Monday, June 30, 2008

Temper Tantrum, Anyone???

Sometimes... I just want to throw myself on the ground, bang my fists, kick my feet and scream, "When's it gonna be MY turn???"

But then I remember that I am an adult. So, instead, I just surround myself with wonderful friends and loved ones, remember what I have to be grateful for, and get through one day at a time.

And that's what I do.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hope Hiding There

"Whatever you do, don't look down."
That's all the advice they can give.
But you keep looking down,
'cause you think that's where everything is.

It's harder to see things can change,
that night can be conquered at dawn.
'Cause the darkness you feel
is unbearably real
and strong.

It's just how it goes.
No matter what you do,
the way through the fog
has been hidden from view.

But around every corner,
though you're unaware,
protected by grace
in the face of despair,
there is hope hiding there.

You might think it strange
hope would hide.
It seems like a cowardly deed.
But it's saving its power
for your desperate hour
of need.

And all of that strength
and good it can do,
awaits being found
safe and sound,
just for you.

'Cause around every corner,
though you're unaware,
protected by grace
in the face of despair,
there is hope hiding there.

And ears cannot hear it
and eyes cannot see,
but hearts are drawn near it
if they choose to be.

Around every corner,
though you're unaware,
protected by grace
in the face of despair...

there is hope hiding there.

-Michael McLean

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Taking Charge of My Treatment

I had a "moment" during my acupuncture appointment yesterday...

My acupuncturist, who is very nice by the way, loves to discuss and debate the status of the stock market while he treats me. It started out as short discussions: a question here or there about my opinion on annuities, a comment or two about the day's market activity, etc.

Well, yesterday we sat down to have a short conversation before treatment began, which is the typical scenario. I gave him my thyroid test results and he called my thyroid "impeccable". Even though I know I should be happy about my continually flawless test results, I am usually disappointed by such perfect outcomes. If I can't figure out what's wrong, I can't fix it!

Anyway, the disappointment in my ideal results, along with the emotionality of this time in my cycle (for some reason I am terribly emotional during the time between my period and ovulation...I have no idea why), began my spiraling towards total breakdown.

Tim began the treatment and simultaneously started asking questions about annuities. Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say annuities are wrong for everyone in every situation, but I am highly skeptical and cautious about them. Tim is convinced the market won't recover for years to come and annuities are the smart way to go. He began describing scenario after scenario, trying to get me on his side.

I am a shiny, new financial planner. Heavy debates about the market do not feel like "shooting the breeze" to me. They require me to be on my toes, to draw from my broad knowledge and limited experience. This is not relaxing.

The entire time, I just wanted him to shut up! I wanted quiet and relaxation. And, if conversation is necessary, let's talk about how I am going to balance my body and increase my chances of pregnancy, or at least develop inner peace and acceptance.

Tears burned my eyes. I would wait until he turned around and then wipe them away quickly. Thoughts of doubt and hopelessness filled my head. Who am I kidding? What am I even doing here? Horrible thoughts.

Tim finished with the needles and left the room. As I laid there in the quiet, my tears subsided and I began to relax. All of my limbs felt heavy and my head began to clear.

If Tim came to me for financial planning advice, how would he feel if I spent most of the session discussing acupuncture and debating its validity as a medical service? I think at some point he would be frustrated. He was there for financial advice; that is what he was paying for.

Suddenly, it dawned on me. This whole exploration I have been doing lately is about taking charge of my treatment. It's about not listening to some "authority" and doing what feels right to me. I have come so far and here I was again, letting someone (unintentionally) affect my progress because I was too timid to stand up for myself and what I want.

At my next appointment, I will ask Tim to avoid stock market and investment talk during my treatment. It may hurt his feelings a little but I have to do what's right for me. I will again take charge of my own treatment. It feels weird to put myself first, but in a world of doctors, experts, healers, and herbal gurus, I truly am my only advocate!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dream Crushers and a Hungarian Folktale

Ever met a dream crusher? You probably have. If you haven't, just try something like alternative medicine after 5 years of infertility and the dream crushers will emerge. I have met a few over the last couple months. These are good and caring people who deep down have a hard time when someone makes a choice that is out of their comfort zone. They struggle in showing happiness over someone else's success. Perhaps the following quote describes it best:

"In some cases there's a wish, however unconscious, to commiserate rather than rejoice."

So they are skeptics of my choices and doubters of any possible breakthroughs. They only show encouragement when I consider an action they deem "plausible". Even if they feign support with what they say, they can not hide the cynicism written on their face. Things like diet or herbs or acupuncture could not possibly reverse whatever mystery is ailing me. Only the men in the white coats can be trusted. Anything else is foolishness.

And when it appears that one of these "silly" alternatives is making a difference, then the success is "psychological" or can be explained by some other inconspicuous fact.

Over time, I've learned to "recognize the destroyers in my life, the people who can't resist poking a finger into my tower of blocks and watch them scatter all over the floor. The 'realists' who stand by with a list of a hundred rational reasons not to disrupt the pattern of acceptable solutions."

Learning to shake off their pessimism and disbelief has been a struggle. But over time, I have found a voice inside me. Sometimes, all it says is "You'll show them", but other times I am actually able to believe their opinion doesn't matter. Which it doesn't.

I don't know how to live in a world without hope, faith, or miracles. To picture such a world feels silent and empty. I refuse to explain away the unexplainable, attributing these events to coincidence or happenstance. To do this seems, in my eyes, foolish.

To those dream crushers out there, thanks for the ammunition. You have encouraged the rebel inside me to prove you wrong. However I choose to have my family, I will one day be fulfilled. And then maybe you can find some other person you can push down to lift yourself up.


A simple Hungarian folktale...

"There was once a very sad and frail princess. The merest gust of cool air made her cough and take to bed with fever. The king and queen promised half the kingdom to anyone who would save their daughter, Anna. Healers from far away mixed their potions and cast their spells. The princess remained sickly and inconsolable.

Then one day, just when it looked like the poor girl was going to whither away, a peasant from the nearby village showed up at the castle. 'My name is Barna Janos,' he said to the king, 'and I came to cure the princess.'

He brought a wagon full of vegetables and fruits from his farm. He prescribed lots of sunshine and fresh air. He invited some children from the village to teach her their games. Within a month the princess was ready to live happily ever after.

'You're only a simple peasant. How did you know what would heal our daughter?' asked the queen.

'I didn't,' said Janos. 'But I would have been a fool not to try.'"

Saturday, June 7, 2008

An Improvement!

This has been my second cycle using diet, herbs, and acupuncture. I did not get pregnant, but I have noticed marked improvements in my cycles!

Prior to beginning treatment, I would spot for 7 - 8 days and then have a 2 day, very light period. What is the significance of that? It's an indicator that I did not build up a good lining in my uterus during my leutel phase. A baby can not implant in a teeny, tiny lining. A rich full lining is needed to provide a home for an embryo. Not only that, the spotting would begin early in the cycle, causing a short leutal phase, which is also anti-pregnancy.

Well, last cycle (my first using TCM), I went 23 days before spotting. Once the spotting began, it lasted just a few days and then a more normal period followed. This cycle, I went a full 26 days with no spotting, one day of spotting, followed by what looks like a "normal" period. I am beginning to improve!

So, I plan to continue with this treatment next cycle, with a couple additions. The biggest addition has to do with timing ovulation. The temperature taking helps me to know I have ovulated, but not until 3 days afterward (your temperature takes a dip at ovulation and then rises, but you can't be sure until it has truly risen for three days). Adding the Fertility Monitor will tell me of ovulation the day before it occurs.

Why am I doing all this? I know there are those of you who think, "You're trying too hard". In fact, several of you have told this directly to me. I have one response to that. It is from the book "Inconceivable" by Julia Indichova and when I read it, I felt like it came straight from my heart:

"Certainly, no one can guarantee that our efforts will crack the code and bring us the result we hope for. The only thing that is certain is that taking an active part in the treatment process leaves less room for despair. It creates opportunities we could not have anticipated. In the last seven years of working with people, it has become clear to me that sewn deep in the lining of the most unattractive garment - whether it's labeled infertility, fibromyalgia, depression or any other name - is a precious gem. Our task is to find that gem; discover what it is for each of us and to draw strength from the search."

Nothing I am doing is harmful or risky. In fact, it can only be beneficial: physically, hormonally, and emotionally. No time was so miserable as this last year, the year I tried to "forget about it". I'm sorry, but this heartbreak is unforgettable and when I was trying not to think about it, I was a numbed-out version of myself. The times it did cross my mind, I felt guilty and shoved it away. It was an awful way to live.

Now I am embracing this situation and all that comes with it. The knowledge, the experimentation, the good days and the bad. I no longer feel guilty for my days of longing, and overall I have been happier and more relaxed than I have been in a long time.

I would adopt a baby right now if I could. After all, I'm pursuing parenthood, not necessarily fertility. But adoption costs money that I do not have right now. So, in the meantime, I can go about this naturally. If God wants me to have my baby biologically, I guess I'll get pregnant. If nothing else, at least I'll have the healthiest body I've ever had.


In an attempt to see where I have been and where I am going, I thought it will be helpful for me to list it here. Writing out my "plan" makes it formal and empowering!

What I did this cycle:

Entire Cycle -

Temperature taking and charting
Prenatal Vitamin each night
2 Times a day - Chaste tree (Vitex)

Before Ovulation -

3 Times a day: 3 tablets "Seven Forests Woman's Treasure" (Nii Bao Pian)

During Ovulation -

Slowly weaning off "Woman's Treasure" and starting "Health Concerns Woman's Balance" (Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San)
1 session Acupuncture

After Ovulation:

3 Times a day: 3 tablets of "Woman's Balance"
Beginning 2 Times a day and increasing to 4 Times a day: ProgonB (Natural Progesterone)
1 session Acupuncture

Additions for next cycle:

Entire Cycle -

Improving my diet, exercise, and relaxation

During Ovulation -

ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor

After Ovulation -

Progesterone Creme

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Patiently Playing Mama

Our recent beach trip was a blast, with one tragic dear husband is burnt. And by burnt, I don't mean touch a spot and watch it turn from white to red, I mean radiating, excruciating, haven't-slept-for-three-days burnt.

So I am being Ms. Nurse today: rubbing aloe on his back, running tepid water baths, changing dressings every 15 minutes. I am taking care of him, right down to fixing his favorite meals, washing sheets, divvying out medicine, you name it.

In doing so, I am reminded of my own mother. When I was sick, my mom wasn't the "lay on the couch, here's the remote" type. She would do everything she could to make the experience of being sick as pleasant as possible. I remember her changing the sheets often during the day, so I would have cool, clean sheets to lie in. She would snuggle with me and watch daytime TV, like Magnum PI or Matlock. She would buy me my favorite popsicles or make me homemade chicken noodle soup. To this day, she still offers homemade soup whenever I am sick.

I guess I inherited some of this. I've heard that you grow to love others more when you serve them. In trying to help Ryan, I show him I love him and my love grows in return.

As I was sitting next to him, he told me jokingly, "You're gonna make a great nurse". I replied to him, "No, I'm going to make a great mom."

They say that you should be grateful for your trials and the things you have learned from them. It's difficult to be grateful for infertility. However, what I am grateful for is the person that I have become because of it. I will be a much more patient, appreciative, compassionate, knowledgeable, tender-hearted mother than I ever would have been otherwise. I try to think back on myself at 23, and the mother I would have been if I had gotten pregnant right away with no sacrifice or struggle from which to learn and grow. Don't get me wrong, I think I would have been a good mother.

But now, years later, I think I will be great. Maybe I needed these last several years to become what I ought to be. And, perhaps, there's still more learning and growing to be done.