Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Summer Abundance

It's September, and that just makes me feel like summer is over. Don't get me wrong, it was a great one! But it always seems to go by so fast. 

The theme lately has been preserving the produce pouring out of the garden. I've been making about 2 batches of tomato sauce a week, blanching and freezing corn, making salsa, freezing peppers... We are fortunate to have a local market for produce. The quality is great and prices are much lower than elsewhere. Plus, it's mostly local! I went to them for sweet corn, because it's not a crop I've ventured into yet. Next year we'll be canning instead of freezing. We bought a pressure canner last week and now I need to learn the art of canning! Apple season is upon us and I plan on experimenting with apple sauce because I know that it freezes well in case I mess up!

I was looking back at pictures I have just on my phone and Facebook from this summer. It was a really good one. There were even some great moments during my Grandpa's passing. Moments that he would have loved. And not only that, but I have a picture of us holding hands just days before he passed.  It is a moment that I will have forever, and I'm so glad I thought to get that picture. There were a lot of good times this summer, and while I was feeling like I didn't do enough this summer...I think we definitely did.

Abundance is the word for this summer. We have an abundant harvest--a reward for the hard work and effort we put in. We have an abundance of memories with people we love. And that is so gratifying. My heart is very full today, looking back at the summer. It's full in a good way, and makes me look forward to what the rest of the year has in store.

How was your summer? Do have any "should haves"?

Monday, September 1, 2014

IUI Update #2

My ultrasound was this morning, and it really could not have gone any better! I was a little nervous about the timing not working out, but as it turns out I had nothing to worry about!

We were primarily checking for any masses or cysts and to see what my follicle development looked like. They also wanted to check on the lining to make sure it is thick enough. Everything looked beautiful, according to the tech.

Then it was on to my ovaries. I had a total of 27 follicles, all tiny except for one enormous one on my right side. 23mm!

Of course, the first question after that was if we wanted to go ahead with the IUI and we said yes! We are scheduled for Wednesday at noon and I'm taking a trigger tonight around 10. They also gave me a "just in case" prescription for progesterone, which I'll start on Friday (2dpiui).

I'm trying to remind myself that we will likely have to do this more than once. I just don't want to get my hopes crushed. I'm really not doing a very good job so far. But in my defense, everyone else is so optimistic that it is infectious!

So. Here we go!

The Smartest Marriage Advice: Part 3

This is Part 3 of my recap of Ladies Home Journal's article "The Smartest Marriage Advice We've Ever Heard" from May 2014. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

This is it! The last of the smartest (or best, according to the website!) marriage advice we've ever heard.

  • Don't forget how much fun marriage can be. It's no question that marriage is work. Respect and trust need to be earned. But marriage is also fun and it is something that we can't forget about! It's easy to let the fun get lost in the hectic flow of life--especially if you're going through a rough patch. Don't let yourself forget to laugh with one another. 
  • Do speak his (or her) language. The book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is nothing new, but it is great advice. Everyone expresses and interprets love differently, so it's important that you express love to your spouse in the way that they interpret it best.
  • Do accept your husband for who he is. Obviously, sometimes you come up on unexpected problems that are revealed or develop over time. In that case, there's some work to be done. But in general, you fell in love with this person. They were good enough for you then, don't try and make them into something they aren't.
  • Do celebrate small moments. Absolutely agree with this one. It is so easy to get caught up in the problems that you're facing, or to just plain be busy. But notice and appreciate the small, quiet moments that remind you of why you signed up for this in the first place!
  • Don't spend every moment together. This goes back to preserving your individuality. By doing things independently, you get to come back and share your experience with your best friend. You have things to talk about, stories to tell. And, you get to miss each other! 
  • Ask yourself: What do I appreciate about my spouse? Acknowledge the role your spouse plays in your life, and everything they do for your family! You're a team and it is so important that you recognize what each other brings to that team. 
  • Don't get snarky. Don't allow resentment to build until you can't stand anything your spouse says or does. Talk about it. Communicate your issues. Seek help if needed. Don't forget that there's a reason that you chose to build a life with this person. 
So there you have it! The "smartest" marriage advice. What do you think? Did they miss anything important? What advice would you give to someone about marriage?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

TTC Thursday: IUI Update

There's not a whole lot going on right now, just a more waiting. In other words, the usual. But things will pick up tomorrow.

I had my CD 3 bloodwork last Friday and those results were fine. They're being repeated tomorrow (on CD 10) to make sure that I didn't have something randomly spike or plummet that would be cause for concern. I also start OPKs tomorrow. And then on Monday (CD 13), we have the ultrasound. I was shocked when she gave me the date like it was no big deal, since Monday is Labor Day. Another reason for liking this place!

I'm kind of a bundle of nerves about it--normal, I guess. I have this fear every time we have a test done that something completely horrible will be found. I guess that means that I'm the opposite of a hypochondriac?

But more than nervous, I'm excited. I'm trying not to get too excited because doing an IUI really only gives us a 20% (ish) chance. You know, a normal chance. The possibility of it not working is huge. But even so, I feel like we have a real chance.

Of course, I'm also trying to do some things that will help. Not guaranteed, of course, but at the very least, they won't hurt. Things like eating pineapple after ovulation to boost implantation, keeping my feet warm (because supposedly warm feet=warm uterus and I always have cold feet!), trying to not be stressed out, making sure that I'm getting out and moving around (but low impact) or doing some yoga, etc.

As far as medicine/supplements, this cycle is very different from past cycles! I'm taking a daily prenatal vitamin and a baby asprin. Nothing else. It's definitely a nice change from the 18 pills I had to take before!

That's pretty much all for my update. We're just anxiously waiting for Monday to see how the rest of the cycle will play out.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Smartest Marriage Advice: Part 2

This is Part 2 of my recap of the Ladies Home Journal article The Smartest Marriage Advice We've Ever Heard. You can read Part 1 here.

This part of the article had the piece of advice that made me laugh out loud. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it was still funny to me.

  • Don't make him the center of your universe. This piece of advice came from the Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage and Eat Pray Love. I loved both books and I love this advice. You need to have guys nights, girls nights, individual interests. You were your own person when your husband fell for you, and it's important to preserve that individuality! I'm a people pleaser and I tend to put myself last so this one is a struggle for me! 
  • Do coddle your marriage--not your spouse. This goes back to the idea of marriage being a living, breathing thing. It has to be nurtured and tended to. If you neglect it, it won't thrive. So do make time for date nights (even at home!) and time with just the two of you on a regular basis. As for not coddling your spouse, I'm not quite sure what the point of that was because it wasn't talked about even in the article! My interpretation--sometimes tough love is needed. Like when hubby wants to buy another new toy and you don't have the money in the budget...or maybe it's you wanting new shoes...or something. 
  • Don't share a bathroom. This is the one I laughed about! Chris and I have really never been on identical schedules to where we have to fight for bathroom space, so this one never even occurred to me! I can see why it would be beneficial, but it hasn't ever been a problem for us!
  • Don't spend in secret. This relates to a previous point I made about tough love. Money is one of the top arguments that couples have and it can really wear on your relationship. Chris and I have really been on the same page financially so we haven't actually ever had a fight about money. Weird, I know! But I think the reason is that we are both really aware of our situation (and watch our accounts!) and talk about things regularly. 
  • Do keep each other guessing. The tip here is to pick out 3 or 4 things that you would like to do (on a weekend, for your birthday, anniversary, date night...) and let your spouse know, asking them to pick one and arrange it. I love this! Some men are just not great at surprises or planning, so this makes it easier for them to do something nice and sweet without the pressure of wondering if you will really like it. 
  • Don't go away mad/Pick your battles/Always kiss goodnight. This is one that I sort of disagree with. I totally agree with part two and three. What I disagree with is the first part. Sometimes Chris and I do better if we step away and sometimes even sleep on it. Often, our disagreements are made worse by being tired, so we tend to do better if we leave it alone for awhile. My opinion on this one is that it totally depends on the couple. 
So what do you think? Individual bathrooms? How about individual bank accounts? And what about stepping away from arguments? 

And next week, we are finishing up! We're talking about marriage being fun, love languages and accepting one another as we are...among a few other things!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Picture of Loss

A copied birth certificate. A condolence card with a tiny square of newsprint enclosed. A headstone in a country graveyard.

That handful of things is all that my great grandmother had after burying her only son. He was born early, and died just a few hours after his birth.

According to the birth certificate, my great grandmother was seven months pregnant when she gave birth to her son on June 23, 1948. She had been in the hospital for three days. She had given birth to two healthy girls years before and as far as anyone knows...it was a fluke. No one really knows what happened or why he came early. At least, not that I've ever been told.

I learned about the birth and death of this baby boy many years ago, when I was too young to understand. I knew that it was a sad thing that happened, and that it must have been horrible. After all, how would I feel about losing one of my siblings? But beyond that, I knew nothing.

Little did I know that a few years later I would be facing a miscarriage, and years of trying to have a baby. Little did I know that someday I would know a little bit of how my great grandma must have felt.

She passed away about six months before I got married. Kids were not even on the radar at that point. But I wish I had asked her about it. Hindsight is 20-20, so they say.

Even so, I feel a renewed kinship with her. Like maybe she's up there rooting for me, because she knows. Who knows about all that, really. Still, it's nice to think about.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

TTC Thursday: IUI Prep


Obviously AF showed her ugly face. Boo. It's disappointing, but we are to the point where that just isn't a surprise anymore. Sad, isn't it?

Anyway, this cycle is the start of a totally new chapter for us--IUI.

Many of you are probably familiar with the term, but in case you aren't, IUI stands for Intrauterine Insemination. In other words, it is Artificial Insemination.

I wasn't aware of this until now, but IUI can be done in a variety of different ways, depending on your needs. The protocol for someone who doesn't ovulate well will be different for someone who does, etc. It's actually very customizable.

In our situation, we fall in the "unexplained" category. Both of us have been tested and are perfectly normal. Except that we aren't. Because of that we actually have a few options.

1. Basic IUI--the procedure is scheduled based on OPK test results (after a positive).

2. Monitored Cycle IUI--follicle check mid cycle, the procedure is scheduled based on the development of the follicles. An HCG trigger shot is used prior to the IUI.

3. Medicated Cycle IUI--Clomid is used to boost follicle production, 1-2 ultrasounds to check progress. HCG trigger prior to the IUI.

At this point, we are planning on going with option #2, at least for the first cycle because my cycles have been slightly different lately. I'm hoping that it was stress related and things will get back to normal this cycle, but we just never know. So having the mid cycle ultrasound to check on my follicle development seems like a good idea, at least for this first time. Right now, I'm going in for CD 3 blood work tomorrow and an ultrasound on Labor Day (CD 13).

So here we are. Another step. Another thing to be hopeful about. To get used to. To worry about.

I'm cautiously excited and optimistic. I feel like this is the best chance we've had in a long time. But then again, it's likely that it will take more than once so I need to be prepared for that possibility. This is what I was talking about earlier this week. In the last few days we have gone from "We might do this" to "We are doing this!" This new step has given me a boost. A reason to hope. And I'd like to keep it that way, but after so many disappointments it is really easy to lose that optimism. That's one thing that I think all of us always struggle with--hanging on to that hope and optimism even through the disappointment. It's not easy!

So this month, I'll be documenting my first IUI and everything I'm doing to boost my chances of success!

Readers, if any of you have been though the IUI routine I would love to hear about your experience and tips for a successful cycle!