Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The lonely groom

So in an eariler post, I mentioned that my oldest brother is getting married - well congratulations! He and his beautiful new wife are married (as of Saturday!)

But what has been weighing on my mind is the sadness of my brother's wedding.

My brother had NONE of his immediately family at his wedding ceremony. There are 5 of us in our nuclear family: my dad, my mom, my oldest brother (the one getting married), my not as young brother (both brothers are older than me), and me. Because my maid of honor (from my wedding 5 1/2 years ago) planned her wedding on the same day as my brother's wedding ... I knew that I would be going to my maid of honor's wedding (because I was in it) and then I'd be showing up late for my brother's wedding, missing the ceremony, but being there for the reception.

So when I showed up, and saw my brother and his wedding party taking pictures I felt sheepish (feeling guilty about missing the ceremony, though it was planned) and gave my brother a huge congratulation hug and he whispered in my ear that "none of the family made it to the ceremony" ... in the conversation following I learned that my father, my mother, and my brother were all LATE to the wedding. My brother was supposed to be a groomsman, and he missed the wedding. My parents arrived to "catch the tail end of the ceremony"

My brother, the groom, had an entire row reserved for his family ... and the lonely row was empty. There were over 100 friends at the wedding, but not an immediate family member in sight.

How sad is that? Can you imagine if that happened to you? My heart breaks for my brother. I cried when I heard that this happened to him, how disrespected would you feel? I ended up mourning this for my brother during the entire reception - I had a hard time enjoying the celebration.

Dad, mom, brother ... if you're reading this ... sorry to expose you, I know your heart breaks as much as mine does. This is something that has been on my mind and heart for days and I needed to share.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Long lost classmate?

Who is this girl? I saw her yesterday headlining on the MSN.com website. Now, is it me, or does Lindsay Lohan look like one of the girls from the classmates.com banner ads in this mug shot?

Doesn't she look like a lady from a 1970's yearbook shot? Seriously, I should get my mom's (1966) senior picture and you'd know what I was talking about. Scary.

Now, I have nothing to say about the content of Miss. Lohan's coverstory, because frankly, I don't much care. But I did wonder if this was really her or if Classmates.com was not only intruding upon my inbox, but also my news homepage.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Holy Diagnosis Batman

Ok, the question is … how many diagnoses can one girl have? Well let’s just add one to the stack.

The first thing we learned in our RE appt on Friday was that after my DNA test for METHYLENETETRAHYDROFOLATE REDUCTASE (say that 10 times fast!) I am compound heterozygous for the C677T mutation and the A1298C mutation … also known as “homo MTHFR” (creative license as to what this kind of sounds like … not welcome). So what the heck does all this mean? It means that I cannot metabolize folic acid like everyone else (and I’m susceptible to an increased chance of heart disease and blood clots). The regime to address this issue is to give me 10 times the amount of folic acid than your typical TTCer (TTC: Trying to Conceive) takes. So you may be wondering … ‘folic acid, isn’t that kind of important while trying to conceive a baby?’ Wouldn’t you have thought that if women had a chance of not being able to absorb and metabolize folic acid that they would have tested me for that already? You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But only 12% of the population deals with this … so I guess that means about 6% of women face it … of which not all of them are TTC. So I guess that kind of explains it. But seriously, praise God they found this issue. Lack of folic acid in pregnancy has been known to cause congenital heart failure, neural tube defect, and spina bifida to name a few … how sad would it be if my genetics caused a baby/child/person to suffer through this, when they could have just tested me on this and we could have resolved it on the front end! Thank the Lord.

So now I’ve racked up a total of four diagnoses:

Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism - hypothyroidism developed from antibodies destroying my thyroid gland. Pretty mental picture, huh?
Elevated FSH - old lady eggs
Homo MTHFR – inability to correctly absorb or metabolize folic acid
Habitual aborter – this one has to be my favorite … as if it’s something I can kick?

Anyhow … so these are the diagnoses my RE is trying to treat. (Oh and BTW there’s one more test we are awaiting so we’ll see if we are pasting another label on me before this is all said and done). So now back to the reason Berilac and I went to the RE on Friday … to discuss our options, to see what sort of aggressive treatments she would recommend. The RE discussed all the following options for a couple like us, she mentioned that our aggressiveness will based on what we feel comfortable with and what we want – it’s really all up to us.

Level 1: Fertility meds (approx $1k per attempt)
Level 2: Fertility meds with IUI (approx 3k per attempt)
Level 3: Fertility meds with IVF (approx 12k-22k per attempt)

Now mind you that these methods of medical assisted pregnancy attempts are not guarantees to getting pregnant, nor are they guarantees for STAYING pregnant (my bigger problem) so Berilac after listening to all of the options asked the RE, in all of his recently acquired fertility wisdom, “now, these procedures sound like ways you can potentially help us to get pregnant, but what can you do to help us STAY pregnant?” and the RE responded: “Nothing. None of these can guarantee you won’t miscarry” to which Berilac responded “well heck, we don’t need to pay you twenty thousand dollars to miscarry … we can do that all by ourselves for free!” (ok, maybe he didn’t really say that to her, but he did say it to me as we debriefed later about the appt)

So I explained to Berilac the ways that fertility meds can help regulate my cycles and help me to produce appropriately mature eggs, as well, how IVF would provide us 10-20 months of TTC in one cycle. (by bringing out more than just 1 egg to fertilize). The RE does not recommend IUI for us as we are able to get pregnant on our own.

So now we have to pray about this. We have to face the moral dilemmas brought up by this whole process. We have to decide if we’re willing to risk taking the fertility drugs. We have to decide to risk thousands of dollars for potentially another miscarriage. But first …. we’re going to research our medical coverage options and see if in Jan we can switch to a coverage that covers SOMETHING … rather than our current coverage that covers just about NOTHING. It seems like the best option is the IVF, given that we could have 10-20 months of attempted pregnancies all wrapped up into one month (and given that we don’t have acres of time left – this seems like a good option)

In the mean time we will be diligent about my taking my new meds to regulate my thyroid and my folic acid intake. And we will pray about what we will do in the next six months … if we will try again, with or without fertility meds or if we’ll just wait. So please pray with us about these things.

One last thing … we did ask the RE how much time we have left to have children given our FSH level test results and she said that they couldn’t say for certain (of course the couldn’t!) but she said that it’s not ‘months’ but it is ‘years’ … could be 5-10 years, could be sooner, could be later. So we got to get on gettin’ on … we need to get done having kids! (which is really not so bad)

Thanks for sharing this with us and thanks for your prayers.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pet Peeves

You know what I hate ... people who don't update their blogs!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Unexpected & unknown costs

If you've been keeping up with us, you know that we have been in the process of deciding whether or not to buy or to rent. We really thought we were leaning towards buying, but with the latest news regarding our auto-bahn route to getting knocked up, we think that the reproductive superhighway might require a hefty toll. So, if you can believe it, we are still trying to decide what the Lord has for us and what's best in terms of the still undecided decision of rent vs. buy.

Let me tell you, it doesn't help that on Sunday we found on our doorstep a "beat-it" letter from our landlords. They really are nice people, but due to their own financial situation, they are asking us to move out by September 15 ... yes, yes, I know we were planning on moving anyhow, but the stress of being forced out in less than 2 months does not exactly help our current situation.

To make the waters even muckier (is that a word?) we are not exactly sure what the RE means by "getting aggressive" with our fertility future, (we have ideas, but she hasn't confirmed those) and we have NO CLUE what the various costs are for the different treatments they might recommend. I belong to an online message board, where many women who have similar fertility issues congregate to share their frustrations/fears/hope/miracles, and the collective group thinks that I'll be steered toward the most expensive treatment available - IVF. Berilac and I have talked about it and we are fine with this because: 1. it's only money and 2. what better investment than a little Gamwich padding around the ... rental, condo, home?

So therein lies the question ... how much money will we need to spend on fertility treatments and how much money will be left over for a rental or a purchase? And now, we have to make this decision within the next 30 days ... cause we're getting booted.

In an effort to help us learn more about the monetary fertility investment we'll be considering in the months to come, we've scheduled an appt with our RE for tomorrow [I'm so grateful she had a last minute cancellation - though I'm guessing there's a disappointed woman on the other side of that cancellation :-( ]. Tomorrow we will discuss any further work-ups we need done and we will discuss the plan she recommends and the costs associated with those plans. I'm ready for the big numbers. I'm ready to hear that it'll cost me a car to have a child. It's a good thing God has blessed us in this time with two incomes!

So we will learn tomorrow a more diffinitive plan for any treatments we'll be going through and (of course) you can read all about it right here ... stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

God's grace in the days following the bad news ...

I just want to say that God is good.

Since our learning of this high FSH issue, we have had good days and bad days. Sometimes I'm totally optimistic and other times I feel like I'm grieving a hugh loss and find myself just crying.

Most of the time I feel hopeful, which I think is an answer to prayer. I'm what you'd call ... negative, so to be positive is a gift from God.

Also, I really feel like a weight has been lifted. If you know me, you know that in March and April (directly following our most recent miscarriage) I went through a seriously trying sickness ... it was so stressful being so sick for so long, doing more and more invasive tests as each result didn't point to anything specifically wrong with me ... each time the Dr saw a normal result, but my symtoms persisted, they'd test for soemthing even "scarier" ... If you've ever dealt with the stress of health uncertainty, you know how stressful and scary it can be. And having unaccounted for miscarriages (also known in the medical world as "flukes") brings it's own uncertainty and stress (cuz something HAS to be wrong!) So to now have at least a direction to head, an enemy to face ... a problem to overcome - that contributes to my feelings of hope.

We went to church on Sunday and can I tell you ... church is a wonderful place (I still haven't mentioned how much I LOVE my new church, that will be it's own blog soon I'm sure). When I go to my church ... the minute I walk onto the campus I feel vulnerable and like God is GOING to use people and His message to change my life (and He does). So this past Sunday was the first Sunday I'd gone to church knowing about our high FSH levels and our new concern about potentially not being able to have children. I tried to avoid telling the world my sob story, but I just couldn't help it.

The first person to greet us in the parking lot was one of the pastors. I can't "put on a shiny face" so when people ask me "How's it goin?" .. I must tell them. (I don't know why I'm like this, it's part of my charm ... don't ask.) So we told him we'd failed a fertility test and that things are looking like we're going to have to get aggressive with conception and that there's an increased chance that having kids might not be an option for us and he was compassionate, and heartbroken. He encouraged us to seek prayer at the end of the service.

The next pastor asked us how our health issues were and we told him the same thing. Again, he showed so much compassion and concern. He mentioned a few couples he knew of that went through similar things and he encouraged us to talk with them. He also prayed for us.

During the service (during the worship and during the message) I couldn't HELP but sob. Here we were singing about "how great is our God" and though I know it in my heart and in my mind (and I even know it in the midst of this discouraging place) ... my heart is broken over this recent news and it's hard to reconcile God's love with our bad news. The message was again ... piercing, as it spoke of not being a victim of our circumstances, but claiming God's power and being obedient to Him. Berilac submitted a prayer request to our prayer team, his vulnerability touched my heart and helped me to bond with him in this struggle.

After the service ANOTHER pastor approached us and asked us how we were doing. We were able to share with her and she too knew of people (close friends of hers) who'd struggled through similar pain (and have miracles to show for it!) who she would like to have call us. She too prayed for us.

I had many friends pray with me and for me this week. (Thank you so much, those who called and emailed me, thank you!) I learned yesterday that the staff at our church specifically prayed for us on Monday and that was touching. Last night I had two ladies from the church, who I've never met, call me. They want to talk. They want to get together.

Monday I had an appointment with an Endocrinologist where I was diagnosed as having Hashimoto's Disease and ... if you can belive it ... a GOITER!!! (yes, you read that correctly!) I have autoimmune derived hypothyroidism and I'm starting medications. The good news is: it's common and easy to treat. Today I had another Doctor's appointment this time with an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist ... as I've had a swollen lymph gland (for 3 MONTHS!!!) and my GP referred me in case it was something serious ... but the Doctor checked me out, shook my hand, and sent me on my way with a "you're as healthy as a rock!" (what does that mean? anyone?) So I leapt for joy and praised my God! Thank you Lord for a respite in that regard, at least.

I will tell you: I feel loved today by God and by His people. I feel hopeful today because of a good bill of health so that we can focus on what I'm sure will be overwhelming fertility efforts. I feel confident that God isn't caught up in our FSH levels, He's brought baby miracles to others who have much higher FSH levels than I do.

He's using this time to teach us and mold us ... let's see what He's unfolding in my life. For now though, I just want to praise Him for giving us encouragement from others, giving us some peace in other health areas, and for giving us a sense of peace and hope in the baby department.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement in my life, I'm grateful to be sharing this journey with you (goiter and all).

Monday, July 16, 2007

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine …

So early last week Berilac and I were under the impression that our infertility issues (our two miscarriages) were due to “bad luck” as that is what the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE, aka fertility specialist) told us after reviewing the recurrent pregnancy loss panel of tests we recently took. The only thing the RE was concerned about was the mention of my mother going through menopause at age 36 (which she believes was due to an infection, not true early menopause). I asked the RE about the potential for my mother to have gone through early menopause due to an infection and she indicated that that was nearly impossible. So the RE tested me for signs of early menopause.

On Friday morning my tests came back … and we failed. For women, there is a hormone (FSH) that the brain releases to tell the body to release an egg each month. If that number is high it points to a low quantity of eggs and/or poor quality eggs … also known as menopause. Well, my number was high. It was 11.7. My RE emailed me and told me that my FSH is high for my age and that she recommends that we “get aggressive” about our conception efforts. I was shocked … last week our issues were due to flukes and this week our issues are due to pre-early menopause. HEADING INTO MENOPAUSE?? … I’M 30 YEARS OLD!!!

Of course I immediately started researching high FSH. This is what I’ve learned:
-Women who are faced with high FSH usually have trouble releasing eggs (ovulating) on their own and thus have trouble getting pregnant.
-The FSH values are so high b/c the brain is desperately telling the body to release an egg! (thus the closer the woman is to menopause the higher the FSH level. The harder it is to release eggs [cuz there aren’t any] the harder the brain works to get one released by upping the FSH hormone level)
-RE’s usually recommend IVF for these women b/c IVF is the most aggressive process an RE can pursue to assist in pregnancy.
-In the IVF process there is a step where hormone drugs are used to help women release more eggs … the problem is that these women who have high FSH are already secreting a high level of this type of drug [their high FSH!!] and thus the women’s bodies don’t respond and they don’t release an egg, or they release very few.
-so when conducted on women with high FSH the IVF process has a higher failure rate.

Given the above information, perhaps you can understand how the RE’s view FSH levels:
-An FSH level below 8 is normal.
-An FSH level between 8-10 is concerning.
-An FSH level between 10-12 shows diminishing egg reserve
-An FSH level above 12 and most RE’s tell you your options are: finding an egg donor or adoption. (There are RE’s out there who will help women who have FSH levels in the teens who intermittently drop to a level below 12 … on the months that those women drop below 12, the RE will do IVF on those women.)

So here I sit .3 points below “your options are donor egg or adoption” … Now I need to get my FSH level tested each month to determine if my 11.7 was a high number for me or a low number for me (I guess it varies each month). But the idea is that you are labeled as your worst number – so I’m not excited about finding an even higher FSH number in the months to come!

The mystery for us is that I do ovulate, hence my getting pregnant twice. So that would point to my issue being a low quality egg, not necessarily a low quantity of eggs. But my age would point toward an ok quality of egg … so what’s that all about?

Now I ask for your prayers. I know God is bigger than all this and completely in control. I’m so grateful I’m not already in menopause. I’m so grateful that my body did get pregnant (easily!) twice on its own. But I am feeling a bit deflated. I know that our God is bigger that my FSH test results and I know that God is in control. But I’m just shocked and dumbfounded at these test results and I’m a little discouraged with how the medical field views our conceiving future.

Please pray for peace and comfort for us in this time. Please pray that we can see God in this experience. Please pray that my body will heal (by way of a still swollen gland). Please pray that my body will safely and effectively respond to my thyroid medication (as our RE will not see us until that is under control). Please pray for wisdom for us in knowing how to proceed. Please pray that we will be blessed with many happy, healthy, children.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Since the launch of my blog, people have mentioned to me that they don't know what to do with a blog. So I thought I'd educate those interested ...

This blog will be updated daily, weekly, monthly ... or somewhere inbetween. You can mark it as a favorite and catch up on me and my life as frequently as you'd like.

If you miss seeing it for a length of time, notice that entries are recorded in such a way that the current entries are at the top and the older ones are at the bottom. Also, there is an archive of old blogs on the bottom right side (scroll down).

If you'd like to respond to a post that I've put up, go ahead and add a comment. You can see the link to be able to do this under EACH blog entry (at the bottom, right of each entry.) Click on the link that says"X comment(s)" (the X indicates how many other comments are already recorded.)

It's as simple as that - enjoy and check back often.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Convenience and taste come together.

Ok, let me start by saying that this post is not ground breaking or anything.

I just wanted to share my new found love. It's call Kraft "Grate-It-Fresh."

For those of you who love freshly grated parmesan cheese but I guess don't own one of those fancy parmesan cheese graters, introducing this fun toy! It's a block of parmesan cheese, tightly secured to it's own personal (disposable) grater, how nice?

Now you don't have to keep the green can of immitation Kraft cheese (powder) in your fridge for emergency purposes, you can just use this!

We love getting the fresh parmesan cheese and using our extremely long fancy-schmancy cheese grater ... but what happens when that cheese goes bad and we haven't had time to run to the store? ... BINGO, you can bust out the Kraft "Grate-It-Fresh" cheese ... AND it's just plain fun to play with.

Good times.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fourth of July Celebrations

No wonder why I scare small children ... if you were a baby, would you want to play and clap along with this lady or would it send you screaming? This picture is taken from the viewpoint of one of the babies we hung out with today (with Berilac's help of course,) as we "celebrated" Fourth of July!!

One would think that we actually celebrate our UK emancipation, but instead we were truly celebrating our mid-week day off! Notice that nobody in this picture is wearing a red, white, & blue flag shirt ... nor did we take any time to discuss the meaning of the day. Instead we gathered with a group of friends and walked down to the local park for the 26th annual Chili Cook Off!

Here are the ten of us awaiting the chili goodness. The gig was to get in for free then pay one dollar per 3 oz taste. I think on average we had about 5 tastes each. We enjoyed sitting and talking in the shade with these three couples and two adorable babies.

How much fun did we have playing with my old-lady hat! These girls are either learning early the value of protecting themselves from the sun or they were bored with their plastic toys! Regardless, they were enjoying themselves!

Happy 4th to you and yours!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


I cannot believe a year ago this month Berilac and I packed up our skinnied down set of belongings and our two dogs and moved from the North Bay to the Bay Area.

I remember what an ordeal it was trying to finish remodeling our home in the North Bay (which btw, is worthy of its own post) while commuting 100 miles to work each week AND while trying to find a place to live.

The picture here is of me in our current rental. Beautiful staging, huh?

It’s amazing how some good decorating can make a place (and a fantasy of a lifestyle) look so inviting. Yes, we moved from a great area, but many people were telling me how much I would love the “big city” (relatively speaking!). I was excited to be starting a new career there. Berilac and I were approaching our timeframe for having little ones and my new job would accommodate that better than other careers I’ve had in the past. The weather is supposed to be even more mild in this area. And the culture, restaurants, events, and community in this part of the Bay Area is supposed to be highly desirable. On all accounts I should have been so excited to be moving here.

But I was hesitant. We moved away from all of our friends and my family (an area I had never moved away from in all of my 29 years). We had just finished remodeling our home, a home in which I thought I was going to become a stay at home mom at. Instead I started a new career and contemplated how I could swing a new job while raising children.

But alas, I don’t have to worry about that just yet. It’s amazing how our townhouse (now) doesn’t look anything like this beautiful staged house and how our life isn’t exactly filled with little children that I’m having to juggle with work. Instead it’s just me, Berilac, our two mangy mutts and our stacks of “junk” in place of the beautiful fantasy of a lifestyle.

Last year, this month, I got pregnant with our first child. Talk about fantasy and expectations.

This here is the first picture of me pregnant. (I didn’t know it at the time) … We had Berilac’s parents in town to help us move into our new townhouse (Ponto & Lila) and at dinner one night we had gotten onto the topic of our least favorite body part, I shared that mine was my stomach … little did I know that at that time there was a little baby forming in my “disappointing” tummy.

We found out just after Ponto & Lila headed home that I was pregnant (we weren’t actively trying at the time so it was a bit of a shock) … but of course we quickly got excited and started fantasizing an amazing new life for our little one.

This is us the night we learned we were pregnant – talk about expecatations and innocence. I remember getting frustrated at the restaurant because I’d never been pregnant before and I had heard that there were so many things you weren’t supposed to eat … I didn’t know what on the menu was safe and was very scared and cautious about what I ordered.

I remember all the hopes and dreams we had for our little one (at the time we didn’t know it was a little girl). We fantasized about how our baby would look, whether she’d get dad’s height genes or mom’s thin hair. We boasted about how beautiful, smart, and athletically talented this kid would be. We wondered if we’d accidentally pass on the trait we dislike in us the most: our tendency towards judgment. We eagerly awaited March 31, 2007, the due date. We hoped and prayed that this baby would know the Lord.

Today a friend of mine is having a procedure. It’s the same procedure that I had to endure more than once. My heart goes out to her. I think of these pictures of me … so hopeful, so expectant … and my heart breaks for her and her husband. I know the hope and expectations that get washed away. I know that pain all too well.

Monday, July 2, 2007

A toast: This wedding is ganna happen!

This past Saturday I went to my future sister-in-law, Primula's, wedding shower. She was stunning (of course!) and was sporting an adorable hand-me-down, dress-up type of veil.

It was so neat to meet all of her dearly loved friends - the ones who will be within smacking distance to "assist" my brother, Orangeblossom, and her in the rough seasons of marriage.

The afternoon was filled with delicious food from Black China Bakery and many laughs (that girl's a hoot).

This picture is from gift opening time ... the sheet says that it's a voucher good for the wedding night accommodations paid for by one of her good girlfriends - as you can see Primula was shocked and pleased!
When we all went to enjoy a wedding toast the girls around the table said "CHEERS" (in unioson) and Primula followed it up with "unlike other family wedding's this wedding is going to happen" ... I almost choked on my sip of bubbly. Primula then went on to tell how both my brother and I walked away from engagements just weeks prior to the big day. I didn't even know Primula knew about that, much less did I think I'd be sharing it that afternoon with 20 strangers! Well if you know me at all, you know that I love being the center of attention, so I got over the trepidation pretty quickly.

So I guess in less than a month I'll be posting pictures of the event to come ... as you heard the girl "this wedding is ganna happen!"

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Who loves LOTRs?

I do, I do!

So much so that I used this nifty little website, The Hobbit Name Generator, to come up with my name and the other names you will find on this site (the hubby, the friend ... perhaps your name some day?).

I got the idea from Daisy (her blog link, "All's quiet on the homefront," is listed over the right there in "blogs I keep up with") ... she has little ones and of course doesn't want to be giving their names out over the web. As you know, I hope to have little ones of my own to protect someday, so it makes sense to start early! (not to mention, I'm just plain paranoid!)

So let's see:
-I love LOTRs
-I'm paranoid

... sounds to me like a perfect combination!!

Have as much fun as we did exploring your (and-everyone-else-you-know's) Shire names!!

Then don't read it ...

Saturday night I celebrated the thirtieth birthday of a very good friend. I love those parties because usually they are filled with a lot of my nearest and dearest friends, this one was no exception. Prior to the evening, I had emailed many of those friends, providing them the link to this, my new blog.

Can I just say that I was shocked when I asked a friend of mine, Rosie-Posie, what she thought of my new writing endeavor?

“Blogs are stupid”

Well, if I emailed you this blog address, and you feel the same way Rosie-Posie does … then I’ll tell you exactly what I told her …. “then don’t read it.”

In closing, here’s a bit of wisdom for you: give someone guff on their: blog, jumbotron, skywriting business, talkshow, etc … and you might find that they use their medium to communicate about you to the rest of the world. ;-)