Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Current Everything

I know, I know. I never blog anymore. Life is fun and full, there is not much time left to blog! One of these days I will do a real update. But for now, how about a little list?

CURRENTLY

READING ... Holding onto Hope, by Nancy Guthrie


Y'all. This book was recommended to me by a girl who spoke at our infertility support group last month. She said she read it over and over throughout her years of infertility and loss. A bunch of girls from the group immediately got a copy & started reading. We are going to get together and have a sort of book club to discuss it next week! I am absolutely loving this book. It is really speaking to me, comforting me and at the same time, it is stepping on my toes a bit! Very very good read, and I highly recommend it if you are going through infertility, loss, or any other trial really.

WATCHING ... Awhile back I asked on Facebook for a good show on Netflix. Wow, I don't think I have ever received so many comments on a Facebook status! I added all of the recommendations to my list on Netflix. I don't know if I will ever watch them all, there are so many! I started with Damages. I watched the first two seasons, then moved on to Broadchurch, which was probably the most recommended show. LOVED Broadchurch. There are only two seasons out, so I finished that one pretty quickly. I went back to Damages, and now I am on Season 3. It is really good! Keeps you on your toes. Very suspenseful, somewhat disturbing, and a little bit of back and forth (between past & present). I really like it, though.

 
TRYING ... to drastically cut sweets, to track everything in my weight watchers app, and to start exercising! I give myself a C, an A, & an F. Must get it together!  

COOKING ... new recipes. Southwestern Chicken Burrito Bowl is a new favorite around here! Delicious! I can't wait to make it again!

EATING ... nothing at the moment.

DRINKING ... water at the moment.

TEXTING ... nobody currently, but most days it is either Mandy, Tricia or Amanda!

PINNING ... dinner recipes, constantly.

ANTICIPATING... meeting Elisha from Waiting for Baby Bird! I am so excited, y'all. Elisha is one of my very favorite bloggers, her heart for encouraging women going through infertility is a beautiful thing. Her writing has encouraged me SO MUCH, I can't even tell you (me and everyone else who enjoys her posts!). Sarah's Laughter (the ministry that holds the support group I go to) is having an infertility workshop, and they asked Elisha to be the guest speaker. OH MY GOSH! I cannot wait to meet her in real life! (If you want to attend this workshop, there is more information here!)

GOING ... to do jury duty next week, for the first time, and I'm a little excited! Is that weird? Haha! I have always wanted to, I have no idea why. At the same time, I hope it doesn't drag on for several days, because I have a family member who is having surgery and I need to be there!

LOVING ... a lot of things lately...

- my sweet husband! Always a given, but he is so sweet & so funny! He makes me laugh every day!


-my parent's pool! Been swimming lately & I LOVE IT.


-Kevin Murphy's Hair Resort! I got a sample from my salon, and pretty sure I will be buying the whole bottle next time. I'm in love with it.

- my new haircut! Although it never looks as cute as this picture (because the pic was taken right when I got home from the salon!) I still just love it. It feels so much better, and I love that if I'm in a hurry, I can just throw some Hair Resort in, and let it dry naturally! Best haircut ever! Thank you, Salon Aerie in Baton Rouge!

THINKING ... that fourth of July weekend was a BLAST - and not long enough!

FEELING ... such a pull to draw nearer to God. He is everything, and He is the only one who can help me through infertility and through a stressful situation at work. The ONLY one. How can I really trust Him if I do not spend more one on one time with Him? This is what is on my mind constantly. He is my rock. I need to spend personal regular time in worship, in reading His word & in prayer. I do these things, but it isn't consistent, and it needs to be.

HOPING ... to lose weight before we begin our next steps in this infertility journey. Next Steps = IVF for us. Yep. Also hoping to have a good team this year for Baby Steps 2016!

LISTENING ... to a lot of Kari Jobe and Lauren Daigle lately. Also, the Sarah's Laughter podcasts! They are great! Just listened to the current one this morning. They are interviews with current and past members of the infertility support group I have been attending the last few years. (I recorded one with my friend Mary Claire! Probably will be up in a few weeks!)
CELEBRATING ... Independence Day! ... yesterday. :)

ORDERING ... I ordered a photo book of my 2015 Project 365! I took a picture a day last year, and each day, I posted my pic-of-the-day in an album on Facebook. Well, I ordered a book of all 365 pics! Pretty excited for it to come in! I actually am posting them on Instagram this year (as well as Facebook), so that I can possibly order a chatbook next year. Has anyone ordered chatbooks?! Thoughts?

THANKING ... God for blessing me with so many true friendships. FOR REAL.





 

CONSIDERING ... Getting an Emily Ley planner for next year. Deep, right? I just love the new designs! Especially the floral one!

STARTING ... to get tan? Maybe? If I keep on swimming, it could happen!

FINISHING ... this post so I can get going! Bye for now!

What are you up to these days?!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sarah's Laughter Brunch for NIAW

This Saturday, Sarah's Laughter held a brunch for ladies going through infertility. (Sarah's Laughter is the ministry that holds the support group I regularly attend.) We were told we could invite friends or family members who have been a support to us on our journey. It was the last event in a series of events put on for National Infertility Awareness Week. It was wonderful! 

 

 
 It was held at Nottoway Plantation in White Castle, Louisiana.

 

My mom joined me and we had a great time.



It was mostly support group friends, current ones and ones who have graduated.  I made a couple of new friends, too!


So many girls brought their moms, sisters, or friends.

Jenni with her mom, Dianne

Chipley, with her mom and sisters
Patricia with her mom

Holly with her mom and sister
Mary Claire & her mom, Claire

Bridgette (floral top) & Madison (navy dress) with their moms and a cousin (hopefully I got that right!)

Margo with her mom and a whole bunch of her family!
We had brunch which was delicious! We also had a few short speeches. Christina opened in prayer. Sherri read Lavender, a story Beth wrote. (Beth is the heart and soul behind Sarah's Laughter. She is currently in the hospital with her daughter. More on that later.) It was so great having her read that since Beth couldn't be there and was missed very much!
 

After Sherri spoke, Margo, Mary Claire, and Leah all spoke. They all did an absolutely phenominal job. I was so proud of Margo and Mary Claire! They made me cry!

Sherri | Margo | Mary Claire

Afterwards, we just mingled for awhile, or bid on items for the silent auction to benefit Sarah's Laughter. It was so great being with these friends... support group friends who have been such an important part of my life for the past few years. It was good seeing old support group friends who I haven't seen in awhile too! Beyond blessed to have these women in my life!

Emily & Allison

Me and Mary Claire

Two of my very first support group friends, now both moms to twins. :)


Holly, Margo, Mary Claire & me

Katie, Lauren & Margo

Mary Claire & Patricia

It was a great event! So thankful to those who worked so hard to make it happen. Loved seeing everyone and visiting.


If you are reading this, I want to ask you for prayer for two things. First, look at the women in these pictures. Some of them are on the other side. They have finally received their miracle babies and will be experiencing their very first (or second for some of them) happy mother's day this weekend. But a lot of these women are still experiencing infertility. I know it is hard to imagine that 1 in 8, when you are not one of them, or when you aren't close with any of them. Hopefully looking through these pictures put a face to it. Women going through infertility are suffering. No, we aren't dying. But the Bible says that hope deferred makes the heart sick, and I have found that to be so true. Heartsick is not fun. Grief feels unbearable at times. Infertility is devastating. Please keep these women in your prayers this Mother's Day. Please read this blog post and this one, too.

My other prayer request is that you pray for this family.


Beth, is the founder of Sarah's Laughter. She does SO MUCH for women facing infertility. I would tell you everything, but it would take up many many paragraphs, and that is not the point. Just know that she is an advocate and huge source of support and love for women facing infertility & loss. Her husband is right there with her, always helping with Sarah's Laughter. Their teenage daughter, Lexie, has been sick and in the hospital for more than 20 days now. They do not yet have a diagnosis. Lexie (their miracle child after their own battle with infertility) was in PICU at a local hospital for 17ish days, then last week they moved her to a children's hospital in Texas. Please pray for rest for this family, strength, an accurate diagnosis and treatment, and healing for Lexie. They have been having some really really tough days. They need your prayers. Thank you so much!

Monday, April 25, 2016

National Infertility Awareness Week: our story in a timeline

If you had asked me ten years ago what I thought my life would look like now, I would tell you that I would be married and that I would be a stay at home mom. I would tell you that by 38 years old, I would have my four kids. I would be certain of it.

If you had told me five years ago when we started trying to conceive, when it was all exciting and new and full of great plans and ideas and dreams, if you had told me then that we would still not be pregnant in five years... well, I don't know what I would have done. I don't think I would have been able to handle that kind of news. Actually, I wouldn't have believed you and I would have become indignant and horrified that you would say such a thing. But you would have been right.

I have been dreaming of being a mom since childhood. I always knew I would want to spend a little time just me and the husband for a couple of years, but after that we would start a family, just like everyone else. It never occurred to me that it would be difficult. I had never had irregular cycles. I had never had any issues. None of the women in our family had trouble conceiving. I remember knowing about women who had to do IVF, and it was such a foreign concept to me, it seemed so incredibly rare, I was never worried that it would be an issue, because of course it wouldn't be. I would get pregnant without any problems, just like everyone else I knew. I was naive. I was ignorant.

When I realized getting pregnant would be difficult, when I had reached two years of trying, I would hear of people who had been trying for three years and think NO WAY could I bear infertility for that long. NO WAY would God still not answer my prayers after three years. Five wasn't even a worry. OF COURSE God wouldn't make me wait five years. Again, I was clueless.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. 1 in 8 couples in the United States today are faced with infertility. Infertility is the diagnosis given when a couple has tried to conceive for a year without success (or 6 months if over the age of 35).

I have shared our story on this blog before, so I'm just going to share it in timeline style today. If you'd rather all the gory details, you can read all of that here.

November 2010 - not a care in the world!
2010 (November): We reached our 2 year anniversary, when we had previously said we would discuss kids. Brad agreed we could start trying in April of 2011. I had been reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility and decided to go ahead and get off the pill, so that my cycles would be regulated by the time April rolled around. I knew it could take 6 months for your cycles to regulate after coming off the pill, and I wanted my body to be in working order by the time it got to April. That way, you know, we would be pregnant in just a few months.

2011 (January-March): This may seem unrelated, but it isn't. In January I decided it was time to make some changes. I faithfully took a bootcamp class three days a week, zumba two days a week, and counted every single calorie that went into my body, careful not to go over what was recommended to me at the time. At the end of 15 weeks of that, I had gained one pound. I went to my regular doctor who ran tests but said everything was fine with me, and to keep doing what I was doing.

2011 (April): We couldn't get started trying because my cycles still had not regulated. May would make 6 months off the pill so I decided I would see my obgyn then. I was still hoping my cycles would get it together!

2011 (May): Called my obgyn because my cycles still had not regulated. The nurse said they wanted to have me in to run some tests. I informed her that my GP had just run tests and told me everything was normal. She asked if he did a 2 hour glucose test. Um... no! She said she thought it sounded like I was insulin resistant, and I needed to come in for a glucose test. I did. I was diagnosed with insulin resistance. I was put on metformin and told it would help me lose weight, regulate my cycles, and increase my fertility. I thought that sounded like the pill for me! Haha. It did regulate my cycles. I even started ovulating. But we continued trying for over a year after that, and nothing.

2012: We did go back to my obgyn a couple of times this year, but I don't really remember what was said. I remember she wanted me to keep trying to lose weight. I feel that I should have asked for more tests, but I didn't know what to ask. I trusted her and even agreed with her. I didn't know there were other issues involved, though.

2013: In March I turned 35. This is the age where your fertility begins to decrease. I decided it was time to go back to my doctor and demand more tests, more answers. I knew my weight was a problem, and I was working on that, but I also knew in my heart that it wasn't the sole reason we had not conceived. I didn't think it was fair that losing weight was the only thing she could tell us, especially now at age 35. So I went in prepared to fight, but I didn't have to. She agreed that it was time to order more tests. She ordered an ultrasound for me and a sperm analysis for my husband.

2013 (October): I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is the leading cause of infertility in women. We also found out that Brad has low sperm motility, or movement. Because of this, instead of just prescribing clomid (the original plan, pending test results), we would be doing an IUI (intrauterine insemination).

2013 (October): IUI #1 - unsuccessful. She referred us to Dr. Webster, reproductive endocrinologist.

2013 (November): Consult with Dr. Webster. HSG test with good results (no blocked tubes). Lots of bloodwork.

2013 (December): IUI #2 - unsuccessful.

2014 (January): IUI #3 - SUCCESS! Pregnant! Happy tears. Thank you, GOD! I would be having a baby in October 2014.

2014 (March): The worst ultrasound I have ever had (and by now I have had many of them!). It indicated a possible ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. The only thing to do was wait and see. I think I can safely say this was the worst week of my life. After a terrifying ultrasound appointment on a Friday, after panic and tears and worry and prayers, I finally came to the conclusion that it was just too early to see anything, and that the next ultrasound would be better. But I woke up early Monday morning with the worst cramping, way worse than my usual time of month, and I knew it was over.

The rest of 2014 and half of 2015 is a blur. I did a lot of grieving in 2014, a lot of weeping, a lot of questioning God, and I did not dare step foot back in that fertility clinic. I also gained a lot of weight back. By the start of 2015, I was MUCH better emotionally, but financially we needed a few more months.

2015 (March): We went back for another consult. Doctor agreed we could do three more IUIs. We said we would be back in a few months (money is always a roadblock when it comes to fertility treatments). I had very high hopes that what worked before could work again. I believed!

2015 (June): IUI #4 - unsuccessful.

2015 (July): IUI #5 - unsuccessful.

2015 (August): IUI #6 - unsuccessful.

At this point, our next step would be a lot more expensive, so we had to take yet another break from treatment. Still trying on our own though! My doctor retired in December, so I knew I would need to begin seeing a new doctor. In April of 2016, we had a consult with our new doctor, and we absolutely love him. We have a plan, and I will share it when I am ready. Nothing is happening quite yet anyway.

That is our story. But our story isn't over. God isn't finished. He is working, He is moving, He has been present throughout our story, even when I couldn't see it. I have been doing really well lately, but if I have learned anything on this journey it is that I can be doing just fine and then out of the blue get hit with the devastation at all. There are good days and bad days. There are days when I doubt, and days when I grieve. There are days when I worry about my future and I just don't know what we are going to do. But I know that God knows what to do. I take great comfort in knowing that God is not alarmed by any of this. He isn't freaking out about it. And He has the answer. A lot of people have given us advice, or have told us what they are sure will work. Many have suggested pills, drinks, relaxation techniques and even adoption as things that are sure to help me to conceive. But God hasn't told us any of these things. The only thing God has told me to do is to believe Him. And that is what I am going to do. He has always been faithful to me.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  

1 in 8 couples in the United States are facing infertility. This means it is very likely that you know people going through it, even if you think you don't. Infertility is not about impatience or being too stressed or needing to go on vacation. Infertility is a disease. It can also be very isolating if you do not reach out. Please feel free to share my blog so that those going through it will know they are not alone. I will be blogging more throughout the week.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

52 Lists | Dream Jobs


For this list, I am supposed to list my childhood & current dream jobs. Well, this shouldn't be too difficult! I'm nothing if not a daydreamer.

List #14 - Dream Jobs

As a child, I had three things I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm not sure how I thought I would have time to do all three of those... whew! But the sky is the limit when you're a kid. :)

{CHILDHOOD dream jobs} 
-Mom
-Actress
-Pediatrician

Today, my dreams are similar. Except, medical school? No, thank you. 

Some of the current dreams are just dreams in my head that will never come to be (either for obvious reasons or because I am 38 and not going back to school or anything like that! It's fun to just dream!). But a few of them could come to pass, and I hope they do! (Especially #1, obviously.)

{CURRENT dream jobs}
-Mom
-Full-time photographer
-Author
-Working actress (without having to audition - haha)
-Casting Director (I have always wanted to do this. Maybe should have pursued it as a career!)
-Professional Stage Manager (I love stage managing... if only I could do it during the day!)
-You know Ellen's assistant person? The girl who gets to travel & tell people Ellen bought them a car or whatever? I would love to do that for Ellen. Or Jimmy Fallon. Speaking of Fallon...
-Jimmy Fallon's assistant. Because he is so funny!
-Humans of New Orleans girl or something like that (copying off of the Humans of NY guy).

P.S. If you do not know what Humans of NY is, you're missing out. Especially if you are a people watcher like myself. He is a photographer in NY and his work is probably my favorite thing to pop up in my newsfeed. I just want to follow him around for a day! (Check out Humans of New York on Facebook or Instagram.)

So there you go!

What are your dreams - realistic or not!?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Birthday Love

Maybe I should tell you about my birthday, now that my birthday month is practically over. Clearly, as a blogger, I am just on top of things! (Insert eye roll emoji here.)

I had a TERRIFIC birthday.

I mean, you would think I was turning 28, not 38, with the amount of celebrating we did. Or maybe 18. It may have been out of control. But I loved every minute of it.


My birthday was Wednesday, March 2nd, and we managed to extend it all the way to that Saturday.

Random fact about me. I love birthdays. Not just mine. Everyone's. I have a crazy memory when it comes to random people's birthdays too. I still remember the birthday of kids I babysat decades ago, and I still remember the birthday of people I was friends with in elementary school, even if I haven't seen them in person since then. I wish I had that kind of memory about other things, but I generally have a terrible memory.

Even though I always love birthdays, and I (normally) love and celebrate getting older (because that's a good thing, since there is only one alternative!), the older I get without kids the harder it is. I thought I would be depressed on or around my birthday, because here I am another year, and now in my late thirties, childless. And that is just not making me happy. I am not where I wanted to be at this point in my life. If life were up to me, I would have 3 kids by now. At this point, I am just praying and hoping that God blesses us with one.

Another reason I wasn't sure of how much fun my birthday would be is because I had to work on my birthday. I realize that this is called adulting and that I am an adult and that working on your birthday is just a part of life. However, this was the first year in several years that I had to work. Last year on my birthday, my friend Laura was in town, and I had taken off of work for her visit. The year before that and the year before that, it was a weekend on my birthday. The year before that, Brad & I took the day off and spent it together. So it has been years since I have worked on my birthday. I thought I would continue that tradition and take the day off, but I really need to save my vacation hours. I just didn't think working on my birthday would be that much fun! I was wrong. It was a fantastic day.

All of that to say, I am so thankful that God gave me a wonderful birthday this year. I didn't feel an ounce of depression that week, and that is saying something these days. I felt so loved and so celebrated. It was nice. And I am grateful.

So here is the rundown, and picture overload!

March 2 (my actual birthday):


I got to work to find a bunch of balloons at my desk. At lunch time, my besties Mandy & Billy came to my work to have lunch with me! It was a beautiful day, so they grabbed a table outside and waited for me to join them. They had pizza from Grimaldi's, a mini bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes (cinnamon, my favorite!), a bouquet of daisies (another favorite!), a card, and balloons! So sweet!



When my break was almost over, the door opened and ALL of my coworkers came out singing happy birthday to me! They had a gift for me & a cookie cake. It was so sweet and I didn't expect it at all!

Back row: My bestie Mandy (I made her get in the pic with us!), mammo techs Jackie, Morgan & Jena, receptionist Frankie, & mammo tech Cheryl. Front row: mammo tech Joel, me, Dr. Roberts (radiologist), & Julie (xray/mammo tech).

Now you know most of my work peeps! I love these people.



After work, Brad & I went and had dinner, just the two of us, at J. Alexander's. SO GOOD.


I must show you Brad's plate, because it really was quite impressive!

I mean, if that had been all the celebrating we did, that would have been more than enough! It was an awesome day. But that wasn't all!


Friday, March 4th:
Months before, I had decided that since opening night of Into the Woods was my birthday weekend, I had to get a few girlfriends and go! Mandy, Betsy & Sarah were happy to join. They met me at Bistro Byronz after work. We ate on the patio. I love eating outside if it is an option, it's just that there aren't too many days in Louisiana that feel good enough to eat outside! It's usually so hot and humid. Or rainy! But my birthday week, the weather was perfection!

Betsy, Mandy, Sarah & me. Love these girls, and so glad they are in my life!!

After dinner, we headed to the theatre to see Into the Woods! Several of my friends were in it, and it was so well done. It was such a fun night!

With my girls!

My dear friend Brittany played Rapunzel, and she was awesome!
With Lizzy & Brittany! It was like a Beauty & the Beast reunion!
 
Me and Stage Manager Caty. This girl is amazing!


Side note: David is one of my favorite people on the entire planet. I mean, seriously. He is awesome. I met him during Beauty & the Beast. He wasn't in it, but would stand in the wings & try to make me laugh...while I was actually on stage...I mean not where I would mess up or anything like that! It was funny. And I didn't even know him then... that's how we met! We ended up playing in Christmas Carol together, and also did an elementary school theatre tour together one semester, which was a blast, and where i really got to know him. This guy is one of the nicest, sweetest, most talented & most hilarious guys you will ever meet. He is not on social media, and our paths just don't cross often enough. So it basically made my whole year to see his face. Sorry for the long tangent, but I had to express to you how great it was to see him! He was there to see the show the same night!

Moving on!


Saturday, March 5th:


On Saturday, family got together to celebrate my birthday at Willie's a fairly new restaurant in town that we had never been to. It was delish! Another gorgeous day there, so we sat on the patio again! The food was delicious, and mom ordered a cake which she brought for dessert. Never ever has there been a more "me" cake! Haha! My favorite color & daisies! :) My parents, my sister & brother-in-law, Brad's parents, and Billy & Mandy were all able to join us!
 
 me & my dad!

Billy & Mandy
This picture makes me so happy! So thankful for my family!
After lunch, all ten of us went to the movies to see RISEN. It was so good, and fun seeing it at Movie Tavern with the fam! Hello, recliners! Loved it.
 
I didn't mention gifts, but I got a ton. Not that that is what matters, but thought I would share! Some of these came from long-distance friends (hello, Laura & Belinda!). Such thoughtful people! And this isn't even all of it! (Obviously I love mugs, in case you missed that somehow. And yes, my husband got me a fitbit and i am obsessed!)



It was such a great day and week. And y'all, I didn't even mention the countless posts, texts, & calls! A couple of friends took me to dinner, too. So sweet. I am so thankful for the people God has put in my life! 38 isn't looking too bad after all! ;)