Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Still Here, Still Pregnant

Like many other formerly infertile bloggers who become pregnant, I think I'm going through a blogger identity crisis. Though there's plenty going on in my life and uterus that I could probably make sound at least marginally interesting, I simply haven't felt much motivation to post regularly. I also feel like I should change the title of this blog, but since I'm doubtful that I'll be continuing it after my baby arrives, I'm not sure if it's worth it.

But, for the time being, I will try to continue blogging. I feel that I at least owe it to you, my readers, and to this blog to continue semi-regularly until there are baby pictures to post, and perhaps a birth story. Anything beyond that will depend on my level of sanity as I deal with a newborn, packing, parents and in-laws visiting, and traveling to China. And given China's current displeasure with Google (and vice versa), who knows how easily I'll even be able to access Blogger from there!

Anywho, since a uterus update is a bit overdue, I'll give a pregnancy notes.

  • I'm currently 24 weeks, 2 days pregnant according to me, and 24 weeks, 4 days according to my OB, who did end up moving my due date up by 2 days (at least she didn't go with the 5 recommended by the perinatologist). I just had my 24-week appointment yesterday, and my fundal height is perfectly 24cm, with a strong fetal heartbeat. 
  • I've gained about 14 pounds so far, which actually surprises me, because I thought I would have trouble gaining the weight. But my body/baby seems happy to put on a steady pound per week these days.
  • The kicking is...well, strong! I sometimes even feel it up in my ribs, even though the uterus isn't that high yet. But I guess that's part of being a long-legged, short-torsoed 5'4". I feel like I'm peeing out about twice as much liquid as I'm consuming, but I think the little guy is just using my bladder as a punching bag on occasion--or a pillow when he's sleeping.
  • My biggest pregnancy discomfort is still the various digestive issues--gas, bloating, heartburn, etc. It seemed like they were just getting worse and worse, so I finally went to acupuncture on Friday to see if anything could be done. And I've felt quite a bit better since then--I've had my appetite back in full force, and the gas seems to be...ahem...moving through a bit faster rather than getting stuck for days. Since I feel like I can't keep paying for it but would need it semi-regularly to keep the ole' GI system regulated, I think I'm going to check out a group acupuncture clinic nearby that charges on a sliding scale ($25-40 per session). That's much more affordable, and even though it doesn't sound as attractive to get my treatments while in a room with 4-5 other people, this is supposedly how acupuncture is done in China, and it's supposed to be just as effective, even though they have to focus more on arm and lower leg points so you can keep your clothes on. I'll let you know how it goes. And if you are one of the many people who has wanted to do acupuncture but hasn't wanted to pay for it, you should check out the Community Acupuncture Network and see if there's a group clinic near you.
  • Pete and I have started reading baby books, and especially about different sleep/feeding methods. He really doesn't want me to get sucked into a particular sleep philosophy and think it will be the magic solution, so he's making sure we both do our research on what's out there. I'm just happy that he's so excited about doing the research and reading the books! And in case you're wondering, the one thing we are sure of is that co-sleeping (in the same bed) is not going to be an option for us. If you really want to do it without risk of suffocating your baby, you have to sleep with no pillows and no blankets on your bed. No thank you!
In other news, we're headed to the Southeast on Friday to be with my family (including both sides of extended family) for Christmas and the week after. My thoughts are with all of you who are enduring the holidays and still in the throes of trying to get pregnant. I know how hard it is. I actually have one cousin who had a miscarriage this past May and hasn't gotten pregnant since (unless there's an announcement coming soon), so it will definitely be on my mind when I'm with her on Christmas day and everyone's asking me about my pregnancy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Cherry on Top

I just wanted to send a huge thank-you-shout-out to Oak for giving me this very cute cherry on top award. Oak's new Acorn Chronicles is looking super cute these days. As you read it, you are being watched by two huge peep-like baby chicks. They make me laugh, and they also make me want to actually click over to the blog whenever a new post shows up in my reader, rather than just reading from the reader.

Thanks Oak!

Does anyone out there in the blogging world know where these awards come from? Have any of you ever designed one on your own and just decided to start passing it around? This one didn't come with any specific instructions about what I'm supposed to write about--or if it did originally, those have been lost in all the passing around.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Latest Bump

It's growing! I think belly and boobs are about even right now in how far they stick out. I guess that's good. I'm amazed at how I keep gaining a pound a week, without fail, even when I feel like I haven't been eating much. And the extra pound always seems to show up on Tuesday mornings, even though I weigh myself every morning. Very strange.

We also had a very lovely Thanksgiving, five days ago now, I guess. We had 18 people there, and only 4 were Americans (well, 6 if you count the one-year-old and 10-year-old who were born here to foreign parents). The rest were Australian, Colombian, Mexican, and Thai. Quite the mix. And 4 of them were unexpected due to a slight failure to rsvp, though we were thrilled they were able to join us. I had actually been a bit upset when I went to pick up the turkey I had ordered and discovered it was 16.5 pounds! I had ordered one in the 12-16 pound range but was very much hoping for a 12-13-pounder, which makes for pretty easy brining and turning and carrying. But I guess God must have known we were going to have a few surprise guests, because the 16-pounder turned out to be just about right (with the right amount of leftovers--I would have been upset if I hadn't had any leftovers). I'm just thankful I had some strong men around to help me carry it and pull it out of the oven.

We spent the rest of the weekend busy with a bunch of other social events--a birthday party, watching Harry Potter, watching college football games with friends, having friends over for dinner, Christmas shopping (I think I'm mostly done!), etc.

I was also asked to be one of three women who lit the Hope candle (the first Advent candle) during church on Sunday. Two of us are expecting our first child and the third had just had her first, so we were supposed to have special insight into waiting and hoping, and Mary's experience being pregnant and waiting for Jesus to be born, etc. I felt a bit conflicted about it, knowing how this one element would probably ruin a few people's days who were attending the service. But Pete keeps challenging me that I need to let go of this reticence to let others know that I'm joyful (or, in this case, hopeful) about being pregnant. Sensitivity is good, but at a certain point it becomes about me--protecting my image, or trying to get back at fertile people, or whatever--and not about others and the pain they're going through. So I'm working on that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On Beginning a Registry

I just set up and started a Target baby registry yesterday. I know I'm probably doing this way earlier than most women, but I know myself, and I know it will take me a long time to get a registry I'm happy with. I spent months and months on our wedding registry. I tend to agonize a bit in making sure I'm making the most efficient use of money, and getting exactly the products I want, and making sure there's no overlap in the products, etc.

Adding to my frustration is the fact that you still can't really do this all from home if you have people who will go to stores and shop. I chose to register at Target because they have a lot of stores around us (and probably everywhere else in the country), and I want to make buying me a gift off my registry as convenient as possible for anyone attending my shower (which I'm guessing will be thrown for me sometime in the February time frame). I know that if people can't find something off my registry at their local Target easily, they'll probably just pick something else cute and get it. So, the frustration comes in with the fact that most of Target's online merchandise is not sold in stores. If I want what's available in stores, I have to go filtering through all the possibilities to find the one that is carried in stores...and then what if I don't want that one? Ugh. I expect I'll be doing lots of returning and exchanging in the months after my shower. I am also a little obsessive about not holding onto things that I don't really need or won't use, or simply don't have the space for (we are working with very limited space here--and lots of traveling).

I know, I really can't complain, and I'm really not complaining. I'm so blessed to have friends who will throw me a shower and buy me gifts, really. And it's way more fun to open real gifts at a shower than gift cards!


In other news, this Thursday is Thanksgiving, in case you didn't know. We're celebrating Thanksgiving with some of the same friends as last year. We'll have 10 of us around the table, and 6 of those are Aussies, some of whom will be experiencing their first American Thanksgiving (and pumpkin pie). Because none of the others have any experience or confidence in turkey roasting, I have become the turkey lady. I'm excited about it this year--I'm going to branch out from the traditional gravy (I've done it four times already--it's getting boring) and do an apple-maple glaze and sauce. I also went back and forth on dry brining vs. wet brining and have decided to stick with my wet brining. From what I can tell, the people who came up with dry brining did it out of a desire for convenience. I don't find wet brining that inconvenient when it's only a 12-14 pound turkey, so I'll stick with it. I'm also doing the stuffing (which will actually be dressing because I don't like actually stuffing the bird), a roasted pear salad, and a pumpkin pecan-praline pie (if you couldn't tell, I tend not to like to make the same dish in the same way twice, so I had to spice up the pumpkin pie somehow).

Last year, as we went around and shared what we were thankful for, I was unable to share the one thing that came to mind first--the fact that I had just ovulated naturally for the first time in over six years. Not something most people needed to know :). This year, I have a very active little boy in my belly, for whom I am overwhelmingly, astoundingly grateful. However, one of the other couples joining us has been struggling to get pregnant for two years, so I will definitely be toning down my emphasis on that aspect, for their sakes.


A final note. Thanks to those of you who suggested on my last post that I keep my due date where it is. I haven't heard from my OB yet on whether she wants to change it, but I am going to push to keep it on April 10, the official 40-week mark. Like Nico said, I don't want to be pushed into inducing earlier than I need to. And I also know how hard every day becomes psychologically once you go past your due date! Now my parents are just left with the dilemma of how to purchase plane tickets for coming to visit. They'd like to be here for the actual delivery, but they also don't want to risk spending half their trip with us before I go into labor. We'll see what they decide.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Can You Guess? (Beware Ultrasound Shots)

I've been waiting to update my blog, knowing I would have news to share this week. We had our big anatomy scan on Monday and discovered two very important pieces of information about our baby. First, the baby seems to have all major organs, all chambers of the heart, all brain hemispheres, etc, etc, that can be detected by ultrasound. Really, I had no idea how much they could see on these things, especially since we didn't get the NT scan.


There's the flagrant butt/private parts shot, which makes it pretty obvious that we're having a boy!

Of course we would have been thrilled to no end at a girl--of course. But we're super excited about a boy. I've had three reasons for wanting a boy, which I've been trying not to think about too much until now. First, I had a younger brother, and I always wished he was older. I think older brothers tend to be nicer to younger sisters because they have some innate desire to protect them (younger brothers...not so much). Second, my in-laws already have a granddaughter, so it's fun to at least have the first of something on that side. And third, we hope to adopt a kid or two in China down the road, and I hear that girls are much easier to come by over there for adoptive parents. So I'm not too concerned that we won't end up with any girls.

A couple more...

We did get the ever-popular thumb-sucking shot:

Though, you may be interested to know that, according to our very experienced and knowledgeable ultrasound tech (who was like a very chatty textbook on fetuses), fetuses are never really sucking their thumbs. It just looks like that. They may be trying to figure out how to get mouths over their hands, but I guess they don't succeed.

If you're extremely experienced in ultrasound interpretation, you may also be able to tell that my placenta is very much on the top wall of my uterus and nowhere near the cervix. It's that smooth, long, gray blob hovering over Peebs's body. The tech said there was no way I ever had a low-lying placenta with it being so high up now, and she was very confused about what my OB was seeing when she said that. So that's good news, though it leaves the bleeding/spotting I had from week 14 to about week 16 unexplained.

One more tidbit. Apparently, our little Peebs is measuring about 5 days ahead. The u/s tech recommended that my due date be changed from April 10 to April 5. I'm waiting to hear from OB to see if she wants to make that official. I'm totally happy to have it moved up, but it seems a bit odd how it all works. What if the baby were measuring ahead at 30 weeks--would they adjust it again? They can't keep adjusting based on measurements. And, more than that, I do know with very little doubt when I ovulated. So April 10 will technically be 40 weeks from, well, two weeks before I ovulated (which was not the first day of my last period). Not that the due date means a whole lot, but my parents will be purchasing plane tickets based loosely around the day, and it would be nice to know whether I should consider myself 19w3d or 20w1d....

Monday, November 1, 2010

16 Weeks On My Birthday

My parents were out visiting this past week from the Southeast. It was the first time I'd seen them in about a year, since they've been out of the country this past year some. So it was very lovely to spend some relaxed time together. They stayed 10 days, but they are very easy guests. They brought lots of their own stuff to do, so Pete and I could go to work as usual and they could take care of themselves.

I also celebrated my birthday last Sunday with them. We realized it was the first time we've been together for my birthday since I turned 18! For some reason the symmetry of being exactly 16 weeks pregnant on the 24th, my birthday, made me happy. I'm not into math at all, but it's hard to ignore such perfectly even numbers :).

My mom made dinner, Pete baked the lovely cake you see in the picture below, and my dad washed the dishes. Pete also gave me 3 very cute handpainted pictures from Etsy that will go in the baby's room once we can find suitable frames.

This picture makes me laugh. My mom was trying to take it with the self-timer on her camera but had lots of trouble getting it to work. So she ended up running back just in time to peep her face in, but it looks a little silly hiding back there.


In other news, I'm posting my first belly shot where I actually look a bit pregnant below. This was taken this weekend, at 17 weeks. I know it's still not much, but there's at least a little something there!
Please ignore my crazy hair. I'd been wearing a hat in the shape of a cherry all day to go along with my ice cream sundae costume. Also ignore the huge boobs. They're humongous. I'm missing my 32Cs very, very much these days. Pete says he thinks I'll really look obviously pregnant once my belly protrudes farther than my boobs, but I think it's got a ways to go to get there.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tsinghua and a One-Month Old

I don't believe that I've more than barely mentioned this on my blog so far. This being our crazy plan for our lives over the next year. In short, we are currently planning to have our baby in mid-April, spend a month at home trying to learn the ropes, and then fly from SFO to Beijing in mid-May. At the end of July, we'll fly back home for another 6-18 months before we head back to China "long-term" (whatever that means these days).

Yes, we are crazy. Yes, we will be ordering refundable plane tickets in case we have to face any unforeseen medical complications. And yes, we do have to figure out how to get our very little one a passport and visa within 3-4 weeks of his or her birth. Considering how attractive normal passport shots are, I can't wait to see one of a one-week-old.

Our original plan was actually to go from March to May. Pete has an exchange program set up with a research lab at Tsinghua University in Beijing. It's a really fantastic opportunity to him, and they already had it all set up and ready to go when I got pregnant with a due date in April. We did briefly entertain the idea of giving birth in Beijing, but for many reasons (top on the list being the impossibility of getting international insurance with maternity coverage after you're already pregnant) decided against it.

While I'm excited about going back to China and getting to spend more time there, of course I'm pretty overwhelmed. Mostly by all the little details and things I'm going to have to figure out in the midst of what will already be one of the most overwhelming times in my life. Like getting a passport for our child. And finding a good pediatrician in Beijing who speaks English. And traveling with all the baby stuff, and figuring out how to get the rest of the baby stuff we need when we're over there. And spending 10 weeks of my life cooped up in a one-bedroom apartment with a baby and no friends and no American TV. And trying to sublet our apartment so we can actually afford to keep it, and keep all our stuff there.

But how cool will it be for our baby to know he or she became a world traveler within the first weeks of life? I also have a feeling that walking around campus with a little one in a stroller will probably help me meet more people than I expect. Despite how utterly overwhelmed and exhausted I will be, I look forward to the actually living overseas again, even if for less than 3 months. 10 weeks is long enough to settle in just a tiny bit.

Now, what would be really nice is if the program would provide us with a cooking/cleaning lady who came along with the furnished apartment we get. Dream on.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Placenta of the Low-Lying Persuasion...and other random thoughts

I woke up yesterday morning with a little more spotting (you may remember that I had some a couple of weeks ago at 12 weeks). I wasn't too concerned, as it was brown and stopped quickly. I did email my OB to let her know. Then, my husband and I were silly enough to have sex last night (it's been a while, okay? My fatigue has taken its toll on our sex life). And I woke up in the middle of the night with quite a bit more blood, darker red this time. It continued until this morning. So I called my OB's office first thing this morning and was miraculously able to get in to see her within a couple of hours.

She checked out my cervix and said that, beyond the blood (ick!), the cervix itself looked fine. So she moved on to an ultrasound. (As a side note, there are certain benefits to having minor complications. Without this, I wouldn't have gotten another ultrasound until 19 weeks, in mid-November. Now I'll probably even get a few extra later on!) The baby is looking much cuter than at 7 weeks. Very active arms and legs--it looked like he or she was trying to suck a thumb--either that or poke an eye out. My OB was able to tell quickly that the reason for my bleeding is a low-lying placenta, which would be called placenta previa if I were a few more weeks along. The placenta is partially covering my cervix, thus causing some bleeding. At this point, I guess it's not as uncommon and has a 90% chance of righting itself on its own. I'm definitely praying for that option. The bleeding isn't fun even when I do know it's okay.

Until then, I'm on "pelvic rest." No sex, no orgasms, no...um...major bouncing of the pelvis (whatever that would entail). She said I'm okay to continue my prenatal exercise videos and biking, though I think I would be put on stricter rest if I were further along that 14 weeks.

Other than that, this second trimester is definitely treating me better so far. My gas has majorly subsided, the nausea is all but gone. I'm still kind of waiting for that extra energy to kick in, as I'm mostly just tired all the time, with the occasional tired headache.

Now for a few other random thoughts floating in my head that I can't connect together:

  • I found out this week that another couple at our church is expecting just two and a half weeks after us! Though they aren't really close friends or anything, we definitely get along well. And they're with the same hospital and insurance company (Kaiser), so we can take all our classes together--which will definitely make them more tolerable for my husband, who simply can't wrap his mind around how a childbirth class could possibly take 7 hours.
  • Professional maternity photo shoots freak me out. I sincerely apologize if you love them and either have had one or plan to get one when you're pregnant. I promise not to judge you :). But I'm simply not at all attracted to the shots (becoming very common, it seems) of the hugely pregnant women either naked or mostly naked, sometimes covering her boobs with her hands. And even without those, the whole thing strikes me as another marketing ploy we've fallen for, crafted by the increasing number of professional photographers out there. When our parents were young, the only time they hired a photographer was for their wedding. Otherwise, they would just go to Walmart to get a nice picture taken. Now, we get engagement shoots, bridal portraits (if you're in the South), wedding shoots, maternity shoots, newborn shoots, and who knows what else. I also think Hollywood has had a role to play here, but I'll stop now.
  • Pete announced our pregnancy on Facebook. I was initially against it, for reasons most of you here in the IF community can understand, I'm sure. But he convinced me that 99% of the people who saw it would either be absolutely thrilled for us or simply ambivalent. So I acquiesced on the condition that the announcement be cute and not annoying, and that neither of us will overshare about the pregnancy or birth on Facebook in the future. So here's what he came up with (with my help):
Two matching long-sleeved shirts......... $20
Two matching square brown pillows..... $15
Two matching brown dress socks......... $2
Knowing there are actually three people in this picture...... priceless.

Okay, it's dorky, but kind of cute, I guess. And he's absolutely right that Facebook is by far the most efficient way of getting the word out to all those people who do care but who you would never take the time to call individually. And it gives those who already knew permission to spread the word.

But I promise, no ultrasound pictures or bump pictures will ever be on my FB profile!

If you're pregnant, did you or will you announce your pregnancy on Facebook? If you're not pregnant and trying, do you think you will? Would seeing the above post on one of your friend's profiles have ruined your day? I suspect it still would, depending on how you're feeling emotionally and how well you know the person posting. In the end, I kind of decided I had to take the risk that this might upset some people, just like my future huge belly will upset some people. I can't control that, but I also can't hide my pregnancy. I just try not to be obnoxious about it!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Advent Devotional

Some of you asked that I post the final devotional I came up with on the Advent theme of Hope and Romans 8:24-25. This is going into a booklet our church is putting together (that I'm now working hard on editing) to lead people through the season of Advent this year. I think the final product is going to be very cool. Anyway, for those of you who wanted to read it, here is my semi-final product. I found out that the 250-word limit was more of a suggested guideline, so I got to keep mine a little longer.


“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:24-25
As a child, my favorite part of birthdays and Christmas was anticipating the surprise of the gifts. One year, my dad accidentally left one of my birthday gifts out a few weeks before my birthday, and I saw it and knew it was my gift. I was so disappointed at having the surprise spoiled that I cried. My birthday was ruined.
I love these kinds of surprises. I love waiting, guessing, counting down the days until I can see what’s beneath the wrapping. I relish every minute of the anticipation because I am sure that, even though I cannot see what’s coming, it is coming and is going to be great. I can enjoy the waiting patiently and hopefully—because I trust the people giving me the gifts.
But when it comes to other aspects of my life, I struggle against waiting for something I can’t see. I long to know, to see what’s coming, and when it’s coming, and if I will like it. I spent over a year longing to get pregnant yet uncertain of whether I would or could be pregnant and have a child. I knew my only real hope was in God’s goodness and my belief that whatever God was bringing would be good, even if I couldn’t see or know it yet. But my mind raced to find and cling to the few ratty strands of hope I could find in medicine, in my own research, in books.
Paul says that we were saved—from the agony of our present sufferings, from the bondage and decay of creation, from the hopelessness of uncertain waiting—through our hope in our future, final adoption and redemption. We are saved because we are certain that something glorious is coming, because we trust the One who will usher it in. That certainty and trust enable us to wait in patient, hopeful, eager anticipation, even though we can’t see how or when the final redemption will come.
May this advent season remind us to relish every minute of our waiting because we know how glorious the end will be.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tout Va Bien

Thanks for all your concerned comments yesterday! I just heard a beautiful, strong heartbeat at the doctor's office. Such a gorgeous sound. And the bleeding hasn't returned since yesterday morning. My doctor was puzzled as to its cause, but she said there are all kinds of things that could have caused it. But for now, all is well! Time to tell the boss....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Seeing Red

I woke up this morning to shooting pains in my lady parts and--the pregnant woman's nightmare--blood. In my early morning panic, it seemed like a lot of blood. Well, there it goes, I thought. It's over. Why'd it have to wait until 12 weeks?

I went downstairs shakily and sat on the couch while I called my doctor's office. I first talked to a nurse, who had an OB call me back. All the while I was dutifully searching the internet to remind myself that bleeding doesn't necessarily mean a miscarriage. The OB I talked to was very nice and reassuring, and told me all the things we know as pregnant women but have trouble believing when we actually see blood. That it was only something to be concerned about if I started having much worse cramping and soaking through pads really quickly. And that sometimes part of the placenta can detach and come out, but this is not dangerous for the baby (we did not have sex last night, so the post-sex bleeding wasn't a logical explanation).

And thank God, the bleeding mostly stopped within an hour or so, and the shooting pains have subsided. I already had my 12-week appointment scheduled for tomorrow morning, so I don't have to wait too long to get more reassurance, hopefully.

Still. It's scary, and I hope I don't see any more blood until around April 10 sometime.

In other news, I plan to go straight from my doctor's appointment tomorrow to my boss to tell him my news (assuming all looks and sounds good at the doctor's). I'm a little nervous, but also excited that the news can finally start getting out at work.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Q&A Chain Letter

Josey  tagged me in a fun Q&A a couple days ago. For some reason, these Q&As remind me of these long surveys that my friends and I used to pass around when we all had our first email addresses (ie junior high). Do any of you remember those? Our first attempts at social networking, I guess. But I was always a sucker for answering interesting questions about myself. I think most of us probably are. So here's my shot at Josey's questions.

1) What is your dream occupation?
First of all, my dream occupation could never involve any 9-5 office job, no matter how cool that job was. That's what I currently do, but it's okay because I know it's not permanent. I'm also just not really into working full-time at all. It's so restricting. I want to be able to do other things with my time, and I want to be able to take vacation whenever I want. I know, I'm asking a lot.

That said, I think I would really enjoy certain kinds of teaching--like teaching a grad English class. I would also really enjoy counseling, and I actually plan to take some classes in counseling at some point. But really, my dream job is and always has been doing what we're planning to do: living overseas in a country that doesn't have quite the plethora of resources that we do, raising kids, and being really involved in other people's lives and various kinds of "volunteer" work. Orphanages, counseling, community development, training, etc.

2) How many children (if any!) do you want?
We're actually crazy enough to want 4-5. All that could change in the next year, of course. But we've always loved the idea of having 2-3 biological kids and then adopting 1-2 more. And having a multi-racial family. One of the pastors at my church has 3 of his own kids between the ages of 4 and 7, and they are now in the process of adopting (via the fost-adopt system) a Hispanic sibling pair who are 4 and 6. So they now have 5 kids within a 3-year age span! Insane, but so, so cool.

3) What's your favorite memory from high school?
Singing in the chamber choir my junior and senior year. I could be modest, but I won't. My high school's choir was one of the best (if not the best) in the state of Pennsylvania. We didn't do any show-choir stuff--we sang mostly acapella and were very "professional." I'm really not that amazing of a singer, so I haven't sung in any choirs since then. Most would probably frustrate me anyway. But I really miss those goosebump moments in performance, when all our harmonies would come together and we'd be singing our hearts out in some beautiful song.... And I miss the choir tours. So much drama, but so fun.

4) What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
Ask anyone, and they'll tell you I'm really not that crazy of a person. I could give you pages of crazy things my husband has done. But I have done a few, I suppose. One thing that comes to mind took place when I was 18 and spending a year studying at an international school in Germany. A few of my roommates (I lived in a room of 10 girls--that was definitely crazy) and I discovered the school's stash of lost and found clothing from years and years past. We're talking really ugly stuff--baggy sweaters from the 80s, grandma skirts, etc. So we all put together the ugliest, most mismatched outfits we could find and walked down to a nearby coffee shop to get some pastries. This would be somewhat crazy in America, but in Germany, it was a lot crazier. Germans (at least from my impressions--please don't be offended if this is a misplaced stereotype) rarely do stuff like that. As one German guidebook explained, they "take their humor very seriously." And dressing in ugly apparel to get pastries is probably not a joke most of them would appreciate.

5) Who is your idol and why?
I might have to follow Oak's example here and say my mom. She's one of the sweetest, most patient, most enduring, most faithful, and most godly women I know. I also have to include my dad, though. He has had intense (and sometimes excruciating) constant headaches since he was in his 20s. He's sought medical treatment multiple time (and is currently in the process of trying some new things, which actually seem to be helping a bit). He's had them ease up for months or years at times, only to come back later even worse. He's had nights where he was only able to sleep a few hours because the headache pain was so bad. And through it all, he has remained so patient and accepting. I know it's taken much questioning, praying, turmoil, and frustration on his part, but in the end, he has always come back to trusting that God has brought this pain into his life for a good purpose. Even when it has kept him from doing things that one would thing God would like (like doing nonprofit work overseas). He inspires me when I'm frustrated about little physical issues.

6) If you could go back and change one decision you've made in your life, would you? If you're comfortable with it, please share the decision!
There are things I've said to people (or not said), or people I haven't reached out to when I knew I should that I regret. But it's hard to tell if even that regret is somewhat self-motivated. Do I really wish I'd said more, or am I just afraid that they thought less of me because I didn't? Anyway, that's a whole different topic. As far as actual life decisions I've made, I can't really say that I regret any. I can think of a few that I could be tempted to regret. Like going to college as an English major at a school more known for their engineering program, rather than a more artsy school. But if I hadn't gone where I did, I would never have met Pete, so there's no way I can regret that.

7) Stilettos or flip flops?
Part of me really wants to be that woman who is so comfortable in stilettos that she wears them to the mall and to the airport. (Though I always wonder if those women are really comfortable in them, or if they're just vain.) But my feet, legs, and back will have none of it. I think the longest I can stand being in any kind of heels is about 4 hours, and that's only if I'm not walking much during that time. Besides, I have a long-standing deep attachment to flip flops. I grew up in a country where flip flops were essentially the only footwear anyone wore. I wore flip flops so much during my childhood that I have a permanent gap between my big toe and second toe. 

8) What's the #1 place in the world that you'd like to travel to and why?
Currently, England. I am an English major who specialized in 17th and 18th century British literature, and I've never been to its birthplace, and I would absolutely love to. A close second would be Italy. I did some touring around Europe while I was living in Germany, but I simply didn't have the funds to go everywhere I wanted to. So I dream of going back.

Whew. I can be long-winded. So I guess it's my turn to pass this along. Here are the questions I want to ask:

1) What's the best dish you can cook?
2) Have you ever been mentioned in the newspaper? What for?
3) What's the worst and/or most memorable job you've ever had?
4) When you were a teenager, at what age did you envision yourself getting married? How old were you in reality when you got married?
5) What's your most hated household chore? What's your favorite?
6) What's your earliest memory?

And now for the lucky people who get to answer these, if they so choose. I won't be offended if you choose not to :).

Anxious Mummy at Anxious Mummy to 3

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Happy-Hopeful Award

Wow, this award is really making its way fast around our little blogging world. I just read three posts in a row on this topic. Thanks to Oak for nominating me!

I'm supposed to talk about one thing I'm happy about right now, and one hope I have for the future. Since the quote in the picture above includes a line about yesterday, I'm giving you an added bonus of one thing I've learned from yesterday. I tend to be a fairly short-term thinker, so what immediately jumps to mind for each of these things is something rather trivial. But I'll also make myself think a little more broadly.

In chronological order:

Lessons from Yesterday
  1. I should never make my body wait too long after getting up in the morning to eat breakfast. Doing so results in vomiting. Yes, I vomited yesterday morning, at 11 weeks, for the very first time. Along with that, I also learned vomiting does help me feel much, much, much better.
  2. Most minor health issues I deal with will eventually work themselves out and go away, and thus should not worry me nearly as much as they do. This includes insomnia, allergies, and even infertility, in a sense. And no amount of research, talking to doctors, trying various remedies, usually works for me. Time--and God--are the only real helps. Now I'm working on learning this lesson and applying it to current pregnancy discomforts.
Happiness for Today
  1. I have a seemingly healthy baby growing in my belly. I have only vomited once so far. I haven't fallen asleep at my desk yet.
  2. I'm pregnant! I think this counts as both short and long-term. But also, I have a wonderful, amazing family in far away places and a fantastic support network surrounding me nearby. And I have a husband who lovingly puts up with so much of my crap, but also shakes me out of it and doesn't overindulge me. And is the only person in the world who frequently makes me laugh until tears and mascara are rolling down my face.
Hope for Tomorrow
  1. I'm hoping that the painful bloating and gas that have been my nemesis so far in this pregnancy subside soon. I know they often stick around through an entire pregnancy. But a girl can hope.
  2. I'm very hopeful and excited about what the next couple of years will bring in our lives. I haven't talked about this much on our blog, but our plan is to move permanently to China in a couple of years. We are actually crazy enough to be planning to go there for 10 weeks a month after our baby is born next spring. Then we'll be back here for a year before packing up for real. Of course that all involves some fears on my part, but I'm also super, super excited about raising this baby (and future babies) overseas, learning Mandarin, getting to know the people and culture, traveling, and, to be honest, being away from the USA for a while (though I will definitely miss how much easier life is here). I spent the first 11 years of my life in Asia, and I am thankful every day for the richness of that upbringing. I can't wait to give that to my own kids.
And, it must be said, I can't wait to meet this baby. And that I'm also very hopeful that those of you who are reading this who are not yet pregnant and desperately want to be will be pregnant very, very soon.

Now, for my nominations. I'm going to have to do a lot of checking here, because this award is zooming around so fast that a lot of my bloggy friends have already received it! So apologies to the lovely ladies nominated if you've already been nominated by someone else and I didn't see the post yet. Consider yourself doubly loved :). I would like to pass this along to:

  1. Melissa at Banking On It
  2. Crossed Fingers at Dreaming of Our Baby
  3. InfertileFollies

Monday, September 13, 2010

Advent Devo

One of the pastors at my church is working on putting together a devotional book for the Advent season this year, made up of entries written by various people in our church. Since somehow my English major-ness is well-known among the pastors of our church, he asked me to be a part of editing it and putting it together. And then he asked me if I could write one of the entries.

The book will have 24 entries (one for each day leading up to Christmas, duh). Each of the entries will be on a verse out of the Bible pertaining to one of the advent themes (hope, peace, joy, love).

I read through the options of verses still needing entries. And I had to choose this one.
Romans 8:24-25 "For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
I find the concept of hope so completely compelling, and I love that this verse tells us that hope is only hope if it's for something we can't see (or understand, or know, etc).

But here's the slight dilemma. How can I possibly write 200-250 honest words about this verse without mentioning infertility or pregnancy? Especially seeing as these are the two verses that precede the above:
"For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
I mean, it actually explicitly mentions pregnancy. And this is actually part of the problem. I feel like pregnancy, or even infertility, is a bit trite in the context of these verse. Or too obvious. Even if it is true that I am pregnant after infertility, and that one of the most important lessons I learned from my experience with infertility was about the nature of hope and waiting without seeing.

So instead, I'm working on digging up something else to come at this verse from a different angle.

That 250-word limit is also bound to give me some problems. Think I can slip in a few extra words since I'm the editor?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Fear of Coming Out

Thanks to all of you who gave me advice about when to tell people that I'm pregnant. It was helpful to know that I wouldn't be totally crazy if I told people before 12 weeks. Like many of you, my big hesitation with telling too many people is that work will find out before I want them to. I'm not afraid that I'll experience any subconscious discrimination, but it would be pretty awful if my boss found out from someone other than me, which would be very possible since he knows many of my friends. But I'm still feeling very indecisive about when exactly to make the news public. Part of me doesn't want to wait until 12 weeks. We have several events right around 11 weeks that would be perfect for making such announcements. But I have my next appointment at 12w2d, and it would be nice to hear that heartbeat one more time. How awful would it be to tell everyone and then not have a heartbeat just a few days later?

We did decide, however, that anyone who knew we were trying to get pregnant also deserved to know we are pregnant. And the people who knew about the infertility are definitely the people we'd want to know if something happened. The main group of friends that has been supporting us through the journey is our community group from church. I don't know what I would have done without their prayers and, well, sympathy over the past year. So after we saw the heartbeat, we decided we should announce to the group when we saw them the next day.

I was actually pretty nervous about announcing it and told Pete he was going to have to bring it up. I realized that part of my fear had to do with how difficult these announcements have been for me for the past few years. And here I am, making one myself. While I know where most couples in our group are in terms of having kids, there is one new couple and one couple who doesn't have kids but is in their mid-30s and been married over 5 years... But I figured they would have shared their own struggles with infertility if they had any after we had so openly shared ours.

And then, when we arrived, we discovered that a friend of someone in our group, who was visiting from Australia, would also be joining us for our Bible study that evening. Which we were quite happy for but, of course, made announcing a pregnancy a little awkward. But Pete decided to plunge in anyway, figuring it might be a while before we got another chance where everyone was together.

I experienced momentary fear as I looked at the new couple and thought I saw a flash of pain on the husband's face...but it was probably just my imagination. Then it was great. Everyone seemed genuinely thrilled for us. The ladies immediately surrounded me and started asking all the right questions. Two of the women (the ones who have had babies themselves) even asked to see the ultrasound picture--not that I had it with me (I'm not that pathetic). And then I gently changed the topic of conversation for the other women involved who are not yet mothers.

The visitor from Australia excused herself and went to bed, complaining of terrible jetlag.

Yesterday, I was riding in the car with one of my closest friends (and her one-year-old), who is also friends with the Aussie girl. She's known about our struggles from the beginning, so I was telling her how nerve-wracking it was for me when we made the announcement to our group. And then she told me that her friend from Australia has actually been trying to get pregnant for two years, but has endometriosis. She just had surgery a few months ago to get fibroids removed.

Crap. That's exactly what I was afraid of. She probably went to bed that night wondering why on earth she happened to come to the one meeting that involved a pregnancy announcement. Maybe even had a cry before going to sleep. Experiencing all those conflicted feelings that we know so well.

When we made the announcement, we did explain for the newbies how we had been trying for a while, and how scary the first few weeks of the pregnancy were. Maybe this made her feel a little better. But maybe it made her feel worse, since we weren't trying for as long as she has been.

I'm hoping all of our future announcements will be made to individuals in person, rather than to large groups. But I know it's pretty unavoidable that my pregnancy will cause some infertiles out there a degree of pain. And there's really nothing I can do about that. But I wish I could just know who they are and at least give them a long, sympathetic hug, and tell them I know how they're feeling.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We Have a Heartbeat!

I firmly believe that very few people in the world care to look at other people's ultrasound pictures. Especially the transvaginal ultrasounds. Who wants to see a picture that was taken from someone else's vagina? And there's not much to see that early anyway.

Nonetheless, I'm shamelessly posting mine. Just because I've wondered so often what it would be like to post an ultrasound picture somewhere on the internet. And no way am I ever posting one on facebook. I've had my day ruined too many times by seeing other people's in my feed.

Baby Peebs (yes, that's our dorky code name, and how we came up with it is a long story that I don't even remember) has a strong heartbeat, and is measuring at 7 weeks 3 days, which is exactly what I had calculated based on when I ovulated.

We're pretty ecstatic. It was really amazing to see that little flickering heartbeat inside my uterus! I feel a little less begrudging of the all-day sickness and bloating I've been experienced now that I know there really is a living being inside of me. And I feel like I can finally embrace this pregnancy.

Pete and I are now debating as to when we should start telling people, and who to tell when. 12 weeks seems to be the norm, but I read somewhere that the chance of a miscarriage after seeing a heartbeat goes down to 2-4% for someone who has no history of miscarriage or reason to fear it. When I told Pete that, he thought we should go ahead and tell all our semi-close friends. I still feel hesitant, but maybe it's just because most of them have waited until 12 weeks to tell us. And we have told our parents and two close friends who knew about our TTC saga. I needed the support while I was fearing the worst.

What do you all think about telling friends? I think most of you whose blogs I'm following (yes, I'm still following, even though I haven't commented much recently) who are pregnant waited until around 12 weeks. Any pros or cons either way?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Life Since the BFP

It's been two and half weeks since I first saw that faint second line. One week since I saw a gestational sac in my uterus and was able to believe that I really am pregnant. Like most six-and-a-half-week-pregnant women, I don't really feel pregnant. Sure, I've had a little nausea. Nothing edible sounds very edible to me right now. And the insides of both of my elbows show signs of the varying levels of skill of the lab technicians who took my blood for my betas (speaking of which, I had another set of betas done this weekend, and the results were 11k on Friday and 17k on Sunday).

But otherwise, life goes on humdrum. And I'm pretty happy about that. Change of any kind has the ability to raise my anxiety levels, no matter how excited I am about that change. So I'm very content with easing into the changes of pregnancy.

To be honest, the biggest change so far is the fact that I have to question everything I put in my mouth. All these supplements I was on while TTC, my herbal teas, my lunchmeat, my sleep aids... So far, this has also been the most annoying part of pregnancy, since you can find completely conflicting information about every single pill, food, or beverage you might take (except, of course, illegal drugs, alcohol, or tobacco). I've found that for most OTC drugs I might consider taking, What to Expect While You're Expecting will tell me to avoid them, and I'll find numerous stories on message boards of women who took them through their entire pregnancy and were fine. Of course I've been avoiding them as much as possible. But what if I do get a cold? Or have trouble sleeping? Or, drink tea that contains licorice root for a few weeks before finding out that licorice root is bad for pregnancy (yep, just discovered that one yesterday right after drinking a cup to ease my stomach)? Am I a bad mother already because I didn't follow the most cautious route possible? It's all very confusing.

Anyway, it's not that big of a deal. I'm still holding myself back from completely believing in this whole thing. Seeing the heartbeat (hopefully) next week will help a lot, as will making it five more weeks. In the meantime, I'm praising God and praying for each of you out there who is wading through the muck that is infertility.

Time to force down some yogurt.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Past Month in Review

I believe my last post was about a month ago, shortly following my last ovulation. The saga in my body since then has been long, very eventful, and very twisty. And because I haven't updated in so long, this update is becoming longer and longer in my head, which has led to me procrastinating it even more because I'm afraid of how long it will take to write. But here goes, in the shortest version possible. Bullet points.

  • As a refresher, I ovulated on July 18, which was day 17 after my third round of clomid. The earliest I've ever ovulated, and with the most ewcm I've ever had. Nervous anticipation ensues.
  • 8 days later, I am on vacation with my husband's family. I spend the day (Monday, July 26) with really bad cramps and feeling really achy. I'm pretty sure my period is going to show too early again. Dang it, I had really been hoping for a longer LP this time. I resigned myself to returning to progesterone suppositories for the next cycle. I'm also debating whether I should reduce to 25mg of clomid instead of 50, after reading the book Making Babies (which I highly, highly recommend to all of you going through IF out there).
  • The next day, I see the first signs of blood. Only 9dpo! I spend the afternoon sulking (well, praying, actually) in our room, despite the fact that I'm surrounded by a ton of family and in a beautiful location on a lake in the mountains in the middle of nowhere.
  • By the next day, the spotting increases a bit, and my temperature has dropped. I stick a tampon in it and try to forget about it, thinking I'm on CD1. But, on CD2, my temp goes way up again, and the bleeding has decreased to spotting again. Now I'm confused about why my period is so light. Was my lining really that thin?
  • By Friday (what I think is CD3), the bleeding has mostly stopped. My temp is down again, though. In the afternoon, while I'm trying to help my mother-in-law cook for a big group of Pete's friends coming over, I start feeling really tired and have to go lay down.
  • Since I was planning to start clomid on CD4, I decide I should take a pregnancy test that morning, just to make sure. Especially since my temp is back up. Fortunately, I packed a few HPTs, so I pull one out and sneak a glass from the kitchen. I PIAC (Pee In A Cup) and wait. If it's not CD4, the day is 13dpo.
  • And there it is. A very, very faint second line. Which Pete concurs is really there. Not just in my head.
  • I call my doctor's office to make an appointment with a new OB, since my OB deserted me and went on sabbatical. The nurse makes me listen to a recording telling me congratulations, and stop smoking and drinking. I can't believe I'm listening to a recording with instructions for pregnant women.
  • We fly home that day, and the next day, I take a second HPT, which has a slightly darker second line.
  • I go to my appointment with my new OB on Monday. They have me pee in a cup for another urine test at the beginning of the appointment, but I've been drinking tons of water, so apparently that test comes back negative. So this new OB walks into the exam room basically to tell me that it was probably a chemical pregnancy and I already lost it. She does a quick ultrasound to check for any signs of an ectopic and tells me that my lining is way too thin for this to be a real pregnancy. Also, clomid will never work for me, and I really need to see an RE. Um, what about the fact that clomid has worked for me 3 times? I mean, at least I've ovulated each time, and early than I would normally. She doesn't seem to have a good answer for this one. I resolve that I will not be sticking with this OB, no matter what happens.
  • She does order a beta for me, and, low and behold, it comes back at 192. Since she wasn't paying attention when I told her what dpo I was at (only 15), she tells me that this is low. Which is not true. 192 is pretty normal to high for 15dpo, at least from what my internet searching tells me.
  • I go in for another beta on Wednesday, 17dpo, and the result is somewhere in the 400s (she wouldn't tell me the exact number). More than doubled in two days.
  • Now she and I are both very concerned about an ectopic. If my lining was really as thin as she said, how could it be a uterine pregnancy? So I go in a week later (which was this past Wednesday), with Pete this time, for ultrasound #2. With the same OB, since I have to do the follow up with her. And there it is. A gestational sac in the uterus. Which all but completely rules out an ectopic. She says, finally, that she is happy with what she sees, though she won't completely rule out an ectopic until she sees a heartbeat.
  • She doesn't know, but she won't be the one seeing the heartbeat, assuming it's there. I have my 7-week appointment with a different OB who looks to have more experience.
  • I am going in today and Sunday for two more betas ordered by the current OB. She wants to make sure the pregnancy is progressing normally.
After having this pregnancy taken away from me and then given back three times already, I'm still in a bit of shock. Okay, a lot of shock. And though I'm feeling really hopeful, I'm also keeping in mind the odds of miscarriage at this point. I refuse to start reading all the preggo books or anything like that until I see that heartbeat.

But for now, I'm really, truly pregnant. The mild cramps and hints of nausea (and oh my word, the gas!) are making sure I don't forget the presence of the little one!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Only 3 Days from Normal

I'm officially 4 dpo today. The week of bloating, gassiness, and a lovely swollen ovary feeling culminated with a fairly dramatic ovulation on Sunday. Dramatic in that I could feel it all day, probably because my ovaries were so freakin' huge. I don't actually know how big they were, but they felt huge. I guess clomid can do that.

But guess what day Sunday was? CD 17! I can hardly believe I ovulated that early, even with the clomid. My earliest previous clomid ovulation was around CD 22, and my earliest natural ovulation was CD 33. I also had way more ewcm this time than I've ever had before, and very nicely timed sex. And I'm on herbs that will supposedly help my luteal phase. So I've got all that going for me.

Going against me are the period-like cramps I've been feeling since yesterday. Way too early for anything implantation-related, so probably progesterone-related. But the fact that I've had similar cramps this early in several of my previous two-week waits, during which my progesterone has always been too low, makes me think that nothing's changed in that arena. That I'm still having progesterone problems, and that my period will come too early again.

Before you suggest progesterone suppositories for my LP, I'll just say that I've taken them for three of my cycles. And they do lengthen my LP. I'm simply not convinced that they're solving the problem. I feel like my body needs to start producing more of its own progesterone before I'll get pregnant. The suppositories just stretch out the agony of the two-week wait (and make all the PMS symptoms much worse). If I'm not pregnant, I'd rather just get my period and get it over with. I know many women have gotten pregnant on the suppositories. I just feel like they aren't doing it for me. At least for now.

But seriously, body. Do you really need to give me cramps so, so often? I would really like to be able to forget about my abdominal region every now and then. Especially during the two-week wait. But you just won't let me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

If You're Curious

I thought I would drop in here again and just give a brief update. I noticed that I have actually gained a few followers in my absence, which makes me laugh, but is really fun. So far, following me has been a very low time commitment for those of you who have just joined!

After a couple of days of tiny hints of spotting, my period came at either 10 or 11 dpo last cycle. I'm not sure which because I'm not sure exactly which day I ovulated. I like to believe it was 11 dpo, which would give me an almost acceptable luteal phase. But still a bit shorter than I would like. So my body seems happy to ovulate nicely on clomid, but apparently is not quite as good at producing adequate progesterone. I'm going to take some kidney yang strengthening herbs this time around during the LP and see if we can lengthen it a bit.

One really interesting note about my last cycle: Starting around the middle of the previous cycle (the one where I did not take clomid, and in which my body tried really hard to ovulate but never made it), I was having lots of gas almost all the time. I would get a bit of relief for about one or two days a week, and then it would start up again. It wasn't really painful, but just annoying to the point of keeping me awake at night. It gradually morphed into a general upset feeling in my stomach. My acupuncturist predicted that it might ease up during my next cycle if I took clomid and got things moving in my ovaries better. But I didn't really believe her and decided I just needed to grit my teeth and endure it with a good attitude. And try not to think about it too much. Traveling helped a bit with that.

And then I ovulated. And low and behold, the gas disappeared! Like, almost completely! Apparently my stomach was not happy with my ovaries. Neither was I, so at least we agreed on that. I've had a little gas here and there this cycle, but I'm guessing it will go away again after I ovulate. And it's not nearly as bad.

So there's your fun fact about my digestive system for the day. I should add that at least the gas wasn't stinky. For which my husband was very grateful.

Oh, and I'm on CD12 today after another round of clomid. Here we go, clomid round 3!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I'm Back...

...to California. As of yesterday. It's both sad and nice to be back home and getting back into the routine. Ya'll know how it goes.

I did ovulate about a week ago, praise God. Even though it was a clomid cycle, I kind of gave up hope that it was going to happen, since I got a positive OPK on Saturday the 19th but still hadn't seen a convincing temperature rise by Wednesday. But the temps did finally shoot up. So I'm thinking I o'd either Monday or Tuesday. Right now I'm having the cramps I always seem to get mid-luteal-phase.

In the meantime, I'm evaluating the future of this blog. These past couple of weeks have been really, really good for my sense of peace and trust in God. For a whole plethora of reasons--not just because I was away from the blogging world. But I have started to think that keeping this blog actually fosters my anxiety rather than helping to quell it. Like I'm using this blog to try to control the situation. I use knowledge to try to control things, and the simplest way to gain knowledge these days is via this worldwide web. But trying to control things actually leaves me more anxious and fearful, since I'm really not at all in control.

And also, my job is getting busier, which will leave me less time for blogging.

So that's where I am right now. Part of me really hates the thought of quitting something that I just started six months ago--and definitely planned to keep going for several years. But avoiding shame isn't really a good reason to keep doing something. At least not usually.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This Post May Be Here for a While

Pete and I are leaving town tomorrow. We'll be on the East Coast for a couple of weeks, hanging out with friends and family, hopefully relaxing a bit.

During which time I will likely ovulate. And there's about a .00001% chance that I could find out I'm pregnant while gone. That would only happen if I ovulate by CD14 (ha ha ha ha...sigh) and get a BFP. Needless to say, I won't be packing any of my stash of pregnancy tests. Or tampons or pads. But the OPKs, thermometer, evening primrose oil, fish oil, prenatal vitamins, and mucinex will be coming. I hope the TSA doesn't decide to search my bag.

I just thought I should warn you all. I always have good intentions about keeping up with my virtual world when I'm traveling, but then I rarely actually do it. So if this post remains up top for a while, you'll know why.

And I do plan to keep up with reading all of your blogs! Though I won't promise anything on the commenting.

Blogher people--please don't hate me for not posting four times in the next two weeks. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Infertility Weight-Loss Blog Club

Has anyone else noticed how many infertility bloggers (including many of you, my dear readers) are working on losing weight? I think about half of the infertility bloggers in my reader are in the middle of some form of weight-loss program. I find it very interesting. Is this a good representative sample of all American women in their 20s and 30s? Or are we infertiles simply more prone to picking up other projects since we have been thwarted in our attempts at the one project we really want?

While I am not allowed to take any steps towards losing weight right now, I have been there before and so can sympathize with those of you going through it. When I finished my first year of college, I weighed in at 140 (I'm 5'4"). Definitely not overweight by objective standards. But with my small frame, I was packing quite a bit more flab than I liked, and had been slowly gaining all through high school. So, knowing very little about how to lose weight properly, I went on a crazy diet and exercise program for about 4 months. After several years of feeling very frustrated and self-conscious about my weight, I found that once I really, truly put my mind to it, it came off almost too easily. I guess I was blessed in that sense.

But then my period stopped coming...

Now I'm almost--a tiny bit--jealous of those of you who are losing weight. There's something so satisfying about watching those pounds fall off, and having a goal to work for, and feeling physically fit. But I also know how hard and frustrating it can be, and I'm cheering you all on!

Just do me a favor. Don't go overboard, like I did, okay? Our bodies really do like a bit of fat. And so do our husbands.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What We Did on Memorial Day

We did something awesome last weekend.

Something we've been wanting to do ever since we moved to this area. And something we never did because it was too expensive.

But Groupon got us what would normally be a $103 tour for about $40.

 I know it looks all high-tech and electric and everything. But it's basically a 50cc motorcycle with 3 wheels. And a GPS-guided recording that tells you where to turn and little tidbits about what you're passing (and cleverly pretends to be out of breath after you drive up a hill).

I did let Pete drive. He just took more pictures while I was in the driver's seat.

Despite the fact that we've lived in this area for almost four years now, and done lots of touristy things in that time, we still saw some areas of the city we hadn't seen before.

It was...

(I couldn't resist snapping a picture of this sign in Chinatown.)

And we ended the day with chocolate and wine (also thanks to Groupon).

That's all for now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Finally, Some News

First of all, my sincere apologies to all of you for my absence from the blogging world over the past...um, five days or so. I've got no good reason for it. I was busy, yes, but not too busy. I wasn't really depressed or angry or anything either. Just didn't feel like spending much time in front of the computer. But I am catching up on my reader, so know that even if I didn't comment on your post, I'm thinking about you fondly and sending hugs your way.

Second, after several days of freaking out about how my body had just completely quit doing anything, I finally saw blood this morning. Probably the second happiest I've ever been to get my period. (The happiest was last fall--the first time she showed up naturally in six years.) Only 70 days after my last CD1. And exactly 7 days after the last Provera. So, onward I go, into the next cycle, armed with an arsenal of herbs, acupuncture appointments, and clomid. The lovely thing about this period is that it hasn't been nearly as painful as any of the others I've had since being off the pill. I don't know if that's because I didn't ovulate, or if the acupuncture is helping things be less "stuck" and crampy. But I'm not complaining. It feels so good to be done with the last cycle.

That's all for now. I plan to post again soon with a few pictures of our fun outing yesterday. But, seeing as this is the busiest week of work all year for me (it just happens to fall on a short week every year), I'm not making any promises about when that post will make an appearance.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This Is Life.

Thanks to whoever submitted my news to the LFCA! That was so sweet of you, dear mystery blog reader. That's why I love you all so much.

I take my last Provera tonight, to hopefully induce a bleed so that I can get started on a Clomid cycle. If you're stopping by for the first time (or need a refresher), I am ovulating on my own, but very slowly. And I'm hopefully coming to the end of a cycle that's been over two months long, with no ovulation but tons of crazy hormonal symptoms. The Provera definitely hasn't helped with the symptoms. I've taken it a couple of times before and have never noticed many symptoms at all. But of course, both of those times were before my body was cycling on its own. This time, I've basically felt like I'm having a bad period for the past six days or so. Which is all the more frustrating because I'm not seeing any blood yet, so there's none of the sense of release that comes with a period. But that *should* be on its way soon.

In other news, my parents, who currently live in Africa, are also going through a really difficult time right now. For a whole plethora of reasons, the biggest one being the migraine headaches/insomnia that have been plaguing my dad for a while. 30 or so years, in fact, but suddenly much worse. Their struggles are beside the point of this blog. But our phone conversations have been very interesting over the past week, as we're both going through really, really tough stuff. We're facing the same kind of emotional ups and downs, struggling with God, wishing things were different, praying for change, and, yes, feeling at times like we're really doing okay. The same kinds of things that most of you are going through. And if you're not going through this stuff now, you either have before or will be sometime in the future. I work at a church, which means that I hear stories all the time of people in our congregation going through awful, painful experiences. Any time I start to think I'm alone in my suffering, I hear another story that reminds me that this world is filled with suffering.

This is life. I actually believe that most of the real stuff in life happens in these hard places. We are formed, shaped, chiseled, molded. We feel like we did nothing to deserve this. But who are we to determine what we deserve? Who are we to claim that we have a right to an easy life? To be honest, when I look at someone who has had an easy life and compare him or her with someone who has endured real pain gracefully...well, the second person is almost always far more attractive and beautiful--in character, that is. Easy lives breed complacency, self-centeredness, and a false sense of control. I would prefer not to remain blind in my illusions of comfort and security.

This post is not meant to be a downer. To me, this stuff is what helps me get through the dark times. What helps me believe that my "up" days are just as authentic and realistic--if not more so--than my "down" days. Even though the "down" days sometimes feel like the only they're the only truth that exists.

Okay. Time to put my recruiting hat back on and get back to my real job. Speaking of which...any of you feel like moving to California and hanging out with kids every Sunday morning for the summer? No? I can't imagine why not. But I just had to check.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Excuse for Slacking

Yesterday was a very busy day for me, so I apologize to all you fellow ICLWers--and all of you whose blogs I normally read--that I slacked off a bit on the reading on commenting. I'm playing catch-up today, so it may be another slacker day in Ceejay's virtual world. And a quick post. Which might be refreshing, considering how long-winded I can be sometimes.

What was I doing that kept me so busy, you ask?
Can you tell that the hood's choking me a bit? My gown didn't have the button it was supposed to have on the front to attach the hood to. Those things are heavy!

If you didn't surmise this, I finally graduated yesterday. I say finally because I feel like I've been done for a long time. I turned in my thesis in December, but I took my last class a year ago. Of course, I still haven't received my diploma. But I guess that's what you get with a state school going through major budget cuts.

A couple of rows ahead of me during the ceremony was a woman who had brought her 4-year-old son into the ceremony with her. She had somehow procured him a miniature purple robe and cap! He was adorable. I had to stop and be grateful that I did not have a child yet while working through grad school. And mad props to any single mom (this woman was young enough that I made the perhaps incorrect assumption that she was single and had gotten knocked up as a teenager) who gets a degree of any kind with young kids.

The speakers were...graduation speakers. They spoke many words that sounded inspiring, I'm not sure what they actually said that had any substance. You earned this? You deserve this? Go live your dreams? Please. And sorry for the cynicism. I heard Oprah speak at a graduation once and was only slightly impressed by her, so I'm not the one to ask for opinions on these kinds of things.

But I am happy to have jumped the final hurdle in my education. I think I'm done with school for a little while. I'm sure I'll be back again someday for something. I'm a bit of an education addict. But for now, I'm enjoying the fact that I'm sitting here and blogging on a Sunday afternoon rather than writing pages and pages about John Donne.

Oh, and the best part of this graduation? The gift I received from my very generous in-laws: a Kindle. In general, I do not own very many gadgets. I still have an old-school cell phone and am typing on a ten-year-old laptop. But what gadget could be better suited to an English MA graduate than a Kindle?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Is It Really ICLW Again?

My months are really starting to run together these days. I can hardly believe it's already time for the May ICLW! This is such an annoying cliche, but I seriously feel like April's just ended.

If you're stopping by my blog for the first time, welcome. This is the third time I've participated in ICLW, and I've loved it every time--and have always been happy at how it seems to garner me a few new followers (hint, hint).

Probably what you're most interested is my infertility history, so I won't keep you in suspense any longer. My handsome husband and I only started trying to conceive last July--on our third anniversary, to be specific. Which was a highly unfortunate choice, as it's going to make our fourth anniversary be the day that we officially get labeled "infertile."

At the time, I actually had an inkling I would have a little trouble because of my past history of absent periods (which you can read about here). So I ushered myself--perhaps too quickly but still appropriately--into the world of infertility craziness within a couple of months of going off the (so-ubiquitous-but-now-exceedingly-hated-by-me) Pill.

I quickly learned that I had something called Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. My body stopped cycling because it wanted me to have a little more padding before getting pregnant. I'm very, very fortunate in that this is a condition which seems to be fully reversible in most women, though it takes some time and determination--and weight gain. I quickly gained 10 pounds and, last fall, I was thrilled to be rewarded with my first natural period in over six years! I thought, at the time, that a pregnancy would be just around the corner. But I guess ovulation does not equal pregnancy. Who knew?

Since then, I had two 50-ish-day-long natural cycles and one 40-day-long clomid cycle.  I'm currently on day 59 of my third natural cycle. The One Where Absolutely Nothing Happens.

Because I work for a church, I'm on a cheap-o insurance policy that doesn't even cover an appointment with an infertility specialist. So no REs for me at this point. Instead, I'm faithfully going to an acupuncturist, Katy the Needle Lady, and drinking herbal teas she prescribes. And hoping her promise to get my body back in balance isn't empty.

Oh, and I also just gave up on the One Where Absolutely Nothing Happens. I started a 7-day regimen of Provera on Wednesday night to induce a bleed and then go back to clomid. I'm happy to have an acupuncturist who's willing to work with Western drugs, as much as I hate them.

So that's the True History of My Attempts to Conceive until this point. It's a journey I have dreaded for many years, to be honest. But now that I'm on it, I firmly, wholeheartedly believe that it's happening for a reason--a good reason. One that I will, in fact, look back on thankfully, as unattainable as that gratitude sometimes seems to me now, sitting here stuck in the miry heartache. And I also firmly believe that the best is yet to come. [Cue corny Frank Sinatra song here.]