As a little girl, my mom often said, "Patience is a virtue". I kept thinking, "yeah, whatever that means". I suppose now that I am older it holds more truth as I, ironically, still struggle to be patient for God's beautiful plan and promise. The following blogs are my thoughts and trials about life's journey and the emotions of being patient in waiting for the sun to rise...

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Whole 27...

27 days ago, Chris and I embarked on a journey together.  Feeling extra fluffy after the holiday season, not only were our pants a little tight but our energy levels were crazy low.  We joined a wonderful pool last year, and so from May until September we basically live in a swim suit whenever we are not at work.  With not much on the calendar as far as celebrations and such, we thought it  might be a good time to get back on track and try something crazy to get us back to eating healthier and losing weight rather than gaining.  Chris, the sugar addict, was dipping into the kids snack box after hours, and me, the bland carb craver, had made Panera and Jersey Mike's a rotation at work lunches and my portion sizes were anything but light.  We were eating like teenagers but we now have adult metabolism (adulting is hard)...

So, its the Whole 30 but we only did the Whole 27.  With some success you might ask, "why give up at 27?", and sheepishly, I would tell you that at least for myself, I am notorious for pooping out in the last 100 meters of the race, however, I am trying not to look at it as pooping out.  We have a fun Easter weekend planned with our family, and honestly, we were just burnt out...  One can only eat so many vegetables in a month :)

But part of the Whole 30 is to reflect on the experience and that I think has emotional value to it... so here it goes...

Week 1 was a mixture of "we can totally do this" and "oh my Lanta my body hates me".  Within 48 hours of giving up all grains, sugar, and processed food (oh, and dairy), you start to feel sick.  Hung over.  Headaches, nausea, fatigue...  that "we can totally do this" was the first 48 hours, but after two amazing breakfasts of eggs, you miss the toast.  You miss the flavored creamer.  You miss your food routine, the crutches of comfort you have some how found after years of grocery shopping that just add a spark to your day.  Suddenly, every day is rainy.  You're standing in front of the refrigerator, frozen... what can I eat?  And everything your mind and heart goes to, your list says "NO".  And so you stand there... I survived by telling myself that I had eaten it all before and this was all temporary and to just suck it up and eat something on the list.

Some days were better than others.  The day I discovered W30 muffins, rekindled my love for bacon, and the day I ventured out and made paleo chicken salad.  There were mornings where I woke up and even with a full bladder, I felt less bloated and started to see that last of my baby belly deflate.  Those moments were what I held on to as positive momentum.  Those moments usually make the really hard moments somewhat bearable..  And I say that all very tentatively because I don't just like food, I really love it.  And I don't go for the good for you stuff, I go for absolute crap.

A few days ago, my relapse prevention plan started to fail me.  The kids were cracked out on some kind of cabin-fever-fed energy that no mother could contain.  The dull lack of sugar headache, which never really went away from me the entire 27 days, was starting to kick in, and I just felt deflated.  I got pink eye two days prior, couldn't run at the gym, and all of the sudden the need to eat at home to stay compliant felt like a prison cell.  In talking to a friend who asked what I ate growing up, I realized that compared to my childhood snacking habits, I had become a much healthier mother.  I rarely ate fresh fruit as a kid... I forced down a few vegetables at dinner covered in cheese or tucked amidst mashed potatoes.  But I never liked them.  Even bananas, I used to slice on top of cheerios with cow's milk and then sprinkled extra sugar on top!!

By fourth grade, my mom mentioned to the pediatrician at a check up that "I was getting a little husky".  He suggested cutting down on soda and switching to milk.  Get more active was the other suggestion.  But back in those days of latch key and summers home with my sister, we probably went every couple hours and heated up pizza rolls, other processed Sam's Club food, bologna sandwiches, chips, Oreos, tons of cereal, bagels and cream cheese, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, pizzas, and various other carb laden crap that tasted good but in the amount that I was eating, was excessive.  Puberty hit and I grew taller.  I was always conscious of my weight after that.  Aware that I was "too big" so I would just eat less for awhile.  Started to do Weight Watchers plan in high school, low carb diets by college, followed by more Weight Watchers, South Beach, Adkins, Stop Light, 21 Fix, Paleo, Gluten Free... etc etc etc etc...

After being diagnosed with PCOS in 2015, it started to make a lot more sense.  My body craves sugar, struggles to process it correctly, and then turns it into my problem.  After having two babies, I have lost 55 pounds both times.  I have mastered the art of manipulating my food, pushing my body, and losing weight, but I haven't lost my relationship with food.  This Whole 30 business only proved that more to myself.  I felt isolated without food.  Hiding in my office alone during a lunch break instead of sitting by the fireplace at Panera felt lonely, tiring, and sad.  I ate the food on the list and it was fine but it wasn't fun,  The high of being skinny opposed to the social isolation of eating like a health nut wasn't balancing out my motivation.  Prep cooking was a high but the eating was a low.  All this built up and the food was mediocre at best.  Sometimes, I just did not want to chew anymore.

The upside?  Well, that's all the stuff on the website.  The need for an afternoon nap went away by week two.  I started to feel good at the gym and running and lifting was great and built on top of the high I was experiencing.  I felt good in my clothes, felt inches melting off.  I slept better and with less need to use melatonin or  Tylenol PM. My anxiety seemed down.  My caffeine intake was down and I saw the correlation that I was having with dining out, high sugar and increased caffeine.  Physically, I felt pretty darn good.

Mentally and emotionally was the challenge.  I was winning the battle but felt like as the month went on I was losing the war.  I know, totally not what the testimonies say....

Food has a symbolism for many of us that is connection, comfort, stress relief, sensory experience, or sometimes a medium at which to have social exchanges.  We can eat healthier foods but within a culture that cares little about the quality of ingredients, the number of carbs, fat, sugar or calories, I found that it was more anxiety provoking to try to go out to eat but remain compliant.  I found myself getting stressed out just thinking about the next meal.  Some days, I just lacked the desire to even eat but did it once my stomach growled.

So in a sense, the people at whole 30 would probably tell me I need to start over.  That's the point is to stop feeling with food... to start to eat for fuel not feeling.  But then I had this philosophical and theological question (inner conversation/ text message with my seminary sister) about if I truly want to lose the symbolism, the culture, and power that food can have if lived in moderation.  This month I have conversations with people who are vegan, vegetarian, ex-vegetarian, gluten free, paleo and long term whole 30.  It was fascinating to see how people came to adopt the lifestyle.  I never once felt I would be converted, but I knew my trigger food was dairy and Chris and I were addicted to carbs so it felt right to try this out to reset, but I did not come out of this wanting to be a purest.  An non-GMO, whole food eater who could only eat locally grown produce...  I am not that person.  I mean I love me some Indiana Farmer's Market (honeslty for the fried egg rolls and walking tacos just as much as the fresh vegetables... but even so there's still a little bit of my Flint heritage that I just don't think I will ever give up...

Sometimes, you just need a coney dog with the sauce, and the bun, and the onions, and ... the fries and a coke...  NONE OF THAT IS WHOLE 30, except the onions, but they surely are not organic.. Starlite Diner, you have my heart...  (http://www.starlite1966.com/history.html)
Sometimes, you need to make your 92 year old grandmother's German potato salad (even though she's Irish).
Sometimes you get to eat a couple goldfishes and a square of PBJ off your kids left over lunch plate...
Sometimes you take your kid through a drive thru and don't just order a crappy salad
Sometimes you sit with your spouse over janky Chinese food and a netflix movie on volume 12 to not wake the kids up on a date night...
Sometimes you have pizza fridays, and ice cream... or PORTILLOS... because the kids want to go...
Sometimes you go to IKEA and eat meatballs...
Sometimes you get a 10 dollar meal deal at Little Caesars and take it to the pool and eat with your kids while you all swim together...
and sometimes you go to Panera and sit next to the fireplace and eat a bowl of their cream of chicken and wild rice soup until you can clean the bowl with the crust of the baguette.

I am that girl...  But because of PCOS, because I want to be healthy and set a good example, because my kids are watching and I want to live to be 92 like gram... I have to find a balance.  I have to stay active.  I have to eat more vegetables and less processed food.    But I still have to be me...

So on day 27 of the Whole 30, I made two eggs but popped a slice of organic Ezekiel bread in the toaster.  I drank coffee with a splash of unsweetened almond milk and took the kids to the park.  We went to the grocery store and I bought almost ALL healthy clean food (besides KK's nutty buddies and the ingredients for grams potato salad) but then also snacked on leftover frozen pizza before the kid's nap time.  In a moment of defeat I said to myself... if you hate this so much, why are you doing it?  To prove you can make it to 30?  That's silly... that's not the point...  The point is to do whatever is going to be good for you, for your family, for your life... and the word "balance" kept coming out from the friend who wondered if daily headaches for 27 days were really worth it...

So, we asked the kids what they wanted for dinner and like a true Bears fan, KK said, "Portillos".... so we went... and it was just as we remembered it...  and we had an amazing time together and we came home and walked the dog over a mile and got ready for bed.  Easter weekend is here.  Christ died for our sins and rose again.  In this life, we are just mere grains of sand on the beach.  We have to eat out of necessity but it doesn't have to consume us and it shouldn't become an obsession of eating just right.  To me, that's it's own kind of eating disorder, one of shame and control that while makes you thin, doesn't fulfill the gifts of your spirit.  My parents used to say, "anything to an extreme is bad" and while I do resonate with that, I think being extreme for 27 days was enough to help me become very mindful of what food means to me.  It made me aware of how I want to change.  It might be more simple to just eat clean or do another round of Whole 30, but I want the challenge of finding balance in my life instead.  I want to in the world sometimes.  But I still want to continue to care for myself and my family by eating healthier the majority of the time.

Should you try the Whole 30, or the Whole 27...?  Sure!  I think change is always a good thing...

The problem with being lulled into believing that life can be simple is it creates impossible expectations-- we want happiness without unhappiness, entertainment without boredom, and love without risk. - Kenneth Hardy

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Second Time Around

I recognized quickly that this time after having a baby it's been almost seven months since I blogged.  Some of it is because having two children is WAY harder than having one and often peace and quiet come only after 9pm.  At that point, I try to talk to my husband who has just become a teammate is knocking through an epic long to do list each day.  (We rock by the way).  But it doesn't mean I am any less in love with this little man.  I think for me, this time, I am far less anxious and negatively emotional.  PPD and anxiety were more than minimal.  So while I still sit in awe watching him sleep at night, I am not so overwhelmed with constant emotion that I have write about it or I will explode.  Having two is a lot more diapers and pull ups, a higher grocery bill, but its so much more warm fuzzies and instagram worthy moments.  It's a lot of emotions but a lot of business.  Way more dishes and tantrums...  I wonder what it will be like some day to look at one another while our kids are at sleepovers with friends and were alone, in the silence, on a Friday night...  I hope he still recognizes me and likes me by then....

What is true about having two is that your heart doesn't lose love for your first, you just stretch bigger.  You just love deeper.  And what is true for Rainbow Babies like this little man is that you love them with the depth of the children you've lost along the way.  When I see a mom with three kids, I often think, and there were two chances to have a little one in between my kids.  That could have been me.  It's a fleeting thought.  A breath or a moment in time, but it catches me.  And while I don't feel necessarily called to have three kids, I know I had moments with a child that never came.  I have baby clothes for two genders and I wonder which clothes would I have used had there been another.  Yet, I look at my big big (he is giant) baby, watch his fluffy hair flow when I breath on him, watch his tiny finger squeeze my hand, listen to his little snores and grunts, and squish his chubby but wonderful little limbs and belly, and I feel like I have been given more miracles that any one woman deserves.  I have a gratitude in my heart that is deeper than when I had my first but there's this bitter sweetness to it where I am reminded just how precious babies are.  Each baby is a miracle, even if you're the most fertile couple on the planet.

I read my blogs from the last two years.  They are gut wrenchingly painful for me to read.  Not because I am sad, but because of just how sad I WAS and I did not want to admit it.  Miscarriages, infertility, loss of professional relationships, and loss of some personal relationships due to life changes and different goals, left me broken.  Broken in a way that I managed and dealt with but in a dark isolation where I chose not to let others in.  I pride myself on my strength but I realized in my darkness, I pushed so many people out.  I created high expectations for others and was frequently let down.  I was bitter about my life and in turn became bitter when others did not meet my mark.  I blew up details and catastrophized issues which created drama and hate, but it was a necessary distraction from pain.  And I look back and see that I cleaned out my bench of supporters, friends, and at times, family, because I just wanted to be alone.  I know much of it was anxiety and depression and the perception of my world and the relationships in it, but nonetheless, I see how grief takes it's toll on someone.  Again, God gave me a gift of a painful experience that I now use in the office to empathize and provide mercy to others.

Chris told me a few months ago that he fears having another child or even trying because of the hell we went through.  Like most mothers say about child birth, you forget because you love them so much that you choose to let go of that pain.  In seven months, I forgot just how painful this journey to my baby has been, my journey over the rainbow.  But the peace that I have, the joy that I experience every day, and the love I have found in my life again, is almost enough to mute the deafening audio tapes that I would tell myself during those days, weeks, months, of waiting.  In this life we all have loss, pain, and certainly uncertainty.  And we get to experience it through so many different types of mediums, but in the end, it's our journey that allows us to then climb a larger mountain or provide love to others...

I realized in the process that I only turn to God when I want something that I can't get for myself.  I turn to him to celebrate for a moment, but I only dwell with him and commune with him when I am pining for something I think I need in my life.  And I have come to feel like an entitled bratty teen who waits for  money for the movies by letting her parents bore her with a few stories.  And when I recognized this pattern in myself, outside of feeling sheepish, I really feel like there are somethings I need to change about myself.  There's some parts of myself I need to get in check so as my kids grow they don't see a shallow mother who only seeks to complete her goals without regard for others.

I really want to learn to love more deeply with joy.  I have all I have ever asked for from God.  A family who loves me, a nice home, a good job with a purpose, two beautiful kids, and enough peace and quiet spaces to take care of myself.  Now, I need to figure out what it looks like to start appreciating the team behind me.  Those people in my life who wrote letters to me, sent baby gifts, who called, who made meals for us, who showed up and just sat with me.  I think of the list of people I wanted to turn to but chose not to, the people who loved me and I did not respond (or respond well).  Because part of having a gift like a baby is being able to share the love and the joy he brings.  God healed my body, my family's bodies from diseases and cancer this year.  God did bring people into our lives to support and love us, but many days I was too broken to see their hands reaching out to me.

The second time around has been so different and wonderful that I glow.  I feel a joy in my spirit like never before and I hope that it continues to shine.  My close circles sees that peace within me and I think they are amazed just how different having my boy has been.  I now look at my kids and think of adventure and excitement rather than feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  I see each day as a chance to show up and be wonderful.  I have deep conversations with friends who struggle with PCOS, loss, infertility, or just sadness or anxiety.   And things are really looking up.  So if you ask me like an old friend did this week, "how is it having two?" my answer is, it's wonderful.  It's amazing.  It's all I ever wanted and more.  It's kisses and cuddles.  It's days at the library.  It's snuggles in bed on Saturday.  It's everything I dreamed of for my life.  And it's all of those things because the support we had along the way to keep trying, never give up and believe that God will provide."  Along the way, a friend told me that people who truly loved us would become our tribe and the rest would weed themselves out.  And I'm finding my tribe is big and deep and wide and it's got some who are always near and some that are far but love us just the same.

I am so thankful for you, my friends, my family, my support for carrying us through.  I am so thankful for my husband who dealt with tears, lots of tears, and lots of doctor visits and co pays and crazy diets.  I am thankful for family, for therapists, for pastors who loved and prayed on us.  Thankful for my girls at work who built me up and even held me as I sobbed through joy and sorrow.  I am thankful for our church and the people in it.  I am sorry that sometimes I pull away.  I am thankful for childhood friends and college buddies who checked in and celebrated our moments, and understood when I struggled to find my joy.  I realize I have one mission... to love and to share the good news... we all have so much we've been given.  And by the way, he is a wonderful and beautiful baby who would love to meet his tribe :)

So thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this journey of being a mother of two so rewarding.  I am so glad you've been there for the ride...

Friday, April 22, 2016

Set Straight... Again..

It's amusing to me how many times I have to learn the same lesson over and over again.  One would think that when it comes to your health, you would be able to make changes for a long haul because you are educated, you know the right thing, and you don't want to feel bad.  But yet again, I had to press a reset button after a steady decline and crash.  Maybe the name of my blog should be "Hopelessly in Love with Crap" or "Confessions of a Carb Addict" because last week I had to repeat my glucose test, tested for positive for anemia, and have some low levels in my blood this pregnancy due to none other than: poor diet choices.

A lot of women go a little off the deep end during pregnancy, but I tend to revert back to my 3 year old cravings.  Mac N  Cheese, PBJ and pizza seem to be my staples with a side of sandwiches, creamy soups, and nothing that really involves fruits or vegetables.   I crave sugar, sugar, and a little more sugar.  Cookies, brownies, cake, cows milk, chips, sandwiches, candy even which as a non-pregnant person I rarely eat.  This pregnancy though, I have been so nauseated that I sort of made major excuses for falling off the wagon because I only gained 10 pounds in 30 weeks.  Most of that weight is recent gain because I finally do not need anti-nausea medication anymore (PRAISE THE LORD)!  That's a huge hooray however what happened in the first and second trimester this time was embarrassing, I regressed, and now I am paying for it.

Last fall, I was told I have a second reproductive condition called PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and despite what the name says, it actually has a lot to do with insulin levels.  My doctor is somewhat of an expect on the topic and throughout his 30 page Power Point notes, I realized, "holy hot dogs, this disease has everything to do with why I crave sugar".  In less than 45 minutes, the man soothed my guilt but made me very aware of the power of wacky hormones.  The hormones of a woman with PCOS are off.  Some women are severely overweight, have facial hair, talk in deeper voices, don't have regular periods, etc.  Other women are super thin but have some of the other traits.  But the big issue it creates is that it a. creates lots of cysts on the ovaries that mess up ovulation and b. jacks up your endocrine system so your body doesn't produce the right amount of insulin to process sugars.  Most women with PCOS could eventually end up with Type 2 Diabetes if they don't control what they eat.  Sad news for a short girl who loves her pasta.  His prescription for the disease is to eat a Paleo diet and take an insulin resistance blocker every day for the rest of my life aka a death sentence.

So one would think once I have had the last two years that I have had that I would be scared straight into a Paleo lifestyle right?   I mean I could end up having to stick myself daily because of my own eating habits, that would be stupid and ignorant of me.  When I think about a doubled chance of having Type 2 diabetes I shutter.  But hormones are a powerful thing, and after several months of feeling like I could toss my cookies every day, I went out a bought LOTS of cookies (and other processed crap) to celebrate the end of my misery.  However, that just made a bad situation way worse.

This baby is on track but in my body, he looks like I am growing an NFL linebacker because I am short and so the only place to go is OUT OUT OUT.  And because I had been rather healthy and aware the six months before I got pregnant, my blood panels before pregnancy were 100% perfect.  I got a gold star of health in August from my PCP and blood work.  I had been working out 5-6 days a week, eating clean and following the 21 Day Fix.  I had lost a decent amount of weight and was trying to get my body to respond with a regular cycle and increased energy/decreased anxiety.  And all of that was working pretty well even without the insulin resistance blocker.  So I am a little concerned how quickly I fell back into the haze of drunken shame when I was called two weeks ago and told I was anemic, my hemoglobin levels were low and I failed my glucose intolerance test.  I know what happened... I stopped eating veggies and lean meat, I stopped working out, and I started becoming a carb munching, soda drinking, sloth who slept most of the afternoon away and blamed it all on being preggo.
But it's interesting because as a therapist, I know it wasn't JUST because I like to eat.  I realize we had several major stressors that I was muddling through.  Holistically, in every aspect of life right now, things have been a little, eh, out of whack.  Made huge changes at work, feeling the financial pinch of two kids, house needed work, sister battling cancer and me not knowing how to help, family issues, friends hurting and needing support, moving offices and planning a move, 4 weeks of bronchitis, and a partridge in a pear tree.  So I know why I found my old friend, Mother Bread, I was anxious, hurting, angry, and tired and she soothed me...

So getting those results I looked around and realized, yeah, I am tired and have headaches.  My body hurts and I have NO ENERGY at all.  I don't want to work, my anxiety is high and my zest for life is down to a puddle.  I have fallen off the wagon, more like fallen off a cliff after falling off the wagon and now my body seeks vengeance.  Baby boy still looks great but if I don't stop indulging, I am only hurting myself.  So back on the clean eating diet I went.  Back to taking vitamins, and monitoring my sleep cycle I went.  Back to walking and wearing my fitbit I went.  Cutting out sugar, cleaning out the pantry.  Here we go AGAIN....

I can't believe how easy it is to make your body well, you just STOP EATING CRAP and get moving again.  In 5 days, I felt completely different. My energy level peaked and I have only needed a nap 1 time in over a week.  It's worth it.  It's worth not feeling run down all the time.  And it's worth not being diabetic.  But again, I am at a place of shame because for me, this isn't just gaining a few pounds from bad food choices, this is hurting my body.  I can't say enough about the 21 Day Fix plan.  I hope that after little man arrives I get back to their system of eating clean, working out for 30 minutes, and being nutritionally mindful.  I am refilling my piggy bank with good foods, but man, did I almost go bankrupt.  And I just wanted to write because I know so many of you have fertility issues and heartache and it's so easy to go drink wine and depend solely on medical intervention, but sometimes it's about doing the right thing for your body even when it doesn't seem to taste as good.  It is so worth it...

My PA emailed me directly with the results of my glucose test.  After only 36 hours of cutting out sugar, she emailed me and said, "Kerrie, you passed with flying colors"!!!  I was well within the normal glucose range this time.   I lost 3 pounds (which wasn't desired) but it was mostly bloated water weight.  And honestly, I feel so much better.  I still get stressed, tired, and my hips are starting to pull apart but I am not longer solely surviving this pregnancy.  I know it's not as easy or as fun as eating carbs all the time, but even just sugar free and low carb is making all the difference.  Hang in there mommas....

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Holding My Breath for a Rainbow...

They say that a baby after a miscarriage(s) is called a Rainbow Baby.  Something about the hope after the storm, or the treasure after a space of emptiness.  And the idea of a rainbow makes people happy because it is such a unique surprise to see one much of the time.  But I've yet to receive that peace that's supposed to arrive with a rainbow baby.  This fourth pregnancy is something much different than my first.  While I am starting to show there really is a baby in there and people are starting to notice the change outside of me, I've yet to feel the change within me move yet.  At 17 weeks  pregnant, you're supposed to be in the clear and feel the sense of joy and excitement as you're almost halfway done.  But for me the sensation of holding my breath in awe has not ended.  I catch myself truly wondering if there really is anything in there, truly disconnected from the five ultrasounds we've had where a baby with now arms and legs is waving at me.  Disconnected, holding my breath that the storm is truly over for us.

I think about how I think about this baby, much different than with K, and those in between because I know that sometimes the rainbow doesn't come after the storm, sometimes in life, it just keeps raining.  Sometimes it pours and no one has answers, just apologies.  And while there is so much joy in my heart for the hope that is to come, my ability to trust that this time we are going to make it wavers hour to hour or day to day.

The joy of social media is becoming more aware of people stories and losses.  30 years ago we never talked about infant loss, more so gossiped for those who lost a child.  Today, I probably read 1-2 stories a week of women's courageous journeys through miscarriage, stillborn, and early infant loss.  I imagine whether you lose a child a 6 weeks or 6 years, you start to hold your breath more.  Start to truly wonder about the safety in many decisions.  I had to express that while we are holding so much joy and hope in our hands, we also hold with it the frailty of this situation.  Life is fragile, miraculous and a gift, every moment.

I hope we get to the day where I am handed this new little bundle in a fuzzy hospital blanket, and I can let go and breathe again.  I try to let it go, try to let God hold it, but I know so often that his will and mine are fighting for different things.  While I long for comfort and peace, He often learns towards teaching me things about myself and life and Him that I never knew or experienced.  And each time, I see why He
did, but that doesn't make my trust grow in the short term.  Because the reality is no matter how much of God's will I see in every loss, it still hurts.  We were never made not to hurt, not to cry, not to experience loss.  In fact I believe just the opposite, that all of our trials are here to build us into someone deeper and more complex than who we were before.

So here we are, the farthest we have been able to come in three years to growing our family, and I'm holding my breath, disconnected, in awe, in waiting, yet again for the sun to rise...  For that momentary peace that it's ok, for now.  A client asked me yesterday if she could learn to still her anxiety in her mind and I remember saying, "this is our temporary home, it's not where we belong, only when we are truly home are we ever able to let go of all of those thoughts".  We smiled.  She said, "man I long for that".  "yeah me too, lady, me too".

For those of you holding your breath for whatever season of waiting you are in... waiting for that job, the guy to ask for your hand, that offer on a house, that treatment for cancer to work, that hope that your lost son or daughter would call on the phone to say hello, at least know you're not alone.  We all have seasons of holding our breath, but we are not doing it alone.  That's probably the most hopeful part of the story, that I do believe, even death is used for His greater purpose.  We all play a part, some of us just carry more, some of us just learn to hold our breaths longer and deeper.  Typically, those are the people that other's look to in their own moments of loss and waiting.

So here's to another week of holding our breaths.  Dive deeper into life and deeper into trusting it will be how its supposed to...

Monday, December 28, 2015

Our Christmas Miracle....

        I have been thinking about this post for weeks, since I sat in awe on my bed one nap time in October, and Dr J's nurse listened to me ball, for once, tears of joy.  Unexpected, unplanned, miraculous joy.  See just one and a half weeks before that phone call, I was given additional information and a diagnosis explaining that I had Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome in addition to Endometriosis.  I was given what I called in my previous blog "hope" that our dream to grow our family wasn't for a loss.  I was told to expect something in 10 weeks or so and maybe a few months after, but what God had in store for this family was far greater than even the doctor gave us.  We got a miracle, a tiny miracle that we did not even know was forming before we even went to see the doctor.

      For the last 10 weeks, I have held on to a little secret that we are expecting a baby in June.  And if that wasn't sweet enough, that baby was conceived without any medical intervention, and by the grace of God, I have been able to carry that baby for almost 14 weeks.  Four ultrasounds and a few blood tests later, I was cleared right before Christmas to return to my regular OB/GYN with no explanation other than just big smiles from my doctor.  It could have been because I had stripped my diet of sugar and a lot processed foods July - October doing the 21 Day Fix.  It could have been the early medications he had me taking.  It could have just been a lucky egg, a lucky cycle, a lucky season, but it's really happening, our miracle baby.

    I've never really lived a life where each day feels like a blessing.  Each morning that I wake up, and I am still pregnant is a blessing.  No matter how sick I am or tired, I feel like God's hand is with us, even if we get this baby for one more day or a life time.

     It's totally understandable that people who haven't lost a child would say, "but you already have one child, aren't you still just happy you were able to have one?"  But I think the reality is that people forget is how much love, dreams, and hope goes into a pregnancy before a child is ever born.  Each time we have tried to get pregnant, each month and an expectant period of hope.  Each day not knowing is a period of expectancy.  Each day carrying a child is a blessing.  Each week as I read the milestones this little one is experiencing, I praise the Lord.  "Thank you for creating our babies spine, let it be strong and without issue, allow this Folic Acid to help the baby's brain grow and for neurons to form".  And I come to realize what a miracle each human life is and how God must have so much joy in creating each one of us.  For today, I am again thankful to be with this child, for today, we have hope for it's little life with us.

    This Christmas was the first year in my life that I had nothing on my Christmas list that I really cared about.  I wanted to keep this baby alive, and I wanted to be safe.  I wanted family to experience joy with us and celebrate our own Christmas miracle.  As I read all those article about PCOS and endometriosis and how all those follicles on my ovaries were "bum eggs" that would probably never evolve into a baby, I began praying that God would heal my body enough to create a miracle, and one night with tears in my eyes, I said, "and if I get pregnant, I will give you all of the glory God because I know you are able to do all things".  Little did I know, in those moments, He was already doing that.  Somehow despite the 28 other follicles on my ovaries the day of my first ultrasound, one egg was good enough to make a baby.   We were a week past ovulation with one possible date of conception, and no explanation other than "one of those miracles that walked in the door".  

    For 10 weeks, I have sat awestruck week by week as we go for ultrasounds and see a waving hand or a moving body.  And I can't express the joy that I experience for those few short minutes knowing the heart beat is healthy and strong and our baby is safe.  I can't express the joy I feel when KK lays her head on my belly and kisses the new baby.  Because we are given each day in this life as a gift, even the really yucky and painful ones, every breath is a gift, every heart beat.  Every moment with this little one who we have only seen on a screen and felt in our hearts is our own Christmas miracle.  

      Back in October when I was still not sure if this pregnancy would last, I went on a women's retreat, and struggled in big ways about God really being good, loving me, and hearing the desires of my heart.  I felt like I was on the road to another disappointment as I had carried babies longer than I was at that time.  I had just numb moments with God where I showed up and told Him I was scared and uncertain of His will.  Just because I want to grow my family, doesn't mean that is God's plan.  I know many other families led to adoption or who have lost many more than me.  I sat in those days watching others heartfelt in their praises and cries to the Lord, and there I was nauseous, angry, lonely, and so very anxious that every day or hour was doom's day.  That we would lose the baby and in a blink all that hope that had built would disappear as it had so many times before.  And one day amidst my individual time, I was reading the given bible verses and I read:

    And I read those words, over and over.  Forget my fear?  Forget those losses?  Forget the pain?   Trust what God is doing in this season despite so many trails of tears and uncomforting news....  So I just sat with it.  For days.  And something new continued to form.  Something that I had prayed for that couldn't have come any other way through this broken body except through Him...  And then I realized that I don't care how many moments or days God gives me this little one, He is doing something in me through this.   I am being made new, too.  Forget all of that anxiety and self propelled actions.  Forget trying to do it all and be it all to make it work.  God's doing something in ways that my will has no effect on it.  So I have just been still, been in awe, and for the last few weeks just praised every day that we carry our miracle. I hope it's a story of renewal and faith but no one is guaranteed that.  We just get this moment, we get today and this season of a miracle and we are so very thankful.  

So for today and the last 14 weeks, we joyfully are expecting a baby to arrive in the end of June.  And we are so thankful that God is doing things in us and through us.  I hope to get to celebrate these days of hopeful waiting and graceful expectancy.  

Isaiah 43:
1-4 -     
The Message (MSG)

When You’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place

But now, God’s Message,
    the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
    the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!

Photos by Joyful Exposures, LLC.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

PCOS: The Next Leg of the Climb

I set the appointment two months ago to get into the "best baby making doctor in the state", Dr. John Jarrett.  I have been referred to him three times in the last six months and made my plans after my own OB/GYN said, "sorry, I don't think I would be able to help you very much".  My sister went to this doctor when she had IVF.  Yesterday was the twins first birthday, so it was sort of divine walking into the office and feeling like maybe I would get some direction on where to go next with my infertility.  So I figured that my endometriosis would be discussed, a laproscopy date would be set and we would discuss follow ups for getting pregnant.  When I left the office I was stunned, numb, and overwhelmed.  No surgery, but a new diagnosis and a treatment plan that made surgery sound simple but hope for change much faster than I ever imagined. 

So after what seemed like 15 minutes of a rapid paced, babbling monologue about my symptoms, I pulled out 3.5 year old pictures of my last laproscoptic procedure.  My anxiety was racing, as I sat there sweating all over and impulsively talking from point to point on my note pad, I felt completely terrified.  After a brief second, he said, "so you have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome".  "No, I don't", I said impulsively.  "Yes, you do, look at this first picture, it's obvious".  Obvious?  I saw I white balloon with some red squiggles on it.  Looks like an ovary to me...  He insisted on getting an ultrasound to illustrate his point.  I agreed and back we went to the land of drop your pants and slide down a little farther for me.  And in a some what defensive way, I expected him to retract his statement until I looked and saw a familiar sight.  A white circle with lots of black circles.  Looked like a scan I had when I was on fertility treatments.  "17 on one side and 11 on the other, I'd say that's poly-cystic to me..."  Smart ass, I thought, and then I got quiet.  Why hasn't anyone seen this before?  Why didn't the last doctor know this was PCOS?  What happens now?

I have had all the symptoms for awhile, even asked about it a few times to my old doctor, but I was always told no and assured that PCOS was not an additional diagnosis.  I was given a treatment plan in the past that was literally laughed at by this new doctor and for the second time in the last four months, I was told, "they were wrong".  Two miscarriages and almost 3 years of battling my weight, anxiety, infertility and a slew of other hormone related issues from acne and hot flashes and now, someone in 30 seconds tells me it's all connected, related, and what I had asked about months ago. 

Within minutes he was writing scripts and handing me packets about not only PCOS, but the drug I would need to take.  I said, "it's not Metformin, is it??" and he smiled and asked why.  "That's the drug that makes you have violent diarrhea", I said, to which he smiled and said, "not if you stop eating carbs and sugar"...  And then everything got a little dizzying.  I wanted to scream.  All of the sudden, I felt like my world was closing in on me.  He was proposing that I completely give up every single carbohydrate in the world (and sugar) and eat Paleo.  The consequences: explosive diarrhea.  And I thought for a moment about sharing several of my previous blogs with him.  Does him know the intimate relationship I have with carbs?  Does he know that they have helped me cope with these losses and failures??  Does he know how many weekends Chris and I have grieved over a pizza or burgers?  Does he know how much we love to eat, cook, and indulge?  Clearly he has no idea what this will do to us.  And I turned a looked at the big man.  His eyes were big like mine.  It was a silence, an "oh shit" moment.  This is one of those game changer appointments where afterward, you have to change your lifestyle because of what the doctor said.  But in typical Chris form he agrees to it, encourages me that we can do it together, and "hey maybe we will lose that weight now". 

So I sat there sheepishly making funny banter, panicking, in denial.  How?  What?  Why ?  And he broke it down and explained it all and in minutes it was starting to make sense.  All of these symptoms, all of these problems, from anxiety, infertility, and the trouble with weight, they all had one cause and it wasn't because "you aren't trying hard enough".  It was, your liver isn't processing insulin correctly.  And then, the news got sweeter.  "Follow up in 10 weeks, but you should be pregnant by then, and if not, I have a plan but you won't need IVF, injectable medications, or any of that other stuff".  10 weeks?  I couldn't wrap my heard around the fact that one pill and a diet could literally change everything before Christmas.  That simple?  That fast? 

Relieved but also overwhelmed, I returned to the car with a giant box of supplements, packets of information, and no surgery date.  For 12 years, I have wrestled with endometriosis, but in the background a bigger problem was causing more damage and it was completely missed.  But now in 10 weeks, all of that could be reversed?  And then reality set it.  Our lives are going to have to change around food yet again.  As if the 21 Day Fix wasn't hard enough, now, I am giving up the last of my carbs, my bananas, my potatoes and my weekend cheating...  But Chris reminded me of how many months I have agonized over my ever growing body.  The doctor suggests that I'll lose 7-10 pounds a month until I get pregnant.  And it set in that so much of my pain and tears the last two years have been from this. 

18 months, 2 miscarriages, and a lot of days of beating myself up for not working hard enough laden with anxiety are all about to change.  Today, I started Metformin and my Paleo diet.  And while I am scared, overwhelmed and a little hungry, I also have a little hope and peace that finally I know why.  I am not crazy, lazy or at fault.  I didn't cause my miscarriages and I really have done well with all things considered, but now, I have an answer.  I can move forward.  I have hope.

To have someone tell you, "oh we can get your pregnant no problem" was like a breath of fresh air.  Stripping out carbs has been a battle that I have lost over and over because of lack of accountability.  But now, I have to make this work.  I have to follow the treatment.  Before the appointment, I wrote out a prayer.  Too anxious to keep thoughts fluid in my mind, I wrote them on my notebook that I took into the office.  I prayed for peace, healing, a plan, and for God to reveal His purpose for our family to me.  I never thought all of that would come out of a 30 minute consult.  And while I am wrestling with anger and confusing about why it took so long to get to this place, I am also trying to hold up joy and peace about having a hopeful plan for the future.   To hear that we will be parents again was so amazing and wonderful and relieving.  And while every pregnancy is a miracle and not a guarantee, a doctor and researcher was saying that I should not even worry about the odds.  The plan has three tiers with each of them being less severe than what I had ever imagined. 

So I guess as the Paleo people say, I am going to become a cave woman :) at least in my diet.  I cleaned the kitchen and went to Costco in search of meat, veggies, fruits and seeds.  I am not going to give up.  I am going to do this.  I know there will be days in which I have hunger, but today, I follow the plan and have hope.  I have lost 20 pounds since July on the 21 Day Fix, and now I am on my next leg of the journey.  I have no doubt this will be hard, but as he said, "what's more important: food or your baby?"   Probably a phrase I will have to say to myself when Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around.  I had this happy little thought that some day in the future I will be posting about how this next leg of the climb brought us a healthy pregnancy.   I will look back on this blog, as I have with many, and thing, I see now.  I see what He was doing there.  Here's to hoping, wishing, and walking the journey that so many of my friends are on, the one to growing our families.  Prayers appreciated as we continue to TTC (try to conceive). (Or Paleo recipes that replace my love of carbs)  :)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Toddlers Are Assholes... yep, I said it...

I am one hour and twenty minutes past turning her light out.  It was supposed to be one of those awesome nights that you plan for your family.  I know all my parent friends are already shouting the Amen because you know what I am about to talk about.  It was supposed to be a night out with friends to celebrate my main squeeze's birthday.  He works hard that big man, and he is such a good daddy to our little Taz (aka the Tasmanian devil).  I had made dinner plans at his favorite burger joint and discussed an after dinner night of bowling.  A few frat bro's, some beer for the dudes, and a night out for this couple.  By yesterday night, I realized that all my usual suspects for babysitters were not available, and I probably should have known and prepared for rain as my little sprinkle averages a 60/40 success rate for dinners longer than drive through...

So after compromising on an outfit and bribing her with ice cream, I thought I had a plan.  She knew where she was going, she knew the prize, she knew the expectations.  We talked about sitting in our seat.  The I phone was charged, the diaper bag had treats and toys to the brim.  We used our EXCITED voice to talk about Daddy's birthday party, and I should have know by her response that this would not go as my pretty picture in my mind was playing.

"Say, "Happy Birthday, DADDY!!", I said to K from the front seat.... "NOOO, it's MY BIRTHDAY" she screamed from her car seat.  Why I even thought I could argue that point makes me look stupid in hind sight.  I tried to explain that today was Daddy's day and he wanted a Bub's Burger.  And there would be cake, and bowling and ice cream and fun.  In my mind, we would hold hands (I know stupid, right?) down the main street and get in quickly and have a great dinner together and then get an ice cream.  We would go to the bowling ally and get a table and let her try a few throws to see the pins fall.  It was so beautiful in my mind....

But here is what my little nugget taught me about beautiful pictures in my head:

1. You are the mother of a two year old, not a 12 year old or a 22 year old for that matter.  There is no way we are going to make it through 3 hours of family activities around strangers without a fight.

2.  We don't hold hands anymore because we are BIG GIRLS and clearly are aware of all safety risks on the main road of a major suburb street.

3.  I don't need to stand with the family while they wait for 30 minutes for a table.  I will poop on a random set of stairs close to a road and yell at anyone who comes near me.

4.  I DO NOT sit in high chairs anymore, (this will immediately offend the toddler and send her into hysterics)

5.  When you say ice cream, it should be awaiting for us at the table, we shouldn't have to wait for it.

6.  Ice cream should always come in a cone or dish with a spoon, no whip cream or cherry and definitely not in the form of a milk shake... that's not ice cream.

7.  I don't like anything on the kids menu, so stop asking if I want chicken because I want NOTHING and everything all at the same time.

8.  FOCUS... on me, the toddler, I am all that matters.  Those baffoons you brought with you (I think you called them friends) are not important.  Dad's birthday is all about me.

9.  I prefer to hang out with the dog and the lady playing the guitar in the street... sitting by you fools is not of interest.

10.  Taking me out "for a break" messages to me that this dinner is over, so if you try to take me back I will throw a fit.

11.  If there are no places to pout or throw a tantrum, I will improvise.  Those disgusting rugs in the restaurant that haven't been washed since a week before last years health department visit will make a nice cozy place to lay my head... I mean entire body.  Everyone can walk around me and acknowledge that my parents have zero control over me.

12.  That dinner your ordered me is awful.  Why is the food hot?  You know I prefer my food room temperature.  Until it's the appropriate temperature, I will hide under the table.

13.  That I-Phone you brought me is not going to work this time.  I have seen every Netflix show on the entire kid's section and it's not worth watching now that we are out in public.  I will, however, want to watch the shows when I get home and we have a bigger screen.

14.  I spilled chocolate milk all over the table, and I decided to wipe it up with my shirt in the 30 seconds you pretended to listen to your friends.  Oh, sorry, I know it's hard to get out of white, but mom insisted on this stupid shirt.

15.  I ate three fries, I am ready to go... NOW...

16.  Nothing in that stupid bag will eleviate the utter sadness I have about this experience.  I must go... see that horse painted on the wall three rooms away.

17.  I pooped... AGAIN :)

18.  The first two times you brought me to the table weren't a success, why don't you people get it?  I am not sitting here.

19.  Wait, what, you're taking me home?  That was rude, I didn't even get to say goodbye, throw all my stuff on the floor, or get the attention of the WHOLE street as I screamed the entire way out to the car...

20.  Gosh, car seats are amazing.  They completely make me happy and quiet... and tired...  Let's go home and watch a show...  No TV?  Bedtime?  Oh, you have not even seen me at my worst...

2 hours into our night, we made it home.  I was probably blowing smoke from my ears and was sad that once again my dreams of being the perfect mom and wife were derailed.  It's hard being a mom.  It's hard being the center of attention in a crowd of a hundred people who are staring at your little asshole, I mean child.  As I laid her in bed and reviewed my disappointment, she rolled over and said, "go away".  Ok I said, "I love you, we will try again tomorrow".

I have just been schooled by a tiny human with little life experience.  And more than any semester long class in my masters program, I am humbled that everything I thought I knew about parenting and behavior modification isn't realistic sometimes.  Parenting is a constant school of hard knocks even with the best of resources, it can be so hard.  You learn you have no control except the option to leave sometimes.  To surrender.  And that's hard for me but I am learning to accept defeat with grace and calm down in my own time out of the driver seat before we get home.  I hope by the time she is my age she forgets all of our moments of awfulness and likewise we forget hers.

Happy Birthday, Chris.  I think for the next few years, our "day" is really still hers.  I vote for carry out and Netflix next year... or I will make sure to find a baby sitter ;)