Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another New Year

So every year I seem to renew my vow to myself to continue to hope, fight and be thankful for whatever I have in this moment.

This is all fine and dandy, and honestly, it's been a much nicer holiday not having spent it in the hospital with Daddy having a MI...so in spite of the multitude of NCLEX questions I do everyday, I'm not trading this year for last, but I would like to take a moment to recognize an emptiness.

I felt it more this year than ever. I lazily scrolled through Facebook posts on Christmas Eve and giggled as my friends diligently updated Santa on their toy-finishing assignments. But it hit me that I was tired of having Santa still come for me. I wanted to be up putting a Barbie dream house together. So I did what any 30-sumpthin does when she is sad, and I laid my head in my mother's lap and let her rub my back while I whined about life not being fair.

It's hard to make use and appreciate time you don't want. Honestly though, I'm starting to resent not having children. I'm tired of being asked if I've traveled and seen what I want to see. Well, yes and no. I've seen what I want to pay for. As a closet miser, I hate paying for "leisure" activities. A piece of me literally dies when I think about paying for a trip when I could buy new counter-tops and have them forever. Plus I have the Travel channel, and a zoo. So what's the point? If you're paying...and I don't have to fly in a 40 year old germ canister...well, then different story, but I'm digressing...

Ok, so I really feel like I'm missing out more than ever right now. Emma doesn't need help opening her presents anymore, the cats don't give a rat's hind end. It's just BJ, me, and our fur-babes. We're more than ready for the next challenge.

So as we embark on what will become our 5th year trying to conceive a child, I get it that there are no guarantees. Simply, I toast this margarita to my empty uterus. You've brought me a lot of pain, tears, and despair, but you've also taught me what courage is. So instead of naming off the things I'm thankful for and how hopeful I am that this year will be different, I'm just going to say 'Bring it, Bitch.'

Peace, Love, and Happy New Year!
Mary Katherine

Monday, December 23, 2013

Why Egg Donation

This has been a hard post to write because this has been a hard progression for me to make personally. I'm sure people are going to ask why did you choose this route? Simply told it's the next best thing to a natural conception that MAY be able to give us success. I am by no means against adoption. After working with the public, in a counseling job, etc...it's simply not my first choice. So with all honesty...

A little over 2 years ago, I could not even bear to think about using donor eggs.  It was a failure.  I wanted my children with blonde hair, blue eyes, and my spunk (or as Kanye would say, "musical genius" or sass...or whatever you'd like to call it...).  I was seriously worried that I would not bond with a baby that was not genetically mine.  It took a good year to year and a half to mourn my eggs, my genetics, my family line.  That idea of a 4-year-old mini-me looking back at me as if she knew something I didn't...All of those hopes, dreams and desires had to be mourned. 

It's not easy to let go of something you've thought about since you were a teen. This wasn't just my dream car, or house, or a pipe dream. This is something relatively simple and not monetary-related. It's just reproducing. What most couples can take for granted has been denied to us. It wasn't something with which we expected to have difficulty. There is a lot of resentment that goes along with that. Letting go of that resentment, really accepting the situation, and mourning all those "mini-me" moments I thought I would have, all those quirks I thought I would laugh/cringe about passing along, took time. I now know deep in my heart, without a doubt that I'd rather be a mother to BJ's biological children or to a stranger's biological child than none.

I'm sure when people find out we are pursuing egg donation the "just adopt" barrage will increase. On many levels it's so much more complex than "just".  When we explain to these people we aren't actively pursuing adoption "just" yet, we get that, "but there are so many children looking for a good home."  Somehow, BJ and I get turned into selfish people because we don't immediately drop everything and hire an adoption attorney and adopt up all those poor, starving children.  As if it were just like going to an animal shelter and picking out a cat or a dog...Yet, I don't hear my friends who've had children the good, old-fashioned way complain about lectures from strangers telling them to adopt all the needy kids in the world. If you think about it, they have already proven themselves competent...I may start a new fad...Hey! Everyone I know that has a kid and it's turned out pretty good so far...JUST ADOPT!!!

A particularly bitter run-in with a total stranger who gave me the "This is God telling you, you don't need a baby, but a broken child,"spiel (yeah...that's what she said...) I actually looked at our state's website for children who were available through our foster-to-adopt program.  Amazingly, BJ and I would not have been the preferred choice for many if any of these children.  For instance, one child wanted a "2 Mom home"...Gender reassignment is a bit much for me to ask BJ to do.  Several required previous adoption/fostering/parenting experience.  Some warned "not good with small animals".  I love my cats and dog too much to open my home to a child with sociopathic tendencies.  There are good adults out there with training, education and experience to parent these children, but BJ and I are not those people. If we were to give birth to a child with problems such as these which is always a possibility we would be in a world of hurt and would need to rely on a lot of resources. Fortunately for us and our future children, we aren't alcoholics, we don't like to beat each other up, or play mind games so that lowers the chances of a child we raise from birth developing a major personality disorder a good bit. But we can't fix one that's already developed. Not even the professionals can...

Domestic Infant Adoption...can easily be more expensive than fertility treatments (IVF included). Long, possibly, really LONG,waiting  periods.  Super invasive process with social workers that hurts my feelings even thinking about (I mean babies who spend months in the NICU b/c their moms shot up drugs the entire time they were pregnant get to take their babies home, but you are going to make make me feel bad because we pursued fertility treatments before adoption?)...Oh, and there is no guarantee that the adoption will go through even after you've invested money that you will not get back if you are paying your birth mother's living expenses. You can't control what your birth mother does with her body while she's pregnant good, bad or worse.  On the positive side...you can be with the baby as soon as it is born if the birth mother allows it. You can work out how open you want "open" to be. There are a few good agencies out there, but none of them are close to me.  Different states have different relinquishing dates and my state is one of the longest and makes me not want to adopt here if we do adopt...Definitely still in our playbook, but not our current front runner until we've tried other pursuits first.

International Adoption...we'd love a newborn...not gonna happen with this. Still an option, however. All I have to do is show BJ the video of the young gymnasts training in China and BJ melts...
This all depends that these countries don't follow the lead of Russia and close the US off to adopting.

Embryo Adoption...definitely an option, but why deny BJ something he is capable of having?  We have a great program right in our backyard with National Embryo Donation Center.  Plus our clinic also does their own embryo adoptions.

So our current front runner option is to go ahead and pursue egg donation.

Again, I may not be able to have the child with the ADHD hyper-active focus-type, but who's to say that's not a good thing, anyway.  I still would LOVE to experience a pregnancy, and no, I don't want to hear condescending remarks about how miserable [insert placating, condescending person here]'s pregnancy was.  That was her pregnancy and she got to be pregnant and all of her complaining could never take that away from her, yet it could never give that experience to me, either.  Let me have the chance to be miserable...but also let me have the chance to see the heartbeat on the ultrasound, feel the baby move, talk and read to him or her in utero, play music for the baby, eat all the right things, avoid all the bad things, do prenatal Crossfit...umm, I meant yoga. Let my cats enjoy my baby bump as their new perch, let me hopefully have my own horror story/birth story to tell, dang it!  Just let me enjoy the small things...I promise you I'll be scared to death through it all without worrying about whatever wives' tale you tell me to worry about.

Now if only BJ could pick out a donor...I think he owes us blog...

Peace, Love, and Genius,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Oh Really...

BJ and I had our first appointment with Dr. D...almost exactly 2 years after our debriefing appointment from our biochemical pregnancy fiasco...

I was nervous.  From the familiar smells and setting, everything creeped me out.  There were patients hustling in and out not making eye contact.  There was an unfamiliar person at the receptionist desk.  I was nauseous, but then Pat walked in.  Our Pat! The Pat I thought had retired.  The Pat that made me want to be a nurse, too.  The Pat that I can talk to, cry to, get her to ask Dr. Donesky things I'm too ashamed to ask.  All the fear melted.  She came over and I'm pretty sure I practically leaped into her arms like a child reuniting with their parent.

My spirits lifted.  I hope one day that I have that affect on my patients...I digress....

After updating our information, we saw Dr. Donesky.  He asked how I was doing and how school went.  He had obviously done his research b/c he talked about my previous cycles like they were yesterday.

So I updated him on my interstitial cystitis diagnosis and the migraines.  He asked what we were thinking about pursuing fertility treatments, and I told him we were looking at using an egg donor.
He proceeded that he thought it was a good option for us.  He has a 60% success rate...which is better than the 20% a fertile couple has on any given month.

In the state of TN, once the eggs are retrieved, BJ and I become the owners/parents/whatever you'd like to call it.  There have been no successful custody challenges over a child conceived by donated eggs.  Dr. D kept saying, "it's very clean".  In the state of TN, if it comes out of your uterus, it's your child...which gets messy with the surrogate situation, but fortunately...there is no reason to worry about that at this point.

The most shocking thing to BJ's and my world was when he said with "my age" he only transfers one embryo.  My heart clenched.  I've been a little set on the one and done deal.  It wasn't even about the babies, it was the idea of having to go through this 2 more times.  As I've processed it more today...I think about what I originally wanted before we got into this fertility struggle.  My perfect family with a big brother and a sister 4 years younger...granted I'm a lot older than I wanted to be...BJ and I should be trying for baby number 2 in some alternate timeline where my eggs aren't scrambled and they don't sell greeting cards that say "Winter's Greetings."  (True story!).

This revitalized that dream a bit.  I mean twins are cute and all, but I can afford things for one child at a time that I can't for 2 at this point in my life.  Not to mention, I don't think I'll need the extra complications that twins bring.  I have a better chance of having a natural birth, getting to use my own OB/GYN instead of a high risk one, and less likely to become a patient of my own coworkers on the antepartum floor. (I can't even...I'm such a terrible patient...it would be awful!)  So while it pains me to think about going through those horrible 2 weeks of waiting for another line to show up twice...It is what is best for us.

On the other hand, that means that much longer with my ovaries.  I joke a lot about getting ovarian cancer...I'm pretty sure all my friends in nursing school got that question right about infertility being the number one risk factor for ovarian cancer.  The fact that it was a test question seems to make it slightly less funny...

The other thing I think we are going to do is have our donor cycle without me.  As in we'll collect her eggs and have them fertilized a la BJ, but I won't have a transfer done at the same time.  They'll go straight into the freezer after 5 days.  Mostly we are doing this to mess with them later..."Mommy when was I conceived?" "2014" "Then why was I born in 2017?"...Actually,  I think that will take a lot of pressure off of me.  I'll know how the embryos do, and know how many we have to freeze, and I won't be a hormonal basket case to boot!  YEAH FOR THAT! Plus, if for whatever reason I don't respond to the meds as quickly or appropriately, they'll have wiggle room and it won't be so timing dependent.

Interestingly, Dr. D has started doing most of his IVF cycles this way.  Freezing the embryos and doing the transfer the next month.  Truth be told, IVF pregnancies have a higher rate of placental abruption and pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH).  Frozen cycles appear to have the same rates of these complications as naturally conceived pregnancies.  The experts feel this may be due to the extraordinary amounts of hormones a woman has in her body during the stimulating part of the cycle possibly producing changes the lining of the uterus...which becomes the connection to the placenta.  The placenta has long been blamed for PIH, ergo, stimulation drugs and astronomically high estrogen levels are more likely to lead to complications.  Dr. D is wicked smart...

I was proud of myself for asking him why his success rates dropped so much for 2011 (which was my year).  It's been hard for me to ask challenging question like that...I don't like to challenge people, but he handled it well.  He said it was a rough year with rougher than normal cases, but that he's also a little suspicious that there is some missing data.  The fact that he answered it so straight-forwardly (Did I just make up a word?) really comforted BJ and I.  He told us 2012's stats are back up.  They'll be published in early 2014.

On our side, Dr. D told us that he'd need a few updated tests...the blood tests of course to make sure we haven't contracted AIDS, Herpes, the Hep C, or the clap or a number of other STI's...  BJ will have to do another semen analysis.  I won't need a hysteroscopy, but I will need a saline infused sonogram to make sure I've not developed any fibroids/myomas inside my uterus.  I didn't ask about an endometrial biopsy at this point because I don't want to borrow trouble that I may not have to worry about, anyway.  I'd rather just be stupid and only have to dread it for a few days.  Sometimes living in a bubble is good...endometrial biopsies would be one of those times...or anytime you get a medical bill that says "surgery" yet you received no anesthesia...

So with no real timeline at this point we shook hands with Dr. Donesky and took them up on the offer to look at that "Look Book" for egg donors.

We didn't really find anyone that made us feel, "Oooh, I want her babies."  It's very strange...While I said I didn't care about hair color so much, I was a little more attracted to blondes.  There was one who was tiny, and blonde, and a nurse and I was all like 'BJ this is it' and then he pointed out her adult picture, and I was a little sad.  Horse-like would be a good start.  Anyway BJ said her smile was "too gummy".  I thought I was going to be the super-picky one...OK so I did nix all the "finished high school" and "plans to attend *insert technical school program here* school" but really unless they were 5'1 and 220 lbs (Another True Story!) I was a lot more open.  That's a lie...if they were over 5'4"  I nixed them, too...So other than height and education...Oh, nope the one with a family history of mental illness...they were out like fat kid in dodgeball, too...So other than THAT, I'm pretty open...OK it's really hard to pick out your substitute eggs...It's much like buying a new house...they're all ok but all have a quirk you aren't sure about.  Which bad thing can you live with?

We gave a list to Sandy our Egg Donation Coordinator about some we were sort of interested in as far as their availability and such, but that if she found some new ones in the mean time...we'd like to see those as well.  We're talking about maybe using a national registry... those are super fun.

As for now...Our next venture is picking out a donor...I think we are tentatively aiming for a spring retrieval and a sumer/late summer/whenever my work schedule permits/whenever I build up the courage...transfer,,.

Peace, love, and stay in school (especially if you want to donate your eggs),

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Que "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"

I am officially done with all of my classes.  I have 6 tests left, not including the NCLEX.  Basically for me, nursing school is OVER!  It's been nice already to have a taste of life before nursing school, before infertility treatments, before I worked nonstop, and before BJ and I were desperately seeking baby and just being us.  It's been blissful this past week and weekend.

So blissful...

Isn't bliss the word people use to describe holding their newborn child?  It's a word I've been afraid to use and ashamed to use because I haven't had that moment.  Yet I feel it when my cat, Gaius, cuddles his head into my chin and falls asleep, purring on my chest.  I feel bliss when my pup, Emma Grace rests her head in my lap.  I love being entrusted with their care.  I know they are not a substitute, but I love them as much as I can.  I'd be devastated if I lost one...not to mention heart-broken. Is it possible that this is all I need?

I don't know where I'm at mentally as far as "trying again."  When I first started nursing school I was counting down the days until we could try again... Now I'm just literally counting down the days until hazing (aka nursing school) is officially over.  I can't recall a specific day that I woke up and didn't feel that aching desire, but it happened. All I know, is that I want the freedom of not being in nursing school.  I want to enjoy my life with my husband.  I want to enjoy my new career and all the people I will meet.  I want to really enjoy life for a bit.

For a while, I couldn't decipher if this meant I wanted children, just liked the idea of having children, or was over the idea of parenting completely.  So, I asked BJ if he still wanted to have children, and he responded, "Don't you?"

I did.  I recall discussing wanting to have 2 children during our premarital counseling and Father Jay giving us the percentage of households that wanted 2 but had 3 children (it was pretty high).  But this was all before I got to the point that I didn't care for anything but conceiving my own child.

I don't think I can separate that burning, heart-aching desperation, from wanting to be a parent.  It's like I can't be happy and want children at the same time because I know I can't conceive.

I know I am capable of being a good wife, a good nurse, a good person, but I can't conceive.  I can't; it's OK you don't have to preach that no one knows that for sure or that I have a 2 percent chance, blah, blah...but similar to a person diagnosed with a terminal illness, eventually they have to accept the inevitable.  I don't think that means they don't pray for a miracle, but they come to terms with the reality of their situation.

I know I can live without children, so how do I justify reliving the pain of failed infertility treatments?

As the holidays creep upon us, as the 2nd anniversary of my miscarriage looms, and as I stroll through the toy department of our local Wal-Mart I have this tugging sensation.  I want to build legos with my babe.  BJ and I loved legos as children, and I want to share that.  It's not just the newborn, or the bliss, it's everything that fits in-between.  Yet, I have no clue how to get there.

One of the first questions on the adoption applications is "Why do you want to be a parent?"  I have no clue how to answer it.  I want children.  Everything I think of is selfish. I want to raise them, I want to play with them, I want to take care of them, nurture them, teach them to be responsible contributing adults...I, I, I... It seems like an overwhelming question with no right answer.  I'm pretty sure it's not on the list of things your OB asks you when you go in for your first prenatal appointment, yet if nobody likes our answer, BJ and I don't get to have children.  No pressure, right?

I still don't really know what road to children we are going to take, but I know it's going to restart December 9th, with our first appointment with our reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. D.  We aren't making any definite decisions one way or the other until we have our bases covered.  We just want to ask questions and be informed of our options.  It's been over a year (well, 2 now) since we've had any testing, so we have to start basically from scratch.  I've aged, I've been diagnosed with migraines that I take anti-seizure meds for, and interstitial cystitis and take meds to control that.  It may not be as simple as it was when I began 4 years ago...I may need to taper off these medications over days or months, have another surgery or forgo any chance of pregnancy and move on to adoption.

Maybe this acceptance of my situation is a good thing.  If we never have children, I'll live.  If we adopt, I'll live.  If we adopt an embryo, and it does or doesn't work, I'll live.  If we use an egg donor, I'll live. So pretty much as long as I don't end up with ovarian cancer or some other unpredictable life-threatening event, I'm going to live. I'm still going to be a good person, good wife, good nurse.  All we have to do is explore our options and make a plan.

BJ and I have everything to look forward to in front of us, and nothing is gonna stop us...

Peace, love, and bliss,

Mary Katherine

Monday, October 7, 2013

Elizabeth Smart is My Hero

To endure month after month of depraved brutality is unimaginable.  To live your life, and be happy is, in this humble woman's opinion, a real miracle.  I know it must have taken a lot of hard work for her to get where she is today, but she did it.

She continues to live a life full of grace and happiness.  She chooses to share her stories publicly despite the numerous amounts of people that want to victim blame, or worse say things that make me wonder if they don't belong on a sex offenders' list...if they aren't already on one.

She is my hero, because 10 years ago, we went through the worst experience of our lives thus far on nearly the same timeline.  The abuse I suffered began when I was 14.  The spiritual abuse and grooming I suffered started when I was 11.

For six years I was molested by my gymnastics coach.  Even when I returned home from college on breaks.  I believed him when he said it was my fault.  That God loved him and he knew he was one of the "Chosen Ones"...."these things were always the girl's fault." It was our secret and he would tell everyone that I "liked it."  He told me that I was condemned to Hell because I was not chosen.  He never threatened my life, but he took my way of life. He stole something that I cherished, and that I believed in, and convinced me that I was Eternally Damned. He threatened to get me pregnant, and if that happened, I'd have to live with him and my parents would be too ashamed of me to ever speak to me again.  He did not listen when I cried no, so I stopped trying. He even went so far as to buy property above my parents' house and rented a house down the street from me.  He didn't have to kidnap me.  He owned me and he owned my soul.  He told me that if people knew the ugly truth about me and my condemned soul, nobody, including my parents could ever love me.

And I believed him.

I had trusted him with my life throughout my gymnastics career.  He kept me from breaking my neck more than once.  He stayed by my side when I had ACL reconstruction.  He was a huge part of my childhood, and had coached me off and on since I was in elementary school.  Why would he lie to me about this, now?  While my household was not as religious as the Smart's, I was every bit as naive.  I thought premarital sex was an abomination, and this was probably some of the grand religiosity I tried to take on myself as a way to relate to my abuser.  I didn't really understand sexual abuse or rape.

A few years later, into my junior year of high school, I remember watching an episode of Oprah about sexual abuse in little league baseball and thinking, 'oh, shit.'  Instead of telling anyone, I got into an argument with my coach during practice, and I quit.  The next day, he drove to my school with a note for me.  My mother was devastated because I had dreamed about doing gymnastics on the college level for years.  I was hurting my mother...she was disappointed in me...and she didn't even know the "bad things"...So what my coach had said, was true. 

So I returned to the gym.  I had a year and half or less left and I was determined to make it.  I really still wanted to do gymnastics, I wanted to be a college gymnast, and mostly, there is no way I could let anyone know that this was happening to me, an independent, straight A student.  I also knew, that if I wasn't there to take the abuse, the next little girl would be.

I still can't explain that dichotomy.  I knew he would be the one in trouble, but it was my fault.  I'd let it go on too long, I didn't say anything before, I had cut myself off from my parents in many ways, so he was the only parental figure I had to turn to, and I truly feared to my core the disappointment my parents would feel. By this time my coach was the only one who knew my darkest secrets, and was the only one that my damned soul could confide in.  The shame I would bring upon my parents-that still seemed like it was my burden on them.  I'd also see the "next generation" of team kids and I could not bear to think of them as having this cross to bear.  So if I could keep my coach occupied, it was just what I had to do, and I did believe him that I was damned.

When college breaks were not frequent enough, my coach turned to the next victim.  She, being braver than I, pressed charges.  I stepped forward to being victim number 2 by accident because my coach called me and told me, "I told the truth." I mistakenly concluded that he had actually told his lawyer the truth, so I called his lawyer who was a friend of my father's and told him that I did not want to be part of the investigation, oops... My coach, under polygraph, admitted to abusing even more girls, but thanks to Tennessee's 2 year statute of limitations there could be no charges.

Needless to say, my coach got some things very right.  My parents were hugely disappointed, but not in me.  They felt they had failed to protect their child.  I ached for "making" them feel that way.  I, not having a child, cannot even imagine how hard it was to feel that they had "let this happen" to their daughter.

Elizabeth Smart was rescued at some point during the court process I was going through.  It was a period of absolute hell for me because I had worked so hard to build a life hiding the awful secret and now I had to relive it in an open courtroom and the local newspapers. During that time, I believe that her bishop did as much for me as he did for her.  We were still God's children.  He still loved us, and that your virtue is not something that can be stolen.

We are not "damaged goods."  We are amazing.  We have seen and experienced some of the worst that humanity has to offer, but we came out happy.  Elizabeth's mom put it much more eloquently, but she and I were blessed with amazing families who encouraged us to not let our abusers get the last word. The first time I remember laughing in months was when my Father said, "You know, Mary Katherine, if this is the worst thing that ever happens to you, you'll be all right." It was so perfectly insensitive yet perfectly put things in perspective at the same time.  Thanks to my family, Jeff (my college coach) & Art, Nicole, Pam and Tina, I became the young woman that would easily and happily become BJ's wife.

My Daddy was right.  I am happily married.  I'm functional, contribute to society, and if I had not written this blog, you hopefully would have never known.  But just as more people coping with infertility need to speak up, so do people who surpass abuse.  I don't really like the word survivor, because, to be honest I go for eons of time without even thinking about it, and that was before I started nursing school.  I don't need that title because I am first and foremost a happily married young woman looking forward to creating a family with my beloved, BJ.

As my Daddy said, I'll be all right.

I know, deep in my heart, that one day my battle with infertility will also be the same, not that it hasn't brought up some demons of self-doubt, but if this is the worst life throws at me...

Peace, Love and Happiness,

Mary Katherine Roberts

~Helen Keller

Friday, September 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, BJ..

Oh, BJ...There is no way I'll ever top this post, so I'm not even going to try.

Nonetheless, I love you, evermore. I am so honored, loved, and humbled that you would choose me... and then stay with me...whoa!  Everyone says marriage is hard, and I guess we've had more than our fair share of struggles to face, but being married to you is still the simplest, most soothing, easy thing I've ever done.  If this is hard, you make it easy.

So without further ado, and in the fashion of my name-sake, and possibly inspired Saturday Night Live character, Mary Katherine Gallagher...

My feelings can best be expressed in a poem by the famous philosopher/songwriter Peter Cetera entitled "Glory of Love" which may or may not have also been the theme song to some 80s Karate Movie...but I digress..

Tonight it's very clear
'Cause we're both lying here
There's so many things I wanna say
I will always love you
I would never leave you alone

Sometimes I just forget
Say things I might regret
It breaks my heart to see you [see me] crying
I don't wanna lose you
I could never make it alone

I am a [wo]man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero you're dreaming of
We'll live forever
Knowing together
That we did it all for the glory of love

You keep me standing tall 
You help me through it all
I'm always strong when you're beside me [just roll with this line]
I have always needed you
I could never make it alone

I am the [wo]man who will fight for your honor
[You'll] be the hero
[I've] been dreaming of
We'll live forever
Knowing together that we did it all 
For the glory of love

It's like a knight in shining armor
From a long time ago   [the art in the simplicity of this line makes it my fave, btw]
Just in time I will save the day
Take you to my castle far away

I am the man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero that your dreaming of
We're gonna live forever
Knowing together
That we did it all for the glory of love

We'll live forever
Knowing together
That we did it all for the glory of love
We did it all for love

~Peter Cetera

Your Beautiful Wife

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Beginning of the end...of nursing school

I don't talk about nursing school so much...It's not that interesting for the most part...
Sleep, class, clinical, study, take a test repeat...and weekends?  That term no longer has significance to me, as I'm likely to be in clinical or doing my preceptorship.  But I'm quickly approaching the end of this cycle and possibly replacing it with the hope, try, cry, almost die one.  In fact, I only have 56 more days of academic-type stuff (sheesh, I gotta lot of papers to write in 56 days...urgh...) and 78 days before it's officially over, I'm getting nervous.

I still have so much to do, like get hired, successfully navigate through orientation, and become competent at my job.

And I don't know what my life will be like past 2.5 months from now.  Will I have a job?  Where will the job be? When will I be working? How will fertility treatments and a nursing career work? Do BJ and I still want to go through fertility treatments?  Are we ready to just adopt?  Would we even make it through a home study with that damn glass coffee table I love so much?  Or maybe I haven't processed my own internal struggles with infertility enough...What if Emma hates the social worker?  What if the social worker hates us?  I think I already do.  I mean the thought of someone determining whether I would be a fit parent while we have an entire NICU in our area devoted to newborns withdrawing from drugs their mothers took...That's just one of the many big, bitter adoption pills I'll have to swallow.

I've nary a clue, and if you know me at all, I love this about as much as I love being infertile...

The scary thing is how much I've enjoyed the peace of not spending every waking moment lusting, toiling, trying and crying over conceiving.  Does that mean I don't care anymore?  Does that mean I'm ready to say I can live child-free?  I don't immediately break into tears when I think about that, anymore...what does that mean?

I'm scared.  That is all, just scared...Or maybe I'm just sad that it's almost time to hit the play button and finding out that the end of this movie is of me failing.

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." ~C.S. Lewis

Peace, Love, & A Healthy Dose of Fear,

Saturday, August 17, 2013


"Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief." ~ C. S. Lewis

This perfectly sums up the gnawing sadness that I attempt to cope with each day.  I say attempt because there are days that I'm practically stellar at living and enjoying what I have, but there are also a handful of days that it takes all of my being to just exist and basically try to hide in a fertile world. Some days are hard because of silly things strangers say, others are hard because I have physical pain that seemingly comes out of nowhere that's like a personal reminder that something is physically wrong with me, some days because it's a significant date-like a should have been due date.  Some days are hard because of silly things that have nothing to do with fertility, but I take everything so personally...always have...that I wrap it back around to 'this must be why'.  Infertility is not the best juju for your self-esteem.  

I think it's easy for people to shrug off my grief, because "I've never really had anything to lose," or "I am so blessed with so many other things."  It is true that I am very fortunate to have a husband who is better for me than I deserve.  I have my family who loves and cares for me more than I deserve, a lovely house, and things.  Yet, I'm not willing to "just be happy with that."  It's not that I'm ungrateful or unappreciative, it's just that I built relationships, collected, and worked for this blessed life I have so that I could share it with the child BJ and I were supposed to conceive.  For 94% of couples...this is not too much to expect.  

Honestly, everyday I wake up I am moving towards one goal, to be my child's Mother.  C. S. Lewis' quote is poignant.  Everyday I take a handful of medicine that re-emphasizes the point that my body parts aren't working right, and I can't have children.  So I may not be emotionally sad, but cognitively I understand each day, that the one thing I truly desire in life may never happen.  No matter what route we take, how hard I work, or badly I want it. 

Everyday, despite what people think I should feel, or expect, I have grief.  I wear grief on a necklace that simply says, "Eventually".  I wear grief in the scars on my abdomen from the surgery I've had. I wear my desire in a tattoo that reminds me to slow down and take one step at a time.   Most days, that's enough to honor the grief that I have, so that I don't have to "feel" it.  These things let my heart know that I recognize what I've lost, but that today I have to live.  And when I live, I choose to live happy.  

Unending grief has turned into the reason I get out of bed every morning. The reason I will be resuming a more active approach to battling infertility.  The desire to abate grief with joy is why I continue to fight.

Peace, Love, and Life,
Mary Katherine

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"It's Awful"

"It's awful." - Jimmy Fallon when speaking about dealing with infertility.

It does sum it up nicely.  It's not something I'd wish on my worst enemy. It's certainly not easy.  If anyone watched the True Life:  I'm Desperate to Have a Baby episode, it was a fair attempt to try to follow some relatable, non-celebrity folk through the difficulties of infertility.  But there is no possible way to wrap up years of struggle into an hour long episode and really understand how painful and desperate it is.  I've been reading Chris and Candace's blog, Our Misconception, the couple whose cycle did not take on the True Life episode, and you cannot even begin to imagine all the difficulties they went through for that cycle even though it was being documented by MTV the whole time.  Or all their difficulties before and new difficulties they are facing now as they continue on their quest to become parents.  Infertility is not simple, it's awful.

I can't thank Jimmy Fallon enough for his short, honest response.  Too often we get the post-baby sugar-coated 'we tried for years but with a good attitude and lots of prayer our dreams were finally answered.'

Well, shit.  How in the hell do you have a good attitude about having one of life's most basic properties denied to you?  I mean I can take 3 shots a day and not complain, be hopeful, pray every spare second I have and even when I don't have spare moments, and appreciate the opportunity to go through fertility treatments, not ruin other's baby showers, and love on my friend's children...but that is between the breakdowns, the hours of sobbing on the bathroom floor, the physical pain of endometriosis, the self-deprecating thoughts, the doubt, the questioning of God's plans, the stress on your marriage, the financial toil, the strange diets, the odd schedules, having to plan socializing against treatment cycles, the vitamin cocktails that have to be taken at all sorts of times, the anxiety of it all, the fear of loss, and the actual losses.

I don't like being different in this way.  I don't like not being able to have children. I don't appreciate being asked when I'm going to have children.  I don't like not being included in the "adult conversations" because I would never understand what it's like to have kids.  Or I wouldn't understand the expenses of children, because I'm sure figuring out how to pay for fertility treatments at costs of $15,000 a month simply can't compare to the cost of diapers and childcare.  I don't like being told that I'm trying too hard, thinking about it too much, and not recognizing that 'it's just not my time.'  I don't like being told that I should adopt, because "wouldn't it be simpler?" or even better "I know someone who got pregnant after they adopted." AHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I think it's fair to assume most people you meet will not have difficulty starting a family, thankfully! But I urge you to use caution when asking about their family plans, anyway.  You know, not once when we've been told "God has other plans..." or "It's not God's time for you," have any of those people offered to pray for us.  I just find that odd...living in the Bible Belt and all...You'd be astonished at how many people I've met online have been told that their infertility is atonement for their or their family's sins.  Fortunately, we've never been told this to our face...

Time Magazine published this article about Jimmy Fallon and pointed out how it was ok in Hollywood to talk about your alcoholism, drug or sex addiction but admitting to the fact you used an egg donor is taboo.  Honestly, ask yourself how so many actresses get pregnant in their 40s?  I'm not saying it can't happen, but for women holding SAG cards and the ability to conceive in your 40s seems to be much higher than for average non-SAG card holding American women...

It IS awful.  Again, I can't thank people like Chris and Candace, and Jimmy Fallon, for standing up for our minority and breaking the silence that we've been expected to suffer in. Since when does not being the norm or not making up the majority of the population mean we deserve less consideration?

Peace, Love, and Dr. Seuss,

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ho hum...

Today is one of those days.  No, it's not because His Royal Highness was born.  I'm very happy for future King Henry the IX (that's my vote, anyway...) It's just that our summer semester is winding down.  I have my last clinical of the summer semester this weekend.  The bubble of nursing school is about to erode and before I know it, Christmas and graduation will be here.  I have a lot to accomplish, still. But the time is coming sooner to hopping back into the world of fertility treatments.

I've taken my last dose of depo provera.  I'm 90% gluten free, 100% soy free, and struggling with where dairy and I will stand this time around. I'm trying to get down to my fighting weight.  Drinking up the last of my coffee.  As much as I looked forward to making these changes and wanting to start down this road, again, I didn't think I'd be so scared.  But it is scarier, because you know exactly how much pain you are going to face.

No amount of sacrifice, dedication, compliance, struggle, turmoil, fear, panic, anxiety, or pain guarantees success.  That's the pill I keep having to ready myself to swallow.  In the big picture, I don't matter.  So, am I ready to fail again?  Am I ready to be ridiculed for my efforts?  Am I ready to suffer a loss in a battle I chose to engage in?  Am I ready to play the only game in my life where the results don't consider how hard I work, how much I want it, or well I play it?  Yes...because I don't matter...but...

Not as ready as I hoped.  I keep trying to tell myself that I'm going to go into treatment with an attitude of gratitude that I have an opportunity to try at all.  That doesn't mean that a negative result is going to be any less crushing.  I am not looking forward to being beaten down, to feeling like a disappointment to my husband, or to the emotional pain.  But, I am grateful for the changes infertility has made in my life.  Patience, perseverance, learning to lose, and learning who I truly want to be.

Am I ready to face an unhappy ending?  I would be lying if I could say I can accept being childless.  I would be lying if I said I can live peacefully without ever experiencing a term pregnancy.  If I could, I wouldn't go through treatments, because it wouldn't be worth it. But I do know, that life will go on, with or without me, and with or without my children.  

I don't think anyone is ever totally ready for this journey they never wanted to take.  I just have to keep reminding myself, that I am alive, I have a family who loves me, a golden retriever that adores me because I say her name, and friends that have stood by me, when I was at my lowest. I have people that I do matter to who will be by my side if my fairy tale ending never comes true.  My fairy tale ending may never come true.  How do you accept that?  How do you live, and not?

"You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it." ~Margaret Thatcher

It's not fair, but the only thing I can do is choose to engage in another fight.  Challenge my body that has betrayed me when I needed it most to give it another go.  When the dust settles this time, however, I'll know I can survive.

Peace, Love, and Preparing for Battle,
Mary Katherine

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Parental Unit Celebration Days

I'm sad for BJ, who isn't really sad more today than any other day.  His bad days hit randomly when I write touching, honest blogs, or when he reads articles about parents losing children and the nurse that was kind to them.  But all-in-all, he's not really sad today because he is an optimist that envisions a future full of many Father's Days in which our babies will include some with slightly less fur.

I wasn't near as sad on Mother's Day 2 years ago when we were actually in the process of technologically-enhanced baby-making.  I was pretty sure I was curable.  I KNEW without a question of a doubt that IVF was going to work for us.  Simply because it had to if for no other reason. Alas, we know how that turned out...and so gave birth to the true pessimist that underneath it all is where I find my inner-peace.  Expect the worst, get better results, even if only slightly better, and come out of the situation elated because it could have been much worse.  It typically works for my mother, so in my wizened old-age I think I'm converting...  This sounds terrible, but sarcasm and optimism were never really a good match for me anyway.  I think all along I've been lying to myself that I'm an optimist.  BJ would probably whole-heartedly agree... It doesn't make me unhappier, it just makes me wiser, and removes ridiculous expectations I set for myself...which actually makes me happier.

These Parental Unit celebration days will continue to come and go, but our infertility is constant.  Somedays it's more on the forefront of BJ's or my mind than others, but it's always there. Gnawing.  So forgive me for being sad that I'm not able to celebrate a traditional Father's Day with my deserving husband.  It's hard to swallow that deserving means nothing in the land of infertility, but we both do, anyway.  Do we deserve a medal of honor for that? No.  A new gadget or tie? No...A hug? Definitely!

Anyway, I guess I'd just like to say Happy You Will Be Fathers One Day, Day to all the individuals who are living with involuntary childlessness.  And, of course, Happy Father's Day to all my friends who are fathers.  I'm so very fortunate that I'm surrounded by friends who know how blessed they are.  (Thanks for being shining examples to us!!!)

Peace, Love, and According to BJ There Will Be More Father's Days,

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I Have a Confession

So everyday since, oh, August 20th, 2012 I've started my day by blasting Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger". I ain't ashamed. I have an entire playlist of all the awesome breakup songs I never thought I'd have a need for again under the title "Infertility".

I've come to the conclusion that infertility is extremely close to having an abusive boyfriend.  So, yes, I've personified infertility which may seem a little One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but actually it's very in line with Gestalt therapy.  I've always had a propensity towards Gestalt because a.) you can tell your clients what you think of them as their therapist (i.e. "You are driving me nuts, and make me want to hide under my desk") [*Please, note I did decide that counseling was not the best fit for me] and b.) you get to personify things about yourself and smack talk them....Well, with the idea that you'll apologize and forgive yourself as you hash that part of yourself out with your rational self.

ANYWAY...Another song on my almost daily playlist is Linkin Park's "Waiting on the End to Come" mostly for the lines:
All I want to do
Is trade this life for something new
Holding on to what I haven't got

It's not as poignant as it once was at the beginning of this terror ride of fertility treatments, but I do still hold on to what I haven't got.  Anyway, it's a good song that, even though is sad in the true intention of the song, is empowering to me.  It's amazing what music can do for you.  Especially when you personalize it to your situations.  I mean I'm totally rocking "Stronger" with middle school girls going through their first break-up, with as much excitement and vengeance as any of them.

What are your power songs?  What is your go to song that helps you get excited for the day and fight your inner-battles?  

Peace, Love, and Rock & Roll,

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Letter to My Child

My Dear Little One,

We haven't met yet, and I am still not sure how or when it is going to happen, but I wanted to tell you that Mommy and Daddy already love you so very much.  I believe in you, Baby, OUR Baby.  Your little soul is floating around somewhere, and we are doing our best to be patient in the meantime.  It's hard, but we'll make it, somehow.  You're too beautiful of a dream to even fathom giving up on.

I wanted you to know that Mommy and Daddy are working hard to make a life for ourselves so that you can feel loved, cherished, and supported.  We're getting there, especially your Mommy.  I didn't know how much I could enjoy living until I started enjoying living.  It was hard to be so focused on meeting you that I forgot that I had a life to live in the meantime.  It's hard to believe that I forgot how lucky I was to have your Dad!  Just wait until you meet Daddy.  He's the kindest, most faithful, and loving man you could ever meet.

I have been thinking about you, my precious one, an awful lot recently.  It is getting nearer to the time where we will be re-embarking on our journey to meet you.  I was so angry and embittered last time.  I was so mad at myself that I just couldn't have you like a "normal family".  I couldn't accept that I couldn't have my cute roly-poly non-stop little boy just like I wanted, when I wanted.  I was so scared that I would get so close, and then lose you, forever.

I am still scared.  As I get closer to graduating, my fear builds.  But I am ok with being scared, and I am certainly excited, too.  I am not angry at myself, anymore.  I'm just me.  It's still going to be a hard road whether I choose to be angry at myself for something I had absolutely no control over, or I choose to be happy and thankful that I have the opportunity to bring you to us at all.  And you know who helped me learn this?  You did!  I will never be able to thank you enough.

I want you to know, that we will love you no matter how you appear, what you look like, and what gifts you do or don't have.  You don't have to be anything for us but your beautiful self.  You will be perfect for us.  So don't be scared, Little One.  Neither you nor your parents have anything but good things to look forward to from here.

Mommy and Daddy

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

So I woke up with a goal of celebrating my wonderful Mother on this Mother's Day and not feeling sorry for myself.  I got up, and made it 1/3 of the way down the stairs when I found a card from my mother for me on Mother's Day?!
OK, so it was from my Mom and my Dad, but lesbihonest...I love my dad, but this wasn't his idea.  He obviously supported it, though.

Anyway, my goal had been no tears.  None.  I don't want to be a brat because this day is for mothers.  So that lasted approximately 4 minutes until I read this card.  So I gave myself 5 minutes to mourn.  From 7:35am to 7:40am...and I only really needed 4 of them before I could pull myself together and think about how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful mother who would take time out of her day to celebrate to think about me.  I'm lucky to have a dad who cares enough about me to support those endeavors.

I'm super lucky to have a husband who has stuck with me for the last three grueling years.  He fulfills every vow he said to me nearly 5 years ago on a daily basis.  We may not be able to say we've stood the test of time just yet, but if I were a bettin' lady...I'd put our money on us.

But since it is Mother's Day, back to my Mama...

She is uh-may-zing.  From the time I was little, between acting lessons, piano lessons, ballet lessons and  of course gymnastics I was very blessed that she was willing to shuttle me back and forth so I could have so many opportunities.  From being my nurse, counselor, advocate, chauffeur, best friend, confidant, she's been there for me.  When life got more complicated she was still there being supportive and had my back.  When I had a miscarriage and it seemed all I heard was, "at least you know you can get pregnant," my Mother was there for me rubbing my back and allowing me to mourn.  Whenever the world seems cruel, my Mama has and will be there for me.

It's so bloody hard, infertility is.  There is no way I or even BJ could ever get through it without my Mother on our side.  So again, Mama, I can't thank you enough for still being here for us and all the strange places this journey is taking us.  Your support means everything, and your belief in BJ and I to become parents gives us the confidence to keep going when it would be so much simpler to quit.

So while this is yet another Mother's Day I can't celebrate being a mother, it is one I can celebrate for having such an awesome mom.  Although, while none of BJ and my living children are of the homosapien variety, I would like to acknowledge how proud and thankful I am to be Emma Grace's mother.

So Proud!!!!!
We also can't forget our fuzzy boys!


So who knows what next year will bring.  Maybe my goal will be 3 minutes to pull myself together instead of 5. But for now and the rest of the day, I'm going to go celebrate on what I do have...my mother!

Peace, Love, and Happy Mother's Day!
Mary Katherine

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Well, the second semester of nursing school was anything but a breeze, and certainly left a lot of our class, including myself, emotional train wrecks.  Our retention rate for my class is going to be below 85% after this semester.  We lost several of our friends, as our professors decided to toughen up on us to improve our chances on the NCLEX.  

I know what it's like to have a dream that doesn't come to fruition.  I have been full of anguish and sadness for my fellow students that will not be able to continue in the program with us.  They were my friends.  But I do know, you can't sit still, you can't wallow, you have to move forward and you most certainly can't give up.

Honestly, as graduation looms, in the hopefully not too distant future.  I have started to realize that our family building journey must resume at some point in the not too distant future, also.  I'm gun shy.  I have not missed the pain.  I mean the physical pain really is nothing compared to the absolute mental torture that is relentless.  To go back to months of emotional cycles of hope, uncertainty, grief, repeat...well, it's not much to look forward to enduring.  I'm sure BJ is not exactly looking forward to it either, but, ultimately if we want children, what choice do we have?  

The uncertainty is what fills me with the most fear.  How long? What route should we go? What will our family look like in the end?  I do not know these answers right now, and I will not know until after-the-fact.  For a control-freak like me, that's very difficult.  

All I know, is that I want nothing more than to have a child. So, I have to resume my battle despite my fears.   For my friends, who will be great nurses one day if that is what they choose, you have to hold your head up and keep going.  There will be a way, it just may not be clear.  Stay open to opportunities.  You can fulfill your dreams.  You can.

"I have learned that faith means trusting in advanced what will only make sense in reverse." 
~Phillip Yancey

Peace, Love, and Faith,
Mary Katherine

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Join the Movement...

This year's Blogger Challenge for National Infertility Awareness Week is all about how you can join the movement and break the silence whether it be a little way...ya know...such as a blog entry...or a big way...Change careers, for instance, get a nursing degree, and strive to work in a fertility clinic yourself one day *cough, cough*.  There is so much we can do to break the silence.  So many people suffer, and I mean suffer alone, heartbroken, humiliated and bereaved.  

I cannot emphasize how much infertility is like a thief.  It steals and takes and wipes out entire families. It steals friendships, marriages, dreams, careers, faith and hope.  It tests everything you've got, and if you're going through it alone, it's even tougher.  You have even fewer resources.  You can become so isolated and feel trapped. 

You aren't alone.  You have an entire family of out here who understands the pain you are experiencing.  Who've been told more times than they want to count that, "Maybe, it's just not your time."  They understand what its like to have dreams met with disappointment.  There are husbands and partners that know what it's like to comfort their crying loved ones month after month.

We're ready to lift our chins, speak up, and join the movement.  We're ready to be treated like patients with a disease.  Not like unlucky people "who can always just adopt."  We're ready to be treated.  We're ready to not have our finances hold us back from creating our families via whatever method we choose.  We're ready to have our legislators advocate for tax credits for fertility treatments.  Not just adoption and medical treatment deductions.  We're ready for newer protocols, safer drug regimens, and better outcomes.  

But most of all, we're so ready to be parents.  While we may not have our own child to take care of just yet, we certainly have other people that can relate.  So please, share your story, step up and reach out.  It could make all the difference to someone who is suffering alone. 

Peace, Love, and Roaring,

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hola Bologna!

How did it go from Christmas to Easter?  How is it almost Easter and I'm still wearing a hoodie and Uggs is an even more pertinent point... Poor Emma Grace has only gone swimming 1.5 times so far.  This is a record low for her two early springs with us.  

Any some who...life goes on.  My family is all still here.  My dad still getting used to life post cardiovascular incident, which hasn't been easy.

I'm ticking the days off in nursing school one at a time, except right now, I'm on spring break (OK, I'm still counting...there are 259 days left until I graduate).  I had no idea how much I would love nursing  I don't think I even have a real preference what kind of patients I work with, so long as I get to work with patients at the end of the day.  I still want to eventually go on for my MSN in Women's Health, and with things going the way they are medically/economically I'll probably do a combo program as an FNP, as well.  It's all about the flexibility these days.  I still have a dream of working for Dr. D. and helping other women who've been through the agony of infertility, we'll just see how the wind blows.

As for BJ and I on that front...we are happily at peace just waiting the nursing school ride out.  It's not quite time to jump back on any supplements, diets, or really anything.  Besides, we still haven't made up our minds about what we are going to do completely, except blood tests for me as far as a multiple miscarriage panel.  I may have that done as my graduation present, haha.  It's been hard and relaxing at the same time, which makes no sense.  There is always the guilt of not trying.  Like maybe you missed your chance of that one good egg, but then there is the simplicity of just not worrying about it.  Of knowing you're going to live to fight another month.  Spending quality time with your dog, husband (ok, more like my textbooks, and patients) and knowing that bigger better things are out there waiting for me.  Of not just believing better things can happen, but knowing that everything is going to be better than had Plan A worked...

Anyway, I'm sorry I've been a nothing blogger, but I promise when I get my life back and have something to blog about other than how much paperwork I have to do, I'll get back on it in T - 259 days!

Peace, Love and Carrying On,