. Isn't fair. Makes me angry. Hopeless. Question my resolve, my desire to keep trying.

Funny thing is, two weeks earlier, we had made an appointment to talk to the doctor about "next steps" on that same Monday, just in case. If my test was positive, obviously, we'd cancel the appointment. If it was negative, at least we had it on the schedule. Seeing as it was negative, I told my boss I'd be out for half the day Monday at a doctors appointment.

Sunday night, Eric tells me he can't go because he has class at that time. Immediately, I'm furious. He was standing next to me when we scheduled the appointment weeks earlier. The other part of me feels guilty because I'm the one who pushed him to go back to school. I decide it's not worth arguing about (or making him skip class), but I do consider not going, because I really didn't want to go without him. I already feel enough like this process is all 'me' because I do most of the work, and by default he's enjoying this process because he gets to do the fun stuff. Ya know.

Monday morning, I'm still on the fence and in a terrible mood, so I decide to text my mother in law, who lives in Orlando (about 20 minutes from the doctor) and see if she can come with me. Mind you, she is a midwife and knows a lot about babies, and is super cool. I figured she's a good runner-up. Turns out she can go, so that makes me happy.

Regardless, I really wasn't in the mood to talk about 'what to do next' when I just found out that what we've already done hasn't worked. But, I'm a big girl so I sucked it up and had the big girl conversation. That doesn't mean I didn't have a good cry on the drive over and blast the music to dull the pain, but that's to be expected.

The doctor, of course, is awesome and explained things from the beginning for my mother in law. Then he talked about what we should do next. He said I'm his first patient to not respond to Letrozol (progesterone med) so he is going to switch me back to Clomid. Asked if I was still taking Metformin (insulin/blood sugar) and I said no... which got me a lecture. He wants me to be on 2000 mg of it, so I gotta catch back up because apparently it's super important (like I knew that?!?). Said something about how they're sure I have PCOS because a normal "level" is 2 or 3 (of something, can't remember), and mine is 6.9. I have too many eggs, and that's not a good thing. Go figure.

So this month, we're not gonna do an IUI because he doesn't think it's necessary. Eric's "stuff" is more than fine and it probably won't make a difference anyway. That'll save us a bunch of $. The real difference is we're gonna do some FSH shots this time, which is Follicle Stimulating Hormone. Basically gives you more eggs to work with, increases the chances of multiples (and a ton of other not-likely risks), and a bunch of other technical things I can't explain. The combination of medications, shots, and monitoring are the key. He said something about having over 20% chance of getting pregnant with this shot, and a 12% chance of twins.

So am I excited? Not yet. I've gotta be honest, I really wanted to quit. I wanted to take a break. I felt like I would be more "relieved" to get pregnant than excited, because this whole ordeal would finally be over. I feel very stressed out and am beginning to wonder if there really is something to those people who "stop trying" and get pregnant.

Sometimes I feel alone, because very, very few people really understand what this is like. Not even my husband does, to be completely honest. I get why he doesn't, but it doesn't really help me at all. I feel guilty for my negative, pessimistic emotions, but also don't feel that I should fake anything just to make other people comfortable. I go to parties with all of my friends, which means hanging out with an 11-month old cuter-than-life baby girl, a 2-week old tater tot girl, and a 37 week pregnant mom due to have her girl any day. It's a crazy mix of jealousy and motivation to keep trying.

I can't say that I'm in a good emotional place right now. Truly, I'm not. I'm stressed out (not with just this... work and school are a factor too), doubtful, scared, and unsure of the future. I am a planner by nature, I like to know what my next step is and what I will do in every scenario that could possibly happen in the future. The problem with that is that I can't really even know what to do more than a month in advance because the doctor doesn't know what is gonna work and what isn't. While that doesn't help my emotions much, I can accept it and just try to take it one day/month at a time.

Eric did suggest that we meet with the doctor more often than we have been (we haven't talked to him in over three months), which I agree with. It'll cost us a $50 copay, but I always get SO much out of my conversations with him and always feel more hope and direction... like I have a plan for the next round. So I plan to schedule an appointment at least every two months.

What will happen next? Hell if I know. I don't know if I care, quite honestly. I know I want a baby, that will never change. But as far as what "outcome" I want, I think I'm over trying to expect anything. Every month feels like a new month of possibilities, but also of deep disappointment looming just around the corner. The best I can offer is to take it one step at a time, to stop trying to think about all of the "what ifs". I'll take what I have at face value. Anything else really drives me crazy.

This really equates to me not feeling one way or the other. I'm not hopeful and I'm not pessimistic. I'm back to feeling nothing. I'm sure I'll get excited again when we get closer to the two week wait, but for now, I'm just gonna be honest and real. This is hard. I'm not gonna pretend it's anything else.

But, hard or not, God is still good, and He is faithful. This isn't His fault, nor is it mine. This is where we're at today. I'm not waiting for things to change, I'm choosing to live in the moment.

When that moment changes, I promise you'll be the first to know. :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Unbaby.me

This is not what I planned to write about today, but I just read a blog from a woman who was sarcastically making fun of all her friends who installed unbaby.me and it infuriated me.

You know about this right? It's a new browser plugin you can install and have all of the pictures of babies that show up on your Facebook replaced with pictures of whatever else you want (you decide - kittens, puppies, flowers, cupcakes...). I get that it's pretty funny and dumb at the same time. And no I would never install it, even though the NON-STOP barrage of kid/baby pictures can really wear on me. Not even just "wear on me", but hurt like hell is a more accurate description. Yes I get that simply hiding pictures of babies won't solve my problems. But that isn't the point.


The point is people like this blog writer who just don't get it. People who have never struggled a day in their life with this baby thing. Who got pregnant because they decided it was time and, magically, they got exactly what they wanted. Seriously, I'm happy for you that it worked out the way you planned. And never in a million years would I be angry at you, unhappy for you, or mean to you.

You deserve to be able to post a picture of your pee stick announcing your pregnancy. You have every right to mail me a special card in the mail announcing your "souvenir" from your vacation in Italy after a month off birth control. No one can stop you from installing Baby Gaga and auto-updating me on your weekly progress. This is probably the happiest time in your life, you are over the moon, hormonal, and already overly-protective of the little watermelon seed inside of you. Good for you! You go and do all that, because you can, and you deserve to.

But let's not forget that this also means I have every right  to be struggling and post how I'm feeling. I am allowed to say that seeing pregnancy announcements on a daily basis can sometimes cut me straight to the heart. And that sometimes I wish I could "hide" those announcements (without fearing my pregnant "friends" will instantaneously delete me and refuse to speak to me). I'm allowed to post that I'm at the Center for Reproductive Medicine trying to get pregnant again this month, for the 1382747th time. I'm allowed to post pictures of my dog just as much as you post pictures of your kid. No one can stop me from saying I feel like giving up, feeling so tired of continually trying, and continually being happy for others who have exactly what I want without going through the pain and heartache.

See, we're not so different after all. We're both allowed to express ourselves! Amazing concept, isn't it?

I have been so blessed recently with a blog friend, who has struggled with infertility for over four years, get pregnant in her 2nd round of IVF. What did she do that was so special? Before she officially announced her pregnancy officially on Facebook or her blog, she private messaged me and shared it with me... AND gave me time, space, and freedom to be upset if that was the case. Why? She certainly had no obligation to do so. My heart wants to explode thinking about how happy she must be after trying for so long... so imagine how she feels! She did it because she knows what it's like to be in my shoes. It is an incredible feeling to know someone really gets it and chooses to think of others who are struggling, above themselves and their happiness. That is a rare, rare, jewel of a person. I was humbled and overwhelmed by the kindness of her gesture. I will never forget it.

Other friends of mine who are currently pregnant have taken me aside and told me individually, not in a group setting, about their big news. My friend Callie took me out to lunch to break the news. So sweet! My friend Megan was so sweet about her announcement. Some of them told me after that they were nervous to tell me, which made me sort of sad. Don't ever apologize for this blessing! Just know that I appreciate the gesture of sensitivity and thoughtfulness of telling me differently than the others. :) You guys girls rock!

Do I expect or even think ANYONE else would do this for me? Never in a million years. It's not something I expect others to even think about, and that's fine. They've never been in my shoes and I genuinely do not expect them to understand what it's like. There are plenty of situations other people experience that I do not understand and can't relate to. Only those who have been "blessed" with hardship can actually empathize with others in a simliar situation.

I would, however, hope that I could put others and their needs before myself. Going through something like this really opens your eyes to how real pain can be. It makes you more sensitive to the needs of others. It makes you want to do everything in your power to help others who are struggling, and at the very least, to not add to their pain.

So, would I judge someone for installing unbaby.me if and when I got pregnant? No. Just the same way that others might want to install undemocrat.me, unduckface.me, or unwhatiatefordinner.me. Stuff like that could come in handy! And it is obviously a joke.

Unfortunately, though, there is no app for insensitivity.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

On "having it all" vs. "having enough"

It's August! Wow. Like the rest of you probably feel, it seems like this year is flying by. The holidays are already on my mind because I'm already starting to plan our holiday gift drive for kids in foster care. ALREADY! The craziness I anticipate during the upcoming holidays already stresses me out. LOL.

Besides that, I am definitely enjoying our "break" from "trying" this month. We decided to take this next round off because we'll be out of town for a couple of weeks for work-related things. I didn't want to stress out about doctor appointments or getting my shot on the correct day and time. It's been a nice (quick) break. Before I know it it'll be time to start back up again.

Rewinding to catch up on a few highlights from the past month...



Birthday celebrations!
L: Chart House w/ my love on my birthday
R: Girls night with Jessica in Downtown Orlando for sushi and dancing!
  
L: Flowers, balloon, sign, and chocolate cake surprise when I got home from work!
R: Night out in Downtown Melbourne w/ my girls (Jen1, Jessica, Jen2, sister Nik and Tiffani)

Chilling on the beach w/ family and nephew :)

Eric came home from a week of ERT training in Alabama -- riot training and tactics, handling live chemical agents from weapons of mass destruction and all sorts of craziness. So glad to have him back!

Recently I've been re-evaluating priorities because I feel like I'm doing too much and don't have time for things that are most important. I was training for a triathlon AND my 4th half marathon, but decided just to do the half because it was all too much. My priorities right now are school (right now statistics are the bane of my existence) and work, as well as focusing on staying healthy for the fertility treatments in the upcoming months.

I posted this quote on my facebook the other day and it sort of sums up how I feel:

"Your life is as lonely as you would like to make it, your joy is as much as you decide to feel it, your night is as long as you decide to stay awake, and your destination is as far as you decide to walk."

I'm all about taking ownership for YOUR LIFE and not blaming anything or anyone else. Instead of saying "I can't afford that" I'm saying "I'm choosing not to spend my money on that". We control our own destiny by the choices we make. So empowering! I stumbled across this thought-provoking article about "having it all" versus "having enough". You must read the whole thing here, but here's a clip and what happens to be my favorite quote in the whole thing:

"When I look at friends and acquaintances, many with perfectly beautiful children and wonderful lives, and see how desperately unhappy or stressed they are about balancing work and family, I think to myself that the solution... to many problems is deceptively obvious. We are chasing the wrong things, asking ourselves the wrong questions. It is not, "Can we have it all?" -- with "all" being some kind of undefined marker that shall forever be moved upwards out of reach just a little bit with each new blessing. We should ask instead, "Do we have enough?"

Food for thought, and definitely a challenge for me to implement in my life!

We're headed to St. Augustine this weekend for several days... half vacation/half work conference, but I'm really looking forward to getting away! Will chat when I return. :-)

xo, Steph

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Year number 27

Today I'm turning the big 2-7! It's muh birthday people! :)

I just wanted to write a quick note and say how grateful I am for the years I've been given, for the life that I have, friends, family, and health. I don't deserve half of it.

This morning I got up early and went on a 5-mile run to kick off my 27th year. I don't take that for granted. My life hasn't been perfect, but I have been very blessed.



Cheers to a new year full of love, life, laughter and endless possibilities!


“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Round one = Infertility 1, Baby 0

Well friends, we find ourselves in round two of the fight for a baby. Actually it's more like round 22, but who's counting?!?

I will admit, I think I knew in my head that getting pregnant on one try (of seeing the specialist) was probably not going to happen. But there is always that part of me that hopes it will happen. I think the worst part is having to break it to Eric. He is always positive and holds on to hope until I give him the news. It breaks my heart every time, and I go through the whole round of emotions of feeling like I can't give him something he totally deserves. I have to remind myself that this is not anyones fault, and that this is what God has planned for us right now in our lives. But I'm not deying that it's hard. Really hard.

One of these days, I'm going to have to figure out a cute way to give him the best news of his life. I'm still waiting for that day. :-)

While you're in that two-week window after ovulation and before you can take a pregnancy test, as it gets closer to that 28, 29, 30 day mark I feel like I'm almost literally listening to my body to try and decipher what its doing. Do I feel like my period is starting or is that how it feels to be pregnant? Your mind plays tricks on you, and it is the most torturous two weeks of the month.

So, round one = Infertility 1, Baby 0.

I've already been back to the doctor for my two ultrasounds on days 3 and 10, taken the Letrozole, and this Thursday I have to do the Ovidrel shot. And then we wait. Again.

I am a planner by nature, and Eric and I talked about our "plan" of action, and it feels good to sort of know what we want to do in the coming months. In the back of my mind I know I need to give my body a break at some point, especially since I think my body hates me right about now. I was on antibiotics for 20 days of the past 30 days of June for strep throat/sinus infection and my body has felt really run down. But I don't feel ready to take a break quite yet, especially since we just started with the specialist. I also know that the actions we're taking now are not even anywhere near as aggressive as we can go -- with more medications, treatments, etc. So knowing how I feel now is slightly intimidating for what I might be feeling in the future as this continues.

So our "plan" so far is that this month will be the last time we'll continue as we are. Starting  September (may not be able to do it in August because I'll be traveling a bit for work - so I might not be able to make doctor appointments) we will start with the IUIs for probably three months -- Sept/Oct/Nov. IF we are still unsuccessful by the end of this year, I am taking a break. Like, at least a 4 or 5 month break. Of course, I'm going to talk to the doctor and see what he thinks, but that is my plan for now. Besides the fact that sometimes the magic happens when couples have tried for years and then stop "trying", which I hate to really believe, but am willing to consider a possibility (anything is a possibility at this point). And by break I mean a COMPLETE break. No medication at all. No timing my periods/ovulation. Just stop, relax, enjoy, and pretend for a few months that we're actually not trying. I'm not sure if that is entirely possible, but I'm gonna give it my best shot.

And yes, in the past month I've gotten two announcements in the mail for family members who've had babies. Let's not even talk about the amount there are on Facebook or my local friends who are both pregnant with girls. I mean, hello, Adele is pregnant too!! I stopped comparing myself to others a while ago, and I'm not about to start now. Our time will come. And I'm so glad I'm not the one deciding when that day will be. I just have to take one step at a time and do what is right in front of me. I can handle that.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Things I'm thinking about ... aka what I'm loving on Pinterest

Have to remind myself of this sometimes

So true.


LOL - reminds me of Pheebs and Layla (Jen) :-)

Saying "I'll try" gives you a way out. Either say you will or you choose not to. You have the power to decide!


Believing is half the battle
 
Hahaha. Yes.


I'm sure both my dogs think this. Bahaha.
 
I feel sorry for some people.

My mantra these days.


Truth.


Death to the duckface!


I always think of the Kardashians on TV for some reason when I see this...


"I believe that God meant for life to take our breath away, sometimes because of the sheer joy of it all and sometimes because of the severe pain. To choose living over pretending means that we will know both."

Happy Friday!




Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hardcore babymaking

I posted this picture on Facebook last night, and one of my friends said "Who knew babymaking was so hardcore?!?" Hahaha. I agree. I had to do this BY MYSELF because it had to be done between 6PM and 8PM and Eric was stuck at work late! So I called my friend Jen and she helped me out over the phone. What are friends for if not to talk someone through sticking a needle in their ass??


So, we're officially at the "shot" stage. It's called Ovidrel (commonly known as hCG or human chorionic gonadotropin ) and I get it on a specific date and time after an ultrasound where they measure my follicles. I went in on Monday for that ultrasound and they saw two follicles that would be large enough, so that should mean this shot will release at least two eggs. :-) (twins anyone?!?)

We've decided to go this route for about two or three months (I say two, Eric says three so we'll see) and if this doesn't work, we'll move on to an IUI or two. Fingers crossed that we won't need to!

It's been a challenge keeping up with the medications, appointments, and trips to Orlando but we're making it work. Not to mention how expensive it all is... this shot was over $100 because it isn't covered by insurance. Ouch. Last week I got strep throat and in addition to the fertility meds, I had to get a few more...


Sometimes it's hard to believe I'm only 26 and not 86! I feel so high-maintence, but I'm keeping a positive attitude because I know it will be so worth it!

Eric and I talk all the time about how this is God's plan for our lives right now, and how much more we will cherish having a baby because we've worked so hard to get there. He always says "We'll be able to tell our kid, 'mom and dad wanted you so bad we worked for two years for you to get here!'"  I admit, it's pretty cute to think about.  :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Other things may change us, but we start and end with family

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”
- Dr. Seuss


All us kids, spouses and grandkids on Memorial Day, 2012

(L to R: Eric, Me, James, Nik (sis), JJ, Michelle and Cody, Brandon and Brian (bro).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Today was the day!!

I am so excited to update you guys on the info we got today at our appointment in Orlando with the Reproductive Endocrinologist. We decided to go to the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Orlando because there is only one of these docs here in Melbourne and after doing some research I didn't feel comfortable going there. I'm so glad we made that choice!

First of all, I chose this specific doctor because he specializes in PCOS research and treatment, which is the condition I have been diagnosed with. It was obvious at our appointment today that he is very knowledgeable about it and is interested in each of his patients.

For the first time, I feel like I have more answers than questions about this whole ordeal. The doctor spent almost an hour with us talking about things and going over our options. Since I hadn't eaten yet, I was able to do blood work and he's running  tests for seven different hormone levels which will give him a lot of information about my issues. All of these levels can be adjusted with medication. He is also prescribing a different medication from the Clomid that I've been taking which blocks my estrogen receptors and improves ovarian sensitivity to FSH (or something like that). The medication, called Letrozole, is the same medication used with post menopasual women who have a high risk of breast cancer in order to prevent it from reoccuring.

He also did an ultrasound to look at my ovaries which was interesting. It didn't show very many if any cysts which is good. I'm on cycle day 28 right now so there is a chance I'm pregnant now (will test at the end of this week) and the ultrasound did show that I ovulated. The doctor was funny and said that if I'm pregnant this month he gets the credit! LOL. I doubt my Melbourne doc would appreciate that. Haha.

Either way, if I'm not pregnant starting next cycle we'll start the new medication and treatment plan. The Letrozole has been found to be much more effective than Clomid. If that alone doesn't work, they will add hCG shots in order to guarantee an egg actually releases (which is the main problem with PCOS patients).

As I was writing this, the nurse called me with some test results already!! Amazing.

Progesterone level is 21.7 - GREAT (remember I started with 0.07!)
Prolactin (pituitary gland) was 10.7 -- Good/normal
TSH (thyroid) was 1.2 -- Good/normal
DHEAS (adrenal hormone) was 308 -- High/abnormal. She said this hormone should be around 200, so the doc might add a medication to bring it down. If this is high it can prevent pregnancy from occurring.

Still waiting on the results for the Insulin (if it's high I'll start taking Metformin again), AMH and chem panel. Don't ask me what those last two mean! LOL.

Sorry if this bores any of you, but I'm SO EXCITED about the future and the options we have!! My friends and family have been so, so, so supportive about this. Everyone is cheering us on. I have more hope and anticipation than ever, which is saying something for me. :-)

Today I was trying to sum up how I feel... just thinking back on this whole process and how far we've come. I remember how much anger, frustration, and disappointment I felt in the beginning. To say it's been the biggest challenge in my life so far would not be an overstatement. But now, even though we're still not pregnant, my heart is so full with the love and support from those around me and the hope for our future. I have been changed irrevocably through this process. But I can honestly say, with true happiness, that I would not change it for anything.

God has shown Himself so powerful, loving, kind, and most of all patient with me, and I am confident in His goodness and plan for our lives. This has been a blessing in disguise. Goodness, I never would have told you even 5 or 6 months ago that this has been a blessing. But now, I say it wholeheartedly. This quote I found today sort of sums up my feelings:

"It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars."

The "stars" that I can see now are so important to me. I couldn't see them before this. The future is bright... irregardless of what the future holds. I am finally at peace. I anticipate struggles in the future, but I can rest in the fact that no matter what, God is good, and He has our best interest in mind.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hope


"Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired."

- Erik Erikson


P.S. I have an appointment with a repoductive endocrinologist in Orlando on May 21st! :-)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fun weekend up north!

This weekend was a fun, exhausting, and just plain good! On Thursday I flew up to Indiana with my nephew JJ to drop him off at mom and dads for a few weeks.

He was ready to go!


Thumbs up and ready to fly!

Aunt Steffi and JJ on the plane

 While I was there we saw some pretty sunsets...


Played, played, & played in Goey's (mom's) living room...


Went to the park one afternoon ...

JJ and Goey seeing who can swing the highest!

 

JJ picked some flowers to share!


Ventured out to a little community carnival, I attempted to ride the ferris wheel (tame, right?!?) and quickly got dizzy. Yeah, yeah, it was just a ferris wheel - -but it was the fastest ferris wheel i've ever been on! YUCK! JJ loved it though. :)

Before

After!
I just realized I'm wearing the same outfit in almost all of these pictures! Ha. We apparently did all these things in one day! :)

On the way  back to the airport on Sunday, we stopped at Ivanhoes - a fantastic, one of a kind ice cream joint with over 100 sundaes and 100 shake flavor combos! YUM!




Dad told JJ to act like he was licking the ice cream cone... and of course he actually licked it! LOL

We got to the airport for me to head home, and found out there was a 2 hour delay! :-( As it was it was a late flight and I was going to get home around midnight. This would put me home around 2 or 3AM! So I made the best of it, sat my butt down at a resturant in the airport and worked on a paper (which I nearly finished!) and had some Blue Moon. Felt good to get ahead in school and have some down-time, actually.


I ended up getting into Tampa just after 1AM, so I spent the night w/ my friend Jen because I didn't want to attempt the two hour drive home - I was pretty tired! I left this morning, got home around 11AM and headed into work for a few hours. Feels good to be back! :-)