Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bonding over hardship

Yesterday was the first day that I got to see all of my co-workers this school year! It was great to catch up and find out who is going to school to seek advanced degrees, to hear about weddings and engagements that happened over the summer, and to hear details of lots of travel adventures (one of my fellow teachers went to London for the Olympics - whoa!). I also got to make the announcement to all of the teachers about Ponyo.

When some of the women asked about when we found out, they seem shocked that I have kept quiet with my news for this long. I was honest with them about how long it took, how we were seeing a specialist, my diagnosis and my scheduled surgery. I was very surprised when 3 (THREE!) other women who teach in my school shared their stories of infertility with me. I had no idea! And one of these women is one of the three teachers who gave birth to her first child last spring! She, in particular, shared her joy with me. She acknowledged how hard last year must have been for me to see three pregnant ladies all year and attend the showers and be present for the lunch chatter about babies and nurseries and names and ultrasounds. She gave me a hug and told me that she is so happy that we are now expecting our own miracle baby, "This baby is a miracle, you know!" she said through tears.

It makes me sad that these three women suffered alone at work, much like I did, out of fear, shame, embarrassment, worry about being pc in the workplace - whatever their reason was for keeping this information completely hidden. I am not sure why in our culture we are so secretive about things like this. I wish I had been more open BEFORE. I am being open now, so hopefully if any other co-workers of mine are experiencing something similar they will know I have ears open and hugs ready for those hard days! Those of us who have experienced or are experiencing infertility are not alone and people do care!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jury duty and happiness

Day II of jury duty was a bust. I sat in the same room (picked a new chair today, though!) and talked with a few other potential jurors. I also logged another 200 pages or so in the book I am reading, which never would have happened if not for jury duty! So, I guess that is a plus if I am trying to be positive about this experience. I was released at 2:30 today so now I am home for a snack and then heading (hopefully, if I can get motivated!) to school to work in my mess of a classroom!

Moving on: Fellow blogger, Amanda, posted some wonderful news this morning! Head on over to Meet the Joiners to see her announcement and to join her in celebrating!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The juror that wasn't...

Well, I reported for duty about a half-hour early. Thirty minutes early even though I got lost downtown and asked a nice guy for directions (which he sweetly looked up on his phone for me!), and got my fork confiscated at security. I knew I couldn't bring weapons, scissors or knitting needles. No forks, either. Thankfully there were plastic forks in the lunch room so I still got to eat my salad at lunchtime.

Attendance was taken and orientation started about 45 minutes later than it was supposed to. Then we all sat around for a LONNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG time. I got all of my sketchbook spines folded for grades K-5 and read. Then some people were called from the pool. But not me. Then I read some more. Then a bunch of people were dismissed for the day and put on call for the rest of the week. Not me, though! Then we got a 1 hour and 45 minute lunch break where I got to eat my salad with a plastic fork. Then I read even more. Then they made us all excited by making an announcement that there were 2 trials needing jurors yet today. Then they said, "Just kidding!" and dismissed more people. This time I was included. So, I was dismissed about 45 minutes before my jury day was scheduled to end and now I am on call! On my way out of the courthouse, I got my dangerous fork weapon back and apologized and promised not to bring one tomorrow (if I even have to go!). So, I need to call the courthouse jury number between 5pm and 7:30am to find out if I need to report tomorrow morning. After all the sitting around today, I kind of want to be called back in! I'd like to see the inside of a courtroom! If I don't have to go in, that is good, too! Then I get to go to school with all of my co-workers and prepare for the school year.

We shall see what tomorrow holds!

*UPDATE* It turns out my group DOES need to report to the courthouse tomorrow. Things that will be different tomorrow: I will not get lost, I will not bring a fork, and I will bring more snacks for the long day of sitting in a windowless room! Do you guys think a stapler counts as a weapon? I'd like to bring mine to staple sketchbooks but don't want to get it taken away at security!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crazy begins!

Tuesday I had a dentist appointment and felt Ponyo kick my hand for the first time while I was laying in the dentist chair. It was so surreal and weird! The Bee got to feel her/him move later that night. It made both of us feel reassured that our little one is growing and strong!

Thursday-Saturday The Bee and I were living at my sister and brother-in-law's house while they were in California. We (well, mostly I since it was my last week of summer break) took care of my almost-2-year-old nephew and made sure their cats had food and water. It was a lot of fun! Unfortunately, I only got a little school prep done while the little man was napping. Also unfortunately, their air conditioning stopped working Thursday afternoon and it was almost 90 outside (and humid, ugh!). We made do by keeping the back of the house (where the bedrooms are) closed during the day (it stayed pretty cool back there), running fans at night, drinking lots of water, and heading out multiple times a day to run errands in air conditioned stores. I also took my nephew to my Grandma's house for a visit with her, my Mom, my Grandma's 3 tiny dogs, 3 big cats, and tank of tropical fish. He loved that part of the day!

This morning my husband and I walked the 5K at the State Fair. This is the fourth year we have participated. He was so nice and walked with me the whole way. We still finished in under an hour, rewarded ourselves with ice cream (chocolate malt for him, strawberry-rhubarb sundae for me!), and checked out the student art show before heading home.

Tomorrow is the first day of teacher meetings/classroom prep for the new school year! It is also the beginning of my service on jury duty. I am hoping SO MUCH that I don't have to go to jury duty for the whole week. My classroom furniture just got put back in my room on Saturday (they replaced my ceiling and lights last week) so I haven't done anything in there to prepare for school! Yikes! I have all of the supplies I need for constructing sketchbooks for the kids at home, though, and plan on bringing bits and pieces of them to jury duty with me to work on. I just got a new bone folder that I am so excited to use for folding all of the book spines - last year I got blisters from all of the folding and burnishing!

Here ends the summer I was so lucky to have and begins the craziness of year 5 of teaching! I am so thankful to have a husband who insisted that I take this summer off even before we knew about endometriosis, surgery, and Ponyo. He really looks out for me!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pregnant infertile

Despite my current pregnancy, I still have a diagnosis of infertility caused by endometriosis. A statistic that I read somewhere (I know that sounds very official, but I can't remember the source!) stated that 30-40% of infertile women have endometriosis (some of these women also have other fertility diagnoses comorbid with the endo). It is a serious condition that, until last winter, I thought just caused painful periods and heavy bleeding. I had no idea what all of the other symptoms were. I had no idea what the causes were. I had no idea that Western medicine believes there is nothing a woman can do to prevent or slow the progression of the disease.

I am sure I sound like a broken record lately, but I identify much more closely to other women who are struggling or have struggled with infertility than I do with women who become pregnant effortlessly. I am easily offended by some of the statements people make in regards to pregnancy and motherhood. I am annoyed by requests from people to post belly pictures on facebook. I was royally peeved at a friend who commented on our public facebook announcement by talking about how she knows 9 pregnant friends now. That is NOT what anyone needs to hear when they are announcing a pregnancy. Especially after dealing with infertility. I get really, really angry when parents tell me to enjoy these last months of freedom. As if I don't know the first thing about what we are getting ourselves into. As if I was lucky that it took two years so that my husband and I could enjoy life child free for longer. I know we will be on a steep learning curve once Ponyo arrives. I am sure there will be unforeseen challenges in addition to the hardships we are expecting (i.e. sleepless nights, less disposable income, etc), but we are fully invested in this child and the life we will have with them.

I don't think I have come right out and said it, so I am saying it now. If I ever post anything that hurts any of you or even slightly annoys you, please let me know (in a nice way, if you can, please!). It will never be my intention to sound like I have forgotten where we were earlier this year. I am not sure what direction this blog will go as time passes. For now, I plan on keeping it as is. I will post pregnancy related items in the main body of my blog as we learn more about Ponyo. However, I have added a new tab up top where I will post any pregnancy related pictures so that they don't show up on your reader. Trust me, I know how even a tasteful pregnancy photo post can make a hard day even harder!

Many of you have slowed down on posts and I am curious about how you are! I hope everyone is well!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dreaded family photos

Almost two years ago, my husband's siblings and their families took family photos together. We opted out even though they invited us to join. Reasons we did not participate: 1. We had a busy weekend when they had it scheduled. 2. I was having allergies to everything under the sun and my eyes look horrible at the time (and I couldn't wear eye make-up due to the terrible allergies...totally not cool for a professional family photo shoot). 3. We were the only ones without children and we thought it would look weird to just stick us in there.

Last Sunday, we found out that they are doing a photo session together again this fall. We were invited and my mother-in-law mentioned that the pictures from 2 years ago would be perfect if The Bee and I had been in them. We said we would do it this year as long as we don't have another commitment that day. Then my mother-in-law and one of my sisters-in-law asked me to think about color combinations that might look good for the outdoor, autumn shoot.

I obliged and posted some useful links on my sister-in-law's facebook wall. All three of his sisters and I have had kind of a running conversation under one of the links to share our opinions about what we think would look best. I suggested greys, whites, and a pop of yellow. My mother-in-law and 2 sisters-in-law liked that and they also like brown and orange. Then someone suggested that each family have a color. I am fine with that, even though they all have kids and we don't. I suggested that we choose a common neutral (i.e. blacks and greys) and then each family uses pops of their color in elements like shoes, headbands, sweaters, scarves, etc, so we all coordinate but there is connection between immediate family without being matchy-matchy or looking cheesy.  Everyone thought that sounded perfect and then my sister-in-law, who is due this month with her third child, commented

...or maybe the babies could wear the color?

Maybe it is me being overly sensitive, but (probably against my better judgement) I commented,

So, no family color then? And The Bee and I won't have any kids/babies yet in October.

I don't think that was too mean to point out, but The Bee isn't home to calm me down and I was thinking, "Really? Excluding us again?" And I don't even know what "the babies" means since there will be 2 teenagers, 3 toddlers, and 2 infants between the four couples at that point. So, 2 infants in color? Or 3 toddlers and 2 infants in color? Or 1 toddler and 2 infants in color (this option would be having the youngest in each of their families in color). And The Bee and I in black and grey. I think that would look stupid. Having 8 adults and 2 teens in black and grey and everyone under 4 years in color? Am I overreacting here?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Is this a test?

Two years ago we thought we would have a baby in the spring of 2011. This is typical teacher planning...get pregnant in the summer/early fall and have your baby in the spring/early summer so that you have the summer off with the little one and can take off some additional time at the beginning of the school year. Maximum time home with minimal issues at work. Oh, we were such fools! As if most people can actually plan that! For the people that it works for, there is a lot more luck involved than anything else!

When we failed to get pregnant that first summer and fall, we decided to keep trying despite a due date being at a different time in the school year. We didn't care about convenience...we cared about having a baby! Well, as most of you know, it took 21 cycles of well timed ttc. Although, to be honest, by cycle 18 we scrapped the "we must bd NOW" for, "this week should be the week, so we'll try to if we can but we won't bite eachother's heads off if the timing doesn't match up perfectly with our NFP chart" (since "perfect timing" hadn't done a darn thing for us, with my anovulation and all!). We were waiting for July or August before getting our hopes up again since my surgery was scheduled for June. Now we are having a baby in January! The worst time for a teacher and for my husband's profession, too! We are not upset (obviously, who would be after infertility!) but it does pose some challenges that we weren't anticipating.

A few weeks ago, a co-worker of mine was chatting with me about everything going on in our lives. He smiled at me (as I was getting a little anxious about work, jury duty, maternity leave, The Bee's work schedule, family stuff, etc...) and said, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."

God is either giggling away up there or He is watching us closely to see how we handle some of the stresses we've been dealt recently. Currently my main stress is the upcoming school year. My contracted year starts next Monday. August 27-31 are days of teacher training and preparing our rooms and materials for school to start after Labor Day. Instead of heading back with all of my co-workers, I will be downtown sitting at the county courthouse waiting to see if I get called in to serve on a jury.

Okay. I can handle that. I'll go in this week and set up my room early. Just kidding! My falling down classroom ceiling is being replaced this week. The ceiling that was supposed to be replaced before I even started working there in September of 2008! And it is being replaced NOW when I need to go in and set things up and cut paper and make seating charts and hang bulletin boards and put together sketchbooks for over 250 K-5ers and make over 300 portfolios and cut out 40 art eyeglasses for my new K's. Oh, but you say the ceiling might be done by Wednesday? Great. That doesn't help me. I'll be watching my 21-month-old nephew (so, yes, he can run and climb things) Thursday morning-Saturday morning while his parents are in California (I agreed to do this BEFORE JURY DUTY AND THE CEILING entered the picture!). Well, maybe I can go in in the evenings when the ceiling crew is done for the day? NOPE. The old ceiling is made of asbestos tiles and you need special gear to safely enter the room once they disturb it.

It is looking like next week I will be serving jury duty 8-4:30, busing home (it costs like $25/day to park downtown...even at the courthouse ramp! I'd rather bus for $6 round trip), eating dinner, driving to work and setting up my room until I am too tired to do more. That is my Monday-Friday. Arg. I am stopping by work today to drop off some paper work and, if they are doing the music room first, I am going to try to sneak into my room to get the sketchbook supplies so I can work on them at home. I know I will survive this, we have been through much worse, but WHY CAN'T THINGS JUST GO SMOOTHLY FOR US SOMETIMES?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

5 years

Today The Bee and I celebrate 5 years of marriage. They have been the best years of my life, even with all of the hardships we have faced. Today we are announcing Ponyo publicly, as well. Here is how we are doing it:

At a wedding shower in July of 2007, my now sister-in-law wrote these words to me and my husband-to-be:

“Whatever life throws your way – you will always have each other and you will continue to grow stronger as a couple.”

As newlyweds 5 years ago we didn’t truly understand what she meant. After I was diagnosed with endometriosis and we found out that we might not be able to have children, we started to comprehend. We are each other’s biggest supporters, most enthusiastic cheerleaders, the ones who try our hardest to ensure the health and happiness of the other. 

Today we have so much to be thankful for: Over 11 years together.  5 wonderful years of marriage.  2 years of hopes and prayers, answered.  1 baby, due to arrive in January.  And a stronger relationship than ever before.  I thank God every day for my husband and the life we have together. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Making the announcement

We have yet to make a public facebook announcement. I think we will write something simple on Saturday, which is our 5th wedding anniversary. When we started ttc (exactly 2 years ago this month) I thought I would want to take belly pictures every week and would be very open with our pregnancy. Instead, we started out this part of the journey uncertain and afraid, wondering how our hearts could handle another let down if anything went wrong.

We have slowly told family and friends as we see them in person. Most of the time we share the whole story. The hope in the beginning. How we thought we would have a one-year-old son or daughter already. The months of tests and tears. The diagnosis. How I missed having surgery by one month. How incredibly lucky and blessed we know we are that we've been given the chance to be parents to this specific child at this particular time. We've recently made phone calls and sent texts to friends who have busy schedules and aren't able to get together. Our relatives and real life friends know now (all of the close ones, anyway).

We took one belly picture before my cousin's wedding when I was 14 weeks but haven't shared it. This is a much more intimate experience than I expected and I don't need the attention of others like so many of our acquaintances seem to. I haven't felt the need to shout it from the roof tops. I also want to spare people sadness. I know some of my friends and relatives on facebook are struggling with infertility and secondary infertility. When we were waiting, some announcements burned more than others. Some didn't burn at all. I still find this to be true. Isn't it funny how the same news, simply delivered in a different way, can have a completely different impact on people?

More recently, we've had a lot of joyful moments. We've chosen colors for the nursery, my husband talks to Ponyo everyday by leaning close to my belly and speaking in a soft voice, we have talked about names. My belly is clearly not just pudgy anymore. We weren't sure if I actually look pregnant yet, but a ticket scalper outside of the Twins game we attended last night made us very aware that it is obvious. He looked at us as we walked by and said to my husband, "When are you going to marry that girl and make this an honest relationship?" We were caught off guard but started laughing pretty hard. Then my husband lifted his left hand to show his wedding band and said, "Already taken care of!" We have our big ultrasound scheduled for September 12.

Thinking of all of you...hoping for all of you...praying for all of you!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Transfer buddies

Hey, all! Here is a very important prayer request:

Amanda and L both had 2 embryos transferred on Friday! Please pray for peace and successful, healthy pregnancies for these women and their husbands.

Thief of joy

Last winter when I was feeling particularly low, Amanda wrote this quote in a comment:

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Boy, did that ever strike a chord with me! It is so true!

I have thought about this post many times, and even tried to start it a few, but never succeeded.

Infertility is also the thief of joy.

Before we found out about Ponyo, infertility threatened to take over my entire life. It found a way into every part of my being: work, home, time with family and friends, Mass, name the place/time and the sting and hopelessness of infertility had found me there.

After getting the surprise positive test, infertility stole the joy out of the moment. I questioned whether the test was accurate. Could my body even get pregnant? If I did conceive, could my body sustain a pregnancy? Is my body capable of producing healthy eggs? What would I do if I had a miscarriage? Now I am 18 weeks and I still worry with each ache and pain, feeling like this is all too good to be true. We tried to stay cautious and not get too attached until we made it through the first trimester (I know that sounds terrible, but I am trying to be honest). We knew that we failed miserably at staying detached when I had spotting at 10 weeks and we thought we were losing our baby. We had never been so afraid or sad as that night. We are completely in love with this little one who we have never met and terrified of losing her or him even though everything seems to be going smoothly.

Then comes the guilt. I had read about this on other blogs, where subfertiles got pregnant (either on their own or with assistance, doesn't seem to matter) and they are excited, thrilled, happy, but then there is a part of them that questions, "Why me? Why are these other women who have been suffering in the same way still waiting?" I want to be clear, this is not pity. I just know that I am not more qualified, I will not be a better mother, I did not do anything to deserve this baby. Am I happy about Ponyo? Of course! Am I excited for January? Certainly! But I still relate to all of the posts about getting your period, about the hurt that comes from facebook pregnancy posts, another round of tests and ultrasounds to find out what in the world is going on inside of your body, insensitive comments from people who think they are being helpful...

For those of you still waiting, I pray for you daily.

I would like to know, how do you feel when other bloggers achieve the goal we all share? When I was still waiting, most blogger pregnancy announcements gave me hope but, I hate to admit this, some made me really sad for myself and where I was in our journey. The uncertainty of if and when is so painful. How do you think you will feel when you get your positive test?

For those of you expecting, I pray for you, too. Do you think infertility has changed your experience as a pregnant woman?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

We will be okay

When I was growing up my Mom attended La Leche League (LLL) meetings (at least after having my youngest three siblings). I remember her taking a whole crew with her when #4 was born (I was 7 at the time) and had a lot of fun playing with all of the babies and other kids. For those of you not familiar with La Leche League, it is an organization that states this as their mission:

"Our Mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother." source

Breastfeeding has always been my plan for when I have kids, so when my older sister invited me to attend a LLL meeting with her I thought, Why not? Maybe I'll meet some working moms and be able to pick their brains a little. So I went with her this morning. As I, my sister, and my nephew were walking up to the church where they meet, the LLL leader was also walking in with her 9 month old daughter. My sister introduced me to the leader and she seemed really familiar but I wasn't sure because we were all wearing sunglasses at that point. After chatting on the walk in, the leader asked me, "Did you used to work at a library?" I got really excited and said, "I THOUGHT it was you! Yes, how have you been?" For almost 7.5 years prior to getting married I worked at the county library and this woman, we'll call her "L", started working at the same library as me about two years before I left to get married and start student teaching. We haven't seen each other for almost 5 years when she attended my wedding in August of '07!

She told me she has been well. She has 3 daughters now (the one born when we worked together is now 6.5 years old! Crazy!). Then she laughed and said, "It is so neat to see you! You know, you were the one who told me about La Leche League when I was pregnant! And now I am a group leader!" I vaguely remember that...I think I brought it up when she was feeling anxious about nursing and coming back to work. I told her about LLL and said something like, "I bet they'd have some good information about pumping so you can still nurse when you go back to work."

Being reminded of that conversation made me feel better about if I have to return to work before fall of 2013. At least I know I will be able to find some support from LLL! I had my meeting with my principal yesterday and he seemed very supportive but did say he would need to consider if I can take the whole year off. It sounds like he is mainly concerned about finding a substitute that he feels can do a good enough job from January-June (can you say ego boost?). Just to make sure it wasn't a money thing, I asked if the school would be losing money if I didn't come back until fall of 2013 and he said, "The school would actually be making money the longer you have a sub. But you are good at what you do and that would be a long time to be away, especially if we don't find someone who can do what you can do with the kids!" I think I made it clear that I would prefer not to come back earlier for my baby, for my family financially, for myself mentally/emotionally, and for my students because I know my attention would be very divided April-June if I have to leave a 3-month-old in the hands of a stranger. I told my husband about the meeting and he didn't seem too concerned. He said we'd make things work no matter what, and then he kissed my belly and talked to Ponyo a little.

We will be okay!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Worth reading

I saw this guest post from last fall while reading A Cup of Jo today and thought it was worth sharing. I think many of you will be able to relate to it; I sure did!

Also, there is a happy ending for the writer:)

Motherhood Mondays: What if you can't have a baby?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mish mash

We got back from our vacation a week ago and things have been a bit busy. I haven't posted any pictures yet because, between our camera and our friends' camera, we have almost 600 pictures to sift through.

Two nights ago I did my first henna event so I spent the better part of the week making my henna, rolling cones, and drawing a poster so that people would be able to pick from some nice designs. It was a charity event that a high school friend was involved in. The organization teaches youth in the city about social justice and acceptance through the visual arts (right up my alley!). It was an unpaid job (for charity, duh!) and people paid 5 tickets (which was $5) for my designs. I didn't get any pictures because I didn't have time to pull out my camera and, besides, it was kind of dark since my henna booth was up near the stage where live music was going on all evening.  I had a blast and thought, "Hey! I can really do this!" Maybe it will be something I can pursue more next summer!

Last night my husband and I had the maternity leave talk again. I will meet with my principal tomorrow morning to discuss what I'll be doing and how everything will go this year. The Bee and I are 99.999999...% sure I'll be taking the rest of this school year off after Ponyo arrives and then return to school fall of 2013. With how little I make (and how many hours I work) it wouldn't be worth it to put a 2 or 3 month old in full time daycare for 2 months or so just so I can finish out the year. I am feeling pretty good about this decision but we are going to discuss it some more today so I am prepared for the meeting tomorrow!

Also at tomorrow's meeting I need to talk to my principal about jury duty! My summons was postmarked the day before we left for vacation. Ugh! So, I have jury duty beginning on the same day that my contracted 2012-2013 school year begins. Thankfully it will be workshop week (teacher training, setting up classrooms, etc) and not actual instruction days with kids yet. Best case scenario: I show up the first day and sit around until I am dismissed at 4:30 then am on call for the rest of the week and never get called in! I'll be setting up my classroom a week earlier than everyone else just in case I have to be at the court house everyday during workshop. I am hoping I do not get put on extended trial as I really, really do not want to miss the first days or weeks of school. Some of you know my hatred of making sub plans...PLUS I don't get paid while on jury duty...PLUS I love the beginning of the school year! I love seeing my returning students and meeting the new additions to our school!

That is pretty much where things are with me!

Now for some prayer requests...

Please keep these wonderful women in your prayers:

1. Amanda, who is having egg retrieval for IVF today!

2. Erika, who is recovering from a laparoscopy for endometriosis.

3. L, who may be triggering for IVF today.

4. Laura, who is waiting to get back to ttc and has an appointment with a new RE Sept 13.

Happy Sunday! Wishing all of you a great week ahead!