Saturday, May 31, 2008

Show and Tell

SM and I have been married for three years now and, much to SM's dismay, I have yet to order our wedding album. I know, I know . . . I'm a total slacker. I mean, we already paid (several thousand dollars!) for the thing, so I should get my rear in gear, right?

Well, I am officially committing to ordering our wedding album this week. But ordering the album means I have to make decisions about which photos are my favorites. And I love them ALL. I don't suppose we can have a two-hundred page wedding album, can we??

Anyway, since I've already undertaken the task of going through our wedding pictures, I thought I'd go ahead and share a few for this week's
show and tell.

Because I'm a crafty (and cheap!) do-it-yourself type, I made all the invitations, programs, place cards and favors for our wedding. I even etched a sailboat design onto glass candle holders to decorate the tables. You can (sort of) see the etched candle holders in this photo:

While planning our wedding, SM and I decided our main goal was to make sure our guests would have as much fun as possible. To ensure each guest was super comfortable, we provided baskets of flip flops for people to change into (you know, in case they wanted to really let loose):

As you can see from the following series of photos, at least one of our guests really let loose (and allowed his flip-flops to fly!):

Our friend's impromptu dance will forever stick in my mind as one of the highlights of our wedding. So . . . what are your favorite moments from your wedding? Do you have any funny wedding stories or pictures to share? I'm a sucker for wedding pictures (even if I am too much of a slacker to order my own)!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mouthguard Madness '08

I awoke this morning to find SM frantically tugging on the sheets and thrusting his hands under my pillows. "My mouthguard!" he exclaimed. "I can't find it."

You see, SM suffers from bruxism (he grinds his teeth in his sleep). After a recent trip to the dentist, where he learned his enamel had been ground down to an unhealthy level, SM bought a mouthguard to wear at night. This morning, SM awoke to discover that his mouthguard was nowhere to be found.

As SM continued searching for the mouthguard, his level of panic rose. "I think I might have swallowed it! I could die!"

"You're not going to die," I groaned, as I covered my head with a pillow and tried to sleep through Mouthguard Madness '08. (I was exhausted, having laid awake staring at the ceiling until 4 a.m. this morning. Gotta' love insomnia.) Not surprisingly, I quickly fell back asleep, apparently unconcerned that SM may have ingested his mouthguard and was, in fact, going to die.

When queried via email later in the morning, SM informed me that the mouthguard had been located in a laundry basket a few feet from our bed. This doesn't surprise me in the least, as my husband does some really bizarre things in his sleep. (Look for more on SM's somnambulism in a later post.)

For those of you who are squeamish (read: pretty much any guy reading this) or who are not concerned with the intricate details of my infertility struggles, STOP READING NOW.

We are now entering the infertility TMI zone . . .

Those of your following my IF saga know that my March IVF resulted in a BFN (that's a "Big Fat Negative" pregnancy test, for anyone unfamiliar with infertility vernacular). So I was forced to sit out April as a rest cycle. In May, I was benched from IVF due to high FSH, low AFC (antral follicle count) and a non-active cyst.

I used OPKs (ovulation predictor kits) to chart my April & May cycles. Both months, I was never able to get a positive. Yesterday, on cycle day 19, I began spotting. I had a minor freak-out and emailed my RE's office with the following questions:

  1. Is it possible that the DHEA I'm taking could be messing with my cycle? I’m on a really low dose (25 mg / day).
  2. Is the lack of a positive OPK a really bad sign? Is it possible that I’m not ovulating??
  3. Is there a super-remote possibility that I could be pregnant? When I had my blood work done at the beginning of this month, we didn't include a beta. Plus, my period was much lighter than normal.

This morning, I took a HPT and it was negative. And the spotting has ceased. Then my RE (whom I adore) called and told me I could still be pregnant and the bleeding could have been implantation bleeding. If I don’t either start my period or get a positive ovulation test by next Friday, I will go in a week from Monday for an ultrasound and blood work to see what the heck's going on.

I just don't understand why my body is constantly playing tricks on me and giving me these little glimmers of hope that I could be pregnant. Logically, I know it would be practically impossible for me to become pregnant without having eight other people in the room (including my RE, a few nurses, and an embryologist thrown in for good measure). Is it ridiculous to believe that a miracle could happen and I could get pregnant naturally?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stud Muffin?

Since my last post was so depressing (and the one before that wasn't exactly sunshine and roses), I thought I'd lighten things up a bit today.

Like many of you, I try to maintain a measure of anonymity on my blog. (You know, internet security and all. Oh, and maybe a shred of paranoia.) Therefore, rather than use my real name, I refer to myself as DC. And, in my posts thus far, my husband has simply been known as "my husband."

Many bloggers and chat room devotees refer to their husbands as DH (or "Dear Husband"). I have no problem with the acronym DH; however, I'd like to bestow upon my hubby something a little more creative.

Over the course of several days, I deliberated at length about the best nickname for my beloved husband, yet I came up with nothing. So I finally decided to meet and confer with my husband about how he would like to be known on my blog. During the course of our (clearly very serious and monumentally important) discussion, I informed my hubby of the common DH acronym and also proposed that I could simply identify him using the first letter of his name. Without pause, he suggested that he would prefer to be known as "SM."

At this point, I immediately thought of S&M and was certain hubby had completely lost his mind. I cringed as I meekly asked (fairly certain I did not want to know the answer) what SM meant. I was promptly informed that SM, of course, stands for "sex machine." Hubby then helpfully added that SM could also, in fact, stand for "stud muffin." That's when I started furiously scribbling notes.

As soon as SM realized I was taking notes in order to remember details so I could later report them on my blog (yes, I am now a true blogger), he panicked. He quickly proclaimed, "But my mother reads your blog!"

So . . . Hi Mom! In case you were wondering, your son shall hereinafter be known as Sex Machine (or SM for short). ;)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Suffering in Africa

My heart is breaking over some horrible news stories coming out of Africa over the last few weeks.

The little girl in the above picture is three years old and weighs less than 10 pounds. (Yes, you read that correctly.) She, along with thousands of other Ethiopian children, is dying of malnutrition caused by a year of drought and soaring food prices.

UNICEF estimates that 6 million Ethiopian children under the age of 5 are at risk and that more than 120,000 children have only about a month to live. Please click here to read more about this urgent crisis.

I'm also really disturbed about the horrific bloodshed in South Africa, which doesn't even seem to be making the news here in the States.

Apparently, A wave of xenophobic attacks is sweeping across the country, with mobs beating foreigners and setting some ablaze in scenes reminiscent of apartheid era violence. I just learned about the hostility today, thanks to the latest post on Sam's blog.

All this hatred, violence, and suffering just makes me want to cry. I have such a strong desire to help people who are struggling and dying in countries less fortunate than my own. Do you think we have a responsibility to act? (In other words, do we as individuals have a moral obligation to take some action, rather than just waiting and hoping that our government may step in to help with some sort of monetary aid?)

How do you try to help people in your everyday life? What are some of your favorite causes?

Lupus Awareness Month

Betcha' didn't know that May is National Lupus Awareness Month

. . . and I bet you also didn't know that many cases of lupus go undiagnosed for years. So, courtesy of the Lupus Foundation of America, below is some helpful information, along with a test you can take to see whether you might have lupus:

Every day, 1.5 million Americans (enough people to fill thirty baseball stadiums) struggle with the often disabling and life-altering impact of lupus. Lupus is the result of an unbalanced immune system that can become destructive to any major organ or tissue in the body. Lupus is unpredictable and potentially fatal, yet no satisfactory treatment or cure exists.

Why is awareness of lupus important? To save lives! Consider these facts:
  • Lupus can attack the body for years before the disease is diagnosed. Symptoms of lupus mimic common illnesses and often are dismissed as nothing serious.

  • More than half of the people with lupus suffer four or more years and visit three or more doctors before receiving a correct diagnosis.

  • Awareness of lupus is lowest among women 18-24 –- the age group most likely to develop the disease.

  • Late diagnosis and delayed treatment contribute to poor outcomes and increased morbidity and mortality.

  • Lupus is a serious disease that can damage vital organs, such as the kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain. The disease can cause seizures, strokes, heart attacks, miscarriages, and organ failure leading to significant disability or death.

But there is hope. Early diagnosis and proper medical care greatly improve the quality of life for people with lupus. The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) seeks to educate the public about early warning signs of lupus and all aspects of living and coping with the disease.

Could it be lupus?

The LFA has created a simple self-screening tool to help individuals determine whether they should consult with their doctor about lupus. Take the test now.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ten Things Never to Say to Someone Dealing With Infertility

People who have not experienced infertility will never understand the emotional, physical, and mental pain us infertiles endure in our quest to parenthood. Some Fertile Myrtles are clueless; others are just plain insensitive. So, for the sake of educating the fertile community (and hopefully providing some much-needed laughs to those of us still struggling with infertility), I compiled the following . . .

“Ten Things Never to Say to Someone Dealing With Infertility”:
Note: In order to protect the (not so) innocent, some names and details have been changed.

1. "I got pregnant the first month with all my kids. Just put on some lingerie and attack your husband when he gets home from work." Nice. Because I don't get enough sex advice from strangers.

2. From a former co-worker: "Just have more sex. That worked for us. We realized we were just off by a day or so every month, so we started having sex every day and got pregnant right away." Right, thanks. I hadn't thought of actually having sex!

3. From a “friend” who shall remain nameless: “Everything happens for a reason. Maybe you weren’t meant to have children.” Really? Maybe you weren’t meant to have an IQ of 40. Unfortunately, you won’t get any smarter. I, however, will have children.

4. From one of my treating physicians: "I know how frustrating infertility can be. My wife and I tried for FOUR MONTHS before we got pregnant!"

5. Similarly, so many of my girlfriends who tried to get pregnant for 4-6 months and *maybe* used Clomid: "I know how you feel." You are freakin' kidding me, right??

6. Lots of people have asked, “So how is the baby thing going? Are you pregnant yet?” Thank you to everyone for your interest in my uterus. I will let you know if and when I become pregnant. In the meantime, it’s kind of a sore subject, so please STOP ASKING!

7. From my well-meaning girlfriends with kids: "It will happen for you when it's your time. We just had to wait for God to send us the perfect baby for our family." Great theory. But why is it your time again and again, while we never get a shot? Did I upset God? Is our family not worthy of a baby??

8. From a neighbor: “I don’t know why all you young people feel like you have to run off and take all these fertility drugs. In my day, people just kept at it until they had a kid and that seemed to work just fine.” Well, us “young people” (and if I was truly that young, I don’t think I’d be having these fertility problems, thank you very much) now have the advantage of all the wonderful medical advances that have taken place over the last few decades. Thank goodness for modern medicine (and welcome to 2008!).

9. "If you decide to adopt, I think you should get a baby from Russia so it looks like you. Those Ethiopian babies are malnourished and will have lots of health problems that may not show up for years." My husband thinks concerns regarding the health of an adoptive baby are valid.* I agree; however, I think the above statement is ignorant and racist.

10. From just about every person who has heard about our adoption plans: "As soon as you start the adoption process, you'll get pregnant. That's how it always works." Really? Because I thought it had something to do with an egg, some sperm, my high FSH, health problems, etc. But buying another baby** will get me pregnant with my own?? Perfect. Done.

*For the record, I have the most wonderful husband in the world and he is 100% on board with, and excited about, our Ethiopian adoption.

**Please understand that this is a total joke. I in no way view adoption as “buying a baby.” I’m just being a smart ass because I am so tired of people who think adoption will somehow miraculously cure my infertility.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Thank you!

Thank you so much to everyone for the incredibly warm welcome! NaComLeavMo rocks!! And who knew the blogging community is so incredibly supportive?? All I can say is “WOW!” Oh, and I suppose I could also bust out my happy dance for ya’.

OK, now that I’m done being all sappy and such . . .

Attention please! I am sending out the Bat-Signal to all adoptive parents. I need advice!

After researching a ton of adoption agencies, we’ve finally narrowed down our search to either Gladney Center for Adoption or Children’s Home Society & Family Services. I have phone consultations scheduled with both agencies and I still don’t know what questions to ask!

What do you wish you would have known prior to choosing an adoption agency? If you adopted through Gladney or CHSFS, would you use them again? Do you have any positive (or negative) stories you would be willing to share?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I am officially a blogger!

So . . . after much cajoling from friends (and months of stalking other blogs), I have finally taken the plunge and decided to start chronicling my journey to parenthood. I am officially a blogger!

Why “Lupus Pie”? Well, you see, I have lupus (obviously) and I’ve always thought “lupus” was a silly word, sort of like a combination of “loopy” and “dufus.” A few months ago, “lupus pie” popped into my head and settled there, because it occurred to me that lupus sounds like some sort of edible concoction – perhaps a pie one would see behind glass at a bakery. You know, like rhubarb or pecan or some sort of meringue. But lupus, dreaded lupus, is the least tasty of all pies. It is the minced meat of the pie world. (As you are probably beginning to understand, my mind works in strange and mysterious ways. Please just humor me.)

For those of you not familiar with lupus, here is a quick run-down (courtesy of the Lupus Foundation of America, whose link you can find on the right side of this page):

“Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys and brain. Normally the body's immune system makes proteins called antibodies, to protect the body against viruses, bacteria, and other foreign materials. These foreign materials are called antigens.

“In an autoimmune disorder like lupus, the immune system cannot tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissues. The immune system then makes antibodies directed against itself. These antibodies -- called "auto-antibodies" (auto means 'self') -- cause inflammation, pain and damage in various parts of the body.

“Inflammation is considered the primary feature of lupus. Inflammation, which in Latin means "set on fire," is characterized by pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function, either on the inside or on the outside of the body (or both).
“For most people, lupus is a mild disease affecting only a few organs. For others, it may cause serious and even life-threatening problems. Although epidemiological data on lupus is limited, studies suggest that more than 16,000 Americans develop lupus each year.

“The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) estimates between 1.5 - 2 million Americans have a form of lupus, but the actual number may be higher. More than 90 percent of people with lupus are women. Symptoms and diagnosis occur most often when women are in their child-bearing years, between the ages of 15 and 45.”

Lucky me, I was diagnosed with lupus at age 33, just as I was trying desperately to conceive a child. Within six months of my diagnosis, I was forced to take a leave of absence from my (extremely stressful, but high-paying) job. Starved for intellectual stimulation and social interaction, I took solace in the internet world, stalking chat rooms and blogs. I read about others coping with lupus and/or infertility, and I discovered an amazing community of families who are adopting, or have adopted, internationally.

So many people who I’ve never met - who don’t even know I exist - have been an incredible source of strength for me over the last several months. Through this blog, I hope I might serve as an inspiration to others struggling with lupus, trying to overcome infertility, and / or embarking on the adoption journey of a lifetime.

To those of you who know me in real life, I hope this blog will function as an alternative to my incessant (and likely annoying) emails about my ongoing struggles. If you want to know what’s up with me, just read my blog. If you are (understandably) sick of hearing all the tedious details of my lupus symptoms, ovary / uterine performance, and adoption ramblings, then don’t read my blog. It’s that simple. Oh, and don’t be afraid to leave a comment and/or email me. I need all the support I can get right now.