Saturday, December 22, 2012

Infertility Humor

Just spreading a little holiday cheer...and infertility laughs...Merry Christmas!













Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sarah's Laughter

I discovered a website that is a God-send. You can sign up for daily devotional emails to be sent to you that specifically address struggling with infertility. And I love the name, Sarah's Laughter. Below I've pasted one of the devotionals that I received last month. I happened to read this on a day that I was on my period, and it spoke volumes to my heart. If you're struggling with infertility, I hope it helps and encourages you as well. And I urge you to sign up for these devotionals too! (See the website link on the right side menu.) 

God Says "You're Welcome"

November 26, 2012
People often refer to the infertility experience as being like a roller coaster ride.  Full of emotional ups and downs.  At the beginning of a new cycle, your hopes rise and you can say with full faith and assurance that you know God is in control of your life and your future.  You know that He will bring you through this trial in your life, and you trust Him to give you a baby however He sees fit.

Throughout the dreaded two week wait (that always feels like it lasts at least two months) you try to remain positive without letting your hopes rise too high.  You know that if you’re not pregnant the fall will be devastating and the crash may be too much to take.  The ups and downs are simply ridiculous!  Still, you try to trust God through the uncertainty and you tell Him you’ll take whatever He has planned .

Day 28 comes.  Day 29.  Could this be it?  Should you wait one more day before you take a home pregnancy test, or should you do it now?  Is this the moment you’ve waited for all these months?  Did God finally come through?  Before the celebrating begins, you realize you’re right back where you started from.  There’s no pregnancy, just another period.  Another failed attempt.  Another time God has said “no”.  Another devastating “down” in this roller coaster ride of infertility.

The strong faith you held on to just days before seems to have dissipated.  You’re hurt, disappointed and confused.   If we could roll back the curtains of Heaven and have a face to face conversation with the Almighty, would it sound something like this?

“God, why?  Don’t You know how badly I want a baby?  You didn’t let me conceive.  I told You I trusted You.  I told You I believed You.  I put this in Your hands, God, and You stopped it again!”

Perhaps it’s then you would hear your Father say to you, “Child, you’re welcome.”

You’re welcome?  Did God not understand you?  Was there something lost along the way, or did God not understand?  No, hurting friend, God didn’t misunderstand.  But maybe you did.

You are reassured every time you open the Bible that God has a plan for your life that He lovingly designed specifically for you.  We quote Jeremiah 29:11 as easily as we can recite our own address and phone number, but do we really believe it?   I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.  God tells us that He knew us before we grew inside our mother’s womb.  He has us engraved on the palms of His hands.  He knows you want a baby more than you want the next breath you’ll take.  He also knows exactly what needs to happen for His plan to be made manifest in your life to bring about this hope and future for you.

God knows the hurt you feel every time you face another period and pregnancy-free month.  He also knows that if He allowed you to conceive a child that He has not destined for you it would be a magnanimous tragedy.  What if He allowed you to get pregnant, yet His perfect plan for you was an adopted child?  What if His beautiful plan for you includes a pregnancy to begin in 6 months, yet He weakened and thought, “Well, she’s begged for a baby so much, I guess I’ll give in and let her conceive a different child now.  It won’t be the child I have for her, but I’m tired of hearing her beg.”  God loves you more than that.  He loves you enough to love you through your misunderstandings.  He loves you enough to be a Father who sometimes says “no” when He knows better.  He loves you enough to make you wait on Him even when you want something so badly.  

Remember this:  Another month without a pregnancy is not a failure.  It is simply another step toward the fulfillment of God’s perfect plan for your family.

And for that, we really can be thankful.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God's Fireworks

Everyone knows the cliche, God works in mysterious ways. True, but He also works very planned, specific ways, for a particular purpose or display. It may seem chaotic from our point of view, but to Him, He knows exactly what needs to take place to perfect His plan. Like fireworks.


So much planning and calculation goes into fireworks displays. Timing is everything. How much more does God design His plan?

How does infertility fit into His plan? Why on earth would God want me to endure this pain and hardship to play a part in His plan? What good could possibly come from this pain?

John 9:1-7
1 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" 3 Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world." 6 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

Reflect on that. It was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. It's not because you did anything wrong that you are now suffering the hardship of infertility (as much as the enemy wants to make you think otherwise). It's so that God's works and glory might be displayed in you. In YOU.

I'm going to borrow a story that my friend Jen shared with me to help illustrate this point. She spent some time in Peru, and while shopping in the marketplace came upon some women selling tapestries made from llama fur. She described these tapestries as so vibrant, colorful, and beautiful. To think that the fur of this


turned into this


was unbelievable to her. At the same location, they show you the process behind making the tapestries. Of taking the ugly llama fur, refining, processing, dying, and weaving it into beautiful works of art.

She said it reminded her that God is doing the same thing in our lives. We may be stuck in the mess of life, like that nappy straw stuck in the llama's fur, unable to see the full picture. Unable to see the end of this journey. But we need to trust that God is there, refining us. Processing us. Dying us. And weaving us into His plan. Into beautiful displays of His glory.

So next time you feel stuck in the muck of life and disappointment, remember this tapestry. Remember the fireworks. There will be beauty in the end, because it's God's glory that will be revealed. Trust Him to transform and use you according to His plan.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fertility Envy

This was a very interesting blog post that also references a news article written by a woman who conceived her twins easily, but felt abandoned by her friends that were struggling with infertility. Her point-of-view is interesting to read, even though I don't agree with it. She eventually admits she may have been self-absorbed about her pregnancy and it was simply too much for her infertile friends to handle. The blog post is written by a therapist who specializes in infertility support (and she herself formerly struggled with infertility).

If you'd like to read the blog post, you can click here (within her blog post is the link to the news article).

My takeaway from this subject matter is that:

A) Infertile women have a responsibility to communicate their feelings to their close friends and family. It's only wise to do so sometimes, because how can you blame a person entirely for being insensitive to your pain if you don't even mention your pain to them? Be specific. Tell them exactly what hurt your feelings, even if you think it's totally obvious. To someone who's never experienced infertility, it may not be so obvious. And don't be afraid of speaking up about your hurt feelings. Yes, it may feel awkward, but it will feel so much better having gotten that off your chest. A lot of infertility, I have found, involves teaching your family and friends what it's all about. Before I struggled with it, I had no clue what IVF, BFP, 2WW, TTC, etc. meant. I had no idea how painful it is. I had no idea how even the "innocent" question of, "So, when are you planning to have kids?" would feel like a knife cutting deep.

B) Pregnant women or women who are already mothers have a responsibility to their infertile friends to treat their heart with care. If you are aware of your infertile friends' struggles, or even simply aware of someone you know who is struggling with infertility, it's your responsibility to behave in a considerate manner. Think twice before you speak, and only speak words that encourage and edify your struggling friends. As a believer, you are called not to be a stumbling block to fellow brothers or sisters in Christ, so shame on you if you carelessly brag or complain about your pregnancy around your infertile friends.

C) We all, as human beings and especially as believers in Christ, have a responsibility to serve others around us. To not be self-absorbed and only focused on your own life. The woman who wrote the article, as the blog writer wrote, was probably unaware that those friendships were already not as close as she thought. It seemed to me that the writer was very self-absorbed and wanted to be showered with lots of praise and attention for being pregnant. Selfishness. With regard to pregnancy and children, always be thankful and humble about your blessings. After all, you did not create those children, you were merely the humble vessel God chose to carry and raise those children, so don't act prideful and selfish about it. Infertile women should strive to not let infertility struggles define your life, and consume your every thought and conversation with others. You should still invest in the others around you and not be self-consumed by your pain. Even unrelated to pregnancy, no one wants to be around a person who only cares about themselves, and shows no interest in how others around them are doing. Be selfless and not selfish.

Friday, December 14, 2012

One Day Closer

When you face infertility, it's easy to get hung up on numbers.

How long does it take the average couple to conceive?
What are my chances of conception each month?
What cycle day am I on?
After trying to conceive for X months, how likely am I to conceive without help?
What are my chances of conceiving given my current age?

It can be very discouraging when your situation doesn't fit into the neatly numbered boxes that the world of statistics tries to put you in.

So allow me to suggest another way to look at your situation: Today, my friend, you are one day closer to becoming a mother. And that is 100% fact.


You see, if you're like me, you probably have your mind made up: you will become a parent some day. Though it may not result from biological children, Michael and I will be parents one day. So therefore, each and every day I awake, I am one day closer to reaching that One Special Day.

That day where my dream of becoming a mother will be realized. Where my tears of longing for a child will cease, and be transformed into tears of joy. A day where I will be able to look back on these dark years and say, "It was all worth it. You, my sweet child, were worth every agonizing second of waiting. You were worth every tear I shed."

So please, do not be discouraged if your present day is filled with disappointment, worry, or pain. If someone says something insensitive to you, if you started your period today, or if you saw a negative pregnancy test that God is with you. Today and every day. He is walking you through these dark days and towards that One Special Day. You are one day closer to that day.

It's literally just a matter of time. Each and every day, you are closing in on that One Special Day. You are closing that gap. Even though your body may be aging, and even though during these dark days you may feel like it will never happen, and your chances of having a child are only decreasing. Stop. And remember, today is one day closer to your dream becoming a reality.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Health Updates

Hi everyone, I'm sorry I haven't blogged in a while, but I have been swamped with work and that's usually when I take time to blog. (Yep, that's right, during's that for productivity?!)

I'm still planning to write a 5-part blog series, but the time frame is going to be a bit longer than I originally planned. Again, way too busy to work on it, and I'm also giving some special contributors enough time for them to send me some thoughts. I'm sorry to keep dangling this carrot, but I promise I will eventually post it!

Other updates...

As I mentioned in my previous post, we have begun a new diet. Now, when I say diet, I do not mean a temporary way of eating with the purpose of losing weight. I mean a way of eating, a lifestyle. What originally started off being, "Let's try this for one month and see how it goes" mindset, has transitioned into a fully committed decision to stick with this new lifestyle for, well, life!

I also want to clarify the details of the diet, because I actually mis-spoke a little bit in my previous entry. Our new eating plan is a whole foods, plant-based diet. The closest description of how we are now eating is vegan, but it's not exactly like that because with our diet, we can still eat meat, just in much smaller quantity than your average American. The main dietary elimination is all dairy, because it has been linked to causing heart disease, cancer, and several other serious conditions. In my case, it has been causing me to have too high of estrogen levels. I'll explain more about this in a little bit. Our diet also recommends eating no more than 2-3 servings of meat per week (as opposed to per day, America). The diet also suggests reducing significantly the amount of fat in your diet, as well as processed foods. So that means avoid oils, high-fat foods (nuts, avocado), and enriched processed foods (most cereals, breads, pastas...and a whole lot more!)

We became members of The Wellness Forum, lead by Dr. Pam Popper. Pam was featured in the Forks Over Knives documentary that I mentioned in the previous post. She has become a wonderful leader in improving the health of her clients, by practicing what she preaches. She's been eating this diet for close to 20 years. And when you see her pictures on the website, note that she's in her upper 50's...and looks, in my opinion, in her 30's. And she doesn't wear makeup. Yes, seriously.

When you become a member of The Wellness Forum, they send you a video series and course booklet for their Wellness 101 class. (If we lived in Columbus, Ohio, we could have attended in person, but obviously that would be a little out of our way.)

The video series and booklet are so helpful in teaching you the basics of the recommended lifestyle, including a new food pyramid, how to read nutrition labels, and much more. The recommended food pyramid has the following hierarchy (#1 being most important):

  1. 64-ounces filtered water
  2. legumes, whole grains, potatoes, corn
  3. vegetables, sprouts
  4. fruit
  5. breads, cereals, minimally processed grains
  6. higher-fat plant foods, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, nut butters
  7. organic animal foods 2-3 times per week (optional)
  8. occasional treats

Her recommendations for how to read food labels is so informative and helpful when shopping at the store. The key is to read the ingredients list, as opposed to focusing on the nutrition table. The greatest quantity ingredients are listed first, ending with the least quantity. She explains that food manufacturers have gotten clever about this. Take most cereal for example, even "healthier ones" like Honey Bunches of Oats. Manufacturers have learned that because they have to list the greatest quantity ingredients first, it wouldn't look very healthy to consumers to see sugar as the first or second ingredient. So they got crafty and started using multiple forms of sugar, technically different ingredients, so that those multiple forms could appear lower in the ingredients list. Another rule of thumb is if you can't pronounce it, or don't know what it is, then it's probably not good for you. Red 40 and yellow 5...what kind of tree grows that!? :)

Oh and the phrases "All natural", "100% natural", "Great source of [insert whatever]!" etc. mean absolutely nothing. There's no organization that goes around inspecting products containing that claim. But you can trust the USDA Organic seal.

She also makes the point that you may find yourself liking one particular brand of products, and 4 out of 5 products they make will be okay, but the 5th one might contain something bad. So she stresses the importance of always reading the label, even if it's a "trusted" brand.

In one of her videos, she explains about vitamins and supplements. If you recall, I was swallowing about 8 pills a day, for various nutrients. And I hate swallowing pills. But that's how much I cared about being healthy, in hopes of conceiving a child. But Pam explains that vitamins and supplements are all processed. Even though they, correctly, claim that the vitamins and nutrients come from food, it's not the same as getting the nutrients from food. She explains that our bodies are adept at extracting exactly the nutrients it needs on any given day, and those needs change from day to day. So force feeding your body the processed vitamins and supplements, forces your body to deal with the nutrients you've given it...and you're giving your body nutrients in a form that's not easily broken down by your body. And if on a particular day you have no need for extra vitamin A, then you're body just passes that nutrient quickly to waste. The best way to absorb nutrients is from actually eating food...not swallowing pills. Specifically from eating a well balanced, varied, plant-based diet. Because whatever your body needs on a particular day, your body will seek out those nutrients from the food you eat. Sure, there may be a legitimate need to temporarily supplement your body with extra nutrients, for a specific reason, but no one needs those supplements every day of their life.

Whoo! You mean I can stop taking all my vitamins? Whoo!

As we were watching that video section, she said something that made me realize it's what I had been doing. She said that she, before making changes in her life, was taking various vitamins and supplements because it was just sort of the last thing that someone had recommended to her. Like she didn't really know why she was taking those pills, but they sounded like an okay thing at the time. That described me pretty well too.

I then made the decision that I wanted to schedule a phone consultation with Pam, to specifically address my health issues (including infertility). I decided to stop taking Clomid and using progesterone cream, and to just take a break from it all. No LH surge strips. No stress.

I had my phone consultation with Pam on December 6th. In preparation for the call, I had to keep a food journal for at least 5 days. I must admit, I was a little nervous going into the call, because Pam has been doing this for so long. I was fearful that she'd look at what I've been eating, and even though I think it's on par with her recommendations, she might see things like "too many fruit smoothies" or "eat more {whatever}".

But from the very start of the call to the very end, I (and Michael too) felt so much peace. It has never been more clear to me that God was leading me to this change in our lifestyle. I mean, giving up dairy and restricting meat, oils, fats, etc. was not easy. It still is not easy. It was not something I ever expected Michael to suggest and strongly and boldly take the lead on. He is so passionate about sticking with this, and now trying to help our family and friends become healthier if they desire. But it's worth it. I can see now, looking back, that God was really preparing our hearts to make these seemingly drastic changes in our daily lives.

This phone call was no exception. I don't know if Pam is a believer, but I feel like God totally used her that day to speak volumes of hope and peace straight to my heart. I'm so thankful for that, Lord!

After asking me some questions about my female history (consists of 7-day long periods, with heavy bleeding, large clots, and painful cramps, and when I was early in adolescence, periods were accompanied with migraines), and my present situation (progesterone cream helped relieve the painful cramps, and somewhat with the heavy bleeding), she explained that my symptoms are consistent with too high estrogen levels. Explaining that's why the progesterone seemed to help. But artificially using hormones like the cream is only treating the symptom, not the root cause. She explained that eating dairy, which is very high in estrogen, no matter what they say, is likely the culprit. And she said she was so thrilled to be talking to me now, at 28 years old about infertility, as opposed to much older and diagnosed with a condition that results from too much estrogen (breast cancer, to name one).

She said we are well on our way to improving our health, and I'm on my way to having my hormone levels balance out to where they should be. She said it could take a few months for my hormones to balance, so to try not to worry about trying to conceive for about 5 or 6 months. She also said I should notice my menstrual periods get shorter, and my cycles may increase in length slightly.

It was just so comforting talking to her, because she sounded so confident that we're well on our way to conceiving by improving our health and eliminating the dairy. She said things like, "You'll have to send me a picture of your baby, because that's the deal I make with everyone up front" and "you'll have a very enjoyable pregnancy" and "Just focus on your health for a few months and then I'm confident nature will take its course".

She also recommends that I take probiotics for two years, due to my history of IBS-like symptoms and frequent UTI's. Apparently, 50% of your immune function is in your gut, so if your body's beneficial bacteria reserves are in danger, or depleted, your immune system is compromised, making you more prone to getting recurrent infections.

I am just so thankful that God created people like Pam who are so passionate about helping people be healthy. In my case, I feel like God spoke through her and reassured me that we're on the right path. I hope and pray that God continues to improve our health, and that He might bless our efforts to honor the temples He gave us by allowing us to conceive. Your continued prayers are greatly appreciated!