Liebster Award Entry

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I don’t know whether these blog awards are real or not, but, seriously, who really cares if there’s an actual award waiting on the other side?  It’s always a fun honor just to be nominated.

My beautiful friend AKL over at Baby Wanted: an IVF journey has nominated me for a Liebster Award.  AKL is one of the realest, funniest, and sweetest bloggers I’ve met since I began blogging.  Please check out her reads!  Thanks, AKL for the ‘nom and for writing such kind words about me!  I’m so glad we’ve connected.

HERE’S THE RULES:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their post.
  • Answer the 11 questions they asked you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers, with your own set of questions.
  • Tag your chosen 11 bloggers, and don’t forget to tell them as well!

 

These are my answers to AKL’s questions:

1. When did you start blogging?

March 2015.

2. Why did you start your blog?

Jake and I were having a tough time getting pregnant, and I felt so alone in trying.  I had no clue there were places online for people like me until I discovered fertility blogs.  I’ve always expressed myself best through writing—although I don’t claim to be particularly stellar at it—so blogging sounded very healing.  It was also the desire of my heart to help other women in this sojourn and hopefully be a source of encouragement.

3. What do you do for your day job?

Paralegal by day, ninja by night.

4. Where are you located (city, country)?

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

5. What has been your biggest regret in your life? 

There is no scenario in which I’d ever answer this question honestly.

6. What has been your greatest achievement? 

Graduating from college.  I don’t come from college people.  Growing up, there was zero expectation of ever attending college.

But because I lived fully on my own by age 18, I qualified for some program where the state paid my tuition; that got me through some college.  Later, through God’s provision via the generosity of a well-off in-law, I was able to complete my degree.  It took 8 years to get a 4-year degree, but I’m immensely grateful just to have finished.  It was only through the Lord’s sovereign arrangements that college happened for me.

7. What advice would you give to your 18 year old self? 

Don’t be so angry, don’t be so independent, don’t be so protective of your heart in that suit of armor you wear with spikes on the outside and ice on the inside.  Your decisions in life matter, YOU matter.  Things aren’t gonna stay this way forever, hun—this too shall pass.

8. Do you have a special or unusual skill that perhaps people don’t know about ? (I can sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in Japanese)

I can sense when a cop is about to drive past.  Seriously!  I’ll just be walking down the road and I’ll think to myself, “A cop is going to drive by.” Like clockwork, one immediately does.  Craziest thing, this is.  But also useful. 😉

9. Where is your favorite city to visit?

My own—there’s always something going on in Philly.

10. How do you motivate yourself?

Whatever needs doing, I simply DO IT.  Doesn’t matter if I feel like doing it (I usually don’t) or if it can technically wait until tomorrow (it usually can).  Through God’s grace I have been given a strong sense of personal responsibility.  I’m tough, I have a can-do mentality, and am steadfast in whatever I put my mind to.  The simple act of starting something is all the motivation I need to finish it.

11. What do you hope for most in 2018?

It would be cliche to say a baby because, well, this blog….

In 2018 I most want RESTORATION: in my life, in my marriage, for my family, my health, my relationship with God.  In whatever form that happens, as long as it’s moving toward restoration then it’s headed in the right direction.

In no particular order, my nominated 11 bloggers are:

Delayed But Not Denied – Because my real-life friend seriously needs to get back to blogging.

Ditch the Bun – Infertility warrior cleverly disguised as a librarian.

In Pursuit of a Family – Because you always write such beautiful posts.

Be Realistic: Plan for a Miracle – Because you sojourn alongside me… from across the pond!

The Sky and Back – Because I miss your blogging.

Bloomin’ Uterus – *Only* the best endometriosis blog on the planet.

Dubliner in Deutschland – Overcoming infertility in a land far from home.

GeeksTravelingInJapan – Also battling infertility in a land far from home.

Woman With Endometriosis – Endo awareness proponent.

Hoping to be More Than a Dog Mom – From one dog mama to another.

Tales of a 30 Year Old Nothing – Because she’s real, relatable, and hilarious.

 

My 11 questions to the above bloggers:

1. Imagine that the blogosphere suddenly disappears—for whatever reason. What do you do?

2. What characteristic do you not possess at all?

3. Why did the chicken cross the road?

4. How do you face critical problems?

5. One thing about yourself of which you are most proud?

6. The happiest moment of your life?

7. A word which you hate to use?

8. What is your dream job?

9. What villainous character do you most admire, and why?

10. Item on your bucket list that you would be MOST upset if you didn’t accomplish.

11. If you could have lunch with any famous person, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you order?

 

 

 

 

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Blogger Recognition Award

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My soul sister of the bloglands, Lisa over at Bloomin’ Uterus, has nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award.  My mission for this challenge? Tell you how The Endo Zone blog began.

It’d be pretty awesome if I had an inspiring backstory to this ‘lil blog’s conception… but, instead, it was just one of those thangs:  Marixsa felt lonely in TTC land.  Marixsa discovered fertility blogs.  Marixsa likes to write.  Marixsa started her own fertility blog.

The Endo Zone is about, well, endometriosis.  TTC.  Life.  Family.  Pets.  Loss.  Opinions.  All of the other parts that make up my life, minus my true identity.

I do have one small confession to make about this blog: I am utterly terrible at naming things.  The worst.  I often wish that I had thought of a cleverer title than The Endo Zone.  The title is a play off of “end zone,” although I’m the least enthusiastic football fan you’ll ever meet.  Hence, a blog about the endometriosis zone, whatever exactly that is.  Someday I’ll get around to renaming this space.

As for backstory, I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2010, but I’m 100% sure it’s been there since the ’90s.  Most days I forget that I’ve a history of endo: the pain, the infertility, the mega cramps, the scary clots, the pooping pain… I don’t know any differently.   But endo is not something I embrace or call my own.   I have a history of endo; I do not claim it, want it, or believe that it will get the better of me.  My life in no way revolves around a disease that God is so much bigger than.

Starting this blog has allowed me to connect with an amazing array of women, literally from all over the world.  It’s been a privilege to meet women on here who I’m proud to call my friends.  My only regret?  I wish I’d started the blog sooner.

Here are my nominations of fellow bloggers who I find incredibly inspiring in their own ways!   Tell us why you started YOUR blog!!

My Yellow Bow

From Zero to Zygote

9 Months and Waiting

Peace. ❤

“The Grumpiest Cat in the Whole Wide Grumpy World…”

… that’s what I always tell my beloved kitty, Grumpy Cat.  Some of you may remember that Jake and I adopted Grumpy Cat (“GC”) not quite two years ago, after our other cat suddenly passed away. GC was 13 years old when we got him; we chose a senior kitty so he’d have happy golden years. We would give him the highlight of his twilight.

On a recent Friday night Jake and I found ourselves rushing GC to the pet emergency room after he became gravely ill. It didn’t take the vet long to find the cause: kidney failure. lymphoma. anemia. Jake and I were stunned. Our cat had cancer and kidney disease? How could we have missed the signs?

After a long night in the ER during which Jake and I resigned ourselves to another pet loss, the vet was surprised and encouraged because GC began gaining strength and improving. So we took GC home—laden down with medications and instructions—with the possibility that he might pull through. He could have more time, more life, and quality life too.

With plenty of prayer and round-the-clock care—which included 6 different medications and daily subcutaneous injections of hydration—GC began improving and getting stronger. We were so encouraged!

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Recovering kitty.

But there must have been a kitty respiratory virus lurking in the pet ER, because GC came down with a nasty respiratory illness mere days into [what we thought was] his recovery. He stopped eating.  Couldn’t groom. Couldn’t walk. Lost a third of his body weight. It was bad.

Back to the vet. More medications.

For days, Jake and I literally did everything for GC, including assist feeding him with a feeding syringe. To avoid facing reality, I became obsessed with keeping GC clean and groomed and making sure his convalescence room was super tidy. Dignified.

But soon Jake and I had to admit that we were fighting a losing battle. It was time to say goodbye.

We arranged for a veterinary service to come to our home to humanely end Grumpy Cat’s suffering. I petted and hugged and cried all over him. So did Jake. We softly sung Jesus Loves You to him (“little cats to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong“).  He fell asleep peacefully in his kitty bed while I held his head and whispered love to him. Then the final injection was given. I both heard and felt GC breathe his last.

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Our last morning together.
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Shortly before the injections.

We read Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 aloud after his passing:

18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.
19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless.
20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.
21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

I’m so heartbroken, but I take immense comfort in verse 21.

His paw prints are etched deeply into my heart. I’m so thankful to have adopted and loved GC. It was a privilege to have shared in the last few years of his life.

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2017 blog review.

I can’t be the only person who’s thrilled to see the end of 2017, amiright?  It wasn’t a good year for me like at all, both in Fertility Land and in my offline life.  I’m usually not the kind of person who classifies entire years as either ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ but 2017 was just straight up rough.   I’m still kind of stunned that I came out of it intact.

I’m clinging to hope of 2018 being worlds better!  So far it has been better, except that our elderly kitty, Grumpy Cat, fell ill this past weekend.  But God has been so very good and gracious in the situation, and I’m 100% believing that GC is in His excellent hands and will be okay.

Now that that’s out of my system, I thought it’d be fun to look back over my blog in 2017 and see what all went down. I’m like the worst at checking the stats to this site; I’m forever forgetting to look at that kind of thing!  I pulled the year’s stats and was surprised at which posts were most popular.  That’s how it is in the blog world I guess: some of what I though were my worst posts fared excellently.  Other posts that I [humbly] believed were pretty good, tanked.

Anyway, here’s a look back at the Top Five posts of 2017:

#5. Back at Square One:      an unforgettable ER visit and continued frustrations about IM bleeding

#4. Infertility and Job Interviews:     recounting a job interview gone very wrong

#3. Conceiving to Conceive:     post-surgical hope for a pregnancy

#2. Surgery Recap: Part 2 of 2:     entirely too wordy—and far too detailed—post-op musings

and

#1. Hysteroscopy #: Arcuate Uterus:    a 2016 post all about weirdly-shaped uteruses (or is that ‘uteri?’)

I’d like to think that this here ‘lil site has helped someone else struggling with fertility and endometriosis in 2017.  WordPress helpfully gave me this here map…:

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… so I’m ever hopeful it has reached another person and helped her along her way in life, encouraged her, or let her know she’s not alone.

And rather than seeing this new year as twelve more tries at a baby, I am instead choosing to focus outwardly in 2018: What can I do this year to help others?  How can I be a blessing to other women? in my community? at my church? to my family?

Believing good things are in store this year, for myself and all my IF friends.

Peace.

 

 

REPOST: Year in [fertility] Review: 2017

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**originally posted on December 15, reposting today because, well, 2017’s end is imminently looming. Praise God for a new year!**

Somehow—in a blur of time and events and dates—another year is quickly drawing to an end.  I’m kind of stunned to find myself writing about 2017 ending, and so soon it seems!  And I’m kind of [read: very] disappointed to find myself still blogging about fertility stuff as we move into another year.  Even so, I’m immensely grateful for God’s goodness and protection during this year.  Fertility issues are just one part of the whole of my life.

So for those and myriad other reasons I can’t write here, I’m okay and moving still toward a deeper peace.  I continue to have moments of anger, frustration, and sadness about our inability to conceive.  Some days I can’t sense the light; I can’t see how this infertility will ever resolve; I feel my faith weaken.  But, overall, I am sustained by God’s peace and a strong sense to continue to wait patiently… although I’m notoriously impatient.  Character is being built here.  The process is uncomfortable.

As I look back over the year, here are the highlights of 2017 when it comes to our TTC sojourn, good and bad:

  • SUCCESS: A successful laparoscopy in March that opened my Fallopian tube and cleared away lots of adhesions.
  • SUCCESS: Ovulated 12/12 month this year.
  • SUCCESS: Normal cycle lengths 12/12 months this year, ranging from 24 to 31 days long.
  • SUCCESS: 11/12 luteal phases that were 14+ days.  Goodbye, luteal phase defect of 2016!
  • FAIL: My average 2017 ovulation cycle day was CD12, usually falling on CD 9 or CD10.  Hello, too-short follicular phases.
  • SUCCESS: Diagnosis of mystery bleeding.  Finally!
  • FAIL: Diagnosis, but no cure for mystery bleeding.  Intermenstrual bleeding continues.
  • FAIL: Why, in my mid-30s, do I still have monstrously painful periods?  I thought that period pain decreased with age?  (Actually, when I think back to my teen years and early 20s, my current period pain looks like a walk in the park.)  I still have to take prescription painkillers and spend a day or two in bed each month.  So, this mini-rant counts as a fail.
  • FAIL: Perhaps the biggest fail of them all: still not pregnant.  Yeah…

Our 2018 fertility plans remain open-ended.  Jake and I are in preliminary talks about going another round with IVF.  I’m quasi open to it; he’s much more cautious.  We totally cannot afford IVF and if we do decide to do it, I’ve no idea where the funds will come from. Like I said, it’s preliminary.

I’m in the process of changing my health insurance over to  Jake’s plan.  I found a clinic that—believe this?—SPECIALIZES IN ENDOMETRIOSIS (huzzah!).  And when I say specializes in, I mean that endometriosis is ALL THEY DO, all day.  The entire office is dedicated to patients suffering from endo.  Once my insurance has been squared away, I plan to make an appointment.  I so need a doctor who will actually help me, and I’m hopeful that this place will be the answer.  It’s an hour away and 90% of the drive involves major congested roads but I don’t even [mostly] care.

Even though it’s two-odd weeks til the new year, I’m pleased to see 2017 on its way out.  Never liked the odd numbered years as much for some reason.  I’m ever hopeful that 2018 will usher in new beginnings in our fertility sojourn.

Peace.

Am I Doing Enough?

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I’m ending a multi-day bout of online infertility “research” feeling guilt-ridden.  Am I not doing enough to get pregnant naturally?  Each website contradicts the next: drink green tea, but avoid all caffeine.  drink warm drinks, but not hot or ice cold drinks.  eat fruit, but don’t eat raw food (should I be cooking my fruit??).

I’m overwhelmed.  Am I unwittingly turning my uterus into an inhospitable icy wasteland that shuns helpless embryos?  Am I causing my body to be nothing more than a land of inflammation and zig-zagging insulin levels?  Am I making endometriosis worse by drinking this cup of coffee?

Oh yes, coffee.  That vice I was all starry-eyed to give up last month.  Only today—on CD 11—am I finally putting my money where my mouth is.  Well, technically it’s still a work in progress: I had one cup of half-caff early this morning.  Currently I’m sitting at work staring at my office mug and resisting a very strong urge to brew my daily second cup of joe.

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My coffee mug, sans coffee.

An OPK sits nearby on my desk, waiting to be used on my next pee break. The perks of having the office to myself this week = leaving random OPKs on my desk and blogging from my office at 11 a.m.  Fertility consumes me even here.

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Just another day at the office.

When I read websites, articles, and books—which I do in abandon—about how to get pregnant, I walk away from them feeling like a selfish monster who isn’t doing everything possible to “prime” her body for pregnancy.  For optimal egg health maybe I should live off of seeds, quinoa, wheatgrass, and room temperature organic water.  Maybe I’m not trying hard enough.

The honest reality could be that the damage has already been done.  Look, I’m all for natural approaches to fertility and not heading strait to IVF; it works for many women.  But the fact is, I lived below optimum health for years…  YEARS!  Like, I ate crappy foods, barely exercised, and liberally drank alcohol.  I unknowingly basked in BPA, phthalates, and parabens.  So did Jake.

But here’s a fundamental difference: whatever damage Jake may have done to his swimmers by engaging in these activities isn’t forever.  Presto—his body just makes new ones, so his now-healthy lifestyle means his sperm are healthy too!  But I don’t have that luxury, my body isn’t making any new eggs.  Are a few years of progressively healthier living enough to undo a lifetime of exposure to Bad Things?  I wonder.

All of this culminates into excessive feelings of guilt.  Ate a piece of cake?  Ninety days until my eggs recover from the insulin spike!  Had a cup of coffee?  Just trashed my chances for conception this cycle!

While the rational, even-keeled part of me understands that balance is key to all things in life, another part of me—the part borne from my fertility “research”—tells me that I’m just making excuses.  That I’m too selfish to want to give up X, Y, and Z for my baby-to-be.  What kind of future mama am I anyway if I can’t sacrifice everything possible now?

Then I take a step back and remind myself that my life, my times, our season, our miracle—it’s all in God’s hands.  Not that that absolves me of responsibility to live right and do all that we can to achieve a pregnancy… because it doesn’t.  I usually dislike the expression, “Let go and let God, ” but right now it rings true.  I don’t want to make TTC into an idol.  I’ve done everything I know to get pregnant (or have I?? guilt, guilt, guilt….).  At some point, that needs to be enough and let faith step in.  At some point.  At this point.

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Visiting the ART of Infertility Exhibit

A free, month-long art exhibit in Philly all about infertility?  Too good to be true?  Nope: actually true! As soon as I heard there would be an IF art exhibit near me, I was interested.

Philadelphia’s Jewish Art Center is hosting this exhibit, called Cradling Creativity, during the month of November.  It’s sponsored by my former clinic, among others. Awesome, amiright?  I mean, how often is infertility awareness made so public?

Usually art eludes me and I don’t go out of my way to visit art museums or the like.  I have this idea that I’m somewhat artsy, but I delude myself: if asked to sketch a person, I’d draw a stick figure so that hardly counts.  But I can still appreciate others’ artistic endeavors—even the abstract ones that I don’t always understand.

Yesterday I met up with Tanya, the blogger behind The Sky and Back—who’s as lovely in person as she is online—to check out the exhibit.  Our meeting was a long time coming.  Even though we’re both IF bloggers in the same city who use[d] the same clinic, we’d never actually met!  Any gal who’s been TTC long enough knows that special kindred connection we share with one another.  Sometimes you just need to be in the company of a friend who gets it.

There was no one else at the exhibit except us. I’m sure the JAC wanted a better turnout too, especially on a Saturday. Maybe we just got there at a bad time. While I was waiting outside and before we went in, a couple of tourists noticed the sign for exhibit, exclaimed something among themselves about it being “weird” and went about their business. I can hope that it was an off day and that the exhibit has helped open others’ eyes about the real impacts of infertility on its sufferers.

I leave you now with some pics, since I only photographed part of the exhibit.  I just realized… I hope I’m allowed to post these!  I think so, since the artist’s names are alongside the paintings so they’ll get their fair credit.

Enjoy!