Life

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Expired

Published June 17, 2014 by Jennie

calendar Tonight my aunt in coming into town  today.  I am so excited to see her.  My husband and I do not live near our families and I always feel like we do not see them as much as I would like  To get ready for her visit, I figured I would tidy up the house.  I am somewhat of a neat freak and actually like cleaning.  I really like super cleaning.  There is just something cathartic about it.  I also recently tried a new recipe for an all purpose cleaner.

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This is a little off topic, but I like to make my own cleaning and personal products when possible to avoid adding more chemicals in our house.  In case anyone is interested, I save all my recipes I find on my Pinterest account.

I also organized everything in our bathroom closet.  While doing so, I  found some of my old ovulation tests.

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My heart sank a little when I realized that my old ovulation tests have expired.  I was not upset because I had to throw them out.  I stopped doing ovulation testing a long time ago.  The reason is because it stopped giving me useful information.  Every month I tested, I would get a positive result.  My cycle is very regular so I could pretty much predict the exact day I would ovulate.  I can also feel it in my body if that makes sense.  I actually tried several different tests hoping that one would not show I ovulated.  For anyone trying to TTC, I know that sounds crazy.  The reason I wanted one to show I did not ovulate is because I could then possibly identify a potential problem.  If I know what is wrong, I may be able to fix it.

This test reminded me that I have been fighting an invisible problem for a long time.  I wonder what it would be like if we had gotten pregnant with no issues.  I would have a toddler now.  It saddens me to think about all joy (and even the headaches) we have missed out on over the last several years.  Time goes by so fast.  I have not lost hope but sometimes little things (like seeing this test) but things into perspective.

To make this post a little more positive, I attached a cheesy picture of one of our past vacations.  I sometimes need to remind myself to appreciate the good times in life.

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You Miss 100% of the Shots You Don’t Take

Published June 3, 2014 by Jennie

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Last Friday, I had a rare date night with my husband.  He has been really busy at work and I have been really busy with school so it can be difficult to find time to spend together.  During our date, I began to share some of my fears of our outcome for IUI #3.  I have done close to EVERYTHING I could possibly to do give us the best chance of having it it work.  I have made what it seams like endless health and wellness changes.  I asked him what would happen if I did all this and I still failed.  His answer was simple.  He said that we will never know for sure what will happen if we try but we can be certain we will fail if we don’t.

That put things in perspective for me.  It made me think of a poster I used to have up in my classroom when I was a teacher.  I think it was put up by a teacher who had my room before me and looked something like this:

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I really never gave this quote much thought before.  I have never been a fan of motivational quotes.  I usually find them cheesy and unrealistic (I also do not really care for hockey!).  Even so, as I think about it, this quote (and my husband are right).  When you try, there is no guarantee of success but everyone who succeeds did so by trying.

I tried to make this shot work (anyone and everyone knows I did everything I possibly could).  I am still glad we tried.  We could never get to the next step if we did not go through this one.  Today I will allow myself to cry and grieve but tomorrow I am going to move on with my life.  Wednesday is a big day for me.  Seven years ago tomorrow while in front of 11 family members and wearing a $100 dress, I said I do to the love of my life.  That was a shot definitely worth taking and I would not trade it for anything in the world.  – Jennie

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Sabotage!

Published April 30, 2014 by Jennie

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For those of you not familiar with my story, my husband and I decided in December to resume fertility treatments in May.  In January, I decided I would do everything possible to improve my physical, mental, emotional health.  I have worked hard and have made some significant changes.  Things were going great until a few weeks ago.  I have kept many of my good habits (no soda, artificial sweetener, limited added sweeteners, etc). Even so, I have let a lot of things slide.  I’ve been cooking less and relying more on quick meals which are more likely to be processed.  I have also not been to the gym as much and when I go, I have been focusing mainly on cardio (I know that it does not do me much good unless I balance it with strength and flexibility training).

I should also say that this time correlates with the end of my last semester of doctoral classes.  I have telling myself I have just been to busy to be healthy.  Logically, I know my reasoning is full of crap.  Being healthy is a lifestyle, not just something you do when you have time.  Life will always be busy.  I can not just be healthy when its convenient.  I am really disappointed with myself.  I also have this crazy thought that maybe I am sabotaging myself.  It would be extremely difficult to accept that I did everything to prepare myself for fertility treatments and I still failed.  I feel like I may be setting myself up to fail because I can not handle being let down again.  Why is it so hard for me to stay positive?  I get so tired of trying to be perfect.  I just want to hide in my closet and eat ice cream. – Jennie

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I’d like to thank the Academy…

Published April 27, 2014 by Jennie

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When I started this blog, I really did not think people would be interested in what I have to say.  I am extremely grateful for the support I have received from other bloggers.  It is strange how someone you have never met sometimes understands your struggles and frustrations better than people you know well.  Thank-you so much Kristen for my Liebster nomination.  I think this is a great way for us to get to know one another better and show the human side of infertility (it is so much more than statistics, tests, etc).

This is how it all works

1. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award.

2. Answer the questions designated by the blogger who nominated you.

3. List 11 random facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 3-5 other bloggers with less than 200 followers.

5. Make up a set of questions for the nominated bloggers to answer.

Here it goes 🙂

Questions from Kristen

1. What is the one thing in your life that you are most proud of achieving?: My husband and I have been together for 13+ years and we still like each other (liking someone is sometimes harder than loving them).

2. What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?: Chocolate-chip cookie dough hands down!

3. What is your favourite movie?: Forrest Gump.  It gets me every time.

4. What/who has been your greatest source of strength in life?: My dad.  He is the most compassionate person I know.

5. If you had to pick your favourite motivational one-liner, what would it be?: Well-behaved women rarely make history.

6. If you had one tip for someone about to go through IVF, what would it be?: We haven’t started yet but have done IUIs.  So far, I would say make you marriage/relationship a priority.  It can be a huge strain and you need to stick together.

7. What was it about your partner, that first time that you met them, that attracted you?: I met him while I was in high school and I really liked that he had premium cable and a big TV.  After a while, he sent me a happy one-month dating anniversary card which confirmed to me that we were an actual couple.

8. Are you a dog person or a cat person?: Dog all the way.

11 Facts About Me

1. I love tattoos but I have promised myself I will not get one anywhere you can see with regular clothes on.

2. I have an exceptional memory of stuff I read but I am abnormally bad at remembering faces and several times I have ‘introduced’ myself to people I have met before.

3. I absolutely love math and economics!  Nothing makes me happier than deriving an equation or model to explain a causal relationship.

4. My original plan was to be a lawyer but I changed my mind after a long discussion I had with my brother when I was 22.  He told me to decide what I wanted to do and not focus on what other people say I should do.  He died unexpectedly about a month after this talk.

5. I still think that selfies are kind of strange.  I have never had the urge to take a random picture of myself and post it for the world to see.

6. My husband is sincerely the smartest person I have ever met (although he is really laid back and you would not know it just talking to him).  Sometimes I am jealous of him for that.

7. In my whole life, I have had one beer (in July of 2003), zero glasses of wine, and zero cups of coffee.  I will drink cocktails if I can not taste the alcohol.  I have also never had steak and almost never eat pork but I am not a vegetarian.

8. I enjoy cleaning and organizing.  I can clean for hours.

9.  People often think I am outgoing but I am actually extremely shy and often feel awkward in social situations.

10. I have the best family ever!  I am nothing like my parents but they are my biggest cheerleaders.  I am so lucky to have them.

11. It is much easier for me to be friends with guys than girls.  I feel like I can be myself around them.

My Nominations!

Lucy50 at 24 Months and Counting: She is such a captivating writer!  Also, her comments on my posts are always so supportive and thoughtful!

Awaiting Autumn: Her posts are always incredibly inspirational.  Also, like me, she has two fur babies which provide comfort when things get difficult.

Eventual Momma: This blog is relatively new and I admire her honesty and candor.  I already identify with her struggles and enjoy reading her posts.

My Questions

1. If you could spend a year in any part of the world (cost does not matter), where would it be and why.

2. What do you like the most about yourself?

3. What do you like to do to relax or relieve tension?

4. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

5. What is your favorite song of all time? (This can be hard so if you can narrow it down to two or three that is fine).

6. What might people be surprised to know about you?

7. What is your favorite comfort food?

8. If there is one thing you could learn to do but have not yet done, what is it?

Although this is long, it was actually fun to write!  Happy blogging everyone 🙂 XOXO – Jennie

I get it

Published April 24, 2014 by Jennie

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Today was very strange.  Since the weather is getting warmer, I decided to go shopping for some summer dresses.  I was sifting through the racks at Ross when I saw a woman enter the store.  She looked disheveled and obviously (very) pregnant.  For some reason, I made eye contact with her and she came over to me.  She introduced herself to me and I could tell that she was under the influence of something (I am not sure exactly what though).  She then told me that she was due in a few days and needed help buying baby clothes.  She asked me if I could do anything for her and I just froze.  It was obvious this woman was really down on her luck.  Even so, my initial feeling towards her was jealously.  In retrospect, this is crazy.  Of course I do not know her entire life story but it appeared that my life is much more stable than hers.

I am not sure why but I asked her if she is having a boy or a girl and she told me she did not know because she had not yet been to a doctor.  She also told me that her last three children are girls so she thinks that this one might be a boy.  Before I had time to really say anything else, an employee approached us and asked this woman if she needed any help (I think he may have overheard our conversation).  He told her she needed to leave and I moved on to sift through the next rack of dresses.

When I got home, I decided to get my mind off things with some mindless TV.  I turned on Dr. Phil (I know its awful but I hoped that whoever was on it might make me feel better about my life).  The story focused on a neglected 5 year old boy who was starved and kept locked in a closet.  He lived with his father and stepmother who had 6 children and one on the way.

I hate focusing on the negative but sometimes I could not help but wonder why the hell that women gets to have so many children and I can not even have one.  Seriously, just one and I would be happy.  My husband and I are both very stable and have the resources and skills necessary to become loving parents.  I feel like I already love a child who may or may not ever exist which breaks my heart.  I just want a chance that’s all.

Am I Crazy?

Published March 30, 2014 by Jennie

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I came across this quote recently and it made me start to think.  What is the appropriate way to deal with/ manage infertility?  You would think after four years, I would know the answer.  Unfortunately I do not.  I am not sure if it is because we are going to start treatment soon but I am starting to feel a little crazy.  I’ll tell you why.

Some days I wake up and do not even think about the fact that I am a failed baby maker.  Also, sometimes I go out with my husband and friends and even think about how nice it is that we have the freedom to do so.  Unlike our friends with kids, our schedules are more flexible and we do have more free time to do what we want.  Other days, I wake up and all I can think about is getting pregnant.  Seemingly innocuous things like commercials for diapers make me fall apart.

On occasion, infertility make me really angry.  I become jealous of other couples who seem to get pregnant with little effort while I try everything under the sun without success.  Knowing how crappy infertility is, I should be thrilled when other people do not have to deal with it.  Also, I love my husband more than anything and I hate how infertility has put a stress on our marriage.  We will work it out like we always do but it still sucks.  I also get really mad at people who seem to have the solution to my problems or give me possible reasons as to why I have not yet gotten pregnant.  While I try to stay positive, some days are easier than others and I often feel that I am criticized for my negativity.  You know that being negative prevents you from getting pregnant right…..ugh!!!

At the same time I am reminded of loved ones who are dealing with far more grim situations.  My own parents lost their only son at age 19.  Other loved ones have battled (and sometimes lost their battle to) cancer and other conditions.  Some friends and family members struggle with serious financial issues and worry about things I never think about (like buying foods and maintaining housing).

It is wrong for me to allow infertility to permeate my life the way it does when things could be so much worse?  On the other hand, isn’t it okay to think about how my life would differ if I did not have to constantly fight an (as of now) losing battle against infertility?  Lately, I have managed infertility and worries about our impending treatment by going on autopilot.  I have been given suggestions on how to handle my feelings about this.  Many people tell me I should be positive and expect the treatment to work.  Is that what I should be doing?  If so, it is hard to do.  Nothing has worked in the past and it is difficult to believe that things will be different.  I do really hope that it works!  I know there is a chance or I would not try.  Realistically, I know fertility treatment success rates are not that high and there is a good chance that it will not work.  Is this negative or just realistic?  To make things stranger, there are times where I am super optimistic about it.  I even start thinking about baby names and how we would announce a pregnancy when it all works out.  I do not know why I change my perspective and why I can not just stay positive all the time.  If I am thinking about it the wrong way, it is really hard to change how I feel.  Four years of disappointment is a long time.  A lot of time I just want to hide and have people leave me alone.  I do not know why I feel like this as well because I have a wonderful group of friends.  Many of them have been there for me throughout this journey and it is wrong of me to want to them leave me alone sometimes.  Seriously…I think I may be going crazy.

$$ It’s all about the benjamins $$

Published March 7, 2014 by Jennie

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Yesterday I received an email from a professor at my university.  He needs someone to help him work on data for some upcoming publications.  I have never met this professor before.  He asked one of his colleges (one of my former professors) who may have the skills needed to do this and she specifically recommended me.  What an ego boost!  This will give me opportunities to network and collaborate on future publications which is critical for doctoral students.  Even with all these wonderful opportunities, my thoughts went straight to money and IVF.  I can put some of the money I earn from this work to help pay for my quest to have a child.

I thought this even though my husband and I are actually  in a relatively good financial place to start IVF.  He is a tax consultant at one of the big four firms and we do live modestly.  Our insurance pays for 90% of all medical tests, labs, ultrasounds, etc.  After we pay $3,000 out of pocket, they are covered at 100%.  They will also pay 90% of infertility procedures up to $15,000 then we pay 100%(monitoring, drugs, etc do not go towards the cap, just the actual procedure).  Our REs contract rate for IVF with the insurance company (not the sticker price) is about $7,400 and FET is much less.  Freezing is covered at 100%.  We also have low drug copays, no IUI requirements before IVF, and do not need pre-approval for any procedure.

Please do not think for a second that I am not incredibly thankful for all these resources.  My point here is that even with our situation, I still feel the financial burden of infertility.  Co-pays add up.  Some procedures such as genetic testing are not covered.  If we go past our $15,000 IVF procedure max, we pay 100% of the sticker price which is about 2 times as much as the contract price.  I can easily see why IVF is cost prohibitive for so many couples especially if their insurance does not offer fertility benefits (or even worse if they have no insurance at all).

Should medical treatment for infertility be considered a luxury?  I have heard some people say that if you can not afford IVF, than you can not afford children.  I do not think that is fair.  I am sure there are several people with children who do not happen to have several thousand sitting around that they could easily access.  Also, does anyone have the right to regulate who has children?  One could argue that if IVF was not cost prohibitive, countless people would do it even if they were not ready for children.  I also do not think this is true.  I have not yet been through IVF but I know for a fact that it is not a simple, smooth process.  It takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication even when not considering the financial aspects.  People who decided to go through with it are most likely to be highly dedicated to raising and providing their children.  I would love to hear people’s thoughts on this topic.  I do not know how this problem can be solved but I do know it has life-changing implications for many people dreaming of starting a family.

Life, loss, and silver linings

Published February 24, 2014 by Jennie

The last week has been difficult but had a few silver linings.  On Thursday, my parents’ dog, Peanut, starting acting very lethargic and stopped eating.  They took him to the vet where he stayed there for several (expensive) tests.  After an ultrasound, they still could not figure out what was wrong.  He continued to get worse and they ultimately decided to let him go.  He was 11.  Everyone experiences loss differently, but anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to a pet knows how hard it is to do so. When we got him at the shelter, he was so scared of everything and hid under the bed for most of the first few weeks we had him.  After he warmed up to us, he became a beloved member of the family.   I will miss him.

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This week is also hard because my brother would have turned 28.  We always had so much fun on birthdays.  I miss him everyday and more so on special occasions.   It always makes me mad when people tell me I should be thankful for the time we had together.  I am thankful for the memories I have.  Even so, I still can not bring myself to be thankful for having him in my life for only 19 years.  This may be because I lack insight or maturity but that is how I feel.  Also, even though I would never wish anything bad on anyone, I still do get jealous of people who have close relationships with their brothers.  While my brother and I were very different, we always supported one another and I know he loved me.

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Since it is difficult for me to be thankful for the time we had, I decided to identify things I am thankful for.  My list is not inclusive and in no particular order.  This one is for you, Mike.

Things  I am thankful for

My husband
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I could go on forever.  For now I will say that after 13+ years, he still makes me feel like a princess.  This might sound cheesy but I can tell he loves me just by the way he looks at me.

My parents
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Again, I could seriously go on forever. I never realized how lucky I was to have amazing parents until I grew up. As a kid, home was always a warm loving place. Even when I was in trouble, I always felt safe and protected. My parents did not spoil me but they were (and still are) my biggest cheerleaders (well maybe tied with my husband). Growing up, I participated in dance for about ten years. My dad attended every recital and would give me a dozen roses. I would pretend to be annoyed by them, but they always made me feel like the most special girl in the world. As an adult, I know they always have my back but they also let me be my own person. Also, after 34 years together, they are still a shining example of what a marriage would be.

My friends
Sometimes I feel like I won the friend lottery. I do not have lots and lots of friends, but the ones I do have are phenomenal. Yesterday, we had some of them over to make pizza from scratch and I had so much fun. I was also able to forget my fertility/life struggles for a while.

My education
It might sound weird, but I love school. I love how at the end of the school day, I leave with skills that I did not have at the beginning of the day. I am very lucky that I have the opportunity to go to school to pursue my doctorate. It required me to leave the regular work world for at least three years and I know that is not something everyone can do (another reason why my husband is my superman).

Exercise
Exercise helps keep me sane. When I am in the middle of a workout, all my stresses and challenges are temporarily suspended. I am so lucky to have a wonderful workout partner that lives two houses away. Sometimes I feel like I do not want to work out but I always feel better after going.  Having an exercise buddy gives me a much needed boost that helps me keep on track.

Trash TV
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Ok this one is a little silly, but every once and a while, I enjoy losing myself in a good trashy show.  I can admit that it is my occasional guilty pleasure.

So yeah life is hard but there are lots of things I am thankful for. I hope everyone has a great week! xoxoxo

Snowmageddon!

Published February 13, 2014 by Jennie

Due to this crazy snowstorm, we have been cooped up in the house for several days and I am not sure when it is going to all be over. We live in the South were just a little bit of snow is enough to shut the city down and so far we have already gotten several inches and it continues to come down.
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I am so glad I went grocery shopping a few days before the storm.  One strange thing about this area is people must get bread and milk before a snowstorm.  If they can not find any, they go nuts! I went to Great Harvest Bread Company and there were riots (ok well not really riots but people were freaking out that they were out of bread).  One of their employees told me they expected to have a few loafs done in a few hours so I came back then and actually got two!  Other customers were not as lucky and and I did get some death glares as I left.

Once I got back, I decided to stay put until this mess clears.  Classes have been cancelled and my husband’s office is closed.  Even so, he still has a ton of work to get done.  The poor guy has been slaving away in his office at home and does not even have time to enjoy this winter wonderland :(.  I am getting cabin fever but I am lucky enough to have an awesome neighbor that is also staying home and we have spent the last few days trying out new recipes.  We made granola bars which are healthier and cheaper than the ones we buy at the store, chocolate chip cookies (a hit with our husbands), and pizza with homemade dough.  We attempted to make homemade pumpkin pasta but I forgot to add the pumpkin (I can be absent minded at times).  We will have to try that one again.

My poor dogs have no idea what to do with all this snow (see my short clip).  

I have also been spending more time with my dogs since I am stuck in the house.  This has reminded me how lucky I am to have them.  Our oldest dog, Cali, is just wonderful.  We got her in 2006 a few months after my brother died.

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I am known as not being an emotional person but Cali always knows when I need some comfort.  Somehow she just senses it.  When I went through both my failed IUIs, she would not leave my side.  Also, while she has never harmed anyone, she is fiercely loyal and suspicious of new people.  Once she decides that someone is safe though, she is sweet as she can be.  I always say that if Cali likes you, you must be a good person.

We got Izzy in 2008.  She is so full of life.  For her, every day is filled with pure joy.  She is always ecstatic to see me whether its when I come home after being out of town a while or if I return from getting the mail.

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When I am feeling down, my dogs often remind me to focus on what is important.  It does not matter how big my house is, what kind of car I drive, what kind of clothes I wear, or how much money I make.  What really matters is spending time quality time with the ones I love.  I am so thankful to have my little snuggle bunnies.