A New Chapter Begins

It’s been ages. I mean ages since I’ve written anything more substantial than a grocery list. Sad. Honestly though I’m exhausted. The birth of Aaron took us by storm and tossed us around like rag dolls. Do people ever recover from having children? I mean, these people, new human beings called kids, are with us forever and ever. We are no longer alone. We are no longer just responsible for ourselves. We are in charge now. We make the rules (or not).

Almost 10 months postpartum and I’m still feeling my way around. It’s dark yet. I can make out shapes but more than that it is a stretch of the imagination. Sleep deprivation took hold long ago; in the early days and weeks. I thought the last stages of pregnancy would have prepared me. Not so much. Nothing. And I mean NOTHING can prepare a soul for parenthood. I don’t care what anyone says.

I love my boy more than life itself. As I lay him down to sleep tonight I mumbled about in my head on how I would describe such love. The best thing I could come up with? He, my son, his the heart of my heart. That’s it. And really all the sleepless nights, the arguing with Erich, the frustrations with not knowing what we’re doing – it’s all small stuff. We have a baby. A warm, live being made from our parts. Some people don’t ever get the chance to experience this. For that I’m grateful.

I went back to work full time in October of 2014 when Aaron was 11 weeks old. It seems so long ago. Like a fuzzy dream. I just remember how much I worried and fretted over details that now seem so insignificant. One thing I worried about? That Aaron wouldn’t know me if I worked so much. That other caretakers would become the object of his affection. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When I arrive home after a long day’s work this ‘heart of my heart’ perks up with visible distraught until I wrap my arms around him and kiss his ruddy cheeks. I stroke his hair, close my eyes and draw a deep breath in.

I am home baby. I am home.

Pregnancy Fears

It has finally hit me. At least a nasty cold has. At almost 36 weeks pregs I’m feeling down in the dumps and under the weather. Add this to a thrown out back, achy/cracked/sausage feet and my inability to keep urine in my bladder and I’m a real mess. The back issue has resolved itself but the latter two continue to plague me.

Thank goodness for the kindness of friends who’ve been here before me or I’d be in a pretty sad state of affairs when it comes to pregnancy clothes. Retailers get a clue! Carry maternity shit for Pete’s sake. (Motherhood Maternity you are exempt from this rant.) Seriously, we’re still people. In fact, we’re two people now – sometimes more. By that very fact perhaps you should carry MORE maternity clothes then you do regular clothes. You’d be a hit with us Pregs and you could take advantage of our unstable emotional state by offering fabulous deals we can’t say no to. After all, what pregnant lady doesn’t want two or three pairs of super comfy capris with matching spandex panel that wraps up and over her ever-growing belly until just below the boob line? Maternity wear is a necessary evil. Let’s just come to terms with it and we’ll all be happy.

While clothes shopping is bad enough, finding a decent pair of shoes is a freaking nightmare. Just last week I was at JCPenney browsing the racks of sandals in search of anything to replace my bejeweled Walmart flip-flops that have become a staple in my wardrobe. I passed up many a sandal until I saw a style that could, one, make my feet look halfway normal and two, make my feet look halfway normal. Sadly, feet of the Pregs are just not that attractive in the last months and I’m certainly am not bucking the system. Anyway, back to our story. . .I attempted to squeeze my foot into the sample size 7 to no avail. The width of my foot just wouldn’t allow it.

I gave the shoe to the salesman and asked for a size 9. I was NOT happy when he came back and said, “I’m sorry ma’me, all we have is a size 6.”

Really? Not only will my fat sausage feet NOT fit into a size 6, let alone a size 7 or 8, I was also a ma’me. Calgon, you failed me that day. Don’t let it happen again.

IMG_20140721_065905

Between the physical ailments and my clothing/accessory nightmares I’m also feeling emotionally drained. Anyone who knows me well will tell you I tend to worry about things a lot. And the fact that I’ll be meeting my first baby in just a few weeks has my worry gene in overdrive. Any of the following negative questions and statements will run through my brain at any moment throughout the day:

The house isn’t ready.
We don’t eat healthy enough.
How am I going to raise this baby when I’m so tired?
Why can’t Eric open cereal boxes the right way?
We have NO closet space. Shit.
I eat too much sugar and therefore am ruining my unborn child. (Fannie Mae is my BFF.)
How come I just can’t ‘be happy’?
Will labor and delivery kill me?
Will Eric be okay? (Worry, worry, worry.)
How will we afford this?
Will our lives be chaotic and crazy all the time or just sometimes?
Will I be a good mom if I go back to work full-time? (Will my son know me?)
Every ache and pain must mean I have some terrible disease.
We must have a schedule or the baby will be ruined.
We eat out way too much. (See point two.)
JCPenney and other retailers – you suck. (See rant above.)

I don’t know if I realize how many changes my body and mind has gone through over the past eight months. I mean really. Between hormone shots, relationship challenges and growing an actual human being it’s no wonder I’m a little on edge. I imagine many women feel like this during their pregnancy; some even have it worse. While I tend to downplay a lot of my feelings and concerns as if they are not important, today is not that day.

Thank you for letting me get this off my ever-expanding chest. If you have any advice for this mama to be – bring it on!

 

30 Weeks and Counting

Steph and Jenn

 

My uterus is no longer ornery. It’s cooperated since early December, although begrudgingly. I have to say, I didn’t think we’d make it this far. I know. It’s terrible to think negative thoughts. But when you’ve tried for as long as we have they just seem to creep in. However, we’ve survived many of the pregnancy milestones we feared. Implantation. Genetic testing. We graduated,  not without drama of course, from first trimester to second and now to the third. We even avoided the gauntlet of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. (Despite my addiction to all thing sweet.)

The best word I can come up with right now is grateful. Grateful. I’m so grateful to be here and to have this opportunity to be a Mom. I am tearing up right now just thinking about how amazing this journey for us has been and how much we have to look forward to. It makes me feel as if all of the pain we went through will be nothing in comparison to what we will receive.

Over the past several months I’ve thought about so many things. Will I be a good Mom? What if i can’t do it.  What if Eric and I fall apart or what if we can’t afford it. I give into those fears at times but then bounce back with more vigor. Because I won’t be pushed down no matter how hard it gets. I’ve also thought way more about how awesome it will be to take my baby boy to the park. To watch him as he gets his first bath. I am thrilled at the idea of seeing how him and Eric will bond and what his tiny little body will look like when he’s born. The positive images far outweigh the bad.

I have also wondered about other moms out there who are struggling to make it work; whether they are alone or married. What do they laugh about and what do they cry about. Will I do the same? I imagine I will. I’ve spent time talking to my son as I travel to and from work, in the shower – really anytime I have a moment alone to wonder and think out loud. I’m curious as to what he hears and if he picks up on my emotions. What DO babies feel/absorb/learn in utero anyway?

Eric and I have poured over parent magazines and endless lists of “must haves” trying to figure it all out.  We’ve talked about religion and beliefs on parenting. We have adult conversations about how to raise our offspring. A strange but exciting adventure! I’ve polled my parent friends on Facebook about color schemes, stroller options and vaccinations. I’m overwhelmed in many ways and yet all I can do is take it in and attempt to sort it out one day at a time.

No doubt about it though, this little boy has made me realize that anything is possible. Oh what the future may bring!

Honey Will You Rub My Butt

I’m seriously done with these progesterone in oil shots. I’ve been doing them since our egg transfer on December 1 and they hurt! I KNOW it’s necessary. I just don’t LIKE  it. And Eric dislikes it even less – that is if he’s not miffed at me for some reason and then he gets slight pleasure out of jabbing me with a obnoxiously long needle. And then I cry and ask him if later he will “rub my butt.” This makes him smile.

A massage is necessary. You see, the lumps left behind by these shots impeded my ability to sit for any period of time in comfort. I also feel like I’ve been through the ringer at the gym when in all reality I haven’t stepped foot in one since the summer. Sad I know!

On the bright side, we are officially 7 weeks and 2 days pregnant! The journey, even the progesterone shots, has been all worth it. I wouldn’t trade a single moment.

The last couple of weeks have been interesting. Emotionally I’ve been up and down. A sufferer of mild depression, it has been difficult adjusting to increased pregnancy hormones flowing through my body. I stopped my low dose Prozac before egg retrieval as I didn’t want it in my system during the pregnancy. I pride myself of being fairly self aware and therefore try to set realistic expectations. It also helps to have a very understanding husband!

The most exciting and emotionally charged event thus far has been our first ultrasound. Leading up to this much anticipated event, both Eric and I were unsure, feeling a little detached. Was there really something in there? Until then we relied strictly on the blood work to confirm the pregnancy. Each test solidifying the results as my pregnancy hormones rose.  On December 30 we drove up to the clinic and worried the whole way. We promised each other that no matter what, we had each other.

ALL our fears were put to rest as soon as we saw the beautiful miracle of a beating heart! I can’t tell you what a relief that was. Eric kissed me and we cried a few tears. WOW. There really are no words…

On that note I think it’s’ time for me to get my rub down! Until next time.

Changing Our Name

We are thinking about a new name for the blog. After all, my uterus is no longer ornery! Plus my mom hates the name. 😉

When the name changes so will the premise of the blog. I’ll be writing about being pregnant. Har! Me? And eventually parenting which I don’t know much about unless you include the lessons I’ve learned living with Eric. I shouldn’t rib him too much though. He has been amazing so far with the entire process. We’re both just amazed we’re in this position. We’re pregnant and we’re going to PARENTS.

Oh shit.

In any case, we’ll figure it out like we always do. It’s all about the teamwork I say.

So, if you have any ideas on what you’d like to read about let me know!

 

 

Facebook Hacking Sucks

Two days ago a friend of mine called me up to say I’d better look at my FB account pronto. Super sly hackers sent out a message to ALL of our friends in the hopes they would click on their nasty link which would lead to God knows where.

I reported the hack, deleted the posts and got back on track in a matter of minutes. Not long after, I saw a number of people with the same hack.

Hackers beware. We won’t put up with your amazingly rude behavior.

As annoying as this was, there are plenty of great things to talk about. Mother’s Day weekend was a nice one – Eric and I both had Thursday and Friday off and we got to spend significant time with both our moms. Not something we’d planned since we were scheduled to travel to Tennessee to see Eric’s sister and our eight year old niece. We’ll make it up on our way down to Florida in June. It’s so hard when family lives so far apart. Not enough time to visit as much as we’d like.

We also spent time outside continuing our work on the raised garden beds and purchasing a variety of plants. We planted a garden a few years back and never thought to repeat the process until this year. With our efforts to eat more healthy and juicing almost everyday, we thought it would be wise to revisit the idea. I have to say it’s pretty exciting – building the beds, planning the layout, selecting the plants. We purchased a mix of things this Sunday. From herbs (basil, dill, chives, italian parsley, cilantro) to vegetables (lady bug, Brandywine and health kick tomatoes, zucchini, onion, garlic, kale and lettuce) we got a little of everything. A couple of lavender plants found their way into the basket. I love the smell of lavender. . .

Before Eric’s diagnosis I think I wasn’t living. Yes, I lived. But I didn’t really live. Maybe we didn’t live together. Know what I mean?

I hated yard work! (Much to Eric’s disappointment as he loves being outside.) Even on a nice day, gardening and general work around our haphazard landscape held no appeal. Somehow this has changed. The reality of mortality does this to a person. To a couple.

Now the mowing of grass is more palpable. The pulling of weeds cathartic. The planting of a garden, healing. The sun shines down and somehow it will all be ok.

We’re very fortunate to have had the chance to start living again and I know I speak for both of us when I say the words, “we are grateful.”

The weekend was great but today was a phenomenal day in Eric’s cancer recovery! Each month he is required to visit his oncologist for blood work and a physical check up. Last month (his first after the surgery to remove the melanoma) went so well – the doctor was amazed at how great is blood work was. This month, I’m happy to report, was no different. The blood test results came back and all indicators were in normal range. CBC, HTC, LDH – it’s a jumble of microscopic related jargon we never wanted to know about. We’re just ecstatic that Eric’s body is in much better shape then it was at the beginning of the year.

He’s also lost an amazing 31 lbs. and has been quit smoking for over four months. We’ve talked about how these positive changes may have a direct effect on our fertility and are holding out hope we may still get pregnant on our own. If this happens we could share the Birdies for Babies gift with someone else who needs it. Until then, we continue to move forward with the planning. We are both so grateful for this opportunity. An exciting thing no doubt about it!

Stay tuned. . .

Birdies for Babies Update – May 2013

Hard to believe we’ve entered May! I’m gazing out the window right now, warm breeze wafting in, wondering why the temps tomorrow will turn so wildly in the opposite direction. The thermostat reads 81 degrees. Yet, come morning, we’ll be back at 55, praying the predicted 7-day rain streak doesn’t play out.

We’ve been through a tough road this year, Eric and I. Cancer is not something we’d ever thought we’d deal with at our age. It definitely puts things into perspective. The urgency to have children is more pronounced now. Even though Eric’s prognosis is amazing, it’s still something that lingers at the back of our minds. The dark thoughts, the what ifs lurk despite our best efforts to dismiss them.

I’ve not really talked about it on the blog but thought I’d better start. It’s a part of who we are and what we’ve gone through. And if I’m going to write for you, for me, then I better be transparent. Otherwise, what’s the point. Right?

So here we are, two months to the day Eric had his final surgery to remove the melanoma that took us by surprise. The thoughts that go through a mind in shock are unbelievable. Faced with the real prospect of death is uncomfortable. Scary. Sad. Fortunately, Eric is now cancer free. And while recurrence can happen, it won’t. Not right now. We willed it away and prayed to God. And we believe He’s listening.

During all this, I was afraid to bring up the fact that we still had an opportunity to have a child with the help of Birdies for Babies. A crisis was happening and I was selfishly thinking that I (we) might never have children. I questioned whether or not we should call Todd and Melissa Trader and call the whole thing off. Our life was over as we knew it. Give it up lady. Move on.

But I didn’t. We didn’t. Eric and I talked through the tears and the anxiety about what we wanted to accomplish if we had limited time. We want to have children. Together. And that puts us in a wonderful position – because Birdies for Babies is still on the table! We didn’t call it off but rather relayed to Todd and Melissa what we were going through. They have prayed for us and they understand and are even more determined to help us.

I’ve reached out to the clinic in Ohio (Institute for Reproductive Health) where many of the Birdies for Babies recipients have gone on their journey. We couldn’t be more excited! I called just a few  moments ago to leave a message about setting up a consultation and getting the paper work started.

The weather tomorrow, a cancer diagnosis, a bad day at the office. It’s all relative. It is part of our larger experience but these things do not define us. Instead, we are looking forward to a wonderful future with little Eric and Jens running around!

More details to come as we talk with the clinic and ramp up for Birdies!

Are you interested in supporting our event? Please visit the website to make a donation. Auction items also welcome. http://www.golfinvite.com/bfb

Thank you!

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

I have a problem. I’m a overthinker who worries over just about everything. I was thinking and worrying about this problem a few days ago and just had to find out what it was. Why do I over think things and worry about things I can’t control I wondered. Why, on occasion, do I just stall out? And then worry about why I stalled. Google told me I have what’s called Analysis Paralysis.

AP. I got it bad. And there’s no cure except to get my  head out of you know where and stop worrying about it. It’s a vicious circle.

I even called Mom and told her she had this problem too. See how I worry about her? I worry she doesn’t get out enough and that she’ll shrivel up and die all alone amongst her knitting needless, yarn and patterns and her random salt and pepper holder collection with her dog Dottie by her side. Sorry Mom.

But after I gave her the description, which I took from the place Google led me to, she agreed. Turns out she has AP just like me.

The way, I figure, we have a responsibility to tell other people what’s wrong with them too. As if by joining our sad little group, the whole situation will just go away.

But what is AP really? Wiki tells us in pretty simple terms:

“The term “analysis paralysis” or “paralysis of analysis” refers to over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, or citing sources, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or “perfect” solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.”

I’ve realized this happens to me more often than I’d like to admit; mostly when it comes to writing. In fact, before I started writing this post I nearly did a search on what I should write about. Come on! Really?

Do the rest of you deal with this? If so, what’s your solution?

On a totally separate note, I thought I’d share with you something that I didn’t worry about all weekend! For the second year, I was able to go to the Knitting Pipeline Retreat in Washington, IL. My mom invited me last year and this year was just as much fun. Women, wine and yarn = fantastic worry free fun!

Okay, I sound a little too goodie two shoes but it really is a good time. I’m so grateful to my mom for showing me how to knit and including me in the friendships she has developed. Beyond the ability to create something beautiful, I’ve had a chance to enjoy time with her and learn from her. I enjoy watching her when she’s with her friends and to see her happy. I see a lot of myself in her as I get older and I’m pleased about that. If I am half as smart as she is, I’m a lucky woman.

Well, I guess that’s about it for my sentimental side tonight. Time to hit the sheets and worry (or not) about what tomorrow will bring.

By the way, if you wanted to know a bit more about how AP syndrome works, check out this blog post on Selfgrowth.com.

Double Vegetable Please

Eric and I are embracing a plant-based diet. Yep. That’s right. The way we figure it, we might not have a problem with infertility if we attacked it from a nutritional standpoint. This isn’t the only reason we are changing by any means. And we don’t feel that nutrition issues are the sole cause of our infertility. Far from it. However, the last few months we have struggled with a different medical issue which has forced us to consider the benefits of healthy eating. Not just a once a week thing but a real life style change. Wow! Creating health from the inside out – what a novel concept!

Significant change is never easy. And as our doctor said recently, fear is a great motivator for the short-term. Her question to us was, “How do you feel about this (way of eating/changing)?” Fortunately for me, I’ve been used to consuming a lean protein, plant-based diet for some time. (Although not without its pitfalls – candy, white carbs, wine, candy. You get it.)

Fortunately for Eric, he grew up eating things like whole grains, vegetables and a variety of meatless options. But he too has veered. Straight towards McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts. (Sorry Eric!) But seriously, it’s easy to grab processed foods and quicki meals. It’s convenient. It makes lives easier – for the short-term.

But we’re learning as we go. We read a lot. We talk to other people who eat the way we want to eat. We try different recipes. At the grocery store, we bypass the boxed macaroni and think about how we might be able to recreate the same dish in a healthy way.  We are slowly but surely changing the way we think about food.

Here’s what we keep in mind:

1. SUGAR is in everything from fruits and veggies to packaged products. The white refined stuff is what you want to watch out for. Read labels, and keep your sugar intake at a minimum.

2. Stick to 100% whole grain products. In the US, when wheat is refined, approximately 40% of the best stuff is stripped away along with a ton of nutrients like B1, copper, zinc and calcium. The remaining 60% is processed and “refined”. Examples are white bread, white table sugar, pastries, donuts and white rice.

3. Go green! Green veggies are filled with goodies that help the body boost it’s immunity and fight off infection and disease. Use them in juices, salads, stir fry – whatever you like!

4. Fresh and colorful, fruits and berries have powerful antioxidants that also help fight off disease and keep the body strong. Use them in salads, smoothies, juices, breakfast dishes, etc.

5. Drink lots of water throughout the day. Water flushes the system from toxins and other pollutants and it helps keep us hydrated.

6. Nuts and seeds are worth the investment. They are a great source of protein and are perfect for a quick snack.

7. Nobody is perfect.

I had to throw that last one in. We both get cravings every once in a while and we indulge. The point is to try to eat as best as we can most days of the week.

I’ll leave you with a few photos that point out the importance of checking labels:

This label is from a multi-grain cereal similar to Cheerios. You’d think it was healthy yet the second top ingredient is sugar. The sixth is brown sugar.

SAMSUNG

This label is from a pasta sauce we picked up last week. Simple ingredients we can understand without a dictionary! Notice there is no sugar added. (Bonus! I just noticed this product was produced in a green LEED facility.)

SAMSUNG

Whole wheat pasta – always check to make sure it says 100% whole wheat. Not wheat flour.

SAMSUNG

Do you have other healthy eating tips you can share? Would love to hear them!

Where Have We Been?

I have been stuck in a rut for a while until recently. Mid January we received a serious medical diagnosis for Eric that has caused us to rethink our priorities. A wake up call if you will. We were living our lives but not REALLY living them. I imagine this internal reevaluation happens to many people when they go through something drastically outside the norm.

We’ve been awakened; each in our own way. We have had to reach back to a time when we both believed in God because to tell you the truth we forgot about Him. We forgot about the power of believing in something good. We forgot about the importance of maintaining faith. We just got caught up in the day to day (like everyone does) and we simply forgot.

This is not about religion or choosing a team to “play” on. It’s about finding peace and strength through faith in something greater than ourselves. Today, both of us are in a better place. We are reevaluating our goals, the way we treat our bodies, the way want to raise our children, the way we treat people. We are making positive changes rooted in the foundations that our parents introduced to us when we were small. (Eric was raised in the Seventh Day Adventist faith and I was loosely raised in the Lutheran Church. Our families each practice their faith to varying degrees.)

I’m just grateful that the concept of believing in a higher power, God, was introduced to me early on. Being able to lean back and take comfort in the idea that someone is there to catch us and carry us when we are down is the most powerful way to heal the soul. I want this for my children. I want this for my family as we move through life.

This being said, I see The Ornery Uterus morphing into more than just a place to discuss our infertility journey. We are made up of a billion moving parts, some exciting, some not so much. The infertility piece, just like Eric’s medical piece, is just a blip on the screen. I will use this space to talk about our daily lives and the things exciting things we’ll be exploring down the road.

For the few people who read my blog, thank you! I know you know how much Eric and I want to start a family. Despite the turmoil we have faced over the last month and half, we are even more confident we will be able to achieve this dream!

I’m going to leave you with a few photos. Yesterday, we were out walking the dog and ran across some debris in the street. I went back to take a few photos and decided to snap some shots of whatever color I could find. The weather has been crazy this month with snow storms, etc. Color reminds me that Spring is on its way!

 

This lone leaf looked so sad floating in the winter water.

This lone leaf looked so sad floating in the winter water.

Another balloon on the sidewalk. A blue flower perhaps?

I thought this was debris from a construction site but then realized it was a balloon. It looks like a spring flower to me.

I thought this was debris from a construction site but then realized it was a balloon. It looks like a spring flower to me.

Bright red in a sea of white.

Bright red in a sea of white.