Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Insides are Buzzing...

I am literally CHOMPING AT THE BIT at this moment in my life.  You know that feeling you get when loose ends are beginning to be tied up in one of life's chapters?  Someone made the statement the other day that I've got both feet out the door and I'm just dangling from the door frame at this point.  There is a part of me that will always be left here in Dominica.  Maybe more specifically with some of the people I have come to know and love here during our experience.  But I'm feeling a little like I'm in limbo.  It's the worlds most excruciating waiting game!!

It's funny because a few months ago when I thought about these last few months before our first IVF appointment I thought I would be getting nervous and anxious and feeling uneasy about starting the process.  But instead it's a different kind of anxiety.  I literally CAN'T WAIT to get going with this.  I'm trying REALLY hard not to sell out too quickly.  Jonathan has 3 more very important tests to pass between now and when we have our appointment.  I can't let my anxiety be a barrier to his success.  But literally all day long every day I am floating in and out of daydreams and thoughts about this process.  I'm just so ready to be a mommy y'all.  I'm so ready.  I feel like a runner waiting at the starting line...just waiting for that pistol to go off letting me know it's time to run.  There is a buzz inside of me that makes me literally want to get up and SPRINT sometimes just to have something to do with this pent up energy and anticipation.

I called the OU clinic this week to ask them some questions about my insurance and about how to go about getting my previous medical records released to them.  The girl on the other end of the phone was a little overwhelmed with my very specific questions so she handed the phone to the head nurse who happened to be standing there.  She was very gracious in answering my questions but she finally had to say, "Honey, don't worry so much about it.  We will figure all of that out when you get here for your first appointment.  You're in good hands with Dr. Hansen.  He's gonna take good care of you...just relax!"  The buzz inside of me must have been translating through the phone loud and clear to her!

My head knows that there are LOTS of things between now and our first appointment.  My head also knows that there are lots of unknowns when it comes to our IVF cycle.  Heck I even know that despite my desperate longing to be a mommy, this endeavor itself might STILL not get me there.  But my heart is already sold, y'all.  My heart is already sitting in that waiting room in OKC.  My heart is telling me to calculate those due dates, pore over that calendar, pin that baby stuff.  My heart is telling me to plan the next year of our lives with the idea of a pregnancy and new baby (or babies) in mind.  My heart is 80 days ahead of my head...

For this reason I find myself already retreating here in Dominica.  My heart has already left the island.  My head says "Rach, come on.  Just show up and be sociable."  My heart is not interested.  I am already miles away man.  There are days that I get jolted back into reality and I realize that me leaving this place means saying see ya later to some people that I love dearly.  It means kissing those sweet little cheeks of my favorite red head for the last time for a long time (maybe ever...will his 4 year old self still let me scoop him up and give him sugars when I see him in the states in a few months??).  It means hugging the necks of some women who, here in Dominica, have literally become my lifeline.  My confidants.  It means acknowledging the fact that this crazy Caribbean med school ride is over.  Those times I find it hard not to feel choked up about leaving...

So I truly don't want to wish these next 7 1/2 weeks away, but I'm having a hard time keeping my feet on the ground.  My insides feel like one of those cartoons that's running as fast as they can on a super slick floor and going nowhere.  There are things that were important to me 4-5 months ago that just don't matter that much anymore.  THIS is everything.  Jonathan's USMLE test, our IVF, moving back to the states...that is EVERYTHING right now.  Most everything else pales in comparison...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Little Vocab Lesson

So in the IVF and infertility world there are LOTS of acronyms and shortened versions of words.  I didn't really think that I used many of them very often until I called a frozen embryo a "frostie" the other day and a friend of mine did a double take.  Wha??  I thought we were talking about IVF...not Wendy's??  So I thought today I would enlighten you with some of the common jargon (both medical and non-medical) in this neck of the woods...

2WW-Two Week Wait - this is the period of time usually post ovulation that a woman has to wait to take a pregnancy test....for IVF the 2WW is more like 9-11 days...

AH-Assisted Hatching - a pretty cool little process that happens sometimes right before the fertilized eggs are transferred into the uterus.  Did you know that fertilized eggs actually "hatch" in the uterus before you take a positive pregnancy test??  The outer shell breaks open and the little embryo inside buries itself deep into the walls of the uterus where the placenta and the amniotic sac begin developing.  In Assisted Hatching an Embryologist will introduce a chemical that helps the outer layer of the fertilized egg to break open right before being transferred into the uterus.  This is done when the shell of the fertilized egg is deemed too thick and runs the risk of not "sticking" once inside the womb...

ART-Assisted Reproductive Technology - just a blanket term encompassing all things considered "fertility treatments"...

BBT-Basal Body Temperature - I am all too familiar with this one.  Your basal body temperature is the temp of your body directly upon waking.  It's generally lower than 98.6 and it's fluctuations tell you lots about what's happening in your body.  An upward shift in your BBT in the middle of your cycle indicates ovulation...

BCP-Birth Control Pill - self explanatory

Beta-Beta Blood Pregnancy Test - this is a blood pregnancy test that is quite a bit more sensitive than an HPT.  If it's positive, you are positively pregnant no matter what the HPT says!

BFN-Big Fat Negative - negative pregnancy test

BFP-Big Fat Positive - on a pregnancy test that is.  Can't wait to write this bad boy in lights soon!

Blast-Blastocyst - This is what your embryos are considered once they're fertilized and have undergone some growing for the first 5 days. 

DPO-Days Past Ovulation - Women use this term to track the possibility of pregnancy after ovulation.  Generally an HPT will not show positive until at least 10 DPO, and the likelihood of a pregnancy is high if you are more than 18 DPO...

DPT-Days Past Transfer - just like it sounds these are the numbered days after the fertilized eggs are placed in the uterus.  9 DPT is usually a safe day to take an HPT...

EDD-Estimated Due Date - the day your little one is due to make his/her debut!

"Embabies"-Embryos - embryos awaiting transfer or freezing...sometimes the eggs and sperm that are being watched for development before transfer or freezing are considered by awaiting mommies as "embabies" too...

FET-Frozen Embryo Transfer - this is the process by which frozen embryos are thawed and then prepped to be transferred into the mother's uterus

Fresh Transfer - This is the process that happens when a mother's eggs are retrieved from her ovaries, fertilized, and then well graded embryos are transferred directly back into her uterus without being frozen first...

"Frosties"-Frozen Embryos - fertilized embryos that have not been transferred and are currently in a cryogenic freezer

FSH-Follicular Stimulation Hormone - just what it sounds like...a hormone that stimulates the follicles in your ovaries to produce eggs

hCG-Human Chorionic Gonadotropin - this is the "pregnancy hormone" that triggers a Beta or an HPT to show positive.  These numbers double almost daily for the entirety of your pregnancy...

HPT-Home Pregnancy Test- sometimes people also use POAS (pee on a stick) but I try to avoid that one...makes me feel weird to say that...

HSG-Hysterosalpingogram - this is a procedure where they shoot dye into a woman's uterus and fallopian tubes to see if there are any abnormalities in shape, if the tubes are closed, or if there are any foreign things inside the uterus (i.e.-polyps, fibroids, etc.) that might hinder conception or a successful term pregnancy 

IUI-Intrauterine Insemination - this is the process where an RE retrieves a sperm sample, washes it in a chemical, and places the sperm right in the uterus near the tubes to aid in conception

IVF-In Vitro Fertilization - in layman's terms that's the fertilization of the eggs in a dish (in vitro) before transferring them to the uterus or to the freezer

IVF with ICSI-In Vitro Fertilization with Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection - this is the process where an RE takes washed sperm and an egg retrieved from the mother or from a frozen tank and injects the egg with the sperm itself.  This is required sometimes when there is preventative male factor issues or sometimes even if the woman's eggs are found to have too thick of shells.  It's also done in more specific instances to reduce the risk of recessive birth defects (things like Tay Sachs, Trisomy issues, etc.).  Pretty incredible this technology isn't it??

OHSS-Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome - Yikes...this is a doozy.  Let's pray Jonathan and I don't experience this's what happens when your body reacts adversely to the hormones meant to hyper stimulate your ovaries.  It can be very painful and dangerous...

Post Retrieval Day ___ - these are the days post retrieval that the sperm is being paired with the waiting eggs and an embryologist is watching them carefully to see which of them will become viable embryos.  Most Fresh Transfers will happen on Post Retrieval Day 5 unless the embryos are not very stable and need to be transferred into a less synthetic environment (i.e.-mommy's belly) more rapidly.  Then Post Retrieval Day 3 is a more desirable transfer day.

RE-Reproductive Endocrinologist-this is a "fertility doctor"

TTC-Trying to Conceive

Overwhelmed yet??  Ha!  I promise if I throw any of these out there on this blog or in person I will try and explain them and not leave you hanging.  But if I ever spout one off in conversation with you and you think "What the heck is she talking about??" just ask!  In 5 years of trying some of these have become common language for us....

...that's Ta Ta For Now... ;)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

IVF Hype Soundtrack

So I've heard these called "Infertility Soundtracks" and/or "IVF Soundtracks", but I'm going to deem this one my "IVF Hype Soundtrack" per the encouraging words of my friend and fellow IVF-er Wiselady.  I listen to this soundtrack when I'm pinning baby stuff, when I'm getting anxious about this summer's events, when I'm thinking about our beautiful baby Womacks, etc.  Listening to these songs gets me literally HYPED for what's to come.  Enjoy and add a few of them to your list too!

1) The Zombies-This Will Be Our Year - This one is sometimes on repeat for me.  It's like an anthem for me and Jonathan.  I can't wait to blast this bad boy once we take that positive pregnancy test!!

2) Christina Perri-A Thousand Years - I like to listen to this one and think of our babies.  "Heart beats fast" makes me think of that little heartbeat on our sonogram.  "I have loved you for a thousand years...I'll love you for a thousand more..."...haven't I??

3) Dave Matthews Band-You and Me - I have a funny feeling you might be hearing this one again in a special way in the near future! ;)  For now, I just LOVE the lyrics.  "You and me together...we can do anything...".  Me and Jonathan?  Yep...

4) Michael Buble-I Just Haven't Met You Yet - "And I promise you kid that I'll give so much more than I get...I just haven't met you yet!".  So true.  Hopefully God is preparing those future Womack babies to get some serious love when they get here.  "Baby your love is gonna change me!"

5) Gungor-Beautiful Things - A reminder that God still makes beautiful things with our epic messes.  And I have full faith that He will make some beautiful things (ie-babies) from me and Jonathan!

6) Christy Nockels-Waiting Here For You - "You are everything you've promised.  Your faithfulness is true.  We're desperate for Your presence..."  Need I say more?  I sang this song our last Sunday at UBC.  That particular line rang so true in my ears and was so heartfelt out of my mouth.  At that point He had answered our prayers for an acceptance to medical school.  And we were waiting for Him to keep keeping His promises.  And so we wait for Him now with just as great expectations for answered prayer...

7) Kari Jobe-You Are For Me - "I know that you are for me.  I know that you will never forsake me in my weaknesses...".  Oh this one.   My anthem!  There have been times that I have sung this over and over just trying to make myself believe it.  Now I sing it with newfound hope and confidence that I truly do know that He is FOR ME!

8) Jack Johnson-Better Together - This one makes me smile.  Listen to it...I'd put money on it putting a smile on your face too!  I love the words to this one...cuz it's ALWAYS better when me and Jonathan are together.  So looking forward to 12 weeks of Jonathan starting June 16th...

9) Mandy Mapes-Love Story - "Such incredible chances make for marvelous love..."
"This love is a reflection of more than just me and you..." I could really quote this whole stinkin' song.  But what a beautiful story of love ours has been.  And how much more beautiful is it about to become??

10) Mandisa-Overcomer - One of my best friends Angela told me once that this song made her think of me, my sister in law, and my mother in law.  Consequently it's one that I run to when I need a little inspiration to brush myself off and put myself back in the ring...

11) Bob Marley-Three Little Birds - This one is so uplifting.  "Don't worry about a thing because every little thing is gonna be alright...".  How could you feel down after listening to this one??

12) Christy Nockels-Already All I Need - "Asking where you are Lord, wondering where you've been, is like standing in a hurricane trying to find the wind..."  A good reminder that God is already everything I need, but that He is good and has a purpose for everything that He does...

13) The Lumineers-Ho Hey - "I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart!"  This is a heart happy kind of song that makes me excited about my babies.  This is one I will sing to them!

14) Ellie Gould-Anything Could Happen - A good upbeat song that makes me want to dance.  Anything *could* happen right??

15) Jack Johnson-Banana Pancakes - This is another one of those that you can't possibly be anxious or sad after listening to.  It also makes me think of me and Jonathan and our lazy Saturday mornings sometimes.  Gives me warm fuzzies...

16) Mumford and Sons-I Will Wait - No soundtrack of mine is complete without a little Mumford action.  We're waiting!

17) Beach Boys-Wouldn't It Be Nice - Love this one from the Beach Boys.  It's a happy heart song too...

*addition* 18) Rod Stewart-Maggie May - Welp, y'all.  I added this one because it's one that will be sung to one little special Womack baby one day.  A silly little song I can imagine singing to my own little Maggie Womack in her pretty little girl bedroom someday...

*additon* 19) Hillsong-Oceans - A PERFECT suggestion from a sweet friend who played this on loop during her pregnancy and delivery of her precious baby.  So beautiful, calming, and reassuring...

So there you have it.  I will probably add to this list as we go along.  Do you have any good suggestions??  I am planning to put these on an iPod shuffle with a headphone splitter for me and Jonathan to listen to when we are in the many times of waiting throughout this IVF process.  Would love your input too!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Turning Point

I've been reading through a Beth Moore book called Believing God with my best friend Sara these past few weeks.  If you haven't read it, I would encourage you to!  It's given me goosebumps, made me smile, and made me cry.  It's so profound and I've enjoyed every minute of it.  Today's chapter was called "Believing God Was Faithful In Your Past".  For me, the title of this chapter kind of screamed at me.  Because I've walked a road where, at times, my faith was either thin or non-existent.  And it was difficult for me to see God's provisions and sometimes I found it hard to even believe that He had my best interest at heart.

I talked with a friend of mine who has walked a LONG and painful road of infertility and failed fertility treatment attempts (if you're the praying type, say a word of prayer for her right now as she is in the process of another IVF treatment right now and I SO hope and pray that this is her miracle!).  She and I commiserated about the fact that we have both been guilty of "blaming God".  Some of that verbiage has sounded something like, "Well God, if you aren't going to give me a baby, then I'm not gonna go feed those orphans," or, "Ok God, I've had enough of this.  Do you just hate me or something?"  And so on, and so on.  Kind of dealing with God like a playground scapegoat.  I'm pissed, this sucks, it's gotta be somebody's fault, eeny-meeny-miney-mo-you're-it and I nail you to the wall for it.

I would say that for the better part of 2013, I was in the "middle of my journey".  A quote from Beth Moore from this book says "The middle of any challenging journey can be the most critical point."  So true, wouldn't you say!  The middle is the point where the journey begins it's end.  It's the peak...the turning point.  The middle, for me in infertility, was where I felt like "Gosh, this just can't possibly go on any longer.  I'm at the end of my rope here."  My poor husband had to field so many tears and so much upset from me last Fall and Winter.  I tried so hard to not let it effect his medical school, but it got to where I couldn't mask the fact that I was hurting so tangibly at that point.  It was physically painful.  And it would hit me out of nowhere.  I would have a perfectly fine day, sit down for dinner with Jonathan, and just begin crying out of nowhere.  I couldn't listen to half my iTunes playlist without breaking down.  And I didn't believe that God was going to do what He said He was going to do.  I didn't believe Him when He said:

"If you remain in Me and My Words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you..."-John 15:7

But a turning point came in December for me.  I realized I had sort of been treating God like a "genie in a bottle".  I thought for a while that if I said or did just the right things, then maybe that would hit the "magic button" and I'd get pregnant.  I was not willing to accept His timing or His plan.  Because in my limited little head, I thought that if His timing was not within *my* perimeters, that it would be "too late".  Ha!  It's funny for me to write that naive was I??  But when I turned off all the noise.  When I put out all those flaming darts of doubt from the lake of fire.  I heard His still small voice...I saw Him pointing the way.  Here's a little story that, for me, was God saying "YES, YES, YES Rachel!!"  And Jonathan and I have been full speed ahead ever since:

Jonathan and I decided to run some errands around town one day.  It was a brisk Sunday in Oklahoma  City and we had taken Jonathan's dad's Mustang out for a spin (and of course a quick stop at Target and Hobby Lobby).  Somehow between us parking at Hobby Lobby, shopping for a minute, and returning to the car...the Mustang decided she wasn't going anywhere.  We couldn't get the darn thing to crank!!  So we called Charlie and Bernice to come out and pick us up...but it was going to be a little while before they could get there.  So we strolled across the parking lot to Chik-fil-A to share some nugs and sweet tea.  We sat outside in the sun where it was a beautiful 78 degrees and we had a chat (which is our favorite pastime).  Of course we stumbled upon the topic of babies and infertility...  

I had been praying REALLY intensely that 2013 would be our year to conceive.  We had gotten my Prolactin under control and I had been ovulating regularly since June...seemed like all our road blocks had been demolished.  But just about a week before this outing it had become clear that 2013 would indeed NOT be our year.  I though at the time that I was just numb to it because I wasn't that upset about it.  I had certainly been MORE upset at other times.  I didn't feel that "finality" feeling that I thought I would.  I know now where that peace came from...

I jokingly asked Jonathan how he would feel if we really *did* do IVF and ended up with more than one baby.  You see, in the past I would jab him about this because I knew it made him uncomfortable.  I knew he was going to say "Well...that'd be fine I guess," when really what he was thinking on the inside was "I want you to be happy Rach, but I'm not sure I really feel all that great about that scenario."  His heart wasn't ready yet...God had a few things to do with him first.  But that day I jabbed him with that question and he said in a very serious and intense way, "You know what, it wouldn't even matter to me if we ended up with multiples.  It's just time for us to have a baby.  More than one would be perfectly fine with me."  And he said it in all seriousness in his Jonathan way.  And it almost felt like chains had melted away from my heart at that point!  The conversation morphed into a serious conversation about our IVF options, the OU clinic, and the timing factor.  We made a plan...we finally had a plan!!

And that was my turning point.  I just had to chill the heck out and listen!  And I had to trust the system.  Trust God's will, His plan, and His timing.  And BELIEVE Him when He said He would give us the desires of our hearts.  I don't feel like we are running headlong into a brick wall anymore.  I feel like we have renewed strength!

"But those that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up on wings as eagles.  They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

Here's to renewed strength, peace, understanding, and hope!

Monday, March 17, 2014

90 Days to Go...

As of today we have 90 days until our first appointment.  Jonathan and I have started our new "regime" of vitamin taking and eating right.  I swear I have had more water in the last 3-4 days than I usually have in like a month!  It takes conscious effort to drink 64 oz of water a day.  It's not just drinking water with a meal.  It's constant!  So part of me definitely hopes that I get the fringe benefit of a few pounds of weight loss with all this water drinking.

I get more and more anxious/nervous/excited the closer we get.  My new patient packet has been filled out for nearly a month now.  OU has my insurance information and has been evaluating my records to be able to tell me what my insurance will and will not cover.  We are doing lots of research to find a place to live in OKC and a couple of cars.  I can't help but think and hope that this home and these cars will be the ones we bring our child or children home in and to.  It's exciting and also nerve wracking...

Jonathan has begun his last week of lectures for his basic sciences in med school this week.  This chapter for us is so quickly coming to a close.  He has an exam on March 24th, a final for Semester 4 on March 31st, and then his COMP (comprehensive final) over everything he has covered in the last 4 semesters on April 25th.  Then he will be committing 100% of his time to studying for his USMLE Step 1 licensing exam which he will take sometime in the week before our first appointment at OU.  We fly out of Dominica on May 27th into Houston where we will be picking up everything out of our storage unit there and hauling it to OKC.

I have gone over and over the calendar.  Trying to plan for contingencies.  Thinking "Ok, *if* they find something unsatisfactory on the laproscopy or hysteroscopy I will need at least a week to recover before they're able to start the process of IVF.".  Or "Maybe if I hit it just right I will be on the optimal day of my cycle to be able to get all the 'testing' procedures done and then just go right into the birth control part of the treatment.  We could have a transfer date by the end of July!"

I've calculated so many possible due dates.  I've even thought about what might happen if we *do* end up with more than one baby.  What if we have twins and I have to deliver at 38 weeks.  Or we have triplets and I deliver at 30 weeks.  What will Jonathan be doing?  What is the best case scenario for him in clinicals?

And so on and so on.  All the while trying to stay upbeat and not let the feelings of doubt seep in.  It's no accident that when I am beginning to feel anxious or nervous or doubtful about all this, I get a sweet note from a friend at the most perfect moment.  For instance, I had a bit of a hard week last week.  Feeling a little defeated in my job, tired of the island drama, and thinking more and more about what could go wrong with this IVF.  And then I woke up this morning to such a sweet note from a dear friend of mine who messaged me in the middle of the night while she was up feeding her newborn to tell me that she prays for me every night in the quiet of those moments with Hollyn.  And I couldn't respond any other way than to tell her that those prayers are definitely felt.  ALL of your prayers are felt!

Just a few short months ago, I was in a rut man.  Every single month that I got a period instead of a positive pregnancy test I was slipping further and further into what can only be described as a depression.  I would cry over dinner.  Cry by myself at home.  I was just sad.  I felt hopeless.  Every time I thought about getting pregnant I would feel panicky because I felt like maybe this would never happen for me.  And I couldn't deal with that possibility...

And then came January.  A new start to a new year.  A new vote of confidence from God that came in so many facets from so many places telling me and Jonathan that it was time for us to take a bold step out.  And so we did.  And we solicited your prayers and your support.  And we found it in an overwhelmingly REAL way...

Now when I think about becoming a parent...becoming a mommy...I don't feel panicky anymore. Yes, my human mind still worries about all those little "contingencies"...all the what ifs.  But right now, I'm thinking about seeing that positive pregnancy test and I don't feel hopeless, I feel empowered.  I feel like, for the first time maybe ever in our endeavor to become parents, that we are finally moving in the right direction in the right timing.  There are still many unknowns.  There is still the very real possibility that even *this* won't work.  But I like to THINK POSITIVE and believe that this is our time.  This will be our year.  We are 2 1/2 months into what promises to be one of the most exciting years of our lives and I'm thrilled and SO ready to get started.  SO ready to move out of limbo.  We are SO ready.

This will be our year...took a long time to come...

Monday, March 10, 2014

I Made Her a Mommy...

So as part of my "30 Before 30" to do list, I decided to write a letter to each of my family members and loved ones to tell them why I love them.  I'll admit I haven't gotten very far yet, but my first letter just simply *had* to be written to my mother.  And in writing it, I kind of arrived at a bit of a paradigm.  I wrote her letter to her and it's hers...but I decided I wanted to elaborate on it a little and share a bit of my heart here with you.  Thus this post...

Why I Love My Mother

Well...I love her because she's my mom.  If that seems cliche...let me let you in on my world for a minute.  Help you to understand why the statement "she's my mom" holds so much more weight for me.  You see, after 5 years of trying unsuccessfully to have children, I have arrived at a striking reality about my own mother.  I can put myself in her shoes and empathize with her heart those 30 years ago when she and Daddy "started trying".  I can see her taking those negative home pregnancy tests and being disappointed.  I can see her dreaming about a baby.  Talking about baby names, planning a nursery, thinking about the future.  I can imagine how desperately she wanted a baby.  I *know*.  Because I'm there.  I know how she must have longed.  Though it thankfully only took her and my father a short 6 months to conceive, I now know on a deeper level how much she must have wanted me...

And I know how ecstatic she must have felt when she finally saw those 2 pink lines.  I can imagine her hands shaking with that test in her fingers.  I can imagine my dad freaking out with excitement.  And it was *me* who put those two pink lines there.  It was my little tiny growing body that changed her life forever.  It was my life that consumed her thoughts immediately.  It was me...

And so I love her because she wanted me.  I love her because I understand on a deeper level the love of a mother.  No, I don't have my own children yet.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard "Well when you have kids you'll understand."  And I agree.  I know there are things I will never truly understand until I have my own babies.  And I truly long for that understanding.  But I *do* know that this road of infertility and loss has helped me appreciate the love of my mother much, much more.  I can grasp the concept of longing for a child, hoping for that precious miracle, dreaming about those two pink lines, that tiny heartbeat, that brand new life...

I can imagine what she must have felt when she saw me for the first time.  After 4 hours of labor without pain meds.  All that work, all that pain, all those months.  And there was her "magnum opus" staring right back at her.  With my dark fuzzy hair and tiny little fingers and toes and crinkled baby nose.  I imagine the nurses handing me over all bundled up and cozy into her arms.  I imagine her kissing my head and saying "Hi baby!  I'm your mommy!".  I imagine how intoxicating the smell of the top of my newborn head must have been for glorious it was for my soft untouched skin to touch hers.  And for a moment I was all hers...

So, my friends, *that* is why I love my mother.  There are a million other reasons, but that is my favorite.  I love her because I *know* how much she loved me before she knew me...and it was me who made her a Mommy...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

He Was Just Too Perfect...

Written September 13th, 2009

He must have been too perfect,
That angel child of mine.
Before my God could grant him breath,
He called him to His side.

He surely was too gorgeous,
My darling baby boy.
Jesus needed one more soul,
To join in Heaven’s joy.

He must have been too blessed,
For these, my sinful arms
For now he rocks in Heaven,
His face God’s sweet breath warms.

I’m sure they’ve waited ages
For my prince to reach his throne,
Though I feel like it’s way too soon,
And I’m left quite alone.

I’m certain that my baby,
With his precious azure eyes,
Looks down on me from Heaven,
But I know he never cries.

My loved ones up in Heaven,
Rejoiced that early morn,
When my sweet perfect baby
Was to Heaven’s nursery born.

They wrapped him up in arms of love,
They kissed his dear sweet head.
They smiled and claimed “He’s perfect”.
“None more beautiful”, they said.

My heart is filled with sorrow.
My eyes are brimmed with tears,
As I think of all the joy they’ll share,
While I spend my earthly years.

When I arrive in Heaven
My baby boy I’ll see.
I’ll wrap him in his Mommy’s arms,
No two more perfect, he and me…

Monday, March 3, 2014

Prepping My Egg Factory

Ok y' I've never really been one for "holistic remedies" and what not.  I'm definitely not what you would consider a "health nut".  I do take care of my body though.  I exercise, I eat right, I get plenty of rest.  All that good stuff.  But in the months leading up to our IVF treatment, Jonathan and I have decided to do a few things to help "prime" my eggs and his sperm for the best results possible.  It's what we can do right now and not a whole let else other than wait and pray.  So March 16th is the 3 month mark.  That's exactly 3 months from our first appointment at OU.  On some of the forms it asks questions like "Do you drink?", "Do you smoke?", etc. and one of the answer options is "Not in the last 3 months".  Now we are NOT big drinkers and we definitely DON'T smoke, but since it seems like 3 months is kind of the "magic number" when it comes to the health of your body (maybe more specifically your reproductive system..."3 months" is usually the advised amount of time to wait after miscarriage to start trying again or after stopping birth control, etc.) we are going to start doing a few things starting March 16th to get ready for our "great adventure"...

Stop All Alcohol
Cold turkey...even red wine is out. 

Water Consumption
We will both be consuming the real recommended amount of water daily.  They sell these huge bottles of water here in Dominica that are 1.5 liters.  The plan is for both of us to down one and half of those every day.

I've read a lot about "fertility friendly foods" over the years.  I think there's *some* truth to a lot of it.  For instance, it certainly can't *hurt* to add more folic acid to your daily intake.  Also a boost in B12, C, D, and Protein can't hurt either.  But the other piece of that puzzle is the sugar intake/glycemic index.  I personally have put myself on the Sugar Busters diet before and saw amazing weight loss results.  I'm not really looking for weight loss per se (though that would be an awesome fringe benefit), but carbs and sugars interfere with hormone production and balance in everyone.  And if you've read my post about how my body responds to hormones you know that my body doesn't do all that well with imbalances.  I have a low tolerance for hormonal chaos you might say...  So our diet will be a low carb/no carb diet.  We'll be looking to add more whole grains and dark green veggies to the mix too.  We are lucky that living here in Dominica makes it pretty easy to go low carb since fruits and veggies are like the most abundant type of food here.  

Multi Vitamin Regime
I have taken prenatal vitamins for years.  1) So that I wouldn't miss a single second of giving my baby what he/she needed if I miraculously conceived, and 2) Because the vitamins in those supplements help your body to develop good healthy eggs.  I recently quit taking them for 2 reasons 1) Because they make me feel queasy, and 2) Because I saw this coming and wanted to conserve what I had left to start this "3 month push" since they're not that easy to come by here in Dominica (at least not with a reasonable price tag)  So I've got enough prenatal vitamins to last me from March 16th until we get back to the states on May 28th.  I'll begin taking those daily again.  Jonathan will be taking a men's health multi vitamin daily (which he already takes but not "religiously") and a Ginseng supplement.  

Relaxation and Stress Relief
This kind of makes me laugh a little since the next 90 days are going to be kind of ridiculous in this vein.  Jonathan will be taking his final exam for Semester 4, his comprehensive final covering all the material for the last 4 semesters, and his USMLE Step 1 exam (only the most important test he will take in his life...).  I will be selling, donating, and shipping home all of our household items, finishing up a school year with my kindergarteners, and getting us both ready to move back to the USA.  Whew!  So yeah... we are going to have to be pretty purposeful in trying our best to reduce the stress and anxiety that is inevitable in this situation.  I have a sweet friend who just got her certification in Thai Yoga Massage.  I will be going for a few sessions with her starting March 18th through about May 20th.  REALLY looking forward to that.  Jonathan will be going for some sessions with our other friend who is a masseuse for just some relaxation massage leading up to his tests.  Once we get back to the states, I'm hoping to jump on board at a Massage Envy or something of the like.  Not only will stress relief and relaxation be important leading up to our first appointment, but I will need some serious relief from it as we start this process.  I will hopefully be able to continue getting some treatments throughout the process of our IVF too...

So this is one of those holistic things that I think "Meh...could be a farce could be real...who knows?".  But a friend of mine who has been going through IVF and fertility treatments has recommended it to me for stress and anxiety relief through the process.  I won't be starting this until we get back to the states, but I figure it certainly can't hurt...

I haven't done much running in Dominica.  I don't enjoy it here.  The hills and the heat make a run more like work and I hate it.  And I don't do treadmills.  I take a hike up and down our mini mountain 2-3 times a day which definitely gets my heart rate up.  That's been enough to keep my weight maintained.  But I'm chomping at the bit to get back to the states and start getting back into a routine of running.  Running helps my level of stress and it certainly doesn't hurt that it boosts the health of my body too!  My friend Rachel and I are planning to help each other get into a routine and hopefully we can squeeze a race or 2 in before my ovaries are too huge from stimming that I start walking funny...

So there ya have it.  We are trying to be very purposeful in this.  If you're wondering why we haven't been doing all these things before since we've been trying to conceive, I'll tell you it's because it's literally HARD work.  And maybe yeah, we should have been doing this all along.  We've been doing parts of this regime on and off throughout this process of TTC (trying to conceive) and I'm sure the benefits to my eggs and his sperm have been the same.  Unfortunately there are unseen roadblocks to conception for us that seemingly require more intervention.  We are just trying to be very purposeful in prepping for this process since we actually CAN be.  Not to mention, if this round of IVF *isn't* successful (...thinking positive, thinking positive...) we don't want it to be because we didn't do everything in our power to make it successful.

I'm excited about hitting this "3 month mark".  It's beginning to feel more and more real as we get closer and closer to June 16th.  I am anxious and excited to get started.  There are days that I'm scared to death, yes, but most days I am just SO ready.  I finally feel, for the first time in a long time, like we are actually able to DO something.  We are both so ready to start moving forward!  A sweet friend of mine here in Dominica is helping Jonathan and I work on a pretty sweet project in conjunction with this "Great Adventure" we are about to embark on (not just IVF but the moving back to the states and wrapping up of med school, etc.)  I can't wait to be able to share that with you guys too!