Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas, GIMH!

We've had a wonderful visit with family and friends, and all too soon our trip has come to an end. I want to give a special shout-out to my Advent Prayer Buddy/Secret Santa, Grace In My Heart! What a thrill to have a buddy who just adopted as my husband and I start the adoption process. :)

One of the cool things about being Catholic is that the Christmas season lasts until Epiphany. So I can still say, Merry Christmas!! :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a Warm(er) Christmas...

Greetings from the Left Coast! We made it here just in time to miss a snowstorm. My hubby and I have enjoyed walking around the city sans jackets and spending time with family and friends.

I'm amazed at the large amount of big announcements lately. We arrived here on Friday and already I have heard of a couple engagements and a few pregnancies. *sigh* I had hoped that by now we would have an adoption announcement of our own. But God has His own ways of doing things. A good friend reminded me today about the need to trust Him no matter what (easier said than done). The pain and longing that I endure now will only make the child's coming even more sweet and worth it.

On a lighter note, my dear husband came up with a little prank for my parents' backyard. They have a St. Joseph statue that has become buried in ivy over the years. Well, we were worried that St. Joe couldn't breathe, so the photo below shows how we took care of it. :)

P.S. My dear IF friends (online and IRL), I'm so grateful for your continued support, encouragement, and especially empathy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Trucking through the week

Thanks so much for your many kind comments in my last post. You really did console me! Not only did AF arrive that weekend, I also came down with a sinus infection. Hence, the long gap of blog posts. Thanks to some drugs, rest, and copious cups of tea, my head is finally clearing. That's just in time for our flight on Friday. My hubby and I are flying to California to spend Christmas with my family. With the temperature scheduled to drop into the teens this week, I'll gladly welcome Northern California's gray, 50-degree weather. No doubt my fellow Californian blogger Jeremiah will get more sunshine during her Christmas visit. :)

As any teacher can relate, the final week before Christmas vacation is always the most hectic. This week is no exception, and we also have Christmas program rehearsals that shrink class time. Such is life during December! I bought stockings for my students to do secret Santas. One student even brought me a stocking (it's in the middle). By the way, I bought these stockings, although I'm sure Sew could have made even more gorgeous ones.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the upcoming Christmas. Like many of you, I think every year, "Next Christmas, I might be a mother!" Or, "Next Christmas, my parents will have to come to us because we will finally have a child!" For the past 3 years, that has not happened. More changes are coming as my brother brings home his beautiful girlfriend this Christmas. Perhaps because Christmas is such a usual, celebrated milestone (unlike a birthday celebration that can be toned down), the holiday becomes a marker every year.

And to continue my metaphor of "walking the line" from my last post:

I walk the line between being grateful for a strong marriage yet longing for my husband to finally become a father.

I walk the line between happiness for a family friend who just gave birth to another baby (found out tonight) and nursing the ever-present IF wound.

Thanks for reading my rambling! Here are some pictures from the SHE group Christmas outing (love you, girls!) and my Christmas tree at home.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Walking Between Lines

One of the aspects of Infertility that has struck me is the need to walk between 2 lines.

I walk the line...

Between realism and hope.

Between wanting a child and trying to obey God's will.

Between accepting suffering (usually badly on my part) but avoiding deep depression.

Between seeking new information and treatment but knowing when nothing will work.

Between trying to lose weight for adoption but wonder if we are supposed to seek another country.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Today I went to a women's breakfast. Let's just say the morning started out rather badly. AF arrived and wracked me with pain. I get on the freeway only to get stuck in a 15min traffic jam just to move about 10 feet. I arrived late, only to find the table where I had hoped to sit was full. Thankfully, a good friend came with me and we sat at another table. Wouldn't you know it, on a morning such as this, I meet the lady next to me and we discover that we attend the same parish and Mass. Then she asks,

"Well, do you have any kids?" "No," I sighed and explained briefly about adoption. "Well, she answered, "the only people I notice at Mass are families with children, so that's why I haven't seen you."

WHAT KIND OF A QUESTION IS THAT??? She later revealed that she never had children, but came from a big family, and big families are so good, yadda yadda. And I said, "Well, no matter the size of the family, each child is a gift." By this point, I'm looking imploringly at my friend, who generously tried to steer the conversation away. But the lady wasn't done. When we returned to our seats after getting breakfast, the lady asked, "So why don't you just do IVF?"

I really wanted to scream, or at least pick up my plasticware and attempt to impale her. Somehow I manged to keep my cool and just said, "As Catholics, we cannot do that." She honestly was surprised and said that she had never heard that before. I briefly explained the teaching (unitive and procreative) and hoped she would leave me alone. Perhaps the only good part of AF's arrival was that the pain forced me to leave immediately after the speaker's presentation finished, lest I get any more comments.

Seriously, I haven't run into someone this insensitive in a long time. And of all places at a Catholic Women's breakfast!

I walk the line....between trying to explain the pain of IF to insensitive people and not smacking them!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Turkey Roasting: a success!

Thanksgiving went very well. The turkey turned out moist and tasty, the side dishes complemented the meal, and best of all, there was great company. :) I never realized how much work it is to put on a meal such as this!! My mom was kind enough to send me my favorite stuffing, Mrs. Cubbinson's. It must be a West Coast brand.

The weekend ended with the peeling of our hideous kitchen wallpaper, spearheaded by my mother-in-law. Not only is the wallpaper pattern obnoxious, it also makes the kitchen very dark. We got one wall done and have more to go.

I'm through fighting with Blogger's formatting of my photos, so they are posted backward.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks * Merci* Gracias* Gratias Tibi Ago

I wanted to wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving!! My husband and I are hosting his family for the first time and we are quite excited. The bird continues to roast as I write this post, so hopefully it will come out of the oven tasty and moist! Although I have helped my mom make the Thanksgiving turkey several times, this is the first time I've made it on my own. Already I had one mishap and had to send my husband to the store when I ran out of celery.

I'll post more pictures of the table tomorrow. I thank God for His many blessings, and for the many online IF friends that I've met through blogging. May He bless all of you today and always!! :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blonde hair, Black hair and Little hands

This past Tuesday night I attended a special Mass for healing. (I prayed for you, my IF friends!). Sitting in the few in front of me was a Caucasian couple with 3 beautiful Chinese daughters. At one point, the youngest girl rested on her mother's lap, wrapping her little arms around her neck. The little hands began to play with her mom's blond hair. I was struck at the contrast of blond and black hair colors, but at the same time the incredible bond between the two of them. Anyone could look at them and surmise that they are mother and daughter. They may look different on the outside, but the familial love just seem to radiate. I looked at the little girl with longing, the same longing I used to have at watching mothers hold their newborn babies.

To me, that really indicates that our desire to adopt is very alive and well. My desire to lose this weight and bring our child home has become stronger than a desire to get pregnant. Maybe it's the pessimist in me, or perhaps God's way of preparing me for the embrace of adoption.

My two cousins were adopted from South America over 18 years ago. One of them told me recently that he still sees himself as Slovak (my dad's side of the family), despite his very obvious Latin American ancestry. I in turn always thought of him and his sister as my cousins, not very different from me. The whole idea that they were adopted really disappeared after a while. :)

Seeing that mother and child on Tuesday night awakened a new excitement in me. I know the same will happen with our child; the outward differences will give way to the love of a family.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Picture of the Day...

My husband and I attended a benefit dinner on Saturday night for our local crisis pregnancy help center. This was one of the items I won in a silent auction. Everyone needs bright colors on a Monday!

Monday, November 9, 2009

For another blogger, answered prayers....

Congratulations to Grace In My Heart, who is about to adopt a beautiful baby boy. She's had quite a journey, including a failed adoption. For her and her husband to arrive at this day is an extra special joy.

I really love the online Catholic IF community. We cry with those who miscarry or are gripping with despair, sympathize with the numerous medical and adoption-related setbacks, AND rejoice when one of our own finally becomes a mother. :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Here comes the Femara *UPDATE

So far, the only side effect I've felt is intense nausea. It began around mid-morning and stayed throughout the day. As long as my stomach stayed full, the feeling stayed away. This evening I ate a whole bag of crackers!

Blood Test Buddy was told by the doctor that she could divide the Femara into 2 doses. Keep in mind that over 1000mg of hormones go into your body at dividing seemed like a reasonable option. I took the other 4 pills a few minutes ago, so we'll see how I feel tomorrow. Some women have night sweats with this drug; we'll see if that happens. Femara also causes drowsiness.

Blood Test Buddy informed me that our HCG injections cost have recently risen from $50 to $75. *sigh* always something.

Finally, in a bit of a soap-opera type scenario, I stopped at the pharmacy to pick up Clomid and crackers. Somehow I thought my doctor had asked me to take both (TCIE has repeatedly pointed out that it didn't seem right). Sure enough, the pharmacist pulled up my prescription on the computer and said the doctor only called in Femara. I called the doctor's office only to find out that he wasn't in the office today. Oh well; I feel more comfortable taking Femara on its own (thanks, TCIE!) :)

Thanks to everyone for your prayers & encouragement.
* * * * * * * *
Well, you may recall from last month that I opted not to take Femara (a Clo.mid alternative) due to my college reunion. Blood Test Buddy became VERY ill from the Femara and I didn't want to take any chances that the same could happen at the reunion. I don't regret the decision, but 1 month later CD 2 has arrived. However, that lovely $50 bag of 9 pills still sits on my desk. My wonderful, loving husband even suggested that I don't take the meds. He knows my fears. Of course, several of you commented that Femara did nothing to your body. I had zero side effects from Clomi.d but still worry about what Femara will do. Looks like I will take the plunge and take the meds, ready to tell the doctor "never again" if this stuff doesn't work.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Outstanding article on Infertility

A priest recently wrote an article on his observations of the Catholic teachings on infertility. He really gets it! I really appreciate his understanding and compassion for couples enduring IF. Thank you, Sew, for posting this article on your blog!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


My school meets two days a week, so my 4th graders had their Halloween/Harvest party yesterday. We all decorated cupcakes with much flair:

Once again, Blogger has messed up the formatting of my photo. The Scarecrow cupcakes came out very nicely. I wish I could take credit for the idea, but the decor came from a cupcake book. We used no.odles for the beard & hair. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

Well, I returned from a relaxing and wonderful trip to California. The jet lag is still with me, but so are many happy memories with family and friends. One of my friends encouraged me to send a format of the SHE group to my old diocese in the hopes of starting a group there. We'll see if I can get things going.

One of my favorite home-in-California rituals is to visit the many restaurants and stores that we do not have here in Kentucky. Oh, the sadness of a Californian in exile to be deprived of Jamba Juice, In N'Out Burger, See's Candies (a family tradition!), authentic Mexican food, and Trader Joe's (the nearest one is in Cincinnati).

Yes, I have become one of those bloggers who takes pictures of meals! Oh well, In'N'Out Burger is a California institution. They also have Bible verse citations written on the bottom of the cups and hamburger wrappers. Of course, I also had to take a picture of this portable yogurt bar at a mall; it is SO Californian. I would never find something like that here:

Besides getting some quality time with my parents, I really enjoyed catching up with longtime friends. One of the highlights was getting together with a loving and holy family from my youth ministry days. The father of the family recently became a deacon. He spent some time praying with me for healing. He said something that I would like to share with all of you IF friends: "God is closer than you think. Sometimes He's so close you don't realize that He's there."
Such true words, especially on those days when we feel ill from the umpteenth medicine, endure another failed medical procedure, encounter another adoption setback, or have to silently weep while watching young families at Mass. He is closer than we think.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Operation: Drop Poundage for Adoption (DPA)

I'm happy to announce that I have thus far lost 5 lbs. Only 25 more to go to reach the BMI goal for South Korean adoption. While the road still looks very long, I feel much lighter and my clothes fit more nicely. As we traverse this long weight loss and adoption process, many people have asked us why South Korea? Why not an easy country, like Ethiopia (much less requirements for adoptive parents)? Why not local?

Before you read my answers, please remember that they reflect the opinion and deep desires of myself and the hubby. We are NOT saying that other countries are terrible or that local adoption is the wrong choice. These opinions reflect our own thought and prayerful discernment.

Our answer boils down to this one fact: this baby would be our FIRST child. We would like to experience raising a baby from infancy.

With Ethiopia, the children are more likely to be older, not to mention the factor of a grueling trip for the adopting parents. Perhaps for our second adoption. Additionally, adoptions from China have now reached a 4-year waiting period. The Eastern European countries (e.g. Russia) are way out of our price range. Most of the children adopted from these countries are toddlers. Our original choice was Guatemala; both of us speak Spanish and we have a Hispanic community in town. Unfortunately, Guatemala has been closed in order to comply with the Hague Conventions. South Korea was the only country that fit our financial capability, promised an infant, and also had a marriage requirement (3 years) that we could meet.

Did I mention that the South Korean adoption process takes about 9-10 months once your paperwork is in? :)

In regards to local adoption, we are not comfortable with a completely open adoption, which is what our local CSS strongly advocates (to put it lightly). We like the idea of a semi-open or a more closed adoption. There are agencies here that offer such adoptions. However, a waiting game is involved; you have no idea when you will be picked by a birthmother. A friend of ours was picked within 45 minutes of their paperwork getting filed. A member of the SHE group has been waiting for more than 6 months.

South Korea has one of the best adoption processes with the USA, as the 2 countries have a relationship since the 1950s. Their process is very streamlined. In addition, we would get an actual infant (7-10 months). Again, we haven't ruled out the possibility of adopting a toddler or preschooler down the road, but it would be nice for us to have the experience of parenting a baby. And like most couples who select international adoption, one of the best parts is the finality of the process.
One of the other bonuses of learning more about adoption is the story of St. Andrew Kim and the Korean Martyrs. We have become awestruck at the fidelity and bravery of these martyrs. In fact, should we adopt a little boy, we plan to name him Andrew after St. Andrew Kim, the first Korean priest.

I felt much better when our Adoption agency worker assured us that our diet endeavors are worth it; South Korea is an outstanding country.

As we continue to navigate the infertility side with various drugs, etc., none of which guarantee a pregnancy...and every pregnancy is not a guarantee that you'll carry the baby to term (just ask the bloggers who have recently miscarried). This is a reason we find adoption so appealing; we know that in the end we will have a child. Of course, we will remain open to Life and getting pregnant the natural way should that happen.
(pause for me to curse Blogger's formatting that won't space my paragraphs)
In the end, as an adoptive parent advised me, I have to ask myself: "Do I want to be PREGNANT or Do I want to be a PARENT?" Godwilling, I hope to be a parent, either naturally or through welcoming a child through adoption. :) That is why it is SO worth it to diet and meet the BMI requirement. End of sermon! I'm going to California this week and look forward to catching up with family and friends.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Glad that I didn't take the Femara gamble...

Thanks again for all of the advice regarding Femara. I realize that some of the responders had no problem with it, but others did too. Since my reunion had been planned for several months, I decided to save Femara for the next cycle. Definitely the right move! In the end, I returned from my college reunion with a bad cold or sinus infection. If the Femara side effects had occurred, I would have been even more miserable. My hubby and I had a wonderful time catching up with my college friends and reliving some of my campus memories.

Here are a couple pictures, including the group of nuns that we sat behind during Mass for the Feast of St. Francis. :)

Some of you may be able to guess the name of the university I attended. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy feast day, St. Therse!

Today is the feastday of the patron saint of this blog, St. Therese of Liseux, aka the Little Flower. Hopefully that shows where the "Petals" part of the blog title derives. :)

St. Therese has been a wonderful heavenly friend to me throughout the years. I really like her "Little Way" of doing small things for God with great love. One of my favorite books based on her teachings is I Believe in Love. St. Therese has also sent me many roses in answer to prayers or requests for help. I carried roses in my wedding bouquet in honor of her.

St. Therese, pray for us!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Praying with St. Gianna!

This past weekend, the relics of St. Gianna Beretta Molla came to my hometown this past weekend. In a wonderful act of God's providence, the local coordinator of the visit arranged for a private veneration (honoring, not worshipping!) of the relics with the SHE Infertility Support Group. WOW!
Each member of the group had a chance to hold the gloves that St. Gianna wore (pictured above) and receive intercessory prayer from the relic caretakers & a couple friends. Each of us experienced a profound peace; a couple of us ended up in tears afterwards!

There are 5 women in our IF support group; I told the relic caretakers that if 5 out of 5 of us became pregnant or adopt, we would take a special group photo for their shrine. :)

As I held the gloves, I began to say the names of so many of you IF bloggers: AYWH, Sew, Prayerful Journey, Jeremiah 29:11, TCIE, Grace in My Heart, Thorn in the Pew, Misfit, ...and when my non-caffinated memory ran out of names, I included all of you IF sisters in the blogosphere, and the many silent readers. St. Gianna, pray for us!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Femara Fears

Yesterday My NaPro Doctor called with the results of my recent bloodwork. He is still not happy with my hormone levels, particularly estrogen. So he has prescribed Femara and Clomid for my next cycle, in addition to continuing the HCG shots. I felt rather OK with the matter until a friend told me of her recent problems with Femara: night sweats & nausea. She took the Femara over a week ago and can barely keep food down, let alone exercise.

Now I'm growing rather nervous and downright afraid. My NaPro doctor said he had not heard of anyone having side effects with Femara. I believe some infertility bloggers have talked about fatigue, but can't recall anything worse than that. To make matters worse, my conversation with the Pharmacist:

Me: Hi. My friend had horrible problems with Femara, like night sweats and nausea. Is this common?
Pharmacist: Yes. If you really want to scare yourself, read the entire medical information paper.
Me: Can I do anything to help the side effects?
Pharmacist: Normally we prescribe Hormone Replacement Therapy, but obviously that won't help you. All you can do is try to keep food in your stomach to help combat the nausea. Have you tried other less expensive fertility drugs, like Clomid?
Me: Yep. Didn't work.
Pharmacist: Special shots?
Me: (trying not to laugh at the same time) Yep. Taking those right now.

I am really panicking. My period is due next week, right during my 10-year college reunion 6 hours away. (Murphy's Law is really happening to me!). Femara is supposed to be taken on Day 2, which falls during the reunion. Believe me, I do not want to spend my rare chance to catch up with college friends curled up in a hotel room! My doctor did say he did not know of any side effects, so it's quite possible that my body will not react in the same way as my friend's body did. But if the side effects DO occur, my efforts to exercise & diet may go by the wayside. My 2+ years of infertility has stolen all optimism, so I just see this recent medication as crossing more "things that did not help Percolating Petals' get pregnant" list.

And don't get me started on having to pay $48 for 8 pills.....

Femara is a huge chance to take. My fellow infertile friends, please leave any insights or advice. I really, REALLY could use it.

Tortilla Soup (slow cooker recipe)

Here is the recipe that was simmering in my slow cooker when the lid met its demise. Some of you asked for the recipe, so I hope you enjoy it. This recipe came from the Fix It and Forget It Cookbook. A woman named Joy Mintzer came up with it.

I make one change in this recipe. In her version, you cook and shred the chicken before putting it into the slow cooker. I find it much easier to cook the chicken in the slow cooker for a couple hours (be sure that you're home; meat cooks much faster, even on low). The chicken shreds beautifully and I simply pour the remaining ingredients into the pot. Less mess, plus the taste of the chicken juices. This soup smells so good after it's cooked all day. My husband can often smell it when he pulls the car into the garage!! I like the recipe because of its ease. Of course, now my quest is to find ways to cut calories & fat to fit in with my new diet.

Tortilla Soup (makes 6 servings)

4 Chicken breast halves (I've used more and even a rotissere chicken from the store)

1 garlic clove, minced

2 Tbsp. margarine

29 oz of canned chicken broth (I use the 32 oz box of chicken broth and measure it out)

2-14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes

1 cup salsa, any level of heat (sometimes it's fun to mix 2 different kinds of salsa)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1Tbsp. or more ground cumin

8oz. Monterey Jack Cheese, cubed (shredded works too)

sour cream

tortilla chips

Cook & shred chicken. Add minced garlic to the margarine in the slow cooker. Saute. Combine all ingredients except the cheese, sour cream, & chips. Cover and cook the soup on LOW for 8-10 hours. Divide cubed cheese among 6 individual soup bowls. Ladle soup bowls over the cheese. Sprinkle with chips and top each bowl with a dollup of sour cream.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dancin' in the Street

On Friday my Irish Dance group jigged and reeled in front of a local Irish Imports store. Here's a clip of the two-hand reel that I did with a friend. Technically speaking, my form is not stellar (e.g., feet need to be crossed), but the sidewalk was full of potholes and bumps. I'm feeling more light on my feet thanks to the recent healthy lifestyle change. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Slow Cooker's Demise

CRASH! The slow cooker lid slipped out of my grasp (the handle broke months ago) and landed with a bang on the stove. Immediately, shards of glass scattered on the floor and kitchen counter.

Of course, this accident occurred after my chicken tortilla soup had been simmering for a couple hours, ready for a Sunday evening dinner. My husband rushed upstairs to see what was wrong and found me standing amid lots of broken glass. He kindly cleaned up the mess (thank God I had worn shoes in the kitchen!), cutting two of his fingers in the process. I inspected the soup for extra shards of glass. We decided in the end to not eat the soup. The thought of minuscule glass shards cutting our intestines just didn't sit well with us. So we ended up eating out after Mass. I meant to get a picture of the pathetic, broken lid and glass-ridden floor, but forgot.

My slow cooker is one of the most frequently used appliances in the house, especially during soup season. There's nothing like opening the garage and catching a whiff of fragrant soup that has cooked all day long. Time to hunt for a newer model! "The best laid plans of mice and men..."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When Things Don't Go Well...

Spirit Daily has a thought-provoking article about letting go and letting God do His work. All with the help of His Mother.

p.s. For the past two weeks I've had bronchitis. Then AF came on Monday. Blogging has taken a back seat but I'm working to change that!!

p.p.s. Thanks again for your comments on my last post.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Power of Prayer

Thanks again to everyone's support with enduring the newest adoption roadblock. Already my hubby and I have cut back on bad foods and started exercising more. I also plan to post healthy recipes once in a while.

My blood test buddy had a laparoscopy (with a NaPro surgeon) yesterday. This past Monday, some of us from the support group gathered with her for evening Mass and afterwards sat with her as she received the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. I know quite a few people who received this sacrament prior to surgery and felt great peace afterwards.

It was so inspiring to gather as a group and pray for blood test buddy. Somehow the experience seemed more powerful when shared with women who were experiencing the same cross as me. Blood test buddy went into her surgery peaceful and hopeful, cheered by the presence of friends. From what I can tell through text messages, the surgery was a success. Yea for the power of prayer!

The only rough spot of the night was after Mass an acquaintance came up to me and asked if I was expecting. (!!!!) Perhaps my shirt looked too much like a maternity shirt. Ugh, I've never been asked that question. I quickly said "No. Actually, I'm sitting here with our infertility support group." The lady felt bad and then tried to tell us about how so many people she knew have adopted and then got know how it goes. We just asked her to pray for us.

I'm glad at least my IF friends were there to keep me from responding with snarky comments. :) Also, the priest who anointed blood test buddy was delighted to hear that we had NaPro physicians in our part of the country.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Major Roadblock

My blog has been silent the past couple days due to some jarring news about our adoption endeavors. The agency informed us that in order to become eligible to adopt from Korea, both of us need to have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of less than 30. Anyone who has seen me IRL (In Real Life) would realize that my husband and I do not meet that requirement. So we have to lose about 35 lbs each in order to qualify. That means no home study or paperwork until this goal is met.

The news fell like a ton of bricks. To feel the surge of starting the process only to hit a roadblock-- especially after our many infertility medical experiences-- was incredibly frustrating. It didn't help that last night I sang at a children's holy hour. Just watching all of those precious children made my heart break.

The good part, however, is the weight loss will be good for overall health. My husband and I have always wanted to shed pounds; our child definitely gives us a hard & fast reason to tackle our goals ASAP. So I'm shooting for the end of November, at least to get our home study in before December. Several kind friends have offered dieting tips and I plan to seek the aid of the local hospital's nutrition center. And yes, I have asked for Divine Help to help my cravings for sweets & carbs.

Once again, infertility takes us on another twisty path. Hopefully we'll make it unscathed and thin. :) Oh, please pray for the SHE group meeting on Saturday; our attendance has been low.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nun on the Run...

Check out this story from the American Papist blog about a robber who was outrun by a nun!! Great story to close out the week.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Next Step

Once again, I'm procrastinating on lesson plans to blog. :) This past Tuesday we took the first step in our adoption adventure: mailing our adoption application. It's a seemingly small step, but the first and most important in our new journey.

A new feeling washed over me as I wrote the check and mailed the application: it's really happening. Sure, I had a fleeting semblance of such a feeling in the beginning of our infertility appointments and ventures. Now, however, each appointment or treatment just runs into the next. Hope still remains and I am pleased of the progress with the NaPro treatment...but none of it feels real, as if parenthood is within grasp.

That small, 2-page adoption application, gave me that priceless feeling of parenthood coming soon. A reality that I have worked hard to keep my heart from feeling after so many failed cycles. This new adoption journey will not be easy, but at least we will have concrete goals in sight. I'll continue to post info about my ongoing NaPro treatment, but will also talk about our adoption progress. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Taste and See...

Every once in a while I get to cantor the Responsorial Psalms at Mass. Almost every time the psalm has some special message for my life at the present moment. This Sunday's Psalm is no exception. Last night's vigil Mass was the culmination of a marriage conference and included the renewal of our wedding vows. Yea!! To my pleasant surprise, my psalm was the same one we had at our wedding Mass.

Three years ago we selected this psalm after marriage prep using Christopher West's Theology of the Body series. His specific mention of this psalm spoke of God's way of using tactile things for us to get closer to Him (e.g., water for baptism). Three years later, I see a different side of this psalm, especially the line, "when the afflicted man called out the Lord heard..." Infertility feels quite afflicting, so the psalm is a reminder that God does hear such prayers.

Psalm 34

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD with me,
Let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
And delivered me from all my fears.
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy.
And your faces may not blush with shame.
When the afflicted man called out, the LORD heard,
And from all his distress he saved him.
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

HCG update

I'm taking a break from lesson plans to blog. Call it distraction or procrastination....I'll call it therapy.

My NaPro doctor called a few days ago with the report of my recent blood test. My hormone levels have increased, but he would like to see them a little higher. So I will have to get another blood test in this present cycle to determine if the HCG dosage needs to increase.

If you recall, the hormone profile/8 blood tests ordeal revealed my hormone levels were very, VERY low, particularly after ovulation. When the doctor told me the levels were the lowest he's seen in his years of practice, I panicked a bit. But after 2 cycles of the HCG shots, I'm overall pleased with the results.

The 2 biggest changes with HCG have been my cycle lengthening substantially and a lessening of cramps. Normally I am glued to the heating pad on CDs 2-4 due to extreme cramping pain and nausea. Since taking the HCG, these symptoms have lessened. Not eliminated, but lessened. That improvement alone has made it worth it. My husband has become quite adept at giving the shots; I barely feel the needle. I would definitely choose the shots over my previous painful cramps.

Whether or not these shots help me get pregnant (a hope that seems to be fading), I'm grateful that they have helped my overall health. ME, grateful for a shot. Hell has frozen over!! :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cincinnati Infertility Conference

A couple in Cincinnati is hosting a conference focused on Infertility. What an awesome idea! :)

Cincinnati Infertility Conference
Saturday, September 12th
Guardian Angels Parish, Cincinnati, OH

Find out more information here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

3 Years Passes Quickly

Today, July 29th, is our 3rd wedding anniversary. We can scarcely believe that 3 years ago we stood before God and His Church to become husband and wife. I had always thought we would have children by now. In the Rite of Marriage, you answer 3 special questions, the last of which is, "Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and His Church?" Both of us answered this question "we will" with a smile. Little did we know that 3 years later we would still be open to children but have none of our own. However, we can definitely attest to God's help in keeping us true to each other in good times and in bad. The longer we wait for children, the more our marriage can grow.

Today is also another milestone: we have filled out our application to adopt from South Korea! We just because eligible today, as that country requires couples to be married at least 3 years. While we still hope to conceive a child, adoption is a new and exciting journey. :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Catholic Infertility Support Group: SHE meeting TOMORROW!

(Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth)
An Infertility support group for women from a Catholic perspective.
Next meeting: Saturday, July 25th
Seton Catholic School
1740 Summerhill Dr.
Lexington, KY
Women enduring primary and secondary infertility are welcome.
Our guest speaker is Fr. Steve Roberts, M.D., who used to work as an OB/GYN. Don't miss his incredible talk!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Few Photos

Here are a couple photos from our recent vacation:

Shamu @ Sea World

Downtown San Diego as seen from across the bay.

My mom & my little sister (she's actually taller than me!)

Next SHE Group Meeting

(Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth)
An Infertility support group for women from a Catholic perspective.
Next meeting: Saturday, July 25th
Seton Catholic School
1740 Summerhill Dr.
Lexington, KY
Women enduring primary and secondary infertility are welcome.
Our guest speaker is Fr. Steve Roberts, M.D., who used to work as an OB/GYN. Don't miss his incredible talk!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again...

We had an incredible trip to Southern California last week. The jet lag seems to be clearing and now, back to real life. Yea.

First of all, congratulations are in order to fellow blogger Sew, who just found out she is pregnant after almost 4 years of TTC. What a blessing!! I love how the blogosphere has brought together women enduring infertility from far and near who cheer for each other when a pregnancy finally occurs. Though I hope and wait for the day I could make an adoption/pregnancy announcement, knowing that a fellow infertility sister has succeeded gives me hope.

Second, I have some photos to post from our trip, but the camera is still in my hubby's backpack. I'll post more tomorrow. Ocean pictures guaranteed! :)

Third, we're on the second round of shots. The vacation sort of messed up our timing for the shots, so I'm thinking of holding off on the blood test (it's supposed to monitor how my hormones are responding to the HCG) until next month.

Fourth and finally, please pray for the pastor of my parish. An accusation was brought against him and he has been placed on administrative leave. We are all very sad; he was especially compassionate about my infertility struggle.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Caution: Vacation ahead!

My husband and I are heading to the West Coast for a family wedding and some R&R days at the beach. I am determined to also take a vacation from all infertility stressers...although we did have to pack my syringes and HCG because Peak day has not arrived yet. Go figure. At least I intend to take a break from the thoughts & burdens that infertility brings. yea! See you next week.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Here comes the HCG

At long last, the HCG update. I took this photo before seeing Sew's fabulous HCG photo. Looks like great minds think alike! :)
Just a quick warning to my casual readers: I'm about to talk about my womanly cycle and such. If you're not interested in such details, consider yourself warned. :)
* * * * *

As luck would have it, my first HCG cycle occurred in an extremely stressful period. My Creighton instructor took one look at my chart and asked, "Hmm...did something happen?" "Yes, quite a few things," I groaned. Therefore, my Peak day was way later than normal. Still, we stuck to the system and began the injections on P+3, which for me occurred on Cycle Day (CD) 24. My normal Peak Day occurs somewhere around CD 15.

Mark did the first injection straight into the middle of the upper arm, which hurt a bit more than expected. However, after reading Sew's post and subsequent comments on the HCG shots, the next time Mark injected in the back of my arm. BIG difference; I didn't feel a thing and the subsequent 3 shots went just fine. Looks like Mark could have a second career :)

HCG mostly affected my cycle length: a record-setting 34 days. My average cycles for my entire life to this point have been 25-28. Quite a change. Also, my usual PMS symptom of hypersensitivity was squelched majorly. My one complaint about the shots is that it caused more than a week of "pre-cramps" pain. Normally such pain is a signal that the next period is imminent. However, with so many days of this pain, I couldn't tell if it was due to regular period stuff or (a small hope) that we had actually conceived. To make a long story short, AF arrived and a new cycle has begun.

I think this present cycle, which occurs in a more relaxed atmosphere (our vacation to Southern California occurs during this time), will tell more of the HCG's effect. In addition, my doctor has ordered a blood test after the 2nd cycle. Amazingly, my wonderful blood test buddy is ALSO on the shots, so we have been swapping shots stories and the like. At least my fear of needles has begun to subside.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Restful Place

If you asked my husband Mark to give a full account of his mother's extended family, he would say, "Come to my home parish's cemetery." Behind the country church of St. Sylvester's is a modest cemetery dating back to 1886. An array of headstones cover the green hill. Mark can stand in his family's section and point out his grandparents (his late grandmother was buried there a few weeks ago), great aunts and great uncles, great grandparents, and the like. Many of his relatives were born, raised, married, raised kids, and died in the same area. That is so rare in today's society. Heck, I was born in California but married a guy from Kentucky. Our future generations will have to make a wall map just to figure out where their relatives lived and died! :) I mention this as Mark's granny received all of her sacraments and lived/died in the same town her entire life. Wow.

Serenity seems to permeate from this small cemetery.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Coming out of the Clouds

Ever have one of those weeks when the rain just kept falling? Well, my week turned into a month. There must be a cloud somewhere following me! The 2 boys I babysit are convinced my tote bag is really a rain cloud that brings thunderstorms. HA. To quote the book series, a series of unfortunate events has happened all at once and I'm trying to poke my head out of the constant dark clouds. Thankfully, a week-long visit from my parents provided respite.

Anyway, I apologize for yet another gap in the posts. I will post something about the HCG shots very soon.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gone and an upcoming funeral

Deo Gratias, I survived the last week of school. Many of my students generously contributed to my Starbucks habit with end-of-the-year gift cards. YES!
This weekend I'm headed to a retreat in Michigan. Early next week we are expecting to hold a wake & funeral for my husband's grandmother, who lays dying at the age of 91 as I write this post. So another gap in posts is coming, but with more updates. Hopefully I will have some adoption news as well.

In the meantime, please keep my husband's granny in your prayers. This prayer is from the final commendation at a Catholic Mass of Christian Burial (fancy wording for funeral); I pray that Granny may see the angels as she journeys home.

In Paradisum deducant angeli
In tuo adventu, suscipiat te martyres
Et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat
Et cum Lazaro, quondam paupere
Aeternam habeas requiem.

May the angels lead you into Paradise
And when you come may the martyrs receive you
And lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem.
May a choir of angels receive you,
And with Lazarus, once a pauper,
May you have eternal rest.

A "bittersweet" pregnancy announcement

On Sunday a close friend pulled me aside after Mass. I knew what was coming as soon as she said, "I have something to tell you." Such a phrase usually means:

A. I am engaged.
B. We are moving.
C. I am pregnant.

As you can probably guess, the answer is "C." My friend tearfully told me that her pregnancy felt bittersweet, so much did she desire for me to have a baby. The normal tide of happiness, envy, and sadness (yes, for close friends this can all come at once) stopped. My heart felt touched to its very depths that a friend would think of infertile little me amid the joy of another pregnancy.

Although I still wish for my own child, I am so grateful for the love of a friend. And that God seemed to ease the brunt of the news with His loving hands.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shower Struggles

One of the most difficult events to attend or even prepare for is a baby shower. Again, those aisles of tiny socks and toys provide a painful reminder. Typically, one of two reactions comes forth from shopping for a shower:

1. Hmm, those little pink onesies will work. I wonder if my favorite jeans are on sale? And those flip-flops sure are cute. Must go see!

2. Why can't this be me? Everything is so little and cute. If I had a little girl, I would dress her in that outfit. Oh, why do I do this to myself! *sniff, sniff*

However, when I trekked to Target yesterday, a different feeling came over me as I wandered the aisles of baby toys and car seats: numbness. Neither tears nor anger came to me. Perhaps the numbness is from the lack of sure knowledge of whether or not we will have a baby. My heart felt a bit angry; I wanted to be shopping for my friend K., whose baby would been born last week. So I picked out a few items and walked victoriously to the checkout, glad that I did not have to wipe away tears. Additionally, that trip was one of the first times that I did not grab something from Target's tempting $1 aisle!

I still don't feel ready to attend baby showers, as they are very painful. Thankfully, I will be out of town for the upcoming event and will bring the mom her gift in person. For now, this is my coping strategy. Perhaps when our adoption plans are underway, I will feel differently. After crying through an entire baptism of a family friend in January, avoidance works very well right now.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Birth Verse"

First of all, I apologize for the gap in posts. The current week is the LAST week of school, so events are coming fast and furiously. More updates are coming!

My dad sent me this charming website that helps you find your "Birth Verse." Basically it turns the month & day into a scripture citation and gives you the verse. Check it out!

My birth verse (August 23= 8:23): 1 Kings 8:23. Very cool!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Different Kind of Mothers' Day

Every year, a dreaded holiday arrives that brings sorrow to my infertile heart: Mothers' Day. My Mom lives on the other side of the country; I'm sure if she lived closer, the day would be easier.

All my engineered efforts to avoid baby showers and the like do not work on Mothers' Day. Blood Test Buddy shared with me her tears at reading a card for "the Mother to-be." From Wal-Mart to the florist, reminders of motherhood are everywhere. Such reminders scream to me, "See! You're not a mother! You can't have all of this!"

My tactic for the past years has been avoidance. I even read about this in a Catholic infertility booklet. Last year my husband was in Japan on Mothers' Day. I was too scared to attend Mass and sit through a blessing of mothers. So I went out of town to a Pentecost Celebration and escaped unscathed.

This year, some of my First Communion students received the Eucharist at the Saturday evening Mass. I was excited to watch these little ones receive Jesus for the first time!! The Mass also provides a nice escape from the Mothers' Day. One of my favorite students asked for a picture with me after Mass. She looked so joyful, so full of life. I told her that I wanted to have a little girl just like her someday, and her face broke into a big smile..
Yesterday my wonderful husband brought me pink roses (my favorite) in honor of Mothers' Day. Even better, this morning he surprised me with a heartfelt card about my motherhood to the students entrusted to my care. "This is still YOUR day," he wrote so tenderly.
He's right, of course. And this Mothers' Day, I hold all of my infertility sisters in my heart. I hold my friend K, whose 2 babies are in heaven. Happy Mothers' Day to all Mothers out there, especially my Mom. :)
This is still our day.

Psalm 22

A wise and holy priest gave me this psalm to reflect upon for the next few days. The psalm speaks perfectly to my soul: it begins with Jesus' words on the cross, "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?" and then continues. It ends on a hopeful note. Check out the entire version here: Ironically, I cantored this psalm at the First Communion Mass this past Saturday evening. This last line is my favorite:

"…and I will live for the Lord, and my descendants shall serve you."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Speaking of HCG...

First of all, I want to thank all of the commenters for their love, support, and encouragement following the "Big Answer" post. The shock has begun to wane. However, after the pharmacist pointed out the proper needle for transferring the liquid and the other for injecting, I became queasy. The bag is now sitting on my husband's nightstand.

I find it very amusing that Dodgers player Manny Ramirez was just suspended from the MBL for 50 games for using HCG hormones. How surreal to watch SportsCenter on ESPN and find out I'm taking the very same drug that got a player suspended? ha ha ha

Thanks again for the encouragement and prayers. I will keep all of my infertility sisters in prayer as we face Mother's Day this weekend. Oremus pro invicem...let us pray for each other!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Big Answer

On Friday I finally had my follow-up appointment with the NaPro doctor. After the blood test ordeal, I went into the appointment expecting some pills, lifestyle changes (All You Who Hope is on a special diet), etc. Relatively easy remedies with perhaps some direction.

Nope. Excuse me as I vary from writing information and ranting. I hope these results shed some light in case one of my anonymous readers out there has experienced the same thing.

So the doctor went through each blood test. Apparently my Estrogen levels are fine up until ovulation and then plummet afterwards. Remedy: oral estrogen pills.

The progesterone, however, was a different story. The doctor informed me that my progesterone were EXTREMELY low, in fact the lowest he's seen in 8 years. Oh great, I muttered inwardly. Those are the kind of records that one does not want to hold!!

The remedy? Injections of progesterone. AAACK! It has taken quite a long time to get over a deep-seeded fear of needles. Obviously, my recent blood test adventures took quite a toll. Were it not for Miss Betty's blood taking prowess, I would run away from every needle. However, these home injections did not sit well with me. My husband will have to give them to me on P+3, 5, 7, and 9 each month for 6 months. Arrgg!

Of course DH had to joke that he gave injections to calves growing up on the farm. The doctor took out a syringe and injected me with some arm-numbing fluid just to show DH how to do it. Really, was that necessary? It didn't help that the doctor joked that the injections had to be given in the eyeball. Thankfully, the home injections will be given with a diabetic needle, which is very small and relatively painless.

Every other cycle I will get a blood test (thankfully, only 1) to see how everything is working. The doctor concluded that I have some major signs pointing to endometriosis, which includes low progesterone. He remains hopeful that the shots & hormones may correct things anyway. We'll follow up with him in 6 months.

So after the ultrasounds, the condescending looks from the doctors, fruitless Clomid, blood tests up the wazoo, numerous doctor appointments, this is getting real old, real fast. I am still grateful for our NaPro doctor, however, because he treats me like a person ("not like a cow!" he said) and has given us a lot of answers. This cross is just getting heavier. I wish my words could echo that of a blog entitled, "This Cross I Embrace." Right now, my words are more like, "This Cross Stinks but I'll Carry it Anyway. GRR!"

Around Easter time we had made a prayerful decision to pursue foreign adoption (really, I was going to blog about it but wanted to get my thoughts in order!). I had just began to accept that God's plan for our family only included adoption. But this ordeal and the coming 6 months have thrown a huge curve ball.

We have a flurry of activities in the coming week, so hopefully as my anger and sullen feelings begin to wane (we hope!) I can post more about the treatment and the results. Blood Test Buddy and I think we should add monthly massages to our hormone treatment plans.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Of Blood Tests & Support Groups

Drumroll, please. Tomorrow is my EIGHTH and final blood test. My arm has become sore from all of the pricks, so the final test is most welcome. So are the drinks that Blood Test Buddy and I have planned to celebrate. I did give Miss Betty a hug today to thank her from delivering me from phelbotomist trauma.

My NaPro doctor asked me to wait 5 days after the last blood test (tomorrow) before visiting him for an analysis of the tests. I will be sure to post the information!!
The blood test coincides with our SHE Infertility Support Group Meeting. Ought to make for a hectic morning; this calls for mucho espresso. :)

SHE Infertility Support Group Meeting

Tomorrow, April 25th

Seton Catholic School
1740 Summerhill Dr.
Lexington, KY 40515

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tomato Tortilla Soup

It's time for a post free of infertility and blood test references, at least for now! As Mother Nature continues to cruelly sock the city with cold temperatures, my favorite soup recipe comes in handy. The recipe came from the Rachel Ray Magazine. I usually make a double batch, as the soup freezes extremely well (gotta love those Ziploc cylindar containers). Ingredients are very simple and include canned tomatoes, a wonderful shortcut. The recipe also happens to be my husband's favorite. He insists that he could eat the soup nonstop. Among our favorite pairings are Shiraz wine, chicken Quesadillas, and tortilla chips.
Here's what the soup looks like before you have to blend it all together. The corn tortillas help absorb the liquid to make the soup thicker. The recipe calls for pouring the soup into a blender; I previously used my Cuisinart, which usually made a huge mess in pouring the soup from pot to bowl. A cheap hand-blender blends the soup in record time with less mess:

Here's what the soup looks like after it's all blended:

Mmm, bon appettite! Hey Molly, I can bring you some next week if you want!