Archive for February, 2013

  • What a Relief!

    Date: 2013.02.27 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 30

    First let me start off by thanking everyone for their kind words, both publicly and privately, on my last post. It’s amazing to see such a wonderful network of people come together and give words of encouragement.

    I also wanted to add that when people would say things to me, I know now and I knew then that they were not meant to hurt or make me feel worse in any way, but instead meant to buoy my spirits, and I truly appreciated their love and concern. The problem lied in the fact that I took those well-meant comments and used them as a weapon to make myself feel worse. I was just feeling that low.

    When I finally met with my OB and shared my guilty feelings with her, she said, “WHY? You have one kid, you have one to replace you, you need one to replace your husband. And I only have one kid, so you can have one more to replace my husband.” It made me laugh so much that I was finally able to let go of a lot of that weird guilt.

    ****

    Where was I? Oh yea, temperature charting. On top of all that crazy charting, I dug into the world of Natural Family Planning and learned A LOT. I would rattle off all kinds of fascinating information about my body to my husband and he would graciously bear it all – though I know he was secretly wondering about my sanity. I was charting and managing data in a way that would make my friend Bluz proud.

    Near the end of January, I knew I was coming up on the dreaded day I would most likely find out that we were still not pregnant. I prepared myself as best I could for the result I had received the past 13 months and waited. But I became impatient after things were delayed by a couple of days, so I bought two pregnancy tests.

    I took the first test and waited.

    A very faint positive line came up.

    I fell to my knees in tears and thanksgiving and cried on the bathroom floor for 10 minutes. I finally pulled myself together and went into the bedroom. Through lots of tears I told Mark I was pregnant. He didn’t say much and when I prodded him for a response, he said, “Well you seem upset about it.” I tried to explain to him that I was overwhelmed with JOY, not sadness, as over a year’s worth of fear, anxiety, guilt and hurt came tumbling down on me and then off again. Then he said, “What a relief!”

    He wasn’t convinced that the line was dark enough though, so I took another one and there was no denying the positive result.

    Besides digging into BBT and NFP, nothing had really changed over the course of 13 months. I’m not sure what was different that time around – maybe it was my ability to finally “be still,” or the fact that I was coming to terms with having an only child. I don’t know,  but I was so thankful.

    When I was pregnant with Sarah, I struggled with keeping my hormone levels up, so I went in for blood work as soon as the positive result came up.  Just like with Sarah, my levels are a little low, so I have to be on a supplement, but other than that, my HCG – the baby building hormone – is right on target and baby is growing just like it’s supposed to.

    We kept the news to ourselves until we knew all was well, and then we shared it with our families by putting Sarah in a Big Sister t-shirt and letting her march into the room with all our family members there.  My sister Shannon was the first to notice, but it was a domino effect, and quickly all the members of our family were screaming and crying because they were so excited and know how much we’ve struggled to conceive another baby.

    We are so very happy that baby number two is on its way and due in September!

    But wait, you should probably know this isn’t all to the story either. I’ll ease your mind by telling you that baby is ok and currently just shy of 10 weeks. We’ve since seen its amazing little heart beat and been reassured that there is just ONE baby in there.

    Hi Baby!

    But me? Well my body is having a hard time coping. More on that to come.

    In the mean time, please keep me and our family in your thoughts and prayers.

  • The “I” Word

    Date: 2013.02.25 | Category: Baby, Health, Me | Response: 14

    I’ve been a bit stymied in my blogging lately, mostly because there were major life events going on that I couldn’t share. But I’ve come to the point where I’m ready to share them. I’m going to break this up into a few posts, so bear with me.

    I wrote this post several months ago. Only a handful of people knew we were dealing with this over the past year, and I wanted it that way. But then I thought writing all this out might help someone else who is struggling with similar issues.

    ****

    I can’t tell you how many times I almost wrote about this topic for nearly 13 months. It’s something that’s hard to talk about and something I wasn’t sure my husband wanted me to share publicly. And then all the questions and guilt I carried – it was never the right time.

    But now that I’ve seen it through, I think it is.

    You see, for 13 months I struggled with being unable to conceive another child.

    In my perfectly planned mind, I knew I wanted my children to be two years apart. It took a little while to conceive Sarah, so we started trying for another one when she was 10 months old. Honestly, I didn’t think it would take too long. I’ve heard stories from so many mothers about how they couldn’t believe how easy it was to get pregnant with their second babies.

    But the months stretched on and on and no baby.

    I can’t tell you how much I cried over those months. I cried because it just wasn’t happening. I cried because I felt like there was this person in our lives who was missing. I cried over the guilt because I had one healthy child and knew so many women who can’t even have that. I ached with jealousy as women I knew got pregnant with their second, third and fourth children, or friends talked about trying for their next one. And when people would ask us when we were going to have another baby, I would take a deep breath, murmur, “I don’t know” and try to push it from my mind.

    And through it all, I felt like no one understood this well of sadness I was carrying in my chest. And when I shared what I was feeling, I often got the response, “well at least you have Sarah!” And believe me, I am a million times over thankful for my daughter. She is the constant light in my life that brightens even the grayest of my days. But that response would make me feel so terribly guilty that I just buried all that pain deeper.

    The other response I got was, “it will happen when you relax and stop worrying about it.” Not worrying about it was simply impossible. Try telling your brain not to worry about finances or a fight or a looming work deadline. You can tell yourself that, but it’s not going to happen.

    And then I started talking to Noel via e-mail. She and I had our babies within the same week of each other, and we were both experiencing secondary infertility.  I can’t tell you how many anguished conversations I shared with her, and I never felt judged or hurt, but comforted, especially when discussing what the “next steps” were.

    At 11 months of trying with no baby, I set up an appointment with my doctor. When I saw her, she couldn’t believe we were struggling so much. I do have some physical factors that make conceiving more difficult, but nothing that should prevent it completely. We talked about options.

    I knew before going in that there were things I was unwilling to do. Personally, IVF was not an option for us, neither was artificial insemination. Mark was against hormone pills even, but he ultimately left that decision up to me. My doctor was against me jumping into Clomid, not because it’s bad, but because I have a history of cysts and that medication could create serious problems for me.

    So we did some hormone tests and after talking to the nurse about natural options, I became acquainted with Basal Body Temperature tracking. (For those who don’t know, a woman’s body is different temperatures at different points in the month, and a jump in temperature indicates a fertile time period). We decided I’d track my BBT for two months, then meet back with the doctor to discuss Clomid in more detail and whether or not it was a good option for me.

    About that time, Christmas was rolling around and I had a lot to do. My friend Katie wrote a really great post on “Be Still and Know That I am God” and I really took that on as my mantra. Anytime I would start to get wound up, I’d repeat, “Be still. Be still,” and slowly, it started to work and calm my nerves. Over Christmas, I was able to completely enjoy myself, have wine and truly rejoice in both the season and my family. I began my temperature charting shortly after Christmas and marveled at how amazing the female body is as I plotted my points along the graph and became more in tune with my own body. I got caught up in how interesting and amazing it all is.

    I tried not to obsess, but to learn, and so I did.

    To be continued.

  • Group Messaging

    Date: 2013.02.18 | Category: Family, Life, Love, Mark, Me | Response: 7

    The iPhone has this feature called iMessage, as I’m sure you’re aware. It also allows you to send group messages where everyone can interact like they’re in a chat room. And while I find this feature to be annoying in some cases (like when one of your friends wishes everyone they know a Merry Christmas and then they all reply and blow up your phone), it’s proven to be a lot of fun for shared conversation between me, mom and both my sisters.

    I can’t tell you know many times someone will send a message, a photo, a video, then all four of us get to cutting up and laughing, all without being in the same room, city, or sometimes state with one another.

    Over the past few weeks we’ve had text conversations about:

    • Our neighbor attempting to donate her recently deceased 90-year-old mother’s clothes to my rather hip and fashion forward mother

    • A conversation about the best time of day and method to weighing oneself

    • A conversation about a photo my sister texted us of some guy in New Orleans who she claimed looks like my husband and I, in return, insisted looked like the guy on Mad Magazine (big difference there!)

    Picture my sister sent:

    My husband:

    I mean, clearly no right?

    • Memes that the four of us get a kick out of

    • Health updates on the four of us plus the family

    • A creepy photo of a little girl my sister saw on Facebook that looks just like her son

    J’s girl twin

    And actual J

    • Photos of my youngest sister in an array of crazy outfits she wears for various college parties she goes to.

    • Photos from my youngest sister at New Orleans Mardi Gras complete with reassurances that she had mace tucked into her bra.

    • Bad weather updates and safety checks.

    I love having this ongoing conversation with my mom and my sisters right at my fingertips. We don’t usually have time to get together, so it’s reassuring and fun that our senses of humor continue alongside one another.

    Plus, who doesn’t love to see something like this from their mom every once in a while?

  • Engaging

    Date: 2013.02.12 | Category: Dogs, Photography | Response: 12

    Jason and Stacy contacted me about photographing some engagement photos for them. Jason and I have known each other a long time, and his fiance Stacy and I have always gotten along well, so I was thrilled to take them. The day before the shoot they asked me if they could bring their dog. And, of course, you should know I was even more excited about the shoot once I learned Stella was going to be there too. So together the four of us plus Stacy’s brother aka the dog wrangler took a walk in the park and had a great time. Here are a few of my favorite shots.

    Oh, hi Stella!

    I sent them a lot of photos of just their dog… but I don’t think they minded. After all, look how happy they are!

  • Animals on Parade

    Date: 2013.02.06 | Category: Dogs, Family, Holidays, Kitties, OMG YAY!, Pets, Sarah | Response: 9

    It’s that time of year again where the beads fly, the people scream, the floats roll by and the dogs bark. That’s right the annual Mardi Gras Krewe of Barkus and Meoux parade that walks along the riverfront. This year’s animal participants (and their owners) dressed to the theme “Stars, Guitars and Animals from Mars.” You should probably know already that there is no way I was going to miss out on this, especially with clear, sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70’s. So we loaded up, met up with my mom, sister, brother-in-law and nephew and headed out to see the animals.

    One of the best parts of this parade is that everyone brings their animals out to watch with them. As a result, one of the scariest moments happened when someone was walking their ferret by on a leash… in front of a very large brown dog. Mr. Ferret was very nearly a snack, but thanks to the strong owner of the big dog, pup missed out on his treat.

    Look at the glare in that dog’s eyes. Obviously I’m a born photojournalist.

    There was also a squealing baby pig in a tutu, a pony (who was subsequently awarded best dressed for his Elvis costume) and parade royalty with names like King Taco and Lord of Pegasus Rafferty.

    Oh and their was a goat with tin foil on his antlers!

    Needless to say, my tiny accessory queen enjoyed the show.

    I love that this parade is part of our community. It’s so family friendly and animal lovers come out in droves to support the local pet community. There was even a woman who was carrying her CAT in the parade. Sarah walked away with two pairs of beads, and a small stuffed animal that looks like a cross between a snail and a turtle (we’re calling him Snurtle). And, most importantly, we all got to enjoy the beautiful day. I think we’re going to attempt one more regular parade this coming weekend before Fat Tuesday arrives and we embrace the season of Lent.

  • Sci-Fi, Family and Baseball

    Date: 2013.02.01 | Category: Books | Response: 6

    I think it’s time to talk books again. I’ve read a bunch since I last posted, so I’ll share a few of them here.

    The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

    This movie, staring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, has gotten a lot of acclaim. So when Noel recommended it, I picked it up and I am so glad I did. While the premise seems a little strange – a man who has been in a mental institution and suffering from memory loss moves back in with his parents and meets another mentally unstable woman – the story is quite a gem. From the angry, football obsessed father to the Asian Invasion bus they tailgate with, to the slow understanding of what Pat actually faced, the story unwinds at a great tempo and you come to appreciate the characters and their actions despite the consequences. I really enjoyed this book.

    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

    I really wanted to love this book. I know it won prizes and everyone says great things, but I had trouble getting over the pretentiousness of it. Ultimately it is a book about memory and how our perceptions of memories may not actually match up with the truth about the past. I kind of wanted to scream, “Yes, I get it! Now get on with the story.” I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. This book did make me think though, and the ending surprised me.

    The Diviners by Libba Bray

    First you should know this book is the beginning of a series. I didn’t know that and was angry at anticlimactic ending of the book. It’s essentially a supernatural murder mystery about a serial killer performing ritual style murders that takes place in New York City during the 1920’s. The characters become more interesting as the story unfolds, but many of them are introduced and don’t really play a role in the main plot at all, which was frustrating. The book was on the long side and the ending was frustrating, but overall the plot was interesting. 3 out of 5 stars.

    Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

    I have shameless love for this book, but then it’s fantasy, ties into Arthurian legend, has a magic school and a strong female lead. There are several things in this book that remind me of Harry Potter, but not in a way that makes me angry. A girl is discovered for her ability to channel light, something no one else can do. She’s sent away to be trained at a magic school in the hopes she will ultimately defeat the literal growing darkness that divides the land. Also the first in a series, you’ve been warned!

    Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

    One of the most famous sci-fi books of all time, I’ve had it on my to-read list. And when Among Others mentioned it, I decided to go ahead and pick it up. As I read the book, I kept seeing how so many other stories I’ve read and movies I’ve seen were influenced by it. A young boy, Ender, is selected in an effort to lead a space war against an alien race known as the Buggers. His training is pushed to the limits in a series of games aboard a training school in space. While there is some crazy violence, especially by a young child, the book was still great and has a surprising ending. A must read for it’s influence in current culture and because the movie comes out this November.

    The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

    A book about baseball at a liberal arts college and how five people are tied to each other and the sport. This book is really beautifully written and I loved the small liberal arts college/Melville background that reminded me so much of the college I went to (just sub in Jack London for Melville). There’s a baseball prodigy, a college president and his daughter who is running from her failed marriage, Owen, the well spoken beautiful gay student and Mike Schwartz, the captain of the baseball team who makes it is goal to make Henry the best possible player.

    For a while I thought I didn’t like the book, but I realized that I was just frustrated for the characters and felt so deeply for them – which I think is a great accomplishment. Some of the scenes though were really tough for me to get through, and I didn’t always understand the actions of some of the characters. But overall, I think it was a great coming of age story with complex, well thought out and developed characters. I do think the book is a little too long. I feel bad saying that because the writing was so great, but I was ready for it to end about eight chapters before it actually did. A little editing would have made this a five star read for me.

    Across the Universe by Beth Revis

    I’ve started digging my way into sci-fi, and this book fits nicely in the genre. The book starts off with a family being cryogenically frozen for a 300 year journey to another planet. When the girl is woken up before the other frozens, she becomes enmeshed in the creepy society that lives and works aboard the ship and Elder, a teenager who is next in line to lead. A great mystery with a sci-fi twist.  The first of a trilogy, but good news, all three books are published! I’m half way through the second book in the series now, A Million Suns, and it’s equally as good, if not better than the first.