Hope, Round 2

Mom, go get me another baby!
Mom, go get me another baby!

Last week Tim and I went to see a fertility specialist.

Is anyone getting déjà vu here? Yeah, me too. Looks like I have come full circle, arriving at the exact point where I began this blog two-and-a-half years ago.

Except it’s not really the exact point. A mom died, a baby was miscarried and I welcomed a little girl into the world. Things have definitely changed.

But I digress. Since the miscarriage I’ve been having some cycle weirdness. (I originally went into more detail here, but Tim was like, “Whoa, dude, that is waaaaay too much information.”) It’s been six months since the miscarriage, so I figured I better get myself checked out.

We saw the same doctor as last time. She was equally lovely this time. The first thing she said when we walked in the room was, “You guys look like you’re aging backwards.”

After exclaiming, “aw, shucks,” I explained the situation with my bod. She said my problem was probably due to progesterone. The short explanation is that if the body doesn’t make enough progesterone when it’s supposed to, it can’t sustain a pregnancy. The doctor sent me home with a prescription for progesterone supplements and told us to come back in two months. If Lettie’s sibling has not been conceived by then, we’ll start fertility testing.

I left the appointment feeling pretty good. The doctor didn’t seem worried, so neither was I. Gradually, though, the anxiety crept in. What if I have premature ovarian failure? What if I have endometriosis? This quickly spiraled into, holy crap, I have to wait two months to find out any of this? Are you kidding me?

In January, I visited a tarot card reader. She told me, among other things, that I wasn’t going to get pregnant at all in 2014. Awesome, lady. Thanks. She said that instead of focusing on expanding my family, I should focus on sinking into the life I have now. I think sinking in is great advice, for me or for anyone. I love my life. I want to enjoy every second of it. And I certainly don’t want to pass up the good I have in front of me because I’m busy stressing out about possible futures. That’s just dumb.

But I also know that I’m not going to stop wishing for our fourth family member. Because I want Lettie to know the love of a sibling. Because I have a big ole heart with so much more love to give.

I need to find a balance.

The truth is, I’m finding it harder to feel positive this time. I’m older than I was the last time around.  Everything in the fertility world takes time, and that’s the one thing I feel like I don’t have enough of. I know I still have a few more years until my fertility technically plummets, but it’s already been almost a year since we first began trying for baby number two. I blinked and that time went poof.

I’m going to do my best to cool my jets, though. I’m walking proof that everything happens when it’s supposed to. I met Tim six weeks before my mom was first diagnosed with cancer. I gave birth to Colette three weeks before my mom died. I was magically given the greatest gifts of my life just when I needed them most. I’m not trying to say that I need to wait for a tragedy to have another baby. Let’s pretty please hope that is not the case (Okay, universe? Okay?!). I’m just trying to say that I need to chill the eff out and have faith.

So here’s the plan: Take a deep breath.

Sink into my life just as it is now.

Believe that everything will unfold exactly as it’s meant to.

Confessions of a Pregnant Blogger

Wanna know why this blog has been so infrequent and lackluster lately?

It’s because I am a horrible liar. Always have been.

The truth is, I am 14 weeks pregnant!

I didn’t feel comfortable sharing the news until we heard a heartbeat (which we did on Wednesday: amazing!), hence the slew of random, totally-non-fertility-related blog posts. It definitely felt weird not to share it with you guys right away, since I’ve shared every step with you up until this point.

But holy crap, can you believe it? I kind of still can’t. Every day I am amazed that I got this lucky. Everything I’ve been wishing and praying for: granted. I feel elated and blessed and terrified all at once.

Since I posted about my last visit with the doctor, you’re probably wondering how the pregnancy happened and if I went the fertility treatment route. The crazy thing is, when I wrote that post, I was actually pregnant but didn’t know it yet. In an amazing turn of events, I never had to make a decision about whether or not to try fertility treatments. The decision was made for me by the tiny baby I am now carrying. I am still in disbelief that it turned out this way. And I am grateful every single day.

Thank you all so much for your support on my babymaking journey. I appreciate it more than I could ever say. Seriously, you guys are awesome. I hope you will stick with me on the next phase of my story.

And if you are still in the babymaking trenches, please know that I understand if you want to step away from this blog for a while. But also please know that I am thinking about you and caring for you and hurting with you and most of all, hoping for you. Fervently. Even if you stop reading, I will not stop praying for you and fighting for you.

How am I feeling? Physically, much better. I had some decent bouts of nausea for a while there, but they seem to be subsiding. How am I feeling mentally? Well, that’s a different story. You all know I struggle with anxiety, so this pregnancy has been one of my biggest challenges yet. I am trying hard to appreciate each day and not worry about the future and all of the things that could go wrong. But let me tell you, it has been a struggle. I often find myself thinking, “How could this wonderful thing possibly be real? How can it last?”

So as a big eff-you to anxiety, I’d like to end this post with a quote from my favorite movie of all time, Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory:

Willy Wonka: “Charlie, don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted.”

Charlie: “What happened?”

Willy Wonka: “He lived happily ever after.”

Ciao, Caffeine! Mwah!

The final cup. (Don't even think about making fun of my Tinkerbell mug.)

Next up on the chopping block: caffeine. As a matter of fact I’m drinking my last cup of coffee…now.

Lest you start thinking, ‘Seriously? You’re cutting out something else awesome? What is with you?’ I will share why. Number one, caffeine makes me feel like crap. I get the jitters, big time. Even just one cup of half-caff (which is what I’ve been drinking these days) makes me all keyed up and anxious. And I’m already anxious enough, thank you very much.

I’ve tried to give up caffeine before for this reason and failed. But now that I’ve successfully ditched alcohol (one month and counting), I’m feeling pretty cocky. Me against caffeine? I’m totally winning that fight. Boom!

Plus, if I proclaim on this blog that I’m going to do something, I pretty much have to do it. Otherwise, I’ll feel like an idiot.

Reason number two: fertility. Just as there have been studies saying alcohol negatively effects fertility, there have been the same studies for caffeine. And just like with the alcohol studies, there are also studies saying that caffeine has no effect. But why chance it? Especially if I know it makes me feel bad anyway.

I think this one might be a little trickier to navigate than alcohol, though, because caffeine is in lots of stuff, including chocolate. I may not cut out chocolate completely. Even I’m not that crazy. I’ll have to ponder it some more. But I’m going to attempt to keep chocolate to a minimum, since I’m trying to chill with the amount of sugar I eat anyway. But coffee is definitely out, as well as caffeinated tea and any type of soda.

So there you have it. My next step on the road to health. This has been a fun journey so far. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

How Hope Street Came To Me

Something happened tonight that touched me beyond words. If you remember a few posts ago I talked about visualization. And I mentioned how my favorite visualization ended in Hope Street – a wonderful avenue filled with babies and dogs and wheatgrass smoothies.

This is what I came home to tonight:

Not one, not two, but six signs proclaiming that Hope Street was right at my doorstep! Can you imagine my amazement at seeing this as I parallel parked my car? I thought I was going crazy at first – there was no way I was really seeing something that cool!

My neighbor and friend Susie made the signs and put them there for me. Holy crap. I think that might be the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. In an amazing gesture of friendship, love and faith, she brought Hope Street to me.

And how cool is that? I mean, I live on Hope Street now. It’s my permanent residence.

Thank you doesn’t seem adequate, but that is how I’m feeling: so incredibly thankful. Thankful for Susie, and for all of the wonderful people in my life. There are many of you. And I want to take this opportunity now to tell you how much I love you.

The Happy List

My new blog friend – Kate of Katydid Did It – makes lists on her blog all the time. I love reading them. They are like two-second insights into her personality. I enjoy them so much that I decided to make a list of my own.

As I’ve mentioned before, the previous year was kind of rocky for me. So I’m going to take the opportunity now to focus on the good parts of that time period:

THINGS THAT HAVE MADE ME HAPPY IN THE LAST 365 DAYS

1. Beaker:

Wouldn't this guy make you happy, too?

He is sitting next to me right now, curled up against my left hip. This dog is 6 pounds of pure snuggle. We got him last October at Almost Home animal shelter, and I can say with certainty that he has made my life better. Every morning I wake up and there he is, happy as can be, leaping across the quilt with his tongue hanging out.

He totally likes Tim more than me, but whatever. I freaking love him anyway.

2. My Kindle:

So many books, so little time...

Call me materialistic. I don’t care. Some people are addicted to heroin, some can’t kick the crack. I’m addicted to books. I inhale them, sometimes reading more than one per day (on a good day). I never thought I’d be touting the praises of an e-reader. I love the feel of a real book, the smell of paper and ink. But the Kindle, man, it got me. Having every book you could ever want at the tips of your fingers? It’s like Christmas morning, every day! Books are my main form of escape, and knowing I have a humungous library of escape – any time, anywhere in the world, within 30 seconds – is priceless.

3. Drew & Susie:

Drew and Susie live across the street from us. I wish I had a picture to post of them because they are this adorable blond-haired, blue-eyed couple, with equally adorable blond-haired, blue-eyed children. And they are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Tim and I have known them for a while, but it’s only been in the last year that we’ve started becoming real friends. Not only are they fun to be with, but they’re always offering to help us – anything from feeding our cats to shoveling out our cars after a snowfall. Living in a city, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to be friends with my neighbors, but these two make me feel like I’m part of a real community, almost like I have my family living right across the street.

4. This blog:

From 2004-2006, I lived in Florida and completed a master’s degree in creative writing. Those were two of the best years of my life. The weather was awesome, I met other people who shared my passion and I was a writing machine. Once I left Florida, I don’t know what happened. Writing stopped being fun. It just felt like one more thing I was supposed to be doing outside my 9-5 job. I didn’t look forward to it anymore. But this blog is changing that for me. I like writing it, a lot. Sure, it’s not the grand works of fiction I’d imagined myself writing, but for now it’s just what I need.

And this blog is healing me in more ways than one. Since I’ve begun writing it, I feel mentally healthier. I feel better about my fertility situation and my life in general. It means a lot to read your comments and feel your support. So thank you, readers. All 10 of you.

5. Iceland:

Vik, Iceland

Wow, wow, wow. If you ever have a chance to go to this country, do it. You will not regret it. I went there in June and, holy crap, it was amazing. It seems dramatic to say a trip was life-changing, but it was. Every minute I was there I felt 100% alive. For the first time, ever, I felt like I was really, truly living in the present moment. My words will never do it justice, so I leave you with some pictures of this otherworldly place.

My New Friend, Patience

I’m not patient. Never have been.

Bonus: I’ve always been anxious, too. A really bad combo with impatience. It’s like the one-two punch of badness. Because while I’m waiting for whatever it is I’m waiting for, I can think of a million what if scenarios. A million reasons why I might not get what I want. A million reasons why I might not even deserve what I want. A million reasons to feel guilty for wanting more when I already have so much. And these thoughts can spiral on and on and on, until I barely remember what it is I’m waiting for, and why.

Logically, I’m in a good place right now. I got my period, only 33 days after the last one. That’s just shy of regular! Pretty freakin’ cool. Maybe I can finally start trying to get pregnant, for real now. I should be ecstatic. And I am.

But still. I feel those anxious, impatient thoughts creeping in, trying to throw me off my positive game. Which is why I’m writing this post. I’m attempting to stop those thoughts in their tracks.

Last week I visited my family in Nantucket. My brother and sister were there, as well as my adorable niece and nephew. Look at these two. So cute, right?

Now that I’m ready to have kids, I found myself noticing different things than the last time I saw my niece and nephew (which was way too long ago). What I noticed, mostly, is their bond with their parents. I noticed the way my sister and my niece snuggled up together without a second thought. The way my nephew and my brother laughed and played together.

And I ached for it. I wanted, so much, that closeness with a child of my own.

At the same time, I felt like a jerk for feeling that way. Why isn’t my life, the way it is now, enough? Why aren’t my wonderful husband, amazing friends and fun job enough? Why am I always wanting more? What’s up with this crazy need to go to the next thing, the next place?

I tell myself this all the time: be happy with your life because it’s great. Soon enough you will have a child and then everything will change. I would say 90% of me believes this, but then there’s that evil 10% that doubts.

That evil 10% that says, what if you don’t? What if you are never able to have a child? What will you do then, smarty pants?

And right now I’m going to say screw you, 10%. I’m going to be patient, even if it’s only for the next five minutes. I’m going to go kiss Tim and each one of my four pets. And I’m going to wait and see what happens.

Visit With the Spesh: Part II

The Fat Experiment continues.

Miss hearing about my ovaries? Lucky for you, I have another update. Get ready for a barrage of too much information. 

Tim and I went back to the fertility specialist last week.

What did she say? It was pretty much good news all around. My latest round of hormone tests came back normal, which means I don’t have to get a brain MRI. Score! Tim’s swimmers are all normal as well. Double score!

She did an ultrasound and some blood work to see if I’d ovulated yet this month (isn’t it crazy how they can tell that?). The ultrasound came back inconclusive and the blood work showed that ovulation was a no go. This was a downer, as it had been several weeks since my last period. Even though the doctor warned me not to expect a regular period after not getting one for four months, I was bummed.

But! Thanks to these handy-dandy things called ovulation predictor kits, I discovered that I did ovulate a few days after the visit. So while I’m not totally back on track, I’m definitely heading in the right direction. A small victory, but a victory all the same.

Before you start to get worried: I promise I will not share with you every time I ovulate. Gross. This is a special case, though, as it was the first time since the Great Fat Experiment began.

Anyway, the doctor turned us loose for the next three months, instructing me to a) keep eating the fat and b) track my cycle. At the end of the three months, we’ll reconvene and assess.

And that concludes the latest edition of Ovary Digest. Until next time…

Who’s Afraid of Needles?

Not Me. Not anymore.

I get pricked with dozens of needles each week (willingly) at this place:

Philadelphia Community Acupuncture. It’s up the road from my house and it’s awesome.

But real quick, a little acupuncture 101. Here’s what goes down: an acupuncturist sticks super-thin (and I mean thin, like hair thin) needles into various points in your skin. This is supposed to improve circulation, as well as release endorphins and serotonin into your brain. All of this allegedly makes you feel like a rock star and cures a variety of ailments.

In the US, acupuncture is usually performed in cubicles or other sectioned-off spaces, but this place treats everyone in the same room, in recliner chairs. They say this is more in line with traditional practices in Asia. Something about creating a collective energetic field and blah, blah, blah. You can choose to sit in a fancy modern mesh recliner or an old-school plush lazy boy with a blanket over it. I always go for the lazy boy.

Sound weird? It is, a little, at first. But the treatment room is in a huge old firehouse with brick walls and high ceilings. Light filters through big windows, making everything look warm and soft. There’s usually soothing music playing on low in the background and everyone talks in whispers. It’s very calming. Plus, the style of acupuncture they use only inserts needles on your arms up to your elbow, your legs up to you knees, and your head. So it’s not like you have to strip down or lift up your shirt or anything. Because that would be weird.

Does it hurt? Nah, not really. The needles are so thin and they don’t go very deep. Once in a while, they’ll put one in a tough spot, like the side of my foot or the web between my thumb and index finger, and that will hurt. But usually only for a second.

Here’s the cool part. After the acupuncturist finishes inserting the needles, covers me with blankets and tells me to have a good rest, something happens. I close my eyes and, bam, I get a rush. My body feels light and heavy at the same time. I feel instantly relaxed. After a few minutes, I find that I can’t really open my eyes, even if I wanted to. And, sometimes, I fall asleep.

I fall asleep.

I do not take naps. Ever. My mind is constantly humming with all sorts of anxious-making thoughts. I am mentally wired, always. So the fact that I can fall asleep in a room that is not my bedroom, surrounded by dozens of people, in the middle of the day, is a small miracle.

I originally started going to Philadelphia Community Acupuncture to treat carpal tunnel and irregular periods. My carpal tunnel, which had been bothering me for a couple of years, was gone within a month. Poof. The irregular periods? Well, that’s just taking a little longer, I suppose.

Regardless of what acupuncture cures or doesn’t cure for me, every time I get up from that recliner, I feel rested, relaxed and calm. To me, that is worth a million bucks. And then some.

Marriage, Year One

One year ago today, I married this guy.

The person, not the llama. Although, that llama is pretty sweet.

A lot has happened in one year: no less than five dental surgeries (all mine), a cancer scare, fertility issues. The death of a childhood best friend. Life outside our home was rocky, but now that I’m looking back, I realize all of these things brought the two of us closer.

I’ll be honest here. When we married, I didn’t feel like Tim was my other half, my missing puzzle piece or any of those other cliché phrases. I didn’t even necessarily think of him as my best friend. I refused to use that title, on principle. I’ve had the same best friend for thirteen years, thank you very much, and I felt that calling Tim my best friend would in some way erase my past history. I worried it would negate the strong female friendships I had worked so hard to develop all of my life.

All I knew, for certain, was that I loved the crap out of Tim. And he loved the crap out of me. So we got hitched.

At the time, it felt like a huge leap of faith. And I suppose every marriage is. I remember telling my friends that I felt like I was jumping off a cliff. A cliff of awesomeness, but a cliff all the same. I had only known Tim for two and a half years before we tied the knot, so it’s not like we had years and years of shared history together. We had very little past experience to tell us how well we would weather future troubles.

But now, one year later, everything feels different. Obviously, I believed that Tim and I could make our marriage last a lifetime or I wouldn’t have entered into the commitment in the first place. But now I know it. I know we’re good for the long haul. I just do. I don’t know if it was all of the external stressors that did it, but I feel closer to Tim than I’d ever thought was possible. He is my partner in the truest sense of the word.

And dare I say it? He is my best friend.

So when I get all crazy in the head and start thinking things like, “I don’t have a baby and everyone else on the planet does, Aaaaaa!” I have to take a step back from the craziness and count my blessings.

I am incredibly blessed. Baby or no baby, I’m still Tanya. I’m still married to the best man I know. And I have a very wonderful life.

Wheatgrass-tastic!

I first heard of wheatgrass and its magical properties in the book Inconceivable by Julia Indichova. She talks about wheatgrass quite a bit, describing how she walks to her local juice bar each morning and orders a shot of it. She believes that her daily wheatgrass shot, among other natural methods, helped her get pregnant, even though by western medical standards she was a lost cause. (The book is awesome, by the way, but more on that in another post.) She also says wheatgrass tastes totally disgusting.

Naturally, I was intrigued. Weird food? With the added bonus of a potential fertility boost? I’m IN!

For those of you reading this who don’t care a lick about boosting your fertility, the good news is, wheatgrass is great for everyone. Weird food for you, too!

Basically, it’s contains tons of chlorophyll, which is supposed to be OMG the best thing ever for you. Why? I don’t know. Don’t ask me for too many details. Among other things, wheatgrass claims to give you an energy lift, detoxify the crap out of you and boost your immune system.

So I ordered some. And guess what? I love it. It could be the placebo effect, who knows, but since I’ve been drinking it daily, I feel better overall and more…vibrant somehow. Immediately after finishing my morning smoothie, I feel more energetic.

Look at all that green! How could it not be good for you?

And personally, I don’t think it tastes disgusting at all. I think it’s quite delicious. If you’re a fan of green tea, you’ll like it. The taste is similar.

Here’s a recipe for the wheatgrass smoothie I now drink every morning.

1 scoop wheatgrass powder
1 or 2 TBS of ground flax seed (depending on how textured you like your smoothie)
1 banana
1 cup vanilla almond milk

Pour the almond milk in your blender first to get a good liquid base. Then add the other ingredients.

Look at all the good stuff in there

Blend until smooth. Pretty simple.

Green Goodness
Yummm, a cup brimming with health
Cheers!

Whether this boosts my fertility remains to be seen. But regardless, I’m hooked. Happy wheatgrassing, everyone!