October 26, 2009

my first volunteers... fall family pictures

I was lucky enough to have two great friends volunteer their families so that I could practice taking some pictures.

The first family up was Renee (I teach in the room right next to her) and her husband Drew, and their two adorable daugther's Grace (3) and Olivia (8 months).

The second adorable family that let me take pictures of them were Ashley and Erik and their cutie pie son Kyler who is 6 months old.

I had a blast with both of these families and greatly appreciate them letting me experiment with them, thanks guys!

And lastly, our attempt at a family picture.

October 24, 2009

My shoes, My story

My Shoes, My Story

I don’t tell our story so that you can judge me. I don’t tell our story so that you can nit-pick away at my life.

I tell our story for me.

I tell our story for the woman who has just been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and needs another woman’s story to connect with. I tell our story for my family and friends, so that they may read if they choose to, and so that they can ask questions if they want to.

So read if you want, but please, don’t judge. For you have never walked a day in these size 10 shoes.

October 23, 2009


Last weekend was UNI's homecoming. We celebrated with a little tailgating, camper style. It was so cold here that we decided we would take our camper and that way we could get out of the cold from time to time. We had a blast! A bunch of our friends from our church group came up as well as a few other friends and my parents.

Travis is a phenomenal cook. So for our tailgating we could not have plain hamburgers and weenies... oh no, we had ribs and Swedish meatballs!

Dad and Matt being silly.

Our small group in front of the UNI Dome where the Panthers play (Travis & Anne, Matt & I, Jackee & Shane)

Lauren and Ashley (with Kyler) stopped up for a bit too!

Unfortunately they didn't play nearly as well as they have all year and so they lost 20-27.

I will look for the positives... I will look for the positives...

Well we are completely out for this month. Not a single follicle (egg) could be seen on the ultrasound... we have no chance at anything. I bawled my eyes out, I'm so frustrated. The exact same shots that produced two great looking follicles in July that led to a pregnancy, have now done not-a-darn-thing. As the ultrasound tech was flipping through my file, she kept going back further, and then so politely said “wow, you haven’t had any follicles since July!” Yeah… no kidding. Why do you think I’m so anxious and ready to have a chance at getting pregnant again?! She scheduled me to come back next Tuesday for another ultrasound “incase something pops up”, I’m not holding my breath. If high powered shots don’t do the trick, I doubt that my body will magically start making hormones to produce the follicles.

I took all of this news as a nudge from God. There is nothing left for us to try with our Dr. here. We have been wishy washy about going to the University of Iowa Hospital's Center for Advanced Reproductive Care, so now is the time to go. We have absolutely no dates to try and time it out around, as nothing is happening this month so whenever we go is fine.

Last time I was at our current Dr’s office I asked about making an appointment with a specialist, they told me that I could not make an appointment by myself, they would have to have the referral from the Dr. and then they would call and make it. So today I decided it was time to do a little investigating. I called myself to the Center for Advanced Reproductive Care in Iowa City. She asked why I wanted to be seen… good question. Maybe because I have PCOS, MTHFR, Crohn’s Disease, had a miscarriage and have exhausted all efforts here, her reply: “Could you come on Monday?” We can’t go on Monday because Matt will be in New Mexico, and we don’t have our referral paperwork through yet… but HELLO? Did she just offer me an appointment? I’ll take it! So we are now scheduled to see the well known miracle worker Dr. Davis in two weeks, November 5th. There is nothing more that I hate than being lied to. I obviously CAN make my own appointment thank you very much! Our appointment in Iowa City will be almost exactly a year from when we began trying.. a year!!! I can't even believe it, more to come on that thought in another post.

So then I had to make the call of courage. I had to call my nurse here and explain that we would like a referral to Iowa City. She was very understanding. She said that sometimes they run out of all of their options, and that she completely understood, and that all she wants is for us to be pregnant. I was SO glad that she wasn’t offended by our decision to move on. We have absolutely loved the care that we have gotten. Dr. O, our nurse, and the ultrasound tech have been great, but now we need more.

This month has taught me a lot. Both times that I have stood up for myself and been slightly pushy for what I wanted, I got it, and it was a good thing. The MTHFR test took some pushing and it was positive, now this appointment took some pushing and I got it.

I am sad to move on, mainly because this means that we have MAJOR infertility problems that a local Dr. can’t handle. But I am SO excited to see what Dr. Davis has to say and what he thinks we need to do.

So now a two week wait of another sort. I can handle this.

October 18, 2009

How to be a friend

I found this article here, and thought it was too good not to share. The author wrote this article after one of her friend's asked her to write about how to be a good friend to someone who is dealing with infertility. It's a bit long (and slightly inappropriate at parts) but REALLY good. I completely agree with what this author says at the end, thank you to all of our good friends who have been around for us during this last year, you have no idea how much we appreciate it.

How to be Good Friends with an Infertile
By Tertia Loebenberg

Firstly, I have to say that this being a Good Friend to an Infertile is not an easy job at all. It is a job with fluid parameters, a thankless job sometimes and one where it might appear that no matter how hard you try, you never seem to get it right. There are times when you will be extremely busy and the job is very demanding. There are other times where you will benched, forced to sit on the outside looking in. There is not often any logic in this change of demand. Be aware of the volatility of work pressure when applying for this job. It is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Secondly, there is not a universal job description, and worst of all, your job duties will change over time. There is not a universal job description because Infertiles come in different flavors. True, one can categorize these flavors to some extent, but variations will always exist. Your eternal optimist / newbie / completely uninvolved infertile doesn’t need too much in the way of special friendship; they believe the problem is temporary and will get resolved soon. They don’t feel broken, different or an outcast. Your longer term / highly involved infertile is a very tricky beast, and is one to be handled with great caution and protective gloves (for you, not her). This person feels alienated from society and carries great pain and angst in their souls. They might not show it all the time, but there is a very sensitive, raw spot in their souls that is easily bruised. Then you get the older timers, who’ve been doing this so long it just becomes part of who they are. These infertiles have gone through the great angst and intense pain of the ‘dark years’ and have come out realizing that while infertility is s*&$, it is not all consuming. And instead of crying, they laugh. Because infertility is actually a comedy of errors, sometimes.

Infertiles tend to move through these stages at different pace. Which makes it very hard being a Good Friend to an Infertile, because the type of friendship involved is so different at each stage. It is very very hard being a Good Friend to someone stuck in the dark stage of infertility. It is a very painful place for an infertile to be. There is no hope, just a great deep dark sense of despair. You feel totally alienated from the rest of the world and you are consumed by your situation. Every thing hurts, and every thing has the power to hurt you. Your world shrinks to the world of infertility and you fight tooth and nail to protect the fragile hold you have on sanity. The best advice I can give to a Good Friend at this stage is to offer friendship and support, from a distance. Say things like “I am here for you if you want to talk, or not talk, or drink, or swear, or shop. But if you don’t want to that’s perfectly ok. I’ll be here waiting for you when YOU are ready to come out the cave”. If you can bare it, hang in there, your friendship should return to some semblance of its previous form once your Infertile has worked her way through her dark despair. It has nothing to do with you or you ability to friend, it has every thing to do with her coping with the horrible reality of her situation.

Being a Good Friend to the eternal optimist or the good-humored veteran is a lot easier, with these few survival tips.

1. Good Friends never judge. Remember that unless you’ve walked in the person’s shoes, you can’t say “well I would never….do IVF/terminate a pg/spend so much money on ART etc” To be honest, who likes judgmental people any way.

2. Good Friends will educate themselves about what their Infertile is going through. HUGE proviso: see point 3 before putting any thing into action. Read up about infertility so that you get a high-level understanding of the intricacies involved. Know little things like eggs are retrieved, then fertilized and they become embryos. Then the embryos are put back. Just small things so that when your infertile does share some of her world with you, you will understand. I think this shows commitment to the friendship.

3. However. Do not willy nilly offer advice, or hot off the press latest research about a fantastic new procedure that is sure to work. Remember the stuff they write about in your local woman’s magazine is stuff that your Infertile did in Infertility 101. Been there, failed that. ICSI is not a new procedure, I promise. And yes, we have heard of taking cough syrup to increase cervical mucous. Oh, and for my Aunt, yes I have heard of lying with my legs in the air after having sex. Unfortunately, I have PCOS and don’t ovulate so I could be lying with my legs in the air doing bicycle movements till the cows come home and all the sperm are going to do is mill around confused asking where the f the egg is, bemoaning the fact that this has been a useless trip out and they might as well have had a wank. Which goes back to Point 2. Educate yourself about your friend’s diagnosis so that you can avoid offering pointless advice. And please, what ever you do, never, ever be so stupid as to say “just relax”. Would you say to a cancer patient “just relax”? Would you say to someone who can’t see “just relax”? Of course you wouldn’t. Plus you have to know that “just relaxing” will not change the medical diagnosis that is causing your friends infertility. Because of course you’ve done enough reading to carry on an intelligent conversation, if your Infertile decides to engage you in one.

4. Platitudes. Never ever offer platitudes. This is a totally selfish act any way because all platitudes do is make you feel better and the Infertile feel worse. Saying “maybe you are not meant to have children” is an incredibly stupid thing to say. You wouldn’t say to a diabetic “maybe you weren’t meant to have insulin etc”. Infertility is a medical condition. Not some factor in the universe’s bigger plan for the Infertile. Similar to “its God will”. How the f do you know? You have a direct connection or what? How about “are you sure you want kids?” lovingly looking at your own screaming kids. No dear, I am spending thousands and enduring physical, emotional and mental anguish just because I am obscenely stupid. Or “you can have mine”. Now that’s an incredibly stupid thing to say. What kind of mother are you to give her kids away? Oh you were only joking? What was the funny part? That I don’t have my own kids? Sorry, but I am not getting the joke? Call me stupid. In addition, please don’t tell me about your friend/cousin/co-worker who got pg naturally after 8 years of trying. It doesn’t make me feel better, it depresses me. Good for her. It’s got nothing to do with my situation.

5. The tricky one. Announcing pregnancies / baby showers / births and other kid things. The best advice I can give here is trust the Infertile to know what she can or can’t handle. Don’t hide things from her, but respect it when she says to you “I don’t think I am going to be able to handle that”. Your Infertile knows when her good days and bad days are, and what she can or can’t handle. But do invite her, give her the choice of saying no. And then respect her to know that sometimes she needs to protect her own fragile soul more than she needs to fulfill social obligations.

6. The level of involvement. Infertiles differ in the level of involvement they engage their Good Friends in. Some, like me, are pretty open about the whole thing. Every Friend and their Mother knows when I am going in for ER, ET or whatever. Other people prefer to keep their infertility private. Find out what your Infertile prefers and operate at the level she feels comfortable with.

7. Which brings to me to my final point. If you don’t know how to act, ask. I love that my friends ask me how I want them to act around me. They also know that if they ask the question “how is it going with your treatment” I will either tell them or I will say “irritating, I don’t want to talk about it now”. They totally respect that and don’t push. I have great friends.

To end off, if you decide to accept the job of Good Friend to an Infertile, I applaud you. Because it is not an easy job. It really isn’t. As I have said, it’s a pretty thankless job and one in which your job description is so fluid that what is required today is wrong tomorrow. I thank those of my Good Friends who have stuck around so long with me. I know it hasn’t been easy. I appreciate your friendship, I really do.

October 17, 2009

Anticipation of an Infertile

Anticipation of an Infertile

There are days that I am fairly certain that I may die at any moment from “anticipationitis”. I am constantly anxiously anticipating something, the next pill, shot, or appointment. My. Mind. Is. Never. Still. It’s hard to escape the desire in my heart to have children. It is this desire that drives me to push onward with treatments, and tests, and anticipation of…

The day that we can begin the next round of medicines
Watching the syringe fill with liquid
Feeling the needle penetrate my skin
Waiting for an email response from my principal asking to leave early so
that I can make an appointment
Feeling the twinges that let me know that everything is “working”
Seeing the fully grown eggs on the ultrasound screen
Hearing the nurse tell us that everything looks great
Having my blood drawn and waiting to see how many sticks it will take today
The phone call from our nurse
The exact hour that I get the final trigger shot
The exact 36 hour wait before the IUI
The 20,160 minutes that will pass until we can find out if we are pregnant
Telling our parents… for the 2nd time, that we are pregnant
The 6th week and the first ultrasound to hear the heartbeat and to find out
how many car seats we will need to start saving for
Holding our breaths for that magical 13th week “safety net”
Telling our friends and coworkers that we are finally going to be parents
Finding out the gender(s) at week 20
Finally not being a guest at someone else’s baby shower
Sitting through childbirth classes with Matt by my side
Experiencing labor and all the glory that comes with it
Holding our precious, beautiful, so badly wanted and waited for babies!!!

So I guess I’ll sit back and anxiously anticipate the magical moments that will be coming.

October 14, 2009

I'm in love with...

photography!!! For the first time in my adult life, I have a real, true hobby! I did the wedding planning hobby for a year and a half and loved it (and then helped a few friends, and then that hobby ended), I did the grad school thing for a year (after graduation in July that "hobby" ended), and this fall I was left with not a thing to do with my free time that I truly enjoyed. I like to golf with Matt and my dad, but I can only take about once or twice a month before I'm burnt out.

AND THEN, we bought a new digital SLR camera! (As described in this post). And a new hobby was born! Matt and I just finished an intro to SLR camera course at the store where we bought our camera and we are now armed with some knowledge of how our beast works. Although, we only know about 25% of the features and functions that our camera is truly capable of doing, but we'll get to the rest as needed.

Every year Matt and I take a "fall leaf trip" where we head off towards Illinois or Wisconsin to look for beautifully burnt orange turning leaves. Each year I simply get in the car and we take off. Matt usually knows the destination, I'm just along for the ride (and an AMAZING nap on the way)!

This year we ended up in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. This year we packed our new camera and a tripod. On the way we passed this beautiful, old, abandoned church. As we went racing past it I yelled for Matt to turn around. And it was at this amazing church that we were able to get these pictures: (we used the tripod and set the 10 second timer and ran!)

**I'm not sure why these pictures look so blurry when they are little, if you click on them and make them bigger they look much better, like they should! =) **

We spent almost an hour at the church finding cool places to try out our camera. We then left and headed further down the road until we saw another beautiful area in the distance. We both had our eye on it. We found an old railroad car, a very warn down-about to fall apart building, and a beautifully restored building of some sort, and we were able to get these pictures:

Overall we had a blast! I am in love with some of the pictures that we took. I actually get to take a very good friend's family pictures this weekend, I am VERY excited! I'll post some of their pictures (if she gives me permission) on Sunday after we are done.

I am super excited to have this new hobby... now we just need kids of our own so that I can truly have a model whenever I need one! =) Speaking of, we were cleared to start up with shots and the whole "hoopla" again so hopefully around...ummm July 2010 I'll have a fresh model to take pictures of. Fingers crossed! =)

Matt got a wild hair and created his own blog this weekend. Check it out here if you have a second. He is going to post some of the pictures that we take every few weeks (assuming he doesn't give up on it and it doesn't sit with one post for the next year). =)

October 12, 2009

If you want me to

I remember seeing Ginny Owens in concert when I was 15'ish. I have always loved this song! It seems fitting right now. Whatever God wants me to do, is what I will do right now.
(Make sure you hit pause on the music player at the very bottom of the page before you hit the arrow to play this song.)

October 8, 2009

MTHFR - no, it's not a shortened name for a swear word

Well I have an additional “issue” to add to my fabulous repertoire of diseases, problems, etc. Let me give a little background to this story.

A year or so ago I got an email from my best friend. One of her friends had been dealing with infertility, and had several miscarriages. She had recently been diagnosed with MTHFR (I’ll explain this more in a second) and was sending an “informational email” out to all of her girl friends so that they could get tested for MTHFR before they started trying to conceive. I didn’t think much of the email at the time, read it, and then deleted it. After our miscarriage a month ago I found myself thinking of that email.

So I did some research (aka- I spent A LOT of time searching on google) and found that people with MTHFR have recurrent miscarriages between week 5 and 6… exactly when we had ours. They also are more tired than usual…uhh hello, I go to bed before 9pm every night and get up at 7 am, only to be tired by 3pm each day.

So I called Dr. O and asked if I could get the blood test done to determine if I had MTHFR. I was first told by the nurse that they had never heard of MTHFR… ugh. A few days later I got a call back from the nurse and was told that yes, I could get the test done but that I would have to pay out of pocket for it because “You haven’t had 3 miscarriages in a row and we don’t typically do any type of testing until after the 3rd miscarriage. So it’s your decision if you want to pay for it yourself”. Okay…. AND “the test has to get sent to Chicago to a DNA testing lab so it will probably be quite expensive, if I were you I would probably wait”. Of course this prompted an immediate call to Matt. What do we do? Most miscarriages are just simply “spontaneous” do we dare pay for this test (probably around $400) even though it probably won’t show anything??!! After lots of talking and praying and finding out we can use some of Matt’s health savings money, we decided to go for it. I felt like I was “that girl” that goes against what the Dr. advised and was being super pushy.

14 days later (today) I got the call… “Your test results are back, and you are positive for the MTHFR gene mutation, you can begin taking one baby aspirin”. I really wanted to say, and now, will you be running that test through my insurance since you told me it “wasn’t needed”? But I didn’t.

A little more information on MTHFR:

MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This is an enzyme that is involved in amino acid metabolism in the body. MTHFR gene is also responsible for absorbing folate. Common mutations in the MTHFR gene can affect how a person's body processes homocysteine, an amino acid found in the blood. People with MTHFR gene mutations can have a decreased ability to metabolize folic acid and other B vitamins, also, which increases risk of blood clots. MTHFR causes lower folate and B-vitamin levels, which increase the risk of miscarriages by creating tiny blood clots that block nutrient flow to the placenta.

So baby aspirin will help thin my blood out, except that I’m not supposed to take aspirin, only Tylenol, because it can cause ulcers in my intestines because of my Crohn’s Disease. So I have a call into my intestinal dr to see if I can take it daily… of course the nurse thinks I might have to come in for an appointment since he hasn’t seen me in a year to decide if he can safely recommend for or against the aspirin. You’ve got to be kidding me?! An appointment to decide if I can take aspirin, either I can or I can’t lady! My last colonoscopy showed that all of my ulcers were completely healed, so hopefully I get the go ahead and we can be done with this ordeal.

So the plan (tentatively) will be baby aspirin, extra folate, B6 and B12. I’m extremely annoyed that I have yet another “issue” with my body, I’M ONLY TWENTY FIVE, I really shouldn’t have to take this many medicines at such a young age. On the other hand I’m VERY excited to think that 1)our reason for miscarrying may have an easy fix 2) my energy level should be on the climb!

And to make this week even better, I took medicine 10 days ago to get my next cycle to start so that we can start our next round of shots, and it didn't work. It alawys works within 72 hours, and we're now at 10 days with nothing happening. I would love to just move on and start trying again, but apparatnly it's not in the cards for us right now. Seriously... I've had enough.

October 5, 2009

And we wait... what's new?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.--James 1:2-4

I thought this verse was fitting for our lives right now. Anyone who knows me knows that patience is not something that comes easy for me. And to say that my patience is being tested right now is an understatement... my patience is nearly gone. We are currently "sitting and waiting" for the opportunity to start all over with shots again. I've had enough waiting. I'm ready to move on, to feel like I can think of something, anything other than the fact that we should be pregnant right now, and we're most definitely not.

I can't wait for the day that we look back on this time in our lives and can see the positive that comes from it. For now, I guess I'll go work on being patient. Blah...

So for now I'll leave you with a few "happy pictures" from the best day of my life: