A Baby Just Around the Corner

I’ve not written since May. Of course you know this, those of you who follow the Ornery Uterus. Days slipped by and it became easier not to write. A terrible excuse but the most honest I can muster.

My post this evening is largely inspired my wonderful, athletic and beautiful sister Stephanie who decided (as if she didn’t have enough to do with three children, a husband and an Ironman race in 2014) that she needed to start a blog.

Really? An Ironman? Okay, I guess I can write a blog post. About her starting a blog. Oh geesh.

Truth is, I’m damn lazy when it comes to writing. And have I got stuff to say.

So here’s a few nuggets from the last three months:

1. Eric is CANCER FREE. Yes. You read it right my friend. Cancer free and going strong. He’s kept 35 pounds off his tall frame, been quit smoking for over 7 months, hasn’t touched a soda in 9 months and hasn’t snored a lick since he lost the weight. He rocks in my world.

2. Birdies for Babies is still very much alive. We are 17 days away from one of the most exciting events in our lives since our wedding in 1999. Last December, as you may recall, Eric and I were selected as recipients for the outing which helps couples afford IVF or other infertility treatments. It’s been a whirlwind since then now it’s crunch time. We need golfers, sponsors and auction donors to continue to support this event. If you know of anyone willing to come out or help in any way, please have them go to: http://www.golfinvite.com/bfb

3. With Birdies underway, we’ve had time to find a doctor we think can get the job done. Dr. Richard Sherbahn from Advanced Fertility Centers of Chicago is our go to guy. We met with him for the first time on Monday, August 19th with mixed reviews on his bedside manner, or lack thereof. This is a numbers guy no doubt about it. He’s science through and through and he prides himself and his practice on producing some of the best results in Illinois and Wisconsin. We figure we can deal with his demeanor if he produces the result we’re looking for. Plus, from what we’ve heard, we’ll be connecting with the nursing staff and other medical personnel on a much more frequent basis.

Prior to the meeting with Dr. Sherbahn, I was given an ultrasound to check my uterus and ovaries. I was surprised to learn I had 52 follicles, many more than is expected in my age range. At 38 years old I should be sporting anywhere between 18 and 22. Apparently I’m an overachiever in this department. My ovaries look, at least on paper, as beautiful as an 18 year olds. This will mean Dr. S will retrieve more eggs when he “dips the ladle” in so to speak. Now the quality of those eggs is a different story. But one can assume we will have more to choose from. Yea us!

During our discuss with the Dr., Eric asked the very simple and reasonable question, “So why can’t we get pregnant?” Yes. Why can’t we? His sperm was fine. My body seemed to be in working order by all indications. Apparently, Reproductive Endocrinologists are of the thought that something is either “not happening” or something is “preventing” eggs from arriving at the critical meeting point. Well, duh! For example, eggs may be released but the fallopian tubes may not be scooping it up. Essentially the eggs are standing up the sperm. They are never showing up for date night. Bad, bad eggs. Poor Eric.

We asked about success rates and really, if I tried to explain it, it would just be more confusing. Eric and I are simply of the belief that when our time comes to participate in this amazing science experiment, that it will all work in our favor.

So this brings you up to speed on us and our infertility journey! Our emotions range from excitement to trepidation at times. There is always that fear that we are racing against the clock especially in terms of Eric’s diagnosis. We know that the further he moves out from the cancer removal, the better his prognosis. It still never leaves our mind. Even though this is the most exciting time of our lives, there is something that lingers below the surface which never really lets up. It’s the honest truth.

Thank you for following along. More to come next week.

 

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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.

Being Chosen Feels Good

Remember way back when I wrote about Birdies for Babies? Well it turned out to be a pretty big thing. I submitted an application on behalf of Eric and I in the hopes we would get chosen as the next couple to be selected as beneficiaries of the golf event.  In the meantime, a wonderful, amazing, beautiful and supportive family member approached us and said she would help us make it happen.  I cried (I do a lot of that by the way.) and we talked about how we could work it out. In the back of my mind though, I kept thinking about Birdies for Babies. Eric asked me about the application and wondered out loud if it would be enough. Maybe we could make that work instead – if we just got lucky and were chosen then we wouldn’t have to burden anyone.

Do you know where this is going? If you did, you’d be right! We were chosen! We received an e-mail just after the first of the year to let us know the fantastic news. I called Eric and cried. I called Mom and cried even more. I called my sister and she screamed, “Are you serious?” And that made me cry too. The tears that came after the news were joyful ones. A tornado of emotions followed as I drove home from work following the calls I’d made. I sobbed in gratitude at God who surely sat in the passenger seat as I drove home. I was a wreck and needed all the help I could get to get home! I asked Him if we deserved this and argued (who DOES that when God gives such a gift?) that maybe we didn’t. Other people were more worthy of the receiving such a wonderful opportunity. Why were we special?

You know what? We don’t need an answer for that. It is what it is. I am grateful. Eric is grateful. We are moved by the graciousness and support of others around us and we couldn’t be happier. Despite the questions, Eric and I gave ourselves permission to accept that something so wonderful could and did happen to us. Sometimes in the dark, just before bed, we whisper about what our babies might look like and how we hope they’ll be good people. We hope they will live long lives and be kind to others. I hope they have Eric’s heart shaped lips and he wants them to have my eyes. No matter what, they will be beautiful.

Before Birdies for Babies the hope for a family wilted. Every month that passed, particularly over the summer and fall of 2012, brought us closer to the realization we may never have the chance to have our own family. This hope, much like the return of Spring after a long, harsh winter, is coming back. A positive aura is coming back and we are holding onto every moment.

Along with the outrageous excitement we feel about the upcoming event and working with the Birdies for Babies team, we are also counting our blessings for our health. The past few weeks have been tough. Eric has been struggling with a health issue that has made us all take stock of what life means and how unimportant the little things are. Now that he is on the mend, we hug each other every day and we look forward to a bright future.  Something we should have been doing all along anyway. It’s an important lesson that I’m so glad to have learned.

Thank you for listening! More details to come as Birdies for Babies 2013 gets underway! Make sure to mark your calendar for September 28, 2013. Also, Birdies for Babies is trying to help another couple as well. On March 2, 2013 Nevin’s Pub in Plainfield, along with Birdies, will host a Gala for the second couple. Tickets are $75. Visit the website to learn more information.