Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from 1990.
I am Big Bird.  Remember those buckets from Happy meals?  So fun.
We are off to our church's Trunk or Treat Carnival dressed up as construction workers.
Have fun!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thoughts on Vlogging


A video blog, sometimes shortened to vlog (pronounced 'vlog', as opposed to 'v-log') is a form of blog for which the medium is video, and is a form of Web television. Entries often combine embedded video or a video link with supporting text, images, and other metadata. Entries can be recorded in one take or cut into multiple parts. It is also a very popular category on YouTube.

Okay, so I have been toying with the idea of starting a vlog (not quiting the blog- just doing vlogs, too!).  What are your thoughts?  Anyone follow any vloggers out there?
Over the summer I was searching for youtube videos about cloth diapering, fertility meds, natural remedies for infertility, TTC ("trying to conceive"), and eventually ectopic pregnancy.  I came across and started following three vloggers:
  • Katulka2- Kaity and Mike.  They have a daughter, Alice.  I found her when searching for tips about cloth diapering newborns.  LOVE her.  They live in some dessert-area of the US and Kaity blogs about natural living, saving money, cloth diapering, and random Mommy thoughts and ideas.  She reminds me of a girlfriend from college who is now my Pen Pal (Hey Tara!), so I favor her channel quite a bit.

  • Plus1Please- Kelsey.  I found her when I was searching for vlogs about ectopic pregnancies, the methotrexate injection, and what to expect.  If I remember right, she is around my age, had a miscarriage and then an ectopic, and now has a healthy 6 month-ish son.  She blogs about the same types of things as the last vlogger (go figure I would like them both!)

  • The Eades Family-Lucy and Fam.  I just found this one a few days ago.  One of their videos was in the side "recommendation" bar.  Hilarious.  Their kids are always in the videos jibber jabbering and she always talks to them in the middle of her videos-mid sentence.  Love her.  Watch the "RIP Cloth Diapers" video.  Hysterical.

I am obsessed.  I had Friday off because of parent teacher conferences and laid on the couch in the morning for TWO HOURS catching up on vlogs.  I may or may not have done this during the summer whilst my husband was working hard.. woops! Seeing a new video posted is like seeing a new episode of a tv show, but more often.  Anyway, I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's that vlogs are faster to keep up with because you don't have to read.  Maybe I am just being my stalker self and like to actually see a person's face and hear their voice.  Maybe it's easier to go on youtube and search a key word than trying to find a blog post someone wrote about the topic.
Whatever it is, I like it.  I want to be part of it.  It is so nice to be able to find a person's blog or vlog and hear them talk about something you are going through.  Plus, it would be nice for our family to see updates on us through video since many live far away.
Anyway, thoughts?  Would you watch? Do you have any good vloggers you follow?  Comments welcome! (and, if you haven't, check out these vloggers!)

Friday, October 19, 2012

How to Chart Your BBT


**Warning- if you are not a female I highly suggest you not read this post!  If you are a female- please know I am a very open person.  While there is nothing here that will offend you, we are talking fertility!**
Photo cred

 So, when Daniel and I started trying to have a baby fourteen months ago (little did I know then that we would still be childless), I started researching baby-making tips and ovulation signs.  I kept reading "chart your Basal Body Temperature" (BBT) but decided I didn't really think we needed it.  Just have fun, relax, and you will get pregnant, right?
Mmm, not so likely, at least for us.
I was on the pill for 5 years before trying for a baby, and I had no idea what to expect coming off of it.  It's kind of one of those things where doctors will read a list of all the things that could be happening, and, whataya know!  They are the same signs for pregnancy, menopause, cancer, and probably gout (okay, probably not.  But, it is a little ridiculous that everything is "normal", amen?! A list of what is not normal would be more beneficial).  The most common concern is the return of normal menses.  It's "normal" to have a serge of fertility right after coming off the pill, and it is "normal" for your body to take six months to readjust and begin ovulating again.  Mix in the "normal" odds for conceiving a child within one year of trying, and you have are all but buried in statistics that make you feel as though you will never get to be a mommy.
So, after about four months of irregular periods and ovarian cysts, I decided to check into "temping", as we call it.  A friend of mine from college suggested I read Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

There is also an interactive website for this book.
Amazing.  Every woman should own and read this book.  It is a fantastic resource that explains how our reproductive system functions, why it works the way it does, and the signs we can look for to know what the heck is going on in there.
This book explains the concept of the Fertility Awareness Method as a method of birth control or a means to get pregnant.  Many confuse this with the Rhythm Method.  This is not the rhythm method.  The rhythm method is a method of birth control in which you track your menstrual cycles over time to predict when you, personally, are ovulating.  It is often called the calendar method because this is what you use- a calendar.  If you think you are ovulating at a certain time, get busy, don't get busy, or use a barrier.  While it works great for some families (usually women who have perfectly regular and consistent cycles), it doesn't for others because we can ovulate at different times in different months.  Even if you have no hormonal problems, things such as stress, travel, or sickness can delay ovulation.  If you think you ovulated on the 14th because you usually do (and planned accordingly), but actually ovulated on the 18th, then you may not achieve the outcome desired (whether it was to get pregnant or not get pregnant).
The Fertility Awareness Method (or FAM) is different in that you become fully aware of what your body is doing in your cycle or what it has already done.  In essence, you are aware of your body's fertility status.  This book teaches you the three fertility signs in women:
  • Basal Body Temperature
  • Cervical Mucus (I warned you!)
  • Cervical Position
The female reproductive system is governed by a "symphony" (as my OB calls it) of estrogen and progesterone (BTW, I am astonished at how intelligently our bodies are designed, down to the most minuscule detail of hormones).  As these hormones dominate or fall below the other, our bodies experience changes.  At the beginning of our cycle, estrogen is dominate and steady.  If you take your BBT every morning, you should see a trend of temperatures that are in the same range, +/- about .2 degrees.  As we approach ovulation, our estrogen levels begin to increase in the hopes of reaching a hormonal threshold to "kick out" a viable egg.  When this happens, cervical mucus and cervical position changes (I'm not going into that- read the darn book!).  Once we have ovulated, progesterone takes over as the dominate hormone, warming the uterine environment in the hopes of incubating a little fertilized egg (whether or not fertilization ever happened).  Our BBT temperatures rise at least .4 degrees and stay high during the "luteal" phase of our cycle-again, think "incubation".  After 12-14 days, our bodies will either keep incubating a fertilized egg and keep building progesterone (and you get that blessed positive stick!), or our body will sense the lack of pregnancy hormones and let estrogen take center stage again- enter stage left Aunt Flow.
Here is the catch:
  • You have to buy a special oral BBT thermometer that reads to the hundredth degree (I just had to buy a new one because my husband lost ours, which is why I remembered I wanted to blog this- it was $9 at Walmart)
  • You have to take it at the same time every single day (which means I take it at 5:45 every day, even if it isn't a school day-but I just go back to sleep because my thermometer is digital and saves it until the next time I turn it on, which is when I really wake up and can record it)
  • You have to have been asleep for at least 3 hours and you cannot get up and go pee at, say, 4am because it will mess everything up (but I don't have this problem)
These seem like burdens, but really, they are so easy to adopt into your normal routine.  In fact, it was hard for me to stop doing these things once I was pregnant.  But, now I am back at it and, of course, loving it once again.  You can chart on paper, at the TCOYF website (linked under the photo of the book), or my personal favorite- Fertility Friend. They even have an app!
Here is my chart from the cycle I got pregnant.  I have made notes so that you can see the conclusions I can draw from see my temperatures.
Alright.  What the heck are we staring at?!
The most important things are these:
  • My trend in "low" estrogen temps.  They fluctuate some, but for the most part stay in the same range.  I had a outlier on CD (cycle day) 5.  Maybe I hadn't gotten good sleep or something.  No big.
  • You can see that I had my period for 4 days, then recorded my cervical mucus.  When it is considered "fertile", fertility friend puts it in green, like a green GO light (read the book for more info).  Once this happens, either get busy, don't get busy, or use a barrier. My cervical mucus was "green lighted" four days before I ovulated (CD 16) (and I just proofread that- please read my CHART was green, not my mucus!!).
  • OPK is code for Ovulation Predictor Kits- i.e. the best thing every invented.  It picks up on the hormone in your body present right before you ovulate (like, day before!).  So, you can see I had several negative starting on CD 9.  I got a positive one on 15.  
  • Ovulation Day- CD 16.  The day you ovulate, you will see a rise in BBT at least .4 degrees.  It must stay high for 3 days to confirm ovulation.  This is kind of tricky.  Once your temp has gone up, it is too late to fertilize the egg.  SO, looking for that increase is not your sign to get busy.  That is why assessing your cervical mucus and position is important.  You have to hit the sheets in the days beforehand (BD is code for "baby dance").  Once you have seen 3 high temps after ovulation, you are safe to BD without getting pregnant, unless you ovulate again- highly unlikely.  Another great perk to knowing the exact date of ovulation is that you will have a more accurate due date if you do get pregnant this cycle.  OB's determine your due date with the assumption that you ovulate on CD 14.  Well, I didn't.  Granted, that's only 2 days and we all know babies don't care when mommies say they are supposed to come out.  However, especially if you are irregular, this will be a great tool for you.
  • Trend in "high" progesterone temps.  This will happen regardless of whether or not you have a fertilized egg.  They day it falls, you will start your period-estrogen is back in the spotlight.  If it doesn't fall after 18 days (14 is considered "textbook"), then you are pregnant. I temped until I was 16 DPO (days past ovulation) and had already gotten several positive pregnancy tests, with a positive blood BETA on CD 16.
This, dear sisters, is where I see the proof in the pudding- 
I had a positive OPK reading the day before my temp rose.  Meaning my temperatures followed the exact pattern they should to show the fluctuation of hormones and indication of ovulation.  Hallelujah.
So, who should do this and how can you benefit?
I will tell you from personal experience that I fell in love with charting for several reasons.  The month before I started charting, my cycle was 65 days long and I thought I was pregnant because it had never happened to me before.  I kept googling "negative pregnancy test but really pregnant" because I didn't know what was going on.  In fact, I guess I didn't know if I ever had ovulated in my life- and knew I certainly hadn't on the pill.  I finally got my period and started charting.  I found out, from my PSYCHO chart, that I wasn't ovulating and my hormones were all messed up.  My temps were going up and down and up and down.  There was no pattern, no rise in .4 degrees.  I clearly knew I was having annovulatory cycles.  I was able to take my chart to my OB (because, if you are having any long-term trouble conceiving, they will send you home and tell you to come back in a month with a BBT chart.  I was ahead of the game!) and she immediately confirmed my suspicions and had me come in for hormone testing.  I kept charting and this continued until June, when she said my lack of ovulation at this point was not normal and I needed fertility meds (Clomid) if that was the option we chose as a family to pursue.  Desperate, I agreed and ovulated the first time I took it and got pregnant the next month (which, if you haven't kept up, it ended in an ectopic pregnancy.  I am charting again, but our trying is on hiatus).  
In my opinion, which granted means nada, whether you are trying to have a baby or keep from having one, knowing what your body is doing is an incredible reassurance.  As a young woman, I felt that my doctors never really gave me any options for other means of birth control or spoke with me about the side effects of long term hormonal birth control (which I believe really messed me up and I probably won't ever do it again.  That does not mean I think it is evil and I know lots of women who have no side effects, short or long term.  Carry on, sistas!).  I'm not blaming these doctors for our infertility, and I can't even say that had I known this then I would have chosen it over the pill.  I'm not even saying that I think every family should go off of the pill and do this.  What I am saying is that we, as women, should be aware of how our bodies work.  After knowing this, I think we should make a decision (whatever that may be) with our families as to how we want to approach (or not approach) birth control or family planning.
Anyway, off my soap box.  I hope that, if anything, this is a resource for you if you plan on trying the Fertility Awareness Method.  I am beyond thankful for it!
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I have had some people ask where to find the thermometer and what it looks like- is it oral?  Or do you put it..up.. there?
First of all, this is what my thermometer looks like.  I bought this exact package:
I found it in the thermometer section by the pharmacy, not by the -other- birth control items (which is where I first looked).  Take your temperature orally.  This has nothing to do with your va-jay-jay.
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Remembering.


As for our redeemer, the LORD Almighty is his name, the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 47:4

Sing praises to the Holy One in the presence of the Almighty, my sweet Baby Love. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Alzheimers Walk

Sunday morning we walked a few miles for Alzheimer's.  Daniel's grandma has Alzheimer's.  He doesn't really like to talk about it because he has such special memories with his grandma and it just hurts too much.  He was home schooled until he was in high school (which I enjoy telling people.  I like to imagine him being that sweet boy, doing his school work and helping his mom, although I am certain he was a rat sometimes!) and he and his siblings took turns spending Sunday nights with his grand parents.  On the way to the walk, he was telling me all about his days with them-the way he used to stay up late to watch movies with his grandpa and play games with him when his grandma had hair appointments.  He told me how his grandma used to take him to Taco Bell for lunch and she'd always have one taco and a coffee (he ate more than this, I assure you). 
Sometimes I am so sad that we have to live in a fallen world.  I am sad that there is death.  I am sad that there is sickness.  I am sad that wives don't know their husbands, parents don't recognize their children, and grandparents don't know their grandchildren.  Why?  Why can't people just get old and physically stop working?  Why can't we keep our minds while everything else fails?  I just don't understand.  I don't understand why God created specific sicknesses and why he allows them to happen.  What glory does he find in them?  Goodness.  He finds goodness.  He promises he turns all things for good for those who love him.  I just can't see it now, but I know, one day, when we are all risen, we will see it.  I am thankful that, even though our world is fallen, God sent His Son to die for us so that we could spend eternity with him.  It will all make sense someday.

The walk is usually on Saturday, but it would have interfered with the Diabetes Walk this year, so they moved it to Sunday.  Which, for us, was great because we had a Junior Bible Quiz meet Saturday and wouldn't have been able to walk.  Our team raised $1125!  The Alzheimer's Association had lots of fun things to do before the walk started and several assisted living properties were there giving out freebies.  We ended up walking two miles and had such a great time hanging out with Daniel's Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, and her friend and sons.  It is sad that we can walk for things like this, but it helps to cope for sure.




Boy loves his grandma!

I look like a blimp!  Thank you, 4 shirts in 50 degree weather.

Stretches



Decorating flowers for the walk.  Orange meant general support of the cause.  You could carry a yellow flower if you were walking for someone you knew who has Alzheimer's and is still alive.  Purple flowers meant that you were walking for someone who had died- and one other color for people to carry if they had Alzheimer's.  Not hardly any of those.



Kim.  LOVE her!




"Purple" water for Alzheimer's.  It looked brown.  Use your own imagination on that one.
 
We made it!  Daniel with his Aunt and Uncle.



Champion!  Raised the most money on our team!

Blessed.  Love our grandma!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

We Thought You'd be Here


So, October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month.  Really, a month for this?  I had mixed feelings about it.  It's not like we can organize walks or 5K runs to promote awareness and raise funds for research and prevention.  I've always hated hearing this from well-wishers, but I guess "it just happens" and there is nothing we can do but remember and hurt.  Well, my baby didn't just happen.  We tried for a year to get that baby.  My baby didn't just happen to get stuck.  God wonderfully and fearfully made my sweet child and kept him tucked right where He wanted him so he could call him home.  Wives who lose their husbands are called widows.  Children who loses their parents are called orphans.  But we-the moms and dads who never get to hold their babies or have to say goodbye too soon- we get no name.  So, in a sense, I guess having our own month is, after all, a consolation prize at best.  The prize reserved for the losers that are pitied.  The prize no one wants, because it's a constant reminder that you didn't win.  Cool.

I decided this week I need to blog more.  I feel like the only thing I ever do is blog about how hard life is right now.  So true.  I guess this is just my safe place to grieve.  But, my life is more than that.  Waiting for what seems like forever for a baby you have never met is just excruciating.  Missing a baby you lost and never knew is confusing and deafening.  Through infertility, with its constant disappointment, and miscarriage, with its heart break, it feels like you are walking on glass.  The glass disappears but the wounds still bleed sometimes.  Yet, my heart is redeemed.  Even if it is a daily battle, I will live my life in reflection of what Christ did for me and the arms that hold us so tighly.

Life has gotten back to {somewhat} normal.  Fall and winter are my absolute favorite times of the year.  I was at Hobby Lobby this week and walked up and down all of the fall/Christmas aisles.  I touched everything.  I just love all things holiday.  Looking forward to pumpkin picking, family time at Thanksgiving, cooler weather, the way my husband looks in sweaters (agh, so good), Christmas, and our anniversary makes me almost forget the hurt of waiting.  When we first lost the baby, Daniel was worried about moving on and felt like doing so and getting better meant we had to forget our baby and leave him behind.  It felt like we were leaving him in a basket on someone's doorstep because we didn't want him.  Oh, how we wanted him.  I didn't really get it then.  I just wanted so badly to try for another baby as soon as possible.  But, now that we are really moving on, I know what that felt to him.  I have never known such bittersweet emotion.  I am glad we are moving on, and that, as time passes, the bad days are stretched further apart and we can love, laugh, and have joy.  But, at the same time, I know my belly isn't growing.  I know it's really over.  I feel like I have to forget it even happened.

We are happy for the most part.  We know God's plan is perfect and his timing is not a surprise to him.  Our marriage seems to get better and better every day.  I have read so much about how miscarriages and infertility strain many marriages, and I was so fearful of that.  I am such a terrible person, which means I can be such a terrible wife.  Daniel takes such tender care of me and I was so worried I wouldn't know how to care for him.  I have never wanted to love more than I have over the last few years. I am on my knees in thanksgiving for the answer to our prayer and desire to build a strong foundation for our family. 

Little things still get at us- baby Christmas stockings.  Knowing I would have been out of my first trimester last week.  Having to get my bridesmaid's dress for my sister's wedding taken in, having had it ordered bigger than needed, with extra length, to accomodate my pregnant belly.  Seeing weekly updates on Facebook of college friends who are due soon- or, even worse- 2 days after I would have been.  Funny to think God saw two precious children being formed at the exact same time, hidden in the womb, yet chose to bring one home to Him.  I just don't understand His ways- but that doesn't mean that they aren't good.  In fact, they are perfect.

He is perfect, but I am not.  It's a hard emotion to hold on to when a barren or empty-armed woman hears that someone else is pregnant or has a small baby.  Not one of us would ever wish this hurt on another person.  Not one of us would wish that person wasn't pregnant.  Not one of us would wish that mom would lose her baby, too, as if to make our pain hurt less (1 Kings 3:16-27 anyone?).  What's hard is thinking, "Why does she get to have a baby and I can't" and "What did I do wrong?"  I know the Lord doesn't necessarily work that way, but the questions are there and I can't make them go away or answer them.

I guess so much of the hurt comes with knowing what would have been.  We thought our baby would have been here by now.  We never thought we'd have to struggle with infertility.  We never thought we'd have to have an ectopic pregnancy. We never thought we'd have to wait even longer now.  Part of me feels like we waited forever to try and have baby.  Did we wait too long?  I have always wanted to be a mommy, but, honestly, early in our marriage I didn't feel like I was ready.  I didn't know how to be a good wife and didn't think I knew how to be a good mom then either.  I wasn't ready to share my husband with anyone else.  I wanted him all to myself.  Was God calling us to have babies then and we just were too sinful to hear it?  Has our time come and gone?

I heard on the radio yesterday morning a song by Wes King.  I have never heard of him- but I read he wrote it when he and his wife were struggling with infertility.  I was late to school because I couldn't see past my tears to drive.  I know it is from the point of view of a Dad, but Daniel would say every single word of this song.  I feel so badly that I have to make this man wait to be a Daddy- but, I know that he will be such a good one when we do have a baby.  In fact, the best there can be. I wouldn't say this song is one of those hit songs I want to listen to over and over again (and I actually just really love the melody), but it's just one that says everything on your mind.  Enjoy.

video


We thought you'd be here by now
Your mother and I
We're praying through our tears that somehow
We might hear your sweet cry
Have we waited too long
It's getting harder to be strong
Is there something we've done wrong

But if you like dancing
I'll make it rain rhythm, and rhyme, and melodies, child
And if you like dreaming
Your mother will make your imagination run wild
Somehow, we thought you'd be here by now

We have a room just for you upstairs
It's right down the hall
So we'll be close should you ever get scared
We'll come when you call
It's a room full of stories
Waiting to be told
Longing to behold

And if you like laughing
I'll paint you a circus of smiles and ferris wheels, dear
And if you like living
Your mother will fly you to worlds both far and near

Somehow...

I never knew the silence could make me so deaf
I never knew that I could miss someone I've never met
Miss someone I haven't met yet

We'll be waiting

But if you like dancing
I'll make it rain rhythm, and rhyme, and melodies, child
And if you like dreaming
Your mother will make your imagination run wild
Somehow, we thought you'd be here by now

October 15th is the official Day for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month and you're supposed to light a candle at 7pm local time and leave it burning for one hour- it's called the International Wave of Light.  The result is a continuous chain of light spanning the globe for a 24 hour period in honor and remembrance of the children who die during pregnancy or shortly after birth.  I suppose I'll light one.  I've got nothing to lose-it's already gone.
Gone, but redeemed.
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