Archive | Infertility

The Story of Her {yes, HER!}

Oh my, y’all, this month has FLOWN by! I’m sure it’s because she’s a newborn, the holidays, the three others I have at home, and the sleep deprivation…but still, it feels like just yesterday I was still miserably pregnant and itching to get her out and now she is here, smiling (yes! first intentional smile yesterday!) and cooing and completely oblivious to all the craziness around her.

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If you’ll indulge me I would like to share her birth story. I make a picture book for each child detailing their entrance into the world and putting it on the blog gives me the push to actually get on with it and not wait around until she’s six months old like I did with Lawson.

On Halloween my OB told me he would take her at 39 weeks and gave me the date of Monday, November 6th. (What’s random is that MM’s birthday is 1/8/9 (1 + 8 = 9) and Bonnie’s birthday is 11/6/17 (11 + 6 = 17)…how crazy is that?!)

That weekend it was a mad dash getting the house 90% ready for Christmas, packing the other three kiddos’ bags, and making sure to do one last thing as a family of five (corn maze…lordy!).

On Monday at 5:30 we arrived at the hospital to meet our delivery surprise. I’m not sure if you can see our stickers but his says “Team Pink” (he said it was a girl from the beginning) and mine said “Team Blue” (I’ve thought all four were boys!).

They took us right back and I got ready. What’s so strange and surreal about a planned c-section is that you don’t feel like you should be having a baby–your body (and baby) are just having another day and then boom! baby is out and the whole postpartum thing starts (I started producing colostrum within six hours of a planned c-csection–that’s pretty cool for my body if I don’t say so myself to go from growing a baby to nourishing a baby so quickly!).

We watched the news for a bit (a record breaking temperature day) and then it was time to be wheeled back and get my spinal block. You know how they make you sit down and lean forward to get a spinal block or epidural? Well, my yoga has made me so flexible that when they told me to lean forward I put my head all the way down between my ankles they told me I bent over too far–something they’ve never told a pregnant woman, HA! (Another random bit: I taught the anesthesiologist’s two daughters years ago and now they are both grown women. #iamold)

I had messaged one of my high school friends earlier in the week asking if she was working the morning of my c-section since she is a L&D supervisor at the hospital. She said that, no, she was getting off right as I was getting there, but that she would stay with me and take pictures for me in the OR. That was the sweetest gesture to stay a couple of hours after her shift ended just to give me some photos of my baby coming out since photographers aren’t allowed in the OR and I really can’t thank her enough (but I’ll try one more time: thank you, Katie!).

Now, of course nothing with me goes as planned. My blood sugar was very low (55, oops) and my blood pressure would dip dangerously low the whole time (90s/50s) so I was having to get lots of meds to bring it up or I felt like I was going to puke/pass out (with MM I had the opposite problem, my BP got up to 240/170!). And then there’s the whole having a c-section-after-a-tummy-tuck which took almost three times as long as my other two c-sections and was a bit more, uhm, intense.

november 6. bonnie birth_0005_edited-1

november 6. bonnie birth_0007_edited-1

And then we hear the words we’d be anxiously waiting to hear, “It’s a…” followed by

GIRL!

Now, I’m going to be honest, even though I was “Team Boy” I kinda knew it was a girl. You see, from the very beginning Mary Margaret was 100% positive she was getting a sister. She even said, “I was the only one praying for a baby. Every day I’ve been praying for a sister and God won’t let me down.” And y’all, when someone says that…well, you believe them. So when they told us it was a girl we both just smiled and said, ‘Good!’ (I’m sure we were the most unsurprised delivery surprise parents they’ve ever encountered!)

She was born at 8:28am and weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces and 20.5″ long (so NOT the 99th percentile baby (in weight) they kept saying I was going to have, but she was quite long considering how squished she was in there with my muscle repair).

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november 6. bonnie birth_0030_edited-1

Within five minutes or so we knew something was a little off even though her APGAR scores were 9 at one minute and five minutes because she was grunting–just like her big brother did. All babies have fluid in their lungs (since they’re living in it) but it gets pushed out in a vaginal delivery so when you have a planned c-sections and no contractions and no pushing/baby in birth canal, many babies have fluid in their lungs and grunt. So they put her on oxygen and told us they were going to take her to the NICU for observation. Thankfully her daddy got to hold her hand for a second and I got to catch a glimpse of her.

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I went to recovery for a few hours {stayed two hours longer than planned because of blood pressure issues} while C. took our family to visit her in the NICU…but not our kids. Because it’s RSV season children under 12 aren’t allowed in the NICU ¬†and to say MM was crushed was an understatement. She had waited nine long months (her whole life even?) for a sister and to be kept from her, oh my, she cried and cried.

After a few hours I was wheeled into the NICU on the way to my room so I could look at my baby for a few minutes. It felt so surreal, but familiar in a way, to finally see the baby that had been growing inside of me.

After twelve hours they removed my catheter and C. wheeled me down to the NICU. We weren’t allowed to hold her just yet so we just sat & stared at her (and couldn’t get over how much she looked like MM!).

At the twenty-four mark I was allowed to shower (I’d already been walking up a storm since my catheter was removed–I can heal from a c-section like no one’s business! And let me just tell you, I felt better (so much better!) 24 hours after my c-section than I did the last four months of pregnancy. The pain and pressure of a pregnancy after a tummy tuck is awful) and then I headed back to the NICU in hopes of being able to hold her. I was thrilled when the doctor allowed me to hold her for about an hour (but just once that day).

november 7. bonnie nicu_0009_edited-1

november 7. bonnie nicu_0007_edited-1

It was so hard to put her down when my hour was up. We would go back down every couple of hours and sit by her side and just stare at her. She did great while in the NICU–blood sugar was perfect {always a concern when a mom has gestational diabetes no matter how well controlled} and she was on (forced) room air and tolerating that too. I brought 132mL of frozen colostrum with me to the hospital and started pumping and getting more at six hours. She “ate” through a feeding tube for the first two days and every feed was my milk (I think she took only 3 or 4 ounces of formula the whole time we were at the hospital which is great for a mom who has had a breast reduction) and left the hospital only 1/2 an ounce under birth weight (another huge deal).

This is one of my first pumps after delivery. Considering it took 36 hours for even a drop to come out for Lawson I was on cloud nine.

At the 48 hour mark we were allowed to hold her whenever we wanted (C.’s first time!) and I was allowed to breastfeed.

november 8. bonnie nursing_0001_edited-1

That evening (so 60 hours old) they moved her to the step down NICU and took her off her IV and breathing tubes. MM still couldn’t hold her but we were allowed to walk her to the door of the little step down room and she got to glimpse inside while the nurse held up her sister. MM just cried. Which of course made me cry.

The next afternoon (she had to be in the step down NICU for 24 hours without oxygen or feeding tube; she was now 3.5 days old by this point) she was moved into our room which felt so surreal (I feel like this whole post I keep saying it, but it’s true) to finally be able to take care of my baby on my own and put little clothes on her.

I don’t think we put her down!

november 9. mm meeting bonnie_0005_edited-1

november 10. 11. bonnie coming home. day 1_0016_edited-1

…well, except to take a picture or two! ūüėČ

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That evening we had Mom bring MM by. We didn’t tell her that her sister had been released from the NICU a few hours earlier and had her laying in her bassinet as MM walked in. I think you can tell how MM felt about it. (Their matching shirts say “Besties for the restie”)

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november 9. mm meeting bonnie_0014_edited-1

The following afternoon, four-and-a-half long days after checking in, we were discharged. We walked our girl out to our car on a beautiful fall afternoon. It felt perfect.

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We made it home just in time for the oldest two to get off the bus (Moseby ran down the street towards us with the biggest smile on his face and screaming, ‘My baby sister is home! My baby sister is home!’) and Lawson came home shortly after. Her brothers were head over heels in love with her and there’s been much arguing over who gets to hold her first.

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And even though her birth didn’t go as planned and we had to stay in the hospital an extra day or two, I wouldn’t change a thing. She fits in perfectly and now that she’s here it feels like we were missing something before she arrived and now we are complete.

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So what’s her name?

Bonnie because it means ‚Äúbeautiful baby‚ÄĚ. Grace after my grandmother, Mama Grace Harris, who made this world a beautiful place to live with her flowers and her loving heart for everyone she met. Who made me her granddaughter even though we weren‚Äôt related by our blood, or some legal papers, or even our skin color‚ÄĒit was our hearts that were intertwined‚ÄĒand my, how I miss her every day! Nuel is after my great aunt, Nuel Brown Melton, who passed away the week before Bonnie was born. She made this world a beautiful place to live with her sharp wit and love of family. I know our Bonnie will make this world a beautiful, and better, place to live as well and that is why we chose to give this little baby such a long (but beautiful) name as well.

And sweet Bonnie, you have our hearts and we are all wrapped around your little finger.

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0


The Longest I’ve Ever Been Pregnant

As of Saturday I’m more pregnant than I’ve ever been.

(I had my two bios at 37 weeks, 5 days and as of today I’m 38 weeks.)

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And lord knows, it ain’t all sunshine and roses over here. I’m sore, my core literally aches 24/7, my heartburn is constant, my skin itches, my face is puffy, my fuse is short, and I’m D-O-N-E.

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That being said, I know that the Natalie of almost a decade ago that was trying so desperately for another child would have been plain ticked off to hear someone complain about pregnancy when it was all that Old Natalie wanted. You know that saying: “I still remember the days I prayed for the things I have now”? Well, it hits home for me.

(Buuuuut, I am human, haha! And I am over being pregnant.)

2009 and 2015

I can tell #4 is happy as can be in there too and doesn’t have any plans on coming out of his/her own (I am “not dilated at all; not even one little bit” as my OB told me last Tuesday) so until the doctor decides *I* am healthier with it on the outside (meaning it’s doing more harm than I can handle), it’s staying put.

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Which means it may be in there until November 14th at 7:30am. (Please please please don’t let me go to 40 weeks, 1 day is what I pray ’round-the-clock.)

So, there’s my update: my baby is still cooking with no plans of coming out anytime soon!

All pictures in this post were taken at 37 weeks, 5 days…too bad the most recent ones {taken by MM!} were not in a hospital gown!

1


The Whole Story of Baby #4

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I was right at 20 weeks in this picture. I’m now 21 weeks, 3 days.

 

‘Cause I just can’t leave you hanging like that!

We’ve gotten tons of questions (…and OMGs…and ‘Y’all are crazy’…and ‘Oh, hell no!’) from people we know so I thought I would just answer them all in one place.

  • Were you planning this?

Uhm, NO. No no no no. We’re not even really sure of my due date–we have no idea when this baby was conceived! (We think it’s November 13-21st. But because of my hereditary preeclampsia my other two bio babies were born at 37 weeks, 5 days so we’re thinking right after Halloween for this one.)

  • Did you want another baby?

C. was finished with kids. I was open to adopting again when Lawson was 3 or so, but we were mostly likely (definitely?) finished with kids. For sure we were done with having kids from my body though. 100% finished with that. (And let me assure you: C. has now taken medical steps, ahem, so that he will no longer be fathering any babies with Ms. Fertile Myrtle over here. And I’ll leave it at that.)

  • Didn’t you just have a tummy tuck last June? What’s going to happen with THAT?!

Yes, yes, I did (again, totally not planning on having another baby). I’m not so much worried about extra skin–I’m a 36 year old woman–who DOESN’T have at least a little extra skin at this age?! (I feel the same way with stretch marks–who cares!)–but I am *super* worried with how my muscle repair will hold up (not only with pregnancy but with a repeat c-section as well). I had a 5″-ab separation (y’all, that’s over the width of my hand!) that was sewn back together last June–there’s a strong chance that all the dissolvable stitches the doctor used are still there. I had to interview 19 OB-GYNs (my friend who delivered MM and Lawson has retired from delivering) to find just one that had done a c-section on a woman who had a muscle repair in the past. Thankfully this doctor has done three (and he’s been in practice over 30 years–that’s how rare this is). My plastic surgeon says my muscle repair is the strongest part of my body right now since it’s held together with stitches so something else will have to give/stretch/tear. Due to a kidney surgery I had twenty years ago I have a shredded left oblique muscle (the muscles that run along¬†each¬†side of your abdomen) and whenever I would eat before I got pregnant my stomach (my literal stomach) would poke out about the size of a baseball through the shredded muscle until my food digested. It was freaky and honestly kept me from eating large meals because it was uncomfortable (and gross looking now that the rest of my stomach was flat). Well, I’m 21 weeks now and it pokes out like I’ve eaten an all you can eat buffet 24/7 (like, that corner of my upper stomach is larger than my baby bump most days). I assume I will have to have a muscle repair (it can’t be stitched together because it’s shredded so I’m thinking some sort of mesh?!) on that section and I don’t even want to think about–the ab muscle repair was the worst pain of my life (hands down, no joke) and you use your obliques for everything. Yep, not even going there.

  • How far along did you find out since you weren’t planning this one?

Gosh, I guess like almost 9 weeks?! It was crazy! I’ve mentioned before that I have PCOS and two¬†of the side effects of that is crazy periods and cysts. And the older I get the more my cycles get off (#closertomenopause) so it didn’t really concern me that I hadn’t had a period in six weeks…or eight weeks. The only reason I even tested was because I could tell I had a rather large cyst and I knew I needed to call my doctor and get a prescription for Provera which would force¬†my body to have a period and “fix”/restart my hormones/cycle and would get rid of the cyst. But before my doctor will ever call in a prescription she makes me take a pregnancy test (which was always salt in a wound when we were trying so hard for baby #2 for FORTY-NINE cycles, ahem) so on a random Tuesday afternoon I grabbed a $3 test at Target so I could test real quick and get a prescription called in.

Imagine my utter shock/disbelief/amazement when the thing turned positive before I even put the cap back on (we’re talking less than 5 seconds!). For years I have stared at pregnancy tests wondering “Is that a line?” because I would test before my period was due. Well, y’all, when your period is five weeks late that second line appears REAL QUICK.

  • Why are you fertile now and weren’t for almost ten years?

Weight loss¬†and low carb. There is NO question in my mind that Keto (low carb) and the subsequent weight loss gave me my fertility back. I’m having two babies in two years without trying at all (at all!) because I found a way of eating that works for this body that has PCOS with insulin resistance. If you have PCOS and are trying for a baby I can’t tell you enough how much I recommend Keto. It’s worked for me…twice.

  • Do you know the gender? What’s the name? Are you doing a nursery theme?

Well, for that you’ll have to wait until Friday. ūüėČ

3


Weight Loss with PCOS 101: What is Intermittent Fasting?

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Oh goodness, writing this post has me all nervous. Like I’m about to say something crazy controversial and no one will ever be my friend again.

…will you please still be my friend? {said in the saddest little voice possible}

And I have no idea why I feel that way. After all, I’m *just* telling you how I lost weight and got my fertility back with PCOS. That’s it. I’m no doctor. I’m not telling you what is right for your body. I’m just telling you what worked for ME.

So, what is intermittent fasting? (Oh! First I should say you would only do this once you are comfortable with a Keto-lifestyle.)

Our body is always in two states–one of feeding or one of fasting. Technically, any time you are not eating you are fasting. I like to think of my body as a car. I’ve got all this stored fuel in my gas tank {aka belly fat in my case!} and yet I continue to add more fuel (food). Before my weight loss there were some days where I would put too much fuel in my body and it would get stored in my gas tank–meaning my belly would get bigger and bigger (and my cheeks…and my wrists…and my feet–it’s amazing where all you lose!). Once I started doing Keto and got in a calorie deficit I wasn’t putting “enough” fuel in each day so my body would use some stored fuel {aka belly fat!}.

Now, you can get technical and talk about how your body burns glucose easier than it does fat and protein, blah blah blah. But at the end of the day I try to put less fuel in my car than I actually need so my body/car can burn the extra fuel it already has.

And one day–gosh, late spring last year I guess–it occurred to me that I was adding fuel to my car when my car didn’t even need gas. Meaning, I was eating just to eat sometimes. And then I started wondering WHY.

Why do we do that?

Why do we eat three meals a day?

I didn’t NEED those calories from those three meals (I was 55 pounds heavier last spring than I am now). I had all this stored fat that my body could consume instead.

So why did I do it?

I remember listening to people talk about metabolism. Or listening to others talk about eating five small meals a day to keep your blood sugar even.

But I didn’t think that applied to me. After all, my blood sugar runs naturally high with PCOS (with insulin resistance) and if anything I want it LOWER.

So I Google’d “Fasting with Keto and PCOS” and angels sang.

Suddenly, my body and the way it had always been working made sense to me. I wasn’t EVER giving my body a chance to show hunger…never giving it a chance to use that stored fuel.

I learned there are three types of fasting (if you’re interested here is a great book to read more about them!):

  1. Modified fasting. Basically restricting your calories to 25% of what you normally eat for 2 or more days and then eating regularly the other days.
  2. Religious fasting.
  3. Intermittent fasting. Meaning you restrict your food intake during certain windows. Most people already do this–say from 9pm until 6am, right? {You can read a 99-cent Kindle book on intermittent fasting here.¬†Or here’s a FREE Kindle version for women on fasting.}

Well, with more purposeful intermittent fasting you “up the ante” a little more. You might skip breakfast (so you’re fasting from 9pm-12pm) or maybe you don’t snack after dinner (so you’re fasting from 6pm-6am).

Or, you can do what I do.

And it sounds SO ridiculous simple to me now that I do it.

I only eat when I’m hungry.

I don’t snack if I’m not hungry. I don’t eat breakfast/lunch/dinner if I’m not hungry. I have to be hungry (my stomach growling) to eat.

Crazy, huh?

It sounds so simple. I mean, why WOULD we eat unless we’re hungry? Right?!

My ideal day would probably be just to eat every day around 2 or 3pm (you’d call that a “23/1” (meaning I fast 23 hours and eat during a 1-hour window) and that would be it. BUT life/kids/jobs/routine just gets in the way of that. So usually I fast from 6pm-2pm and I have a four-hour window where I’ll eat everyday–I’ll snack around 2 or 3pm because my stomach is growling and then have dinner around 6pm (this is called “20/4 fast”).

And not only do I feel so much better (because I’m not walking around with a full stomach and high blood sugar all the time), but I end up eating less calories a day. I actually have to MAKE myself keep eating sometimes to get enough calories (fat/protein) a day. ¬†My blood sugar is steady throughout the day¬†and my body uses my stored fat. Intermittent fasting helped break my weightless plateau (after I had Lawson I lost back down to my pre-pregnancy weight (which was a 40 pound weight loss) by six months post-parteum, but then I couldn’t get the scale to budge at all (mainly due to breast feeding). Intermittent fasting changed that!

Now can I tell you if intermittent fasting is right for YOU? Oh my goodness, no. But it might give you something to think about. For me personally, intermittent fasting plays JUST AS BIG OF A PART in my weight-loss journey as Keto. There is no doubt in my mind that I’ve been as successful as I’ve been because of intermittent fasting.

And as always, feel free to ask me questions in the comments, on Instagram, on Facebook, or email me. I’ve had two more ladies ask Keto questions (meal ideas and Keto & menopause) and I’ll be answering those next Friday.¬†

List of Resources for Keto:

5


Review-Preview

This day each year is so mystical to me. ¬†I’m given the opportunity to look back at this past year, while having the chance to dream about the upcoming year. ¬†Such a time of reflection.

And I’m sure it’s not a surprise that I find myself thinking about our adoption. ¬†It seems like just yesterday…and yet also like a lifetime ago…that we announced we were adopting in late January almost a year ago.

Here we are almost a full year later and in a sense, the same.  No baby, but the hope of one to come.

This year though we know his name.  And that hope all centers around a day {or a week or two} in early March when he should be here.

To say I imagine holding him the first time, looking into those eyes, and whispering ‘We’ve been waiting on you’, a hundred times a day is an understatement. ¬†Because, y’all, the thought of him follows me everywhere I go.

With every teeny tiny-sized purchase I make, with every thing I pull out of storage, every time I go into his room, or every time I talk about March–he is there. ¬†He’s so real it’s almost like I could put my hand on my stomach and feel him kick, living there inside me. ¬†Our lives are intertwined though a few hundred miles separate us. ¬†But one day–most like a chilly, early spring day, we will meet–and my heart and arms already long for that day.

And I have to say, because it’s what I’ve been realizing, that infertility is a beautiful thing. ¬†Never in a million years would I have ever imagined myself saying that as I sat crying on another bathroom floor with another negative pregnancy test in my hands…or when I sat on a cold doctor’s table and was told that the baby we had been praying for was no longer there. ¬†Because of this unspeakable grief I have experienced as my heart {whose only wish my whole life was to be a mother of many children} is overjoyed with the thought of our next child. ¬†My heart sometimes feels as if it could burst it is so happy and joyful. ¬†My soul sings. ¬†And infertility gave me that…it made me realize just how beautiful and wonderful and amazing the gift of having a child is. ¬†It made me realize how very blessed I am to be the mama of such a special little girl…and to this amazing little boy.

Infertility gave me a gift–a joyous heart.

Of course, nothing with adoption is ever set in stone until the papers have been signed {and in our state ten days must also pass after that until he is really, truly ours}, but I can’t tell my heart to not laugh with happiness. ¬†I cannot hide the feelings for our son. ¬†I tried at first, I really did. ¬†But every time I thought about him {and his precious birth mother}, a smile would come across my face and the love grew and grew. ¬†There’s no stopping this mama’s love.

So this January 1st while I envision our upcoming year {which always stops in early March because how in the world am I supposed to think past him being born?!}, our son is at the forefront of my mind. ¬†And my daughter as she becomes a {wonderful} big sister. ¬†And my husband as he becomes a dad to two. ¬†And myself who, well, I think I already told you…is just a little excited.

Thank you for still being here, waiting out the the periods of silence while I hope and dream, to see these beautiful things that are about to come.  Happy New Year, everyone, may 2012 be all you dream of and more.

2


Just One Thought

Tonight we had nuns from The Order of Saint Helena come to our church and speak to the adult class while MM was in “Sunday School” {yes, I know it’s on Wednesday night…doesn’t “Wednesday School” just sound odd?}. ¬†I sat there the whole time with my mouth open just absorbing it all–those women and their lifestyle just enthralls me. ¬†They were so wise and thoughtful with their talk and their answers to our questions. ¬†Their love for God and people was breath-taking.

One of them was talking about love and how we give and receive. ¬†She was talking about how much God loves us and went on to say that when God doesn’t give us the same gift that He gives everyone else it is only because He gave us a different gift. ¬†I needed to hear that because I can’t help but sometimes feel that my body is broken because it can’t do what {seems to be like} everyone else’s body does naturally. ¬†But that sister was right–just because I haven’t been given the gift of carrying a child again doesn’t mean I wasn’t given the gift of being a mother. ¬†In fact I think it’s an extraordinary gift to be adopting. ¬†I know that to be true.

In other news, I’m going to pick my camera up tomorrow–cue the angel chorus. ¬†I haven’t had it since September 19th {uh-huh, *16 days*} and I’m going to be a picture taking fool tomorrow.

Wanna do a camera phone picture dump instead?  Why not!

In no particular order…

Goat kiss
Goat kiss at the county fair.

Banner
Our little ‘boo’ banner that MM helped me make last week.

Parade

Bhs band
Our high school’s annual homecoming parade.

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Scooter
While we waited on Mimi to come to our house so we could go to the Atlanta Greek Festival she rode her scooter.

Pumpkins
Getting 2000+ pumpkins for the farm for the dozens of field trips scheduled for the month of October.

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At her workbench.

Teacher gift
Random September teacher gifts.

Pumpkins
And last night…posing with our latest afternoon project–painted pumpkins!

1


Even in the Hard Times…

…I am so very glad to be a mom.

Today MM and I were in the car for a little over four hours, just the two of us.

I planned it so well making sure our little trip would be during her nap time and since the trip was only supposed to take 2.5 hours and she normally naps over 3 hours it would work out great.  Perfect plan, huh?

Well, you know what they said about the best laid plans, right?

My baby…my fabulous lover-of-sleep little one…did not sleep. ¬†Wait, I take it back. ¬†She did. ¬†For the last *nine* minutes of the trip. ¬†The rest of the 231 minutes of the trip was spent whining, wanting her hand held {it’s not safe to do, I know}, or straight up bawling. ¬†The hyperventilating, shrill, coughing-fit type of bawling. ¬†Hours of it.

There were three stops and lots of soothing–I was the crazy lady rocking a toddler in the Shell parking lot in Douglasville–I would be lying if I didn’t admit I got a little flustered. ¬†And maybe I shed a few tears too.

But at the end of the day…this long, drawn-out, tiring for everyone day…I know I am so blessed. ¬†I remember Mother’s Day three years ago and I was devestated that we *still* couldn’t get pregnant. ¬†I know that woman back then would have done anything for a baby and even the thought of a bad car trip would have made her heart smile with joy.

And because I remember that woman I was back then–and who are we kidding, the woman I still am–I feel so blessed. ¬†Tantrums and all.

Thank you for making me a mother–your mother–Mary Margaret. ¬†I love you to the moon and back.

2


A Moment to Think

I accidentally snapped this picture on the way to dinner last night and as I was downloading the pictures to my computer I realized this photo spoke about the mood I was in yesterday: contemplative, searching, thankful. It might be just my eyeball to some, but to me it’s a window into my soul.

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You see, yesterday was my fourteen-year cancer-free anniversary.

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Fourteen years. It feel like just yesterday and at the same time it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

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I’m sure I’ve told you the story before of how I find out about the cancer. If not, here it is.

The summer before my sophomore year of high school I became very tired. So tired that I would fall asleep anywhere. During the track and field events at the Olympics. During class changes at school. ¬†I couldn’t help it or do anything about it. ¬†I was sleeping almost 16 hours a day by that September. My mother took me to the doctor and they did a battery of tests on me. I was severely anemic and had severe recurring UTIs, but that was all. There was nothing to explain the sudden, extreme tiredness. ¬†And the problem grew worse. After many almost-weekly trips to my doctor he thought I was perhaps having seizures–that instead of sleeping I was really in a seizure-induced haze. See, I had became so perpetually tired that I could go to sleep and wake up having taken pages and pages of notes in biology without even remembering it. It was eerie. My mother got a recommendation for a neurologist.

However, before we could make an appointment I was admitted to the hospital.

It was election day 2006 and I had the day off from school. My parents had gone to vote and I went to take a shower. That’s when I all-of-a-sudden doubled over in pain. I’ve always heard that you forget pain, and it’s true, I honestly don’t remember what it felt like. All I remember is thinking that it was the worst pain of my life. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. Somehow I got out of the shower, fell to the floor, and that’s how my parents found me when they got home–delirious from pain and laying on the floor. They got me dressed and decided it would be quicker to drive to the hospital than to wait on an ambulance.

Since all this I’ve been to the ER before for various things. Never, and I mean never, have they taken me right back. You have to wait and fill out paperwork and get your vitals, etc. But that day it was so obvious that I was in intolerable pain, that they immediately put me on a gurney and wheeled me back.

I don’t remember much, thankfully. I do remember coming to {I was passed out from the pain for most of it} and begging for pain killers. I remember being told they couldn’t give me anything until they knew what was wrong because they might have to do emergency surgery. I remember them telling me that all my xrays were cloudy because it looked like I was bleeding internally. They did catheterized me {without any pain medicine, I might add}–I do remember that plainly–and admitted me.

Finally, they did an abdomen ultrasound and realized that most of the bleeding was coming from my pelvic area. A surgeon came in and told us he was going to do exploratory surgery because he thought I might be having a cyst issue.

“A cyst issue” was an understatement. It ended up weighing 15 pounds and had twisted and destroyed my ovary so much that it had to be removed. It had caused me to lose massive amounts of blood to my internal bleeding {hence, the sleepiness and anemia}. It had put so much pressure on my bladder and kidneys that they could not function.

After a four-day stay in the hospital, I was sent home to heal. It was all going to be fine I was told.

A week later as I was laying on the couch, my parents received a call from my doctor. They left quietly and without telling me who had called. I assumed that they were going to look for me a car for my 16th birthday that was in less than two weeks.

They came back a couple of hours later crying. They told me I had cancer.

I tell you this story because it is an important part of who I became after those three words, “You have cancer.” I am such a blessed woman to have survived this ordeal. I have a wonderful family. A phenomenal husband. A daughter I don’t deserve. She is my miracle baby.

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I only let me dwell on the “Cancer Natalie” one day a year. Every November 7th I allow myself to think back on those dark days. But every single day I rejoice for what I’ve been given.

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Because I have been given so very much. And last night we celebrated by going out to dinner and I was given beautiful things by my family that I treasure.

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In fact, I treasure everything since November 7, 1996.  Because that is the day my life, and its purpose, changed forever.

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What If

Today would have been my due date.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently.¬† Instead of going to the doctor for yet another cycle day 2 {we’re on cycle #18 of trying} appointment like I did today, I would be holding a baby, another blessing from God.

I know I’ve said it before, but infertility is so very hard.¬† Yes, on your body–the meds are no fun, but really what I mean is that it’s hard on your heart.¬† Sure, the infertility wound may heal like when I had Mary Margaret, but it¬†leaves behind a scar nonetheless.¬† And when you are in the throes of infertility, well it’s painful.¬† My heart and spirit hurt and ache.

I was talking with a friend a couple of weeks ago who has recently had two miscarriages.  The only way I could describe the pain was telling her that if you had your palm read {and believed in that sort of thing} you would see a large indention on your life line because of your miscarriage.  That the loss of a child or infertility leaves that big a mark on your life.  On your soul.  It changes you.

I wonder sometimes why God gave me my passion of wanting a large family.¬† When I was little I always said I wanted twelve kids.¬† Or eight.¬† But no less than five.¬† Why did he put that in my heart if I’m unable to do it?

And yes, I’m 110% okay with the fact that MM might be an only child.¬† I am so very grateful for her, please don’t misunderstand.¬† What I mean is why does my heart now–and since I was a tiny child–yearn for many children?

I know things in life aren’t easy and that I need to be patient and all in God’s time.¬† I say these things to myself every day.¬† Every day I wage that internal war with myself over the child I want now {right now.¬† right this very second now.} verses trusting in God’s timing.¬† I constantly have to fight with my heart to have faith that I will have more children.¬† One day.

One day.

I always say that I wish I could go back to my sixteen year old self that had just been diagnosed with cancer and tell her that one day I would have a child–a perfect daughter–and not to worry for the next 12 years.¬† I wish right now I could have the same question answered: will I have more children? with just a simple yes or no. ¬†That way I could stop worrying and obsessing every cycle.

But that’s not faith, is it?¬† Faith is believing and trusting that it will happen.

And it will.

That’s why I started fertility meds tonight. ¬†Again. ¬†Seventh time’s the charm with them, right?

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I Refuse to Let It Get Me Down

I was going to post one of my “Debbie Downer Infertility Posts” tonight. ¬†You know, the whole “we’ve been trying now for over a year for #2” thing (not to mention the year of trying it took to have MM). ¬†The icing on the cake this month was not yet another negative home pregnancy test–I’m actually used to those by now, but the fact that I can’t take fertility meds this cycle because I have not one, but two, large cysts on my itty-bitty half ovary. ¬†If I did take the meds I run a very high chance of the cysts getting out-of-control, turning, and cutting off blood supply to the only ovary I have left. ¬†No thank you.

But you know what? ¬†I don’t want to be that person tonight. ¬†I don’t want to be gloom and doom. ¬†All day long I’ve been talking to God (‘Hi, God, it’s Natalie again. ¬†Got one more thing I wanna talk about…’) and I feel better. ¬†I’m just praying that I get a feeling of peace about all this soon. ¬†Do we stop the fertility drugs? ¬†Do we keep trying? ¬†Do we stop the temping/the charting/the ovulation predictor kits? ¬†Do we adopt? ¬†Domestic? ¬†International? ¬† Do we decide that one child is enough? ¬†Because right now I have no peace and I need it.

Woah, that just got long-winded and I so didn’t want that to happen.

So, since I want to lighten the mood and I haven’t done this in at least four years…

LET’S DO A QUESTION & ANSWER INSTALLMENT OF THIS OLD SOUTHERN HOUSE!

Yep, you heard right. ¬†Ask anything you like, as many questions as you like. ¬†Random things. ¬†Things you’ve been wondering for years. ¬†About me. ¬†About the house. ¬†Anything you want. ¬†Whatever goes!

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In other news, last week I found a perfect “big girl bed” at a local antiques store for a steal (Dare I say how much? ¬†$65!). ¬†It was in such good shape all we had to do was paint it since I wasn’t a fan of the black and gold, haha. ¬†Here’s Mary Margaret “in” her bed, before we painted it.¬†

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