Thursday, February 27, 2014

Show Us Your Life: Infertility

When Kelly announced infertility as a topic for last Friday's Show Us Your Life, I knew I wanted to participate.  But almost as soon as I began writing last Thursday night, I stopped.

I stopped because I didn't know what to say.  I realized that I am now one of those women I once envied and despised all at the same time.  Success stories were always hard for me to read during all those failed treatment cycles.  While I was happy for that person, I was also jealous and bitter.

I've struggled with this post all week because I know it could possibly be painful for someone.  I don't want that to be the case.  I hope my story reminds you that prayers are answered, and that the best things in life are always worth the wait.


I am a survivor of infertility and pregnancy loss.

If you're reading this and you've never dealt with infertility or loss, you may be thinking that "survivor" is a pretty strong word to use.  That word is usually reserved for people who have walked away from things like cancer or plane crashes or war--something horrible and catastrophic and life-changing.

But if you've suffered from infertility in the past, or if you're struggling with it right now, you know that survivor is a perfect word to describe a person who has been through it.

Infertility is a war of it's own kind.  Instead of traditional weapons, it's fought with prayer and hope and love.  It's fought with fertility drugs that wreak havoc on your system, constant injections and blood tests, ultrasounds, IUIs, and IVF.  It's fought with reproductive endocrinologists who want you to have a baby almost as badly as you do, and with nurses who will celebrate with you when you see your first baby on the ultrasound screen...and then cry with you a few weeks later when you realize the baby's heart has stopped.  It's fought with frustration, tears, and angry persistence. 

You put your heart and soul into fertility treatments, and, by gosh, if you make it through with at least some of your sanity intact, then you, my friend, deserve to be called a survivor.

Our infertility story began in 2007.  B and I had been married a year, and wanted to start a family.  Although infertility never crossed my mind in the beginning (oh, how ignorance is bliss sometimes!), as the months went by I realized that there was a problem.  A little over a year later, I was diagnosed with PCOS.  We quickly realized that we needed to see a specialist, and made an appointment at REACH.  We had a great team of doctors and nurses, and were immediately comfortable with them and the plan we worked together to create.  We started treatment right away, and conceived the first month.  B and I couldn't believe we were finally going to have a baby, and we were so very excited.  The first ultrasound was amazing, but the second revealed that the baby's heart had stopped.  I can't begin to describe the heartbreak and sorrow we felt then, and continued to feel with every failed treatment over the next year and a half.  Finally, in August 2010, after being told the odds were against us, we learned we were pregnant again.  I was a nervous wreck for the entire pregnancy, always scared to death that something was going to go wrong with our miracle.  But it didn't.  In March 2011, after years of waiting, we finally had our baby.  She is such a blessing, and not a day goes by that I don't thank God for her.

If you're struggling with infertility right now, I'm not going to say that it will all be okay.  No one wants to hear that, and I can't guarantee that it will be.  What I can do is tell you this:  There are going to be days that are so dark and so hard you don't want to crawl out of bed.  There will be times when you question God, and when you question yourself.  You're going to be angry and hurt and sad and confused.  It is going to hurt like nothing has ever hurt before.

But just hold on.  Surround yourself with people who love you, and learn to lean on them. Remind yourself that it's okay to feel the way you do.  Realize that there will be baby showers, people will have babies, and there will always be reminders everywhere of the baby you don't have.  Find ways to protect your heart and cope.  Have patience with those people who mean well, but say the most hurtful things.

Most of all, keep believing and praying.  Trust God and praise Him even as you're questioning and waiting, and know that He can make a way even when things seem so impossible.

I know how hard it is, and my heart goes out to you.  Couples struggling to have a child are regularly part of my prayers, but I would be honored to pray for you specifically.  If I can do this for you, you are welcome to leave a comment or send an email. 

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

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Five on Friday

I'm linking up with Christina today!

{One} Snow
It started snowing on Wednesday around 11am.  After it was over on Thursday, we had over 7 inches of snow.  I couldn't believe how big some of the flakes were!  They looked like huge pieces of paper confetti.  Aniston had never experienced a 'big' snow before (meaning enough snow to actually cover the grass) so it was lots of fun to watch her.  She still wasn't super impressed, but when is she super impressed by anything?!  She had fun playing in the snow on Thursday.  We took her sledding down a small hill in our yard, and she thought that was great.  She didn't want to build a snowman because that would mean she would have to touch the snow, and she wasn't really into that.  Aniston also didn't care to walk in the snow unless she was holding someone's hand.  (It reminded me of the first time she wore Twinkle Toes.  She wouldn't move at all because every time she did they would light up.  Hilarious.)

Schnauzer tracks!

She told us she was making sandcastles.  Ha!  
Her Aunt Kesha will be proud--even in the snow, Aniston is still a beach girl! :)

{Two} Lazy Days
I dread making up these days because it will probably mean Saturday school (no fun), but it has been nice having three extra days with Aniston this week.  She's growing up so fast, and I feel like I'm missing out on so many things while I work.  Having extra time for projects and cleaning used to be my favorite thing about snow days, but not anymore.  We've done nothing but play, and I have loved every minute of it. 

{Three} Snow Food
On Tuesday, I wrote about how prepared I was for the snow.  Aniston loves to help cook.  We've made muffins, taco soup, cupcakes, buffalo chicken sliders, and chocolate drop cookies.  It's possible I have gained ten pounds in the last three days, but it's been fun!

Making cupcakes.
{Four} The Disney Vault
I have wanted to watch The Jungle Book with Aniston for a long time, but had to wait because it was in the Disney Vault. (Ridiculous vault.  It's a smart business move, but sooo frustrating.)  It was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up, and I knew Aniston would love the animals and music.  It was finally released from the vault on Tuesday--just in time to be a perfect present for our little Valentine!

{Five} Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day has never been a huge holiday for B and me.  We did more for each other on Valentine's Day when we were dating, but since we've been married, it's just not that big of a deal.  I would much rather celebrate days that are important to just us--birthdays, our anniversary, special days in our relationship.  With that being said, our Valentine's Day was pretty quiet.  B picked up Japanese food for dinner (because he knows no cooking/no cleaning is my love language--ha!).  We had a picnic with Aniston in the living room--she loves doing that--and watched The Jungle Book together.  After Aniston went to bed, B and I snuggled up and watched tv.  It was a pretty perfect night. :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

We're Ready for Snow!

A big winter storm is headed our way tomorrow.  I've been checking the forecast pretty much constantly for days now. 

When I saw this yesterday, I knew we were in trouble:


We're in the three loaf category, y'all.  It doesn't get much more serious than that.

Over the weekend (even before I knew we were in the three loaf category. ha!), I knew some preparing had to happen.  By "preparing", I mean adding a lot of snow day food (i.e., junk) to our regular grocery list.

I wasn't super prepared for the last snow day.  I just didn't really think it was going to happen, and I didn't have an adequate amount of snow day food on hand.  While the rest of the world was posting yummy stuff on facebook, we were eating the regular stuff. 

Let me tell you, nothing is more depressing than eating regular stuff on a snow day.

I was determined that would not happen to us again.  On Sunday, we did our grocery shopping with the forecast in mind, and I was satisfied with the state of our cabinets/fridge.

...Then I watched every newscast possible last night, and they were forecasting ridiculous amounts of snow (as in, more than an inch), and I panicked.  I laid in bed for hours, unable to sleep, thinking about important things like if we had enough tortilla chips for taco soup and buffalo chicken dip.  It was 1am and I was strategizing how to make another trip to Target before it snowed.

Luckily, today's snow (that has nothing to do with tomorrow's system) didn't show up and I was able to text B a list of really random things to pick up after work.  (I have a plan for all those really random things, by the way.  You just wouldn't know it by looking at the list.)

Have I mentioned lately that I have the best husband ever?  Because I do.  I sent him into the crazy mess that is a grocery store the day before a snowstorm, and he didn't bat an eye.  I didn't hear a single complaint, nor did I receive a phone call doubting my random list.

That, my friends, is trust in its purest form.

The only problem with B doing the shopping is the fact that he has ADHD.  Attention to detail is not one of his strong points.  (Bless him.)  So when he got home tonight and I was helping him put away the groceries, I pulled out a can of diced tomatoes (on the list)....and a can of stewed tomatoes (not on the list).  Stuff like that happens all the time, but usually it's more drastic than a different form of tomatoes.  I just have to laugh at this point.  We have a cabinet full of things we never needed but he accidentally bought.

We are ready (plus a can of stewed tomatoes) for snow.  We can handle days of being snowed in, and we'll have lots of yummy food just like the rest of facebook. 

Unless we lose power.  Then all bets are off.

(I'm not even going to let myself think about the possibility of losing power right now.  I'm too busy basking in the glow of my preparedness to deal with a downer like that.)

Exciting times are ahead, friends! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Great-Grandparents Strike Again

B, Aniston, and I were enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon when we heard a noise outside.  Aniston ran to the back door and yelled, "It's my playhouse!" 

Sure enough, this was being delivered in our backyard.

We had been told earlier in the week that this would be happening at some point.  It was just a matter of time.  Aniston's birthday is March 25 and the great-grands had promised a playhouse.  They found just what they were looking for last week, and couldn't bear to wait until her birthday. :)

As the men were unloading the playhouse and setting it up, Aniston kept saying, "It's perfect!  I love it!"  She was so excited.

  I tried several times to get a picture of Aniston with Mamaw and Papaw.  
Papaw insisted on making faces in every single one. Oh, memories.  :)

Aniston cried last night when we made her come inside, and begged to sleep in her playhouse.  Bless her!  Luckily, the weather was nice again today so she was able to spend most of the afternoon playing in it. 
 She is one happy, blessed, and very loved little girl!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Circus

Last Saturday, we took Aniston to the circus.  It. was. fabulous.  Exhausting, but fabulous.

We met Brooke, Reid, and Kennedy at Cracker Barrel for breakfast (oh, the hash brown casserole!) and then headed to Charlotte. 

The person who ordered the tickets (ahem, me) did a fantastic job and chose really good seats.  Aniston and Kennedy were able to see well, and that was worth the cost of the tickets--even if their seats did remain empty because they sat with their daddies.  Aniston was absolutely amazed by everything, and, honestly, so was I.

This picture is blurry, but I could not get over how big the tigers were.

Here's something I've learned in my almost three years of parenthood:
If an event/place is labeled "family fun!", "a great experience for kids!", or anything of the sort, be prepared to spend a small fortune.

Take the $13 snow cone, for instance.  On a normal day, no one in their right mind would pay $13 for barely-flavored ice in an elephant cup, but you're at the circus and, apparently, snow cones and the circus go together like peas and carrots and Forrest Gump and Jenny.  So when your child begs for one, you give in, because it's the circus and you want her to experience everything and you're sure you'll be scarring her for life if you deny her the circus snow cone (or something like that).

So even though I swore we wouldn't, there we were with an elephant full of snow cone.  Our sweet girl took one bite, spit it out, and announced that she didn't like it.


On the bright side, we are the proud owners of a really nice elephant cup that will never be used again.

We also have a beautiful stuffed elephant that's covered with a pink blanket because, if given the option of choosing anything, our child will always, always, always choose the stuffed animal.  Forget the blinking necklace, t-shirt, or DVD--give us the stuffed animal, please.

After a fun, exciting day at the circus, Aniston cried most of the way home because a) she wanted out of her carseat, and b) she had taken the elephant away from the other elephants and he was sad.  "So, so sad," according to her.

Obviously, watching Dumbo is not in the near future for us.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Confessions: Getting to Know You Edition

Happy Friday, friends!

Last week, Leslie started a "Getting to Know You" edition of Confessional Friday, but between going on a date with B and trying to get things ready for the circus so we wouldn't be late on Saturday morning (which didn't work, of course), I didn't have time to blog.  I'm excited to participate in part two, though! 

1. What's your middle name? 
Gail.  That's my mom's middle name, too.

2. If you could live anywhere else in the world where would you live?  
 Anywhere with a beach. It couldn't be too far, though--I rely on/need/love family and friends too much.  I think I'd like to stay in the US, and probably in the South.  Charleston, maybe?

3. Tell us about your guilty pleasures.  
Manicures and pedicures.  Milkshakes from Cookout.  Shopping sprees at Ulta.  TV shows on Netflix.  If given the chance, I have no problem with watching an entire season in a couple of days. 

Speaking of such shows, season 2 will be out next Friday.  Can't wait.

4. What do you like best about your job? 
(I'm probably going to sound a little cheesy/sappy, so prepare yourself.)
I love that I make a difference.  Regardless of what others may think sometimes, I know teachers make a difference in their classrooms every. single. day.  I love seeing a child absolutely beam with joy and pride when she realizes how much her fluency has improved since the beginning of the year.  I love seeing my students' faces light up with "ah-ha!" moments.  I love listening to their stories and sharing in their lives.

If you weren't doing that, what career would you have pursued?
I honestly have no idea. 

5. Five items you'd grab during a fire. (People and pets don't count. Those are a given.)

-our fire safe box.  It has all our important documents, plus CDs of all our photographs.  (I realize it's a  fire safe box, but I'm not sure I believe that.  Better to be safe than sorry, you know.)
-Aniston's keepsake box
-a box of letters and cards from B
-my purse (obviously)
-my phone (because how could I handle an emergency without that?)

6. Marathon running...something you'd like to pursue or just plain crazy? 

Um, no.  I admire people who run marathons, but it's not for me.  A 5K is as far as my running dreams go.

7. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Chick-fil-a nuggets and fries with Coke.  And icedream.  (Calories don't count in this question, right?)

8. Last person you spoke to...annnnnd....go!  
Aniston.  She's calling me "your majesty" and begging to stand in the fridge.  Bless.  She's such a strange kid at times.

9. Favorite childhood toy. 
Blue Bear.  I know, I know--I was incredibly creative when it came to naming him.  (I just realized I can't fuss about Aniston naming her cat "Cat" and her pig "Piggy".)  I'm not sure where Blue Bear came from, but he's been around forever.  He's looking a little rough these days, but that's part of his charm. 

10. Breakfast cereal of choice.
If I'm trying to be an adult, Special K Red Berries.  (I pick the red berries out, though.  They're gross.  B has never understood why I would buy it if I don't like the berries, but I like those flakes the best.  They're different from the regular Special K flakes.)  But really, I'm a sucker for sugary, awful cereal--Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Froot Loops, and Cap'n Crunch are my favorites.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Catching Up: Snow Days

I had planned to write this post about the snow when it was actually snowing, but that would have been doing something semi-productive,  and who wants to be any kind of productive on a snow day?  So I'm writing now, long after the snow has melted and we're back to usual (and tolerable) weather. 

My mom always had this rule that we couldn't play in the snow if it was still snowing. As a parent,  I totally get it now: She was putting off the inevitable-but-not-so-fun task of helping us find snow clothes, get into the clothes, and then go outside in the cold, wet mess with us. 

Smart lady.

When it started snowing on Tuesday afternoon, I was prepared to enforce this rule with Aniston, but I didn't have to. Turns out, my kid is, well, mine and had zero interest in going out in the cold. Later that evening she asked if it was still cold outside. When I told her it was, she said, "Well. I don't like that," with her hands on her little hips. I'm sure she thought the weather would change just because she didn't like it. Haha!  We spent the afternoon and evening indoors watching Princess Sofia and eating powdered donuts. 

Our stay-inside plans were thwarted by the great grandparents on Wednesday, though. (For the record, I probably would have taken her out by myself at some point,  but B wasn't here--he had to work--and my motivation was pretty low.)  Papaw started calling pretty early to see if she had been out to play yet,  and then finally took matters into his own hands and just showed up on the front porch with a sled around 11.  After watching him run (and I'm talking actual running) around pulling Aniston on the sled, I decided I can only hope to be half that energetic in my seventies. 

The snow was fun, but I can't say I was sad when it melted.  Hurry up, spring!