Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hey, World!

Well, that was some break. Phew! Where does the time go? (I always used to answer that question, "Into my uterus," but now, I'm at a loss... I suppose it goes into the perfecting of my coffee making and timing, these days.)

So, what the heck has been going on over here? Oh, you know, same ol' same ol' - my baby turned ONE on April 13th (I may have cried a little, just a little) and I went a tad over the top with a petting zoo. But God was smiling down on us with some amazing April weather. It was such a perfect day!

And, that was 2 months ago.  Lol. I really am pathetic.

BUT, I'm going to do better. I PROMISE this time! Because I have some big, big plans for TCIE, and getting my "real" domain back up and running, with lots of exciting opportunities to help those this blog has tried to help in a small way for the past 8 years. So, stay tuned!

What has been going on with you, readers? (Is there anybody out there, still?  Hellooooooooo?) I hope I didn't lose you all!  Drop me a line, fill me in, cuz TCIE is back, baby.

Next up, more on how to optimize your health and fertility through diet, and when NOT to go crazy doing so... stay tuned!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Glider, The Blanket, The Lamb, and The Baby

Every month on Robbie's birth date (the 13th), we pose for pictures on a glider, covered with a blanket, with a stuffed lamb.

And every month, I'm reminded of the incredible meaning of each of those things in the picture.  Things that don't mean anything to anyone else except a backdrop to a (really still crummy, but I promise, friends, I'll learn and get better!) photograph marking another milestone month in the first year of life - nothing more than another kid's picture floating across their Facebook wall, lost easily in the sea of all the others.

But to me.  Oh, to me.  Every 13th of the month sweeps me back with an emotional gust of wind, right to that cross I once embraced, and didn't always understand.

The Glider. 

I was so very hopeful in my first two years of NaPro treatment.  I was convinced I would be healed of my infertility and be one of those success stories told far and wide, particularly when I scheduled my first surgery, the laparoscopy, ovarian wedge resection via laparotomy, and the selective hysterosalpingogram (yes, my surgeon was, like me, an overachiever).  I just KNEW in my heart that once I had the surgery, and the "underlying cause" of my infertility was healed, I'd be counting the mere DAYS until pregnancy occurred.  So sure was I, that I started this blog.  Yes, while entitled 'This Cross I Embrace,'  I fully intended for the title to describe the OLD me, because the woman just starting the blog was going to be an infertility survivor, thanks to NaPro surgery.  This would, essentially, be a Pregnancy and Mommy Blog, with a healthy dose of "But, wait! I had INFERTILITY!!!" thrown in for good measure.

I made up my mind before the surgery in April of 2008, over 1.5 years into infertility and NaPro, that I'd better be ready for this baby which was guaranteed to fall into our laps pretty much the moment we came back home from the hospital.  And so, I decorated a nursery.  That's right.  I designed, researched, picked out all the furniture, and then eventually painted 4 different colored walls of my NURSERY.  The first thing I ordered was the glider on eBay.  And, it was being sold for pick-up only in PENNSYLVANIA!  Honey, do you know what that MEANS???!!!  Pennsylvania is where I'm having my surgery!!!!!  IT'S A SIGN!!!!!  You simply MUST go pick it up while I'm recuperating from a vertical incision laparotomy on a liquid diet in my first-ever hospital stay!!

Here it was in the nursery (with freshly painted walls) of our old apartment, almost completely set for a baby who would never live there.

Oh, but that glider.  To two more homes that glider would follow us, leaving behind those colorful walls, and eventually being stuffed into the corner of a junk room to gather dust and absorb old, painful memories of hopes gone by.  In fact, I never even sat in it past 2009.  And yet, I didn't have the energy, or the desire to sever the final thread, to get rid of it.
Until August 2014, when it was resurrected to all its glory.  Slowly, but steadily, that glider learned how to rock once again.  That ottoman felt the weight of a mama's feet upon it once more.  The glider came back to life.
And every month as Robbie sits upon that glorious, OLD glider, I'm reminded of the days of my own infertility infancy.  The days I had the GALL to plan all of my hopes and dreams.  The days of innocence, before experience made me perhaps a bit too cynical.  And I know I desire the same optimism for my son as his tiny body grows, upon that glider.
The Blanket.

First, I became a FertilityCare Practitioner.  Then, I became a NaPro Sonographer.  By 2010, I had basically invented my own career in NaPro/FertilityCare, and I loved every minute of it.  I loved having a purpose for my cross that was tangible, visible to myself and to others.  I loved bringing hope to others.

But, of course, there were difficult times.  Times when I had to witness someone finding out that yet another cycle had failed, that there was NO LIFE within them.  Moments when patients and clients had all of their hopes dashed before their eyes, lessening the summit of each subsequent curve on their never-ending rollercoaster of infertility.  Days when nothing seemed to make sense as to WHY these amazing, faith-filled women with so many prayers on their side, weren't getting pregnant.  Sure, I had my own anger about my own infertility, but at least I could say God "needed me" to be there in that capacity to serve others.  What really angered me was not having the same easy answers for these women. 

One such patient, never pregnant, came so often for ultrasounds that we had each other's cell numbers to coordinate schedules.  On a particularly difficult night while I was juggling 3 jobs, she was my last patient at 6:30pm, and she showed up with a gift of chocolate bars and warm fuzzy socks!  I could have KISSED her, it was just perfect!  Despite all the pain she felt with each failed cycle, she always thought of others, and tried when she could to brighten someone else's day.

When she found out I was pregnant, I was so worried about inadvertently hurting her.  She found out through my colleagues, and the next time I saw her, she had a gift for me:  a beautiful card in which she thanked me for doing what I did for her and other patients, and... a handmade GORGEOUS and big baby blanket.  The green in the blanket that she picked out matched the green glider she had no idea I had.  I didn't know it at the time, but I instinctively laid the blanket atop the glider when I got home that night, and it has proudly stayed there ever since, adorning all of our photos with an extra dollop of sentimentality- a reminder of all those women, couples, and clients who have touched MY life and without whom I wouldn't be the same.  Which leads me to...

The Lamb.

One such Creighton client of mine had already been dealing with infertility when she found out about NaPro and Creighton, and, as God would plan it, sent her my way to learn charting and for ultrasounds.  She had not done much by way of treatments, but had resolved to the fact that they would likely never conceive - until NaPro.  I watched as each new treatment introduced offered more hope to this client, only to be dashed with another failed cycle, and my heart broke for her as I felt responsible for getting her hopes up in the first place when she had already felt somewhat resolved.  And so, of course, when I had to share with her the news of my pregnancy, I was hesitant to do so.  At her next appointment, she, too, showed up with a gift for my unborn child - a stuffed baby lamb, with a cross on its foot.  An adorably soft and cuddly toy, it was quickly joined by many, MANY other stuffed toys as the months went on through pregnancy.  But it was at that first month's picture, May 13th, 2015, when I instinctively reached for that lamb.  It had meaning beyond its liturgical reference, even though that was a really great piece.  It meant, to me, that my friend and client would contribute in a big way to the memories we were forming through Robbie's first year.  That, despite her never having conceived, she was there, represented in every one of our pictures, and that one day Robbie would know about her, as well as the woman who made him his blanket.  It meant that his mama's life prior to conceiving him was spent trying (and hopefully not failing too much) to bring others hope.

The Baby.

The Baby is a big 10 month old bouncing boy, now.  He is easy in ways infertility never was, and he is challenging in ways that infertility well prepared me for.  The challenges of being a mother to Robbie are like the challenges of the very best day of infertility - it's like the Peak Day, when you've had the best mucus cycle of your life, used all of the days, and saw 3 great follicles on the ultrasound.  There is no challenge in motherhood (for me) as a CD 1, or the 2WW in infertility.  Seeing that miracle baby upon that glider, with that blanket and that lamb every month makes my heart stop for an instant every month.  It is simply too much to take in, that all of these very important representative pieces from the past come together in one STILL unbelievable experience of taking a picture of MY SON as he grows bigger and stronger.  Without my past, and all of the people who touched it, I'm not sure that my son would be here.

And of course, there is the camera that takes all of these (crappy, sorry) pictures.

A camera I received exactly one year ago on Valentine's Day at my surprise blogger shower.

Another crucial, and representative piece to these moments - all of you.  The love, CONSTANT prayers, and generosity you've given to me since 2008 and my first blog post is, simply overwhelming.  Robbie's life has quite the backstory, and I can't wait to tell him all about it as he grows, and grows, and grows.

Friday, January 1, 2016

It's Official

Happy New Year, blogosphere!  I pray that 2016 bring us all peace, love, and joy.  And, as always, lots of tangible fruits of marriage particularly for those still waiting for that blessing.

Today I wept tears of joy for a year ended, 2015, a year that has forever changed me and an entirety of 365 days that can all be summed up in the emotion of 10:53am on April 13th.  The moment in which my son was handed into my arms, onto my chest, and from that day forward, I will never be the same.

But my tears of joyful thanksgiving were coupled with tears of joyful sorrow as I realized that today marks another milestone than simply the start of a new calendar year.

Today also happens to be (yes, I'm dorky enough to have done this math) the day that Robbie has officially been a part of the outside world longer than he was inside of me.

When I first did this math, simply out of curiosity, to know when the actual  date would be, it was in response to my seeing others post pictures of their babies "9 months on the outside" vs "9 months on the inside."  Being anal retentive precise TCIE, I wanted to figure out just exactly how many days fell between July 26th, 2014 and April 13th, 2015, the exact days Robbie was on the inside.  And that same number of days just passed, between April 13th and today, January 1st. 

So, knowing the date was coming wasn't really anything more than "oh, that'll be cool to know!" up until today.

Today, I had heart pangs.  And uterus aches.

Because, my baby is now more familiar with the outside world than he is with my quiet, safe, warm, secure body.

It may sound silly to you.  Heck, it sounds silly to me, just writing it.  But it's the truth.  I've already written about how I miss being pregnant with Robbie, but now, I wonder if he still misses my womb, or if he even remembers it.

With these thoughts comes, once again, the INTENSE yearning and desire for another pregnancy.  At times it literally overwhelms me.  Which is so odd because I never had that before pregnancy.  Go figure.  If you give a mouse a cookie...

My little boy is surely growing, and learning new things about his world every day.  He is simply delightful (unless he has an ear infection, in which case he is a miserable wreck who only wants to nurse 'round the clock and doesn't understand why I won't take away the pain), and has such a sweet personality.  I absolutely LOVE waking up to him talking to himself in his crib and then going to pick him up and him giggling and rolling around playing "keep away" from Mommy like it's the best game in the world (and really, it is).  I just love love love love love love LOVE being his Mommy!!  I just wish each and every magical moment of this could be frozen in time, forever... and that I wouldn't always be reminded that someday, my son who has now been outside of me longer than inside of me, will one day be outside of my home longer than he was inside of it. 

But then, just as any good TCIE thought finishes (let's pretend for the sake of this blog post that I a) actually have good thoughts, and b) actually finish them), I come back to today.  January 1st.  Not just a milestone for Robbie, and not just the beginning of a new year.  But even more importantly, The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.  Of.  Course.  Of COURSE, just when I am beginning to get all weepy at the thought of my baby boy growing up, I am met with yet another Godincidence.  This same little boy, prayed for through Mary's intercession for 8 years, conceived on her parent's feast day, discovered by his parents on the Feast of her Assumption, is now a born child on the outside longer than he was unborn - on another of her important days.  And no better Solemnity than this - the day in which we remind ourselves to consecrate our new year to Mary, the Mother of God.  A day to reflect upon her role not only in Jesus' life, but in ours, as our Mediatrix and Refuge.  And a reminder to me personally, that I have already given this child into her care, on the day we found out we were expecting him.  On that fateful August 15th when we renewed our Consecration for the 9th year, we placed the tiny ultrasound picture of Robbie under her feet - a symbol of our trust in her maternal love and protection of him.  So of course, this day is the perfect day for me to remember that promise, and commit to it once again, as I have no reason to fear when she is Our Mother.

Robbie, may you continue to grow big and strong and embrace all that life throws at you (gently, I pray).  And may Mary be with you, and all of her children in a special way in 2016.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 29, 2015


So much to write, and such a slow, crappy internet connection at the moment.  Arrrrgggghhh.

(That just took me 3 minutes to write.  FTR.)

Anyway, today was an emotional one for me.  The first Sunday of Advent has traditionally been when we break out the Christmas tree and decorations and begin preparations for Christmas... which have been so bittersweet through the years.  But both Mass and preparations at home today were just so incredibly special with Robbie there watching every step of the way.  It just takes my breath away that he is here, and will always be our son.

What I wanted to post tonight was a reminder to stop on over at Jen Fulwiler's SAINT NAME GENERATOR for your Saint for the new liturgical year, a Year of Mercy!  I got Saint Scholastica this year, who, amongst storms and rain, also wards again convulsing children, so... score!(??)  Enjoy getting to know a new Saint, or reconnecting with an old favorite.  Share who picked you below in the comments, I love to read them and know how best to pray for you, too.

Happy New Year!