Friday, December 19, 2008

Making it Through

A week before I found out I was pregnant I had a dream so vivid I thought it was real. I dreamed I was pregnant with a little girl and Brandon was really excited. When I woke up I realized it wasn't real and experienced a sense of loss like I had never felt before. The feeling was so intense that it stuck with me for a few days. Then I found out I was pregnant and the feeling was replaced with surprise and excitement (and yes, even some apprehension.) I shared the dream with my grandmother who said it was prophetic, my mind foretelling the pregnancy. I never imagined it would be true to the extent it was.

After the dream I momentarily thought, "this must be what it feels like to lose a child." Then I inwardly scoffed at myself, "how would you know, you never have." I quickly forgot that I even thought this until I really did lose a child and the feeling was now familiar.

I know there is always a chance of miscarriage, in fact it seems to be a high number. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Yet I never let the thought that my pregnancy was doomed enter my mind. I started focusing on the future and planning the upcoming months.

Other than feeling really hungry, really tired, and constantly like I needed to "go", I was feeling good. I was eating right, had been taking prenatal vitamins for over a year, and exercising. I had been to my first information gathering appointment and was set for an ultrasound with the doctor at 8 weeks.

At 6 weeks I was just starting to feel nauseous and started having some headaches . I had experience some light cramping throughout but knew that sometimes happens. The next morning as I was using the bathroom I noticed pink spotting on the toilet paper. I let out a gasp and went to consult the chart my doctor had given me. It said light spotting was common but to call if it got worse (my mother and grandmother had experienced it multiple times and went on to have healthy babies.) I decided to rest and wait to call the doctor. I woke up from a nap that afternoon and the spotting was worse so I called the doctor. They had me go to the lab to draw blood and told me if it got even worse to call the on-call doctor since it was late Friday.

Saturday I woke up and it was worse and I knew then something was wrong. I called the messaging service and the doctor called me back immediately and told me to show up at the treatment room. I realized later what a blessing it was to be associated with the Woman's Hospital because I didn't have to wait in a regular ER. They knew I was coming, had paperwork ready, and put me in a bed and started lab work immediately.

My mother arrived just after I did and she and Brandon alternated keeping me company since only one person was allowed in with me at a time. I passed the time watching TV while waiting for the one ultrasound technician. After a couple of hours I was taken in to have the ultrasound. While there I experienced the worst of it. When I stood up, I felt a huge gush, and I knew then it was over.

While waiting for the doctor I was told the female on-call who was associated with the practice I was with was called away to surgery so the doctor associated with the hospital would see me. My door was open when he arrived at the nurses station and I heard him talking about me. "How far along was she...oh, was she even pregnant?" I immediately thought I would hate this man.

He came in to see me and did an examination and then told me he was very sorry but I did lose the baby. He said my levels were far too low and the gestational sack was much too small for me to be at 6 weeks. The baby had just stopped developing. He was very kind and explained everything thoroughly and my opinion was changed. He even took the time to answer all of our questions. I told him the struggle we had been through and he told us it was promising that we got pregnant without assistance. He also told us we shouldn't wait more than 6 more months to seek help "due to my age." That part cracked me up. I have never, ever been sensitive about my age (and I'm not about to start) but here I am with a doctor treating me like I'm ancient at 30.

I was discharged with having a complete miscarriage and given medication to take every 4 hours on the dot to induce contractions, and pain medication to mask the cramps. I took the first dose with the pain medication and didn't really feel much pain so I decided to forgo the next pain medication when I took my next dose. That was a huge mistake, I woke up in so much pain and remember telling Brandon that when I do have children there is no shame in having a medicated birth because with Endometriosis and Colitis I have experienced enough pain in my life already.

The next day I skipped church but Brandon was scheduled for sound, so he dropped me off at my parents house so I wouldn't be alone. By that time I had been taking Darvocet every 4 hours with the other horrid medication so I was high as a kite. My head was swimming and I couldn't think straight. I bet I was pretty hilarious.

I did really well for a few days because I was surrounded by people, but by Wednesday I was alone again and started feeling low. I was determined to be strong emotionally but try as I might, the familiar dark, swirling depths were closing in. I started to become angry with myself, not for losing the baby, I knew that wasn't anyone's fault, but because I wasn't staying strong.

My birthday passed and I was fortunate that everyone stayed away. I didn't want to spend it with anyone but Brandon. One of my SIL's forgot my birthday and wanted to surprise me on Thanksgiving but was warned off of doing so by Brandon. (Smart guy.) Birthday's aren't a big thing to me, never have been, but to my SIL it is the biggest deal ever and she just couldn't understand why I wouldn't want to celebrate.

I knew Thanksgiving would be difficult because I would be with all kinds of family I don't see often. I already had to endure being told, "Well at least you can look on the bright side of things, it happened at 6 weeks and not 6 months." I don't care if technically it was an embryo, to me it was a baby. I already had the baby's time line in my head and should have been showing everyone the first ultrasound that I would have received the previous week. Instead I felt like a ghost, I floated around from room to room trying to get in on the conversations. But most didn't really know what to say to me and would small talk or just plain ignore me.

I went home that night and raged at myself because I felt I was being such an ass. I felt dead inside and begged for God to just take my life away. Brandon took me in his arms and I cried and pleaded for God to help me. We took turns praying together and I finally mercifully went to sleep.

That was a turning point for me, I finally gave myself permission to grieve, to admit that I didn't have to be strong all the time.

I still think of the time line, I would have been 12 weeks now. And I will probably continue to think about my precious baby at every milestone she should have been at. I know she is in a better place, resting in the arms of her Father in heaven.

Everything happens for a reason, even if we don't fully understand it. We may never know the good that comes from going through such horrible things, but that is what life is about. How would we ever know the good in life if we had no basis for comparison? How would we ever grow and change if we didn't go through trials? How would we ever understand the grace of God if we never rely on Him to bring us through?

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thank You

I thank everyone for their well wishes when I revealed my good news.

And also for all the thoughts, prayers, and concern when I lost the baby. 

It means more to me then I can ever express.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Rare Treat

Today it snowed.  Definitely not a big deal in some places but this is Houston.  We just don't get this very often and so early.  Since 1895, snow has fallen this early just once - on Dec. 10, 1944.  It is colder here today then it is in New York City and Washington D.C., that just doesn't happen.

Yesterday it was in the upper 70's, today it is 31 degrees, tomorrow the mid 50's and then back to the upper 70's by Monday.  There is a saying around here, "If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes."

People from up north wouldn't think it a big deal, everyday winter stuff to them. But to me it was a pretty picture to see the huge flakes dancing around in my headlights as I drove home this evening.  The snow covered rooftops decorated with Christmas lights just made it seem more Christmas-y.  And the sound of snowflakes softly falling on the trees is one of my favorite sounds.

I know it will be gone in the morning but it was a nice treat to see while it was here.  It's just another opportunity to stop and savor the beauty and wonder that still exists in this world.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Honestly

Who vacuums their tile floor? Apparently my upstairs neighbors like to. At 11 o'clock at night. And they aren't the first of our upstairs neighbors to do it. I never realized how loud running a vacuum across a tile floor is. That is until I moved here 5 years ago.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Lord Gave and the Lord Has Taken Away

"...The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." - Job 1: 21b

Thursday, November 6, 2008

10/25/2008

(Now that family has been told, I can share my reaction.)

I have been questioning myself for the last few days because I didn't think it could be true. Nothing has seemed too out of the ordinary except feeling suddenly, extremely flushed at times. In what seems to be our never ending quest to become parents, I have become quite in tune with my body's every twinge. But I had to wait until I knew I was definitely late to test because I didn't want to waste money.

Those 2 little lines showed up immediately and changed our world.

Oh my!! I started shaking after seeing the result. I almost can't describe the emotions I'm feeling. After nearly two years of trying and no success I was more than a little sad and frustrated. Now I am scared and excited and overwhelmed all at the same time. God has entrusted us to care for one of His children. And this is no small task. Sometimes I feel I can't even manage my own life much less someone else's. But I have confidence the Lord knows what He is doing. (and I will keep reminding myself of that fact throughout the years to come.)

Brandon said the worst part of infertility treatment would be the lack of surprise. (and the concerted efforts with many other people involved in the process.) Well, he got his wish after all. Last week as we were discussing having children he mentioned it was probably a good thing I wasn't pregnant now because he didn't think he could handle that on top of all the stress he's been dealing with at work. After telling him the news I grinned and said, God does have a sense of humor. And he knows just what we can handle even when we don't.

So we get to start on a new chapter in our journey. There will be many bumps in the road but those bumps will shape us and grow us. We aren't alone in this.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Am Getting a New Job

It starts in about 8 months.

The hours will be long and sometimes difficult, but I hear the pay is excellent.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Enough!

We have spent the last 2 years listening to egotistical windbags spout about how great they are. I am so ready for this election to be over. I seriously hope they don't start campaigning earlier than ever before for the next election.

In the last couple of days I have found two things that disturb me:

We have been getting the many pre-recorded phone messages from candidates. Only now they have gotten personal. One recording addressed Brandon specifically by name. The other message started out by saying, "I see you haven't voted yet..." I thought that was nobody's business but mine. I voted early once, I had to stand in line for over an hour. So ever since I have voted on election day, around the corner from where I live, where I stood in lines for less than 5 minutes each time.

The political ads on television have been mostly ignorable. And I find that main stream media has lost touch with reality. Their political talk is merely entertainment to me, I get my news from many other sources. However, I saw one station running a political commercial talking about bringing "honest" reporting to the people so we could "vote with our hearts." Hello, I would much prefer to vote with my mind. Voting with feelings has no place in politics. These candidates are on a job interview, we are the interviewers. Since when are job applicants chosen based on feelings?

Enough is enough, give the American people some peace.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Autumn

The season is really starting to change around here. Autumn is probably my favorite season though I like them all for different reasons.

I love the changing of the leaves. Here they change rather late and not in the vivid colors I have seen elsewhere. This weekend we are taking a trip to the hill country where there is a bit more color. Eventually I would love to go up and visit Maine during the fall.

The air is becoming cooler and drier. I have been able to open the windows to allow fresh air in. It has turned my 9 year old cat exceptionally frisky, she seems to love the cooler weather and tears around the house with new energy. Exercising outside has become far more pleasant though seasonal allergies are starting to kick in.

I decided this year to make pumpkin recipes using fresh puree. The smell of pumpkin baking in the oven was divine. And it didn't take long to cut, bake, and puree it. It is definitely better than the canned version. Since Brandon is still trying to put on some weight, I made him a fresh pumpkin pie which he has been enjoying for the last week. I have reserved puree waiting to make my now legendary (at least by family standard) cranberry pumpkin bread.

Thanksgiving is coming up and it will give us a chance to see family members we haven't seen in a while. I will get to meet my new niece and hopefully get to use her as a model for some photography experimentation.

It won't be long until winter and Christmas are upon us. And before I know it, 2009. This year has flown by much too quickly. I guess that's what happens when one gets older. (Sigh)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Welcome Miss Ella

Miss Ella made her debut this morning weighing just over 9lbs.  She was originally due at the end of the month and Lindi was scheduled for a C-section at the end of this week.  Apparently Ella thought everyone else had a schedule but she was sticking to hers.  There are no good pictures yet and I have yet to hear what big brother Collin thinks of her.  We will be waiting until Thanksgiving to meet her since they live over 6 hours away by car.  Congratulations to Bryan, Lindi, Collin, and of course Ella!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thanks For Listening

While in Sunday school this morning we were discussing difficult decisions we have had to make and how they effected us.  I shared that we were in a very difficult decision process right now dealing with infertility.  We have to decide what is right for us, how far we would go, what is right or wrong not to mention all the emotions dealing with the illness in general.  Brandon shared his frustration that he never anticipated having to spend money to have children when most couples can have them for free.  One of the women piped up that children aren't free.  Really? I never would have guessed.  Brandon was saying that most couples don't have to pay money to conceive children, most couples get to do that part for free. 

This is part of the reason why it is so hard to share infertility struggles with others.  They don't understand what you are going through and yet you want to share hoping it may encourage others in similar situations.  We don't share in great detail because some of the issues surrounding treatment are controversial or just plain personal.  No one anticipates being faced with infertility.  No one says, I would just love to take away all of the surprise and anticipation and replace it with constant tests, invasive exams, and concerted efforts only to end up being impregnated by some doctor or technician like I was some kind of lab experiment.  And the process just might have to be repeated many times.  I realize we can't live in a fantasy world and real life isn't always romantic, but I sure didn't ever think other people besides my husband and I would be involved in that process.

I never said life was easy or fair but I know thousands of others are going through what we are.  If I can encourage just one person, if I can make just one person feel better knowing that I understand their plight, sharing my journey will not be in vain.  That's why I keep on.  It may sound like whining, and it may be just that, but bottling it all up isn't healthy either.  The difficulties in life are what teach us, grow us, and give us strength to face the further challenges our lives will bring.  I will be able to look back and know that we made it through and that our Father God never left us on our own to deal with it. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bail Out; Try Cop Out

I am actually happy that the $700 billion bail out plan failed in congress.

I am by no means a financial expert, but if a company drives itself into the ground because it was led by people who made really stupid, greed driven decisions they don't deserve money from me. And is it really in their best interest to save consumers who made really stupid decisions to get into ARM’s and houses that they couldn't afford? Shouldn't these banks and consumers get the message that there are consequences for making poor decisions?

We live in a society devoid of moral restraint. That’s why we are in this mess. Society says if you want it, go get it right this second. Oh wait, you don't have the money, that's ok, just borrow more. It seems some people have forgotten the word "NO."

The fault of the current situation is the government using ridiculous excuses to pressure banks into shady lending, banks for using greed to obtain mortgages they knew would never pan out, and the ignorant and not so ignorant individuals who went out to buy what they couldn't afford.

Instead of spending $700 billion in taxpayer money to banks who need to be out of business, why not change the rules. How about doing away with smoke and mirrors accounting practices? Why did executives in these failed banks walk (or run) away with millions of dollars in severance and pension packages? Where did that money come from? Why aren't these executives being investigated? Enron was a witch hunt, why aren't these bank crooks sharing cells with the Enron folks? I think the truth of the matter is some politicians and these executives are too tangled up in their, "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." tactics.

I am fed up with our president, politicians from BOTH parties (but not ALL), and the media using fear mongering to incite panic. How out of touch are our politicians, many seem only to care about their own power. They think the American people are too stupid to make decisions for ourselves. I believe their 18% approval rating speaks for itself. This mess proves more and more that congress needs term limits to be more effective. Maybe if they weren't so obsessed with gaining higher power and bigger egos they would actually be more concerned about the people they represent.

The system is broken. You don't put a band aid on a broken leg, you fix it. Throwing money at the problem will not fix it. It will just show the greedy corporations and individuals that if they screw up someone will save their sorry butts too.
How about some accountability?
There are many who pay their bills on time and live below their means, if they can do it, you can too.
If you seriously screw up on the job you get fired.
If you do something stupid you suffer the consequences.
How about not giving loans out to everyone?
How about thinking with your brains instead of your emotions?
How about doing your jobs?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Day in the Life..

6:00am - Out of bed, so glad I took my shower last night.  Feel like I have a huge hangover which is ironic since I haven't had anything alcoholic to drink since 2005.

7:00am - Out the door for the 30 minute drive to church.

7:30am - Choir practice for 8:15 service.  When I got there today, there were only 3 other people.  I looked around nervously thinking, "and today is the day my voice picks to be scratchy, I can't project this morning."

8:15am - Service starts. We ended up with a total of 9 voices.  Thanks to our miraculous sound board (and awesome sound guy; the love of my life) we sound double that.

9:45am - Sunday School.  There is only one other person there so we discussed the hurricane and financial situation until 2 other couples showed up.

12:00pm - Went to visit my mother for her birthday.  Played with my sister's psychotic cat for a while.

2:00pm - Took mom out for lunch, didn't embarrass her by telling the restaurant it was her birthday.

4:45pm - Back to church to get new music for 8:15 choir.  Choir practice was from 4-5pm last year but they decided to switch to 4:45 - 5:45pm because they thought no one was involved with junior high confirmation at 5pm.  Guess who agreed this summer to help out with confirmation this year?

5:00pm - Over to the other building for confirmation class.  Got assigned 5 lovely 12 & 13 year old girls to guide this year.

6:15pm - Confirmation ends.  Run back over to sanctuary for last 15 minutes of  ladies choir which sings next Sunday and then we are done for the fall.  Discover the fuse keeps blowing in the sanctuary so the air isn't working well.

6:30pm - First meeting of hand bell choir.  Haven't played since I was about 10 and have forgotten all I learned then. (I have slept many times in the last 20 years) Remember that I can read treble clef if I squint and remember cute little elementary music cues of "Every Good Boy Does Fine" and "F.A.C.E" (alto is my primary clef) The entire group impresses the director with how quick we picked it all up.

8:30pm - Back home exhausted.  Joyous kitty to greet us at the door.

Next Sunday, rinse and repeat minus birthday stuff. 

I enjoy participating where I can.  A few years ago I admit I was nervous about joining the choir because I would be the youngest by far.  But I soon realized that getting to know people across a wide range of ages is good for the soul and got over my silly notions.  It's a bit sad that for a church our sizes we only had 9 people singing this morning. 

Helping out with junior high was a likewise daunting task.  I haven't been around kids that age since, well, I was a kid.  I used to work with kids all the time but have realized over time that I don't relate well anymore.  We were asked by the coordinator to become guides because they wanted "hip, young couples" who aren't junior high parents, to help.  I felt led outside of my comfort zone to accept the role.  And it's nice to know that someone thinks we are "hip" and "young" though to 13 year olds, I'm sure we seem ancient.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Strange Obsessions

I have found that cats can provide an infinite source of entertainment. Our Chu is no exception.

Among her other Siamese quirks, she has some strange obsessions:

She absolutely loves scotch tape. If she hears us pick up the tape dispenser she comes running from what ever sleepy spot she is in and starts hovering. She will not leave us alone until we tear off a piece and attach it to her in some hard to reach spot where she takes on the challenge of removing it. If we tear off a sticker, or the like, she thinks it's tape as well.

If we start using the printer, she will climb up the desk, try to stick her head in to watch the printer head. She will even swipe at it.

If the answering machine starts going, she will climb up the shelf to find out where the voice is coming from.

When I leave a tote bag on the floor she will climb in on top of whatever happens to be there and make herself comfy.

She has been known to climb on top of the TV to swipe at people on TV. Apparently she doesn't like John Stewart? She will also knock off the Wii sensor bar to bat at.

While cleaning out the kitchen I removed all the drawers in a stack to clean, guess who made herself right at home way back in the corner?

She loves chasing pens and pencils, she has a collection behind the bathroom door. My architectural supplies would routinely go missing in college.

When bringing in groceries, she bolted out the front door, she never does this since she is afraid of cars and noises in the hallway.

Holiday Edition:
When we bring in the Christmas tree, she goes batty. While taking it through to the porch to put it in the base, she bolted out the door and through the bars of our patio, something she never does.

She has been known to find a perch in the Christmas tree.

I just wanted to remember these things since she is older and won't be with us forever.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weathering the Storm

(This may be a pretty boring read but first and foremost, this is my journal and I am trying to keep a record for memories sake.)

The storm has passed and we are all in one piece. I haven't been through a storm like this since 1983's Hurricane Alicia but I was much further north during that storm and only a child. My memories from that storm were sitting around the dark living room silently staring around at each other with wide eyes while listening to that eerie whistling sound and occasional loud thumps. After the storm had passed we had a hurricane picnic party with some neighbor friends. The lantern got out of control and my father had to run outside in the rain to put it out. During the party our power came back on.

This time, I slept before the worst of the storm came through but got up once the winds started howling. I sat on the couch and alternately listened to the newscast and the fierce gusts. Some of the gusts were a bit frightening at times and definitely a sound you don't soon forget. Because of the alignment of our particular apartment and the design of surrounding apartments we were fairly sheltered from any flying debris. Our 2 large windows face east and during the first part of the storm the winds came out of the north, during the back end of the storm the winds came out of the southwest. Our front door opens to a covered hallway and we were able to take peeks out to see what was happening during.

We have actually made it through without losing power. Reports are nearly 4 million people in the area are without power except for downtown and the medical center. We are a few miles west of downtown and seem to be an electrical island of sorts. The high rise hotel and restaurants next door are without power but we are still going strong. Reports are people could be without power for weeks. Our complex and the one across the street were a ghost town before the storm but I guess word spread that we have power and the parking lots are now packed. We currently live at one of the hottest addresses in town.

The city also had one of the 3 large water pumping stations go down and as a result we have lost water pressure. They have asked everyone to boil water before drinking in case of contamination. Due to the loss of water pressure we have been flushing our toilet using water from the swimming pool. LOL (update) The station has since been brought back online this evening but we will have to wait until tomorrow for officials to test the water. We are still told to conserve water for the time being. In anticipation we filled every spare container with water so we have days worth of drinking water. We also cleaned out and filled our bath tub with water for washing up. I was forced to take a standing sponge bath tonight but if that is the most horrible thing I have to deal with, I am truly blessed.

Damage on the property was limited to a few shutters, signs, and shingles being pulled off, most wooden fences blown down and a few trees uprooted. We walked around the beautiful tree lined streets of the neighboring subdivision and saw many trees down, limbs broken and foam insulation from new construction all over the streets. They don't have power.

My grandmother lives down the street from us in a high rise. They don't have power and the various building functions are electrical. When the power went out the exterior locks all stopped working so security had to chain the doors to keep them from blowing open. The elevators were running off of a generator but the windows of the party room on the roof all shattered and water ran down the elevator shafts and fried them. Lots of elderly people live there and were forced to climb down 17 stories worth of stairs. She is staying with us for the night; she has plate glass windows in her apartment that don't open so there is no air circulation in there. My aunt who lives in Brenham is coming to pick her up tomorrow.

My parents live about 40 miles north of us and fared far worse but still didn't experience anything disastrous. They are without power but luckily never lost water pressure. They didn't sleep much as they listened to the howling wind and various thuds and crashes going on around them. Sometime during the night they heard a crash on the roof as a limb from the huge tree fell on it. When my father heard that he got up and moved his truck out of the driveway and onto the street. Right afterward a massive branch fell down where his truck had been. They will have to cut that tree down now because almost all of the branches have been snapped off. A tree in the backyard snapped about 2 feet from the ground and their fence partially blew down. Their neighborhood has many trees snapped and and branches everywhere. All of the places with huge, beautiful trees are seeing the same thing.

Clean up around the city is underway. Virtually all windows on one side of the Chase Tower were blown out but it seems downtown was lucky because that seems to be the biggest damage there.

Our city is under a mandatory curfew from 9 pm to 6 am until next Saturday. We are going to have to defy the curfew later this week since we teach a class in Spring (30 minutes north of Houston) and our class doesn't end until 8:45pm.

The island and coastal communities have been devastated. Many people didn't heed the evacuation orders and called for emergency rescue during the worst of the storm. The emergency workers weren't able to go out for them due to the risks. It's sad, but when a huge storm is headed straight for the community, common sense should prevail. What is more important, material possessions or life? My prayers are with everyone who is dealing with the worst right now. Brandon and I and our family are all very blessed to come through unhurt and with utilities intact. God is good.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Go Away Murphy!!

..you aren't welcome here.

One year ago, today we paid cash for our 2002 Honda Civic. We were (and still are) quite proud that we accomplished this. Today we found out that the alternator needs replacing. Happy Anniversary!! Not significant news right? Well, if there is a hurricane heading this way, maybe. We decided to wait and see what this storm does before paying the $500 it would take to fix it. It would be just our luck that we have them fix it and the car is totaled in the storm. A few weeks before my car was stolen 5 years ago I spent some major cash on routine repairs. In the spirit of looking at the bright side of things, at least we have a repair bill for a paid for car rather than a bill for a car that we still owe money on. And we have our emergency fund, Murphy repellent, if you will, in place in anticipation of such events.

We are not in an evacuation zone for Hurricane Ike, but I am getting a kick out of our neighbors to the far north and west freaking out because they think they need to drive to Canada to get out of danger. The local news is sensationalizing everything. I'm just sorry that I don't have cable and can't watch Jim Cantore freaking out on the island. Remember, it isn't a hurricane until some news anchor is out there flopping around in a puddle like a fish out of water.

We went over to make sure my grandmother's plants were all picked up so my uncle wouldn't have to deal with them when he picks her up on his way home from work later. I was happy to see that her storm shutters were already installed on her windows. (One less thing for us to do)

Then we ventured to the grocery store to get a few more canned items in case we are out of power for a significant time. It was packed! It brought back horrible fond memories of days working Thanksgiving and Super Bowl rush. I wish I thought to bring my camera with me. The most hilarious was the amount of wine that was off the shelves. Must have the necessities, right? We were also right behind a couple of younger women who had a cart full of junk food. They nervously discussed the amount it would all cost and how much they had (over $100) They ended up having to give back half the cart. They gave back food and I noticed the 24 pack of beer remained. I thought, "please give back the beer, you don't need the beer." Finally after giving back more food they decided to give back the beer. Renewed hope for humanity.

Now, we wait. During the last storm threat 3 years ago I cleaned the place from top to bottom because I had nothing else to do. And because I figured if we were out of power for days I would rather be in a clean place then messy. Brandon plans to work uninterrupted tomorrow since they have a new Japanese store that is supposed to go online Monday.

Good, bad, or otherwise, I know that God knows what he is doing and we are in His hands. God bless everyone who is impacted by this storm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Next Step

Brandon has been tested and we know there are infertility issues with him. His doctor suggested trying IUI and after consultation with my doctor she suggested the same thing. So before consulting a reproductive endocrinologist, my general fertility has to be checked first. Months ago I submitted CD3 blood tests and my levels were normal. Today I was subjected to a hysterosalpingogram or HSG. (say that 5 times fast) I was not looking forward to it. A similar procedure was attempted several years ago and they were not able to complete it.

A HSG is a test where they thread a catheter with a small balloon on the end into the uterus then push dye through to see if there are any abnormalities in the uterus and fallopian tubes while using fluoroscopy (continuous x-ray) to capture images.

Many share horror stories but few share their not so horrible stories. Mine was not too bad. I was not able to take any prophylactic pain reliever because I am not supposed to take aspirin, ibuprofen, or Aleve due to intestinal problems. The prep for the test was not a big deal, no different than a pap smear and I didn't feel any discomfort. The doctor performing the test was very kind in that he explained everything he was doing and announced before he went to the next step. Once he started pushing the dye through I began to feel bad cramps. The nurse was very supportive telling me to breath deeply and squeeze her hand if I needed to. Just when I was thinking I couldn't endure the cramps the test was over. The test was so quick because I had no blockages, everything appears to be normal. Good news. I have been experiencing cramping since but nothing I can't handle without pain medications.

Now the next step is getting a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist. We have plenty of questions including, will IUI be effective with male factor infertility or is it a waste of time? How much will the cost be? My doctor said a single cycle would cost $300 but I know the costs can vary depending on use of ultrasound and the like. We are very close to being out of debt. Our insurance does not pay for ANY infertility treatment so we will have to wait until we are out of debt and can save the money for it.

This process has been far more exhausting then I ever anticipated and we haven't gotten very far yet. It is emotionally draining which leads to physical exhaustion. We have so many options to consider, what we will and won't do. Even if we don't understand it all, God is in control. Whatever happens, whether we have biological children, if we are able to adopt, or if we have no children, will be to the glory of God. We can't possibly know and understand the plans He has for us yet, and even though it is hard sometimes, we have to trust in Him.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Taking it to the Limit

We have been discussing Andy Stanley's Take it to the Limit: How to Get the Most Out of Life in our young couples class at Sunday school.  Sunday's discussion was about how margins in our schedules are pushed to the limit or even beyond.   Our days are numbered and only our Heavenly Father knows how many days we have left.  So why do we let the urgent things push away the important things?  We spend too much time letting society tell us we have to cram our schedules full in order to be considered successful when the truth is; while we may be completely busy we aren't really doing anything productive.

I became saddened (and bored) when the subject was hijacked by a few and the discussion revolved around their children's schedules.  It was disturbing to hear.  A couple of the parents in class revealed (not in their own words or probably in their own realization) that they have no schedule or even time for themselves because they spend all of it taking their children to activities.  They allow their children to think that the world revolves around them!  One person even stated the earthly hierarchy of relationships to be kids, then spouse!!!  I was seriously taken aback by that.  I have experienced having relationships out of order and what a mess my life became as a result.  You get one out of order and all your relationships suffer.  Besides, isn't modeling a healthy, loving relationship with your spouse better than taking your 3 year old to 5 activities in order to better prepare their resume for college?

Oh, Rachel, you simply can't understand, you don't have children.  Whatever, I am a child myself and can remember growing up with my parents in charge, the world definitely didn't revolve around me.  We have been planning and trying to have children for the last two years and realize there is a danger in allowing children (or anyone really) to dictate your life.  It's just something to be aware of. 

In reality I believe children should compliment your life.  Yes, there will be adjustments and sacrifices but there is already a family in place before a child enters the world.  If the relationship is strong before hand, it won't falter with all of the adjustments.

I don't expect that everyone would agree with me or that I even wrote it out very well.  It's just part of my view of the world.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Emotional

Infertility sucks!!! There is no other way about it. It's so hard to endure much less write about. But in my experience; having an outlet to write out crises is surprisingly freeing and empowering.

Dealing with such a range of emotions is enough to make anyone feel crazy. Anger, Optimism, Anguish, Sadness, Defeat, Pain, Loneliness, Conviction, Frustration. I feel each of these from time to time. With other difficulties I find a way to get to the root of the problem and work towards acceptance and moving on. With infertility; it's not a problem I brought upon myself, I am not supposed to be giving up yet, and my options haven't been exhausted. And so the process keeps repeating itself. Just when I think I am gaining strength, I get knocked down once more.

Brandon and I deal with things very differently and this is no exception. Sometimes I feel so alone because my feelings and reactions are different from his. I sometimes feel guilt or disgust for having certain feelings. I want to have faith and hope but at the same time feel so hopeless. What a roller coaster!!

I know we will get through and beyond this. I know in the end it will make us stronger. I'm not forgetting what's important in life and am definitely not obsessing about this. Some days are bad, but most of them are still good. After all, the blessings in my life are still much more than I ever deserve, that hasn't changed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Invasion!!

God help me, what was I thinking? My parents and sister are in Florida for the week and I agreed to watch their two cats. They have kept Chu (before the advent of Tigger) while we have been away so it was only fair that we return the favor. However, my nice, quiet, peaceful home has turned into a three ringed circus. 800 square feet for three cats is not a good idea.

My parent’s cat is easy to watch, he isn't the problem. Buster is on a special diet so we have separated him from the other two in order to keep them all out of each other's food. He spends part of the day lazing about and the other part trying to convince us that we forgot to feed him and he is wasting away. He has picked an awfully strange place to hang out.

Meanwhile, my sweet, even-tempered Chu is being harassed by my sister's spaz-tastic kitten Tigger. Oh my!! He will..not..leave..her..Alone! If she tries to eat, he comes and tackles her. If she tries to use the box, he comes and paws at her while she is in there. She has always been a perfect angel when it comes to the box; she has never gone outside of it. I am having fears that she will start refusing the box and start using a shady corner because of him. And oh, the screaming and hissing! I have accidentally called her by my childhood cat's name because Princess was in an eternally pissy mood.

Tonight we came home to breakables lying all over the floor. One of Tigger's favorite passed times is finding an unsuspecting person's filled glass and dipping his paws in, then knocking it over. We placed the toilet paper roll on a high towel bar and he managed to get it down and shred it. He climbs all over the bar, counter tops and table. (blech) The first night he was here I slept about 3 hours because I kept hearing "hiss" and "bang." In order to get some respite from the little devil we have taken to placing him in his carrier over night. I have never seen an animal act so crazy. He runs around to the point that he falls over panting and heaving, then he gets up and starts over again. I think I much prefer visiting him.

I'm ready for peace, and quiet, and order to return. Life with one cat seems perfection to me right about now. I am already itching to clean up all the stray fur and litter (ick) lying around. I'm counting the days until they come retrieve the beast.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Modern Technology

As we pulled into our apartment driveway today on the way home from church, I remembered that we needed to return something we bought yesterday.  Instead of putting it off until later, (I knew if we went in we would get comfortable and not venture out again) I decided to run in and grab the return while Brandon waited in the car.  I searched and searched for the receipt and became perplexed as to how it got lost in less than 24 hours.  Then the light bulb went off in my head, maybe it is still in my purse.  I looked around to grab my phone to ask Brandon to look for it but the phone was in my purse as well.  Oh well, I thought, I don't have the phone with me so I will just go out to the parking lot and look for the receipt.  It never crossed my mind to pick up the land line sitting on the shelf just feet away.  Duh!  In my defense our home phones kept breaking and we took forever to acquire a working phone, thus we barely use it.  Besides, the only people who call us on our land line are those begging for our money or blood. At least I had a good laugh at my own expense.  Modern technology, it's making dummies out of us all.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Great Expectations

We have lately been speaking of desires and expectations in marriage. Where you expect to live..How much money you expect to make..the list goes on and on. It's easy to get wrapped up in your desires to the point that they become expectations from your spouse or even yourself. And expectations can easily become judgments.

We have never had specific expectations for having children. We both discussed that we wanted them and threw out numbers of children which we never could agree on. I have never been overly neurotic about a time line. No having to have the first at X age etc, no timing everything to have our children in a specific month (much less day,) no planning to have them equidistantly apart. I always figured when we felt we were ready it would just happen.

When we began trying I did what I always do with any subject matter I don't know a lot about. I did research. I learned about my body, my body's schedule, and all the signs and symptoms to look for in timing. After a few months of charting I decided that definitely wasn't right for me and just paid attention to my body.

As we got closer to a year of trying I began to feel dread. I didn't want to schedule that appointment with my doctor. That would mean failure. I had been previously diagnosed with mild endometriosis but was assured that it most likely wouldn't affect my fertility. But I soon began to blame myself for our failure. I finally scheduled the appointment and waited nervously for it to arrive. We discussed how my cycles were like clockwork and I wasn't experiencing any kind of pain like I did previous to my surgery. She told me they would check my hormone levels and send Brandon to be tested as well. If they found everything to be normal she discussed starting fertility drugs to help give us a boost.

My tests came back normal and a little hope came back, perhaps nothing was wrong. Brandon's test came back and he was sent to a urologist for a referral. This wasn't a good sign. Hope started to fade. After his exam he was diagnosed with one mild and one moderate varicocele. We were told he may need surgery to correct it. He was asked to go for another analysis and the first test results were ordered. We still had no idea what his numbers were on the first. We were told to come back in a month.

A month later was Monday. Both test results were fairly consistent. His total counts were well within the normal range but his motility was marginal and morphology wasn't good. His doctor told him he didn't recommend performing the surgery right away because as I have learned in the last few days the surgery only corrects morphology in 30% of cases. It mostly corrects total count which Brandon had no problem with. His recommendation was for us to undergo IUI. And that's about when my hope took a nose dive.

The success rates for IUI are barely higher (at best) than timing and we know all about that already. Some doctors don't even recommend IUI when there are morphology issues. And of course there is the cost. We have been working very hard to become completely debt free so all of our spare money goes to that. And we can see the light at the end of a very short tunnel. IUI costs between $200 and $1000, we might be able to manage that, but definitely not multiple cycles. IVF is a whole different decision process and at the lowest probably costs $8000 per cycle. Yes, we have that just lying around.

I feel my throat constricting just thinking about all of it. I never expected I would have to pay for my children before they even exist. I never expected to be "knocked up" in the institutional feel of a doctor's office by some nurse who I don't know. How's that for romance? How's that for surprise? And oh the emotions I am going through. I feel completely crazy going from peace that it's in God's hands to anger, utter anguish, guilt, and feeling very, very alone. But that is definitely enough to write about another time.

I am confident I will get through all of this one way or another, but at the same time this is going to be a long and painful process.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wisdom to Live By

We were challenged this Sunday to live by the following disciplines. They were written by Richard Foster.
  1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
  2. Reject anything that produces an addiction in you.
  3. Develop the habit of giving things away.
  4. Refuse to give into the marketing schemes of modern gadgetry.
  5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
  6. Develop a deeper appreciation for nature.
  7. Look with healthy skepticism at all "buy now, pay later" schemes.
  8. Obey Jesus commands about plain honest speech.
  9. Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
  10. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of heaven.
Many are hard to live by but when you let go of certain things, it can be seriously freeing. Society and even family try to push you to keep up with their standards. And if you listen, it can be a huge stress. There is peace in knowing that God has provided me with all I need and so much more. If I open my eyes, there is a huge world to explore and enjoy.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Never Satisfied

I have once again changed blog formats. These cut and paste, free blog sites are awesome for getting stuff out there but I continue to be frustrated with aspects of design and formatting. I guess the designer in me refuses to die.

Blogger affords more control over formatting then on Wordpress though it still isn't perfect. Wordpress has an awesome dashboard and beautiful templates. But you can't change any aspect of color or coding without paying them. I know it isn't that expensive but my thought is, why would I want to pay them money when I ultimately want to design and self-host. Both platforms aren't so good when it comes to posting pictures. Currently they both make it hard to upload any other way then through their sites. Posting from web albums is nightmarish. (I have tried multiple.)

Ultimately I want to go self-hosted so I have complete control over the design. And luckily I am very blessed to have a web guru genius living under the very same roof. But this dream will have to wait. We are still on our Total Money Makeover and I won't spare anything until we are completely rid of debt.

Until then, this is where I stay.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Do I Have To?

Yesterday I was finally able to resume exercise after getting so sick in mid April. It took me over a month to get back to my former state of energy. Don't get me wrong, I love doing athletic and outdoorsy stuff, but I am by no means an exercise fan. Disguise it as fun and games and you don't realize you are getting exercise and it is great. Just jogging, not so much. I have to force myself to go. You know, gotta keep that bad cholesterol down and that joint pain and fatigue at bay.

One place I love to go is the huge urban park a few miles away. When you are amongst all the trees you kind of forget you are in a huge city and how terribly hot and humid it is. They have a 3 mile jogging loop which is excellent for people watching. It is so amusing to see the different categories of people out there.

  • Marathon Trainers - Don't get in their way, they'll knock you over as they weave their way in and out of the jogging loop while utilizing nearly the entire acreage of the park.
  • The Lean, Fit runners - These folks loop past us 3 times as we unfit joggers struggle to make our way around once.
  • The Consummate Businessman-They are busy hashing out a business deal on their "crackberry" as they run while not getting out of breath. (How on earth do they do that?) Seriously, unhook for 30 minutes and relax.
  • The Stroller Brigade - I applaud these moms (and dads) for getting out and finding some time to jog.
  • The Beauty Queen - These chicks are out there in full make-up, perfect hair, and color coordinated outfit; they are definitely out there only to exercise. ;) It makes me feel like I'm in college again. They are easy to notice in passing as you choke on their cloud of perfume. Also look for the itty-bitty jogging shorts pulled down to a precarious level.
  • Dog Walkers/Joggers - I get my dog fix as I admire the different cute dogs as they walk/jog by. Yesterday I spotted a beautiful chocolate lab mix running ahead of it's master. The dog was definitely frolicking happily while looking back at master as if to say: "This is fun, boy I'm glad we came, come on, you can do it, faster, faster, run faster, wow, this is fun!" I have also seen a woman on a leisurely stroll with her toy-sized dog of some flavor in a specially crafted doggie stroller.
  • Leisurely Strollers - These people come in regular clothes for a nice stroll through the trails. (Probably to people watch) +10 for the ladies out in their high heels. (on gravel paths, ouch!)
  • Can You Hear Me Now? - Same case as the businessman, only they are on personal calls. Again, unhook for 30 minutes and relax, do you really want the world to know in full detail how drunk you got last weekend?

And by far the largest group:

  • Regular Joe/Jane - These folks don't care what they look like as they work up a sweat and proud of it.

At least all of this makes the horrid task of jogging a little bit more entertaining.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Waiting

Waiting for graduation to start is always fun times. ;) Luckily we had our cameras to entertain us.


Jess & Matt


Brandon looking as if he is plotting some sort of mischief

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...

It's Super Dog!!!









This dog seriously cracked me up. Bryan and Lindi have the sweetest dog, she positively smiles when you go out to give her some attention. Before heading off to Bryan's graduation we decided to put out the sprinkler to entertain Collin. For some reason he wasn't having any of it, but at least Macy had a blast.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Wii Have Joined the Club

Yes, we are nerds. My husband has been wanting one since he heard about them. Then after playing a friend's wii last fall he just had to have one. I would have liked to purchase one for him for Christmas but alas, I was too busy with work, wedding preparations, graduation parties, and shopping to be that vigilant. I settled on a car radio instead since his stopped working, so I'm not that bad of a wife.


We received some Christmas money and decided we would use some of it for the wii. Fast forward to this Friday night, Brandon decided to start asking around at the local electronics stores. He found luck with one saying they would have a fairly large shipment in on March 9. He decided to ask another store within walking distance and they said they would have some in 36 hours and all he had to do was get there at 7am and wait for a voucher and then come back before noon to pick it up.

So he did just that, while I stayed cozy in bed for another hour or so he got up to stand in line. He ended up being 4th in line and didn't receive the voucher until around 9am. So on our way to church this morning we picked it up and finally had our wii.

We think Nintendo does all of this on purpose, they keep the hype going and it keeps people interested. As we were standing in line waiting to pick it up a guy came up and wanted to know where we got the voucher from and Brandon explained what he went through. The guy just shook his head, said he had been trying to get one for a while.

Later on we went to purchase games and accessories with a gift card he had received for Christmas. In keeping with our Financial Peace University plan, everything was bought with gift money. Yes, we are such nerds.

Now, who wants to trade miis?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Lazy Day


After mentioning to Brandon yesterday that I was feeling really sluggish he suggested we take a short road trip to the beach. Today also happens to mark 11 years of togetherness for us. After starting out the day slow, we packed light and just took off. Since getting my new camera I have been trying to make it a habit to bring it with me where ever I go to get as much practice as I can. So it figures what we found when we got there. As we got closer to the beach we noticed some strange clouds on the horizon. It almost looked like a mountain range, the clouds were an odd reddish color. As we made it to the island we realized it was a thick fog. It felt like we were in a Stephen King movie, the day had been clear other than the fog so the sun was still trying to make its way through with no success. It was such a creepy, claustrophobic feeling. We got down to the beach and stood watching the waves and the surfers for quite a while and were able to watch the fog just roll out and the clear sky come back. We spent some time just walking before going back home. We decided to do something fun and easy for dinner so we made our own pizza which turned out well. It was nice to be able to have a lazy day especially when it seems we are always busy on the weekends.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kitty in a Box

The joys of having a Siamese, they get into everything! But they are a good photography subject when you can catch them in action. (They have an odd tendency to move quickly, imagine that.)


She emerges...


...checks her surroundings...


...formulates a plan...


...and LEAP!!!


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday to the love of my life!! I'm blessed beyond words to be a part of your life. I have spent 10 years of birthdays with you and I love you more today then I did when we started. That's the great thing about you, you get better with age. ;) I love your laugh, your smile, your optimism, your love of life. I love how you always try to help others and have a ready smile for everyone. Most of all I love that you picked me to spend your time with. I love you with all my heart.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Finally Free?

Yesterday was my last day at the place I have worked for the last 4 and 1/2 years. For most of that time I was pretty miserable, but obligations and duty called. This summer I paid off my student loans in 5 years instead of the scheduled 10, (YEA!!!!!!!!!!!) this gave me the opportunity I desperately needed to leave my job. I have had a rough year emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. I felt completely trapped in my job. Yes, I could look for work elsewhere but I also discovered I was in the wrong field and had no clue where I should look. Because I have a loving, supportive husband, because we have been financially responsible, because the Lord has looked upon us with favor, I have the rare opportunity to just spend time in rest and explore what life has to offer. While the unknown can sometimes be scary, it can also be exciting. My challenge is to break down the walls I have used to rule my life. Instead I need to replace my idiotic rules with, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind." (Matthew 22:37) Everything else will follow in time. I am truly free.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Has Anyone Seen My Brain?

Is it possible for one's brain to become so overwhelmed that it just stops working? Am I losing my marbles? (They're coming to take me away ha-ha.) I have become entirely too over-worked at my current job. (Hence one of the reasons I'm leaving) A co-worker came by and asked me a simple question today and I gave him a vacant stare. It took me several seconds to even process what he was saying, it was like he was speaking to me in a foreign language. I've also become very distracted and forgetful, like I'm trading places with Brandon. :) And don't forget about the part where I am making up words or combining two words to make new and exciting words. It's very disturbing really.

So for stress relief I have been doing this:


This is part 1 of 3 for Jeff Dunham and Peanut. Funny, funny stuff. For more go here.

Only 1 day left!!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Starting a New Tradition

My younger brother is getting married this weekend. Yesterday he was in a car accident. As he was merging around a freeway connector the person next to him changed lanes into him knocking him into an 18-wheeler. That made his truck start to fish-tail and he ended up sliding down the embankment onto the feeder road. He hit a pole on the way which stopped his truck from rolling. Neither the car nor the 18-wheeler stopped. He was totally unhurt and his truck is still fully functional albeit a little smashed in back. God was definitely watching out for him.

This sounds all too familiar. The weekend before our wedding Brandon was in an accident. It was raining that day and he hydroplaned into the median wall. He got out to check the damage and then returned to the truck, put on his seat belt and made a call to his BIL who was somewhere ahead of him on the freeway. As he was talking a girl who wasn't paying attention slammed full force into the back of his truck, picking up his truck and spinning it 180 degrees so he was facing oncoming traffic. His truck was totaled but he was completely unhurt. God was watching out for him as well.

I'm beginning to notice a pattern. One might say the signs were pointing to not getting married. I say it's all a matter of perspective. I believe that Satan is very much against marriage, it goes against everything he stands for and he would do anything to break up a union that God put together. In these situations God was saying, "Oh no, you don't! I have plans for my children and you aren't going to keep them apart." He put angels there to look out for them.

On a side note after talking to my brother and inquiring whether he was alright he told me the ride down was kind of fun, "like Nascar." WHAT?!?!?!?! Are you high?!?!?! Men!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Me (2 Months Late)


In a few days time I will be the proud owner of this!! I started saving for a digital SLR camera last Christmas and when our anniversary came this year my wonderful husband told me he would cover the difference. It only took me 2 months to pick out the camera I wanted. I wrestled between the Nikon D40 & D40x and the Canon XTi Rebel. I did tons of research, weighed my options, went back and forth then finally in the 11th hour the Canon won out. I chose the Canon because it is the better camera between the 3 and it costs less. Besides, with the Nikon I would be pretty limited where lenses are concerned. I already own the film version of the Canon Rebel and will be able to use the great lens I already own with it. The only draw back I see is the Canon uses a compact flash drive where the SD drive is pretty much the norm. For years I was against digital cameras because film cameras produce better pictures. Now I know I will get great pictures with the digital and it makes storing and choosing the pictures to keep or get rid of so much easier. I am so excited to get started. Too bad I didn't make up my mind sooner for my brother's wedding this weekend.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!!

What will 2008 bring? It's going to be a year of change and all I can say is bring it on. I get to leave my highly stressful job on 1/24 and it won't be soon enough. After that the future is uncertain and for once my obsessive-compulsive, perfectionist self is at peace. I look forward to another chapter in my life's journey.