Share Your World: March 30, 2017

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I’ve been seeing  posts in my feed lately which are blogging challenges from Cee’s Photography. Some posts are Q&A’s, others are photographic. It’s so easy for me to run out of topics to blog about: the struggle is real! Intrigued, I checked our Cee’s site, which can be found here, and decided to take a blog challenge myself.

This blog challenge is called Share Your World. So, here’s sharing a piece of my world:

Does your first or middle name have any significance (or were you named after another family member)?

Yes! My middle name is: 1. my mother’s first name; 2. my maternal great-grandmother’s first name; and 3. my paternal great-grandmother’s middle name. Whew! I’m not exactly sure who of the three I’m named for. But I like to think it’s after my mother, which lets a part of her live on through me.

Music or silence while working?

Definetely music. It feels so eerie to work in silence. I’m in the habit of playing Pandora quietly in my office all day at work, and it’s worth the $4/month subscription fee. It’s usually tuned to instrumental, hymns, chill, country, or spa, depending on my mood.

If you had a special place for your three most special possessions (not including photos, electronics, people or animals), what would they be?

I think this question is asking what the special possessions would be and not where they would be, but it’s kind of hard to know by the way it’s worded.

Anyway.

Books: I heart my books, and would be so upset if I ever lost them.

Memento Box: Technically, these are plural memento boxes. I have a few shoe boxes filled with cards, letters, event programs, pet collars and tags, ticket stubs, etc. that I’ve collected since childhood. Opening them up is a blast of nostalgia, so I only do so every few years.

Kitchen Stuff: Sorry if that sounds lame—but after eliminating pics, electronics, people, and pets, I struggled to come up with a number three for this list. I picked my kitchen gadgets since I love to cook so much. I’d be majorly bummed to come home to a house full of healthy food, but no way to prepare any of it.

The Never List: What are things you know you will never do?

Walk away from my faith. God’s been way too good to me to ever consider not seeking after Him daily.

Go to an Eagles game. For years now, my best friend has been pestering me to to go a game with her. But I just can’t summon up enough oomph to even remotely care about football. I think it’s some kind of law that Philly people are all die hard obnoxious Eagles fans and I missed the memo. But I just…can’t… yeah, sports will never interest me.

Own a reptile. I love animals, but reptiles kind of skeeze me out. They’re either slimy or terribly dry, and some come with forked tongues(!). *shudder.* No thanks.

Optional bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week was full of small moments of gratitude, from a healthy vet checkup for Kitty to the first day of spring.

On that note, one of my personal challenges in 2017 has been to keep a Jar of Gratitude. Essentially, my jar of gratitude is a repurposed spaghetti sauce jar which I blinged out with scrapbooking supplies and glitter so I’d enjoy looking at it each day. I keep a small notepad and pen beside the jar and jot down what I’m grateful for each evening and add a slip to the jar. It’s become a family affair, as Jake has been doing it too (I’ve yet to catch Puppy adding to the jar; his only interest in jars is if they hold dog treats. And I don’t think the cats are grateful for much of anything… ever). At the end of the year we’ll empty out the slips, put them in date order, and look back over all the blessings small and large that 2017 held…. Or maybe we’ll do it on Thanksgiving. We haven’t decided yet.

As for “What I’m looking forward to in the week coming up,” I’m looking forward so much to Jake and my trip this weekend! He’s whisking me off to a mystery location, so it’s like mind-wracking to pack: Do I bring a sweater or a sundress? A bathing suit or hiking boots? My solution might just be to bring some of everything! I’m the worst trip packer in the universe, because I tend to over-prepare for any remote possibility. Anyway, I’m looking forward to our mystery trip weekend and time spent with my wonderful husband.

Peace.

Two Year Blogoversary Musings

Whaaaaa? How has it already been two years?! Wow: time has flown. I wouldn’t have even known about this anniversary unless WordPress hadn’t sent me this the other day:

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In hindsight, I wish I’d started this blog two years before I did. I had no clue that there was a niche forum for fertility bloggers… or that anyone even blogged about this kind of very personal topic at all.

Starting this blog in 2015 came at the end of an informal six-month deadline I’d given myself. We’d already been TTC for several years, but I’d told myself back in September 2014 that—if we weren’t pregnant in six months—then I’d go back to see a new reproductive endocrinologist. I’d just have a quick tune-up surgery for me and some testing done for Jake. Presto chango,  we’d be all set to go, right? How I wish it’d been that simple.

When I began blogging here, I’d just scheduled a consultation with an RE, the ill-advised Dr. B who I eventually fired. I was choosing to reopen the door to reproductive medical intervention. Until that time I’d only had an antral follicle count and several surgeries, after which my docs would give me windows of either six months or a year to get pregnant naturally (maybe ‘naturally’ isn’t the best choice of words, and I hope no one takes that the wrong way). When I began this blog, three years had passed since my last operation, much longer than the little sliver of time promised after surgery.

I never imagined that infertility would lead me down the road that it has, though God has laid a path for me that I would not have chosen to walk myself. I feel humbled by this road, as it has given me greater empathy and compassion for women facing this struggle and caused me to seek deeper into my faith.

On a lighter note, this infertility sojourn has also taught me a whole new language to decipher—all in acronyms nonetheless!—which I kind of like to think that I’ve mastered by now. Conquering that makes me feel all medical-like, like I can read message boards and blog posts without having to refer back to a list of acronyms to know what it was that I’d just read.

My endeavor lately has been to thank God in all circumstances…. including and especially infertility. Among other things, had it not been for infertility and this blog, then I wouldn’t have been able to connect with such amazing women all around the globe over a common goal. I wouldn’t have borne witness to so many of your miracles and triumphs, or been able to pray for you in your times of waiting , or lent a shoulder to cry on during the tough times.  I feel privileged to have met so many genuinely wonderful ladies through this medium who are sojourning through the same battlefield.

Next year though? Next year when WordPress sends my three-year achievement, I plan to be blogging about my pregnancy or sharing the birth story of my baby, and to give God all the glory for it.

And even if my time still hasn’t come by then, I’d like to stay awhile and read about yours.

The Fertility Demarcation Line

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In only a few short weeks I’ll be turning 35. In defiance of this age that’s so crucial to the fertility-challenged, I’d started drafting a post all about how 35 could bring its bad self on, how some obscure number wouldn’t suddenly make my eggs all like, “Oh snap, we’re expiring soon!”, etc.  I was all set to publish my post too.

But then, a trigger.

While sitting in church on Sunday morning our pastor invited a couple to come up front with their baby for the baby’s dedication. *Insert gigantic GULP here.* I was caught totally off guard that there’d be a baby dedication that day. If I’d known, I probably would have come in late.

I felt a swarm of conflicting emotions. On one hand, I was happy for this couple. But I was also envious of them. I felt sad for myself… then guilty for entertaining a pity party, especially in church of all places! Several people at my church know that I suffer from infertility. If I left the service while the baby was being dedicated, surely people could guess why. But if I remained in my pew then there’d be the inevitable glances at Marixsa:  you know—the “barren one”—to see how I was “holding up.” Or at least that’s what my pride told me.

Somehow I managed to stay put through the ooohs and the awwws and the laughter that ensued when baby protested to our pastor carrying her around. My heart felt like it was being squeezed. I kept my gaze straight ahead and unsuccessfully fought back tears. In vain, I wrestled against the pangs of grief that my own babies never lived long enough to be dedicated, or even that anyone besides Jake and I know their names. Then I felt rotten for being so selfish during a special moment in the lives of my fellow parishioners.

And so it goes. Infertility’s reminders come during the places and times when we least expect it.

All day afterward something continued to gnaw at me, long after the baby dedication had ended. I finally figured out what it was: 35 looming large on the horizon. That—despite putting my best foot forward, remaining optimistic, and trusting that God will give us the desires of our heart—I’m struggling with this arbitrary line in the sand of my fertility.

By Sunday night I was full fledged upset about turning 35. Once that birthday happens, all the protocols change: my clinic would automatically transfer two embryos instead of one (though I don’t have any embryos anyway). I’d be an elderly primigravida in my doc’s notes and not just your run-of-the-mill primigravida. Any pregnancy I may achieve will be considered a geriatric pregnancy. Geriatric? Me? No way.

I plan to keep pressing on for now. But at the same time, I’m starting to slowly investigate the possibility of one day facing life as permanently childless/child-free/whathaveyou, which is something I’ve never been brave enough to face before. Which then begs the question: When do you stop trying?

It’ll be six years of TTC this June. It gets tiring. At what point does the anxiety of TTC and the putting things on hold “just in case I’m pregnant” get vanquished for good? When do I begin to plan for a future that will just be Jake and I? When do I accept what plans may be for my life?

On the other end, where does my faith come in to play? Faith: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Isn’t that precisely what this situation calls for? Believing in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? I’m either all in or not in at all. I want to be all in, in faith.

If that means continuing to make baby faith purchases along the way, then I’ll open my wallet. If that means swallowing the hurt at baby dedications then I can do it, by focusing on the fact that it’s just not my turn…yet… but someday it will be. If that means continuing trying to conceive despite the odds, then hello temping and ovulation tests.

Not that it’s not still difficult in the meantime. Because it sure is!  But nothing’s worth it if it’s easy… The hardest fought battles bring the sweetest victory… And so on.

What a number a number can do to us.

 

 

 

Endometriosis Awareness Month

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How has half of March slipped past without my even mentioning that it’s Endometriosis Awareness Month?! I know, I know: Endometriosis Awareness Week has long since passed us by with no mention by yours truly… what can I say? I’m kind of a slacker. But surely I won’t let a whole month go by without mentioning it!

Since there’s still a decent amount of March left, check out endometriosis.org’s list of worldwide endo events taking place this month by clicking here. Those of you in other countries can click to find an upcoming event near you (or hopefully near you!). I have no affiliation with endometriosis.org; it’s just a website that I think is very informative about endometriosis.

You won’t find any lists of endo facts or stats on my blog: I leave that task to more qualified sources, like the site I just mentioned. In fact, I don’t really talk much about endo on The Endo Zone… shame on me! This blog is more about how endometriosis has affected my fertility and follows my quest to not allow this disease to rob me of having children. I’m not an endo proponent or advocate by any means. Instead, what you will find here is one woman’s account of living with endometriosis and, in many ways, living around endometriosis.

But since it is Endometriosis Awareness Month and since this blog is called The Endo Zone, I thought I’d take a minute to tell my readers how endometriosis has affected my life. So here we go!

Topping the list would be my endo surgeries, but they only happen every few years; that still leaves my day-to-day life with endometriosis. In that sense, I’m one of the fortunate ones. It’s so true that one’s stage of endometriosis doesn’t correlate to her pain level: for instance, I have severe stage 4 endo. Yet I don’t suffer from the daily debilitating pain that another endo sister with stage 1 or 2 might live with. Instead, endo affects my daily life in the form of heavy menstrual cramps, mega big period clots, and daily ovarian pain. Oh, and 60 months’ worth of infertility… lest I forget. Blocked fallopian tubes, adhesions, and adenmyosis are all parts of my endo experience, but I can’t actually feel those things. So while they might affect my life, if it weren’t for surgeries then I’d probably never even know these things existed in my body.

And that’s what endo is: an invisible illness. A real predator, but an unseen one. It lurks and steals, and is—incredulously enough—often misdiagnosed.

While endo awareness and research are definitely important, I don’t define myself by having endometriosis. That’s part of the reason I’ve never before posted about Endo Awareness Month. True, I suffer from endometriosis. But it’s such a small part of who I am.  I believe that God is a Big God. So I try not to get caught up in the diagnosis and, instead, I like to focus on His promises of restoration and healing. Now I don’t discredit all the hard work and effort that others have made in getting this disease onto people’s radar… And I hope that I don’t come across as unrelatable… It’s just that I believe this diagnosis is something which, in the long run, will not conquer me.

Or any of us.


Finally, I can’t finish this post without mentioning my BFF of the blogging world and fellow endo warrior, the fabulous Lisa of Bloomin’ Uterus. If you have even a speck of endometriosis in your body and aren’t already following Lisa’s site, run—don’t walk—on over there by clicking here.

In keeping to my promise to Lisa, here I am wearing my Bloomin’ Uterus t-shirt in honor of Endometriosis Awareness Month.

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The pic
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the words

Since I didn’t have anyone to take my pic, I had to use the bathroom mirror and the writing is backward! It says, “Endometriosis Awareness and Support,” followed by the site name. Good shirt for a good cause!

Happy Endometriosis Awareness Month to you all!

 

Back at Square One

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I ended up in the emergency room this weekend for, well, a bit of an embarrassing reason. So glad for an anonymous blog right about now! Without spelling it all out, I thought I had a cut inside of my vag—yep, inside—and was worried about infection or needing stitches or something horrifying like that.

It all started four days ago during some rough foreplay and the fact that Jake isn’t the best at keeping his fingernails trimmed….you get the idea. Anyway, after this foreplay, Jake and I were working on some baby making when we realized that I was bleeding, significantly. I’ve never had such scary bleeding mid-cycle before, even during the worst of my intermenstrual bleeds of the last six months. It was literally gushing out of me for hours. Utterly freaked out, we stoppped. This was cycle day 17 for me, which is a common day for me to have IM bleeding, so the bleeding was either caused by Jake, or it was regular IM bleeding (is that an oxymoron or what?) that had been exacerbated by our, errrrm, bedroom activities.

But the bleeding continued for four more days, unrelenting. Finally we made the call and I went to the ER. I’m generally the type of person who only will go to the ER for, say, a severed limb, so I was clearly feeling terrified that I had some monster vag cut going on. I was also ever-so-slightly embarrassed to explain why I was there. But, seriously, so many countless medical people have seen my undercarriage at this point in my life that I also mostly didn’t care. I can discuss cervixes and vaginas and sex with just about anyone, anywhere and it totally doesn’t phase me, so I wasn’t as embarrassed as some people might have been.

Fortunately, the hospital staff was very discreet and cool and didn’t make me feel weird in the least. When the doc came in and started talking about vaginal stitches I kind of mentally checked out. A super pleasant and comfortable speculum exam—because they always are super pleasant and comfy—only showed lots of blood in the canal and some “raw” areas in my vag, but no abrasions or cuts, thank the Lord. The doctor diagnosed it as dysfunctional uterine bleeding (story of my life anymore *sigh*) and told me to refrain from sex for a few more days and instructed me to follow up with Dr. Din since I’m only a month post-op.

Here I am then, back at square one with more unexplained intermenstrual bleeding. I’d been so positive that the surgery would’ve stopped it from returning, or at least provided some type of answer for it. Not so.

I’m pretty bent with Dr. Din right now, because we’re no closer to knowing why I’m bleeding than we’d been in the last six months that I’ve had it. Part of the investigation into my IM bleeding was supposed to have been a biopsy of my uterus. On either two or three occasions, Dr. Din assured me he’d biopsy me during surgery to rule out any unseen lurking medical predators. I found out the other week though that he strait up did NOT do a biopsy, like we had previously agreed to! His reason? He “doesn’t like to biopsy premenopausal women.” Huh?! So now we still have no answer for the IM bleeding, even after all those surgical procedures. To say that I’m PO’ed about this is to state it kindly.

I’m not even hopeful that this is some kind of crazy implantation spotting gone awry. I know what my body is like when it’s pregnant, and this sure ain’t it. I’ve already called in a towel throw for this cycle. Silly me to have imagined a right-away pregnancy.

Next month if the bleeding returns yet again, I will email Dr. C and ask for [another] hysteroscopy  and for the biopsy he was originally going to perform months ago. It’ll cost me a hefty copay, which I’m definitely not keen about, but I trust Dr. C far more than I trust Dr. Din, and I feel he’s better qualified. If Dr. C can’t/won’t see me for this, I will ask for a referral to another specialist, maybe a RO.

I’m so beyond over doctors who don’t take my concerns seriously. I know that something is still wrong here, and I won’t rest until I’ve exhausted every avenue of diagnosis to find out what’s it is.

Forgive the rant-y tone of this post. The battle is wearying, but I’m not going down without a fight.

 

 

 

One Lovely Blog Award

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I’ve been nominated by my new friend, Delayed But Not Denied, for the One Lovely Blog Award! Please take a moment to check out her site, she is a relatively new blogger here and is such an encouragement to me, as well as being a fellow sister in Christ. Thank you, Delayed But Not Denied, for the nomination. I look forward to following you on your sojourn and celebrating our miracle babies someday soon!

Here are the Rules:

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  1. Thank the person that nominated you and leave a link to their blog
  2. Post about the award
  3. Share seven facts about yourself
  4. Nominate other people (15 at most)
  5. Tell your nominees the good news!

Okay, 7 things about me… hmm. Let’s see:

  1. I like to pretend that I can play the piano. We have one at home and I can [sort of] remember from my childhood lessons how to read music. I can even remember a decent amount of tunes I once knew! The fact is, I’m probably definitely much rustier at playing that I like to imagine… maybe adult lessons are in order.
  2. I also like to think that I can carry a tune. Jake enjoys informing me that I, in fact, cannot carry a tune in a bucket. But I still sing anyway… especially at church… loudly. Which he just loves.
  3. My ultimate dream is to one day own and operate an animal rescue. All critters welcome! In the meantime, I’m completely okay with rescuing as many critters as I can fit in my home without becoming, well, that weird animal-hoarding lady.
  4. I’m a paralegal and I LOVE my field of work! I have my bachelor’s degree in legal studies and am currently studying for a voluntary national certification test, which I am taking next week (eek!). Nervous!
  5. Next year I’ll have known my husband for exactly half of my life. We met when I was I was 18 and he was 24. Man, okay now I feel old….
  6. I’ve become a total e-book snob. I love to read so much, but don’t have tons of room to store books. Hence, my e-reader gets lots of action.
  7. I’m also a coffee aficionado. I loooooove coffee, perhaps a bit too much. TTC = limited caffeine intake, so I’m often at odds with myself and my love of the  coffea arabica bean.

 

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Now, for the nominations! I nominate:

  1. Angela at Surviving Infertility
  2. Lisa at Bloomin Uterus
  3. AKL at Baby Wanted! An IVF Journey
  4. 30yr Old Nothing at Tales of a 30 Year Old Nothing
  5. Single Gene Me at Single Gene Me
  6. Meghan at Whistle While You Wait

 

 

Conceiving to Conceive

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It’s so strange to be having a normal cycle: I almost don’t know what to do with myself. What is this for-real cycle that I seem to be in? The real test will be when (well, if) I ovulate this cycle—which is scheduled to happen this weekend—because ovulation has been so hit or miss for me this past year. What else is a girl to do, except to order another 50-pack of cheap Wondfo OPKs and continue temping for a temperature spike? The concept of no intermenstrual bleeding, on-time ovulation (without weird luteal phase lengths), and the same 20% chance of pregnancy as the Fertiles have is kind of mind-blowing. And exciting!

My first period post-op arrived right on time, and I ended my surgery cycle on a much-needed positive note of a normal 27-day cycle. My period itself was not so normal, as it came in fits and starts and lasted less than three days. I experienced far less cramping than usual (hooray!); in its place though I had scary insane uterine pains. It was as if someone were mercilessly jabbing at my uterus with an ice-pick and it lasted all day long for several days. The ice-pick stabs began to retreat on cycle day 3 and I haven’t had to take any narcotic pain meds since then.

As for recovery, all continues to be well (stabbing uterine pains aside). I ended up being allergic to the surgical glue which was used to close my incisions.  I’m basically allergic to nothing, so I was totally not expecting this. The allergic reaction is ongoing and unrelenting: think raised, angry red bumps, swollen skin, and ceaseless itching. Hydrocortisone cream has been my newest BFF; we go everywhere together these days. Although I’ve removed all of the surgical glue, only the passage of time will clear up the allergic reaction… which cannot happen fast enough.

So yes, it’s an unfamiliar feeling—in a good way!—to be entering into a cycle right now knowing that I could conceive this month as a fact. Not as a slim chance or as a shot in a dark: an actual, bona fide chance! No more ambiguity, no more wondering. No more trying to ignore the deep down sinking feeling that something, somewhere is physically very wrong and my efforts are probably for naught. I’m still adjusting to the idea that my pregnancy chances are now normal… It’s been a long time coming.

Normal chances or not, a pregnancy now would be still a miracle of sorts in my book, since there remains the matter of my somewhat inhospitable uterus for an embryo to contend with: (1) I have a moderately arcuate uterus, which increases the risk of a second trimester miscarriage; and (2) Dr. Din is pretty positive that I have adenmyosis going on in my uterus, in addition to the endometriosis outside of my uterus (I’m not sure what this means for me going forward?). Oh yeah: and the risk for ectopic pregnancy is much higher following procedures that unblock the fallopian tubes, so I’m not yet out of the woods. I don’t mean this to sound pessimistic. These are just real hurdles I may encounter, and I have to be aware of them, both feet in.

In the meantime, I’m back on the bandwagon full steam ahead:

  • Stocked up on Brazil nuts… a whole 2 pounds of them
  • Daily red raspberry leaf tea (during follicular phase only)
  • Basal body temping
  • Timed intercourse
  • Ovulation prediction strips
  • Pre-Seed lubricant
  • And so on and so forth

I’ve also added these guys to my already extensive supplement list (prenatal vitamins, Vitamin D, Vitamin C/Ester C, CoQ10, DHEA, L-Arginine, and baby aspirin), which is probably a post for another day:

  • Serrapeptase
  • Mineral supplement
  • Migravent (unrelated to fertility; this is a mineral supplement that’s supposed to help reduce the frequency of migraines. I average 1 migraine every 2 weeks, which usually puts me out of commission for an average of three days. We’ll see how this does…)

 

It feels good to feel normal. I’ll take it for as long as it lasts.

Peace.