Category Archives: marriage

Family Photos

With Andy’s immediate family we draw names for Christmas.  Each couple gets another couple to buy gifts for.  The older I get the harder it is to buy Christmas gifts and to put a “wish list” out there for people to buy us stuff.  I am to the point if I need something, we get it.  If I want something, eventually, we get it.  So telling people what I want or need has become more difficult (and the times that I gave the brand of shampoo, toothpaste, conditioner etc it was laughed at as a joke).  Last year we had Andy’s parents as the couple we were buying for.  I think they feel similar because they couldn’t think of anything they wanted or needed for their Christmas wish list.

Part of the problem was that they were in the process of packing boxes and moving and with most things they packed his mom would say something along the lines of why did she had so much “stuff.”  I didn’t want to add to the stuff she needed to pack so we thought extremely hard on what to get them.  We decided to get her a gift card so that she could have family photos done by a professional.  Not just my camera and tri-pod.  They seemed happy with their gift card.  Fast forward to 10 months later and they lined up using the gift.

I don’t like pictures anyways.  We will start there.  But we went into town (I had a dentist appointment too) and got dressed up.  I straightened my hair (which is always an ordeal) and put on mascara and lipstick and we did this picture thing.  The photographer did great and worked fast.  The nieces and nephew seemed to smile for all the pictures.  It worked out nicely as a good gift.

kids

See the kids looked great.

I smiled and hoped it would reach my eyes.  The entire time I was watching our nieces run around with our nephew I couldn’t help but think that Addy should be here with her cousins.  Each time one of Andy’s siblings asked if they should be holding the kids, I couldn’t help but think I want to hold Addy in our pictures.  I couldn’t help but think that she would have fit right in with them.  I couldn’t help but think of how unfair it was that she wasn’t with us.  I couldn’t think too hard because then I would shed the tears that were hiding behind my hopefully real looking, fake, smile.  The photographer would say “family with girls” or “family with the boy” and then “you two.”  To her credit she didn’t say “childless couple” because had she, I would have lost it right there in the park with my mascara running down my face.  She didn’t know where we have been.  It isn’t her fault at all.  But standing there with my in-laws in front of the picture.  To the right of the picture was their oldest child, his wife, and 2 daughters in a tight little clump.  To the left but still middle of the picture was their youngest child, her husband, and their son in a tight little clump.  To the far left was their middle child, and me.  And a heart so full of holes and sorrow.  But that was our clump.  I love Andy with everything I have but there is still that emptiness.  Addy should have been there.  I miss the dreams and answers to prayers that she represented.  I miss the what could have beens.  But mostly I just miss her.

Infertility sucks.  In my story, nothing emphasizes that more than “family” stuff.  Be it holidays, vacations, going out to eat together, or family photos…family stuff is hard – yes still (and sometimes worse than before).  We have been travelling this road far too long.  We are no stranger to sadness and disappointment and loss.  One would think we could “get over it already and be happy.”  But family is hard.  Family reminds me of that family I don’t have.

Holidays are fast approaching and I feel like there will be some moments I sneak out of rooms, or step out onto the porch for fresh air.  There will be times I lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes just to breathe and give myself permission to be sad and happy.  To give myself the grace and space I need to grieve the could have beens.  To quietly brush a tear off my check.  Yes, I live infertility each and every day, but holidays are a different battle.  All of that to say – forgive me if you turn to ask for a refill on your wine, or to pass the salt and pepper and you are telling my back as I am walking away.

a frustrating reality…

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

today is not a good day…actually the last few weeks have not been too good.  i try to maintain a persona that, yes i have bad moments, but that i am completely ok with everything that has happened and everything that is going on.  i have been hesitant to write anything negative in a while dealing with the adoption or infertility because the fear that i have that my words will be misconstrued or used against me somehow.  when i have my “poor me” and “bitterness” episodes i fear that people (i don’t have a specific person i am looking at – but rather just people in general) will take what i am saying out of context.  that they will say i will be a terrible mom if we are ever placed because I still have insecurities about the hand that was dealt to me.  i fear that someone will take what i am saying and make generalizations that i am unhappy and bitter towards all people who have biological children.  i fear that my words will be mixed up and used to imply that deep down i always feel this way.  i fear that people will look at me and say i deserve everything that has happened.  i fear that people will look at me and say it is all my fault.  i fear i will be considered selfish (again).  i fear that i will become one of “those people” that people won’t feel it is genuine when i have positive things to say about our situation or about theirs.  i fear that people will be nervous around me so that they don’t “upset” me or will constantly be worried that they will make me mad.  i worry that people will walk on egg shells around me just in case i am having a bad day and that they won’t share things about their kids/pregnancies/etc.  i fear that one day my child could use my words and thoughts against me and question my love.  but mostly, i fear that my thoughts make me a horrible monster.

 early on when we were dating we dreamed of being married and having a family.  we had no reason to suspect that when we were married that it would be difficult to have kids so we dreamed of the days that were to come and the excitement and adventure of the milestones that we would get to experience.  after we got married i was living out my fairy tale and day dreaming of the possibilities, waiting on the moment that we decided the time was right.  when the timing was right i was elated at the possibilities (and my day dreams got bigger and my hopes soared).  after several months when panic was starting to set in it wasn’t so fun.  it wasn’t until then that i realized how much hope i had in those milestones.  how much i wished that they would come true.  how my daydreams had pretty much ruined me and finally how my world came crashing down all around me.

after the months of treatments and the time after where we talked about what we wanted to do next, part of me didn’t want to admit anything about the treatments or about the adoption because i felt like i was giving up on my dreams – on what i always wanted.  i was acknowledging that i would miss those milestones and that i lost faith in me and i was giving up on myself.

in my devastation that i wouldn’t be able to expand my family in the way i planned, those milestones flowed through my head like racing hot lava.  a list, constantly growing, formed and circulated around in my thoughts causing my heart to break a little more with each bullet point – when i didn’t even know it could hurt any more.

 i will pause from my pity party to emphasize that we HAVE gained from this experience, but there are times when it is difficult to see the positive and to not dwell on the negative.  this is one of those times.

let me be dramatic.  each mother’s day i feel like a little bit of my soul dies.  i feel like my heart is being shredded from the inside out and the bile rises up and the taste lingers in the back of my throat.  it isn’t that i am not thankful for my mom and all of the women who have been wonderful influences in my life.  it isn’t that i don’t think about all of my friends and family who are mothers or are about to be mothers, because i do.  i give thanks for them and for their children and pray they know how blessed they all are to have each other.  it is the day that constantly reminds me of what i am not able to do.  that i have to rely on someone else to pick me to make my dreams come true.  the reality is that someone has to pick me out of a lineup and read my profile book like they are buying a car and i hope that they do it quickly so we can be done waiting.  it reinstates those negative feelings i have about myself.  i expressed those thoughts with someone and was asked, “don’t you think that will change once you are placed?”  my answer is simple.  it will change but not in the way one would think.  if that day ever comes i will be thrilled (for the biggest understatement of the year) but that day will always be a painful reminder of our struggles.  it will be like a birthday of someone who has passed away or the anniversary of the death of a loved one – it will be bittersweet.  i will relish the homemade gifts and crafts (hint: andy, remember that).  i will act like my over done pancake breakfast in bed is the best thing i have ever eaten.  i will slip my macaroni necklace over my head while tears of joy threaten to overflow.  i will take a huge breath and will look at my child that will call me mom and i will look at my husband who has stuck with me, even when i gave him an out, and will smile.  but later that night i will kiss my baby on the head and will tuck them in bed, andy will be reading a book, who am i kidding, watching something on tv, and i will slip out of the house to sit on our porch swing and take 10 minutes to stare at the stars while the tears roll down my face in memory and silent reflection of all that has been lost.

all of the times i prayed and begged to be pregnant “this” month, all of the treatments and tears, all of the negative pregnancy tests, when the doctors gave up on us.  in all those times and more infertility has robbed us.  it has taken from me so many different milestones that we promised each other.  it took away part of me:

i am hesitant to continue, but writing has been surprisingly therapeutic and why pay someone when you can write?  i feel like when i put my words down in black and white i can look back and see them and there is something tangible that i can hold on to – i can look at them and feel like my feelings and my rampant thoughts are conveyed and together.  it organizes the chaos that is in my mind, somewhat.  i feel that i am too far gone and despite my hesitation here goes…my compiled list (thus far) of how infertility robs us.

i will never know what it is like:

1. to see that plus sign on a pregnancy test and feel the excitement of knowing a tiny human is growing inside me.
2. to use one of the many ways i came up with to educate/reveal to andy that he was going to be a dad.
3. to go to the first doctor’s appt after the positive test and to see that black and white image and hear the heart beat.
4. to grab andy’s hand and cry with him as we listen to the heart beat.
5. to have andy look at me the way expectant husbands look at their wives.

6. to have andy place his hand on my belly and talk to our baby.
7. to have that print out of the ultrasound (and possibly have a fun ultrasound – for once).
8. to use one of the hundred ways we talked about to tell our parents and then our families that we were expecting.
9. to dress in maternity clothing and apparently use maternity pants as buffet pants on down the road post birth.
10. to have weird cravings (and for that to be socially accepted and expected).
11. to take “bump pictures” (even though i hate pictures) and to post them along with updates on “today my baby is the size of an orange”
12. to feel the baby move – which people constantly will say is their favorite thing about being pregnant and people constantly say that is the time when they felt like they “connected to their baby.”
13. to pee all the time (ok with this one it is more of the excuse of the pregnancy to pee all the time – seriously i could drink a ton of water and pee more in a day than any pregnant woman).
14. to pee a little when coughing or sneezing (ok the older i get i think i don’t have to be pregnant…)
15. to use mommy brain as excuse for everything (once people announce they are expecting EVERYTHING becomes “due to mommy brain”)
16. to cry at everything for no reason but to have an excuse that people accept.  people don’t like the crying for no reason because of treatment side effects.
17. to bond with the baby inside me.  to ride down the road in an empty car and to know that i am not alone.
18. to experience the bonding with andy over the pregnancy.
19. to have andy pull me into his arms and thank me for making his dreams come true as well.
20. to take naps “for the baby” (everything becomes “for the baby”)
21. to have people ask me if they can touch my belly or ask me other exciting questions because i am pregnant.
22. to park in the expectant parent reserved spots at the stores.
23. to experience the birthing class with andy.
24. to have weekly doctor appointments where i can “see and hear” my baby.
25. to experience some ice cream or take out tradition after my doctor appointments.
26. to pre admit for the birth and have a tour of the labor and delivery center.
27. to pack the suit case for the hospital and worry that i will forget my pillow.
28. to have baby showers that are normal and where games come directly from being pregnant.  where there isn’t a fear of “giving back” gifts because a mom changed her mind.
29. to participate in pregnancy nesting and having a pre-baby to-do list and crossing things off that list.
30. to have the frantic ride to the hospital if my water broke at home.
31. to have the dull ride to the hospital if being induced.
32. to experience the entire birthing process.  sitting in the hospital bed, getting an iv, being hooked up to fetal monitors, seeing the lines move predicting contractions, holding andy’s hand during bad contractions, watching andy turn various shades of white, having andy tell me that he loves me before things get crazy, getting the epidural and watching andy create an excuse to leave the room to update family, knowing that family is out there or close by waiting, pushing, the nurses and doctors being in the room, the excitement and the rushing.  the end result.
33. to hear the doctor announce boy or girl after months of waiting to find out.
34. for andy to kiss my forehead after that announcement.
35. to hear that first cry.
36. to have the baby put on my chest and to know that immediate love. and to know that one of the first people other than the medical staff holding my baby was me or andy.
37. to have those moments right after everything has calmed to be a family of 3 without the rest of the world in our room, where andy would present to me an awesome push present.
38. to see the face that i have carried for 9 months and know that “we made that”
39. to have family and friends come in so they can be introduced – and to tell everyone their birth story.
40. for andy to go to the waiting room and simply say boy or girl.
41. to experience the post birth shower that everyone claims is the best shower ever and if you never experience it – you haven’t ever really showered…
42. to experience breast-feeding and once again that “connection” that people talk about.
43. to not wonder if it was something that i did wrong years ago and wonder what i could have done differently.
44. to not worry that when we are placed the parents will change their mind and come back for their child.
45. to not worry that one day my child will ask me about their birth story and to possibly have no clue – thus making my child feel different.

46. to not worry that whatever child we are placed with will resent us at some point in time and tell us that they wished they were with their “real” mom and dad and that they hate us.

as i sit here and read back through my words i have mixed feelings.  i have such bitterness that boils up and anger that bubbles to the surface and both of those roll into one ball of irritated, irrational, frustrated, rage.  another part of me has weariness and fear: weariness that we have waited so long to be parents and a fear that we will never be chosen to be parents.  there is a part of me that reads through that list and has a list just as long as the things that we get to do because we are adopting that “normal” expecting couples will never get to experience – and that really is exciting.

i spoke to a friend and to make a long story short she asked how i was.  i will admit it hadn’t been a great day and with the thoughts above running rampant in my head i jumped on my soap box before i even really realized it and felt bad about it.  my words (not directed at her in any possible way) were dripping in annoyance and hurt.  i told her that i was sorry i got up there and she said it was ok that “i think your soapbox was right on point” and “you deserve to be frustrated and have your grief.”  she didn’t call me selfish or overly dramatic or insensitive and those simple words of acceptance and understanding came flying at me during a time i needed my feelings to be validated.  so yes i am still sulking and mulling around all of the ways i have been robbed because of infertility (as i do from time to time) but they are becoming, more and more, just bullet points in a mere chapter of our story.  a story, that like most, has highs and lows.  as the bitterness simmers, and i work my way back to dwelling on the positive i tuck my ever growing list somewhere deep in my mind. 

addoption add on

when a loved one dies we mourn.  it takes time to “get past” it.  once you do that, you are mostly ok with it.  you can understand the implication of what is lost with that person’s passing and why it is lost.  you can understand the reason they are gone (sometimes), and will be ok because you have to be – because you have no choice.  what happened is done and there is nothing you can do to change it.  most days are ok.  those memories of how they died or how you found out they died are locked away.  not necessarily deep, but locked away.  then there are days that you are not ok.  a holiday, milestone, or hearing their favorite song unlocks those memories and what is lost.  the tears can’t be held in.  you cry not because it is just hitting you but because there is a moment of despair that you don’t want to be ok with their loss.  that you don’t want to believe that the rest of the world has moved on.  that you don’t want to deal with the realization that the rest of your life you will be without them. so you weep, pouring out all the tears that have been trapped inside.  that is what infertility is like.

we are at a place where we are “ok” more times than not, and even when we are not it doesn’t take long to get back to a good place where we are “ok”.  with that said i am not sure that someone who goes through infertility will ever be “ok” with it.  i don’t believe there will ever be a day that i wake up and say thank goodness i had infertility issues.  i don’t think i will ever believe that i was better off because i had infertility issues.  but what i do believe is that for the rest of my life i will have days where i am fine and i can tell you everything without batting an eye and there are days where i will open my mouth and tears will pour down my face before any words are spoken.

so after the infertility journey and once we felt we healed enough from that part of life we started talking about what was next.  i knew that i wanted to be a mom and that andy would be the best dad.  something we talked about long before we infertility would become part of our vocabulary.  we decided to proceed with adoption.  now, i still struggled with those stages of grief.  they came in waves – and to be perfectly honest they still do.

with all of that said we are very excited about adopting.  in our minds we didn’t expect to go down this journey but this is the adventure that we have been dealt, so we will do so with as much grace and understanding as we can.

since i have written my 4 post leading up to the adoption announcement a lot of questions have been asked.  i will attempt to answer some of them in this post, but some of those questions will be answered in a later post dedicated specifically to the process of adoption.

1. why did we announce the way that we did?  i wanted people to know that we had tried several other options and it wasn’t like we woke up one morning and decided to adopt.  i wanted people to know that they could feel free to ask questions, but that hopefully i gave enough information to satisfy.  i really didn’t want people to come up to me and say “oh you are adopting – have you tried fertility treatments?”  i wanted it to be out there so that people could understand where we have been and the raw emotion associated with our story.  i wanted to tell it once instead of to each person we told we were adopting.

2.  what does a donkey have to do with a kid and adoption?  absolutely nothing.

3.  why did you start a company?  the company started because of a fundraising idea that went a little crazy.  we know that adoption is expensive and we knew that we would need to raise money and we looked into a few fundraisers and we feel in love with the idea of the bossy donkey co and ran with it.

4.  why not just fund-raise or ask for money?  as i have said earlier, infertility has caused me to look at myself in a negative way.  at times it has caused me to feel less like a woman and human.  i didn’t want to come across as begging people to help me adopt.  i know a lot of people sincerely want to help with no ill intent.  the deeper we get in this process i am able to really see that i am still a woman regardless of my faulty ovaries.  i am able to get my pride in check and realize that by people wanting to donate it isn’t a way they are looking down on us, but rather, a way that they can join in our excitement – and be a part of our child’s amazing journey to our home.  in short, infertility robbed me of having a biological child and i couldn’t stomach “begging for a baby.”  it took me a while to realize that my way of thinking was the bitterness, pain, and hurt still seeping out of my soul – a by-product of infertility.  we have talked to the adoption agency and they will take donations directly for our adoption.  if you want to make a donation, you can look at the about us page on the bossy donkey website.  checks for 250.00 and above can be mailed directly to them (with our names in the memo line) and smaller checks can be mailed to us and we can send them once we have collected 250.00 or more.

5.  why did you have horrible friends?  we didn’t really.  part of the reason i didn’t put names is because i really feel like it was just a horrible way for ALL parties to deal with the situation.  for me it is easy to justify the “abandonment” and them jumping ship – we weren’t in a place to join them FULLY in their happiness and they weren’t in a place to understand our pain and sorrow.  in each relationship our expectations weren’t met and feelings got hurt.  let’s be honest – who wants to hang out with a girl who looks like she is doing drugs and cries all the time?  i was hesitant to put that in the post but for me it was important to illustrate how things for us personally and socially got turned upside down.  it was important for people on the outside of infertility to maybe see what it is like inside as far as the social aspect.  it was important to show our entire side of the story and maybe show them where we were while they were going through their joys.  maybe communicate some sort of explanation that we never could visualize before – assuming they would even take time now to read this.

6. has deciding to adopt made not having a baby easier?  a lot of times this comes at me as a statement and not a question.  i will be very candid here.  when we first made the decision to adopt i felt like i was saying “i give up on me.”  it isn’t really like that now and we are so close (to waiting) we can’t stand it.  with each milestone we pass in the process it gets more and more real and the excitement and giddiness escalates.  we can’t wait for the day that we get to hold our baby in our arms.  with that said i do feel that infertility has robbed me of certain “passages” and i will always wonder “what if” and will mourn those – adopting or not.  this question brings me to things that are not ok to say to people with infertility problems – which will be its own post (compiled by a collection of people and experiences).

7.  isn’t it amazing this journey that you are on and the plan God has for you?  this one comes in many forms as well.  i will say there are days were i still struggle with understand God and his plan.  i still have moments of anger towards God.  i have times where i don’t understand.  i have times where i want to scream when someone pats my hand and says but “God’s plan…”  i understand that having faith means that you trust even if you don’t understand – i get that.  but i don’t think that means i have to love it.  i don’t understand why i had to go through everything we have been to get to the same result – before infertility we talked about adopting at some point.  i don’t understand how a 19-year-old addicted to meth can get knocked up the first time she has sex and someone who would do anything can’t get pregnant.  i don’t understand how someone can hide a pregnancy and when their baby is born, drown it, when someone did everything in their power to get pregnant and lost everything.  i don’t understand God’s plan.  the beauty of it is that i don’t have to.  i don’t have to understand, i just have to take it one step at a time and have faith that one day when i am having a cup of coffee with God, looking back on my life, his plan will make sense.  so our journey through the pain and hurt and the lack of understanding will be known to our child as the greatest love story – their story.

8. are you happy now?  yes we are.  we are thrilled.  we can’t believe that we are almost done with the long process of paperwork and state laws and almost to the “just waiting” stage.  we are happy.  through the pain and hurt of our journey we have found unexpected things.  we found that our relationship (mine and andy’s) that we thought was pretty solid turned out to be the strongest foundation.  we found the joys in simple things again.  i still get an ache in my heart when a pregnant woman walks by – my heart hurts but healing eventually comes.  and while sometimes i dwell on the things i will miss because of infertility, i come back to the unique things andy and i will share that other couples won’t ever get the chance to.

9.  are you going to write a book?  no. i will be honest i have never felt like i was a good writer.  i felt like i was good enough to get by (and still do) but not fabulous.  i have been completely humbled by all of the compliments on my posts. in college i did take a creative writing class and he encouraged us to write a lot and i did start a “book” so maybe i will pick that back up.  but for now i will continue to feel like the average writer that i am and hopefully will be able to use words to inspire others.

several people told me that i was able to express their emotions when they couldn’t come up with the right words.  i was able to give them a tool to show their families so they could say “that is what i have been trying to say.”  i don’t want to be the next poster child for infertility by any means, but i do hope to raise some sort of awareness which will hopefully instill compassion and understanding and obviously to share the story of the cutest baby ever (to be determined).

part 3 of 4: the inconsolable soul – numbness

Sorrow is knowledge, those that know the most must mourn the deepest, the tree of knowledge is not the tree of life. – Lord Bryon

i took my break.  i told andy that we would get through the summer and reevaluate our situation.  andy agreed.  i went through stages of intense crying and apologizing.  the more tears that fell and the more i said i was sorry, the more i realized how much i was hurting andy.  i did my best to hide the tears from him.  i cried a lot in the shower.  i took really long and really hot showers.  the noise covered the sobs and i was able to have my outlet and andy didn’t have to watch me cry –  again.

those five months of intense treatment were catching up with me.  i was able to process what happened because while it was going on things happened too fast and really left no time for coping with each failed treatment.  i was able to analyze our movements and our numbers.  i was able to reflect.  i cried a lot.  i would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and the realization would hit me.  i would roll over and cry into my pillow while andy slept beside me.  sometimes he would wake up enough to roll over and pull me close.  i was able to breathe and i started putting my life and my soul back together.
i was off pretty much all of the medicines and i felt myself slowly coming back.  i could look in a mirror and see the life coming back to my eyes and feel a little bit more like myself.  no more hot flashes.  unfortunately my hair stayed a frizzy fluff ball.
during infertility treatments, timing is obviously everything.  because of that timing and the type of infertility treatments we were doing, we quickly learned that spontaneity and intimacy were gone – just bury it in the back yard.

dealing with infertility is very much like dealing with the stages of grief: denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  i guess because in a way, it is a loss. it is real, heart breaking, soul shattering grief.

denial/isolation:

we dealt with this early on.  maybe not the denial part because all of this was pretty hard to deny!  but the isolation part really hit us. we found that being around certain people hurt more and if we controlled that, it seemed that life hurt less.  it wasn’t that we thought that we could cause the pain to cease to exist, but we thought sparing one ounce of hurt would break our hearts less.

with the group of 4 couples, in a way, you could say that we isolated ourselves when i sent that letter asking for space.  we were told that nothing would change and that i was wrong for insinuating that things would change.  whether we want to admit it or not, life experiences like marriages and pregnancy will change group dynamics.  it might not be intentional but those changes will happen. when we noticed those changes within our group, we slowly withdrew to allow even more space (for them as well as us) and unfortunately after a while of declining invitations, we stopped getting them all together.  i tried to stay in touch with people individually sending private messages when life happened (birthday’s, Christmas, death in the families, etc), but after a year or so, i was told that “it is kind of obvious that you don’t want anything to do with us” and was asked to stop sending birthday wishes and Christmas cards.  at the end of the day, i still try to keep up with our group of 4 couples through other people or personal messages sometimes.  in isolating ourselves we didn’t stop the hurt because that came even when we were in a room alone, but it dimmed it just a little and that little bit helped.

Anger:

anger was the biggest obstacle for me.  i was angry at myself and i was angry at God.  there were times i was angry at andy but those times faded quickly and i placed the blame and anger back on myself.  this anger was present from the emergency room visit and escalated into a rage over the course of the year.  my anger was directed at myself and i replayed everything in my life, wondering at what point my ovaries stopped working and asking myself what if.  what if i knew what was going on before we got married?  what if i did something wrong to cause them to stop working right?  what if?  i was lost in a world of ‘what could i have done’ – i wasn’t just lost, but consumed by it.  i looked in the mirror at my reflection with hate and couldn’t wrap my mind around why andy didn’t have the same glare when he looked at me.

**I am writing this knowing that some people may be upset by my perception of this, but this is how i felt in the moment.  feelings that are still very raw for me.**

most of my anger was directed at God.  i was pissed.  it wasn’t fair to me that we were “faithful people” that prayed, but i felt like we were being punished.  i felt like if i had done something better in my life, or with my life, maybe things would be different.  that maybe if i had been a better person, God would have allowed my ovaries to be good.  it wasn’t fair.  each and every day i was reminded of how unfair life was when i turned on the news and saw women killing their babies.  or women strung out on drugs getting pregnant in the blink of an eye.  when people who didn’t want those babies got them so easily and i wanted one so bad, i was willing to put myself mentally and physically to hell and back.  it wasn’t fair and i blamed God.

my faith, that had been pretty rock solid growing up, was spread thin.  really thin.  almost transparent.  i was really questioning why i believe what i do.  i was questioning if i still believed.  i was questioning if faith was real and if God was real.  i was searching for answers and couldn’t get past my thoughts that if God allowed this to happen to us, or made this happen to us, was this the God that i wanted to believe in.  i wanted to believe in a passionate, caring God that cares for his people.  with all the heartache, i couldn’t feel him caring.  i could no longer feel his presences in the wind.  i could no longer feel his arms around me in an invisible hug.  when i needed to understand why and feel God the most, i couldn’t.  not only was i abandoned by my ovaries and my hopes of being a mother, but God left me too.

i searched for him in all the places that i could look – if I was going to be enraged with him, i wanted to feel him because that meant he was near and that he could feel me.   if he could feel me, then i could inflict pain back to him like he was doing to me and andy.

we went to church each sunday.  sometimes i didn’t want to go, but i went.  i wanted my faith to be strong again.  i wanted people to ask me why bad things happen to good people and be able to rely on my faith for an answer – not bitterness attacking God.  i went to church.  the place that i should have felt God without question.  i was wrong.  i felt love from the people that went to the church and in hindsight, i could feel God in those people, but i couldn’t see that at the time.  but i couldn’t see or feel God from the pulpit.  i was sitting there each week wanting to see God and instead was yelled at and told that i was going to hell because i wasn’t singing.  lets face it, i don’t sing well.  i don’t.  i am not going to act like i do.  if i do sing, usually i sing quietly.  but to be told before each song that i had to sing, made me mad.  so now, not only did God give me bad ovaries but God gave me a crappy singing voice.  and now, apparently, i am going to hell.  it wasn’t a picture of the God i wanted to believe in.

maybe it was because i was already so critical of God and so angry at God, but i felt like all of the sermons were based on God hating some group, or telling me that i wasn’t good enough in God’s eyes.  that isn’t what i needed or wanted to hear.  what i needed to hear was that we are all broken and that even in our brokenness, we were still made in God’s image.  that faith goes beyond our understanding, our dreams and our needs. that faith pushes us to be better, to get better and to get beyond.  i needed to hear that God loved me, not that he was judging me.  i needed to hear that God’s grace rained down over me when tears poured down my face.  to let go of the anger, to be at peace and to give myself grace.  i needed to hear that it was ok to be angry at God as long as i kept talking to him.  i needed a place i could go on sundays to escape all of my negative feelings that i had during the week and to feel God.  i needed to hear about the God that i grew up believing in that was compassionate and loving.  that is what i needed to hear.

during all of this, i was working with a youth group.  it was through them that my faith flickered.  i surrounded my heart in ice to protect me from any more disappointment and it was those youth that started chipping away at that ice.  i latched onto those kids as if they were my own because, in a way, they were – and will always be.  they made me laugh and, for a moment, my anger would fade and i would laugh.  they made me so very proud.  they played sports and instruments and we tried to support them outside of church.  they took an active role in participating and they put up with me. they allowed me to interrogate their friends and, in their own way, would ask for advice.  they would ask questions and discuss faith questions.  their blunt honesty put an new spin on the faith that i was trying so desperately to reconnect with.  on a sunday, they were my sanity.  they were my angels that kept me from getting so lost in the darkness that i didn’t want to come back.

it was during this time that i learned of several other friends having infertility issues.  i made it a point to reach out to them.  with one in particular, we made it a point to go to dinner and be away from it all.  just a girls date night.  during dinner, we would take a few minutes to catch up.  we would fill each other in on life as we knew it.  there was always that moment where our laughter died down and we looked at each other.  the subject of infertility would come up.  she would ask what was new and i would fill her in on our story and  i would ask her how she was doing.  i leaned on her and still do.

in my anger at myself, our situation and at God, we decided to keep a lot of our story to ourselves.  it was too raw to really talk to most people about it because a lot of people just didn’t understand.  it was too hard to be able to admit how broken i really was.  how to admit that the vision that i had instilled in my own mind was unraveling.  how to admit that i was mad at God. we wanted to be able to control who had what information because, after all, it was our story to tell.  it was also too hard to deal with the look of pity.  people say that look doesn’t exist, but it does.  i was at a funeral and someone came up to me and gave me that look.  i said hello and she grabbed both of my arms and said “i am so sorry.”  i knew that she was genuinely sorry for us and meant what she said, but for starters, she should have never known – someone gave her information that she should have never known.  secondly, that look of pity – that look of, ‘i know what you can’t do.’  i know that you can’t create a family for your husband.  i know that you are broken beyond belief.  we also didn’t want people to know because we had hoped that treatment would work.  we hoped that if we kept it to ourselves, we would be able to “announce” a pregnancy to the world instead of having everyone know when our iuis were and knowing when the pregnancy test would be.  since it was based on timing, it wouldn’t have taken too long to figure out and we didn’t need the added stress of people knowing when to expect good news or bad news.

another thing that made me angry were people taking their pregnancies and their children for granted.  it wasn’t that it just made us angry, but that it shattered us into a million pieces.  we would have been thrilled and we worked so hard for it and nothing.  one of my friends told me that she was nervous that i would be upset at her when she told me that she was pregnant.  i will admit that my heart skipped a beat, but at the same time, i was overjoyed for her.  my only request was that she know how lucky she was and how fortunate she was to have this life growing inside her – to take the good and the bad and embrace it.

bargaining:

i bargained a little bit i guess.  i told God that if he allowed me to just have one baby i would do better.  i asked him what it would take.  i prayed and begged.  when i was home alone on saturdays (because andy was in school), i cleaned.  i would put my headphones in and listen to ‘doubting thomas’ by nicklecreek over and over while i cleaned and prayed.  i would sing  scream the lyrics hoping that it would help me move past the bitterness and the anger.  i would scream the lyrics and start crying hysterically listening to those words.  the words that were very much who i was.  i often found myself in the laundry room with my back against the washer sobbing.  i often found myself in the most normal situations sobbing – completely broken.  i don’t know if it was all the medicines coming out of my system or just every once in a while the reality hit me like a ton of bricks.  i didn’t bargain for long because it got me nowhere.

depression:

when the anger faded, sadness filled the void.  i don’t think that we ever went into depression.  we were sad – yes, of course.  but we weren’t depressed.  we wanted to act like nothing was wrong and sometimes we could, but the truth was that it hurt.  there were some days that we couldn’t get cereal from certain stores because that aisle shared the diaper aisle and that was just asking too much.  i remember going to the store to get one thing and decided we needed poptarts.  i was in a hurry, grabbed them and when i turned around, i was looking at baby food.  i started crying in the middle of aisle 8.  we had good days and we had bad days.  we were very honest with each other about this.  all it took was “this isn’t a good day” and we knew what we needed to do to help the other one out.

acceptance:

i am going to get off topic right now and say that i have never liked this last stage of grief.  because i don’t believe that acceptance is really the end result.  i feel like with each loss (in the situation of a person passing away or the loss of dreams and hopes) there is no real end.  i think that you move beyond the first stages and you enter a stage of “mostly ok.”  it isn’t that you fully accept the situation but that you move past the rest.  acceptance is such a strong word.

the thing about grief is that it sneaks up on you.  even when you feel like you have gotten past the first four stages and move into the fifth and once you feel like you get through the fifth stage, there are triggers that will take you back through all the phases again.  the stages might move a little faster and don’t take as much time to process them through to the next, but all of those stages resurface.

since the word is acceptance, we have accepted a few things.  we have accepted that even in our own personal grief, we can still have joy.  joy for other people and joy for ourselves.  we have accepted that even though we were thrown unwillingly into the infertility club, that we will survive.  we have accepted that other people are going to take things for granted and our feelings will be hurt.  we have accepted that people will unknowingly ask us why we don’t have children.  we have accepted that people will ask us questions about when we are going to get pregnant.  we have accepted that even in the depths of the darkest place we have ever been, the world will continue on around us, regardless of our grief and loss of what could have been.

I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it. – Kristin Arstrong

part 2 of 4: the inconsolable soul – a dark place

I’m my own worst critic and I think everyone in the band is a perfectionist. – Adam Jones.

i may not be part of a band, but i am part of this world and i can relate to where adam jones was coming from.  i think way too often we look at ourselves harsher than anyone would ever look at us.  i think we judge ourselves on things that shouldn’t really be judged.  i think we instill a perception of ourselves in our minds that isn’t ever really obtainable.  i think we expect more out of ourselves than is remotely possible.  i believe we are our own critics and we are the worst at criticizing ourselves.  i get it mr. jones.  i get it.

this is a side note to put a disclaimer out there.  my views of myself are not now, nor have they ever been, towards anyone else in our situation.  i can sit here and write all of these things about how i feel about myself and the situation. i can say how incomplete i am and have been and think i might always be, but i don’t see other people in the same light that i see myself.  i don’t think of them the way that i feel towards myself.  when i look in the mirror and see myself and our situation it is completely me, and when someone walks up beside me with the exact same problem and situation those feelings never project onto them, but rather a deep level of compassion and empathy pours out and my heart breaks even more for them than it has me.  it is as if my negative feelings and emotions have been locked inside for my own mind to wrap around.  it has become a strange phenomenon and a weird contradiction that i can make blanket statements and thoughts about me but don’t feel like they apply to anyone else.  i can’t really explain it and i don’t know that i ever will.

we were left with hope from dr. w.  he gave us homework.  he put me on several medicines to help get my hormones in check and to make sure that i was regular with my periods.  he wanted me to be on the pills for a while to get in my system.  he said to call him in two months and i would go back for lab work.  i called in two months and he said “wait one more month.”  after that additional month, he told me to come in and stated that everything looked great.  he said my labs were almost perfect, he had high hopes that we could kick infertility in the teeth and that i could get pregnant.  to say we were overjoyed at this point in time would be a complete understatement.  he rekindled my hope at a time where it was about to flicker out completely.  i was grateful for that.

it might be a good time to mention a few key things that were going on in our lives around this time.  we had a group of friends that we would get together with for game nights, dinners, cookouts, and any excuse to just hang out together.  it was 4 couples (which included me and andy).  out of the four couples, one or both of the spouses grew up with us (spouses that came later fit right in, making it a group of 4 couples instead of individuals) so out of each couple, we have been good friends for a long time.  we tried to get together each month.  sometimes we would get together more than once a month and sometimes there was a lull before we saw each other again, but we attempted to have our “group” get together as often as our schedules would allow.  each couple and each individual brought something new and different to the group and i believe that is what made our group unique.  i can’t speak for the other couples, but for us one thing was for sure – when we went our separate ways, we looked back fondly on the night with hurting cheeks from laughing and some new inside jokes.  all that to say that around this time, we found out that each of the couples were expecting (one couple already had a baby so this would have been baby two, and for the other two couples, this would be their first).  it was 3 out of 4 women pregnant and i happened to be that 4th.  i was the failure out of the group.  moving forward it would be 3 couples experiencing some of the same stuff at the same time and then there was us.  there would be fun conversations about nurseries, names, doctors appts, ultrasounds, heartbeats, a future of being mom and dad, and late nights.  and then there was us.  couple 4 – the infertile woman and her poor husband that got stuck with her.

this might also be an appropriate time to give a little background on the “group” before it was the 4 couples.  when we were individuals (not married), we were still a group: a few members varied depending on the year but for the most part we were the core group.  it was mostly me and one other girl (sometimes a third) and the rest of them were guys.  they loved to joke with us (especially about me being blonde) and about us being women.  it was all in good fun and we never got offended by their jokes.  i do blame them for my sarcastic sense of humor, stating that i had to develop it as a defense mechanism to put up with them.  we did guy things and that was perfect with our group.  we played poker (i won my fair share – but i knew to quit when i was ahead so that i can brag to this day).  we went to the batting cages (i didn’t do so well there).  we watched sports and action movies.  we went to concerts and cookouts.  i guess it fit my personality, but it was fun to be around the guys (less drama).  with that out there, the guys took advantage of the girls in their group.  they would joke that we needed to bring them refills and cook for them.  they were also an encyclopedia of “woman jokes.” one of their favorite jokes when the girls were giving their opinion on what to do or watch (usually it followed the suggestion of watching dirty dancing) was that a woman’s place is barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.  i will reiterate that we never took offense to their jokes – sometimes we laughed harder than they did.  we knew that they were just that – jokes.  i can honestly say that i believe they didn’t mean anything by them.  i can honestly say that they didn’t believe the jokes that they were telling.  they were just messing with us.

it wasn’t until i couldn’t get pregnant that their favorite joke knocked me off my feet.  i went into a panic thinking that the definition of a woman and a good wife (especially according to my very best guy friends) went with the image of a woman barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.  for years the jab hadn’t bothered me but now it cut me all the way to the core.  it has always struck me as weird that i put that definition on myself.  i didn’t see single women or women without kids and think any differently of them or that they are less of a “woman” – i don’t feel that way at all.  it honestly didn’t cross my mind.  it never caused me to look at anyone with this type of bias until i looked in a mirror.  it didn’t matter because dr. w gave me reason to believe that i could one day fit that image that i had put inside my head.

it was while we were waiting on my medicines to “work” and before any procedures that i sent a note to our close friends asking them for compassion and patience with us while we struggled to share their joy amidst our own overwhelming grief of the unknown.  it wasn’t that we weren’t happy for them, we were.  it was because we were having a hard time showing that joy and disguising our pain.  we still wanted to be a part of the group – but at a safe distance.  we got a lot of “heat” from that note.  i was told on the front porch of my own house that “if you just relax, you can get pregnant.”  (gee, i should try that!  why didn’t i think of that).  i felt attacked from several people and while i understand what they were saying, it only made me want to pull away more.

we still went to dinners and got together during all of this for a while when our schedules allowed us to.  it was hard.  i would give andy a look and he knew that meant it was time to go.  for the most part i was able to contain myself until we got in the car and then i couldn’t hold it in any longer.  andy would hold my hand or rub my back all the way home while i let it all out.  it was devastating.  it wasn’t that they did anything wrong – it was me, us.  as much as they said conversations wouldn’t dwell on the pregnancies and on babies, it came up – a lot.  i guess being an outsider to those conversations made it really clear how often they came up.  so did the complaints of “being pregnant.”  i would have given anything to not be able to drink alcohol, or to only sleep on my back, or to be miserably hot or uncomfortably cold.  i would have given anything to have had morning sickness – because that would have meant that i was pregnant.  with the heartbreak that i was going through, i would have gladly taken all of the negative and been absolutely happy about it.

***warning: the next several paragraphs might be too much information for some people – can’t say i didn’t warn you***

november came around and dr. w said the best chance we had would be to plan on doing an iui: intrauterine insemination.  the procedure sounded easy, safe, and reasonable so we agreed with him and decided to proceed.  he told me that timing would be important so on day one of my period i had to call the office and report that i was “actively bleeding”.  i don’t think i was ever so excited for day one (november 8).  i called the office and was told by one of his nurses to come in on cycle day 3 (cd3).  (ok so now i have to keep count and records of everything).  cd3 was a wednesday and i had to be at the office at 7 am for blood work and an ultrasound.  we had to wake up early and go to the office and wait in line.  it was first come, first served so we tried to get there early enough so that we didn’t have to wait long.  once they drew my labs, i went to the waiting room to wait on my ultra sound.  this would be a good time to toss out there that in this office, there were no “fun” ultra sounds.  they were all invasive.  when i was called to the room and ready for the ultrasound, i was expecting dr. w to walk in.  but no, in walks one of his partners. i guess my look of shock was evident and the doctor explained that when i come in for things, because of timing, i will most likely just have to deal with one of the other doctors (and their nurses).  (now my modest self has been “exposed” to so many people that i have lost count and by this point in time, i realize that i might as well toss that modesty out the door).  he does the ultra sound and says some numbers that meant nothing to me, but i memorized them so i could write them down later.  he tells me when to take my medicine (cd5 – cd9) and when to come back.  i go back on cd12 for yet another round of blood work and ultra sound.  i get the same doctor that i had a few days before and he tells me when to take my shot – cd12 and when to come back for the procedure (cd14).

my medicines.  i have always been a person that has never dealt with any side effects of medicines.  never – minus a few allergic reactions.  the thought never crossed my mind to even read what the side effects were.  big mistake. when i started the fertility drugs, i experienced almost all the side effects.  i was at work and all of a sudden i got hot. not just the “is it warm in here” hot, but the “i am going to melt” hot.  i ran to the bathroom to put water on my face to cool me down because my heart was racing and my cube mate asked if i was ok because i was “all red.”  i felt like i was melting from the inside out – a volcano building and building, ready to erupt.  no amount of cold water made them better.  i learned that i had to ride them out (luckily they didn’t last long – just several times a day).  only problem was, this was happening while i was at work and i was wearing long sleeves.  i couldn’t roll them up because i didn’t want people to see my arms.  i spent a lot of the time on the porch at work in the winter air.  my smooth sleek hair morphed into an frizzy fluff ball.  i also became very moody, highly sensitive, emotional and didn’t feel like my self.  i had other side effects too, but those are the ones that stick out as being the ones most memorable and difficult to deal with.

most of my medicines came in pill form – except one.  i had to give myself a shot.  i had hoped andy would be able to give them to me, but he couldn’t and i wasn’t about to have him stick me and pass out, so i learned to give them to myself.  the shot had to be kept in the fridge and i had to give them to myself at the exact time my doctor told me (which was usually between 5 and 8 at night – depending on my cycle).  fun stories to be added about that dreaded shot.

all of this time, i have been getting to work at weird hours.  trying not to alert people as to what is going on (i had my reasons).  so i would make excuses like, “i was unable to sleep, so i got up really early and decided to come in,” or, “i wanted to get out of here a little early so i drug myself in,” or, “i wanted to work later because andy had a meeting so i came in later to avoid over time.”  i was glad that it was november because i was able to wear long sleeves and jackets to hide my arms, which were pretty bruised from all of the lab work. when the bruises started to fade my arms looked rough.

our iui was scheduled for cd14 which happened to be a sunday.  i was glad because i didn’t have to make excuses.  dr. w preferred that i took the day off after the procedures so that i could relax. because it was a sunday, i could go have it done, go home and relax for the rest of the day.  we got up early and went to the office and we had our labs done.  afterwards we had to wait two hours so we went and had breakfast.  we went back to the office and prepared ourselves for the iui.  another doctor came in (not dr. w or the one we have seen before, but someone completely different- and there went my last shred of modesty and dignity).  he explained the numbers to us and told us he would be back with help and we were left for a few minutes to sit in silence.  part of the time i wondered if andy would pass out (since he didn’t do so well with my wisdom teeth experience) and the rest of the time i stared at the ceiling and prayed.  the doctor came in with a nurse i didn’t know and did the procedure.  it was uncomfortable and hurt a little, but not too bad.  he said goodbye and patted my knee which was still in the stir-up.  for some reason that struck me as a little rude (even though i know he meant nothing by it), but then again who cares.  the nurse eased my feet to a dangling position, told me to lay flat and still and they would be back. we waited and waited and i stared at the ceiling while andy talked to me and held my hand.  i teared up and he kissed my forehead and told me it would be ok.  my unshed tears were interrupted by the nurse telling me that if i felt ok, i could leave.  she helped me to a sitting position and made me wait a minute, then helped me to my feet.  when i didn’t fall over in the floor, she said goodbye and told me to get dressed and leave.  i went home and crawled back in bed while andy went to church – he made it to late service and told everyone he just over slept.  on cd18 i started more medicine, taking it every other day and on cd26 i went back for a beta test (blood pregnancy test).  on december 3, shane (dr. w’s nurse) called.  he said “sorry hun.  (pause) it’s a no.”   i was at work so i smiled, said thank you, hung up the phone, went to the bathroom, washed the hurt off my face, took a few deep breaths, and worked the rest of my 8 hours until andy picked me up.  my heart shattered to pieces on a friday.

i didn’t have long to wallow in self pity because cd1 was 3 days later and we had to decide if we were going to try again.  we said ok.  dr. w said he was pleased with all of the labs and the procedure itself, only thing was that it didn’t stick.  so cd3 we showed up at the doctors and saw a 4th doctor, had blood work and an ultra sound done.  i took my medicine from cd3 – cd7.  came back cd12 and cd14 for ultra sound and blood work (because on cd12 they didn’t like what they saw), added a new doctor to the mix.  shot on cd14 (which i gave to myself at work because of the timing of everything.  so when i went to work that day i carried two lunch boxes…one with my lunch and the second with my shot that i put in the fridge and told people i was eating dinner there because andy had a meeting and i had to get stuff caught up for the upcoming end of the year).  iui number one for december, cd16 (add another random doctor) and another shot that night (in the comfort of my home). iui number two for december, cd17. praise God dr. w was there to do the second one.  we did two iuis that month, back to back, because during one ultra sound they couldn’t find one of my ovaries and felt that doing two trigger shots and two iui’s in the same month would give us additional percentage of something happening.  i started my medicine cd21.  went cd31 for beta test in the morning and later that day, on a cold wednesday, shane called and said “hey hun.”  he paused long enough to take a deep breath and simply said “sorry.”  i sent andy an email letting him know because i knew i wouldn’t be able to talk about it without getting mad or crying so i just wrote him BFN (big fat negative).  he understood.

i had to work after both of the iui’s in december because i couldn’t come up with an excuse as to why i needed off so close together. that night i cried.  ugly cried.  cried gut wrenching sobs that wouldn’t stop.  i climbed in bed and otis curled up next to me i latched on to him and pulled him close.  he sank into my arms with his head on my pillow and didn’t move when my tears soaked his fur.  my hopes had been high and because we prayed and prayed and because andy said he believed that we were on the right track and he believed that something would happen it was even more devastating.  i believed because i “felt different” and my period hadn’t started and it should have.  i believed because i wanted it to be true.  i did everything the doctor said and i had hope.  in my tears my soul poured out.  my hopes, my dreams, my wishes, my prayers, my life, andy’s life, our everything emptied out of me in one of the most heart wrenching weeping episodes of my life.  there was no consoling – Lord knows andy tried.  i hurt from the inside out.  my soul was damaged – still never really recovered from before.

december was possibly the worst.  i was hopeful for a miracle because “tis the season.”  i was hopeful that we would be getting the best gift possible that no money can buy – well in our case, actually, money was “buying” it (but let’s not get too technical).  december sucked and for the second time in my life, my feelings for Christmas dimmed and i couldn’t wait to get the decorations down and for all of that “crap” to go away.  the spirit of Christmas failed me.

one morning right before Christmas, i had to run to target and pick up a few last minute items (Christmas and travel).  i will admit, i went in my pj pants and a coat – i wasn’t going to be gone long because i had a list and i knew i would be in and out in no time.  plus, that early in the morning, i knew that running into anyone i knew would be slim, so who cares if i wore my pj pants and coat! i got to the line and there was a woman and child in front of me. i smiled at the mom and she smiled back.  i smiled at the kid in the buggy because she was looking at me. i started to unload my buggy and rolled my coat sleeves up because they were getting in the way and the woman looked at my arms – which were bruised (from all shades of healing) and she quickly pushed her kid away from me and got away from me as fast as she could.  it only took a fraction of a second to realize that when she looked at my arms she believed that i was using drugs.  with the bruises and needle marks, i don’t blame her for the reaction or the assumption.  i just wish i could have explained – no it isn’t what she was thinking, but rather my desire for a baby so bad i would do anything…

i went on auto pilot.  i wasn’t myself.  once again i wasn’t given much time to process.  3 days later was cd1 and i called the doctor to set up for cd3.

it was january and it was cold and miserable which was fine because it matched my mood.  between all of the medicines, side effects and the misery of two failed months of iui’s, i wasn’t myself.  i looked in the mirror each morning and felt like a stranger – a messed up version of what i had hoped to be at this point in my life.

we woke up extra early on cd3 because they had been calling for snow.  everything was covered in snow and ice. when i called to set up the appt, i talked to shane about what we do if it snows.  he said they would be there because they had to be and when we saw the snow and ice we debated on calling and telling them never mind, but we knew that meant we would miss january all together and wouldn’t get to “try” again until february.  so we left the house and braved the snow and ice (we almost had a wreck which did nothing for my nerves) and went in on cd3 where we saw yet a different doctor and i was annoyed at that.  because of the snow, there was no one at the doctor’s office so i was able to fly through my lab work and the ultrasound.  i got to work really early that day and made some petty excuse of being early “because of the snow i wanted to leave early to give myself plenty of time and it wasn’t as bad as i thought it would be”.  cd3 – cd7 i took my medicine.  cd12 i came back for more labs and another ultrasound and was told to take two shots that night (instead of just my one).  i went back cd14 for the iui and was glad that dr w was there.  started my other medicine on cd18 and went in cd28 for my blood test.  shane called late friday afternoon and told me it was a no.  there was no sugar coating any of it anymore it was straight shooting.  i started to cry on the phone and told shane i had to talk to dr. w.

dr w called me that night and told me not to give up.  he still had hope for us even if he didn’t understand because he felt like my labs were so much better, andy was perfect and timing was working out perfectly.  he said to continue what we were doing because the important thing was that i was responding to everything – just not getting pregnant.

as far as the group of 4 couples…i told each of the pregnant females that i would welcome emails, texts, facebook messages, written letters, etc from them about their pregnancies but not to be surprised if i couldn’t ask because it was too hard at times to look at them without crying, let alone talking to them.  i stalked them on facebook and emailed individually several times.  even after the negative response from my email asking for understanding, we were still invited on their outings even though we had to turn a few down (we had concert tickets one time, church commitments another time, and a mini weekend getaway another time – our schedules just didn’t match up).  i did get accused of trying to “avoid” the group and was told that i should change my plans and was chastised when i didn’t, but it was truly a scheduling conflict.  in november while the 3 women were still pregnant, our schedules lined up and we went to dinner with them.  one of the couples found out that day what the sex of the baby was.  i wanted to show my support, but couldn’t just come out and ask – it was too much for me to be able to do.  so instead, i asked her 3 times how her appt went, hoping that she would feel free to share as much or as little as she wanted to (including the sex of the baby) since i brought the subject up.  she said “fine.”  with each of my questions, i got “fine,” so i didn’t ask again.  later she sent me a message, mad because “it would have been nice to have been asked” about the sex of the baby and the pregnancy.  i was enraged and hurt.  i did ask.  however, because i wasn’t able to ask the one specific question she wanted to hear, she refused to open up.

it made me mad because you wouldn’t ask someone who has ptsd (triggered by gun shots) to go hunting with you.  you wouldn’t expect someone who is dying of thirst to ask for a cup of water if you have it readily available just like you shouldn’t ask your friend struggling with infertility to pry pregnancy information out of you.  in all this time, some of the couples were expecting us to ask all these questions when we just mentally couldn’t and yet none of them asked me how i was.  how we were.  this situation was new to all 8 of us and no one really knew the right way to handle it.  i dealt with it the best i could and the way that made it hurt less, and others believed that my way was the complete wrong way.  now, i am not trying to say that one set handled the situation better than the other, but rather that all parties (including us) should have done better.

after that dinner, one of the couples had their baby in november after our first iui, but before we knew that it didn’t take.  a second couple had their baby in january, 7 days after our january iui.  the 3rd couple was still not due for a few more months.  we tried to be there (in person or through technology) but it was hard.  emotionally and physically, it was hard.

two days after I talked to dr. w, cd1 started and he told us if we felt like it, he wanted us to try again.  he felt very hopeful and felt like the odds would be in our favor.  cd3 i went in for blood work and an ultrasound.  took medicine for cd3-cd7.  cd12 and cd14 more blood work and ultrasounds.  on cd16 i gave myself a shot.  on cd18 we went in for the iui and dr. w was there.  i was glad.  he took a few minutes to come in before the procedure and talk to us.  he wanted to reassure us and talk about some things in person.  he stated that he felt like we were on the right track and that we were doing great with everything.  he asked each of us how we were handling things.  he cared.  on cd22, i started more meds and we went in for a beta test on cd31.  veronica (dr. w’s other nurse) called that morning (they never called before lunch) and asked if i could come back on cd33 for another beta test.  my heart lept in my throat and i could barely form words, but i asked why?  she stated that dr. w wanted me to have another test because he wanted to make sure the first one was right.  i asked, “does that mean it is positive?”  she wouldn’t answer, but told me to be there two days later.  on cd33 i had another beta test done and that afternoon i got the call.  my levels had been high, but they were back down.  BFN.

i was so infuriated that i called andy and we went to eat.  i flew between rage and hysterical tears at lunch.  i am not sure either of us really ate lunch that day, but we sat there staring at each other, waiting on someone to have something to say.

cd1 started 3 days later and we went back.  it was march.  blood work and ultra sound done on cd3 and my first round of medicine was from cd3-cd7.  on cd12 i went in for my blood work and ultrasound.  while i was laying on the table, i noticed the stir-ups.  they were metal but had socks on them.  in my mind, i recalled all of my other appts and realized that they changed the socks on them all the time.  at Christmas, they had snowman and tree socks and the ones i saw today were shamrocks.  it annoyed me.  they were bright green and happy and i wasn’t in the mood for them.  that night, i gave myself the shot and on cd14 i returned for my iui.  cd18 started more medicine.  on cd29 i took a home pregnancy test and it was a negative.  on cd30 i called the office and told them my period hadn’t started, did i need to come in?  they said no, but to take another test on cd32.  i did and it was still negative but my period still hadn’t started.  they told me to stop my medicines and see what happens.  i took two more pregnancy tests and called because they were both negative.  they gave me another medicine and told me to let them know if my period didn’t start in the next few months.

i called dr. w and he said sorry.  his voice didn’t have the usual effect it had on me.  it wasn’t calming – it rocked me to a state of complete and utter despair and back to that level of uncertainty that i had in the emergency room.  he sounded genuinely sorry for us.  he told me that he didn’t think any more treatment right now was a good idea. he said that we could try again in several months down the road.  he said “alison you are tired.  you need a break.”  i told him no, that i would do whatever. he said no, take a break.

i hung up the phone and looked at andy and i lost it.  he was already pacing (as he does when he is on the phone or if he is waiting to hear what is going on) and he came up behind me and wrapped me in his arms, keeping me from collapsing on the floor and rested his chin on my head.  i sobbed.  he held me tight.  all I could say was “I’m sorry.”  i repeated it over and over and over.  hoping that he could understand that i didn’t mean for this to happen to us.  that i didn’t mean for my ovaries to suck.  that i didn’t know this was going to happen when we first started talking about having a family and kids.  i am so sorry.  somehow he maneuvered us to the love seat and that is when i felt his tears.  i looked at him and knew that i couldn’t trap him.  it wasn’t fair for him.  he would be a great father and i was depriving him of that.  he deserved someone that had good ovaries and because i loved him so much, i had to let him go.  i pulled free of his arms and looked at his soaked face and told him he could have his out.  that he could walk away now with no hard feelings and no questions and i would understand.  i would make others understand too.  he said no.  i told him to really think about it because i couldn’t give him a son or daughter.  i told him to think about it, because i didn’t want to stay together if years down the road he thought that he would look at me with a look of regret or resentment or bitterness for what i was unable to do.  i told him to think about it.  he started to shake his head no and i told him i was leaving for a while.  i got my purse and keys and went to my parents’ house.  they weren’t home.  i don’t remember the drive.  i don’t know how i made it to their house because i was crying so hard.  i don’t know how i made it to their bathroom before i threw up.

i gasped in some deep breaths and closed my eyes trying to pace my breathing – in (pause) and out, in (pause) and out,  swallow down the bile, repeat.  i loved andy so much that i was willing to let him go so that he wouldn’t regret our marriage.  so that he wouldn’t despise me.  breath in and out.

my inconsolable soul.  i went home – to the house that andy and i had made a home.  when i opened the door, i found andy sitting right where i left him an hour earlier.  he didn’t look any better than i did.  i walked to the love seat and sat down next to him and he kept his arms in his lap.  i picked up his right arm and slid right next to him and he tightened his grip and we cried together in silence for a little while longer.  it wasn’t the devastated, end of the world, body shaking sobs but the quiet tears of loss.  of knowing that our illusion, of what we imagined our life together, was shattered.  of knowing what limitations i had placed on our dreams.  i was sorry.  i looked up at him through my tears and met his eyes through his and said “i am so sorry.”  he kissed my forehead and said it wasn’t my fault.  he said he wasn’t going anywhere and that i was his forever.

i went to bed that night alone.  andy went to the garage to work on some projects and told me he would be in later.  i just wanted to be asleep.  thinking that sleep would make it all go away.  thinking that sleep would ease the pain and the hurt.  when i thought there were no more tears to cry, i was proven wrong.  i wrapped my arms around my pillow and buried my face and wept until the darkness of sleep graciously consumed me.

part 1 of 4: the inconsolable soul – in the beginning

leaning against the cold wall with the taste of bile lingering in my nose and throat, my knees bent with my toes touching the base of the cold porcelain toilet, i knew i had to stop sobbing.  i was beyond the being sick phase and was dry heaving because there was nothing left to come out.  my cheeks were soaked from the shed tears and my head was starting to pound.  i gasped in some deep breaths and closed my eyes trying to pace my breathing – in (pause) and out, in (pause) and out,  swallow down the bile, repeat.  what got me in the floor of the bathroom in the house that i was raised in?  why was i here?  an inconsolable soul.

i offered my husband, a man that i love so incredibly much – an out.  i knew that i could never be the wife that he deserved/needed and with that realization came my deal to him – leave now with no questions asked.

rewind to 10 months earlier

10 months earlier, on a saturday in may (2010), i found myself in the ER.  i was at the church in Monroe getting things set up for the silent auction dinner (while andy was still at school) and i had a massive cramp that took my breath away and knocked me to my knees.  i was able to catch my breath and get up, but the cramp turned into more with each one getting more intense.  each month i get cramps (like most women) but i know my body and i knew that i have never ever in my life experienced pain like this.  it wasn’t much longer that i realized that i was bleeding uncontrollably.  i sucked it up and got through the set up until andy showed up and i eased away and called my doctor.  she said go to the ER.  i went and was told that i had a cyst rupture.  this was causing the cramps that took me to my knees (literally) several times and the bleeding and the clots.  i asked what that meant.  the ER doctor shrugged and told me to follow-up with my regular OB/GYN doctor.  i left the ER with less money, less pain, a cool paper bracelet, a million questions, and a level of fear and uncertainty that i hoped to never experience again.

i made an appointment with my regular doctor and told her what happened and she started doing tests.  she ordered labs and an ultra sound (this would be a good time to note that i was unaware of the different types of ultra sounds).   i went in the room and assumed that it would be the one that was “lift your shirt and put cold jelly on your belly.”  it wasn’t.  it was very uncomfortable – especially since i wasn’t expecting that kind and since i am a little modest to begin with.  if you want to know the details, google the different types of US to look at ovaries (hint – it is a little invasive).

this would be a good time to note that we weren’t “trying” to get pregnant, but we also weren’t “trying to not” get pregnant (i will admit i was very hopeful each month and would have been delighted).  after all the tests, my doctor asked a ton of questions and i told her this. she shifted her eyes down and i could tell she was buying time.  she said, “well alison, i don’t really know what to tell you.  it looks like something is wrong with your ovaries – they aren’t acting like they should.  it could be nothing but then again, i don’t know.”

she gave me 3 months worth of medicines to try and i took them.  nothing happened.  i went back and she told me that she didn’t think there was anything else she could do to help me so she set me up with a specialist.

 by this point in time we were given a shaky idea of what was wrong with my ovaries but nothing real solid.  we researched everything that we could to educate ourselves about our upcoming specialist appt.  we had no idea who we were seeing out of the group and didn’t know what was going to happen when we went, but i filled out 8 pages of new patient paperwork and we went to the appt.

we met our “specialist.” we will call him dr. w (for wildman).  when he walked into the exam room he looked like a cross between a sociopath and mad scientist with crazy hair  or someone who arrived each day at work via jumping out of a plane.  he walked in and i was tempted to walk out.  i thought it was a joke until he opened his mouth and something about his voice and his words calmed me.  it wasn’t that he was saying overly positive things – but that he was talking to me and answering the questions i had before i even asked them.  he was giving it to me straight and there wasn’t an ounce of sugar-coating anything.  he told us his initial thoughts and said that even though it looked like my doctor was doing a fine job he wanted to run his own test.  he told me i would have to come back and have my blood work done, but he wanted to go on and do an US.  he did it and this time at least i knew what to expect.  he made notes and told us (because he wanted to make sure exactly who’s infertility we were dealing with) when to come back for labs and said to follow-up afterwards.

a few days later i had to be at the office at 7am.  (i was instructed to drink as much water as i could because of all of the blood they would need).  when we got there we had to wait in line and my legs were crossed because i already had consumed almost 64 ounces of water.  i signed in and quickly learned that the lab was first come first served.  andy was called for his lab work and i was left sitting in a room wondering how much longer before i could pee.  after several people went, i was called.  i climbed into the vinyl chair and lowered the bar across my lap and rolled up my sleeves.  the lab tech came over and confirmed my name and date of birth.  she looked at my order and said “ok, let’s do this.”  i nodded.  she reached over and started pulling vials that she needed to fill.  she turned and asked if i had been drinking water this morning and i told her yes.  she smiled and said “good, because we have 16 vials to fill.”  i wanted to cry.  she sat down on a rolling stool and asked me which arm i wanted her to try first.  i looked at her and smiled and she laughed.  “you have hard veins don’t you?”  i nodded.  she laughed again and said, “well, here we go.”  in only the second time in my entire life, she stuck me once and got blood!  she filled the first vial and then the second and on and on until she had 16 vials full of bright red blood.  after i signed all of the labels i watched her put the stickers on all of my vials and went back into the waiting room and andy was waiting on me.

i went to work and kept my sleeves rolled down because a huge bruise was forming on my arm and i didn’t want to answer questions about it.  we went back to see dr. w a week later and went into his office (which i remember as being mostly organized, which seemed odd to me because of his hair).  even in our second meeting, it was like the first time we met him and made me think a little bit of jim carrey in ace ventura  when he drives with his head out the window – it made me smirk a little but then the reality of why were there came crashing down and the smirk faded away.  we sat in chairs and prepared ourselves for the results.

this is what we learned.  andy was perfect in every way.  all of his labs and test came back better than what dr. w could have hoped.

me on the other hand – it wasn’t good.  he stated that he thought the issue was with me and my ovaries.  he hesitated, but tossed out possibly pco.  he said he wanted to do one more test before we decided what to do.  he wanted me to have a hysterosalpingogram  (x-ray to see if my fallopian tubes were open).  he said once we had that answer, he would have a game plan for us (if it goes good, he tells us what he thinks we should do, and if it is bad, he gives us a few other options).

i showed up for that appointment at 8am and was humiliated.  the facility where i had to have this x-ray done is the same place people go for a million other tests, as well as radiation and other types of specialized treatments.  to look at the fallopian tubes, you have to go through the uterus.  when they called me back, the nurse escorted me to a door right next to 15 chairs in a waiting room (like a fitting room in a department store).  she reached in a built-in drawer in the closet, handed me a paper gown that opened in the back, told me to undress from the waist down and put the gown on then come on out to the waiting room (luckily she gave me a second gown to put on like a robe to cover my exposed back side).  i was mortified.  the waiting room wasn’t secluded at all.  there was a hallway (that might as well had been a highway full of people) right next to it.  i turned bright red, did what she said, took my plastic bag with over half of my clothes in it and found a seat.  it wasn’t long before i was joined by an elderly man wearing a similar gown and carrying a similar bag.  not long after he sat down, another woman sat down.  none of us would make eye contact.  it was humiliating to sit there and have all these people walk by staring.

they called my name and escorted me down the hall (i was so very grateful for the second gown at this point).  the nurse walked me into the room through a special door and pointed to another door. she told me to empty my bladder.  i did and she told me to sit down in the chair, and i did.  the room had a huge machine in the middle with computers all around.  there was another nurse standing behind a glass wall with more computers and more gadgets.  i didn’t see dr. w and i was a little nervous.  the nurse that had me sit down came over to talk to me.  she asked if i knew what was going to happen and i told her what i knew.  she verified that i was correct and added some details that i didn’t know.  she paused and asked if i had any questions and i did.  “i read online it hurts…is it going to hurt?”  she laughed and said “well, it will either be fine, with no pain or you will be in excruciating pain – that is what i see most.”  silently i am thinking “great, that wasn’t really reassuring.”  she leads me to the table and i climb up.  dr. w walks in.  there is something about his wild hair and sociopath killer look that is so familiar and surprisingly calming to me – i still haven’t figured that out yet.

he comes over where i am sitting on the table and takes both of my hands and asks if i am ready.  i nod.  he smiles and looks at the nurse and nods.  she comes over to him with a mask, x-ray padded vest-type-thing and x-ray thyroid guard.  the nurse is already in this get up.  i lay back and she drapes a padded vest over my chest and neck.  he walks me through the procedure: put your feet here.  this is going to be cold.  breathe. this is what i am doing now.  this is the dye i am about to inject. (about this time i notice that the nurse is right by my head and has been the entire time, but the other nurse, that was behind the glass, is now dressed like an alien with the rest of us and is helping dr. w).  the nurse asks if i am ok.  i barely nod.  dr. w asks if i am ok.  both the nurse and i nod. the nurse touches my arm as dr. w says “here it goes.  don’t forget to breathe, ok alison?”  i can actually feel the dye in me.  it is weird.  i hear the machine make noises and i see a flash of light above my head.  i try to look without moving and dr. w notices this.  he says, “go on, put your head back and look.”  i do and i see my uterus and fallopian tubes on the screen (at least that is what he tells me i am looking at).  he smiles, looks at me and says, “do you see that?  do you see mickey mouse?”  the nurse helping him takes a pointer and points out mickey’s face and ears.  i say yes.  he says “that is mickey and mickey is a good thing.  you have a happy uterus and fallopian tubes, meaning nothing is blocked.”  for the first time in the past 3 months since i was in the er, i was given good, positive news.  dr. w continues to walk me through the process and tells me when he is done.  he helps me to my feet and they send me through, back to the bathroom to finally get dressed. the nurse asks me if i am ok and if it hurt.  i tell her that, surprisingly, it didn’t, and that i am starting to cramp.  she tells me i should go home and take it easy.  i can’t because i have to go to work and act as if nothing is wrong or going on.

since everything was good, i talked to andy and told him the news.  i called shane (one of dr. w’s nurses) and told him to let dr. w know we want to proceed with the plan he laid out earlier since the x-ray was fine.  so i start some different medicines and in two months have my labs repeated (thank goodness they only took 3 vials of blood this time) and we go back to talk to dr. w in his office.  he tells us that my labs look better since i have been on the meds and he thinks we would be wonderful candidates for an IUI (intrauterine insemination).  we agree to go forward, he writes more prescriptions and tells us what to expect in the next month.  he gives us clear instructions, details and a smile.

in his smile i have a sense of hope.  hope in the form of dr. w.  hope in an IUI.  hope in andy, that his labs are perfect.  but the important thing is that, for the very first time in 5 months, i have hope.

all about bob…well claire

almost 10 years ago I met one of my best friends at queens university.  it was a nutrition class and we had to work on a group project together.  after that project study groups formed and a tremendous friendship started.  we have been through some ups and downs together with each of us.  she was a part of my wedding and I helped her though a rough relationship.  we have talked about family issues and have been there through losses.  we have each others back.  after her failed relationship we would go to dinner and I would ask her about dating.  she would say nope and I am never getting married.  one day things changed.  she came to dinner and talked about bob.  the more and more we talked on the phone or went to dinner the more and more she talked about bob.  she talked about meeting his family and him meeting hers and she was happy.  I was honored to be apart of her wedding to bob 3-15-14.

first we had a bachelorette party at folly beach/Charleston.  it was the first time I got to meet the other bridesmaids.  it was a blast even if it did rain most of the weekend.

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I was able to take a few days off the week of the wedding.  on the Thursday before the wedding andy and I went to the farm and helped get some decorating done and hung out with bob and Claire.  on Friday we went to the rehearsal and to dinner and I spent the night with Claire and helped her do her flowers.  we were up until 330 in the morning but we laughed until we cried and snorted.  the day of the wedding we got up and got out hair done and went back to her place and to the farm to finish up the flowers and then it was game time.  she was the most beautiful bride and I couldn’t have been happier for her and bob and they both seemed so happy.  the wedding ceremony was beautiful and the reception was wonderful.  the food was delicious.  it was the perfect march day to have a wedding.

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for her wedding gift I made her and bob a quilt and used her wedding colors in it.

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congrats to my bff Claire and her new husband bob on a beautiful wedding and a wonderful start to a brand new adventure.  I love you both!

camera clean up

so part of the reason I am bad at blogging is 1. because my computer is slow and 2. because it takes me forever to get my photos off my camera and get them organized.

something I found that I realized I never posted were some Christmas decoration pictures on our anniversary tree and our last ornaments for year 6.  year 6 was iron and candy.

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we added a giant kiss and twix bar ornament (the kiss was too heavy for the little tree so it just sat under it).  and for the iron we actually found a little iron and a frying pan.  I painted the frying pan solid black after Christmas and now it looks like a mini cast iron skillet.  I love how our anniversary ornament tree comes together each year and how we get to add something to it each year after celebrating another year of marriage.

based on a lie

so they say that marriages based on truth and communication will last.  i heard that in our marriage counseling classes before we got married and i have heard it from friends that were married before us.  i heard it from people who experienced failed marriages.  trust.  that is the foundation for a happy and healthy marriage.  so in our marriage we have really strived to be honest with each other.  up front with what we are thinking and feeling.  we try not to sugar coat things so that the truth can be accepted as what it is and interpreted as what the other means which prevents trying to decipher if there are hidden meanings.  i feel like we have done a wonderful job with this.  sometimes we say things and they might sting a little bit, but in the end we (i will take this time to speak for andy…hopefully i am right and he feels the same way) take what the other says to heart and after reflecting on it we are able to see that the other person wasn’t trying to be intentionally mean but instead was trying to be clear and honest.  it is something that has worked well in our relationship and marriage and then i found out our marriage was based on a lie…

we were talking and after some wild tangent (i am sure) we started talking about our wedding and that progressed into our colors – black and blue.  i knew for a long time that i wanted our wedding to be simple yet elegant and i wanted that theme to radiate throughout the day.  i knew i wanted to use my favorite colors and that they would play right into it.  blue and black.  i will add here that andy was on board for pretty much whatever.  he was very hands on during the entire process and never really questioned my desire for black and blue.  he was on board.  i remember one of the first things people would ask me about was the colors.  i would tell the person black and blue and would get a funny look and would be asked what shade of blue?!  i guess because there are so many different shades of blue people wanted to know exactly what shade so i started answering black and blue – smurf blue.  that seemed to make people happy.  at some point in time i heard andy tell someone that our colors were black and panther blue.  my thought was that for people who lived around here that was a good description of the color and people would know exactly what shade that was (esp. going into stores looking for that specific shade of ribbon, ties, candles, bags, etc).  it just became part of our wedding planning to toss in panther blue.  it offered clarity to others and eliminated further questions and responses.

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i am now learning (after years of blissful marriage) that andy really thought our wedding colors were black and panther blue (because of the panthers – not because that was the best way to describe that shade of blue).  our marriage started out based on a lie.

are we doomed because our circle of trust and honesty is broken?  was it just a misunderstanding and we will be ok?  will we need therapy to undo what has been done?  does this start the beginning of a battle that will last for years over who interpreted our colors correctly?

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questions questions questions…..

memorable dates

there have been a few dates that have come and gone while i was on “sabbatical” that i should mention….well i don’t know if i should but i want to.

july 18, 2013: marks the 12th year that leslie hasn’t been with us.  andy was at camp so i had to work and hang out alone.  some years i spend the day reflecting and smiling and laughing at the memories and other years i can’t get past the tears to really smile at the fun times we shared.  this year was a strange mix of the two.  i would have crocodile tears running down my face and burst into laughter fluttering between the two extremes all day.  it was weird but surprisingly comforting.  i wore my ladybug earrings that i got for my birthday in her honor and her blue necklace that she bought when she went to the beach with me and my family.  (i have to wear it around my wrist as a bracelet because the clasp pulls hair like no bodies business…which explains 1. why it was on the clearance table when leslie picked it out and 2. why it had her brown hair stuck in it when claudette gave it to me.  i also bought a sprite and drank it.  at lunch in high school i would usually share her lunch (usually eat a fry) and share her drink which was always sprite – so it only seemed right to enjoy one!

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july 21, 2013: marks the 12th year andy and i have been together and the 6th year we have been married.  with each year i think about our story and how imperfectly perfect it is for us.  i think about all the ups and downs of before we were together and after.  i think about all of the could have beens and should have beens.  i think about how lucky i am to have him in my life and how blessed i am that he is my best friend and husband.  this is when i tell you that we had an incredibly romantic date with a horse-drawn carriage ride to a 5 star restaurant with a sting quartet playing while we laughed over the best meals ever…but i would be lying…what we did was close to that – we spent the night at vbs at church.

at the reception

 

july 28 – august 3, 2013: high school trip to montreat.  it was surprisingly cool and a good week.  there were good things about the program and bad…but it is still wonderful montreat.  one of the nights the choir was singing and on the front row of the auditorium we heard a noise (it wasn’t terrible but it was different).  there was a little old man playing a recorder.  we laughed at him.  it was out of place and seemed a little weird.  then it got weirder.  after that song he went on stage.  there were two youth playing drums and they looked confused like this man wasn’t suppose to be on the stage.  he walked up to the microphone with his 3 recorders (all different sizes) and started to play with the choir.  when they finished the choir director came to the front and I figured he would ask him to leave the stage but he didn’t…he let him play another song.  the man was so excited and it made me tear up.  he was so passionate about being up in front of 500 youth and wanted to share his talent with all of us and he did.  he was allowed to play and you could see the joy that it brought to him.  it was a touching moment to me and one of the high lights of my week.

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august 21, 2013: marks the 7th year anniversary of when he proposed to me and my wildest dreams became a reality.

I am sure there are other dates that fall into this post…but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.  this is the problem with not blogging on a regular basis!