Sunday, August 24, 2008

You Don't Have to Win, You Just Have to Finish

I had a moment of inspiration today, and I wanted to make a note of what I learned before it gets lost in the minutia of my life.

A speaker in church today told a story about an "Iron Man" race he had once watched. An Iron Man race consists of a swim (2.5 miles), a bike ride (112 miles) and a marathon run at the end (over 26 miles). It is a strong test of endurance.

He remembers watching a certain woman compete. She had finished her swim and bike ride. As she was coming up on the end of her run, about 100 yards from the finish line, her body gave out and she collapsed. Physically, she just couldn't do it any more. Even so, she wanted to finish the race.

This woman dragged herself the last 100 yards towards the finish line. She literally used her elbows and forearms to pull her limp body along. Her desire to finish the race was an inspiration to everyone. I didn't ask, but I bet the man telling the story can't remember the person who won the race that year, but I am sure he will never forget the woman who didn't give up.

In Hebrews 12:1 it reads:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

As I listened to the speaker today, I felt tears come to my eyes. Sometimes, I feel like I am in a race that will never end. I want this infertility marathon to be over! I want to sit down and rest my soul, and catch my breath!

But God has other plans and my job is to finish this race. I don't have to win; I just have to finish.

And if I have to drag this body across the finish line, that's what I'm willing to do.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Five Lessons Learned

Five years ago, I started on this long and bumpy road of trying to start a family. Last year, I wrote about earning my "Bachelor's Degree in Reproductive Science". I was hoping I wouldn't be headed to 'Graduate School' on the subject, but such is life!

Anywho, this year I decided to list lessons learned. Infertility has taught me many things, I will name just five.

5. You can be truly and honestly happy for other people and, at the same time, feel jealous or sad. This doesn't make you a hypocrite or a bad person; it makes you human... and your friends will love you anyway.

4. As long as there are people in the world, stupid things will be said. It can't be helped, so you might as well wipe away those tears and laugh about it. (Still working on this one.)

3. Always pray, even if you feel angry or resentful, abandoned or ignored. Angry prayers are better than no prayers.

2. There is only so much you can do. After that, you have to let go.

1. And above all else, the words of Plato: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle (even those who's life seems perfect).

Perhaps instead of saying these are lessons learned, I should say they are lessons I'm learning. But I am closer than I've ever been.

So, here's to year 5! (Note the forced enthusiasm - haha!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lucky? No... Blessed.

As I have expressed many times in the past, Ryan and I have different emotions towards our infertility. While at times I am distraught over the whole thing, Ryan is calm and cool. He wants to be a dad, but is okay with whatever amount of time it takes to get there. In the meantime, he is content to go on small trips and fix up our house.

I, on the other hand, am like a roller coaster. I can be calm for a while and then the whole situation buries me and I am out of control. I have a hard time just enjoying the ride.

So it's safe to say I have often felt like he is not as supportive as I want him to be. Notice I didn't say he wasn't supportive, just not as much as I want, which is usually a pretty unreasonable expectation. Sometimes, I don't take advantage of the strong man he is. I want him to be all soft and squishy, like me!

Then there are times like tonight, when I just want to give up, and he's there pushing me on.

He is my rock, my anchor. The one who reminds me that this is a small time in my life; that infertility is a part of me, but it doesn't define me. He puts infertility in it's place.

He doesn't tell me all this. He shows me by being who he is: compassionate, logical, a bit silly sometimes. There are times when I'm with him, I hardly think at all about the pain of infertility. I just laugh - and it feels so nice. I am grateful for those moments.

Am I lucky to have found a partner like this? No... I'm blessed. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Am I the Only One?

In the posting Lost , I explained my motivation to document the music that has comforted me over the past five years as I've dealt with infertility. This is another song in my collection.


About 5 years ago, my friend Amy invited me to a Dixie Chicks concert. I only knew one song (Wide Open Spaces), but who am I to turn down a chance to hear live music? So, I went.

The concert was great and I enjoyed many of their songs. I downloaded a few of their CDs and listened to them, in the car mainly.

One day, I remember driving and listening to the Dixie Chicks. It was the first day after yet another cycle had ended with the same disappointing result. The song, Am I the Only One came on and I began to listen to the words.

Every word in this song rings of emotions I have felt throughout this process.

I will sometimes throw this song on when I'm feeling bitter and angry, and it feels good just to hear out loud the words I am feeling inside.

So many times, I have allowed myself to hope, only to be disappointed. What a fool I was. Infertility has wrung me and strung me and I don't recognize the person I've become. It has, in reality, hung years on my face. There are days when I feel I can truly fake only one more smile. It can be suffocating. I find myself begging God for some kind of sign that shows me I'm not as alone as I feel.

This song also speaks to the anger I feel watching friends cope with this same trial. My heart hurts for them and my imperfect, mortal side feels bitter and inconsolable for their heartache. If there are so many of us facing this trial, why do we still feel so alone and desolate? What is it about infertility that isolates you from everyone, even people who are struggling too?

Most of my "infertility" songs are hopeful and soothing, but there are a few that comfort in a different way. They allow the unresolved and unreasonable girl inside me to ring out for a moment or two.

This is one of those songs:

There Is No Good Reason
I Should Have To Be So Alone
I'm Smothered By This Emptiness
Lord I Wish I Was Made Of Stone
Like I Fool I Lent My Soul To Love
And It Paid Me Back In Change
God Help Me
Am I The Only One Who's Ever Felt This Way?

A Heart That's Worn And Weathered
Would Know Better Than To Fight
But I Wore Mine Like A Weapon
Played Out Love Like A Crime
And It Wrung Me Out And Strung Me Out
And It Hung Years On My Face
God Help Me
Am I The Only One Who's Ever Felt This Way?

Now My Sense Of Humor Needs A Break

I See A Shadow In The Mirror
And She's Laughin' Through Her Tears
One More Smile's All I Can Fake

There Is A Wound Inside Me
And It's Bleeding Like A Flood
There's Times When I See A Light Ahead
Hope Is Not Enough
As Another Night Surrounds Me
And It Pounds Me Like A Wave
God Help Me
Am I The Only One Who's Ever Felt This Way?

God Help Me
Am I The Only One Who's Ever Felt This Way?

For all the music postings click here .

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

'You have to admit, it's gettin' better...'

Consider this your warning... this post might contain TMI ( "TMI? Too Much Information. It's just easier to say 'TMI'. I used to say 'don't go there', but that's lame." ).

Seriously though, folks. This blog is to document my journey through the world of infertility. Mostly, I write about the emotional side, but there is a whole physical aspect too. And there's been progress. Thus, I write.

Proceed at your own risk.

I am talking about cycles. Menstrual cycles, that is. There... I said it. And you can't even see me blush! Ha! Oh, don't worry. I won't tell anyone you've been reading about my cycles...

So, guess what? Mine's been a'changing.

I was always the teenager with the regular cycles. Every fourth Wednesday, I would start my period. It would be accompanied by severe cramps that would last all day. A few times, I couldn't even make it to the nurse's office, they were so bad! That would be my heaviest day and it would be normal flow and color (I warned you!).

Side note: It was these very cramps that convinced 3 doctors I had endometriosis. Turns out... I didn't.

Then, I started birth control. The cramps subsided for the most part and my flow was lighter in color and amount. I took birth control pills mostly, with two rounds of the DepoProvera shot (I rue the day I did that). I used birth control for the first 3 years of my marriage (2000 - 2003).

Five years ago, this month, I stopped taking the pill. From that point on, I would still be "regular", but I would spot my way into my period. I'm talking about 6-7 days of spotting. Then, when it finally came, it was light in flow and the color was wrong. It wasn't the same. Not only that, but I had "breakthrough" bleeding mid-cycle. So, I would be spotting for nearly half of my cycle, but never really having a period.

I tried to be patient, as I was told (countless times by well-intentioned people) that it takes some time for your body to readjust after being on the pill. But YEARS went by, and my cycles stayed the same.

Finally, in April, I began taking herbs. I also started acupuncture. I began to notice a change in my cycles. No more breakthrough bleeding and less spotting before my period. It was greatly encouraging.

And then... BAM! This month was amazing. I spotted for a day or two and it was a perfect light pink color. Two days later, I had cramps all day that were reminiscent of my teenage years. I also flowed heavy that day - a beautiful, bright red - the best period I've had in five years.

Now, if you think it's strange or weird to be excited about your period, try five years of heartache and frustration, of not knowing what's wrong with your body, of seeing several doctors with no answers, of expensive tests with no results, of tears and anger and hopelessness.

Trust me, live through all that, and you can get pretty excited about your period.

In the last several months, I've tried a few different herbal combinations and it has progressively gotten better. Last month, I decided to simplify and use a prenatal vitamin/herbal supplement called FertilAid. Since this has been the best month yet, I'm going to stick with this combo for now and see what happens.

Like anyone who has hoped and been disappointed, I am cautious about reading too much into this one cycle. On the other hand, I am trying to celebrate any successes, no matter how big or small.

As the song goes, "You have to admit, it's gettin' better... it's gettin' better all the time!"

I pray it stays that way.

Friday, August 1, 2008


In the posting Lost , I explained my motivation to document the music that has comforted me over the past five years as I've dealt with infertility. This is another song in my collection.


I heard the song "Miracle" by the Foo Fighters for the first time a couple of years ago. As with many of the songs that have touched me during this time in my life, I am sure infertility was not the artist's inspiration in writing the song. Even so, this is what I take from it:

The verses resonate with the exhaustion and desperation that is inside me. The idea that I am blind to the reason for this struggle speaks to my heart, and the hope that one day I will see the reason why this was my path is comforting.

As I hear the words, "hands on a miracle", I can't help but think about that day in the future when I hold my baby for the first time. I can't wait to have my hands on a miracle and know the strength, endurance, and growth that has changed me over the past several years can never be taken away.

Often, I've dreamed of a home video featuring our precious miracle and this song. I replay this scene over and over in my mind. I know someday I'll hold a miracle and feel the overwhelming love that miracle brings.

Until then, I just listen to the song and imagine that day.


Crazy, but I believe this time
Begging for sweet relief
A blessing in disguise
I'm dying behind these tired eyes
I've been losing sleep
Please come to me tonight

Hands on a miracle
I got my hands on a miracle
Believe it or not
Hands on a miracle
And there ain't no way, that you take it away

Everything that we've survived
It's gonna be alright
Just lucky we're alive
Got no vision
I've been blind
Searching everywhere
You're right here in my sight

Hands on a miracle
I got my hands on a miracle
Believe it or not
Hands on a miracle
And there ain't no way, that you take it away

Hands on a miracle
I got my hands on a miracle
Believe it or not
Hands on a miracle
I got my hands on a miracle
And there ain't no way, that you take it away

For all the music postings click here .