Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ups and Downs

As many of you know, we've been working really hard on all of our adoption stuff the past month. I have been a terrible blogging friend and haven't kept up with all of you. I've spent pretty much every second of my free time working on adoption stuff.

There have been many positives over the past month and several challenges as well. The distance between us and certain loved ones seems to be growing greater and it hurts me so much. I try so hard to pray about it but I don't seem to be getting anywhere. My therapist tells me I need to protect my own heart and stop spending so much time with people that for whatever reason aren't able to be supportive- not avoiding them just setting limits for myself.

All of the stress of not having the support we hoped for is doing a number on my mental health and spiritual well-being. I made it to daily mass 4 out 5 days last week which was a miracle but I feel so spiritually empty and disconnected. My anxiety has been out of control and I can barely sleep or eat.

Of course this is not to say that we have no support- quite the contrary actually. It's just that the absence of such significant relationships is felt all the more during these important life transitions. I know that unforgiveness can lead to all sorts of spiritual problems and I pray everyday for the grace to forgive. It is so confusing to know what forgiveness looks like when forgiveness doesn't mean reconciliation/repair of the relationship.

I could really use your prayers right now. I am praying for you all even though I've been MIA.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Checking in...

I've been on a hiatus from the blogging world for the past couple of weeks. Life has been very busy and I will have lots to report when I get my act together- hopefully soon. The gist is, I had a grueling 2WW with too many pregnancy symptoms to bear and now terrible PMS related mood swings and anxiety. We have positive news on the adoption front. We are finally gaining some momentum in the process.

Right now my heart is hurting so much. I'm finding comfort in my journal and my prayer from about this same time last year:

Lord, help me to love you as love me. In the midst of such great uncertainty, help me to keep my eyes fixed on you- never denying the reality of the world around me but choosing to hope despite the reality of evil. Lead me to the truth. Hold me always- especially when I have lost sight of your face. Amen.

I've been holding you all close to my heart and praying for you constantly. <3

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Saved by the same stranger twice

In high school I read a book called Standing with Courage by Mary-Louise Kury. I'll never forget the book as it had one of the biggest impacts on my conviction that I needed to resist the norm among my friends and my school and save sex for marriage.

A year or so into our infertility journey a friend sent me an article about a woman who had stayed true to church teaching about IVF and had been able to conceive after many years of infertility.

I was shocked when I realized this woman was the author of the book that had played such a big role in my earlier life.

It really struck me as remarkable that God could use this same woman twice- at terribly significant junctures- to give me hope and point me in the right direction.

I may not know what exactly this sign means for my future but for now I know it means I'm not alone. God is always speaking to us if we know how to listen!


Monday, April 28, 2014

My first 'Little Happies'


 Marshmallow Peeps: I reaped the benefits of our secular culture's disregard for the liturgical calendar. Easter Monday all the Easter stuff was 30% off at T.arget but I knew it wouldn't be long before it was marked down even more. Yesterday, I stocked up on plastic Easter eggs for our one-day children at 8 cents a bag and Peeps for 90% off! I got Easter baskets for our favorite neighbor kids and Goddaughter. I saved tons of money and got to teach them that the celebration of Easter doesn't end on Easter Sunday. I am seriously obsessed with these Marshmallow Peeps. Seeing the wall filled with all the bright colors made me so happy and they are just so delicious!


My facewash-Eminence Mineral Cleansing Concentrate: For those of you with PCOS and hirsutism issues this stuff works wonders! I have always struggled with acne (thanks again PCOS) and worse for the past 5 years I've gotten horrible thick black hairs on my chin. I literally have to tweeze it twice a day. Sorry for the TMI, but I know there have to be others that deal with this too. Well, to add insult to injury, I constantly got in-grown hairs and my chin just looked a nasty mess all the time because it was so red and irritated from having to attack the in-grown hairs. Well, about 3 years ago, I found this facewash and it not only helped my acne but cured my in-grown hair issue! I was shocked the problem was unexpectedly solved and then research on the ingredients showed it could help with this. I am also delighted to have discovered that skipping my morning facewash routine has done wonders to clear up my acne. I recently read that the PH of your skin in the morning is 'just right' and you don't want to mess with that by washing your face. So I now wash my face just at night with this stuff and my skin is better than it has been since before puberty. 


Self-help books: So this has to be one of the most shameless things to admit but I'm a sucker for a good self-help book. I swore I would read some fiction on our vacation but I ended up defaulting to my trusty relationship books. As a connoisseur of these things, I highly recommend this book. I've noticed a change in our relationship almost immediately after adjusting my mindset as the book encourages. The main idea is that men are always on the brink of shame and women are always on the brink of fear/anxiety (obviously a generalization but its true for most couples). When a woman's anxiety goes up, a man's shame is triggered and vice-versa. There are simple changes you can make to step outside of this vicious cycle. Since recognizing this, I've been able to have more compassion for my husband and it must be making a difference because his entire demeanor has changed! 


This Pinterest Recipe:

 Do you have Arthritis or an inflammatory illness? Anti-Inflammatory Lemonade: 

1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (4 -6 lemons) 

4-6 cups of purified water 

1 tsp of ground turmeric 

1 tsp of cinnamon 

Pinch of Himalayan Salt Optional:

 Honey (or to taste) 

Optional: 1 tsp ground/fresh ginger 

A big thank you to Natural News tv. for this great recipe. 

So it doesn't take much like lemonade but on cold mornings I like to drink it warm. I heat water in the microwave, squeeze a lemon into it and add a smaller portion of tumeric and ginger. It doesn't even need the honey. It's really soothing and it's supposed to be great for fighting the inflammation caused by endo or from eating excessive amounts of sugar coated marshmallows;-)


Solitude and the beach: Okay so maybe this is more of a BIG happy but getting to put my feet in the sand and feel the warm air was beyond amazing. We waited almost 4 years to take a big trip (our honeymoon was more of a mini-moon). I'm so glad we could finally get-away. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Be Born In Me

Two week waits are not for the faint of heart! I am in awe of the strength and faith so many of you demonstrate each month during this terribly difficult time. As much as never ovulating was discouraging and depressing, the clarity and certainty of it all gave me time to grieve before the next cycle started. It didn't allow much room for hope.

I am beyond grateful to God for the gift of this hope and I'm acutely aware that this hope will likely not result in a baby.

This dichotomy present in the 2WW is a chance for me to grow in a new way. Romans 5:5 tells us "hope does not disappoint"  but it doesn't tell us "because God will grant all of your wishes" rather it reads "because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."

Merriam Webster lists the opposites of disappoint as content, gratify, and satisfy. If God has promised us that hope truly does not disappoint than there must be an avenue for me to feel content, gratified and satisfied without my child in my arms.

The other day I had coffee with S from waitinghopefully. We spoke about the sense that we both needed to shift our concepts of happiness and contentment. S acknowledged that if she can't be happy now-even without a baby- she doesn't think she'd be happy with a baby. There will always be something to worry about, something more to want, some unfulfilled dream. We talked about secondary infertility and how awful and isolating that path would be. Even if we each get a BFP, we would both want a sibling for our child, and we'd both agonize over whether we'd be able to see that dream come to fruition.

If we want to be content, we have to embrace the path to contentment in our current circumstances. These past 10 days, I have been trying to focus my prayer on asking our Lord to live in me, to dwell in me, to be born in me. For God did not promise I'd be content when I had a baby, he promised I'd be content because his love has been poured out into my heart.

I've been meditating on the song above, which (if I'm remembering correctly) Mrs. Fitz at Romans 12:12 originally posted about. I added some of my reflections in italics.

Everything inside me cries for order
Everything inside me wants to hide
Is this shadow an angel or a warrior
If God is pleased with me, why I am I so terrified
Someone tell me I am only dreaming
Somehow help me see with Heaven's eyes
And before my head agrees, my heart is on it's knees - My head certainly doesn't understand why the heck God wouldn't grant us a miracle when I've spent my whole life dreaming about being a mom and made all my life decisions based on that desire to be a mom. 
Holy is He. Blessed am I.

Be born in me, be born in me
Trembling heart, somehow I believe that You chose me
I'll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem
Be born in me

All this time we've waited for the promise
All this time You've waited for my arms
Did You wrap yourself inside the unexpected - The Lord is present in this most painful and unexpected circumstance of infertility and he will be glorified in it. 
So we might know that Love would go that far?


I am not brave
I'll never be 
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy - These are my favorite 3 lines. I will never be brave. The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy. How true those words ring. What do I have to offer God, but the hole in my heart Infertility has left. 
I'm just a girl
Nothing more
But I am willing, I am Yours

During the offertory I like to say a silent prayer telling God what I offer him that day (something I learned from Scott Hahn's talk 'How to Get the Most out of the Mass'). Today, I gave Jesus my desire to be a mother- mentally surrendering it to him. This doesn't mean I won't need to surrender again and again but it's a small step toward inviting Jesus to fill the vacancy in my heart- and living with contentment amidst discontenting circumstances. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

A 2 week wait

I had my peak+3 ultrasound today. I had 1.6 cm corpus luteum cyst on my right ovary and a 2.6 cm follicle on my left. Based on the presence of a corpus luteum the doctor thinks I ovulated!!!! This is a HUGE deal and a HUGE step in the right direction to overcoming luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome (LUFS).

I requested a phone consult with the doctor so I could bypass the game of telephone that seems to always lead to frustration and confusion on my end. I actually got to talk to the doctor today which was another miracle. I had questions about my lack of fertile cm and what this might mean for my estrogen levels.

She didn't seem very concerned and said the bigger issue is how your ovaries respond to the hormones not the actual levels- if I understood that correctly. She said the only way to increase the estrogen levels would be through Clomid or Femara, which she does not want me on because I was hyper-stimulated by a sub-therapeutic dose of Femara.

For the duration of this cycle I am supposed to take my usual progesterone shots. The follicle on the left ovary is causing me quite a bit of pain though she said it was not an LUF.

Next cycle she wants me to take an antibiotic to help with CM (I'm allergic to amoxicillin so she's putting me on ceclor).

I asked if I should use the Neupogen next month since I missed the window for it this go around and may have ovulated anyways. She thought I might as well use it since I have it already.

My thought is that if I can ovulate with a $20 medicine, I don't want to waste a $1,000 medicine. I feel so strongly that the Holy Spirit played a huge role in me having access to this medication and if it wasn't to get me to ovulate than it has to be for another good reason- like me being able to share it with someone else who needs it. So I'm going to try just the Cytotec again next month and see how it goes.

So now begins a real 2 week wait- treading the line between hope and realism. I normally medicate my anxiety by enjoying a nice cocktail with our neighbors. Now, I have to try to be healthy the next 2 weeks... I bought myself a frozen Chicago style deep dish pizza at the store to replace my cocktail as a treat:-).

Here's hoping...

Infertility Awareness Week: A Catholic Perspective

Infertility Awareness Week, 2014: A Catholic Perspective

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

This week, April 20 – 26, 2014 is National Infertility Awareness Week.

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

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

The Experience of Infertility

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Do not assume that we will adopt. Adoption is a call and should be discerned by every married couple. Infertility does not automatically mean that a couple is meant to adopt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Infertility Companion for Catholics

Facing Infertility: A Catholic Approach

Reproductive Technology: Guidelines for Catholic Couples (From the USCCB)

Bloggers who contributed to this article (those with an * have children after primary infertility or are experiencing secondary infertility. They are marked as such so that if you aren’t up for possibly seeing baby/child pictures today, you can meet them on a day when you are, but please do take the time to go and visit them.):

Mary Beth @ Grace of Adoption                                                              
*Sarah @ Fumbling Toward Grace

There is also a “Secret” Facebook group with over 150 members who contributed to this article as well. For more information or to join the group, email Rebecca at RebeccaWVU02@gmail.com.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A new beginning

I really feel like I failed at lent this year. At this time last year, I was still attending daily mass and twice monthly confession. I attended my first Easter Vigil. My spiritual life felt like it was soaring.

Then life hit me with a whole new kind of suffering- my marriage was literally falling apart, the pain and isolation of infertility was at an all-time high, and I felt myself pulling away from God.

It wasn't a conscious decision. I've of course kept up with the minimum required of me as a Catholic but haven't been obedient to that ever-present call to love greater- to love better.

Before the pain of infertility, I used to beg God for my husband's conversion. I would pray every day that he would let me suffer for the good of my husband's soul.

Then infertility hit and I thought, "I can handle this," then some really awful events which threatened the very existence of our marriage, then more sickness and more surgery. And I thought, "I don't know if I can handle this. Please no more, God."

I went from walking toward Christ atop a stormy sea to fighting desperately to keep my head above water while letting the current pull me in the opposite direction of my goal.

At the core of holiness is the call to love. In many ways I let holiness drift out of reach this year as I told God, "no." "I won't go to daily mass. I won't spend that extra time in prayer. I don't want any more of this suffering."

Easter reminds us that despite all there is to fear, we will overcome. Jesus didn't just get-by. He literally over-came sin and death. If I want to stop treading water, if I want to share in the resurrection, I need to allow Christ to suffer in me.

How in the world will I find the strength to accept anymore suffering?

I need a paradigm shift.

We live in a world that wants to dismiss suffering. A world that tells us "it really isn't that bad." A world that leaves us yearning for more, as it responds to our deepest pain with empty platitudes like, "everything happens for a reason." And at the same time this world tells us suffering is the ultimate evil. Evidence of this is everywhere: euthanasia, aborting babies with disabilities or who will grow up poor, constant encouragement to do what "feels" good, the "conscious uncoupling" of love from sacrifice- the list is endless. This world tells us to avoid suffering at all costs and paradoxically tells us to deny the reality of suffering when it cannot be avoided. This is the perfect recipe for confusion and meaninglessness.

Even as Catholics serious about following church teaching, it's all but impossible to totally avoid the influence of the times. While we may know that suffering has divine purpose, we're caught between this world and the next. We can't find meaning in suffering if we deny it's reality. We can't find meaning in suffering if we're focused on running away from it.

“It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater.”

- Pope Benedict XVI

So my plan is to tell this world they've got it wrong. I am suffering. I don't need to feel bad about acknowledging that. Acknowledging reality doesn't mean I'm seeking attention. Let's stop requiring one and other to minimize the hurt and the pain while telling each other we can find meaning it.

Can you imagine if the John had turned to Mary at the foot of the cross and said, "there, there, everything happens for a reason?!"

Of course not! Suffering has meaning but its meaning comes in part from staying present in the reality of our circumstances- from staying at the foot of the cross.

No matter what your cross, stop denying it. Stop minimizing the crosses of others. We are "walking through the valley of the shadow of death." God does give us more than we can handle. And yet we "fear no evil" because Christ has overcome all the ugliness of this world.

"Because he has overcome, we shall overcome."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I'm not crazy. I'm grieving!

As I a sat on my therapist's couch today, one big ball of tension and anxiety, I finally said it. Tentatively. And with this disclaimer, "I'm normally uncomfortable with any kind of attention..." like a true Irish Catholic, I'm terrified of being perceived as self-centered, "I'm hurting so much and I just want people to see it. I want them to know I'm suffering."

Did I really just say this? Was I going to go straight to hell now? I seriously just said I want other people to know I'm suffering. What's wrong with me? 

I know in my heart it's not really about wanting everyone to know. I just want to be able to  bear my heart with those I love. For some reason infertility builds walls around you and the people you used to rely on the most. I want to scale the wall. 

"No one can grieve alone, inside their head, because that’s not how grief works. Grief is a form of love, and it requires company – it needs to see its reality reflected back to itself from the heart and soul of another human being. Just as love does."

"Unrequited grief is as crippling as unrequited love, and it can last a lifetime, because grief is patient.  It will wait until you seek out that supportive ‘other’, that mirror – like other childless by circumstance women. (Yes, there are other ways too, but this has got to be the fastest I’ve found)."

"Grief heals us so that we can fall in love with life again, but we can’t do it alone. It’s a poisonous myth of our individualistic culture."

"Time does not heal grief. Grieving heals grief."

Amen! Thank you to Jody Day at Gateway Women for your words of wisdom. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thyroid and Adrenals

I just got my saliva cortisol test back and the results were normal. I am so puzzled about what to do about my thyroid now!

My T3 and Reverse T3 ratio is 2.7 and normal is 10 or higher. I have a lot of hypothyroid symptoms which could be explained by my T3/RT3 ratio but I haven't been able to tolerate T3 and being on a low dose for a year my ratio got worse. This led me to think my adrenals were off but they're not. Now I'm stuck about what to do and more importantly who to turn to. The main stream medical community seems to have no answers.

Monday, March 31, 2014


I'm loving everyone's 'Little Happies.' I'm feeling pretty down today so don't read any further if you're not up for a little melancholy.

I had my peak+4 ultrasound today. While I was in the waiting room, I let myself imagine the possibility that I ovulated and that I'd be returning in a month or so for an ultrasound of baby. I let myself imagine what it would feel like. Why the heck did I let myself go there? Well, I really thought I could have ovulated this month. My typical LUF pain didn't seem as bad as it normally does, but sure enough I had another LUF.

I let myself cry on the drive into work. I grieved the loss of another month gone by without the little one we long for. And now I just feel numb. I feel so cut off from the world. I feel so disinterested in everything. I don't like this.

This was my 3rd cycle using Neupogen and I'm hoping they'll adjust the treatment plan since I don't seem to be responding. Last month they though I "might" have ovulated but I'm thinking I didn't. Why would it work one month and not the next?

I called our adoption agency today to see where we are on the waiting list to do our home study. We our still 4th on the list. We were 4th on the list in November and they told us they thought it'd be 3 months but we haven't moved up at all!

They said they're seeing very few birth moms who don't already have an adoptive family identified. They're encouraging people to do an independent home study and identify their own birth mom. I do not feel up to this. I just can't imagine spending that much time thinking about it. I feel like I would lose my mind. I'm supposed to be talking to a social worker about it tomorrow to get a better idea about what it would involve. Anyone have any thoughts?

And then well, maybe it doesn't matter because the DH is still not going to mass. And I really don't want to move forward until he's got some faith. We're arguing because he says I 'pressure' him. I rarely bring it up but when we do talk about it I do emphasize that I believe faith is a choice. He says he's waiting until he "feels called," which infuriates me. He's cut himself off from the grace of the sacraments. He isn't going to feel called. Of course God can work miracles but he usually works within the natural order of things and he's made himself available to us. Ultimately, we have to choose him. Any feedback? Obviously, I'm praying for him and trying to be a good example and I swear I usually don't bring it up...

Friday, March 28, 2014

What I need you to know about infertility: Part 1

Dear loved one, I know you want to be helpful and infertility is hard to understand. If you can forgive my sometimes cynical tone, I think you'll find this helpful. 

1) I am as relaxed as I can possibly be. Infertility is a full-time job all it's own. I miss work at least 4 times a month for last minute appointments that are based on my dysfunctional body's cues. I am using nearly my entire salary to pay for medications that my Cadillac Insurance plan (read super expensive) doesn't cover (while they quite happily pay for abortions and birth control). I don't have the option to "not think about" my infertility because I have to constantly monitor my body for "signs" to determine when to take a given medication and to write up charts for my doctors to read at the end of the month (When I skip this step because I just can't bear to focus that much on infertility the doctors refuse to adjust my treatment plan without that information). I've had to leave work in the middle of the day on more than one occasion because my doctor's office called and said I needed to give myself a shot an hour ago.

When you tell me to relax you imply that my infertility is somehow my own doing. Telling me to relax only stresses me out more. I am already spending more than I can afford to "relax." I have a detailed self-care plan developed with the help of a mental health professional. Your advice to relax makes me question myself more. It makes me bewildered and frustrated that the extensive steps I've already taken to "relax" apparently aren't working. It highlights another thing I'm not doing right.

If you think I need to relax then help me relax. Send me a gift card for a massage. Call me and ask me to go for a walk. Take me to get my nails done. Pray with me. Make us dinner. Better yet take me to a comedy club. I could use a good laugh. Whatever you do, don't tell me to relax. I'm doing the best I can given very un-relaxing circumstances.

2) I need to talk. Infertility is so isolating. People don't want to ask about it because they don't know how to handle the answer. They don't want to "pry." Please don't avoid asking me how I'm doing because you're afraid I'm not doing well. If I'm not doing well that's even more of a reason I need to talk. Talking helps me process things. It helps me connect with you. I don't expect you to have the answers. In fact, I really don't want you to try to give me answers. There are none. Infertility isn't fair. There's no good reason I've been dealt this hand. Infertility is now a part of who I am and I need to be able to share that with you. I need to give voice to my pain. Being able to share my story reminds me that people do care. It reminds me that even though I may feel a crushing sense of sorrow and isolation that I am still alive. That other people want to know me. That I am worth knowing. That I am worth something. That I am still bearable to be with.

When you don't ask- no matter how I try to rationalize it- I'm left feeling like you don't care. Oh and if you really don't care, then don't ask. I'll know by the way you listen or don't. 

3) I am in a constant state of limbo. I had an awful headache the other night. I knew an Ibuprofen would help but I couldn't take an Ibuprofen because Ibuprofen can inhibit ovulation. Well, I never ovulate anyway so I might as well just fix my headache, right? Well, no because what if this is the month where all the expensive medication is finally going to work and I mess it up because I took an Ibuprofen?

I am tempted to throw myself totally into my career. It seems like a good way to distract myself from the pain of my shattered dreams for my family and future. If I can't have the life I dreamed, at least I can accomplish other great things in the world. Right? Well, if I accept the career building opportunities that come my way then I won't be able to miss all the work I normally miss. I won't be able to attend all the doctor's appointments and ultrasounds. I won't be able to scurry off in the middle of the day because I forgot the injection I need right now. 

If I accept all those career building opportunities, I'll be taking time away from relaxing which I'm told is pretty important (see #1). So go for balance you say? Well, that's what I'm doing. But balance leaves me feeling pretty mediocre. My body has failed me and I want to feel like I'm worth something. Career success seems like a healthy enough Plan B, but I don't want to sacrifice my dream for a family for my career. So I don't. But then again there's no guarantee that all this balance will result in the family I so desperately long for. How will I know when to give up on balance and focus more fully on my career? How will I know when I have no other choice than to make my career my consolation prize?

I can't go all in. I'm constantly hovering above two worlds- one I'd quite happily leave in an instant if I could but as things stand, it offers my only chance at feeling somewhat competent and worthwhile- the other I desperately long for but can do little more to attain. I stay- an unwilling visitor- in the first world- not knowing if I should make my home here or not. All the while, my efforts to earn my place in the second world take away from my worth in the first.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hormonal Meltdown

Does this resonate with anyone else? I know I shared this before on the FB group but we watched this episode again last night and DH just loves this scene. He says I should apologize to him because this is how I am and I think he should apologize to me because this is how awful fertility treatments make the woman feel!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome (LUFS) Continued...

Yesterday I had my CD 8 ultrasound. I had 2 follicles measuring about 1.6 cm. Based on the doctors past instructions this meant I should take my Neupogen injection ASAP but they still like me to wait for the go-ahead from the doctor. The Neupogen needs to be refrigerated and I didn't want to have to bring it to work so I decided to stop at home after my ultrasound and just do the shot even though the doctor hadn't called me back. Well, boy am I glad I did that because they were closed yesterday! I wish they would have somehow notified their patients in advance! IF treatments require timely answers.

The interesting thing about my LUFS is that the follicular phase of my cycle seems to be very healthy (at least from what I can deduce). I grow health sized follicles without the help of any medications. In fact, when I was on (a sub-therapeutic dose) the doctor's said I was hyper-responsive and took me off of it.

My ultrasounds look great until after peak when the damn follicle fails to rupture and I develop a giant LUF. Blood draws usually indicate normal hormone levels for women with LUF. When I saw an RE she told me I was ovulating based on my bloodwork. She was wrong.

I don't know how LUFS affects mood and hormones that aren't typically tested for... my mood and energy level have been awful lately. I'm waiting on results from my adrenal labs. I hope if you've found this site via google and you have LUFS, you'll comment. There is so little known about the issue. I hope we can all connect and compare notes!!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Nearing the end?

DH and I have been discussing how to handle the situation with his family, namely the lack of connection and support I've felt the past 6 months. Of course I have the option to just change my expectations but I've come to rely on MIL for so many things. I value our relationship so much and I simply cannot resign myself to the fact that we're going to have a merely polite relationship.

I've compiled a list - a combination of various articles and blog posts- that touches on the key things I think would be helpful for DH and I. I'm terrified to pass it along because I don't want to be criticized for it. I'd be making myself very vulnerable by sharing it. And the scariest possible outcome is that it goes completely unacknowledged.

During our discussion on how this might be best handled DH said, "we're nearing the end of trying to conceive..." He's never said that before and now I feel a whole new wave of grief and hopelessness wash over me. It breaks my heart into a million pieces to think this journey really might end without a pregnancy and the birth of our baby.

I feel like a failure as wife. I feel forgotten by my loved ones. I feel a crushing, paralyzing sense of sorrow...

Tenth Avenue North 

I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I'm too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn

Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stress Reduction?!?!

If one more doctor tells me I need to reduce my stress....!!!!! What in the world I am supposed to do? I already take the best care of myself I can. I make time for prayer. I go to spiritual direction, therapy, take care of my physical health, I avoid over-committing myself, I have a job that I love that is rewarding and gives me a reason to look forward to tomorrow, I spend time with friends, do things I enjoy, etc, etc, etc.

My life is pretty un-stressful in the grand scheme of things- except of course the issue of infertility which I have little control over. I do everything in my power to handle it the best I can- reaching out to you-this amazing blogging community, prayer, talking to friends, therapy.

I am all for self-improvement, for responding the best you can to the cards you've been dealt. I honestly have no idea what I'm supposed to do to de-stress anymore. 

Does anyone else feel perpetually annoyed by this suggestion???? Am I crazy???

And just FYI so this post doesn't seem totally pointless and annoying- the doc did shed some light on my high Reverse T3. She said R T3 is like the breaks on a car. It's telling my body to stop doing things that aren't essential for survival because I'm in chronic stress overload or fight-or-flight. She said that's why I'm responding with such extreme anxiety to the T3 supplement, because my body's trying to tell me to focus on something else. But what? 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome (LUFS)

April 2014 Update: I ovulated with the help of Cytotec prescribed by PPVI. See my timeline for more information. 

I took my HCG trigger shot about 48 hours ago, 36 hours following my 2nd Neupogen injection. I won't be able to have an ultrasound until Thursday since we're out of town. It is becoming glaringly obvious that I have yet another LUF. The pain and discomfort are unmistakable.

I was first diagnosed with an LUF in October 2011, only a few months after we started TTC. My family practice doctor ordered an US and shockingly the radiologist identified the cyst on my ovary as an LUF (shocking because most medical professionals don't know what they are). My family practice doctor didn't have much input to offer (she'd never heard of them).

I did hours of research online and found very little information. I found a handful of medical journal articles but they were from as far back as the 1980s which told me not much research was being done on this issue anymore.

In December of 2011, we went to an Reproductive Endocrinologist for evaluation. I assumed they would easily be able to tell me whether or not I ovulated based on ultrasounds and blood work. Boy was I wrong. Apparently only the Napro ultrasound series does this. The RE was just making sure my hormones rose as they should and checking to see how many follicles I had in a given cycle. The trouble with LUFS is that hormones and ultrasounds usually look pretty normal- the problem doesn't occur until after the time of assumed ovulation so it commonly goes undetected.

When we met with RE to review our test results, she told me nothing was wrong. I showed her the stack of medical journal articles I had printed out. They talked about LUFS and said 80% of women with LUFS have endometriosis. She told me LUFS wasn't real.

I look back on that experience and I feel infuriated for the many women who seek this doctor's care (and so many other's like her) who don't know there are other options, who have to tolerate the status quo and never have the actual cause of their infertility identified.

I have never felt tempted to even consider IVF but my understanding is that IVF wouldn't even be an option for us since my eggs are never released. For some reason, I find that incredibly depressing that even using illicit means we'd never be able to have biological children. It just feels like a new level of hopelessness. Of course, the other way of looking at it is that we are beyond blessed by Napro- maybe even more than the average couple. Napro is literally the only means of treating this problem. No one else has a clue what to do.

During my research the most helpful page I found happened to be a fellow Catholic IF blogger's post. I have her permission to share it with you here:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

(LUFS) Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome

Dr. Hilgers is now using Neupogen to treat LUFS and is having success.

Anovulation in Disguise:
LUFS (Lutenized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome)
Trapped Egg Syndrome
Hemorrhagic Anovulatory Follicle Syndrome".

When I check my blog stats, I get many search hits for LUFS. The other day one of my readers asked me for more information on it so I decided to post it here. It took me two years before I was diagnosed with LUFS It is very tricky get a diagnosis because all the usual tests could come back normal. Most REs do not even look for it becuase they think they can bypass everything with IVF.


What is it?

In Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome, the egg develops within the follicle quite normally and then the follicle turns into the corpus luteum. Even though all hormonal changes take place reasonably normally, the follicle never ruptures and the egg is never released from the ovary. The LH surge is responsible for "leuteinization." Failure to rupture does not mean failure make the transition from an estrogen producing follicle to a progesterone producing unruptured follicle (LUF).

Ovulation and luteinization can be mutually exclusive events. For example, drugs that suppress activity of cyclooxygenase prevent ovulation without affecting luteinization of the follicular wall or circulatory profiles of progesterone characteristic of an otherwise normal luteal phase; The "luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome" is due to a chronic follicular inflammatory response (ie., failure of PGF2a to terminate the preovulatory hyperemic reaction induced by proinflammatory agents, such as histamine).

Taken from http://www.uwyo.edu/wjm/repro/ovarian.htm

What about tests for ovulation?

Most drs check ovulation by measuring the hormones that are being produced during the menstrual cycle. They do not determine whether the actual release of the egg from the ovary has taken place. They make the assumption that if the hormones are being produced in proper amounts then ovulation has occurred. The hormones and the physical release are two separate acts. Since the hormones are being produced, the basal body temperature chart will show a rise; measurement of blood hormone levels will be "normal"; and if an endometrial biopsy is done, it will show that "ovulation" has taken place. However, the follicle will not rupture and there will not be any significant increase in fluid in the pelvis when an ultrasound is done.


My personal experience:

I had a regular 28 cycle, with a positive opk every month that matched up with basal body temp charts. As far as I could tell I was ovulating every month. All my other tests came back normal. The RE labeled me as having unexplained infertility. I tried ovulation drugs for months and then moved on to the shots. I used ovidrel as a trigger. I always had a cyst the next cycle after. One of the nurses said that maybe I was not ovulating. I asked the RE. He said he was 100% sure I was ovulating because I was taking a trigger. I asked him to do an US after the trigger to prove it and he refused. I asked him why I had a cysts every single month and he said my cysts were due to POF.

Then I started Napro. When my dr looked at my Creighton charts and due to continued CM he said it is possible that I have LUFS. My napro Dr tracked my follicle growth with an US. I could see that follicle did not rupture. It would continue to grow past 20mm after I get my LH surge. I tried HCG triggers but they never worked. After I took the trigger, my follicle would actually grow larger. If I got blood work done, or use an OPK it still appeared that I ovulated, even though I know I did not.

I spent a year trying to find something to cure my LUFS. The only treatment available was to use a HCG trigger. I did this and it never made them rupture. When I realized that my only treatment option was not working, I spent hours on the internet researching and came across an article from Japan that uses G-CSF to treat LUFS. I tried to get my dr to give it to me. He was not comfortable since it raises your white blood cells. I went back to the internet and tried to find a dr who would. I came across a specialty known as Reproductive Immunology. I found a dr who uses G-csf in his practice. He ran some immune tests on me and found out that I have elevated natural killer cells. He said this can cause implantation failure and unruptured follicles. He told me to take fish oil and pycnogenol. He suggested I take Lupron as a trigger.

The first time I used the Lupron trigger it worked!!!! I could not believe it. The next month, I went in for my US and saw that my follicle had ruptured on its own before I even took the trigger.

It is frustrating becuase there has not been a lot of research on LUFS so most doctors are not aware. Of all the research I have done, I mostly found articles on horses. The only main article I found on humans was from Japan. Most Drs do not take the time to properly diagnose ovulation disorders and many women are labeled as unexplained. REs just want to bypass every problem with IVF. There seems to be a connection between LUFS and endometriosis. There is now some new research on treating both of these with immune treatments. Napro Technology Drs are also trained to identify and treat LUFS.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Adopt-a-Blogger: Thank you!


February was an interesting month. I cannot thank you all enough for your prayers! It was so humbling to be chosen for such a HUGE gift. Thank you again, Stephanie, for supporting me so much in this blogging world and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide your heart as he did.  I look forward to praying for this month's Adopted blogger, though I think I should wait for Amy to announce her.

Allow me to share some of the blessings from the past month:

- DH and I are making some tremendous breakthroughs in our relationship. He actually asked me to think about how my actions support our connection or hurt it! Hello?! This is exactly how I've been trying to get him to think and the fact that he's using that language is great sign!

- I wrote My letter to baby post, which was very healing for both DH and I. DH never reads my blog but I read that post to him through many many tears. He listened attentively and said it was "good." And later he said he wished he knew how to respond better because he really wanted to connect with me in that moment. Again. This is not the way my DH talks. This is huge!!!

- I can feel the Lord working on my heart, helping me to see what I can change and can actually feel myself reacting differently when I get upset with my DH. (Can you say miracle?)

- We're on a trip with my husband's family (some of his cousins too). This morning all of the young adults (except me) opted not to go to mass with the parents but DH decided totally on his own to come with. He hasn't been with me to mass in over a year. I think he was just trying to be kind to me, but nonetheless, it's a huge step! He has avoided mass like the plague for so long now. I'm confident God is working on his heart. Oh, and the readings and homily could not have been more perfect! The priest talked for 15 minutes about the importance of confession and what a gift it is and how merciful our God is. Amen!

- We are now on our 2nd cycle using Neupogen and an HCG trigger. We won't know for a few days whether or not I ovulated but I'm hopeful. I was beyond worried about having to bring the medicine with me on this family trip since it has to be refrigerated and I had no idea what I'd do if I needed an ultrasound while we were away. But... I ovulated freakishly early this month and so didn't need to bring the refrigerated meds with me. Wohoo!

- I connected with Sew and she's given me a ton of help/direction about my thyroid issues. She did research for me and connected me with doctors in my area that she hopes will be able to better address my thyroid since T3 hasn't been working out so well lately.

I can't say enough how big of a miracle these little changes with my husband are. I know they are a result of all of your prayers. I am beyond grateful to you all. Praying for you now and always. <3

Update: March's Adopted Blogger is Amanda at truegoodandbeautiful.net