Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Hidden Truth

Get ready for an emotional post. What can I say? That's my life. Sometimes.

Sometimes, I physically ache for all the women facing infertility, pregnancy loss, infant loss, or the overwhelming obstacles of adoption.


Sometimes, I ache for myself...My first, my one-year-old. And my second, my little baby, due this fall. I think of them this way, maybe because I've had a while to think about them. It probably seems strange to other people, but it's natural for me.
It brings me peace.

Sometimes it seems like everything I do every day reminds me that I've lost them. I can't help but think how different life would be if they were here now.

A stranger, Katie, who shared her story on www.facesofloss.com, wrote, "Miscarriage is death, yet there are no funerals, no sympathy cards, no bereavement time. Instead couples grieve in silence. You’ve just got to pick up the pieces, hold your head high, and go on with life as usual.
"

Source: Pinterest
I've observed that some people believe that infertility or pregnancy loss is mostly longing for a baby, something like dreaming of a car or new furniture, only perhaps more intense. 

They believe that you just have to be patient, because eventually you'll have a baby (when it's somehow magically "the right time"), and everything will be alright. And that you shouldn't worry so much, and try to be happy with what you already have. It's a matter of faith and patience.

This is true, because happiness is a choice, but it's only half of the truth, which makes it half a lie. The whole truth is that it's much more than waiting. It's more than what it seems.


It's a part-time job that you don't get paid for.

It's weekly doctor's visits, daily phone calls, and constantly waiting on hold for the nurse.


It's getting the run-around over and over from your insurance company.

It's follow-up, follow-up, and more follow-up.


It's getting nowhere.

It's feeling like you have to keep trying, even when you want to give up.

It's freezing cold exam rooms with nothing on but a paper shield.

It's complicated explanations and half-smiles from the medical staff.


It's feeling completely out of place in a building with pictures of babies all over the wall and a waiting room full of pregnant women.


It's piles of paperwork and a whole drawer full of files at home labeled "Infertility/Miscarriages."

It's trying something new and hoping that it works.

It's trying again, then again, and again, and hoping that it works.


It's bad news.

It's rarely ever good news. 

It's a 4-hour drive to see the specialist.

It's a night stand covered in prescription bottles.


It's taking medication that turns you into a person that you hate.


It's paying $80 every month for a bunch of plastic sticks.

It's complex calendaring, counting, charting, and analyzing (and over-analyzing).


It's blood tests, and poking and prodding.


It's physical pain and emotional stress.

It's failure.

It's the loss of privacy.

It's the loss of someone so small, yet that you love so much.

It's birthdays that only you remember.

 
It's starting over.

It's "just life" to everyone else, but it's not
their life.

It's money.

And more money.

It's running out of options.

It's tough decisions.

It's praying.


It's crying.

It's hope.

It's dreading church every Sunday, and hating that you feel that way.

It's waterproof mascara.


It's being misunderstood and judged.

It's trying to figure out the best answers to awkward questions and well-meaning "advice."


It's trying to pretend that life is normal, when it's not.

It's growing closer to your spouse.

It's growing apart from friends who avoid you.


It's being lifted up by encouraging words from people who care about you.


It's feeling the love of God.


It's seeing His hand in your life.

It's spending hours reading strangers' blogs to remind yourself that you're not alone.

It's a club you don't want to be a member of.


It's scouring the Internet for answers that aren't there.


It's constantly battling feelings of discouragement, despair, anger, bitterness, jealousy, and self-loathing.


It's being physically exhausted from that constant battle. 


It's trying to be the very best person you can be in some of the very worst situations.


It's "temporary." (...Right?)


It's (seemingly) never-ending.


It's so much more than even this, and it's different for everyone. There are so many stories, some with happy endings and some with very, very sad ones. I'd like to believe that everyone will have their happy ending eventually, even if it's not in this life. But until then, it's much, much more than waiting.


If you've been there, tell me, what is it for you?
 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Quarter Century

It's been kind of quiet around the blog lately (not many comments, either...hmm), but I've been busier than ever. Our 17 adorable nieces and nephews were visiting during the month of July (= 4+ weeks of partying and babysitting), and I recently celebrated my 25th birthday.  That's right, I've been around for a whole quarter century. 

Me, circa '89 (Photo by Phil Jenkins)
It's a little hard to know where I stand now at age 25. Am I where I want to be in life? Well, no, not really. I look around and see plenty of women my age with kindergartners, their own beautiful homes, successful side businesses, PhD's, etc...Part of me wishes I was one of those women, and I know I could've been, but life took a different direction for me, and although it might not have been what I had in mind, it's a direction that I'm mostly very pleased with. 

I took some time to record some of my experiences over the past 25 years, and to put in writing a few of my aspirations for the next 25. 

In looking back, I feel blessed. And in looking forward, I feel hopeful. I'm grateful for the support, love, friendship, and encouragement from so many of you, and the constant love of God through both pain and joy.

25 things I've done in 25 years (not necessarily in this order):

1. Lived in 6 different states
2. Moved 12 times
3. Read the Holy Bible (multiple times)
4. Read the Book of Mormon (multiple times)
5. Came to know Jesus Christ as my Redeemer
6. Left home and moved to the other side of the country
7. Got a scholarship and paid my own way through college

8. Graduated from college at age 20
9. Made life-long friends
10. Fell in love (twice)
11. Married the love of my life (once)
12. Made it to the holy temple
13. Made my first million
14. Spent my first million (mostly on education, including mine and my husband's)
15. Held 9 different jobs in marketing and public relations
16. Started freelancing as a publicist and independent consultant
17. Bought a car

18. Drove across the country (ocean to ocean, and border to border)
19. Built my full family pedigree 6 generations back
20. Taught Sunday School for 7 years
21. Got pregnant (twice)
22. Had not-so-minor surgery (twice)
23. Saw 6 different doctors for infertility
24. Overcame(/coming) recurrent pregnancy loss
25. Started a blog

25 Things to Do in the Next 25 Years (not necessarily in this order):

1. Become home owners
2. Buy a family vehicle
3. Pay off pharmacy school loans
4. Give birth (multiple times?)
5. Move again (multiple times?)
6. Own a dog
7. Settle down
8. Become a full-time mom
9. Watch my kids grow up (teenagers...I can't wait!)
10. Start a business with Ben
11. Go back to school and get at least a master's degree (I could've had a PhD already if I'd kept going...)
12. Plant a garden
13. Store a year's supply of food
14. Put away a million in savings
15. Visit Ukraine with Ben
16. Tour Europe
17. Go on a cruise
18. Adopt or become a foster parent
19. Invest in a few acres of land
20. Build up an extensive personal library
21. Plan for retirement
22. Prepare to serve a mission with Ben
23. Get wrinkly
24. Become a grandma (maybe?)
25. Stay as active and healthy as possible

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Definition of Insanity

And now, back to our regularly scheduled silliness...


I've never seen a positive pregnancy test...you know, those two pink lines that women always dream about (note, Baby #1 was confirmed with a blood test, and Baby #2 with an in-office test). I'd like to know what it feels like to watch that second line appear...to grab that test and reach for Ben to show him that we're going to be a family - that we beat the odds - instead of chucking it in the garbage and reaching for the chocolate.

It plays like a movie reel in my mind - test after test hitting the rim of the garbage can, making a depressing "thunk." And I'm strapped to a porcelain throne, forced to watch the same agonizing replay over and over. And one day I'm probably going to go absolutely, completely, out-of-mind insane. But today I'm going to laugh about it, because, well, I'm already going a little crazy (insert maniacal laugh and eye twitch here), and I'm tired of getting depressed over a stupid little plastic stick and one tiny pink line.

Also, because I've been reading up on Einstein, who was one pretty interesting guy, and I think he was spot-on. So now, thanks to Einstein, we all know the reason I might be going clinically insane. Diagnosis: infertility.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Silly Surgery Stories

Source: Pinterest

First of all, bragging rights...My company made it to the next round to compete for a national grant! Sincere thanks to everyone who responded to my request for votes.

Also, I've been meaning to share these silly stories from my surgery in May. I've written several blog posts over the past couple of months that I've yet to share, and which I hope to "release from the vault" soon, but here's one of them:

***

People do ridiculous things when they're drugged (which is one reason it's stupid to do drugs...just say no, people!). Fortunately, being drugged under medical supervision means the craziness can only go so far - not far enough to hurt yourself, but enough to make a fool of yourself...Case in point: my recent surgery.

What are your silly surgery stories? I'm sure some of you have much better ones than these.

***


As the nurses were wheeling me into the operating room, everything started to get a little...um...I guess "warped" is the best way to describe it. It was like watching a movie through a convex lens. I looked around and saw at least a dozen people decked in scrubs, hurrying around the room to get everything ready for the operation. They seemed to be occupied with something very, very important and urgent. It occurred to me that I was interrupting something...that I must be in the wrong room. I asked one of my nurses, "Is all this for
ME?" She said, "Yes, sweetie, this is all for you." In my drugged-induced state of irrationality, I was shocked and touched. The emotion mixed with the drugs must've been too much for me, because at that moment I conked out. 

***


After I'd regained semi-consciousness, everything was still pretty confusing, and all I could really remember was all those people in the operating room. I kept asking Ben every few minutes, "Did I do a good job?" I wanted to make sure I didn't let those people down, I guess. I also kept asking Ben to kiss me... ;)

***
 

When I was a little more coherent, I realized I was very nauseated. I asked the nurse for something to throw up in, and then she added some anti-nausea drugs to my IV. However, the side effect was that I became EXTREMELY drousy...I started to do that nod-head-jerk thing that happens when you're fighting to stay awake, and so my face kept falling into the bucket I was holding to throw up in. Then I started to throw up, but I wasn't throwing anything up...I was just belching huge amounts of air!

The nurse told me it must be from all the air they pumped into my abdomen during the laproscopy. "You looked like you were 10 months pregnant!" she said. Hm. Ironic. Anyway, picture me, pale as death and holding on to a bucket for dear life, my eyes rolling uncontrollably into the back of my skull, my head jerking up and down while releasing a series of loud, disgusting belches, over and over. Absolutely ridiculous. Ben said it was "cute." He rubbed my back during the whole ordeal, and now I know first-hand why that method's so effective for babies with stomach bubbles.

***


Somewhere in the middle of all this, I asked Ben to tell me how the surgery went, and so he explained what our doctor had told him about removing several polyps and spots of endometriosis. I was conscious, but for some reason it just didn't make any sense to me, and so I kept having to ask him to re-explain it. Seriously, it was a good week before my brain could hold onto the details and actually comprehend them. Meanwhile, Ben was very, very patient with me.

***


By the end of the week, we joked about how Ben was going to make such a great dad because he'd burped me, fed me, "changed" me (I hate that hospital underwear...women who've been through childbirth, I think you know what I mean), and rocked me to sleep. What a great dad--er--husband!

***


A couple of weeks later I saw an actual photograph that the doctor had taken of all the polyps he'd found in my uterus. They really did look those seaweed creatures from The Little Mermaid (as Ben originally thought).


***


Oh, and if I told you what the final hospital bill was, you'd think it was a hilarious joke, too. (Ben: "Honey, look, here's the bill!"...
opens the bill..."$13,000!...Hahaha!" Me: "Hahaha, no, really what is it?"...I grab the bill...Wait, what, it's really $13,000? What the...?"...Well, thank goodness we already met our deductible due to Baby #2 in February.)

***


I know it's been a while, but I still need to thank all of the people who helped take care of me. My doctor and his nurse Mala were extremely helpful with preparing and explaining everything to me before, during, and after surgery - an experience that, sadly, is rare in our healthcare system. The nurses at Madison Memorial Hospital were amazingly compassionate and attentive. Believe it or not, they made staying in the hospital the best part of the whole ordeal (hence the enormous bill...?). 

Also, my mother-and-father-in-law made two trips - 20 miles each way - to pick me up after surgery (the first time they came I think I was still doing the drowsy head-bobbing thing), and then fed me and made me comfortable in their home until Ben was through with work. The day after my surgery, my best friend Jen let me stay at her house all day while Ben was at work, and took care of me even though she had just had major surgery the week before. Her husband Rich helped, too. And last, I was very grateful to my boss for understanding and giving me the time I needed to heal and get back to being 100%.

And I must say, it feels great to feel healthy again! I'm enjoying every moment without the pain, nausea, and hormonal highs and lows (mostly lows) that plagued me over the past couple of years. I don't think I realized how much it affected me until now, but I'm so grateful for everyone who helped me through it.


With family in town right now - nieces, nephews, sisters and brothers-in-law - I've realized what a miracle my life is. It's wonderful to be able to run and jump and play with all of the kids, and to be a part of a family (in-law) with so much love in it. I feel so blessed.


Anyway, do you have any surgery experiences to share? Good, bad, or funny?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Asking for Bragging Rights

Hello, everyone! Allow me to brag about my company a little. We're a small team, but we do big things, and I'm proud to be a part of it as my company's marketing director. My company, Home Care Pulse, is the first to set standards for home care. More and more, seniors are choosing to age in their own homes rather than in a nursing home or assisting living complex. Home care makes this choice possible, and, honestly, I hope I have that same choice in 50+ years (although, after hearing about SCOTUS today, I'm not sure what I can expect...).

But, how do you control the quality of care when the caregivers are in the home "unsupervised?" And how do you make sure that those caregivers are confident and competent in their jobs? How do you hold everyone accountable, not for regulation, but for the right reasons?

Well, that's where my company comes in. We monitor the quality of care for hundreds of home care providers all over North America. At our research center, we call individuals receiving care (clients), their families, and caregivers on a monthly basis, then report their feedback to supervisors. We report on trends, progress, and problem areas to help every provider improve and grow. Most importantly, we enhance the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of seniors who want to stay in their own homes, even after losing the ability to live independently. We're constantly humbled by the gratitude and compassion directed our way by those we've impacted.

Home Care Pulse also gathers national research on home care to identify "benchmarks" for home care businesses, like wages, costs, new specialty areas, and growth. We're leading the way for entrepreneurs to build successful home care businesses, which enhances their prosperity and quality of life not only for themselves, but also for their families and their employees. That's the vision of America!

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I really believe in my company, and I want you to know what I spend 80% of my time doing these days.

Also, I want you to believe in my company for at least 10 seconds (after the 180 seconds you took to read this), and vote for us RIGHT NOW! We're competing for a $250K grant, which we'll use to reach more providers in need of quality assurance. We need just a few more votes to get to the next round.

Go to www.missionsmallbusiness.com right now, click "Login & Support," use Facebook to login, then search "Home Care Pulse," and click "Vote." It takes 10 seconds, and, who knows, you could be helping your own grandma or elderly neighbor down the street!

If you're still reading, thank you for humoring me! I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to support me and my company.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Celebrating Four Functional Years

The other day a coworker of Ben's said she'd like to ask me what it's like to be a woman in a functional marriage, since she'd just been through a rough divorce. My heart went out to her, and immediately I was grateful for Ben. He's a big part of making our marriage "functional."

Then, a few days later, my cousin mentioned to me how it's interesting to see how different things work in different marriages. Some couples plan their week together. Some schedule time to talk. Some share a hobby they both enjoy. She wondered how to know what works for you, when you get so many different suggestions and ideas from other couples. A thought came to me that I shared with her: It's not so much
what works for them or for you, it's the process of figuring it out. Sure, you might figure out "what works," and it might make your marriage easier, but it's never going to be a perfect solution. The important thing is that both of you are committed to figuring it out, and I think it's that process, not the end-solution, that brings you closer together.

I know this has been true in my own marriage. I feel closest to Ben when I see him making an effort to understand my needs, and when I try to understand his. Eventually, we'll come up with a solution, but again, it's the process that brings us together.

So here's my "four year" theory on maintaining a functional marriage, not because it's brilliant or earth-shattering, but because the question deserves an answer: A functional marriage requires both a husband and a wife to make each other's happiness their first priority. It's easy to let yourself come first, but that's just not what marriage is about. 

When you fall in love, your feelings are strong, but they're mostly about you: " I feel so happy," "I feel so good about myself," "I've never felt this way before," "I want to be with him/her all of the time!" It's good to have these feelings in marriage, too, but the longer you're together, the more you think about the other person, "I want to make you happy," "I want to take care of your needs," "I want you to feel loved," or "You don't listen," "You never take out the trash," "You make everything difficult."
 

I think the more you direct a positive, loving attitude toward each other and try to meet each other's needs - physically, emotionally, financially, etc. - the more functional your marriage will be, and you'll actually be happier and more content than if you put your own needs first. As they always say, it's not easy - especially when kids come along - and it takes an effort on both parts, but if you're both committed to the life-long process of "figuring out what works," your marriage will grow stronger and stronger, even when life gets harder and harder.

Well, I'm sure this perspective will never make it into a magazine or anything, but I hope it will make a difference to someone, somewhere today, especially if that someone is my husband, Ben, on our four year anniversary today! I hope he knows how much I appreciate him. In his own words (from a text I received last night):


"4 years down, 4 ever to go. I am so excited to spend it with you."
 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Upside of Infertility

"Mom, where do babies come from?" 

It's a question most parents dread. Fortunately, for couples like us, the answer is much simpler:

"Well, the doctor, of course!"  

Or for adopting couples, the answer might be:

"That big office building across town" 
"Arkansas"
"China"
"The Internet"

Where else would babies come from...for couples like us? Really, it's not much different than the "stork" story. If only it actually happened that easily. At least it's easier to explain to a child how babies come from the doctor than to explain "the birds and the bees." No need for any awkward hesitation or beating around the bush...Oh, don't you envy us now? :)


Well, in case you're wondering exactly where babies do come from for people like us, here's one mom's explanation from Still Standing Magazine at http://stillstandingmag.com/2012/06/the-talk/. I'd have to say, this is the condensed version (the real story takes months and years, and more than a couple of awkward doctors visits, shots in the rear, and hormonal freak-outs)...But, it's so true, I can't help laughing!

"...When two people really love each other, they get in the care, drive down to the clinic, and meet with a nice doctor to discuss their options. The doctor will then take the woman into a room with several students awkwardly watching, and use a large magic wand to look inside her belly, while the man tries not to pass out from embarrassment. Later, the man will be given a large plastic cup and told to go to a room at the end of the hall...While she is waiting for [the man] to finish, the woman gets the joy of reading as many out of date magazines as she wants in the waiting room. After that, every day at the same time, the man will show the woman how much he loves her by shooting her in the rear with a large needle...and the woman will try not to [go absolutely crazy and bite his head off for every little thing]...A few months later, when her rear end is black and blue, her ovaries are the size of grapefruits, and her arms are covered in enough track marks from the daily blood draws to warrant an intervention, the man and women will get back in the car, drive to the clinic, and see the nice doctor with a magic wand who will put a baby into her belly, making her a mommy...

"And that is where babies come from."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jellystone (minus Yogi)

I'm sure you've all been on the edge of seats since I announced in my last post that my brother and I were planning a trip to Yellowstone....No?

Well, I was! I was more excited to see him than usual, which is saying something, because Robbie and I are really close, and I'm always excited to see and talk to him. But I've been pretty homesick lately. It's kind of a new thing for me. Even as a little kid I was always comfortable being on my own, but maybe living on the other side of the country from my family for 7 years is finally starting to take its toll. My mom is probably thinking "It's about time!" Well Mom, I've got a fail-proof plan for the future, which will guarantee that I always get to see you at least a few times a year...It's called grandchildren. :)

Anyway, I took my brother Robbie and a few of his friends to Yellowstone on Saturday, where it was a free day...you can't beat that! More than anything else - more than the hot pools, or Old Faithful, or friendly Asian tourists - we wanted to see a bear. We saw the widest variety of wildlife I've ever seen in a single day at Yellowstone - including 1 yellow-bellied marmot, 1 woodchuck seemingly contemplating a 500 foot jump off Yellowstone Falls, 1 moose, 2 coyotes, 4 or 5 female elk and 1 adorable baby elk, over 100 gigantic bison, 1 bald eagle, and a herd of antelope - but we did not see a bear. I've been living in Idaho for 7 years, and I still haven't seen a bear! Maybe one day I'll pay to go to Bear World, which I pass on the highway every single day, but I think it would be more exciting to spot a grizzly in the wild...Don't you?


So, it was a little disappointing that Yogi was a no-show (even after we broke out the picnic), but of course we still had a great time
at Yellowstone. Those multi-colored hot springs and bubbling geysers are always remarkable, no matter how many times I've seen them. And, as a bonus on that chilly Saturday, the hot steam pouring out of the ground every three feet was like a big, warm blanket. We drove a lot, walked a lot, saw a lot, snacked a lot, joked around a lot, and listened to a lot of...um..."music" is what I think Robbie's friend Jared called it...and then we ate a lot of greasy food at the famous Big Jud's to top it all off! My heart and stomach were full.

By the way, Robbie realized why the famous park is called "Yellowstone."

Photo by Brianna Hatch (our official photographer for the trip)
Last but not least, we made some tasty shush-kabobs in the backyard Friday night with my in-laws and cousin Emily, and then we all relaxed and talked by the fire. Now that's my idea of "home."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Normal is good...I like normal

Well, it took a lot longer than I expected, but I'm feeling back to my normal self after my surgery (i.e. my pain-free, non-medicated, healthy-eating, dinner-cooking, house-keeping, hard-working, full-time-marketing, active self). According to our doctor the outlook looks very good, which in our experience doesn't exactly mean a good outcome in the end, but we're hopeful that things we'll work out sooner rather than later with starting our family. So, we'll see what God has in mind this time. But hey, Ben will be done with his pharmacy rotations in almost exactly nine months, so what could be better timing...?(hint hint, God!)

Anyway, with all of the medical issues and mind-altering medications that have become a part of my life over the past few years, I've had to find a new "normal" for myself. I'll never be my 17-year-old self or 21-year-old self again, and thank goodness I'll never be my 13-year-old self again (WORST awkward phase EVER...as you can see, I'm still recovering!), but at least I can accept my (almost) 25-year-old self as my new version of "normal" and be happy with it...most days...

...Especially days when my brother comes to visit me and we take a fun trip together, like this Friday! Yellowstone, here we come!

an original, low-quality infographic about me






Monday, May 21, 2012

Surgery

The operation was successful as far as we know. The details are still foggy - I kept asking Ben over and over to tell me how it went, but I couldn't keep his answers from falling out of my brain the moment after he told me. But, from what I remember, the doctor removed several polyps (one large and several small) from my uterus, and two spots of endometriosis from my abdomen (yet another diagnosis). The endometriosis will probably come back in a few years, but he's not sure about the polyps. We'll find out more later this week at my follow-up. The recovery was rougher than expected - let's just say I will never take a functioning digestive system for granted ever again - but I'm feeling better now. Just a little woozy, and still tired. I'm looking forward to eating, excreting, and walking normally in the near future!

Goodness, I just can't wait to feel "normal," but I don't know if I can even remember what that's like anymore. It feels like we've been in the middle of one crisis after another over the last few years - multiple moves, miscarriages, unemployment, infertility treatments, taking on new jobs - I feel like I'm always in "recovery mode," just putting one foot in front of the other. I guess that's life. Just put one foot in front of the other. Then you realize you've been looking at your feet too long, and you look up just in time to catch a beautiful sunset or see a friend passing nearby. Right now, I'm looking for a bench. I need a rest. :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

A New Diagnosis

"Habitual Spontaneous Abortion."

These disgusting words are the official new diagnosis from our doctor. Ugh, I'd rather call it "recurrent miscarriage," but either way, it's enough to make any woman despise her body. Basically, it means I'm not able to sustain a pregnancy - I'm prone to spontaneously abort (miscarry) a growing embryo or fetus. The reason could be anatomical, hormonal, genetic, auto-immune, even a blood-clotting factor, or a combination of chromosomal factors involving the mother and father. In short, there's an exponential number of reasons a woman's body may reject her offspring, and it's difficult to tell the difference between a "natural" miscarriage (quite the oxymoron) and one caused by treatable factors. Typically, a woman will lose three or more babies before she's diagnosed with "habitual spontaneous abortion." 
 
But in our case, the evidence from our two miscarriages indicated they were both caused by treatable factors. In other words, there wasn't something wrong with our babies, there was something wrong with me. I really think our doctor was inspired - If he hadn't made this diagnosis, as heartbreaking as it, we probably would've tried for another year or more like we did after our first miscarriage, not knowing we were doomed to lose our third.
So, we were given a list of about a dozen different tests - all very expensive, of course - and we finally decided to start with the least expensive but most inconvenient procedure, where the uterus is blown up with saline like a water balloon and searched with a probe. If it sounds uncomfortable, please let me assure you, it was. In fact, I think it might have been the worst physical pain I can remember, but it's hard to say because it only lasted a few minutes, and the procedure ended up being more than worth the pain and expense. 


Our doctor discovered a large, abnormal growth protruding into my uterus. It's called a polyp, and it's kind of like a tumor. But, it's not...Allow me to quote from Kindergarten Cop in my best Schwarzenegger impression, "It's not a tu-mah." Ben was with me when we saw it on the ultrasound screen, and it's quite evil-looking. Ben said that it reminded him of these creatures from The Little Mermaid:


It makes you shutter, doesn't it?...Just remembering how freaked out you were by these things when you were a kid? Well, I'd much rather have been smiling and looking at a cute button nose and round little rump on the screen, instead of grunting in pain and looking at the hideous thing that took those moments away from me...a great Mother's Day present, huh? It makes me feel like a freak of nature, like there's an alien that's been gestating inside of me for who knows how many years. I hate it...I can't wait to get it out of me.

So, I'm having surgery next week. I wish I could say that this will fix everything. Our doctor said there could be other unknown factors, and like I've mentioned before, I've got a hormone imbalance that makes my ovaries look like swiss cheese (diagnosis: polycystic ovarian disease), and an x-ray recently revealed that the base of my spine sags like the Leaning Tower of Pisa (diagnosis: "spinal degeneration"), which is contributing to my infertility. I feel like a train wreck sometimes, not to mention an emotional basket case, although Ben assures me that I'm neither (I'm "perfect"...pffft).
 
a poly-cystic ovary (mine don't look quite this bad, but they're close)

 the approximate angle of my spine
 
Still, overcoming "habitual spontaneous abortion" is half the battle, and I hope this surgery gives us an easy victory (well, if you call going under the knife "easy"). In any case, it's a miracle that we found this now - on the very first test, and only a few months after losing Baby #2 - instead of after another year of trying and losing another baby and dozens of test later, because that's how it probably would've worked out without divine intervention. I'm so glad our doctor didn't wait...Next time you pray, please thank God for good doctors!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Diamond Rio

Also, just for the record, the Diamond Rio concert was INCREDIBLE. It was way better than I imagined it would be...So many great songs! I wish I could've recorded the whole thing and posted it here for you to enjoy. It's no wonder that Diamond Rio will go down in history along with bands like Alabama and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. They are truly talented artists.

Source: Diamond Rio Facebook Fan Page
Ben and me at the concert
People dancing
The band
I think the best part of their concert was their bluegrass ballad rendition of "Carry on Wayward Son" by Kansas (Now you'll have it in your head all day, huh?...Carry on my wayward suh-uh-un, there'll be peace when you are duh-un, lay your weary head to reh-eh-est...don'tchoo cry no moooore...!), and after that it's a tie between "Unbelievable" (the music video for "Unbelievable" is not quite appropriate for this blog...I love that song, though!) and "Meet in the Middle." I think "Meet in the Middle" wins out, just because of this music video. Don't you wish you could've been there for that performance?!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Just for the record...

Source: Pinterest
I've been having a little too much fun with this blog lately, and so just to set the record straight once and for all:

(1) I'm not having a baby, but I did have a {special announcement} for my job.

(2) Ben didn't graduate, at least not yet...he {finished his last year of classwork} in pharmacy school...one more year until graduation.

(3) I didn't dye my hair black, but it is starting to {grow in black} on its own. 

My last few posts caused some unintentional excitement and confusion, and so I just wanted to reassure everyone that we are just as boring, busy, and barren as we normally are. We can all relax and have a laugh now. Anyway, thanks for all of your love and support, as always! We love you all.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Black as Ebony

Here's some news I haven't shared yet: my hair has been starting to grow in black over the past couple of years. Yes, you read that right: BLACK. And THICK. And WIRY. Considering the fact that my hair has always been a natural honey-auburn shade with a fine texture, I think this proves that my hormones have been playing a nasty practical joke on me, which involves me transforming into some kind of crazed, hairy, hormonal beast.

Then again, I've had several months to come to terms with this new development (as it's been gradual - a few strands here, a few more strands there), and I've come to hope that this transformation might actually be flattering. In fact, it's kind of exciting to think about having a new natural shade, as I've always thought of dark hair as an absolutely stunning feature, but not necessarily on myself, with my red-headed complexion.

Either way - attractive or not - going dark is going to be a big change for me, especially since I've never made any drastic color changes to my hair. I've always stuck with my natural shade, and I've colored my hair maybe three times total in my entire life, and even then it was just to even out the color when my natural summer highlights started growing out.

This new development's also given me the opportunity to re-think my future hair color, just in case I don't like the way I look with dark hair. Like I said, it's going to be a big color change for me anyway. Thanks to {Clairol's Virtual Makeover}, I can preview the possibilities. What do you think about me going ebony? ...chestnut? ...sandy blonde? ...platinum? (Just kidding about that last one.) By the way, the middle image is my natural auburn shade.


So, friends...any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Amazed

"Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are - chaff and grain together - certain that a faithful  hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away."  - FROM "FRIENDSHIP" BY DINAH CRAIK 

Almost four years ago I married my very best friend, and every day I'm more amazed by how real his love is. To be honest, I didn't know love like this could even exist - I just thought I was supposed to find someone I had a good time with and we would live a happy life together. And I'm sure I would've been happy, had that been the case. But this is more than happily ever after...This is an amazing transformation into a person I never thought I could be, and it's because of love - real, true love. No other person can take all of the awkward, troubled parts of me and make it into something glowing and lovely the way that Ben can. He's that faithful hand that sifts out the sorriness and paints the silver lining on the clouds.

Well, with all of this trying to be poetic and such, I wanted to give a fitting tribute to the man who's worked SO HARD over the past three years...Studying late night after night after night, and driving an hour-and-a-half back and forth from class day after day after day, always beat, but always glad to listen to my cares and buoy me up when everything had gone all wrong. He's been the most faithful friend and hard-working provider-to-be that any wife could ever ask for.

And today he finished his VERY LAST final exam for pharmacy school! This is a big, BIG milestone. Of course, he's still got a year of pharmacy rotations before he can don the funny-looking doctor's cap and robe to accept his degree, plus an intense board exam before he can become a legally licensed drug dealer, and then he'll be finding a job who knows where and we'll probably be moving again (we're going 5 for 5!), but NOW is the time to celebrate all of the years of hard work he's put in to get to where he is now (5 years as a chemistry major + 3 years in pharmacy school = 8 years of never-ending studying, brain-draining exams, and zombie-like sleep deprivation).

You know, when you're climbing a mountain, you're facing up toward the peak and so you can always see how far you've got to go, but you've got to stop every once in a while and take a look behind you to see how far you've come already. If you've ever experienced this first-hand (climbing a mountain in reality, that is), you know how surprising and exhilarating it can be to look down and see how far below you started your climb. That's how we feel in this moment, and it feels GREAT!

So, congratulations to my wonderful husband and very best friend, Ben...You amaze me! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

What a Beautiful Mess!

Yes, I got myself in a beautiful mess...First of all, some people think I'm going to have a baby (sorry!), because I announced a {very special arrival}. Well, I probably will someday (have a baby, that is, although we're still waiting on that verdict...so, we may still adopt, who knows yet?). But anyway, I got myself into a beautiful mess about seven years ago when I let two of my friends/former college roommates Rachel and Karen brainwash me into liking country music. I guess these things can happen when you have to depend on your beloved roommates for rides to the grocery store and nearest mall, and the only stations they listen to are country music stations.

For years, I denied any interest in country music, rolling my eyes at lyrics about crying cowboys and vengeful broads. After a while, I started to catch myself humming country tunes to myself and feeling a thrill when I heard the opening riff of a certain country song on the radio. Still, I kept any desire to listen to country music locked away inside, as if it were a weakness that would destroy the person I'd worked so hard to become (don't ask me what
that was). Sometimes, I would "accidentally" let my radio tuner stop on a country station, but only when I was alone. I began to justify my love for certain country songs, and country music became my secret guilty pleasure. I envied friends who went to country music concerts, thinking that if I ever bought tickets to see Tim McGraw, my secret would surely be out.  

Slowly, I began to resent hiding behind Journey albums and Top 40 stations, pretending I had cool, sophisticated musical tastes (Note, I still love Journey, and Top 40 stations lost all sophistication about five years ago, around the time Justin Beiber hit the scene...No wonder country music's been gaining so much wide-spread popularity since then...Seriously). I also realized that I know plenty of really cool people who like country music, like my best friends Rachel and Karen, my super-cool-and-always-so-popular cousins Emily and Sarah, one of my "cool mom" role models and friend Leslie, and even my coolest-of-all-cool husband Ben.


So, I decided to come out of the country music closet. I started listening to country music openly in front of my family (luckily, they haven't disowned me yet). And now I listen to it in the car, at work, and at home where the neighbors may spot me dancing bare foot in kitchen like a country fool, but I don't care. I even {quoted a favorite country song} on one of my posts. 

And I just bought tickets to my very first country music concert...Diamond Rio! They're performing at a local venue, so it was the perfect opportunity, and Ben was very enthusiastic about going...So, we're going, with my super-cool-and-always-so-popular cousin Emily! You might know Diamond Rio from one of their big hits, "Beautiful Mess." Have a listen below. If you think you don't like country music, give these songs a chance...You might like being brainwashed!
 
P.S. I'd give these songs an "A" on lyrics, but a "C" on music videos (just be warned)...If you don't watch the videos, at least listen through the first chorus...And sorry for annoying YouTube commercials.

"Beautiful Mess" by Diamond Rio



"When the Stars Go Blue" by Tim McGraw 
 


"Lost in This Moment" by Big & Rich



"My Baby Loves Me" by Martina McBride
(90's throw-back...fun!)



"She's My Kind of Rain" by Tim McGraw



"My Maria" by Brooks & Dunn



"Should've Been a Cowboy" by Toby Keith
(You may wanna be a cowboy when you see this mullet...)



"Guy on a Buffalo" by Guy on a Guitar
(Ok, it's not really a country song...You gotta see it anyway!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's a Bo...er...Book!

That's right, after hundreds of hours of labor, the printing stork made a very special delivery!...Announcing the 2012 Edition of the Benchmarking Study, the largest annual national study in home care (FIVE-hundr'd of 'em...Mr. and Mrs. McMullen). I just had to share the happy news!


Arrived 4/24/2012, 1 lb. 10 oz, 8 1/2 by 11 inches
178 perfectly printed pages in 7 perfectly tabbed sections
Beautiful matte paper and full-color graphs and tables
Absolutely priceless, for only $299 retail

Special Delivery!

I know it's what you've all been waiting to hear... 

I've been expecting a very special delivery! The due date kept getting pushed out, and so for a while I wasn't sure when I'd be able to make this announcement. It's been an exciting month and a half...I've been up late - wide awake - for nights on end, because I just couldn't stop thinking about it. I just kept praying desperately that it would all work out. I'd be exhausted one minute, and elated the next. Over the past several weeks, I've been having intense cravings for Taco Bell at odd hours of the night, and begging for extra back rubs from Ben. 

And I've got to tell you, the labor was VERY long and painful. But it's finally {here}!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Back to life, back to reality...and it's about time!

You know that feeling you had when you read your journal from 7th grade and wanted to rip out a few pages? That's how I feel about the last couple of blog posts. But I won't. 

Thank you for bearing with us through the stress of losing Baby #2 and moving right in the middle of it all. Not to mention, I've been literally spending every waking hour - no exaggeration - on a monster project at work for the past couple months (i.e. our annual national study of the home care industry)...That's right, no days off for miscarriage or moving or month-long hemorrhaging due to said miscarriage. I was stressed and not quite myself, but my blog posts were a weak attempt at normalcy. Actually, I've written several blog posts in the last month on various topics that I never quite had the courage to post, and maybe one day I'll want to share them with the world here. But not now.

The good news is, life is somewhat right-side-up again, because:

  • We are living under the same roof again and mostly settled into our new home.
  • I have a great job and a steady income...a great blessing after several months of searching!
  • We've been blessed with peace and reassurance that have kept us going in spite of the disappointment of losing Baby #2.
  • I'm no longer on medication and feeling mostly back to my old "pre-medication" self again...The last year's treatments were rough on my physical and mental health. 
  • We're getting back to eating healthier (fresh/home-made vs. whatever's easiest at the moment). 
  • We're active again and exercising almost every day.
  • I'm making time to read again...Oh, the joy!!!

In other good news:
  • My family came to visit (well, my parents and one of my brothers, Michael) and Ben even got work off on Saturday for the first time this year so that he could spend it with us. It was a lovely weekend.
  • My brother Michael might come to live with us for the summer next year...fingers crossed!
  • My mom stayed an extra couple days and I finally did get a personal day off work...It was a heavenly day filled with my favorite food and lots of girl time.
  • The monster project at work is DONE! SUCCESS! HAPPY CUSTOMERS! HAPPY BOSS! BACK TO SOMEWHAT NORMAL WORKING HOURS! Hail the conquering hero, me!
  • A couple of my best friends are expecting their firsts, and I'm SO excited! At least somebody's having a baby around here! 
  • Spring has sprung, and I have a deck to sit on and enjoy the sunshine (and a fireplace for those days when Idaho changes its mind about being spring).
  • I have a wonderful husband, in case you didn't know. He gave me a beautiful ring to remember the two little lives we lost and the family we'll have one day. When I put that hand over my heart, I remember to be happy for the miracle of life and family.
  • Speaking of family, Ben's whole family will be coming to Idaho for a family reunion this summer, and I'm ready to enjoy every moment this year!                                                             
 My mom and me at the new I-Center in Rexburg...We got the official tour from my cousin, Emily, who works for the university in Public Relations. It's a religious convention center with beautiful architecture and larger-than-life masterpieces of Christ's life by Carl Bloch and others. If you're ever in Rexburg, make sure you see it!

By the way, this is my favorite painting by Carl Bloch. It reminds me that even Christ was comforted when He suffered the greatest pain ever suffered. We don't have to face life alone. Christ says, "I will be with you on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you to bear you up." 

 Here's the little ring...Sorry, bad picture! 

 The fam' in 2009...I wish I'd taken a picture in 2010...Oh well, Steinmetz Family Reunion 2012 or bust!