Archive for December, 2010

Expecting Great Things: A Toast to the End of 2010

I believe in a God that can bless and teach through tragedy; not a God that causes tragedy. For me, 2010 was not a year of tragedy. It was a year of blessings in disguise.

I am a much happier person today that I was one year ago. The scary thing is that one year ago, I didn’t realize I was unhappy. I had a great job, great house, great husband, and I was making a great decision to procreate. Unfortunately, I was hinging my happiness on my great job, great, house, and great husband and the anticipated greatness of having a baby.

When losing just one piece of a ‘perfect’ life can send you spiraling downward, it quickly becomes very clear that not everything is perfect. You see, I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I had the miscarriage. This year, I discovered just exactly how dark my perfect life was.

When I look back on 2010 and ask myself, would I do it again knowing what I know now, the answer is “yes.”  I’ve come to realize that the experience of losing a child is one of the best things that could have happened to me. My miscarriage saved my life. Bear with me as I explain.

The miscarriage revealed to me just how small my world and my perspective had become. I always thought I was a person of faith, a person that believes God is good and that there is a heaven. This year, I discovered how ignorant I’ve been.

My short glimpse at motherhood, and my long glimpse at loss brought me to a place where I can say I know one thing for sure: there is a difference between thinking you are person of faith and truly believing that faith can save your life.

I learned this year that you simply cannot be a happy person without having God in your life. You can think you are happy. You can think you have it all together. You can have the perfect house, the perfect job, and the perfect bank account. Hell, if you’re lucky, God will let you live in that state of ignorance. I lived there for 30 years.

And then I was blessed. God used my miscarriage to reveal to me just how much I was missing out on and through my loss, brought me to a better understanding of what it means to be happy.

You might be thinking, “Wait a second sister. I’ve read your journal and there are quite a few places you sound hurt, and angry and bitter.”

Yep. Guilty. However, for each journal entry, and each minute, hour, day, week, and month of hurt, I’ve been blessed a thousand times over. I just had to open my eyes and look for it.

On many occasions, it came from you: words of complete strangers who read and follow my posts; women who send notes of encouragement and support as if they are my sisters.

In other instances, it came out of experiences that that only could have happened because I wasn’t pregnant: a trip to Colombia to help victims of abuse and prostitution; a white water rafting trip where I met a friend I can’t imagine ever not knowing; a new job that allows me to use the skills I’ve been developing over the past decade…

My husband and I are stronger as individuals and as a couple because of our shared experience. There is something about losing a life that you created together that strengthens the bond of marriage.

Those are just a few examples. I could write a book telling you about the relationships I’ve developed, the personal growth that has allowed me to take a deep breath and put my trust in God, and the happiness that comes from knowing that by this time next year, I’ll have even more light in my life…baby or not.

Holiday Gifts for the TTC Gal in Your Life

If you or someone you know is trying to conceive, you know just how expensive a proposition this can be. In the spirit of holiday gift guides, I present the Top  10 list for TTC Couples!

The Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor – This digital device tracks hormones through the whole cycle and gives you a very clear picture of your two most fertile days in the cycle. The down-side? For accuracy, your cycle should be between 21 and 42 days long. This sucker will cost you big money: about $150.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – This herbal tea is widely known in infertility circles as drink for strengthening the uterus and promoting a healthy monthly cycle. It’s available from a number of brands. My personal favorite is Yogi.

Vitamin/Nutrition Store Gift Certificate – There are a number of herbs and vitamins that holistic doctors often recommend for couples that are trying to conceive and while most of them are fairly affordable, buying them frequently adds up. Why not buy a gift certificate so your favorite TTC couple can purchase Vitex, Red Clover, or B6 supplements?

Pregnancy Tests – For the woman addicted to peeing on a stick. Available on Amazon.com, you can buy these in bulk and she can pee on a stick everyday.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Thermometer – The BBT thermometer is available at most drug stores for about $10. The BBT is one of the most frequently used methods for tracking ovulation because a woman’s temperature will slightly rise between 24 and 48 hours before she ovulates.

Visa Gift Card – All those doctor appointments really add up. A Visa Gift Card can help defer the cost of anything from the office visit to the blood work to an IVF treatment! Pick one up at your favorite big box or grocery store.

Taking Control of Your Fertility – A book that women on “Trying to Conceive Naturally” community chat boards swear by. The 10th Anniversary Edition is available for less than $15.

A cute tote bag – Let’s face it, some couples who are trying to conceive go to the doctor several times a month. Why not give a cute tote bag so she can carry around some great waiting room material and her latest temperature / cervical mucus chart.

A bedside calendar – Every TTC woman needs a place to track her cycle, her temperature, and her baby making activity. Bundle it with a pen and some heart stickers (just to make tracking the baby-dance a little fun)!

A handwritten note saying you care – OK, so a few of the gifts above might just be a little too personal for you to add to the stocking. But a handwritten note saying how much you care? That’s a great gift!

Holiday Musings from an Infertile

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…If you’re not getting photo cards from all of your fertile friends.

What happened to sending a card with a tree on the front? We got five cards today and all five cards had pictures of our friends and their babies. Awesome. One after another, I opened them up and by the time I was done, I was in a miserable mood. So much for glad tidings and joy.

Though it’s seeming more impossible month by month…if we ever have children, I am thoroughly committed to not sending cards with pictures of them, or me for that matter. The practice of sending a photo card is something I’ve only witnessed from families with children and seeing them is another reminder that I’m not in the club.

In my experience, sending these cards is not something that childless couples do. I mean, I have never seen a photo card with a husband and wife. E-cards from JibJab where my head is superimposed over a character like Ralphie from the Christmas Story? Heck yes. But a photo card that comes in the mail? Um. No.

Can you just imagine me and my husband posing in front of the tree in matching sweaters and then mailing that to all of our closest family and friends? I can see an aunt opening that and shaking her head, “What a shame about these two…Harry, run this to the bedroom will you? I’ll have to write them a letter and see how they are. Did you see this picture of Karen and her kids? What cutie pies. Here. Put this on the fridge. I can’t wait to show the girls when they come over next week.”

And that’s how we couples who are trying to conceive live our lives. We end up in a place behind all our twenty and thirty-something sisters, brothers, cousins and friends who are having kids. All around us, those we love and care deeply about show off their growing families, their lives, their fertile accomplishments in Christmas cards, and ornaments, and homemade gifts from Toddler This and Toddler That while grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, and the “club” of mommies and daddies talk about how special Christmas morning is going to be.

And us? Those of us not in the club? Well, we pretend not to notice and we pretend not to care that everyone else is getting all the attention. We pretend that getting cards of our friends and their kids is not a reminder of what we don’t have. We pretend that we’re not dreading the family gathering where someone says “I’m surprised you don’t have a little one yet.” We pretend that seeing just two stockings hanging from the mantle is A-OK.

Ah yes. Tis the season for pretending. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write emails to my friends telling them I got their cards and the family looks simply beautiful.